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1 correction by jhempenstall - Show corrections

THE DIGGINGS. [From a Special Correspondent.] Forest Creek, Tuesday, 16th December, 1851. THE last "new diggings" are on Ben-   digo Creek, about twenty-five miles from this locality, and fifteen miles beyond the Porcupine Inn, on a range of quartz hills quite apart from Mount Alexander or its ranges—these Bendigo Creek Dig- gings have been whispered about very mysteriously for the last few days as something better than anything yet dis- covered. A trustworthy person who arrived from that locality, yesterday, put me in possession of the facts, which are, that the yield, though satisfactory, is not extraordinary, surfacing and sinking being alike resorted to with an average yield of two to six ounces per diem to parties of three or four—some parties have made sixteen ounces per day, and it need scarcely be added that some make very little. There were about eighty men on the ground, yesterday, (Monday), but hundreds are on the wing thither, and those who have left ordinary gold holes here, will most likely be miserably disappointed at a yield of two to six ounces, insteadof the glorious yields of the Forest Creek. A public meeting took place yesterday, at three P.M., at a central spot on the Creek, about a mile above the Commis- sioner's tent, to consider the propriety of resisting the attempt of government to increase the license fee from 30s. to £3. Printed handbills had been stuck up all over the ground, and at the hour ap- pointed, about one thousand persons were assembled, when proceedings com-

menced by electing Mr Mann, of Collins- street, Melbourne, to the chair. The following resolutions were put and carried unanimously:—   1. That this meeting deprecates as un- just, illegal and impolitic, the attempt to increase the license fee from 30s to £3. 2. That this meeting while deprecat- ing the use of physical force, and pledg- ing itself not to resort to it unless in self- defence, at the same time pledge itself to relieve or release any or all diggers that on account of nonpayment of £3 license may be fined or confined by government order, or by government agents, should government temerity proceed to such il- legal lengths. 3. That three delegates be named from this meeting to confer with the Govern- ment and arrange an equitable system of working the gold fields. To this resolution the following was added:—That Captain Harrison, Dr   Richmond and Mr Plaistowe be appointed delegates from this meeting to make ar- rangements with the government in the spirit of the foregoing resolutions. 4. That to meet the expense of the delegates and other incidental expenses, a subscription of 1s per month from each cradle be entered into. 5. That the men of each of the prin- cipal diggings, Forest Creek, Bendigo Creek, Freyer's Creek and the Upper Loddon, appoint local committees to watch over their interests, and that a central committee be formed by a delegate from each digging, (such delegates to be paid for the services) and report proceedings to a general meeting of miners to be held on the first Monday in each month. These resolutions were proposed, and seconded in eloquent speeches by Cap- tain Harrison, Mr Booley, Dr Richmond and others, I cannot give a verbatim re- port but the following outline of what was said may be interesting. Mr Lineham after denouncing the pro- posed increase of license fee, read some extracts from the M. M. Herald, styling   the diggers vagabonds &c, and charging him, Mr L. with falsehood, the reading of these paragraphs called forth yells of indignation, and personal allusions to Mr Cavenagh the reverse of complimentary. Captain Harrison said that he had come twenty-five miles to attend that meeting as representative of the diggers at Bendigo Creek; he assured the meet- ing that there and everywhere else, as far as could be ascertained the diggers were determined to resist the imposition   of £3 for a monthly license; he re- minded that meeting, that it was a tax of exactly thirty shillings repudiated by the patriot Hampden that led to the great revolution, which cost Charles the First his head; he would not further press the simile, but the extra sum now sought to be imposed being also thirty shillings, the coincidence was singular; he thought that any tax on the gold in the shape of a Royalty, was even more hateful than the proposed monthly sum, and exhorted those present to form a miners' associa- tion, to give form and expression to their just grievances. Mr Booley said that both at home and in the colonies, the upper classes pro- fessed the greatest anxiety for the eleva- tion in the social scale of their poorer fellow-mortals, yet here, when the start- ling and unexpected gold discoveries had placed the means of self-elevation in the hands of the poor man, comes the go- vernor, or his courtly advisers to drive him from the field, to prevent him from gathering the golden harvest, so strange- ly and profusely scattered; if the go- vernment succeeded in exacting three pounds, there was no telling where they might stop, they might make that amount ten, twenty, thirty pounds, nay, prohibit the search altogether; he trusted that while the diggers had too much manly spirit to succumb, govern- ment had too much sense to attempt to enforce its unjust demands. Dr. Richmond ridiculed the govern- ment charge of one per cent. for escort without responsibility for the safe deli- very of gold entrusted to them, and urged on the digger the formation of a plan of escort among themselves, on the mutual assurance principle; he also suggested the scheme of a digger's bank, without which, neither they nor the colony would reap the full benefit of their rich disco- veries. Mr Hodgson appeared among them as a stranger having lately arrived overland from Adelaide—he would go with them, heart and soul, in their just resistance to a needlesly excessive and iniquitous tax on the labouring man. Captain Harrison again appeared to more the immediate formation of a league, to be styled "The Victoria Gold   Miner's Association," to watch over, and protect the interests of gold diggers—the entrance fee to be five shillings, or 2 dwts. of gold—and the monthly subscription one shilling. Any excess of funds after the legitimate objects of the society are attained, to be equally divided among the charitable institutions of Melbourne and Geelong. This was seconded and carried, a com- mittee of twelve (treasurer and secretary) appointed, and the business of enrolling members commenced forthwith. A vote of thanks to the chairman, three cheers for the Argus, and three groans for the Herald, being given, the business of the meeting closed at 6 P.M. The whole affair passed off peaceably, all the speakers ridiculing the idea of government being so foolish as to dream of persisting in their intention of coer- cing such a body of well disposed indus- trious men, as the gold diggers of Vic- toria, and attributing the iniquitous at- tempt more to misinformation supplied to the Executive than to any bad intention on the part of his Excellency the Governor; but the resolutions carried and the speeches delivered by half-a-dozen men you, will allow, are of much less impor- tance than the general feeling among the diggers, and as far as an observer could penetrate, that feeling is a fixed deter-

mination not to pay the sum asked, to resist by all means, and at all hazards: this feeling would not have been so strong and perhaps would not heave existed if the supposed reason for the rise, the reap- ing of the harvest, had been stated in the proclamation along with an assurance that the increase would only be for one month, but the resolution already come to is too strong to be allaywd now by   any such saving clause.