Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/208

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Now, the officer in charge of "Police Department, New Bedford, Massachusetts, U. S. A.," at this period was one Henry C. Hathaway, the same who had rescued John Boyle O'Reilly from captivity and who had helped to fit out the Catalpa. It is surmised that he did not show any undue zeal in aiding the Australian authorities to recover possession of the fugitives.

The Catalpa arrived at New York on Saturday, August 19. Five days later she came into the port of New Bedford, a great crowd assembling on the wharves to welcome her with cheers and booming of cannon. Next day a public reception was given to the heroes. John Boyle O' Reilly was the orator of the occasion. The following summary of his speech was published at the time. He said it was with no ordinary feelings that he was there. That he owed to New Bedford no ordinary debt, and would gladly have come a thousand miles to do honor to the New Bedford whalemen. Seven years of liberty and a happy home in a free country were his debt of gratitude, and when the close of his sentence came, in 1886, his debt to New Bedford might be grown too heavy to bear.

"They were there," he said, "to do honor and to show their gratitude to the man who had done a brave and wonderful deed. The self sacrifice and unfailing devotion of him who had taken his life in his hand and beached his whaleboat on the penal colony, defying its fearful laws, defying the gallows and the chain-gang, in order to keep faith with the men who had placed their trust in him—this is almost beyond belief in our selfish and commonplace time.

"There are sides to this question worth looking at. To Irishmen it was significant in manifold ways, one of which was that these men, being soldiers, could not be left in prison without demoralizing the Irishmen in the English army, who would not forget that their comrades had been forsaken and left to die in confinement when the civilian leaders of the movement had been set free. But the spirit that prompted their release was larger and nobler than this, and