Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/283

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269
A GROUP OF STATESMEN.

Eventually the military put in an appearance; the combatants were separated, and the Orange leaders arrested. The Catholics withdrew to the north of the city, and the Orangemen to the south. Martial law was proclaimed, and the military encamped for the night in the heart of Melbourne, midway between the two forces. Fortunately, the influence of Father Geoghegan and John O'Shanassy prevailed, and the exasperated Irish Catholics were induced to return to their homes and their distracted families. The result of that day's work was disastrous to the influence of the Orange Society in Victoria. It never raised its head in public afterwards. The Peace Preservation Act was passed for the express purpose of proclaiming the illegality of displaying Orange flags and emblems, and, though attempts have now and again been made to repeal that wise enactment, they have all deservedly failed, because the common-sense of the community was opposed to giving any secret society the power of making itself offensive and provoking breaches of the public peace. By a strange irony of fate, the hotel which was the Orange head-quarters, and the scene of the riot just described, is now, and has been for several years, known as the "Harp of Erin," with a pronounced Parnellite as its proprietor.

On only one occasion afterwards were these arch-disturbers permitted to resort to their traditional tactics. Forbidden by law to show themselves as an organisation in public, they built a Protestant Hall, and within its walls they were, of course, free to meet, drink, and talk as much and as often as they chose. But, on the evening of November 27, 1867—twenty-one years after the riot just referred to—all Melbourne was illuminated in honour of the visit of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, second son of Queen