Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/210

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alone. The scheme, viewed as a theory, looked very sound and substantial, but, as not unfrequently happens with brilliant theories, it failed miserably when put into practice. Briefly summarised, Wakefield's scheme consisted in placing a high value on land, in order to attract a socially superior class of intending colonists, and thus forming a fund by which labour, both skilled and unskilled, could be obtained at low rates. On this novel principle it was proposed to form a model community of labourers, artisans, and land-owners. The waste land of New South Wales could be purchased without difficulty at the rate of five shillings per acre, but, in order to carry out the rose-water theory of Wakefield, the land of the proposed new colony was valued at twelve shillings per acre, or 120 per cent above its presumably actual value. Surprising as it may appear, it is no less true that this chimerical project made numerous converts throughout England, and received the support of many eminent men, who afterwards no doubt wondered exceedingly what on earth induced them to lend their names to such a hare-brained scheme The promoters, amongst whom were Grote, the historian of Greece, and Henry Bulwer, had no difficulty in forming the South Australian Association on the principles laid down by the sanguine Wakefield. Dr. Whately was one of the most enthusiastic advocates" of the scheme, and, on one occasion, he waxed eloquent in describing its splendid advantages. "A colony so founded," he said, "would fairly represent English society. Every new-comer would have his own class to fall into, and to whatever class he belonged, he would find its relations to the others, and the support derived,from the others, much the same as in the parent country. There would be little more revolting to the feel-