The riots that are reported in the Australian province of
Vic- toria are liable, almost equally, to be unduly magnified and un- duly underrated. Government has always claimed the right to impose some kind of fee upon the use of land for gold-finding, just as it did for squatting or pasturage ; and the charge was jus- tified by the cost of keeping watch and ward, by the necessary recognition of the lordship in the soil, and by general financial expediency. The rough multitude felt much sympathy wibh Pistol's maxim, "Base is the slave that pays"; and when gold- fmding ceased to be absurdly profitable, the tax became doubly odious. To many it was an encroachment on " the rights of man," English and Irish ; and there have been meetings to declare that constitutional principle, followed by burning of the licences, riots, reading of the Riot Act, and bloodshed ; and the last ad- vices left Melbourne in a state of uncertainty and uneasiness. There seems little reason to believe that the respectable colonists will side with the rioters ; although, unquestionably, Republican dislike of Imperial olaims has made great way even among the upper classes. One of the grounds of general complaint is a lavish Government expenditure : yet nothing can be done in golden Australia without gold, and the officials have been among the contemned "poor" of Australia Felix.