Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/330

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

church, a hand-organ in the gallery, and a careful committee to keep down the expenses. The negro is a new man, a free man, a spiritual man, a hearty man; and he can be a great man if he will avoid modeling himself on the whites. No race or nation is great or illustrious except by one test—the breeding of great men. Not great merchants or traders, not rich men, bankers, insurance mongers, or directors of gas companies. But great thinkers, great seers of the world through their own eyes, great tellers of the truth and beauties and colors and equities as they alone see them. Great poets—ah! great poets above all—and their brothers, great painters and musicians and fashioners of God's beautiful shapes in clay and marble and bronze.

The negro will never take his stand beside or above the white man till he has given the world proof of the truth and beauty and heroism and power that are in his soul. And only by the organs of the soul are these delivered; by the self-respect and self-reflection, by philosophy, religion, poetry, art, sacrifice, and love. One poet will be worth a hundred bankers and brokers, worth ten presidents of the United States to the negro race. One great musician will speak to the world for the black man as no thousand editors or politicians can.

Toward the middle of February of this year a number of Boston citizens, interested in the cause of Irish Home Rule, had formed a committee for the purpose of soliciting subscriptions for a parliamentary fund to aid the Irish members in their political battle. Subscriptions were nominally limited to five dollars. Other cities and towns in the State joined in the canvass with such good effect that when the Boston committee held its final meeting on July 17, John Boyle O'Reilly presiding, they were able to report a total sum collected of nearly $24,000. Men and women of all classes and creeds contributed generously to the fund. A large part of its success was due to the untiring efforts of O'Reilly, who addressed meetings night after night in various towns and labored without rest for the cause, until even his sturdy health broke down. While speaking at a meeting at Watertown, in June, he was seized with vertigo and compelled to leave the platform. His physician forbade him to continue the incessant and exhaustive work.

His reputation as a public speaker had steadily enhanced. As a lecturer he had always many more offers