Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/265

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225
HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES

patents, and its children are murder and cruel crime. The voice of the Church is always against it, and the wise leaders of the people have everywhere abhorred it. The country that allows it to become rife, which sympathizes with its dark deeds, is not fit for freedom. Ireland has not so sympathized.

It is heroic to prepare for war with a tyrant power. Patriots will always win the admiration of mankind for daring to meet the bloodshed of battle for their country's liberty. But the patriot who is willing to go to that sacrifice will be the first to condemn the aimless and secret shedding of blood in time of peace.

Since the Land League was put down in Ireland, the discontent of the suffering people has had no vent. Such a state of things is always full of danger. A smoldering fire only needs a breath to leap to flame. There is the greater need of precaution. Irishmen must be doubly patient and watchful. The moment passion becomes the guide and leader, there is danger ahead, and probably disgrace and death. When we knew not who committed these murders, we condemned them. Now that it appears that the assassins were a few passionate and desperate men, acting out their own blind fury, regardless of the honor of their country, our condemnation is increased. Men who commit crime cannot suffer and be silent as patriots can who endure for a principle; as soon as danger reaches them they become informers on the men they led into the bloody business. Such men as Carey, stubborn, unruly, and ferocious, are the leaders in these dark projects, and they are sure to shrink from the consequences, and buy their vile lives at last by the blood of their dupes.

A week later we find him writing with almost equal earnestness on a subject concerning which his attitude was often either ignorantly or willfully misunderstood. His own words, both then, and subsequently in his great work on "Athletics and Manly Sport," show just how O'Reilly looked upon pugilism. Referring to the Sullivan-Ryan prize fight at New Orleans, he said:

It is undoubtedly true that a wide and lively, if not a deep interest was 'taken by the men of America in the fight at New Orleans, last week, between Sullivan and Ryan. Every paper in the country published a detailed report of the contest, even though the editorial columns condemned the affair as brutal and degrading. Therefore, it is worth considering why did respectable and intelligent people feel an interest in so unworthy a struggle, and if there be an element of health in pugilism, how may it be separated from the brutality and ruffianism which have always characterized the English "prize ring?"