Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/353

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339
LITERATURE, SCIENCE AND ART

turning-point of his life. Under the patronage of Sir Richard Bourke, the reigning governor and an admiring compatriot, he gave a concert in Sydney that was so successful from every point of view, as to convince the young Irish emigrant that he had been allowing a God-given talent to lie unproductive. As if to make up for lost time, Wallace now applied himself with much industry to the work of composition in private and violin-playing in public. He travelled professionally through the Australian colonies, and he more than once placed his life in jeopardy by a reckless disregard of necessary precautions, when passing through districts where the natives happened to be in a belligerent humour at the time. On one of those occasions, he was on the point of being sacrificed by a party of Maories who had made him prisoner, and it was only the opportune intercession of the chief's daughter that saved him from a horrible death. After this, his Bohemian temperament prompted him into the eccentricity of embarking on a whaling voyage, and this also was very nearly ending fatally for him. The native crew mutinied in mid-ocean and seized the vessel, and Wallace was one of the four white men who barely escaped with their lives. We next have a glimpse of the wandering minstrel crossing the Andes on the back of a mule, and traversing the whole distance from Valparaiso to Buenos Ayres in this primitive fashion. Other romantic episodes in the chequered career of this erratic genius might be narrated, but, to turn from the man to the music, it is a safe prophecy to assert that many a year will elapse before the works that he has given to the modern lyric stage will cease to charm the popular ear. Such widely-known and such favourite airs as "Let me like a soldier fall," "There is a flower that bloometh," "In happy moments, day by day," "Alas, those