6 MARCH 1852, Page 14


ThsonErr politicians in Australia are dismayed at the effect of Sir Charles Fitzroy's measures to control the wanderers of the gold-diggings,—Sir Charles being followed by Mr. Latrobe in -Vic- toria; and they foresee possible consequences yet worse. Our readers know the singularly rich nature of the Australian beds, and the Californian fever that seized the community in general, especially the labouring population ; and they know that, being call- ed to devise some means of controlling that people, animated and guided most chiefly by the instinct of rapacity, the Governor could hit upon no better device than to license them. This was offer- ing Government sanction in addition to the previous temptation—to suggest the abandonment of really fruitful labour, and to stamp it with authority. In Australia, especially for such an object, a fee of thirty shillings was not very likely to be a bar against that sort -of universal "rush to the pit" ; and it does not appear that the 'working men of the colony have the slightest difficulty in paying for admission. On the contrary, observant colonists appear to 'think that the official licence has helped to convert the irregular 'impulse into a steady drain upon the labour-market. Had Sir Charles Fitzroy put a restriction on the gold-finding in the shape of holding the lands, and letting them only be appro- priated by owners or leaseholders, the check might have been more effectual. But such a plan might have been difficult in any of the settlements except South Australia, where the lands have been already settled in so much more compact a form' and where the existence of freeholds would check the irregular licensing system. The State has retained no effective hold on the land in Eastern Australia, and is now paying for its early mistake. South Australia is better secured and bound down to the occupations of genuine industry, and its prosperity is all the safer. It is true that many of the gold-finders who rush forth do not 'find any gold worth their toil and hardship—some of them find 'nothing; but the few attain great prizes' some immense prizes, a 'fortune at a clutch; and that gambling hope, with Sir Charles's licence to back it, is quite enough to keep up the fever of migra- tion to the lottery of the desert. The licence, indeed, has a pecu- liar force : who would have been allowed for payment of a small he to go and dig copper-ore or coal ? But gold is consecrated -officially, and for its sake social stability is put to the test. Grave men shake their heads, , and see a contingency yet worse than the present drain of labour from trade, aggravated though that is by the official stoppage of aMipply from home—worse than the present loss L'of capital—worse than the sacrifice of the wool-trade for a seasodo?. -The recent growth of the colony has been marked by a correspondittowth of Democratic feeling, strong, widespread, and direct .o 'ect—a Republican independence. The exist- ence of a large progortion of .well-to-do labouring class may partly account for it; also ,.41d grudges of the Emancirsts against the gen- feeler class of free settlers ; also the official slights, not only to the colony at large, bit to 'able and active men like Dr. Lang, who, ,right or wrong, are morilfied and bent on avenging their wounded pride, and who find empathy existing in the body of the Colo- nial people. To thO.fpeling the peopling of the gold-districts has given a sudden arta powerful impulse ; it has drawn working men fi'm work—made numbers of them nouveaux riches, still greater 3:timbers disappointed wanderers ; it has filled them -with dislike of 'restraint, with im.ptience of government, witli the pride of gold 'a the pride of lendene.