The Irish in Australia/Chapter 2
GREATER BRITAIN'S METROPOLIS.
THE IRISH ELEMENT IN VICTORIA—PROGRESS OF MELBOURNE—TRADE AND COMMERCE—ST. PATRICK'S CATHEDRAL—ST. PATRICK'S AND ST. FRANCIS XAVIER'S COLLEGES—ST. PATRICK'S HALL—THE CHURCH OF ST. FRANCIS—IRISH GIRLS, A CREDIT TO THEIR RACE—THE PUBLIC LIBRARY, MUSEUM, AND NATIONAL GALLERY—THEIR FOUNDER, SIR REDMOND BARRY—THE UNIVERSITY—SUCCESSES OF IRISH STUDENTS—THE TOWN. HALL AND MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT—MR. ANTHONY TROLLOPE'S ATTACK ON THE IRISHMEN OF MELBOURNE—HIS UNTRUTHFULNESS EXPOSED—A RING OF PROSPEROUS SUBURBS.
According to the census of 1881 Victoria has a population of, in round numbers, 900,000, of whom one-fifth are either Irish born, or of Irish parentage. Melbourne, the capital, with its numerous suburbs of Carlton, Collingwood, Fitzroy, Richmond, Hotham, Emerald Hill, Port Melbourne,Williamstown, Footscray, Prahran, Hawthorn, St. Kilda and Brighton, forms a splendid city of 350,000 inhabitants, embracing 90,000 of the Irish race. The principal provincial centres are Ballarat, Sandhurst, Geelong, Castlemaine, Echuca, Beechworth, Stawell, Belfast, Warrnambool, Kilmore, and Kyneton, in all of which the Green Isle is well and ably represented. Melbourne is the metropolis of Australia, the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere, the great centre of antipodean life and activity. When it is remembered that fifty years ago a forest of gum-trees occupied the site on which this bustling city now stands, and that, within the recollection of many living persons, black fellows have encamped where colossal banks and stately public buildings now rear their lofty heads against the blue Australian sky, it is not surprising that visitors should be amazed at what they see before them. The progress of Melbourne from the primeval wildness of less than half a century ago of its brilliant position to-day in the world of culture, civilisation, and commerce, fully justifies the epithet of "marvellous" applied to it by the much-travelled George Augustus Sala. The rapid growth of San Francisco is the only contemporaneous incident that suggests itself by way of comparison, but it remains to be seen whether the great American city of the West will eventually distance the great Australian city of the South in the race of material and permanent prosperity. Melbourne is situated at the head of a large inlet or land-locked sea called Port Phillip. It is bisected by the River Yarra, the native name for "everflowing water." This river is navigable for several miles, and thus the large intercolonial steamers are enabled to come up almost to the doors of the massive warehouses, and discharge their multifarious cargoes. But most of the ocean vessels and mercantile marine remain in the bay. Port Melbourne and Williamstown, the two ports of the capital, presenting all the facilities and conveniences that could be desired. Melbourne proper is built on two hills, gradually sloping to the river, the intervening valley, covered with shops and warehouses, being about a mile in width.
Sailing up the bay from the Heads, one of the first objects that arrest the stranger's eye is the magnificent Cathedral of St. Patrick, crowning the summit of the Eastern Hill—a monument of the undying ftxith and active piety of the exiled children of the Isle of Saints. It has been in course of erection for more than a quarter of a century, the noble sum of £200,000 having been subscribed in voluntary contributions during that period to its building fund by the Irishmen and Irishwomen of Victoria. Though still unfinished, the elaborate and expressive design of its architect, Mr. Wardell, is rapidly being fulfilled. A portion of the main building has for years been used for public worship, accommodation being provided for a congregation of 3,000. When finished, the cathedral will accommodate more than double that number. It occupies the site of a smaller church which was hastily erected when Melbourne was not much larger than a village, but the prophetic eye of faith saw in that village not only the great southern metropolis of to-day, but the far greater city of a coming time. Short-sighted people of that early period were amused and astonished at the idea of the Roman Catholics building a grand cathedral in the "bush," but most of them lived to see what they then called the "bush" become the very heart and centre of the greatest city of Australasia. Addressing a large public meeting of his co-religionists on June 20th, 1880, the Hon. John Gavan Duffy, M.P. reminded his audience of "the wonderful and magnificent basilicas and cathedrals which Catholics in the ages of faith had erected in Europe, which were an honour to their builders, a glory to the earth, and would last as long as the world held together." "We have here," he remarked, "a noble site which should be crowned by a nobler edifice. It has often struck me, when sailing up the bay, what a thrilling spectacle it will be to a Catholic immigrant to see, as he approaches our shores, our noble tower crowned by the Catholic cross, telling him that even in this remote corner of the globe he will not be an outcast or a stranger, but will find himself amongst brethren of the faith." As a companion picture to this may be added the testimony of one of the ablest and most accomplished of Australian journalists, Mr. Howard Willoughby, who, in his collected series of sketches entitled "The Critic in Church," writes in this graceful and appreciative strain: "St. Patrick's Cathedral is a pile which looms above Melbourne, the first object starting into sight as we approach the city from any quarter; a structure massive, isolated and grand, like the communion it represents. It is in its infancy just now, but the infancy is that of a giant. Already it is the wonder of the Eastern Hill, whose summit it crowns, and some time it must be its architectural pride. We may anticipate the day when the stranger, drawing rein on the Nunawading heights, or the Keilor Hill, or, as off Gellibrand's Point the liner's royals and to'gallants are reefed aloft, and the bellying canvas let fly below, will obtain his first glimpse of the double spires and of the lantern tower, near 350ft. in height, and will feel something of the glow of Chaucer's pilgrims when they caught sight of the 'Angel Towner' rising far away at the head of Canterbury's forest vista. In every way does the cathedral shed a glory on its founders, and probably they will not live to claim more than that title. They will begin, but others must finish. It shows how they can rise above the prevalent meanness and littleness of the present day, the selfishness which cares not about the future, which forgets that our buildings are the tombstones of the generation, and that by them our children will stand and judge us. England received cathedrals from her struggling forefathers; Melbourne is likely, but for the builders of St. Patrick's, to send down nothing in ecclesiastical architecture but specimens of hard bargain-driving and cheap contracting—the greatest number housed at the least possible cost; the most souls accommodated at the least expense. We build for our present wants and forget the past and ignore the future, like the degenerate savages Goldsmith pictured, occupying turf huts in sight of palaces, and, like them, wonder that 'man should need the larger pile.' The Roman Catholics, true to nobler instincts, are not content to chant 'Day by day we magnify Thee and we worship Thy name ever, world without end,' in a barn. The painfulness of the incongruity strikes them. And they, free from schism and strife, can unite for a common purpose in the cause of the Cross as other men only appear able to do in the cause of the Dollar—a thing declared by some to be the devil, it being as easy for the author of evil to take the form of a coin as to assume the disguise of a reptile. Were this land blighted at its present stage, as Greece has been, or Spain, there would remain many magnificent temples erected in the service of Mammon. Thanks to the Roman Catholics, and them alone, there would be one temple dedicated to God."
At the rear of the cathedral are the Archbishop's Palace and St. Patrick's College, the latter being one of the leading public schools of the colony. It is conducted most efficiently by the Jesuit Fathers, and many of its pupils have won high honours, both in colonial and home universities. The Very Rev. J. Ryan, S. J., has been the accomplished rector of the college for some time past. It is an institution that has given to the Victorian priesthood much-needed recruits, and to the learned professions some of their most distinguished members. More recently the Jesuits have found it necessary to establish a second collegiate institution to meet the growing requirements of the rising Catholic population. This is situated on a commanding site in the suburb of Kew, about five miles distant from the metropolis. St. Francis Xavier's College, as it has been titled, is built on a spacious estate of seventy acres in extent, and the view from its windows is superb, embracing the shining expanse of Port Phillip Bay, the picturesque panorama of the city and suburbs, and the mountain ranges in the background. Young Irish-Australians from all quarters are being carefully trained for a future honourable career in this delightful spot, under the careful supervision of its highly-successful rector, the Very Rev. C. Nulty, S. J.
Near the western end of the city proper, fronting Bourke Street, the main thoroughfare of the metropolis, stands St. Patrick's Hall, an unpretentious but historically interesting structure. Here the infant legislature of the colony assembled, and formed the machinery by which the measure of Home Rule granted by the Imperial authorities was brought into practical operation. Here, in 1854, the Victorian Convention, consisting of delegates from public meetings throughout the country, and guided by one of the purest patriots in colonial political life, the late Wilson Gray, met and agitated for a reform of the land laws, and paved the way for future liberal land legislation. Here for forty years the Irish national sentiment has been kept alive and perpetuated by historical lectures, inspiring speeches, and frequent gatherings of the clans. Here every movement initiated in the old land has met with a generous, ready, and sympathetic response, whether its object was to raise immediate funds for the relief of our famine-stricken countrymen, or to help them to conquer the tyranny of bad and brutal landlordism, or to join with them in the righteous demand for the restitution of a native parliament, or to cheer the declining days of the men who have suffered for their love of country. Here is the head-quarters of the leading Irish organisation, the St. Patrick's Society, numbering 1,000 members, and having an accumulated fund of £15,000. Here were celebrated with the utmost enthusiasm the centenaries of Daniel O'Connell, Thomas Moore, and Henry Grattan. Here, on each recurring national anniversary. Irishmen of all shades of opinion and diversities of creed, unite to do honour to the common toast, "Our Native Land." And here, many a time and oft, has a political orator addressed the surging and excited crowd of free and independent electors, for St. Patrick's Hall is the polling-place for the West Melbourne constituency, which returns two members to parliament.
In the hollow between the two hills stands the popular Church of St. Francis of Assisium, occupying the position on which the early Irish Catholics first assembled in a little body to worship their Creator. A large cross, erected in the grounds attached to the present church, indicates the precise spot where the first Mass was offered up on Victorian soil by the late Father Patrick Bonaventure Geoghegan, the earliest Irish missionary to the infant settlement, and afterwards the energetic Bishop of Adelaide, South Australia. Its historical character as the cradle of Irish Catholicism in Victoria has made St. Francis' the most popular church of the city, and nowhere in the colonies, or even in Ireland itself, could a more genuinely Irish congregation be found. It can accommodate about 2,000 persons; but as a rule, the seating accommodation is wholly inadequate to the numbers in attendance. Not only are the passages filled, but many are to be seen kneeling outside the doors, unable to obtain admission. The national character of the congregation becomes manifest, when in the course of a sermon, the preacher makes an incidental allusion to the old land, her sufferings for the faith, the achievements of her sons, her fortitude and fidelity in the past, and her bright destiny in the future as "a nation once again." The panegyric of St. Patrick is here an annual institution. It is preached on the Sunday nearest the national anniversary, and then the throng becomes something astonishing. Several reasons have been given why St. Francis' Church should have taken such a hold on the popular liking, but the one advanced by a witty Irish priest, when asked his opinion, is rather ingenious: "You see," he said, "it is a nice walk down hill to St. Francis' from every quarter, and the people never think of the up-hill journey afterwards." And this is literally true, for, no matter in what direction you start for St. Francis', you walk down a decline, it being built, as already mentioned, in the hollow between the Eastern and the Western hills. This latter circumstance renders the locality at times both disagreeable and dangerous during heavy rains, for the running streams converge from all points in this hollow and flow past St. Francis' Church in a foaming torrent to the Yarra. According to tradition, after one of these temporary floods, a heavily-laden waggon and a team of horses once sank completely out of sight in the soft soil immediately in front of St. Francis'. But this occurred in the early days, when there were no smooth, substantial pavements, and strong macadamized roads as at present. It is in St. Francis' Church on Sunday evenings, at Vespers, that the Irish servant girls from all parts of the city and suburbs are to be seen in force. As a class they are a credit to their country and their creed. By the majority of Protestant masters and mistresses, an Irish girl is preferred before all others for her virtue, honesty, and integrity. "No Irish need apply" is reversed at the antipodes, for Irish girls are sought, asked, and invited, even by those who hold their country and creed in detestation.
The reason is obvious. Experience has taught them that an Irish girl, who is attentive to her religious duties, can be trusted under all circumstances, and in every position of responsibility in household affairs. It rarely happens that a bigoted master absolutely refuses to allow a servant girl to go to Mass or Vespers. Still such cases have occurred, but the girl was usually too high-spirited and too loyal to her faith to submit to such an unwarrantable deprivation of her liberty and her religious rights. She has informed her confessor of the circumstances—he has advised her to quit the place at once; she immediately takes the course recommended, and very soon she obtains another and a better situation, one in which no obstacle will be thrown in the way of the performance of her religious duties. Taken as a body, the thousands of Irish girls who emigrated to the Australian colonies during the past thirty years have worthily upheld the honour of their race. The great majority of them married well and became the mothers of the fine body of Irish-Australians that are now growing to maturity. But in their material prosperity they did not forget the old land or those they left behind them. There is no means off ascertaining the total amount sent home by Irish girls from it Victoria, but all contemporary evidence goes to show that it must have been a very large sum in the aggregate—many thousands of pounds. Every girl seemed to regard it as a duty incumbent upon her to send something regularly home to her aged parents, or to bring out a sister or a brother to the golden land. Not only that, but these hard-toiling girls were always amongst the first to subscribe to every national movement from the purest of patriotic impulses. They love to dress well in public, and this has given rise to a good deal of cheap wit at their expense, but what if they do indulge in a little harmless finery? It is but an innocent feminine weakness after all, and only deserving of censure when it passes into extravagance, which it certainly does not do in the case of the Irish girls of Melbourne.
"During my short colonial experience," remarks Mr. William Kelly, in his interesting "Life in Victoria," "I was much surprised at finding so large a proportion of the Irish leaven in the population, which, previous to the gold digging, I always understood was three-fourths Scotch with a good dash of English besides, in its lower and even secondary ranks. And the surprise was no more than natural, knowing as I did the alluring attractions held out by America to Irish emigrants—firstly in the extraordinary cheapness of the rate and the shortness of the passage; secondly, in the low price and easy acquirement of land, and thirdly, in the witching lures of consanguinity so inherent in Celtic bosoms. But notwithstanding these advantages and the discouragements of a voyage over five times as long and five times as costly, thousands of Irish poured in, independently of those who came out as free emigrants, all of whom were absorbed or found profitable occupations immediately after arrival; few, if any, contributing to swell the ranks of those discontented grumblers who were most eloquent when cursing the colony because they could not find gold on the surface, and who were always sure to be found sunning themselves lazily in the vicinity of the labour market, or propping up the portals of the lowest class of public-houses. Perhaps the explanation is to be found in the fact that any change from the impoverished and degraded condition of the Irish peasant on his native soil must necessarily have been one for the better, and that therefore, on arrival, he was only too glad to embrace the first opportunity that presented itself. However, whatever the reason, all impartial observers will agree, and statistics will bear me out in the assertion, that Irishmen constituted a very small proportion of the loafing population, or of the criminal crowd that filled the gaols and asylums; while I may affirm, without fear of contradiction, that the proverbial chastity of the Irish female was nobly sustained by those poor girls who found themselves standing alone, without parents or protectors, in the midst of the staring contaminations of the Victorian metropolis."
A few hundred yards to the east of St. Francis' is a magnificent block of buildings comprising the Public Library, the Museum, and the National Gallery, all founded by a distinguished, philanthropic, and scholarly Irish-Australian, Sir Redmond Barry, a native of Cork, and a fellow-graduate of Isaac Butt, with whom he was called to the Irish bar in 1838. According to one of his biographers, "Barry had scarcely been called to the bar when he formed the determination of emigrating to some less overcrowded field; for the Irish bar then presented no immediate prospects, but a very long and dreary expectation of the demise of a sufficient number of judges and leading barristers to raise the juniors to an amount of business sufficient for their support." In 1839 he arrived in Sydney, but only remained there for a few weeks, preferring to make the southern city his home. Even as early as 1841 he was the recognised leader of the bar in Melbourne. He took a prominent part in the agitation for separation from the parent colony, and very soon after the successful issue of that contest, when the settlement became an independent colony, he was elevated to the bench of the Supreme Court, and creditably filled that high position for the long period of twenty-nine years. One of Sir Redmond's ardent admirers has recorded that one of his first actions on arriving in Melbourne was the "founding of a reading club for working men. There were few books in the settlement, and no place where a poor man could have easy access to books or magazines. Barry set aside a room in his house as a little lending library, on the shelves of which stood Frazer's Magazine, Blackwood, Cornhill, &c., and a small selection of standard works. Here the working man of the neighbourhood could look in and select his book, no doubt having at times to listen patiently to one of those elaborate little addresses, in which Mr. Barry was fond of pouring out floods of inconceivably out-of-the-way erudition; but those who came in contact with him, all had the same impression of him, as a man who took a pleasure in seeing folks around him happy, even though it should be at the expense of some little discomfort to himself. This little institution is interesting as having been the means of suggesting the great library which he afterwards proposed and helped to found." The Melbourne Public Library now ranks among the great libraries of the world. It has a collection of 150,000 volumes and 20,000 pamphlets. All the year round it is open from ten in the morning until ten at night, and the average attendance of visitors is 1,000 per day. The present librarian is Thomas Francis Bride, LL.D., a distinguished young Irish-Australian, who passed from St. Patrick's College through the Melbourne University to the highest academic honours that were obtainable. Since his appointment, Dr. Bride has introduced an improved system of classification that has proved highly serviceable to students, who form a large proportion of the habitual readers. The department bearing the distinctive name "Ireland" is a fairly representative collection of some 2,500 volumes, comprising all the standard histories, the best-known biographies, complete sets of Swift, Burke, Goldsmith, Moore, Carleton, Griffin, Banim, Lady Morgan, and Miss Cusack, the publications of the Celtic and Archaeological Societies, and complete files of the Dublin Review and the Dublin University Magazine. The latter was always a great favourite with Sir Redmond Barry, for he was associated with Isaac Butt in its establishment, and contributed regularly to the early numbers. In 1858 Sir Redmond commenced the formation of a Technological Museum at the rear of the Public Library, and here the industrial resources of the colony are now displayed in the most complete and interesting manner. A National Gallery of Painting and Sculpture was subsequently added, and this institution has given to the colony a number of promising young artists. There are at the present time 200 students in regular attendance. A statue of Sir Redmond Barry, raised by public subscription, now stands in front of the principal entrance to the Melbourne Public Library.
But there is one other Melbourne institution of noble proportions and beneficent scope, that owes its existence to the wise philanthropy of Sir Redmond Barry, viz., the University. It is modelled on the Oxford and Cambridge system, and governed by a council of twenty members, originally nominated by the Crown, but now elected by the Senate, or general body of the graduates. The University has power to confer degrees in arts, laws, medicine, and music. And here it may be appropriately remarked that the first student on whom the honour of LL.D. was conferred, was John Madden, a native of Cork, and son of John Madden, solicitor, of that city. He was until recently the representative of Port Melbourne in the Legislative Assembly of Victoria, and has twice held office as Minister of Justice. Another young Irishman, Patrick Moloney, was the first to receive a medical degree. Dr. Moloney is now not only one of the best-known and most highly-respected medical practitioners in Melbourne, but also a graceful speaker and accomplished writer. In the Melbourne University, it is gratifying to record that no religious test has ever been applied to students. Mr. Childers, now a member of the Imperial Parliament and a holder of high office under Mr. Gladstone for several years, was, when a young man, a member of the Victorian Legislature, and he succeeded in passing the Act of Incorporation, by which the University was brought into being. But all the hard work of organising the University fell on the shoulders of Sir Redmond Barry, He was appointed Chancellor at the first meeting of the council in April, 1853, and he held that distinguished office uninterruptedly to the day of his death, a period of more than a quarter of a century. He always presided in person at the annual conferring of degrees, and nothing could have been more appropriate than his handsome and dignified presence on such occasions. Both these eminently useful institutions—the Public Library and the University—that will perpetuate the fame of their founder to future generations of Australians, were ushered into existence on precisely the same day—July 3rd, 1854. "This," remarks Mr. Alexander Sutherland in his excellent biographical sketch of Sir Redmond Barry, "was a memorable day in the history of the colony, for on it were laid the foundations of these two institutions of which we have reason to be most truly proud—the Public Library and the University. At twelve o'clock on that morning, the newly-appointed Governor, Sir Charles Hotham, who was then in the full tide of popularity, formed his procession and led the way to the forty acres which had been reserved at Carlton for the University. Here he was met by Redmond Barry in all the splendour of the Chancellor's robes. We can imagine the effect as the judge, then forty-one years old and considered the handsomest man in Melbourne, read his long and classically garnishee address, and bowed with his stately gallantry to Lady Hotham, who occupied a chair at her husband's side. Sir Charles replied, and the stone was well and truly laid. Then the cortège wound its way to the corner of Swanston and Latrobe Streets, where two acres had been set apart for the magnificent pile which will eventually cover its site. There Dr. Palmer, afterwards Sir James Palmer, read the address, and Sir Charles laid another stone; after which he and the notabilities accepted Judge Barry's invitation to a magnificent repast, which had been prepared at his private residence. In 1859 Barry was able to inform the then Governor Sir Henry Barkly, that there were thirteen thousand volumes on the shelves. Year after year, under his careful guidance, the institution prospered; additions were steadily made to the building, and by degrees the collection of books was converted from a merely respectable set of standard works into a most valuable and complete library, ranking amongst the finest that the world contains."
One of the most imposing of the public buildings of Melbourne is the Town Hall, situated at the corner of Collins and Swanston Streets, a little below the Public Library. It was erected about sixteen years ago at a cost of £100,000, and more recently a grand organ has been procured at an expenditure of £5,000. That Melbourne is a music-loving city is evidenced by the large audiences that are drawn together in the Town Hall by attractive concert programmes. It is the largest hall in Melbourne, and can give seating accommodation to four thousand. Its holding capacity is taxed to the utmost on each recurring St. Patrick's Night, when a programme of Irish national music is presented for popular acceptance. Lectures on Irish and Catholic subjects are occasionally delivered here with success, but for obvious reasons smaller halls are usually chosen for that purpose. The ruling spirit of the Town Hall is Mr. Edmond Gerald Fitzgibbon, for thirty years Town Clerk of Melbourne, and one of the most familiar figures within its corporate bounds. Mr. Fitzgibbon is a native of Cork, and, like many other ardent young Irishmen, was attracted to Victoria by the exciting accounts of the gold discoveries. After seeing a little of the rough digger's life at Mount Alexander, he returned to Melbourne, and very soon obtained more congenial employment. He is in point of fact, and has been for years, the municipal governor of Melbourne. The members of the City Corporation are invariably swayed by his recommendations. He is universally recognised as the best and most reliable authority in all matters relating to local government. The generally well-ordered condition of Melbourne, and its comparative freedom from most of the glaring evils of old-world crowded cities, are traceable in the main to Mr. Fitzgibbon's salutary regulations and precautions. He has earned the lasting gratitude of future generations of Melbourne citizens by his watchful care and zealous guardianship of the public parks and gardens.
Melbourne is fortunately well supplied with these essential breathing-places. Within easy accessible distance from all parts of the city are the Royal Park, the Carlton Gardens, the Fitzroy Gardens, the Flagstaff Gardens, the Treasury Gardens, and the Botanical Gardens. But interested parties, selfishly inclined and forgetful of the needs of the future, are continually bringing pressure to bear on the government of the day with a view to having portions of the popular reserves submitted to sale in allotments. Against this numerous class of hungry land sharks, Mr. Fitzgibbon has waged an unceasing war, not always with success, but still he can point to more than one beautiful reserve that would have been either spoiled, disfigured or alienated, perhaps lost to the people for all time, but for his opportune interference, vigorous protests and strenuous exertions. In that capacity, as protector of the public parks, Mr. Fitzgibbon deserves to be long and gratefully remembered.
Melbourne has not escaped the gross misrepresentations and unfounded assertions of professional book makers, men who rush across the seas from the old world, put up at some leading hotel, remain for a few weeks in luxurious ease, accept everything they are told as gospel truth, and, having thus collected a miscellaneous budget of cheap and worthless information, rush back to London and publish what they are pleased to call, with sublime audacity, their "impressions of the colonies," save the mark! The mischief done by these parasitic excrescences of a book-loving age is deplorable. They listen with ready ear to the false or exaggerated tales of interested parties, jot down everything indiscriminately in their note-books, never go to the trouble of verifying in person the correctness of what they hear, or of seeing things as they are with their own eyes: and thus are circulated broadcast over the English-speaking world many infamous libels and disgraceful falsehoods. All that literary carpet-baggers of this description have in view is the obtaining of materials sufficient to till a stipulated number of pages, and they are never particular as to the nature or quality of the material, so long as they get enough of it to suit their immediate purpose. This will account for more than one unfavourable reference to the Irish in Australia in latter-day books of travel, but the foregoing remarks will serve to show how densely stupid and utterly unreliable are all such gratuitous opinions, founded on chance remarks in casual conversation with bigoted or prejudiced individuals, speaking with no standing or authority. There is one prominent sinner in this respect, from whose recognised position in the literary world much better conduct might reasonably have been expected. Some years ago the late Mr. Anthony Trollope, the well-known popular novelist, paid a flying visit to the antipodes, and, on his return to Europe, published a bulky volume entitled "Australia and New Zealand," in which the following passage occurs:
"One cannot walk about Melbourne without being struck by all that has been done for the welfare of the people generally. There is no squalor to be seen, though there are quarters of the town in which the people no doubt are squalid. In every great congregation of men there will be a residuum of poverty and filth, let humanity do what she will to prevent it. In Melbourne there is an Irish quarter and there is a Chinese quarter, as to both of which I was told that the visitor who visited them might see much of the worse side of life. But he who would see such misery in Melbourne must search for it especially. It will not meet his eye by chance, as it does in London, in Paris, and also in New; York."
Here we have an eminent English writer demeaning himself to the level of the professional globe-trotter, and, on mere hearsay evidence, fathering a most offensive statement that, he might easily have ascertained from any respectable local authority, had no foundation whatever in fact. "In Melbourne there was an Irish quarter, and he was told (the old story) that the visitor who visited it might see much of the worse side of life." It will be observed that Mr. Trollope was told all this, not that he had ascertained the truth of it for himself. His reflections must have been the reverse of agreeable when he found out how cruelly he had been hoaxed into a belief in the existence of an "Irish quarter" in the city of Melbourne. Why, the oldest inhabitant of the city would have given Mr. Trollope a look of blank amazement if asked to point out the direction in which the "Irish quarter" lay. There is no such thing; as a distinctive Irish quarter in Melbourne, known and recognised by that contemptuous term. Irishmen and their families are to be found in all parts of the city and suburbs, and everywhere they form a peaceable, orderly, and industrious element in the general population, not a "residuum of poverty and filth," as Mr. Anthony Trollope insinuates, with lying and unblushing effrontery. There are nearly a dozen local governing bodies within a circle drawn five miles around the Melbourne general post-office, and there is not one of these municipal councils that has not two, three, or more Irish members, elected by their fellow-citizens in that particular neighbourhood. What does this prove? Beyond all question it proves that the Irish in Melbourne are not to be found herding together, like the Chinese, within a limited space or quarter. It proves that in each of the municipal districts there is a strong contingent of independent Irish ratepayers, men with a stake in the country, freeholders qualified to vote, and good citizens in every respect. Of course, some suburbs will be more representatively Irish than others. For instance. North and West Melbourne, from their proximity to the central terminus of the Victorian railway system, where many hundreds of Irishmen are regularly employed as porters, guards, points-men, engine-drivers, &c., have necessarily a larger Celtic population than South or East Melbourne. Naturally they settle down where they have obtained permanent employment, and here it may be observed that no finer or more patriotic body of Irishmen can be met with than those of North and West Melbourne. Their pastor, the Very Rev. Dean England, is a nephew of the illustrious Bishop England, who occupies so large a space in John Francis Maguire's account of the Irish in America. For many years they regularly returned, as one of their representatives in parliament. Sir Charles MacMahon, the son of the late Right Hon. Sir William MacMahon, at one time Master of the Rolls in Ireland. More recently they twice elected the late Prime Minister of Victoria, the Hon. Sir Bryan O'Loghlen, Baronet, of Drumcondra, Ennis, Clare. In February, 1880, at a time of great political excitement, he was defeated by a narrow majority, but was subsequently returned by the agricultural constituency of West Bourke, which contains a strong body of well-to-do Irish farmers. Mr. John Curtain, a Limerick man, represented the North Melbourne electorate in parliament for a series of years. Mr. Thomas Fogarty has several times occupied the mayoral chair, and Dr. Lloyd, another Limerick representative, is one of the best-known and popular men in Melbourne. For a lengthy period, since 1865, he has been the chairman of the North Melbourne bench of magistrates. In law and medicine he is equally recognised as an authority of repute. South of the city proper, between the river and the bay, are the two flourishing suburbs of Emerald Hill and Sandridge, each of which has a considerable Irish element. The former was so named by one of its earliest Hibernian inhabitants, who was charmed with its beautiful verdant aspect, bringing up fond recollections of a "green isle" far away. Once it was temporarily known by the prosaic name of Canvas Town, which had at least the one merit of appropriateness, for, at the first great rush to the goldfields, the whole surface of the green hill was covered with tents, the temporary homes of thousands of intending diggers, who could find no accommodation or sleeping space whatever in the crowded city on the other side of the river. But all vestiges of that exciting time have long since vanished. Emerald Hill, or South Melbourne, as it is now officially called, forms a compact, substantial, well-built city of 25,000 inhabitants, of whom one-fourth may be set down as Irish-Australians. They are under the spiritual jurisdiction of, the Very Rev. Dean O'Driscoll, who has had charge of the district for more than twenty years. Its splendid position, midway between the river and the sea, easily accessible from the city and standing on an elevated and health-giving site, must needs ensure the permanence and prosperity of Emerald Hill. The river banks which form its northern boundary are literally hives of industry, presenting as they do an uninterrupted vista of foundries, factories, and stores of all descriptions. In them hundreds of able-bodied Celts may be seen constantly at work, and as many more are engaged in loading and discharging the fleets of intercolonial steamers at the contiguous wharves. This river trade is rapidly developing to an enormous extent, and the steamers now regularly trading between Melbourne and Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane, Maryborough, Adelaide, Hobart, Launceston, Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin may be counted by the score. A considerable number of Irishmen are also in the employ of the Harbour Trust, a body of commissioners elected to supervise the harbour generally, carry out all necessary improvements that will facilitate trade and commerce, and expend the large revenue they derive from the collection of appointed fees in the best interests of the port. Emerald Hill possesses a noble charitable institution in St. Vincent de Paul's Orphanage, which is under the management of the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy. Here some hundreds of Catholic boys and girls, bereft of parental care and supervision, are fed, clothed, educated and trained in some industrial pursuit. It is in receipt of an annual Government grant, which is largely supplemented by voluntary contributions from all quarters.
Sandridge, or Port Melbourne, occupies the flat on the western side of Emerald Hill, and owes its name to the immense quantities of sand, the accumulations of ages, that are piled up in its vicinity. It is the chief port of the metropolis, with which it is connected by railway. There are two very fine piers running out some distance into the bay, and capable of accommodating the largest vessels. This is a favourite Sunday afternoon resort for the inhabitants of the city, and in summer the trains convey thousands of excursionists to the neighbourhood. It has a population of 15,000, who are mostly employed in those multifarious pursuits incidental to a large and prosperous seaport. Advantage has been taken of its proximity to the sea, and the facilities thus afforded for safe and speedy transit, to establish some large manufactories that give constant and abundant employment to numbers. The Irish-men here are not so proportionately numerous as at Emerald Hill, still, they form an influential and appreciable element. One member of parliament is allotted to the district, and Dr. Madden, the old St. Patrick's collegian and leading barrister already referred to, sat for the place until he voluntarily retired in order to devote the whole of his time to the practice of his profession.
Quite recently a Carmelite house has been established in Sandridge by the Very Rev. Prior Butler, whose name enjoys an Irish as well as a colonial reputation. As a pulpit orator he stands in the front rank, as a controversialist he has proved his power, and as a lecturer he has presented to the popular mind some of the most instructive pictures of the past.
St. Kilda forms one of the aristocratic southern suburbs of Melbourne, and contains the residences of many well-known, influential, and successful Irish-Australian colonists. Here is a Presentation Convent, established in 1873 as an affiliation from the parent house in Limerick. Nowhere are religion and charity better or more systematically supported than in St. Kilda, Prahran, Windsor, and South Yarra, all of which contiguous districts are comprised within the parish that has been governed for many years by Dr. Corbett and Father Quirk, two zealous and energetic Irish priests. Their efforts in the propagation of religion and the foundation of charitable institutions have been warmly seconded by the generosity of the good-hearted and sympathetic Irish girls, large numbers of whom are engaged in domestic service around St. Kilda. Indeed, Dr. Corbett has more than once publicly acknowledged his obligations to these humble but enthusiastic members of his flock. "From an experience of twenty years," he says, "I find it unnecessary to use much persuasion to induce the ever-generous Irish girl to lend a helping hand to anything that tends to the glory of God and the relief of the destitute. Out of her scanty income she is always willing to contribute to her parish church, school, and clergy, in many instances more generously than do her employers, without forgetting the sacred duty of assisting the poor aged parents and friends in the dear old land. From the Irish girl who neglects to assist her parents in their need, a priest will never get a pound in aid of the building fund of a church or a school." The number of Irish girls of the latter class in Australia is very limited indeed.
Richmond joins the city on the south-east, and is a flourishing town of more than 30,000 inhabitants. It is under the spiritual supervision of the Jesuit Fathers, and the fine bluestone church of St. Ignatius is a worthy tribute to the glorious founder of their order. For years the Very Rev. Thomas Cahill (nephew of the illustrious Dr. Cahill, of Irish and American renown) was the local superior, and amongst the members is the Rev. Michael Watson, whose contributions on Australian subjects to the Irish Monthly, under the signature of "Melburnian," have been read with general and appreciative interest. Fathers William Kelly and Joseph O'Malley have also worthily upheld the reputation of their order in the colonies—the former by his varied scholarship and his remarkable eloquence in the pulpit, and the latter by the vigour and incisiveness of his controversial pen.
Collingwood, in a political sense the most democratic suburb of Melbourne, occupies an extensive and densely-peopled flat to the north-east of the city proper. Within its confines is the Convent of the Good Shepherd, at Abbotsford, a noble institution that has been conducted for many years by a self-sacrificing band of cloistered Irish and Irish-Australian ladies. It has the widespread sympathy and support of all denominations in its ceaseless and successful efforts to raise up and reform the Magdalens of Melbourne. Fitzroy, a suburb on the western side of Collingwood, also possesses a noteworthy convent, the parent-house of the Sisters of Mercy in Victoria, a massive pile of bluestone buildings in which a large array of sisters and several educational institutions are established. Mrs. Mary Ursula Frayne, a Dublin lady, who was the foundress of this extensive religious colony, enjoys the singular distinction of having been the pioneer of her order in two continents. As far back as 1842, she was sent from Dublin to establish a branch of the Sisters of Mercy in America, and she successfully accomplished the work. She was then sent on a similar mission to Australia, and, after spending some years on the western side of the continent, she migrated southwards at the invitation of the late Archbishop Goold, and laid the foundation of that striking centre of religious and educational activity to which reference has just been made. Under her energetic rule it grew from year to year; and, at the time of her recent death, after an active religious life extending over half a century, it had attained the distinction of being perhaps the largest, and certainly one of the largest, convents in the Southern Hemisphere.
Carlton, the suburb abutting on Fitzroy from the west, contains the Exhibition building, a vast structure with a lofty dome, erected at enormous expense for the purposes of the first Melbourne International Exhibition towards the close of 1880. During next year (1888) it will again be utilised in its original capacity, as another International Exhibition is to be held by way of fitly celebrating the close of Australia's first century of civilisation. To the north of the Exhibition building is a prominent and beneficent institution that is entitled to honourable recognition in this place, the Maternity Hospital, a national charity that owes its existence mainly to the zeal and practical philanthropy of an eminent Irish-Australian surgeon, the late Dr. Richard Tracy.
Beyond this immediate ring of suburban towns and cities, by which Melbourne proper is enclosed, several outlying suburban rings have been called into existence of late years by the imperative demands of a constantly-increasing population. But, as tramways and railways now give easy access to all parts of the metropolitan area, the numerous residents of these remoter suburbs experience no difficulty in getting to and from the heart of the city. Melbourne and its suburbs, near and remote, constitute, in point of fact, one great and homogeneous metropolis, whose inhabitants have at their command all the facilities for transit and convenience which the spirit of modern ingenuity and enterprise has supplied.
Though but an infant in comparison with the Old-World cities that can trace their growth and development through centuries, it would be difficult to find on the face of the globe a populated centre more amply endowed with the requirements and luxuries of contemporary civilisation than Melbourne, the Queen City of the South.
- The latest statistical returns give the population of the colony at up-wards of a million.
- Brother of the late Sir John Gray and uncle of the present Mr. E. Dwyer Gray, M.P.
- "The best servants I found during my travels in the colonies were Irish girls educated at the Roman Catholic orphanages."—Mr. G. A. Sala.
- Melbourne Review, July, 1882.
- "Australia and New Zealand." By Anthony Trollope. Page 250.
- Within the last few months Dr. Corbett has been appointed Bishop of Sale, a newly-constituted diocese in Eastern Victoria.