Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/145

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IRISH IMMIGRANTS IN THE COLONIES.

helpless ones of her own sex—the poor emigrant girls who were turned adrift without friend or counsellor in that city of sin, and but too frequently were inveigled into houses of ill-fame in less than twenty-four hours after leaving their ships. Against this monstrous evil Mrs. Chisholm determined to wage a ceaseless combat. The brave-hearted woman commenced her campaign—more glorious in its results than any recorded in the military history of nations—by systematically meeting every emigrant ship on arrival, gathering the unprotected girls around her, giving them sound motherly advice, and, when necessary, sheltering and protecting them in her own house. She often had nine of these friendless girls at a time under her hospitable roof; but, as ship after ship arrived in the harbour, she saw the absolute necessity of establishing an institution large enough to afford protection to the many who stood so urgently in need of a temporary asylum. With a view to arousing the respectable public opinion of the place to the pressing urgency of what she proposed, Mrs. Chisholm contemplated publishing a large collection of letters in her possession, detailing the miseries of young women on their first landing in Sydney, but she was dissuaded from this step by representations of the injury that would be inflicted on the colony by such an exposure. Then she sought the cooperation of a few influential ladies—Lady O'Connell, Lady Bowling, Mrs. Roger Therry, Mrs. Richard Jones, Mrs. Mackenzie, Mrs. Wallen and Miss Chambers—all of whom promised to assist in founding a Female Emigrants' Home in Sydney.

Mrs. Chisholm has left on record a frank confession of her feelings at the inception of the unique philanthropic