Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/320

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of the supremest importance, and therefore of the greatest difficulty. It can only be determined by men who are prepared to do everything which the situation demands from their courageous statesmanship, and which a conscientious sense of duty requires. Should it be the privilege and, I may say, the blessing of those statesmen to deal with it successfully, their works will unfold a new page in the history of the achievements of modern legislation, and in the glory of the Empire. And in the stupendous work upon which great men are at this moment, while we sit here banqueting, engaged—to which they are devoting, the experience of illustrious lives—the statesmanship which has built up the grandeur and protected the renown of the Empire—and to which they are giving the value of services which are a kind of consecration of any cause—I say in this, perhaps of all works of modern times, the greatest in its difficulty, and the vastest in its consequences, they should be supported by our warmest sympathies and our purest prayers. It is under these circumstances that we are here this evening to celebrate a festival which appeals, and ever has appealed, to the emotional sentiment of one large section of the community, and the kindly feeling of all just and gentle men of all parts of the Empire. How different is our fortunate condition here to that of the Imperial statesmen who are called upon to face the situation in England. If this were a political demonstration—which it is not, and never should be—I might properly say that while our immediate duty is to provide for the removal of a paltry pecuniary deficit, which can be instantly effaced by a little self-denial and a slight immediate personal sacrifice there, at the heart of the Empire, the deficit to be met is one which has gone through centuries of accumulated indebted-