Page:The Coming Colony Mennell 1892.djvu/36

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THE COMING COLONY.

no one with a head on his shoulders would now care to recall the past and restore the old autocratic regime, it is only fair to Downing Street and the series of able men who under its auspices administered the Government, to bear testimony to the enlightenment and enterprise which, in the midst of somewhat somnolent surroundings, on the whole characterised their rule. The impulse to advance certainly came rather from above than from below, and when Western Australia becomes what her friends wish for her, and which her vast resources justify them in wishing with more of certainty than hope, the names of her early Governors, as well as of Sir Frederick Weld, Sir William Robinson, and Sir Frederick Broome, will deservedly be held in high esteem. Responsible government is evidently going to do marvels for the country, but this should not make the people forget that the impulse which is likely to swell into the full tide of progress and prosperity cam e before autonomous institutions were persistently agitated for, much less conceded.

Exploration, one of the first duties of government in a new territory, was certainly fostered with no niggard hand. Postal and telegraphic facilities were also afforded to an extent which may seem trivial in comparison with the vastness of the territory included in the colony, but which is extraordinary when considered in connection with the smallness of the popu­lation and the way it is scattered over the huge area which it cannot be said to occupy. Under the Downing Street regime roads were constructed, and a railway system was inaugurated, which some years ago broke the ice of the old lethargy, and without which the thriving agricultural settlements at New­ castle, Northam, York, and further south, at Katanning, could never have been called into prosperous being. The heritage which is now handed over, and a share in which there is no disposition on the part of the present inhabitants to grudge to suitable new-comers from the old country, if it has not given rise to a "bloated plutocracy," has, at any rate, no cancerous growth of pauperism to blight it in the bud. Throughout the wide bounds of Western Australia there. is not a single able­ bodied pauper, so that the Government have done well to sub­stitute for the unpopular name of "poorhouse," as applied to