Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/312

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"When, five-and-twenty years ago, I devoted myself to public life, I knew full well the vicissitudes of public opinion to which it was exposed, and I was prepared to encounter them. I knew the proverbial inconstancy of the popular gale, that the breeze which filled my flowing sheet to-day might become a head wind to-morrow. I had learned from the unerring history of the past that, whilst the misdeeds of public men are graven on brass, the records of their virtues and services are traced on sand. I had been instructed by the same stern teacher that the lauded patriot of to-day—the benefactor of his country and his kind—might be the despised exile of to-morrow. I foresaw, too, that in a shifting population like this, where circumstances and interests were in a state of rapid transition, I should be particularly subject to events of this description. But with all this knowledge of the fate to which public men are so often subjected, I now fearlessly submit myself a second time to the ordeal of your opinion. From that tribunal I know there is no appeal; but I am content to rely on the merits of my public life. If you consider that that life has been devoted to your service, if you consider that my labours have not been unfruitful of good to this our native and adopted country, you will not on this occasion forsake me. (Cheers and cries of 'No, no.') But whatever your verdict may be with regard to myself, if it be the last public service I am to render you, I charge you never to forget your tried, devoted, indefatigable friend, William Bland. No man has ever served a country in a purer spirit of patriotism; no man ever more deeply deserved the gratitude of a generous people than he has. You may cause it to be written on the tombs of my friend and myself—Here lie the rejected of Sydney. But I will venture to prophesy that in juxtaposition with these words posterity will