Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/361

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HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES

2. Addresses were delivered by Rev. Father Thomas J. Conaty, of Worcester, Right Rev. Bishop Keane, rector of the American Catholic University, and other great temperance advocates. A banquet was given to the delegates by the Boston Arch-Diocesan Union, at the Waverly House, Charlestown, on the last evening of the convention. John Boyle O'Reilly responded for the press as follows:

I have learned that it does not need wine to give eloquence to your orators. I was to respond to the Catholic Total Abstinence press of America, I regret that I was limited to that. There is no press in America to-day that is not wholly yours. There is no American, Catholic or Protestant, who has any adverse criticism to offer to your convention. Before you, prejudice of class and party drops its arms; even the man of the three E's could not find fault with your rum and Romanism. And your only "rebellion" is against want and woe and wickedness. Your practices and parades give special pride to Catholic Americans. You speak the very essence of Catholic faith and American patriotism in your zeal without coercion, your example without denunciation. You appeal to the goodness and not to the shrewdness or tyranny that is in men. One of the speakers at the convention—I think it was my wise and honored friend Fr. Wm. Byrne, the Vicar-General of Boston,—truly said that you ought not to count or measure your influence by your organized numbers. He was right. As you delegates are to your organization, so is your organization to its moral example and influence.

To Americans of Irish extraction, particularly, your organization is a source of pride and pleasure, for those who are of Irish extraction or birth, and who are American citizens, know that your mission is necessarily largely directed to their people. Yet they come from no dissipated or immoral stock. They come from a country whose morals compare favorably with those of any country in the world.

Why it is that the slur of intemperance should be so constantly cast on the expatriated or emigrated Irish is a question of deep interest to men outside of your body. In the times of freedom, in their own country, they were never a drunken people. No missionary to Ireland has reported them as being a drunken or intemperate people, until comparatively recent times. And yet, because of their hospitable and warm-hearted natures, they may have been open to that charge.

But in the days of their freedom, when they made their mead, ale, and whisky, the Irish people were a sober people. When the Government took away from the people, and placed in the hands of distillers, the manufacture of these drinks, and imposed licenses upon it, the