Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/290

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the Home Secretary, he (Mr. Sexton) asked whether it was not a universal principle that a man suffering a sentence of penal servitude would make an effort to escape? If by any conceivable turn of fortune the Home Secretary came to suffer penal servitude himself, would he not make an attempt to escape? He (the Home Secretary) might have shown as much ingenuity as Mr. Boyle O'Reilly, but it was doubtful if he would have shown as much courage.

Sir William Harcourt.—I should have been shot by the sentries.

Mr. Sexton.—If Mr. Boyle O'Reilly was shot they would not have been considering his case. The point was that his guilt was not increased by his effort to escape. Mr. Boyle O'Reilly, whom he had the pleasure to meet lately at Boston, was a gentleman of very high personal qualities and of the rarest intellectual gifts, and during the years of his residence in America he had made such good use of his powers that he now filled the position of co-proprietor with the Archbishop of Boston and some other prelates, of one of the most important journals in the United States. Mr. O'Reilly was one of the most influential men in the State of Massachusetts, and one of the most honored citizens in the United States, and might long ago have occupied a seat in Congress if he could have spared from his literary labors, and the duties of journalism, the time to devote himself to public life in that capacity. He (Mr. Sexton) might go so far as to say that one of the English gentlemen who met him lately in Boston, Sir Lyon Playfair, who occupied the position of chairman of the Ways and Means Committee of this House, was so impressed with the personal qualities and gifts of Mr. O'Reilly that he was one of the gentlemen who pressed upon the British Government the propriety and the duty of extending to Mr. Boyle O'Reilly the terms freely given to the men convicted under similar conditions. In December last, the Irish residents of the city of Ottawa, intending to hold a celebration on St. Patrick's Day, invited Mr. Boyle O'Reilly to join them. The celebration of St. Patrick's Day was held in so much respect that it was the custom for the Parliament of the Dominion to adjourn on St. Patrick's Day, so as to allow the members of Parliament of Irish birth or sympathy to attend the celebration. Mr. O'Reilly replied to the invitation that he did not feel at liberty to accept it, in consequence of the uncertainty which he felt of what the action of the British Government might be toward him. He put himself into communication with the American Secretary on the matter, and such was the sense entertained by the American Secretary of the position of Mr. Boyle O'Reilly that he put himself into communication with the American Minister in London, who had an interview with Lord Granville, and on the part of his government put the matter before the Queen's Minister in due form. At this stage the matter dropped for some time, and he (Mr. Sexton) received a letter from Mr.