Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/277

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237
HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES

the poetic thought more valuable than its verbal clothing. Whittier wrote:

Danvers, February 7, 1884.

Dear Friend:

I heartily thank thee for thy noble verse on Wendell Phillips. It is worthy of the great orator.

Thine truly,

John Gr. Whittier.

Geo. W. Cable, the great Southern novelist, sent him his meed of praise from:

Hartford, Conn., February 11, 1884.

My Dear Mr. O'Reilly:

I am confined to a sick chamber, and for the most of the time to my bed, though daily recovering; but I cannot refrain from writing you to thank you for and to congratulate you on your superb poem on Wendell Phillips. I had the pleasure to see it this morning copied in the Hartford Courant and read it to Mark Twain, who was at my bedside,—or rather whom I called from the next room to my bedside to hear it. Once, while I was reading it, he made an actual outcry of admiration, and again and again interjected his commendations. I am proud to know the man who wrote it; he can quit now, his lasting fame is assured.[1]

I must stop this letter—have not much head as yet.

Yours truly,

Geo. W. Cable.

Judge Chamberlain, the scholarly librarian of the Boston Public Library, wrote at a later date:

Of "Wendell Phillips" I had formed a high opinion. The copy—a newspaper cutting—is ever by my side. The more I see it the more I think it a great poem.

It is an interesting fact that only one of Phillips's marvelous lectures had ever been fully written out. That was in its author's opinion "the best he could do,"—his great tribute to Daniel O'Connell. He gave the manuscript of it to O'Reilly, in 1875, immediately after its delivery at the O'Connell Centenary celebration in Boston. Perhaps the

  1. The asterisk refers to the following foot-note: "Doubtless it was assured before, but this poem will always shoot above your usual work like the great spire in the cathedral town."