Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/410

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

orator, the poet, the patriot of two peoples—the strong, tender, true, and knightly character. I mourn with you, and I also mourn—alone.

But, after all, the dead speak for themselves. No friend in prose or verse can add a cubit to his stature. No foe, however mendacious, can lessen his fame or the love humanity bears him.

Yet we owe, not to him, but to the living and to the future, these manifold expressions of regard—these estimates of his worth. The feverish age needs always teaching.

Here was a branded outcast some twenty years ago, stranded in a strange land, friendless and penniless; to-day wept for all over the world where men are free or seeking to be free, for his large heart went out to all in trouble, and his soul was the soul of a freeman; all he had he gave to humanity and asked no return.

Take the lesson of his life to your hearts, young men; you who are scrambling and wrangling for petty dignities and small honors. This man held no office and had no title. The man was larger than any office, and no title could ennoble him. He was born without an atom of prejudice, and he lived and died without an evil or ungenerous thought.

He was Irish and American; intensely both, but more than both. The world was his country and mankind was his kin. Often he struck, but he always struck power, never the helpless. He seemed to feel with the dying regicide in "Les Miserables," "I weep with you for the son of the king, murdered in the temple, but weep with m e for the children of the people—they have suffered longest." Numbered and marked and branded; officially called rebel, traitor, convict, and felon, wherever the red flag floats; denied the sad privilege of kneeling on the grave of his mother—thus died this superb citizen of the great Republic.

But his soul was always free—vain are all mortal interdicts. By the banks of that lovely river, where the blood of four nations once commingled, in sight of the monument to the alien victor, hard by the great mysterious Rath, over one sanctified spot dearer than all others to him, where the dew glistened on the softest green, the spirit of O'Reilly hovered, and shook the stillness of the Irish dawn on its journey to the stars.

A memorial committee was appointed which held several meetings and did its work so well that before the close of the year it had collected about $13,000 of the sum required for the erection of "a statue or other monument to John Boyle O'Reilly in the city of Boston." When that object shall have been achieved, it is intended to