Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/240

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In the same year another club was founded, possessing, in addition to these two, a third valuable attribute, that of muscle. The "Cribb Club," named after the famous English boxer, Tom Cribb, was organized on November 27. Its number of members was limited to twenty-five active and one hundred and twenty-five honorary or associate members. O'Reilly belonged to the former. The officers of the club consisted of a "Boss" and an executive committee of three. Mr. E. C. Ellis was the first "Boss," and John Boyle O'Reilly the second. During the administration of the latter, the title was changed to the more dignified one of president, and honorary members of the club were classed as active. The Cribb Club, founded for the encouragement of the "manly art," was one of the most exclusive in the exclusive city of Boston, numbering among its membership men distinguished in art, literature, and statesmanship. They were strong, brave, honorable men, who loved the natural virtue of courage as much as they hated the cowardly custom which has made the use of the knife and pistol a repreach to the American name. O'Reilly had all the qualifications to win him popularity in the company of courageous gentlemen. Here is how the athletic side of his nature appealed to the admiration of refined and scholarly Justin McCarthy:

Although he is not more than common tall, he has the breadth and the thews of a Viking of the days when Olaf Tryggveson dwelt by the Liffey in Dublin town and wooed and won the fair daughter of an Irish royal house. He excels in all manly arts and accomplishments in a way that we are almost afraid to chronicle, so like a hero of romance the list would make him seem.

Who among amateurs can ride better, row better, walk better? above all, who can box better? If such a man is red-hot in his enthusiasm for the brawn and biceps of a famous pugilist, it is not with the sham enthusiasm of the dandies of old Rome who pinched the muscles of gladiators with slim feminine fingers. In the society of the physically strong, of the physically skillful, Boyle O'Reilly is among his peers, and if he finds a man stronger or more skillful than himself it is scarcely wonderful if he accords him his highest admiration.

It is one of the curious privileges of John Boyle O'Reilly to be universally liked. That he should be liked by his own people is only