Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/81

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67
A BIRTHPLACE OF FREEDOM.

by me or any other person acting under the authority of the government.Signed ——,
Commissioner.

It was the custom of the gold-fields' officials, supported by bodies of armed mounted troopers, to sally out unexpectedly, surround the diggers whilst at work, call upon them, with many oaths and insults, to produce their licenses, and arrest all who could not exhibit the necessary document. The prisoners would then be marched off to the "Government Camp," and kept chained to large logs within its fortified lines until such time as their friends came forward with monetary assistance to their relief. One incident out of hundreds that might be narrated will serve to show the coarse, reckless and unjustifiable manner in which these ignorant officials carried out the duties intrusted to them, and which eventually drove the gold-fields' population into open rebellion. Father Patrick Smyth was one of the first of the Irish priests to arrive on the Ballarat gold-fields. He had a devoted personal attendant named John Gregory, who was one day paying a visit of charity to some Catholic friends. A license-hunting party of troopers came up, surrounded the tent in which they were, and the officer in charge "commanded the —— wretches to come out of the tent and show him their licenses." Gregory quietly told him that he was the servant of Father Smyth, and had no such document. The troopers thereupon profusely damned both him and Father Smyth, and took him into custody. As Gregory was not a very able-bodied man, he asked his captors to take him to the Government Camp at once, and not drag him after them all over the diggings in their search for unlicensed miners. This reasonable request was refused