Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/17

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
3
A SURVEY OF THE SOUTH

which no scope existed in the land of his birth. And it has been a source of surprise to the host of individuals, whose knowledge of Ireland is confined to what they read in partisan books and newspapers, to find that the people, who when in their native land were described as senseless rioters and incorrigible landlord-shooters, are conspicuous in America for their quiet behaviour and respect for law and order. These facts have come out in the published evidence of foreign tourists in America, and are a splendid testimonial to the noble ingredients of the Irish character when developed under free and favourable conditions.

But, whilst the western Irish exodus has formed the subject of much European investigation, the southern branch of the great emigration stream has not been traced and examined with the same attention. The reasons are obvious. It is only of late years that the Australian colonies have completely recovered from the delirium of the gold fever, and have begun to assume the recognised aspect of settled communities. Hitherto, it would have been unsafe to describe the evidences of possibly fleeting appearances as facts indicative of the future, or to draw elaborate conclusions in the absence of substantial information. Besides, the immense watery gulf of thirteen thousand miles that separates the Australian colonies from the great centres of Europe, and the anticipated difficulty of reaching the scattered settlements of a continent only partially explored, damped the ardour of adventurous travellers and inquiring students. Hence the number of literary tourists in Australia has, until very recently, been comparatively small. Now, however, the case is far different. The Australian "Empire of the South" has advanced to an important position; the slow and tedious voyage of several months' duration has been