Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/60

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

one of a number of young Irishmen of spirit and determination who had resolved on building homes for themselves in the distant south. On landing in Melbourne in 1840, he hired himself at ten shillings a week, but it was not long before his salary was doubled. In five years' time he was able to start business on his own account, and he succeeded so well that he gradually acquired by purchase a considerable amount of property in the principal street of the city. Then came the gold discoveries, with their consequent rapid rise in the value of houses and lands. Thus it came about that the young Irish lad, who in 1840, was glad to accept ten shillings a week for the hard labour of his hands, was enabled in 1857 to retire from business with an annual rent-roll of £19,000, and to enter Parliament as the representative of East Melbourne. Unlike others who were enriched in a similar manner, he never overlooked the obligations he owed both to his native and his adopted land.

A moralist of the era has placed on record the reflections suggested to his mind by the contemplation of the noble philanthropy of Ambrose Kyte, as contrasted with the miserly selfishness of many others who had been equally favoured by fortune: "One act of splendid generosity is worthily followed by another, and the careful maintenance of the donor's incognito enhances the merit of the action by placing the motive beyond the reach of imputation. In proportion as such instances are rare, so should they be selected for special eulogy and pointed out as admirable examples. Of the hundreds and thousands who amass wealth or achieve an independence in these colonies, how few there are, who, by so much as a solitary act of beneficence, acknowledge their gratitude to the country which gave them fortune, identify themselves with its advancement, or leave any honourable trace of their