Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/432

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not be spoken in a lady's drawing-room. He was neither a saint nor a prude, but he was a man of clean mind and tongue, and foul language revolted him like the touch of carrion.

Another thing which he hated almost as much as vulgar speech was the recounting of so-called "Irish" stories and all imitations of "the brogue." He loved his country and its people with a tenderness almost incomprehensible to anybody who did not share that love. Anything tending to make either ridiculous was to him as jarring as the mimicry of one's mother would be to another man. One had to be Irish, not only in blood but also in heart and soul, before he ventured to amuse O'Reilly with any jest, however harmless, at the foibles of his countrymen.

But how gladly he welcomed any praise of their virtues, how eagerly he jumped at the least extenuation of their faults, how unreservedly he took to his heart the man who championed their cause! "He could not hate any man who loved Ireland," says Count Plunkett. I will add, he could embrace his bitterest personal enemy, if that enemy only served Ireland.

To a nature such as his there was every reason why he should love his native land. She was poor, oppressed, suffering; and he had suffered with her and for her. He loved America with both heart and head; for it had given him freedom, home, and an honorable career. Moreover, he was a republican in all his instincts and principles, a believer in the People and their right to self-government, an unsparing enemy of caste and class distinctions in every form. Nobody has better understood or paid truer tribute to that which is highest and best in the American character, its courage, magnanimity, self-governing instincts, and love of justice.

The life of John Boyle O'Reilly teaches anew the lesson that the man just and firm of purpose can conquer circumstances. The failure of his youthful patriotic dream did not discourage his brave heart; the degradation of the prison did not contaminate his pure soul; poverty did not