Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/80

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fields from all the points of the compass. In course of time this poll-tax, as it really was, assumed a most arbitrary and unjust character. It was levied alike on every digger, whether successful or unsuccessful, and the brutal and insulting manner in which it was enforced became an insupportable grievance, and led to a bloody conflict between the outraged diggers and the tyrannical authorities. The ridiculous idea seemed rooted in the minds of the governor and his advisers, that the gold-fields' population could only be ruled and regulated on military principles. Hence the diggers were allowed no representation whatever in the Victorian Parliament, although the great majority of them were respectable men of good family and education. They were tyrannised over by ignorant and insolent officials, many of whom were originally expatriated for their crimes, and were afterwards promoted into the ranks of the colonial constabulary. These ex-convicts took a demoniac delight in i annoying and insulting the free-born diggers, and straining their petty authority to the utmost. No sooner had an intending digger arrived on the field than he was compelled to appear before one of these insolent officials, hand over his first monthly payment of £3, and receive in return a license to the following effect:

Gold License.
No—— Date—— 185—

The bearer ——, having paid to me the sum of £3 sterling on account of the territorial revenue, I hereby license him to dig, search for, and remove gold on and from any such Crown lands as I shall assign to him for that purpose during the month of ——, 185—. This license is not transferable, and must be produced whenever demanded