Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/48

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ful agent of Government, a smooth, insidious scoundrel, who ingratiated himself into the confidence of the most wary, professing the warmest patriotic sentiments, and carrying his deception even to the extent of assuming to be a devout Catholic. As such he went to Confession and Communion with pious punctuality.

This utterly depraved scoundrel deserves more than passing mention. His other deserts he received when, in open day, on a crowded Dublin street, he was shot dead by an illegal agent of righteous retribution. In the year 1864, under the assumed name of Kelly, and the disguise of a zealous Catholic and patriot, he presented himself to the Fenian conspirators at Clonmel, Tipperary, and showed so much enthusiasm in the cause that he was speedily appointed an officer and authorized to organize a "circle."

His zeal was so great that he made many converts among young men who, but for his exhortations, would never have dreamed of entering upon such a dangerous adventure. He personally administered the Fenian oath to a large number of soldiers.

When the collapse came, the chief witness for the Government was the oily "Mr. Kelly," water-bailiff of Clonmel, alias Head Constable Talbot. This Government agent was the lay figure from which Boucicault drew one of his greatest studies, Harvey Duff, the informer in "The Shaughraun."

Ten years after Talbot's betrayal of the Fenians, and two years after the informer had gone to his account, one of his victims wrote as follows in his paper, the Boston Pilot:

"There is underlying the character of 'The Shaughraun,' one rigid and terrible line—a line typical and national—hatred of an informer. Mr. Boucicault, an Irishman himself, must have carefully studied the devilish character of Talbot before he drew that of Harvey Duff. Here, too, we find a man—coward at heart, but confident and cunning—who wins the trust of the peasantry, and then swears their lives away. Villainy added to villainy fills the trai-