Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/345

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331
LITERATURE, SCIENCE AND ART.

'Felix and Felicitas.' The promise of those chapters is quite exceptional; they equal in brilliancy and vivacity the best writing of Edward Whitty, and they surpass that vivid writer in construction. It is difficult to believe, while reading the opening chapters of this, I fear, unfinished work, that the author lived at the other side of the world from the scenes and the society which he depicts with such accuracy, lightness, grace and humour." Though it is on "His Natural Life" that the literary reputation of Marcus Clarke will permanently rest, he is perhaps seen at his best in those thirty shorter tales and sketches which he wrote during his brief but industrious lifetime. In these minor efforts, the versatility of his genius is strikingly displayed. Some of them are tenderly pathetic, whilst others are grotesquely humorous, and several may be described as wildly imaginative, but all are essentially Australian in their character, and each of them happily illustrates some particular type or phase of colonial life. They afford abundant evidence that if the life of their talented author had been prolonged, he would, with matured powers of study and observation, have diligently explored the virgin fields of fiction at the antipodes, and enriched Australian literature with more than one book racy of the soil.

Edward Whitty, the "vivid writer" with whom Mrs. Cashel Hoey compares Marcus Clarke in the foregoing extract, also lies in a Melbourne cemetery, where his last resting-place is pointed out by a column of white marble that was placed over his grave by the well-known, warm-hearted, sympathetic Irish actor, Barry Sullivan. Like Marcus Clarke, Edward Whitty was born of Irish parents in London, and, by a strange coincidence, both died in Melbourne at precisely the same premature age of thirty-four. Whitty's