Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/328

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way, he succeeded in collecting sufficient evidence to place the whole party on their trial. At every stage he was obstructed by influential friends of the prisoners and numerous sympathisers, who refused to believe that killing the blacks was really murder. Every effort was made to suppress the evidence, but without avail. With invincible courage and determination, Mr. Plunkett prosecuted his self-imposed mission of mercy to a dying race, elicited link by link the whole dreadful story, and awakened the slumbering conscience of the nation to the iniquity that was working in their midst. Truth and justice finally prevailed; seven of the murderers expiated their crime on the scaffold, and the poor blacks were in the future treated more like human beings and less like legitimate game for every white scoundrel in possession of a gun.

When parliamentary government came into operation in New South Wales, Mr. Plunkett sat for some years in the Legislative Assembly, and at a later period he became a member, and was for a time president, of the Legislative Council. Throughout his political career he was distinguished for the same sterling honesty of purpose, strict impartiality, and generous consideration for all classes of citizens, that signalised his official actions as permanent Attorney-General of the colony. "I confess," said Sir Gavan Duffy, in speaking of Mr. Plunkett at a public gathering, "I am proud to see a man of my own creed and nation, who for five-and-twenty years had a power almost uncontrolled over the course of legislation, secure for himself the adherence of the most adverse classes by his systematic liberality and justice. Every clergyman of the Church of England voted for this Irish Catholic; the Wesleyans supported him; the Jews supported him. And why? Because when power was