Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/148

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who would have talked to me about my soul. I was amazed when my aide-de-camp introduced a handsome, stately young woman, who proceeded to reason the question as if she thought her reason, and experience too, worth as much as mine."

Mrs. Chisholm succeeded in converting the Governor so far to her way of thinking, that he consented to give her the conditional use of a government building. True, it was but a low wooden structure; still, it was not to be despised in a city which had a nightly average of 600 homeless emigrant girls. With characteristic energy, Mrs. Chisholm had soon transformed the old, abandoned storehouse—for such it had originally been—into an institution answering, in some degree at least, to the title she attached to it—that of "Female Emigrants' Home." Sacrificing every domestic comfort, she took up her abode in the institution that had been called into being by her untiring exertions, and, every night before retiring to rest, she made it a point to visit every one of the hundred homeless girls that the place was made to accommodate by economising space to the utmost. A number of these poor but virtuous girls—a large proportion of them Irish girls—had, before being admitted to the Home, slept out for many nights in the public parks or in the sheltered recesses of the rocks around the harbour, rather than expose themselves to the dangers of the streets. Nothing was more discreditable than the deplorable want of foresight exhibited by the New South Wales Government at this time, in encouraging female immigration to its shores, whilst making little or no provision for the safety or protection of the girls, either on the voyage or when they landed.

The abuse of power by ship captains, and the immorality of the inferior officers, were considerably checked by a prose-