Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/292

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

ments of life? These were the topics on which he had proposed to address them that night, but he had a nearer duty to discharge. One of the duties he owed to the mixed community from whom that splendid gift had come, was to protest against the attempt visible in several places to introduce religious feuds and distinctions. He could not see what any man, high or low, wise or foolish, hoped to gain by setting Protestant against Catholic, and Catholic against Protestant. They might destroy peace and prosperity in their country, but they could not possibly destroy one another. After a generation of bad blood and wasted energies, the struggle would end in leaving every one who outlived it in a worse position than if it had never taken place. The rival creeds had quarrelled in Canada for twenty years, and with what result? The prostration and the provincialisation of that fine country. But they gave up the contest, united on terms honourable to both, and the country commenced to outrun the neighbouring great republic in growth from that hour. In the name of common-sense, what justification was there for raising the anti-Catholic cry in Victoria? If the Catholics were aiming at some undue or unreasonable power, he could understand it, but no one could pretend that such was the case. Since he had landed on Australian shores, he had constantly urged that it was the interest and duty of all classes to fuse into one common Australian nationality. No men were better disposed to do so than the men of his own race and creed, but they were not members of the Peace Society, and if they were misrepresented and assailed without cause, they would naturally stand on the defensive. If they were threatened with political extinction, they were entitled and bound to answer, and all fair men of whatever creed would applaud them for