Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/295

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A GROUP OF STATESMEN.

newspaper reports of the day; but it is sufficient to show that, even at this early period of his colonial career, the grand idea of a federated Australia was occupying a large place in Sir Gavan Duffy's thoughts. For the practical realisation of that idea, he worked consistently and well for many years at the antipodes, and, though he has not yet had the satisfaction of seeing a second Dominion of Canada established in the south, he has the satisfaction of knowing that, through his instrumentality, many preliminary difficulties have been removed, many intercolonial jealousies smoothed down, and the way paved for a United Australia in the near future. In a special manner has he exerted himself to put down that curse of all new countries, the revival, or the attempted revival, of those bitter feuds and religious prejudices that have worked so much mischief in old and historic lands. Mr. Duffy's arrival was most opportune and beneficial to the newly-born colony of Victoria. He was the only member of its first Parliament who had sat in the House of Commons, and the knowledge and experience he had thus acquired naturally gave him a preponderating influence and prestige. It was owing to his advice and suggestions that the Victorian Legislative Assembly was made almost an exact counterpart of the House of Commons. The painful recollection of the terrible evils of unbridled landlordism in Ireland, determined Mr. Duffy to do all in his power to prevent the possibility of such inhuman scenes being re-enacted on the colonial soil of his adoption. From the first he was a vigorous land reformer, and he laboured with might and main to destroy the monopoly of the pastoral tenants, and settle the people on the lands. To him the colony was indebted for its most liberal land law—the Land Act of 1862—a measure which, if it had only been accorded fair play, and administered in accordance with