Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/339

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HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES

The praise which he received never spoiled his simple, manly nature. Men could speak to him and write of him from the fullness of their hearts without fearing to be mistaken for flatterers, or to sow any seed of vanity in his healthy mind. So it was that such words of frank praise as the following could be written of him while he was yet among us. The first extract is from the Boston Post's kindly essayist, heretofore quoted in these pages, "Taverner":

Boyle O'Reilly's speech of welcome to Justin McCarthy made me almost sorry that I had not come to my Americanism by the way of "Sweet Erin." His heart is so warm, his words so well chosen and charming, his feelings so true, and all that he says or writes so instinct with human earnestness, that he always carries his audience with him. He is one whom children would choose for their friend, women for their lover, and men for their hero.

Probably no man among us has had more of real romance and adventure, more of patriotic sacrifice and suffering, more of heroic achievement in real life than he, from which he draws his inspiration. To very few is it given to be the poet or patriot above his fellows, and he is both.

It was a strange juxtaposition that gave him, an Irishman, proscribed and outlawed from England, the opportunity of welcoming in America, from a place of honor, a man who stood in Parliament, one of the foremost statesmen and historians of the British empire. Few, if any, could have made the address O'Reilly made; no man not born with the heritage of Irish blood could have compassed its peculiar poetry; no man not in the enjoyment of political freedom could have equaled its proud independence. He was as good an American as he was an Irishman, and linked freedom and poetry. His quotation from Burke, "the lovers of freedom will be free," suggested the words of another poet, Swinburne:

"Free—and I know not another as infinite word."

He has shown the kinship of nature, for not only does American pride inspire in his Irish heart, but his poetry and fervor have fairly made Irish blood tingle in the veins of a true Yankee.

******

To the Editor of the Post:

I cannot say that I am an admirer of "Taverner," and his work, as a rule. But will you allow me to express my thorough appreciation of his reference to one of Erin's dearest sons—Boyle O'Reilly—in your issue of to-day?