Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/289

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HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES

Lord Granville's letter to Minister Lowell was as follows:

Foreign Office, January 27, 1885.

Sir: I referred to Her Majesty's Secretary for the Home Department the request which you made to me personally when calling at this office on the 9th inst., in favor of Boyle O'Reilly, one of the persons convicted for complicity in the Fenian Rebellion of 1866.

I have now the honor to acquaint you that a reply has been received from Sir W. V. Harcourt, in which he states that application had already been made from other quarters on behalf of O'Reilly, which had been refused, and, having regard to the circumstances of the case, he regrets that your request is one which cannot safely be granted.

I have the honor to be, etc.,

Granville.

In February, 1885, Mr. T. Harrington, M.P., introduced a petition in the British Parliament asking amnesty for James Stephens and John Boyle O' Reilly. The petition was supported by Mr. Sexton in an able speech. He called attention to the fact that not only had every civilian, sentenced at the same time as O'Reilly, been released, but every military offender had also secured his liberty; that many civilians had been set free on condition they should never return to the Queen's Dominions, while similar conditions had not been imposed upon the military offenders. Whatever else might be alleged, he said, it could not be maintained that there was any moral distinction between the case of John Boyle O'Reilly and those members of the British army tried, convicted, and sentenced at the same time:

There was, however, one point of difference. When Mr. Boyle O'Reilly had endured some part of his sentence of penal servitude, he escaped from the penal settlement in Australia. His escape was accomplished under circumstances of daring which attracted very general sympathy. The right honorable gentleman (Sir W. Harcourt) smiled, but he would try to escape himself. Mr. O'Reilly made his way to the coast of Australia with the help of some devoted friends; he put out to sea in an open boat, floated alone upon the surface of the ocean for three days and three nights, then had the good fortune to be taken on board an American ship, and, under the shelter of the American flag, he made good his escape to the United States. With regard to the smile of