Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/287

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O'Reilly's Case in the House of Commons—Refused Permission to Visit Canada— Slander about "Breaking Parole" Refuted—A Characteristic Letter in 1869—His Editorial "Is it Too Late?"—Bayard, Lowell, and Phelps—Another Speech in Faneuil Hall—Hanging of Riel—"In Bohemia"—Farewell Poem to Underwood—"Hanged, Drawn, and Quartered."

THE case of the "self-amnestied" convict became the subject of diplomatic correspondence and parliamentary discussion in the winter of 1884-85. The circumstances were as follows: In December, 1884, O'Reilly was invited to deliver an oration in Ottawa, Canada, on the following St. Patrick's Day, being assured of protection from arrest in that part of her Majesty's Dominions. The assurance, though verbal, was doubtless sincere and valid, so far as the Dominion authorities were concerned, but how far it would go in protecting him from the Imperial Government, should anybody choose to denounce him as an escaped convict, was very uncertain. He, consequently, declined the invitation, but sent the letter to Secretary of State Frelinghuysen, asking if his citizenship would protect him from arrest, in case he went to Canada. Mr. Frelinghuysen offered to send the question to the English Government through Minister Lowell. O'Reilly then wrote to Mr. Sexton, M.P., acquainting him with his action, and asking his advice and that of the other Irish Nationalist members. They advised him to write his request directly to the English Home Secretary, alluding, of course, to the action of the American Secretary of State. This he did; and the matter rested for several weeks.