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2-344 (Original)

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author,male,Haygarth, H.W.,un addressee
Narrative Discourse
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Public Written
Ward, 1969
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In order to check the vices of which we are speaking among the labouring population, and to raise the general tone of morality in the far inland districts, we can only look to a wider and more effectual dissemination of religious instruction. But, unhappily, the extensive dispersion of the population opposes the most serious impediment to the establishment of churches and schools. Nor can this impediment be removed as long as the country is occupied for pastoral purposes (for which it offers every advantage, and none, as far as we now see, for any other) and as long as the inhabitants pursue their present mode of life, imposed on them as it is by the necessity of the case. The population has no tendency to concentrate itself; each man, for the safety and welfare of his own property, is desirous to keep his neighbour at the greatest possible distance; and as his own property increases, and his household multiplies, he must seek for them some distant establishment. Many clever and well-meaning persona, not understanding the state and nature of a pastoral country, have given advice which, however well intended, can only have the effect of lowering their authority with the colonists, and of misleading the public at home. They have recommended, as a primary step to improvement, that the population should be concentrated, not considering that concentration is impossible, for to a pastoral population the condition of existence is dispersion.
Under these circumstances no plan has been proposed that holds out a better prospect of success than to establish a sufficient number of clergymen, who, at stated periods, may visit the whole of the districts entrusted to their charge; and thus endeavour to revive the spark of religion which the cares of the world, under the most favourable circumstances, are only too powerful to smother; and how burdensome, how overwhelming are those cares to the settler struggling for existence in the bush of Australia!
Some difficulty no doubt would arise from the want of unanimity in religious opinions among the settlers. But under the peculiar circumstances, in the absence of all other religious aid, it may be hoped that most men would be inclined to consider rather the much in which they agree than the little in which they differ; and zeal, aided by charity, could not fail to do much.
Among the lower orders especially, very great obstacles to improvement exist. Even the more respectable, those who are not hardened by the habitual practice of gross vices, have long been disused to religious services, have grown up in religious ignorance, and are but little susceptible of religious impressions.
The clergyman would have an arduous, and often a repulsive task before him. The habits of constant change of service and residence would be at first a great obstacle to his making any lasting impression; but these difficulties would gradually become less and this love of change evidently arises in some measure from bad habits which it is his first object to reform. [326]
He will need much patience, much forbearance, much Christian love, and the charity that 'hopeth all things', that hopeth when there seems every reason to despair. He must proceed, like the Vicar of Wakefield in his prison, fortified by hope alone. There is always room for hope; the profligate ruffian is often nearest relenting when he seems most brutal; he is then, it may be, only endeavouring to harden himself against what he considers a rising weakness and a little more perseverance, another word in season, may complete the conquest, in spite of the struggles of his worse nature.