Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/246

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The new volume added to the poet's already great fame; on all sides it received the highest praise. The technical faults of his earlier work had been pruned and polished away, without impairing the strength of his verse. His head was not turned by the praise he had won. He was keenly delighted to receive the admiration of his fellow-men, but he was no churl, hugging to his bosom the prizes of fame. No man was quicker to recognize merit in another, and to extend encouragement and praise to every promising aspirant in literature. To young poets he was especially kind and considerate; the Pilot being the theater on which a score of bards, afterward more or less distinguished, made their first bow. Transatlantic poets, chiefly Irish, also sought his counsel and friendship, usually making their first American reputation through the columns of his paper. Oscar Wilde wrote him: "I esteem it a great honor that the first American paper I appeared in should be your admirable Pilot." T. W. Rolleston, Douglas Hyde, Lady Wilde, Katherine Tynan, William B. Yeats, and a dozen other Irish poets were regular contributors to the Pilot. He paid his writers well, never withholding the guerdon, dearest to the poetic soul, of generous helpful praise. He was the kindliest of critics, for he was utterly incapable of saying a harsh word concerning a book whose offenses were Only literary. He would not give undeserved praise, but he mercifully withheld deserved condemnation. When a book submitted to him for review was absolutely outside the pale of toleration, he preferred to let it die of its own demerits instead of putting it out of pain. He was totally devoid of that tender literary conscience, which impels its owners to flay alive the criminal who has rushed into print without a permit from Parnassus.

O'Reilly at this period looked much older than his years. A well-known picture represents him with the long hair and full beard, which he wore from 1874 to 1880. It was some throat trouble, probably a legacy of the old Dartmoor drains, that compelled him to wear a beard for