Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/289

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A GROUP OF STATESMEN.

pride and privilege, when the first stone of this great cathedral was laid—that banner a symbol of the faith which he loved and kept to the end. I see him throughout life faithful to his duties as a Catholic. In every year, and throughout his life, he was the true and consistent Catholic, a man who gloried in his religion and never had the weakness to be ashamed of it."

Sir Charles Gavan Duffy is a familiar name in both hemispheres. As the founder and editor of the Nation; the lieutenant and coadjutor of Daniel O'Connell; the organiser and biographer of Young Ireland; the compiler of the "Ballad Poetry," and himself the author of a number of vigorous popular poems, Gavan Duffy belongs to Irish history; but as Victoria's successive Minister of Lands, Prime Minister, and Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the founder of her National Picture Gallery and the most earnest worker in the cause of colonial federation, he stands in the front rank of the representative Irishmen of Australia. It was in November, 1855, that Mr. Duffy, heartsick at the numerous defections from the Tenant League, and seeing no ray of hope in the political future of Ireland, voluntarily expatriated himself and sought a new home thousands of miles away at the antipodes. To use his own mournful language on bidding farewell to the familiar scenes of Dublin, he left Ireland "a corpse on the dissecting-table." On arriving in Melbourne, in the early part of 1856, he was accorded a most enthusiastic reception at the hands of his fellow-countrymen. He was entertained at public dinners in Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat and Sydney. At the time of his arrival, the election of the first Victorian Parliament under the new constitution was in progress, and there was a universal desire to see Mr. Duffy returned as a member.