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3-055 (Text)

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addressee author,male,The Argus,un
Newspaper Article
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Public Written
Newspapers & Broadsides
Clark, 1975
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A great deal of dissatisfaction and numberless complaints have come under my notice within the last few weeks, in reference to the undue severity and tyrannical conduct of the police, When in search of unlicensed persons. No. 1 of the regulations appended, to the license sets forth that "every licensed person must always have his license with him, ready to be produced whenever demanded by a Commissioner or persons acting under his instructions; otherwise he is liable to be proceeded against as an unlicensed person."  This rule, in particular, is the one which causes the greatest amount of complaint. Should a person, although in possession of his license, by any means be unfortunate enough not to have it on his person, he is immediately walked off, and, however near he may be to his dwelling, he is not allowed to go for it. An instance of this nature, and I must certainly say, it appears to me rather too much of a good thing, occurred on Monday last. A storekeeper, named Dale, at Golden Point, was employed at the door of his store on Monday last, when he was asked for his license; he pointed it to the constable, hanging on a nail inside his store; immediately after another constable came up, and again asked him for his license, but when told he had not the piece of paper upon his person, but could produce it in the store, the constable would not consent to let him in, and insisted upon his being marched off. Mr. Dale begged to have his coat, he being without one, which was also refused. In the meantime, Mrs. Dale brought out the required coat and license. Mr. Dale appealed to Inspector Evans, representing the conduct of the constables in very strong terms and promised that the thing should not rest there. Mr. Evans discharged Mr. Dale from custody. This is one of numerous instances of a similar nature. And again, servants in charge of property are very often similarly treated, and property left to the mercy of the weather, although the parties very often held the required license, as a letter from a Mr. Day, a butcher, will explain. The felon-like treatment of the police towards unlicensed persons, is loudly complained of; but not to trespass upon your space, I refer your readers to the following remarks furnished me by a very respectable resident at Campbell's Creek (a distance of five miles from this office) of what occurred there on Monday last. 
I think it but just to give occasionally the information as furnished to me, to show the state of the public mind, and what the tyrannical conduct of the authorities will eventually lead to. My informant says - Considerable excitement was created at Campbell's Creek, on Monday the 20th inst., by the arbitrary and reckless conduct of the Inspector of Police. Nearly every person walking on the Queen's highroad was stopped, and a license demanded; tents were entered, and the inmates dragged out, if not in possession of licenses, as if they were the vilest criminals; all the stores were called at, and the storekeepers required, in the most insulting manner, to produce their licenses. In one case, a schoolmaster, teaching his scholars, was taken from his school; men were taken from their employment; diggers who had licenses at their tents, were taken in custody; and Englishmen marched along the highway in charge of the mounted police, exposed to the gaze of the populace.  Amongst those thus marched prisoners, was a nephew of Mr. Campbell, of Campbell's station. The diggers and storekeepers are greatly exasperated. Here and there, little knots of diggers may be heard murmuring that in California this state of things would soon be altered, and that in a summary way. It is a pity that the unfortunate people who intend leaving the shores of England for this police-ridden country, should be left in ignorance of the treatment they will receive on arrival.
It may not be known to the Melbourne public, or to the British public, that if a man have no license, and is unable to pay the fine of three or five pounds, he is thrust into a small cell for fourteen days or a month, in company with felons of the vilest description; thieves, horse-stealers, lags, and murderers; amidst filth, vermin, and stench, destitute of a bed, obliged to lie on the ground, and compelled to listen to the most obscene and diabolical language, - scarcely ever being permitted to breathe the pure air of heaven, and all this, because the poor but honest Englishman is unable to pay thirty shillings for a license, - a sum which many hundreds do not obtain in a month of digging.
The sentiments of this writer, I can confidently assert, are reechoed by almost every feeling individual. It must be remembered that at the present time there are not so many fortunate miners as some months back, and consequently there are many who have not the wherewith to purchase food, much more the possibility of procuring a license. Numbers of new arrivals also, who arrive here, are not immediately in a position to hand over their thirty shillings for a license. Such complaints are not so prevalent on the Sydney diggings, the reason being that the law is administered with a lenient hand.