Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/272

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the arrival of the first Roman Catholic Bishop of Hobart, Dr. Willson, in May, 1844, that this gross abuse of power became entirely a thing of the past. John Francis Maguire, in his well-known work on "Rome: Its Ruler and its Institutions," mentions that the feelings of the late Pope Pius IX.—himself a great prison reformer—"were touchingly expressed on the occasion of his giving a final audience to the late Bishop Willson, when that prelate was about to return to his distant diocese: 'Be kind, my son,' said the Pope, 'to all your flock at Hobart, but be kindest to the condemned.'" These weighty words from the lips of the Sovereign Pontiff made a deep and lasting impression on the newly-consecrated prelate, and, during the whole of his subsequent episcopal career. Dr. Willson was the best friend of the banished prisoners of the United Kingdom, the "Apostle of Reform," in the words of Sir Charles Trevelyan. It was his regular practice to board every convict ship immediately on its arrival in Hobart. Then he would single out the Catholic convicts, give them a wholesome practical address, telling them what they should avoid, and pointing out to them the path of righteousness and reform. Many are the testimonies to the beneficial effects of "good Bishop Willson's" earnest endeavours to ameliorate the hard lot of Great Britain and Ireland's transported prisoners. Here is an official one out of several of the like character that might be quoted: "I can affirm," writes Mr. James Boyd, the commandant of the prison at Port Arthur for a long series of years, "from personal observation and the abundant voluntary, testimony of the prisoners themselves, that but one sentiment animates them towards his lordship's person, viz., that of mingled gratitude, respect, and affection. Many a hardened, reckless convict has, through Bishop Willson's