Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/301

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287
A GROUP OF STATESMEN.

Crown Prosecutor for the Melbourne district. In the beginning of 1877, on the eve of a general election, he resigned that office, and surprised everybody by offering himself as an ultra-Radical candidate to the electors of North Melbourne, a division of the metropolis in which the Irish vote is particularly strong. Although he polled 1,470 votes, he failed to secure a seat on that occasion, being in a minority of 16. Not long afterwards, however, a vacancy occurring in the representation of the neighbouring electorate of West Melbourne, he was returned after a brisk and exciting contest. He had in the meantime succeeded to the baronetcy on the death of his eldest brother. Sir Colman O'Loghlen, the representative of the County Clare in the House of Commons for fourteen years. The generous men of Clare paid Sir Bryan the high compliment of electing him in his absence to fill the seat that had been vacated by the death of his brother, but he never went home to take the seat, and it remained unoccupied for a lengthened period, until the House of Commons interposed and declared a fresh vacancy. Sir Bryan had the choice between a seat for Clare in the House of Commons and a seat for West Melbourne in the Legislative Assembly of Victoria. He chose the latter, and passed in quick succession from the ministerial office of Attorney-General to that of Acting Chief-Secretary. In the middle of 1881, Sir Bryan received a commission from the Queen's representative. Lord Normanby, to form a government on his own account. Thus, in less than four years of public life. Sir Bryan O'Loghlen had attained the highest office to which any colonist could aspire. In the new Ministry he filled the offices of Prime Minister, Treasurer, and Attorney-General. Two of his colleagues, it may be added, were Irish Catholics like himself, viz., the Hon. Henry