Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/296

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also the good fortune to escape from his Western Australian prison and the terrible perspective of twenty years' imprisonment.

On the 18th of February I escaped, seized a boat and went to sea, but had to return to land in the morning. I then lived in the "bush" for some time, and eventually put to sea again, and before long was picked up by an American whaler. The captain knew who and what I was, and installed me as a cabin passenger, and as he was on a six months' cruise for whales, I remained on board for that time, and every day had a fresh instance of his kindness, and that of the officers, and all on board. I had some very close escapes from being retaken when on board, but the officers determined I should not. In one English island at which we touched the governor came on board and demanded me to be given up, as he had instructions that I was on board. The chief mate answered him by pointing to the "Stars and Stripes," which floated at the "half-mast" (in sign of mourning), and said, "I know nothing of any convict named O'Reilly who escaped from New Holland; but I did know Mr. O'Reilly who was a political prisoner there, and he was on board this ship, but you cannot see him—he is dead." And he was forced to be content with that. Since then I have received help in money, when it was found that I could not escape without it, and now, sir, I presume to ask that should anything happen to me, that gentleman who assisted me shall not lose his money. (I give his name, but not for publication.) I know my countrymen will not misconstrue my motive in writing this. I send this to England by a safe means, where it will be posted for you. The captain's name is Captain David R. Gifford, Bonny Street, New Bedford, Mass. I am not in his ship now.

Thanks for publishing my "Old School Clock."[1] I saw it a day or two since. I am making my way to America. I am hurried in writing. Good-by! God speed you all at home in the good cause.

Ever truly yours,
John Boyle O'Reilly.

I am going where I am unknown and friendless. Please let me have an introduction through your paper to my countrymen in America,


To return to chronological sequence, the year 1885 opened with a renewal of so-called dynamite outrages in London. Westminster Hall, the Houses of Parliament,

  1. Mr. Vere Foster's memory was evidently at fault when he reported the poet as having said that he had not known of the publication until informed by Mr. Foster.