Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/203

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189
THE MOTHER OF THE AUSTRALIAS.

colony of the Australias, wrote its history in two bulky volumes, and lived to be a patriarch in the land of his exile. But Barrington's "History of New South Wales," dedicated to His Gracious Majesty George the Third, is not the literary monument that will transmit his name to an admiring posterity. He will be best and longest remembered by the audaciously witty prologue which he wrote and recited on the occasion of the first dramatic performance that was given in the city of Sydney by a company of convicts:

From distant climes, o'er widespread seas we come,
Though not with much éclat, or beat of drum;
True patriots all, for, be it understood.
We left our country for our country's good;
No private views disgrac'd our generous zeal,
"What urg'd our travels, was our country's weal;

    skill in pocket-picking. A few days after she had been speaking in this slighting strain, an elderly gentleman, of dignified bearing and affable manners, called at her mansion and inquired if her husband was in. "He would be presently," the lady replied; "and would the gentleman come in and take a seat?" The gentleman did so, and made himself so agreeable that the lady took him round to see the pictures and airios of her house. The husband not having arrived in the meantime, the gentleman expressed his regret, but he really could not wait any longer. After a graceful good-bye, he suddenly retraced his steps as if he had forgotten something, and, putting his hand into his pocket, drew out two gold pendants of ear-rings and a massive gold locket. "I think, madam, these are your property," he remarked, with a serio-comic smile, as he handed them back to the lady. "Kindly tell your husband that Mr. Barrington called," and, with a profound bow, he vanished. The lady could hardly believe her eyes, but one glance in the mirror was sufficient. There were no pendants to her ear-rings, and the chain around her neck had no locket attached to it. They had been deftly removed by the former prince of pickpockets whilst she was amiably showing him around, and, so skilfully was the difficult feat accomplished, that she had not the slightest suspicion of her loss. Barrington had a twofold object in perpetrating this practical and rather risky joke. It was both a rebuke and an experiment. He wanted to mildly punish the lady for her derogatory remarks about him, and he wished to ascertain whether both his hands still possessed their cunning after thirty years of abstinence from pocket-picking.