Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/84

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twofold—the abolition of the oppressive monthly license-fee and the representation of the gold-fields in parliament—two very reasonable and the reverse of revolutionary requests. Nevertheless, they were contemptuously rejected by the new governor, Sir Charles Hotham, and his responsible advisers. Sir Charles succeeded Mr. Latrobe on June 21st, 1854, and soon showed himself to be eminently unfit for his position. A retired navy captain, he tried to rule the colony like a martinet, and, by his headstrong and senseless policy towards the exasperated diggers, he precipitated a collision with the authorities. He professed to regard the agitation on the gold-fields as the result of the machinations of foreigners and, in the true spirit of the quarter-deck, defiantly declared his intention to put down all seditious manifestations with a stern hand. The underlings bettered the instructions of their chief, and the raids by the troopers upon the diggers became more numerous and irritating than ever. At last the utmost limits of patience having been reached, the probability of a successful insurrection was openly discussed on the gold-fields, and the agitation came to a crisis on November 29th, 1854, when 12,000 diggers held a meeting on Bakery Hill, Ballarat, under the presidency of Mr. Timothy Hayes, one of the most genial and popular Irishmen on the diggings. After carrying a series of resolutions setting forth the grievances of the gold-fields' population, and the unavailing efforts to induce the authorities to redress them, the meeting unanimously determined then and there to burn all their licenses, and thus bid open defiance to the government. Amidst enthusiastic cheering a huge bonfires was made, and every digger consigned his Crown permit to the flames. The two Irish priests already mentioned,