Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/54

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clock, its place being usurped, as he tells in the poem, by "a new-fashioned. Yankee" intruder.

The fellow-prisoner was Captain James Murphy, a veteran of the American Civil War, who had been arrested, while traveling in Ireland, on the false charge of being a deserter from the British army. When Captain Murphy was transferred from Arbor Hill, his person and clothing were searched rigorously, but nothing contraband was found, as he had hidden the poems, written in pencil, and the following letter from their author, in the ventilator of his cell:

My Dear Old Fellow: I have a good many more bits of poetry of my own manufacture, but they are of a nature which would not serve you were they discovered going to you. I also was cautioned about this courier, but I think he is true. If you get this, and can depend on any one to call, I'll give you a long letter and more poems. I wrote "The Old Clock" to-day. If you can possibly give a copy of it to my father, do. He or my brother will tell you all about the "Old Clock," etc. I was reminded of it by looking at the prison clock this morning.

Mr. Foster was compelled to withdraw the poem from the copy-books, as the National School Board objected to sanctioning the production, however innocent, of a Fenian. Some years afterwards Mr. Foster visited America, and on his return told the following interesting sequel to the incident:

"On my arrival at Boston, I called on the proprietor of the Pilot. He said: 'To-morrow morning I shall send a young man from this office to call on you. He will question you as to the object of your present visit to America, and I will print a paragraph which may be the means of bringing some of your old friends about you.'

"Next morning a handsome young man of good address called on me at my hotel, and after some conversation, I asked him his name.

"'John Boyle O'Reilly,' said he.

"'Are you the author of a little poem called "The Old School Clock"?'

"'I am,' he replied.