Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/222

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JOHN BOYLE O'REILLY.

who succeeded in drawing an original thought from the touching, but well-quoted, demand of Emmet, "Let no man write my epitaph."

Tear down the crape from the column! Let the shaft stand white and fair!
Be silent the wailing music—there is no death in the air!
We come not in plaint or sorrow—no tears may dim our sight:
We dare not weep o'er the epitaph we have not dared to write.

*******

He teaches the secret of manhood—the watchword of those who aspire—
That men must follow freedom though it lead through blood and fire;
That sacrifice is the bitter draught which freemen still must quaff—
That every patriotic life is the patriot's epitaph.


The lesson of Emmet's life, as read by O'Reilly, who much resembled him, was this:

A life such as his is never wasted. Often it is the price that is paid for justice. Despots never concede a right until it is forced from them. All that Ireland has ever gained was the fruit of effort. England has given nothing voluntarily. She resisted Catholic emancipation till Wellington saw that to refuse longer would be to invite revolution. The brilliant Forty-eight movement prepared the way for further concessions. Fenianism produced Disestablishment and Land Reform. Not one single step has Ireland taken toward enlarged rights without forcing her way. Not a single step has she been allowed to take till England had fully realized the danger of resisting. Generosity is a virtue that England has never known, and one for which the world will never make the mistake of giving her credit. Ireland has received nothing from her till she was compelled to give it. To the example of Emmet much of what has been gained is due.

In the summer of this year, the laboring people of America were stirred by a crusade against capital, led by an Irish-American, Dennis Kearney of San Francisco, a noisy agitator, who had more than a kernel of right to his bushel of chaff, but his strength lay in denunciation, his weakness in lack of constructive ability. When he came to Boston to harangue the people, some short-sighted conservatives