Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/425

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HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES.
arid soil, the tiniest, prettiest little tuft of green clover which, it seemed, my eyes had ever seen. And then he told me how he had come down there alone, feeling lonely and despondent (his family being away), and worried by those little annoyances of life which none Can escape. His mind was dwelling for the moment upon the barrenness and emptiness of this world, the whole scene by which he was Surrounded seeming perfectly in accord with his own thoughts, when suddenly he spied this little bunch of clover. "And when I saw," said he, "that emblem of God's all-pervading presence, which He had, I believe, put there for me, which He had sent His rain and dew to nourish and His sunlight to strengthen, and which He had made grow in this little desert as a sign of His far-reaching power—a realization of His wonderful goodness and protecting care rolled over me like a wave from the ocean at my feet. I thought of all the blessings which I had to thank and praise Him for; and as the wave rolled back it bore with it the sense of loneliness and despondency which had oppressed me, and left me soothed and strengthened, and with a renewed faith in the nearness of God to all. His creatures. Standing there on that rocky coast, the fresh wind of heaven blowing around him and the rolling ocean stretching out to the horizon, he apostrophized that little bunch of clover in a strain which I have never heard equaled. It was a poem of sublime faith in God and His love for man, and I listened spellbound to his matchless eloquence.

He loved nature and he loved art, but he better loved mankind. Thai; love was given freest expression to those near him, his wife and little daughters. Without entering into the sacredness of his domestic life, it is enough to say that there he was truly at his best. He was infinitely patient, tender, and considerate. He would read for hours every evening to his little ones from the book, which he cherished and taught them to understand, Shakespeare, Milton, Dante, Shelley, Byron, Keats, and all the masters of English verse. One summer, when his wife was away at Nantucket, he read the Arabian Nights through to his little girls, taking a boyish delight in breaking all rules of wise conduct by prolonging the entertainment away into the unhallowed hours of morning, and enjoining secrecy on his fellow-culprits.

Here is a letter, one of many, written to his daughters, Bessie and Agnes, at their convent home in Elmhurst, Providence.