Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/335

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
321
NOTABLE IRISH-AUSTRALIANS.

state of things is visibly coming to an inglorious end. It is a matter of absolute certainty that the Irishmen who have manifested the highest qualities of government in distant colonies, and gained the esteem and affection of the mixed communities whom they were appointed to rule, would have been equally successful in the land of their birth, if only the opportunity had been given them at home for the exercise of their commanding abilities. Foremost in the list of those Irish-Australian viceroys stands the honoured name of Sir Richard Bourke, the most able and the most popular of all the Sydney governors. "He had," says Mr. Sutherland, in his "History of Australia," "the talent and energy of Macquarie (one of the early governors of New" South Wales), but he had in addition a frank and hearty manner, which insensibly won the hearts of the colonists, who, for years after his departure, used to talk affectionately of him as 'good old Governor Bourke.' During his term of office, the colony continued in a sober way to make steady progress. Governor Bourke, on his landing, found that much discontent existed with reference to the land question. It was understood that any one who applied for land to the Government, and showed that he could make a good use of it, would receive a suitable area as a free grant. But many abuses crept in under this system. In theory, all men had an equal right to obtain the land they required; but in practice it was seldom possible for one who had no friends among the officials at Sydney to obtain a grant. An immigrant had often to wait for months and see his application unheeded; while in the meantime a few favoured individuals were calling day after day at the Land Office, and receiving grant after grant of the choicest parts of the colony. "Governor Bourke made a new arrangement