Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/225

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187
HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES

dyne," and the dreadful spirit of the work. It is not so; God forbid! Those words are wholly McMaster's, evolved from the phantasy of an excited brain and a hatred of republicanism, for he believes firmly that republicanism is anti-Christian and damnable. Here are Moondyne's words (page 119, first edition), which Mr. McMaster has so horribly misrepresented;

"Society could have a better existence with better laws. At present the laws of civilization, especially of England, are based on and framed by Property Human laws should be founded on God's law and human right, and not on the narrow interests of land and gold."

These are widely different words from those used by McMaster, and have a wholly different meaning. On what can good law be ultimately founded, if not on "God's law and human right?"

Hasty and harsh and unjust judgment is not proof of good will; yet we are willing to believe that Mr. McMaster means every friendly word he has written. That "Moondyne" should be mistaken for a pagan does not seem to be possible; but from the testimony of friendly critics we are willing to conclude that his silence on the matter of creed may be misconstrued. It was not the author's intention that "Moondyne" should be so mistaken: it was directly opposite to his intention. To demand of a Catholic author that his chief character shall be a Catholic is absurd. A novelist must study types as they exist. The author of "Moondyne" made a study of a man who might be typical of the Penal Colony, evolved by the pressure of unjust laws on erring but human lives. To have put a Catholic or Protestant preacher in the position might have pleased some; but he saw fit to put the man there who actually belonged to the place. The leading traits of "Moondyne" were mainly studied from the life. The author had before him a strong, virtuous, silent man, cognizant of all the wrongs of the law, sympathetic with all the suffering, saying nothing, but doing, so far as his power enabled him, the full duty of a wise, honest, and Christian man. He saw the injustice of existing laws, and he foretold the day when all human codes should be tested, not by the needs of a government, but by the expressed and immutable law of God.

There is not, could not be, an anti-Christian word in "Moondyne." If there were, it should not stand one moment. The words put up and knocked down by Mr. McMaster are not in "Moondyne." They are his own.

Mr. McMaster calls on the author of "Moondyne" to submit to authority. It is impertinent to speak so to one who has not rebelled against authority, who respects the law and the author as profoundly as the editor of the Freeman. We must remind Mr. McMaster, in a friendly but firm way, that he is not "authority," nor must all who dare to write a book submit to him for approval.