Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/287

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273
A GROUP OF STATESMEN.

opinion may divide us—differences perhaps incidental to the working of constitutional government in a young community—we must all concur in testifying our admiration of a gentleman who has dedicated to the honourable, but arduous and unthankful, labours of political life, great abilities, vigorous thought, anxious study, and long experience, unquestionable honesty of purpose, indomitable energy, and a resolute devotion to what he believes to be the true and permanent interests of the country. In proportion to the rarity of such efforts as these must be the sincerity of our acknowledgments. To have spent the best years of existence in the service of the State, and to have done so at a time when innumerable avenues to fortune were opening on every side, and when comparatively few were found capable of exercising the self-denial implied in remaining faithful to the duties of a political leader, would alone constitute a strong and lasting claim on our esteem. As one of the principal framers of our constitution, and of a system of administration on the gold-fields, under which disaffection was replaced by loyalty and order; as the strenuous opponent of transportation to Australia, and the earnest friend and zealous promoter of the principle of local self-government, and of every undertaking calculated to advance civil and religious liberty, sustain the reputation and accelerate the progress of the colony of Victoria, we offer to you this sincere expression of our regard, and express the hope that we may soon have the pleasure of welcoming your return to a country which can ill afford to be deprived of the services of such an experienced and able politician."

From the earliest period of his colonial career we find Sir John O'Shanassy consistently fostering the sentiment of