Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/377

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HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES.

account of the exercises at Plymouth. The Irish singer's paean to their Fathers touched the undemonstrative Yankee heart, and they stood up and cheered the poet as he reached the deck.

The Pilgrim poem was the crowning work of his life as an American singer, for New England thought dominates America, and the man chosen to celebrate the glory of the Forefathers was regarded as a sort of poet laureate to their descendants. Outside of New England, and apart from those who knew her history, the poet and his work were somewhat criticized. It was said that he had extolled the narrow Puritans and forgotten their intolerance, and some hasty censors accused him of having brought the Blarney Stone into conjunction with Plymouth Rock. The accusation was wholly wrong. O'Reilly would not have flattered an emperor for his crown. He knew the difference between Pilgrim and Puritan; and while he recognized the austerity of both, he remembered of the former that

They never lied in practice, peace, or strife;
They were no hypocrites; their faith was clear;

and whatever their defects might have been, his manhood warmed to the manly immigrants who "broke no compact" and "owned no slave."

His little poem, "What is Good?" was published in the Georgetown (D..C.) College Journal, in October. It contains, in four words, the creed by which he lived, the ideal to which he reached:

Kindness is the word.

On November 10, he attended the celebration of the centenary of the Catholic Church in America, at St. Mary's Cathedral, Baltimore, and was present at the dedication of the American Catholic University of Washington, D. C, three days later. He lectured in Washington on November 10, in aid of St. Patrick's Church, on Capitol Hill, and read his poem, "From the Heights," at the banquet of the Catholic University on the 13th, before the President and Vice-President of the United States, Cardinals Gibbons