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initiated, it must be conceded that they were exceptionally fortunate.
With regard to the pay and receipt division, all accounts were kept as if on a large pastoral station. When, at the end of the year, the accounts were forwarded to the Auditor-General, he returned them, requiring printed vouchers for each item of erpenditure. The camp officials were not surprised, as many of them were written on pieces of newspaper, or the envelopes of letters, though perfect in detail. They were re-enclosed with a letter to the effect that it was impossible to alter them. Eventually the Legislative Council anthorised the Auditor-General to pass them in their officially imperfect state.
Much risk was necessarily incurred in despatching the parcels of gold received from the miners by escort to Sydney. There were no books, and often six or seven thousand ounces were sent away in sixty or seventy parcels, made up in every conceivable manner. and packed in leather saddle-bags. The only loss that ever occurred was a lot of three match-boxes containing six ounces each. These were lost between the Turon and Bathurst; and Mr. John Want, the owner, had unfortunately to suffer to that amount.
The town of Sofala was commenced by Mr. King. The church also, under his tenure of office, was most literally and practically inaugurated by the Bishop of the diocese, the Commissioners digging holes for the corner posts, while Bishop Broughton himself, in full canonicals, handled a pick!
There was no gaol at the Turon; it was, therefore, necessary to improvise a place of detention. To this end a long slab building was erected, down the middle of which was passed a stout chain, or rather several of the bullock-chains of the period.
To these, on either side, the prisoners were handcuffed, but in such fashion as to be able to lie in their beds. On Sunday morning, on which day a cart with two horses was usually sent to Sofala to bring home the drunks and disorderlies, it was mostly full, but not always with working men. A gold-buyer of intemperate habits came one afternoon to the camp to deliver his purchases for escort. A trooper generally met and helped him to unload. One day, much bemused with beer, he was seen to approach, trying to hold his treasure-bags on his saddle, but dropping them by the way. He stumbled into the camp tent only to fall fast asleep. His gold was taken from him and sent on to Sydney. When he awoke at daylight, he wondered much where
he was, and even more where his gold had got to. He was fortunate in his choice of a resting-place.
On Mr. King's first appointment, Mr. W. C. Wentworth and Captain Battye, of the 11th Regiment, rode with him as far as Bathurst. On Mount Victoria they passed a party of diggers making their way from Sydney. They recognised Mr. Wentworth, and called out, "Well ! old Billy Wentworth !' That gentleman took no notice, further than to remark, “This gold is the greatest leveller we have ever had.'
No disrespect was probably intended to a distinguished colonist, always honoured as a champion of the public rights. The speaker probably thought it an opportune time for proclaiming the reign of universal brotherhood in a jocular fraternal manner.
The deduction, like others made at the time, was imperfect, for in none of the Australian Colonies is greater deference paid to rank and position, so long as the wearers preserve their self-respect, than in New South Wales.
The first police case tried on a gold-field in Australia was at the Turon, in July 1851. Mr. Hardy and Mr. King constituted the bench of magistrates. Mary Jones (let us say) versus Mary Smith, for assault. Thus early in gold-fields' history did the woman's rights question agitate society. Plaintiff averred that during a heated argument defendant had resorted to primitive methods, by striking her in the face. Defendant's solicitor contended that the Bench had no jurisdiction, Sofala not having been proclaimed a place where Petty Sessions might be held. Mr. Hardy promptly over-ruled his objection : 'How could he tell whether it was so or not?' Defendant had taken the law into her own hands. The Bench would do the same, to the extent of fining her five pounds, with costs. Defendant's solicitor paid under protest at these 'high-handed proceedings. Mr. Hardy very properly permitted no one at that stage of gold-fields management to question his authority, which, before the passing of later
practically unlimited. An autocratic Commissioner once summarised the position by calmly replying to a dissatisfied querist, 'I am the law.'
John Richard Hardy was beyond all doubt exceptionally adapted to his environment, not less by the exercise of a rare admixture of firmness and discretion, than by his just conception of the relative duties of the State and the individual in their unprecedented connection. This will be, perhaps, more clearly
apparent from his evidence before the Gold-fields Committee of the Legislative Council of New South Wales in 1855. Question 17. By the Chairman : The great object of these
‘ regulations is the maintenance of order at the Diggings, and the obtainment [sic] of as much revenue as can be collected from the gold ?'
Answer. The object is the maintenance of order and the collection of the revenue that the Government has fixed.'
Question 18. By the Colonial Secretary : 'I suppose the object is to get the fixed licence fee?'
Answer. “Yes. By the maintenance of order, I mean the carrying out of ordinary police regulations and the rendering operative the laws of the country as far as Petty Sessions, Courts of Requests, and so on are concerned.' Question 19. The settlement of disputes as to boundaries?
• " Answer. Yes.'
Question 21. ' Has it occurred to you that over and abore the revenue sufficient to maintain the establishments for these purposes,
it would be desirable to obtain a revenue from the gold applicable to other and more general purposes ?'
Answer. That involves the question whether the Government ought to get as much as they could, or whether they ought to be contented with less than they could get if they were to go to the extent of their power.'
Question 22. By Mr. Wentworth: 'I take it that there can be no doubt but that the gold-field is the property of the public?'
Answer. “Yes; the gold-field is—but the gold is not ; that is, the gold brought to the surface by man's industry. I cannot conceive the justice of taxing one man more than another, or why the gold-diggers should be taxed more than the rest of the community, always supposing that they repay the expenses which
, the Government is put to by their occupation of the gold-field. The gold is under ground, and would remain there but for the work of these men. Their industry brings it to light in the same way that the fleece of the flock is brought to the market by the industry of the squatter.'
Question 23. Would not that doctrine strike at the root of all royalties or taxes upon this occupation ?'
Answer. I have nothing to do with that.'
Answer. · Yes! but beneficially is a word of wide meaning. 'ou may get a large revenue, but it might be more beneficial to et a smaller one.'
It will be seen that just forty years ago the clear head and ogical mind of the First Australian Gold-fields Commissioner wolved two leading principles, viz. that, as the diggers already paid to the revenue by the use of excisable articles their full proportion, they should not pay more than others.
Secondly, that the local expenses to which their occupation gave rise should be paid by special local taxation.
It seems almost incredible in the light of after events that any political party should have advocated the obstruction of the gold-fields. Yet, unmindful of the legend of King Canute, this is what eminent colonists like Wentworth and James Macarthur did. Holding that the progress of gold-mining would be injurious to the great agricultural and greater pastoral interests, they organised a Gold-fields Committee for the purpose of strict inquiry into their management, and of placing restrictions, if necessary, upon the privileges of these chartered libertines' the diggers. But in their Chief Commissioner the mining community had an advocate difficult to answer and impossible to browbeat, even, to use his own words, 'in his hour of peril, the bitterness of official death imminent.' Here was a man of men, indeed, a colonist to be proud of ! With his appointment trembling in the balance he dared to oppose the political magnates of the land, to withstand, in the interests of an unpopular class of labourers, a phalanx led by the ablest advocate in Australia, perhaps the strongest personality in all the colonies.
But the man who, supported but by a handful of police troopers, had shown himself capable of controlling the fierce adventurers whom the tidings of treasure-trove had lured to untrodden wastes, was not to be dislodged from his position. He ridiculed “the notion as barbarous, that the gold-field should be looked to as a great source of public revenue.
The magnificent results gained by wresting from the earth her long-buried treasure should not be tarnished by robbing labour of its just reward. Policy, prudence, and the necessity of the case, as well as abstract justice demanded that the gold-digger should follow his occupation without let or hindrance, so long as he interfered Dot with the public good; nor should his productive industry be
taxed beyond that of other men. These positions were unanswerably defended before the Council.
One of the last questions asked of Mr. Hardy (No. 228) was 'If it were possible by any means to obtain a greater amount of revenue from the gold-fields, you would not say it was impolitic?'
Answer: Yes ! for everything unjust in principle is impolitic, and I consider it unjust.' He sums up the quastio vexata thus: My conclusion is this
“. gold-diggers have a right to dig for gold, subject to regulations for the management of the gold-field. It is for this Government to render the necessary payment certain, impartial, and sufficient.'
There is no doubt but that a rooted feeling of opposition to the development of the gold-fields animated the members of the Committee. They had come to a conclusion, not wholly unjustified by the apparent trend of matters, that unrestricted golddigging on Crown lands would disorganise the great industries of the country.
Mr. Essington King is asked, 'Whether it would be practicable to make a general law prohibiting gold-digging during the sheep shearing, harvesting, and ploughing seasons ?'
Major Wentworth is asked the same question.
Major Wentworth is asked, Whether it would not be desirable to compel all persons, before getting licences, to swear that they were not runaway servants.
Mr. Gideon Lang is asked whether digging should not be stopped between shearing and harvest ?
In short, as Mr. Hardy asserts, the dislike of the Committee to the very name of gold-field is only to be paralleled by the feelings of the more ignorant of the people of Melbourne against the squatters.'
Although at that time antagonistic to the spirit and constitution of the Committee by whose influence he was removed from office, Mr. Hardy does full justice to the late Sir Edward Deas Thomson, at that time Colonial Secretary.
'Let not the colonists,' he says, however sensible of his shortcomings, forget that at a critical moment, beset by adverse influences, he stemmed a torrent that would have overwhelmed a weaker man.
If he had yielded to the retrograde party that urged him to “shut up” or at any cost to obstruct the occupation of the gold-fields, if he had shown a grasping or narrow spirit, what might not have happened ? But he was equal to the