Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/243

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THE CHURCH IN THE COLONIES.

of rebels and traitors, and that the peace of the settlement would be endangered by their continuance. Without holding any inquiry into these spiteful allegations, the Governor jumped to the conclusion that they must be correct, and, by an order in the Government Gazette, he suppressed the public celebration of the Mass throughout the colony. There was not a shadow of justification for this high-handed proceeding, which was only possible under a system of military despotism such as then prevailed in New South Wales. It is quite true that a convict outbreak had to be suppressed soon afterwards, but the disturbance had no connection whatever with the meetings of the Roman Catholics for public worship. Indeed, Father Dixon accompanied the commanding officer and exercised all his influence on the side of order and humanity. Nevertheless, the story that this was an attempted repetition under southern skies of the Irish insurrection of '98 received the stamp of official approval, and has been accepted as gospel by several historians who did not care to inquire too closely into the facts. But nobody believes that silly story now, for direct appeals to contemporary evidence have shown conclusively that the "Colonial Vinegar Hill," as it was long the fashion to call this convict outbreak, was not traceable either to race or creed, but was the immediate and natural result of the tyranny and the brutality of heartless overseers towards the prisoners in their charge. Father Dixon tried every possible means to obtain the removal of the governmental interdict, but without the slightest success. He was forbidden to offer up the Holy Sacrifice, to preach, to baptise, or to visit the sick. The good priest soon found his position to be intolerable, and he applied for leave to return to Ireland—a permission which was granted with a readi-