Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/244
This page has been validated.
THE IRISH IN AUSTRALIA.
ness and an alacrity that showed pretty plainly how the wind was blowing in high quarters. Father Harold, hearing of the sad turn affairs had taken on the continent, left his little island prison in the Pacific, in the hope of being allowed to minister to the spiritual wants of the larger Catholic population around Sydney; but, immediately on his arrival, he was suppressed and interdicted like his predecessor; and like him, too, he refused to remain in a place where his hands were tied, his mouth closed, and his eyes bandaged by order of an autocratic governor. With Father Harold's departure for Ireland, the Australian continent was left without a solitary Catholic priest, and it continued in that hapless condition of spiritual destitution for no less than nine miserable years. During the whole of this terrible time, the country was compulsorily Protestant, that is to say, prisoners of every religious belief were obliged to attend the service of the Church of England. The penalty for refusal was a flogging of twenty-five lashes. A second refusal was visited with fifty lashes, and a third would have to be expiated in the chain-gang or in the solitude of the prison cell. In these latter days, Australian Anglicans have frequently laboured hard to whitewash this foul page of their history by contending that the foregoing penalties were never actually enforced, and they have been considerably aided in this contention by the care and completeness with which the compromising records in relation to this unpleasant business have been committed to the flames J5ut the first quarter of our century is not so remote from our day as to preclude the possibility of reliable evidence on the point being forthcoming; and whenever the allegation has been made in the press or on the platform that the penalties for staying away from the Church of England service