Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/226

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The book which had provoked criticism on account of imaginary theological defects might well have been expected to show faults of a literary character; for it was composed from week to week to meet the printer's demand for copy. Oftentimes the copy was written while the press was waiting. Literary polish was scarcely to be looked for under such circumstances, and yet the story abounds with passages of beauty and strength. The narrative flows smoothly; and the evolution of character is equally worked out from beginning to end.

In "Moondyne," O'Reilly revealed his inner self as the dreamer of an ideal social condition in which Kindness was to be the only ruler. It is easy to understand how only one who had come through the ordeal of convict life unscathed could have built the air-castle of reform in which the ex-convict "Moondyne," or "Wyville," should be an all-powerful but benignant autocrat. O'Reilly, witnessing the harsh yet ineffectual prison discipline when the mutinous "Chains" were quelled into temporary submission at the cannon's mouth, must have often let his boyish fancy carry him to a time when, invested with full power, he should be able to dismiss the soldiers and surprise the convicts as his own comptroller-general does. Mr. Wyville confronts the convicts and calls out the names of twelve men to whom, as a reward for previous good conduct, he grants full pardon. To others he bears the glad news of material reductions in their sentences. Then addressing the astonished throng, he says:

"Men! we have heard the last sound of mutiny in the Colony."

Mr. Wyville's voice thrilled the convicts like deep-sounded music; they looked at him with awe-struck faces. Every heart was filled with the conviction that he was their friend; that it was well to listen to him and obey him.

"From this day, every man is earning his freedom, and an interest in this Colony. Your rights are written down, and you shall know them. You must regard the rights of others as yours shall be regarded. This law trusts to your manhood, and offers you a reward for your labor; let every man be heedful that it is not disgraced nor weakened by unmanly conduct. See to it, each for himself, and each helping his