Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/214

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Leaving aside the faults and failures of Fenianism for the sake of its honest and sacrificial patriotism, and for the sake of poor John O'Mahony, whose whole life was a sacrifice, we say that this man's existence and work, though both were darkened by disappointment, were on the whole of good service to Ireland. Unquestionably the movement of 1865-66 kindled the dead wood of Irish nationality. There was sore need of a torch and a hand to fire the stubble. There was actual danger of national death in Ireland. The new generation had been brought up under a system of apparent lenity, and educated in "national schools," cunningly designed to make Irish children West Britons. It may be that no patriotic light from above, no open political teaching could avert the danger. Be that as it may, the light came from below—it was carried in secret through the country, from town to town, by James Stephens. The peasant and mechanic lit their lamps at the sacrificial flame—and carried it years after, in loving care, though it scorched them to the bone, in English dungeons. He organized Fenianism on this continent; and all of him that was in it was pure and devoted and good.

The life of a good and pure man—a life held in his hand and daily offered up with pagan simplicity for one unselfish object—for his country—can never do that country aught but good. We do not think he was a great man: we never thought him a wise man; but that he was a faithful and unflinching son and servant and slave to Ireland, no one who knew him will deny above his grave. God send more men as lovable and unselfish as he! A gentleman born and bred, he chose to live in poverty, putting all things aside that might interfere with his dream of a free Ireland. He never stained his white hand with one unworthy coin from the treasury of Fenianism.

O'Mahony was the incarnation of his cause, sincere, honest, unselfish, and uncalculating—not wise as the world judges, but wiser, perhaps, than he or the world knew, in cherishing a dream:

For a dreamer lives forever.
But a toiler dies in a day.

The body of the dead chieftain was borne to Ireland and buried in Dublin, being followed to the grave by thousands of his mourning countrymen.

There were other Fenians less fortunate than the dead O'Mahony, in that their graves held living men. Sergeant McCarthy and Corporal Chambers, O'Reilly's fellow prisoners in Pentonville, Chatham, Portsmouth, and Dart-