Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/159

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145
IRISH IMMIGRANTS IN THE COLONIES.

superintendents. Whilst many of those officials were commendably strict, but courteous, in their relations with the emigrants under their charge, there were others in whom the spirit of the petty tyrant was uppermost, and these, particularly if they had previous anti-Irish prejudices, took a savage delight in wounding the susceptibilities and even outraging the bodies of the Hibernians on board. As a result of official inquiries instituted on arrival in Australia, more than one of the privileged ruffians who thus abused their power and position, were heavily fined and dismissed for disgraceful conduct on the voyage. A perusal of the sickening evidence in these cases, as set forth at length in government blue-books, leaves no room to doubt that fine and degradation from office was too light a punishment altogether for such offences against manliness and decency, as were sheeted home to these "gentlemen" by Act of Parliament. However, it is gratifying to record that the number of such scoundrelly surgeon-superintendents was comparatively small. Colonel Mundy assures us that "the majority of the ships were admirably conducted,"[1] and he adds his weighty personal testimony, that many of the Irish girls brought out in them succeeded remarkably well in the colonies. He says he was particularly struck, on visiting the immigration depot, with the cleanly, decent appearance of the Irish girls as a body, as well as by their marked superiority in good looks. There are not very many accessible pictures of life on board an Australian emigrant ship, but a few graphic

  1. Reports to this effect repeatedly occur in the blue-books: "The immigrants, with a few exceptions, were Irish nominees and conducted themselves throughout the voyage to the entire satisfaction of the surgeon-superintendent."