Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/264

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In January, 1883, he wrote another of his great poems, challenging the inequalities and injustices of the social system, "The City Streets." It is full of lines that fairly burn with indignation against the wrongs of the helpless ones.

God pity them all! God pity the worst! for the worst are lawless and need it most.

The briefest summary of a few months of his life at this period shows the marvelous versatility and working power of the man. His Pilot work was more than that of the mere editor, for he was also the leader and teacher of his people; not only did he gravely weigh and discuss the interests of the struggling patriots at home, but he devoted himself with minute zeal to the defense and advancement of his fellow-exiles. It was a critical, painful period. The confession of the informer, James Carey, had proved to O'Reilly's grief and chagrin, that the "murder club" of the Phoenix Park tragedy was not a fiction of Dublin Castle's imagination, nor its act the work of emergency men. He wrote:

The wretched men who committed these crimes have no perception of the injury they have inflicted on the cause of Ireland. The Irish people throughout the world have raised voices of horror at the atrocious deed. The police murder of Irishmen and women and children by English law, occurring simultaneously with the Phoenix Park crimes, was forgotten. Ireland and her people, with one heart, repudiated the assassination of the Secretaries. We ourselves refused to believe that Irishmen had committed a crime so dreadful and so purposeless.

There is an awful lesson both for Ireland and England in the discovery of these murderers. It is no victory for England to lay bare the abominations of her own misrule. She may use the appalling fact to justify still further coercion. Blind, cruel, and fatuous, will she never learn that such measures cannot have other effect than to increase secret retaliation?

The lesson for Ireland is one that has been taught before. Secret organization to commit violent crime is an accursed disease. It has blighted Ireland, under the names of Ribbonism, Orangeism, and Whiteboyism. It has blasted every country that ever resorted to it. It is the poison of patriotic action. Passion and ignorance are its