Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/219

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181
HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES

Pacific Coast, he telegraphed to the writer from San Francisco for news of the sick lad. It was one of those little things which, somehow, find lodgment only in big hearts. Dan survived his chief but one week; the strong, lusty man died, after all, before his frail protégé.

In this year, 1877, O'Reilly was called upon to write an obituary notice of another great journalist, Samuel Bowles, founder and editor of the Springfield Republican. His eulogy of the dead editor may be fitly applied to himself, even as his warning against overwork is sadly prophetic of his own fate:

Mr. Bowles was a born editor—a comprehender of facts, a compeller of circumstances. Mr. Bowles had the clearest perception of what was of immediate interest; and his readers were spared the trouble of sifting the chaff to find the grain of daily wheat. He trained his young men so admirably that his whole paper was a mosaic of equal excellence, every paragraph having the mint-stamp of journalism. He dies of the great American disease,—overwork. The brain had too much to do; like a patient beast of burden it obeyed the untiring will, laboriously breasting the collar, till at last the tension grew rigid; the ceaseless pressure had worn the line—something snapped—the strained attention lost its aim—the whole organism collapsed—the toil was done forever—the editor was stricken down with paralysis of the brain! Is there a lesson in this story? Who heeds? Pshaw! there is no time to moralize. Slacken the traces for a minute, till the funeral passes—then to work again. Time is very short. Strong men love vigorous labor. And wives and children,—ah, well!—they must fall back on the insurance companies.

Writing in the last month of the year 1890, it is not hard to understand the pain and chagrin with which Irish patriots, thirteen years ago, confessed the utter failure of Isaac Butt's parliamentary efforts to secure Home Rule for his country. But the inefficient leader was supplanted and a new one chosen, and Ireland—God help her!—saw another dawn breaking in the east. Mr. Butt was hopelessly amiable:

"Whenever a motion trenching on Irish nationality was brought forward," wrote O'Reilly, "it was beaten with nothing short of contumely. Still not a severe word from