Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/210

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"The Irishman," concluded Mr. O'Reilly "who could forget what the Stars and Stripes have done for his countrymen, deserves that in the time of need that flag shall forget him."

In the Pilot he gave the following sketch of the daring leader of the Catalpa exploit:


Out of all the incidents of the so-called "Fenian Movement," the most brilliantly daring have been two rescues of prisoners—namely, that of the Chief Organizer, James Stephens, from Richmond Prison, Dublin, in 1865, and of the six military prisoners from Western Australia last April. These two rescues are in many ways remarkable. Unlike almost every other enterprise of Fenianism, they have been completely successful; and, when completed, have been commented on in the same way, as "well done." Every other attempt or proposal has fallen through or ended with loss. The rescue of Kelly and Deasy from the police van in Manchester was successful so far as the release of the prisoners went; but it was bought with the lives of Allen, Larkin, and O'Brien, and the nine years' misery of Condon. The proposed attack on Chester Castle was discovered and prevented by the English government. The seizure of the Pigeon House Fort, with its armory, at Dublin, never emerged from the stage of dreamland. The attempt to blow up Clerkenwell Prison, London, to release Rickard Burke, was a disastrous failure, by which nothing was accomplished, by which many suffered, the lives of several poor working people were sacrificed, and the wretched lodging-house homes of others destroyed.

But the rescue of James Stephens, even while the government was gloating over his capture, was as unexpected and thorough as if the man had vanished in smoke. No one suffered from it—at least from English law—no one was arrested; neither the government nor the public ever knew how or by whom it was accomplished. The man or men who did the work claimed no recompense either of money or notoriety. Two thousand pounds reward failed to elicit the slightest clew. The thing was cleverly, cleanly, bravely done, and those who knew of it knew how to keep the secret.

The recent rescue of the six military prisoners from the penal colony of West Australia was performed in a similar manner, as to daring, silence, and complete success. Looking back on it, no one can say that aught was forgotten or left to chance. With admirable deliberation every inch of the train was laid, every sporadic interest was attended to, and the eventful rescue was carried out to the prearranged letter with scientific precision. As in the escape of Stephens, no trail re-