Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/412

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

Rt. Rev. James A. Healy, Bishop of Portland, Me., delivered the funeral oration, from the following text:

"Our friend sleepeth; but I go that I may wake him out of sleep.—John, xi."

Thus spoke our Divine Master of his friend Lazarus; and I am come, not as a better friend of the dead, nor as more fit to speak on this occasion, but as one of the earliest in this city, and, I trust, one of the most constant of his friends—not my friend only, but he was our friend—we all knew him, watched him, loved him as our friend.


Our friend, the man whom we loved as a friend, sleepeth, Let us consider our friend as a man. I am not here to sing his praises as an angel, nor yet as a man of so sublime and ascetic life as we ascribe to the superhuman on earth. Our friend was a human man. I am not here to tell of his attainments in letters, or of his success as a writer for the press, as an author, a poet, gifted with a versatile and ever-ready and competent pen and tongue; nor even to recall the oft-told story of his early life—his efforts for Ireland, his captivity, his escape by help of generous sons of America; nor even to describe the manly form, the noble presence, the hardy and athletic temperament that we looked upon with wonder and delight; but I would wish to remind you of the characteristics of our friend as a man. In the holy book one is described as "a man simple and right"; that is straightforward, direct. Have you known one who sought by direct ways and means the end he aimed at—who for that end was willing to wait, to endure, to suffer; who in the weakness and helplessness of subject youth invited others to dare and suffer, but led the way as captain of the forlorn hope; who in prison walls could not be prevented from piously gathering and consigning to mother earth the disinterred bones of former captives—of those hapless Americans who died in English prisons; who for his country's sake bravely bore the horrors of the prison ship, the brutality of a convict settlement; and yet, everywhere, and in all things, the straightforward, the manly, the long-suffering but unconquered spirit? Such was our friend.

Have you known an ardent soul, loving his dear old country as a sorrowing and afflicted mother, loving her as only an Irish exile can love; and yet turning with admiring love to the new country, which had become his from the day he landed on her shores? He loved Ireland as his mother. He loved America as man loves a blooming and happy spouse. At times there may have been those who found fault with his unwavering devotion and constant efforts for the old land. But I will venture to say here, under this sacred roof, no one who has not seen the beautiful island and its oppressed people; aye, more, no