Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/369

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HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES
the same chain. McCarthy's health was quite broken, and he had sunk into a melancholy that was something hopeless; but while he was chained to Chambers he used to laugh all the time like a boy. The English Government at that time thought it was a salutary exhibition to parade the Irish rebels ui chains in the streets. I remember one day, when we were marched through the streets of London, all abreast on one chain (we were going from Pentonville to Millbank), with the crowds staring at us. Chambers made McCarthy laugh so heartily that it brought on a fit of coughing, and we had to halt till the poor fellow got his breath. This thought came to me as poor Chambers's eyes met mine in the speechless look, Saturday night, as he lay dying. He was a true man for any time or cause or country. So long as you can find such men, absolutely faithful to an ideal, fearless, patient, and prudent, the organized wrongs do not control the world. Such men need not be brilliant or able or impressive; but if they fill their own identity with truth and resolution, they are great forces, and the most valuable and honorable of men. That was just the kind of man Thomas Chambers was.

O'Reilly forgot, or seldom mentioned, the indignities heaped on himself by his English jailers, but he never forgot nor forgave those endured by poor, light-hearted, long-suffering Chambers. While he lay, awaiting sentence, in Arbor Hill Prison, Dublin, in 1866, he wrote as follows concerning the first of those cruelties inflicted on his boyish fellow-rebel, in a letter (worth quoting at length) which he had smuggled out of prison, and addressed:

TO ALL THE DEAR ONES OUTSIDE.

Not a word yet—not even a hint of what my doom is to be; but whatever it may be I'm perfectly content. God's will be done. It has done me good to be in prison; there is more to be learned in a solitary cell than any other place in the world—a true knowledge of one's self. I send you a note I got from Tom Chambers. Poor fellow, he's the truest-hearted Irishman I ever met. What a wanton cruelty it was to brand him with the letter D, and be doomed a felon for life. Just imagine the torture of stabbing a man over the heart with an awl, and forming a D two inches long and half an inch thick, and then rubbing in Indian ink. He was ordered that for deserting. His brother was nearly mad, and no wonder. McCarthy has been sentenced in Mountjoy to fourteen days on bread and water and solitary confinement for some breach of the prison rules. I know this for a fact. Here in this prison every one is very kind to me, from chief warder down to the lowest.