Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/217

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FOUR OF THE FAMILY.

Commissioners, a copy of whose report he enclosed. The Commissioners admitted that taking South Australia by itself, it had not received its equitable proportion of Irish emigrants, a state of things which they attributed to the peculiar circumstances under which that particular colony was founded. "The first settlers," they remarked, "were, with few exceptions, English capitalists, who had acquired by purchase the right of nominating emigrants for free passages and who chiefly selected English labourers." Taking the Australian colonies as a whole, the Commissioners alleged that Ireland had received ample justice in the matter of emigration.

The effect of this energetic remonstrance was that something more closely resembling fair play was afterwards meted out to intending Irish emigrants to South Australia, and a goodly number of them were brought out and satisfactorily settled on the land. Adelaide, the capital of the colony, grew apace, and is now a handsome, well-planned, and well-regulated city of 120,000 inhabitants.

Western Australia enjoys the curious distinction of being at the same time the largest and the least populous of the Australian colonies. It is eight times as large as Great Britain and Ireland, and comprises the immense tract of country lying between the 18th and 35th parallels of latitude, and stretching from the 129th meridian to the Indian Ocean. Its area is estimated at 975,920 square miles or 625 millions of acres, whilst, in striking contrast to this immensity of space, the population does not exceed forty thousand souls. A considerable portion of this huge expanse is not yet thoroughly explored, and the population is practically limited to a small sea-coast area on the south-western side. A "French scare" was the moving impulse that led to the foundation of this