Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/51

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17
HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES.

was then a handsome, lithely built young fellow of twenty, with the down of a future black mustache on his lip. He had a pair of beautiful dark eyes, that changed in expression with his varying emotions. He wore the full-dress dark blue hussar uniform, with its mass of braiding across the breast, and the busby, with its tossing plume, was set jauntily on the head and held by a linked brass strap, catching under the lower lip.

"From that time till the following February, when we were both arrested within a few days of each other, I saw him almost every day. When on guard or picket duty he never failed to communicate to me, through William Curry, a furloughed corporal of the Eighty-seventh Foot,— the famous 'Faugh a Ballaghs,'—who could go in and out of the barracks, every change worth knowing in the location and strength of the guards and pickets. He brought in some eighty men to be sworn in, had them divided into two prospective troops, obtained possession of the key of an unused postern gate, and had everything ready to take his men, armed and mounted, out of the barracks at a given signal. The signal never came, and all his and other men's risks and sacrifices were thrown away through incompetent and nerveless leadership."

It was time for the Government to exert itself, as fifteen thousand British soldiers had been enrolled in the ranks of the revolutionists. On the 15th of September, 1865, the blow fell. The Irish People newspaper, which had been for two years the organ of the physical force party, was seized by the police, and its editors, Thomas Clark Luby, John O'Leary, and Jeremiah O' Donovan Rossa, were put under arrest. This action of the Government was wholly unexpected on the part of the conspirators, who had, very unwisely, foreborne to destroy hundreds of letters of an incriminating nature from fellow-conspirators in all parts of the country. The authorities, by one stroke, were thus given the key to the whole revolutionary scheme. In the following November, Charles Joseph Kickham, another editor of The Irish People, was arrested, together with