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1856.]
371
The Progress of the Colony of Victoria.

levied a "black mail" of guns, ammunition and provisions from the storekeepers. On Sunday morning, December 3rd, the military and police stormed their stockade, carried it, and dispersed the diggers—thirty of the insurgents being killed, forty wounded, and one hundred and fourteen taken prisoners. The military had only four killed and thirteen wounded.

The direction which the sympathies of the colonists took on this occasion may be inferred from the fact, that when the prisoners were taken to Melbourne for trial, they were one and all acquitted. One of the ringleaders, for whose apprehension a reward of £500 was offered, is now a member of the Legislative Council.

This terrible outbreak convinced the government of the uselessness of half measures. Another commission was appointed, and after a lengthened, careful, and impartial investigation, they gave it as their opinion that the insurrection was owing to the following causes:—

"(1.) The license fee, or more properly the unseemly violence often necessary for its due collection,—a result entirely unavoidable in thus taxing for this considerable rate every individual of a great mass of laboring population: involving, as it did, repeated conflicts with the police, an ill-will to the authorities, from their almost continuous "hunt" to detect unlicensed persons, and the constant infraction of the law on the part of the miners, resulting sometimes from accident in losing the license document, or from absolute inability to pay for it, as well as from any attempt to evade the charge.

"(2.) The land grievance; the inadequacy of the supplies of land as compared with the wants of the population; the want of sufficiently frequent opportunities, and upon reasonable terms, for the acquision of a piece of land; the difficulty, amounting with thousands to an impossibility, of investing their small capital or their earnings of gold upon a section of ground; from want of which facilities many thousands, it is to be feared, have left and are still leaving this colony to enrich other countries with their industry and capital.

"(3.) The want of political rights and recognised status; the mining population of this colony having been hitherto, in feet, an entirely non-privileged body, invidiously distinct from the remainder of the colonists, consisting of large numbers without gradations of public rank, political representation, or any system for self-elected local authority; in short, contributing largely to the wealth and greatness of the colony, without enjoying any voice whatever in its public administrations."

They recommended an entire alteration in the administration on the gold fields; the extension of political rights to the diggers as well as to the other sections of the community, and the imposition of a very low licence-fee to maintain a small police force at the diggings. To supply the deficit in the revenue, caused by the abolition of the old licence fee, they proposed an export duty of 2s. 6d. per ounce (or about three percent.) on gold. But, above all things, they recommended that land should be freely thrown into the market.

Most of these suggestions have been carried into effect. And now that the crisis of danger has passed, and the colony has the management of its own affairs, there is every reason to look forward to a brilliant future for Victoria. By the latest accounts gold is being procured in greater quantities than ever, and by the aid of machinery a great deal of what had been hitherto unprofitable digging is being worked to great advantage; the improvements and number of public works that are going forward have caused a renewed demand for labor; commerce is carried on in a more