Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/273

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259
THE CHURCH IN THE COLONIES.

missionary zeal and Howard-like philanthropy, been awakened to a sense of his unhappy position, and induced to enter upon an amended career, whereby he has manifested a disposition to act rationally and conform to discipline whilst he remained under my charge, and has ultimately become a respectable member of society." And Colonel Champ, the head of the Tasmanian Convict Department, bore further testimony to the "constant and unwearied exertions of Bishop Willson in administering to the spiritual needs of the convict population, and the success with which those exertions have been attended." Sir William Denison, the Governor of Tasmania, wrote in these terms on the eve of the Bishop's departure for a brief visit to Europe in 1852: "If the government owe you much, so do the convicts; and they, I am certain, will participate in those feelings of regret, with which every one who has had the pleasure of your acquaintance w411 hear of your approaching departure."

Like all the other pioneer prelates, Bishop Willson threw himself on the generosity of the Irish Church, in the full assurance that his appeal for more missionaries to man his island diocese would not be fruitless. There were only three priests and three churches in the whole of Tasmania at the time. The Rev. Thomas Kelsh, the biographer of Bishop Willson, describing his visit to Ireland, states that "though great difficulties prevented his getting the supply of priests he had hoped for, some ecclesiastical students, quite captivated by his venerable appearance and address, volunteered for the distant colony as soon as their studies were completed." They kept their promise, came out to Tasmania, were ordained by Bishop Willson, and were established in various parts of the island, where their presence was sorely needed. Having provided his diocese with a fresh con-