Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/430

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There was a touch of sadness underlying all his thought. It is present almost everywhere in his writings. It comes to the surface most unexpectedly even in the lightest and gayest of his Papyrus poems. "We are growing old;" "grim Death beckons to us all." This is the burden of his song; sad, but never gloomy. He had supped too often with sorrow to be a pessimist: he had drunk too freely of pleasure to be an optimist. He had no illusions, because he believed in God and his fellow-man.

He bestowed charity with a generous hand, but his name was seldom seen in print among those of contributors to public benefactions. Privately, he gave liberally to half a score of worthy charities, while the needy individuals who received his bounty might be literally counted by the hundred. Some of them were his perpetual pensioners. Their names appear at regular and frequent intervals in the columns of a little private expense-book now in my possession, which he kept for some years before his death. One of them, an Englishman and a Protestant, was supported by his bounty for years, sent to a hospital in his declining days, and buried at last at the cost of his kindly benefactor. Most of them, however, were needy people of his own race and religion, for these came to him most readily.

Almost every second entry on the pages of that little book, intended for no eyes but his own, records a charity or a loan, which was substantially the same thing. Now it is an entry, "Sisters Good Shepherd, $5." Then another, "Colored school, S. C," the same amount. Again, "Sisters from the South, $10." Amid names recurring again and again, there is an occasional entry like "Catholic editor, $5"; old publisher, $5"; "deaf mute, $3," etc.,—persons whose very names he had not learned, or had forgotten before he could note the expenditure. "Benefits" of all sorts for theatrical people, policemen, waiters, letter-carriers, coachmen, etc., etc., found in him a regular patron.

To his employees he was always kind, considerate and