Kindness, always kindness, was his watchword. In a letter to his friend, Mr. Michael Cavanagh, of Washington, written in July, 1878, I find the same note:
He inculcated the same principle in the many controversies inevitable to his journalistic career,—to fight a wrong or a wrong-doer until justice was attained, then to forget the quarrel as speedily as possible, and "be sure to say something kind" about the adversary at the first opportunity.
He laid down and followed another rule: "Never do anything as a "journalist which you would not do as a gentlemen." How faithfully that rule was obeyed his twenty years of editorial work attest.
It was O'Reilly's rare fortune to be appreciated and loved during his lifetime. If any side of his character was misunderstood by good people, it was the healthy, vigorous one which rejoiced in manly sport, especially in that of boxing. How such a gentle, kindly heart coald dwell within a lusty, combative body was a mystery not only to the narrow folk who mistake dyspepsia for piety, but even to truly religious people less generously endowed with natural appetites. As the Jesuit Father, John J. Murphy, wisely says of O'Reilly's love for the manly art, "He hated everything in it but the higher essence—the game spirit, the heroic endurance, the plucky heart." But once engaged in a friendly encounter he fought gallantly, as if fighting for life itself.