Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/276

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connected himself with, the Fenian movement in that city, and three years later went over to Ireland and, together with Peter O'Neil Crowley and Captain McClure, headed the revolt in the County Limerick. He and his two associates were at last surrounded by three hundred English soldiers in Kilclooney Wood, where Crowley was shot dead and the two others made prisoners. He was tried for high treason and received the barbarous sentence, which only one civilized country had retained on its statute books,—"to be hanged, drawn, and quartered,"—which meant to be drawn on a hurdle to the gallows, to be hanged, but not "hanged to death." The half -strangled man was to be cut down, disemboweled, and his entrails burned while he was yet alive, after which he was to be beheaded and his body cut into quarters. Kelly's sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and he was sent with the other political prisoners to Western Australia. The hardships which he had to endure while working in the road-parties of the penal settlement broke down his health, and in March, 1871, he and other political prisoners were set free. The National League of Boston erected a monument, in the shape of an Irish round tower, over his grave in Mt. Hope Cemetery, and formally dedicated it on November 23, 1885. O'Reilly delivered one of his noblest orations on that occasion, the full text of which will be found elsewhere in this volume.

The death of Wendell Phillips, on Saturday evening, February 2, 1884, was a personal bereavement to O'Reilly. As the death of the Fenian hero, Kelly, was to evoke one of O'Reilly's greatest orations, so that of Wendell Phillips became the inspiration of a poem so full of tender feeling and noble eulogy as to rank among the best of its kind in the language. He wrote it within six hours. It came from his brain, or rather from his heart, full-formed and perfect, so that he made scarcely a single change in republishing it with his last collection.

The poem received well-merited praise from critics who had not unlearned the old-fashioned principle of deeming