The Eureka Stockade
In Person I solicit no subscription—in writing I hereby ask no favour from my reader. A book must stand or fall by the truth contained in it.
What I wish to note is this: I was taught the English language by the Very Reverend W. Vincent Eyre, Vice Rector of the English College, Rome. It has cost me immense pains to rear my English up to the mark; but I could never master the language to perfection. Hence, now and then, probably to the annoyance of my Readers, I could not help the foreign idiom. Of course, a proper edition, in Italian, will be published in Turin.
I have nothing further to say.
Prince Albert Hotel, Bakery Hill,, Ballaarat, Anniversary of the Burning of Bentley's Eureka Hotel, 1855.
Mendacium sibi, sicut turbinis, viam augustam in urbe et orbe terrarum aperuit. Stultus dicit in corde suo, "non est Deus." Veritas vero lente passu passu sicut puer, tandem aliquando janunculat ad lucem. Tunc justus ut palma florescit.*
[*Listen to me— The lie, like the whirlwind, clears itself a royal road, either in town or country, through the whole face of the earth. The fool in his heart says, "There is no God." The truth, however slow, step by step, like a little child, someday, at last, finds a footpath to light. Then the righteous flourish like a palm tree.]
I undertake to do what an honest man should do, let it thunder or rain. He who buys this book to lull himself to sleep had better spend his money in grog. He who reads this book to smoke a pipe over it, let him provide himself with Plenty of tobacco—he will have to blow hard. A lover of truth— that's the man I want—and he will have in this book the truth, and nothing but the truth.
Facts, from the "stubborn-things" store, are here retailed and related— contradiction is challenged from friend or foe. The observation on, and induction from the facts, are here stamped with sincerity: I ask for no other credit. I may be mistaken: I will not acknowledge the mistake unless the contrary be proved.
When two boys are see-sawing on a plank, balanced on its centre, whilst the world around them is "up" with the one it is "down" with the other. The centre, however, is stationary. I was in the centre. I was an actor, and therefore an eye-witness. The events I relate, I did see them pass before me. The persons I speak of, I know them face to face. The words I quote, I did hear them with my own ears. Others may know more or less than I; I mean to tell all that I know, and nothing more.
Two reasons counsel me to undertake the task of publishing this work; but a third reason is at the bottom of it, as the potent lever; and they are—
1st. An honourable ambition urging me to have my name remembered among the illustrious of Rome. I have, on reaching the fortieth year of my age, to publish a work at which I have been plodding the past eighteen years. An ocean of grief would overwhelm me if then I had to vindicate my character: how, under the hospitality of the British flag, I was put in the felon's dock of a British Supreme Court to be tried for high treason.
2nd. I have the moral courage to show the truth of my text above, because I believe in the resurrection of life.
3rd. Brave comrades in arms who fell on that disgraced Sabbath morning, December 3rd, worthy of a better fate, and most certainly of a longer remembrance, it is in my power to drag your names from an ignoble oblivion, and vindicate the unrewarded bravery of one of yourselves! He was once my mate, the bearer of our standard, the "Southern Cross." Shot down by a murderous hand, he fell and died struggling like a man in the cause of the diggers. But he was soon forgotten. That he was buried is known by the tears of a few true friends! the place of his burial is little known, and less cared for.
'Sunt tempora nostra; non mutabimur nec mutamur in illis; jam perdidi spem.'
The work will be published on the 1st of December next, and given to each subscriber by the Author's own hand, on the site of the Eureka Stockade, from the rising to the setting of the sun, on the memorable third.
A Jove Principum.
"Wanted a governor. Apply to the People of Victoria:" that was the extraordinary advertisement, a new chum in want of employment, did meet in the usual column of 'The Argus', December 1852. Many could afford to laugh at it, the intelligent however, who had immigrated here, permanently to better his condition, was forced to rip up in his memory a certain fable of Aesop. Who would have dared then to warn the fatted Melbourne frogs weltering in grog, their colonial glory, against their contempt for King Log? Behold King Stork is your reward. 'Tout comme chez nous.'
One remark before I start for the gold-fields. As an old European traveller I had set apart a few coppers for the poor at my landing. I had no opportunity for them. "We shall do well in this land;" was my motto. Who is going to be the first beggar? Not I! My care for the poor would have less disappointed me, if I had prepared myself against falling in the unsparing clutches of a shoal of land-sharks, who swarmed at that time the Yarra Yarra wharfs. Five pounds for landing my luggage, was the A, followed by the old colonial C, preceded by the double D. Rapacity in Australia is the alpha and omega. Yet there were no poor! a grand reflection for the serious. Adam Smith, settled the question of "the wealth of nations." The source of pauperism will be settled in Victoria by any quill-driver, who has the pluck to write the history of public-houses in the towns, and sly-grog sellers on the gold-fields.
Let us start for Ballaarat, Christmas, December 1852.—'Vide'—'tempore suo'— 'Julii Caesaris junioris. De Campis Aureis, Australia Felix Commentaria.'
For the purpose, it is now sufficient to say that I had joined a party; fixed our tent on the Canadian Flat; went up to the Camp to get our gold licence; for one pound ten shilling sterling a head we were duly licensed for one month to dig, search for, and remove gold, etc.—We wanted to drink a glass of porter to our future success, but there was no Bath Hotel at the time.—Proceeded to inspect the famous Golden Point (a sketch of which I had seen in London in the 'Illustrated News'). The holes all around, three feet in diameter, and five to eight feet in depth, had been abandoned! we jumped into one, and one of my mates gave me the first lesson in "fossiking,"—In less than five minutes I pounced on a little pouch— the yellow boy was all there,—my eyes were sparkling,—I felt a sensation identical to a first declaration of love in by-gone times.—"Great works," at last was my bursting exclamation. In old Europe I had to take off my hat half a dozen times, and walk from east to west before I could earn one pound in the capacity of sworn interpreter, and translator of languages in the city of London. Here, I had earned double the amount in a few minutes, without crouching or crawling to Jew or Christian. Had my good angel prevailed on me to stick to that blessed Golden Point, I should have now to relate a very different story: the gold fever, however, got the best of my usual judgment, and I dreamt of, and pretended nothing else, than a hole choked with gold, sunk with my darling pick, and on virgin ground.—I started the hill right-hand side, ascending Canadian Gully, and safe as the Bank of England I pounced on gold—seventeen and a half ounces, depth ten feet.
One fine morning (Epiphany week), I was hard at work (excuse old chum, if I said hard: though my hand had been scores of times compelled in London to drop the quill through sheer fatigue, yet I never before handled a pick and shovel), I hear a rattling noise among the brush. My faithful dog, Bonaparte, would not keep under my control. "What's up?" "Your licence, mate." was the peremptory question from a six-foot fellow in blue shirt, thick boots, the face of a ruffian armed with a carbine and fixed bayonet. The old "all right" being exchanged, I lost sight of that specimen of colonial brutedom and his similars, called, as I then learned, "traps" and "troopers." I left off work, and was unable to do a stroke more that day.
"I came, then, 16,000 miles in vain to get away from the law of the sword!" was my sad reflection. My sorrow was not mitigated by my mates and neighbours informing me, that Australia was a penal settlement. Inveterate murderers, audacious burglars, bloodthirsty bushrangers, were the ruling triumvirate, the scour of old Europe, called Vandemonians, in this bullock-drivers' land. Of course I felt tamed, and felt less angry, at the following search for licence. At the latter end of the month, one hundred and seventy seven pounds troy, in two superb masses of gold, were discovered at the depth of sixty feet, on the hill opposite where I was working. The talk was soon Vulcanish through the land. Canadian Gully was as rich in lumps as other gold-fields are in dust. Diggers, whom the gold fever had rendered stark blind, so as to desert Ballaarat for Mount Alexander and Bendigo, now returned as ravens to the old spot; and towards the end of February, '53, Canadian Gully was in its full glory.
The search for licences, or "the traps are out to-day"—their name at the time—happened once a month. The strong population now on this gold-field had perhaps rendered it necessary twice a month. Only in October, I recollect they had come out three times. Yet, "the traps are out" was annoying, but not exasperating. Not exasperating, because John Bull, 'ab initio et ante secula', was born for law, order, and safe money-making on land and sea. They were annoying, because, said John, not that he likes his money more than his belly, but he hates the bayonet: I mean, of course, he does not want to be bullied with the bayonet. To this honest grumbling of John, the drunkard, that is the lazy, which make the incapables, joined their cant, and the Vandemonians pulled up with wonted audacity. In a word, the thirty shillings a month for the gold licence became a nuisance.
A public meeting was announced on Bakery-hill. It was in November, 1853. Four hundred diggers were present. I recollect I heard a "Doctor Carr" poking about among the heaps of empty bottles all round the Camp, and asked who paid for the good stuff that was in them, and whither was it gone. Of course, Doctor Carr did not mention, that one of those bottles, corked and sealed with the "Crown," was forced open with Mr. Hetherington's corkscrew; and that said Dr. Carr had then to confess that the bottle aforesaid contained a nobbler some 250 pounds worth for himself. Great works already at Toorak. 'Tout cela soit dit en passant.' Mr. Hetherington, then a storekeeper on the Ballaarat Flat, and now of the Cladendon Hotel, Ballaarat Township, is a living witness. For the fun of the thing, I spoke a few words which merited me a compliment from the practitioner, who also honoured me with a private precious piece of information—"'Nous allons bientot avoir la Republique Australienne! Signore.'" "'Quelle farce! repondis je.'" The specimen of man before me impressed me with such a decided opinion of his ability for destroying sugarsticks, that at once I gave him credit as the founder of a republic for babies to suck their thumbs.
In short, here dates the Victorian system of 'memorialising.' The diggers of Ballaarat sympathised with those of Bendigo in their common grievances, and prayed the governor that the gold licence be reduced to thirty shillings a month. There was further a great waste of yabber-yabber about the diggers not being represented in the Legislative Council, and a deal of fustian was spun against the squatters. I understood very little of those matters at the time: the shoe had not pinched my toe yet.
Every one returned to his work; some perhaps not very peacefully, on account of a nobbler or two over the usual allowance.
Risum Teneatis Amici.
I recollect towards this time I followed the mob to Magpie Gully. It was a digger's life. Hard work by day, blazing fire in the evening, and sound sleep by night at the music of drunken quarrels all around, far and near. I had marked my claim in accordance with the run of the ranges, and safe as the Bank of England I bottomed on gold. No search for licence ever took place. What's the matter? Oh, the diggers of Bendigo, by sheer moral force, in the shape of some ten thousand in a mob, had inspired with better sense the red-tape there and somewhere else, so I took out my licence at the reasonable rate of two pounds for three months, my contribution for the support of gold-lace. So far so good. I had no fault to find with our governor Joseph Latrobe, Esquire; nor do I believe that the diggers cared about anything else from him. Was it then his being an esquire that brought his administration into contempt? The fact is, a clap of "The Thunder" from Printing House-square boomed on the tympanum of my ear. We diggers got the gracious title of "vagabonds," and our massa "Joe," for his pains to keep friends with us, was put down "an incapable;" all for the honour of British rule, of course.
"Wanted a Governor," was now no longer a dummy in 'The Argus'; but, unhappily, no application was made to the people of Victoria.
Give a dog a bad name—and the old proverb holds good even at the antipodes. My trampings are now transcribed from my diary.
With the hot winds whirled in the Vandemonian rush to the Ballaarat Flat. My hole was next to the one which was jumped by the Eureka mob, and where one man was murdered in the row. At sixty-five feet we got on a blasted log of a gum-tree that had been mouldering there under a curse, since the times of Noah! The whole flat turned out an imperial shicer. (You do not sink deep enough, Signore Editor.) Slabs that had cost us some eight pounds a hundred would not fetch, afterwards, one pound. We left them to sweat freely in the hole; and all the mob got on the fuddle. My mate and myself thought we had been long enough together, and got asunder for a change. I was soon on the tramp again. Bryant's Ranges was the go of the day, and I started thither accordingly. December, 1853. Oh, Lord! what a pack of ragamuffins over that way! I got acquainted with the German party who found out the Tarrangower den; shaped my hole like a bathing tub, and dropped "on it" right smart. Paid two pounds to cart one load down the Loddon, and left two more loads of washing stuff, snug and wet with the sweat of my brow over the hole. Got twenty-eight pennyweights out of the load. Went back the third day, brisk and healthy, to cart down the other two loads. Washing stuff! gone: hole! gone: the gully itself! gone: the whole face of it had been clean shaved. Never mind, go ahead again. Got another claim on the surface-hill. No search for licence: thank God, had none. Nasty, sneaky, cheeky little things of flies got into my eyes: could see no more, no ways. Mud water one shilling a bucket! Got the dysentery; very bad. Thought, one night, to reef the yards and drop the anchor. Got on a better tack though. Promenaded up to the famous Bendigo. Had no particular objection to Celestials there, but had no particular taste for their tartaric water. Made up my mind to remember my days of innocence, and turned shepherd. Fine landscape this run on the Loddon: almost a match for Bella Italia, but there are too many mosquitoes. Dreamt, one day, I was drinking a tumbler of Loddon wine; and asserted that Providence was the same also in the south. It was a dream. The lands lay waste and desolate: not by nature; oh no; by hand of man. Bathing in these Loddon water-holes, superb. Tea out of this Loddon water magnificent. In spite of these horrible hot winds, this water is always fresh and delicious: how kind is Providence! One night lost the whole blessed lot of my flock. Myself, the shepherd, did not know, in the name of heavens, which way to turn. Got among the blacks, the whole Tarrang tribe in corrobory. Lord, what a rum sight for an old European traveller. Found natives very humane, though. My sheep right again, only the wild dogs had given them a good shake. Was satisfied that the Messiah the Jews are looking for will not be born in this bullock-drivers' land; any how, the angels won't announce the happy event of his birth to the shepherds. No more truck with sheep, and went to live with the blacks for a variation. Picked up, pretty soon, bits of their yabber-yabber. For a couple of years had tasted no fish; now I pounced on a couple of frogs, every couple of minutes. Thought their 'lubras' ugly enough; not so, however, the slender arms and small hands of their young girls, though the fingers be rather too long.
That will do now, in as much as the end of the story is this: That portion in my brains called "acquisitiveness" got the gold-fever again, and I started for old Ballaarat.
Sua Cuique Voluntas.
I was really delighted to see the old spot once more; Easter, 1854. I do not mean any offence to my fellow-diggers elsewhere; it struck me very forcibly, however, that our Ballaarat men look by far more decent, and our storekeepers, or grog-sellers if you like, undoubtedly more respectable.
Of a constitution not necessarily savage, I did not fail to observe that the fair ones had ventured now on a large scale to trust their virtue among us vagabonds, and on a hot-wind day, I patronized of course some refreshment room.
I met my old mate, and we determined to try the old game; but this time on the old principle of 'labor omnia vincit'—I pitched my tent right in the bush, and prophesied, that from my door I would see the golden hole in the gully below.
I spoke the truth, and such is the case this very day. Feast of the Assumption, 1855:—What sad events, however, were destined to pass exactly before the very door of my tent! Who could have told me on that Easter Sunday, that the unknown hill which I had chosen for my rest, would soon be called the Massacre Hill! That next Christmas, my mate would lie in the grave, somewhere forgotten: and I in the gaol! the rope round my neck!!
Let us keep in good spirits, good reader, we shall soon have to weep together enough.
Gravel Pits, famous for its strong muster of golden holes, and blasting shicers, was too deep for me. The old Eureka was itself again. The jewellers shops, which threatened to exhaust themselves in Canadian Gully, were again the talk of the day: and the Eureka gold dust was finer, purer, brighter, immensely darling. The unfaithful truants who had rushed to Bryant's Ranges, to knock their heads against blocks of granite, now hastened for the third time to the old spot, Ballaarat, determined to stick to it for life or death. English, German, and Scotch diggers, worked generally on the Gravel Pits, the Irish had their stronghold on the Eureka. The Americans fraternised with all the wide-awake, 'ubi caro ibi vultures.'
Here begins as a profession the precious game of 'shepherding,' or keeping claims in reserve; that is the digger turning squatter. And, as this happened under the reign of a gracious gold commissioner, so I am brought to speak of the gold licence again. First I will place the man before my reader, though.
Get a tolerable young pig, make it stand on his hind legs, put on its head a cap trimmed with gold-lace, whitewash its snout, and there you have the ass in the form of a pig; I mean to say a "man," with this privilege, that he possesses in his head the brains of both the above-mentioned brutes.
Eureka was advancing fast to glory. Each day, and not seldom twice a day, the gutter gammoned and humbugged all us 'vagabonds' so deucedly, that the rush to secure a claim "dead on it" rose to the standard of 'Eureka style,' that is, 'Ring, ring,' was the yell from some hundred human dogs, and soon hill and flat poured out all spare hands to thicken the "ring."
By this time, two covies—one of them generally an Irishman had stripped to their middle, and were "shaping" for a round or two. A broken nose, with the desired accomplishment of a pair of black eyes, and in all cases, when manageable, a good smash in the regions either of the teeth, or of the ribs—both, if possible, preferred—was supposed to improve the transaction so much, that, what with the tooth dropping, or the rib cracking, or both, as aforesaid, it was considered 'settled.' Thus originated the special title of 'rowdy mob,' or Tipperary, in reference to the Irish. Let us have the title clear.
The 'shepherding,' that is the squatting by one man women and children had not got hold of this 'Dolce far niente' yet—the ground allotted by law to four men; and the astuteness of our primitive shepherds having found it cheap and profitable to have each claim visibly separated from the other by some twenty-feet wall, which was mutually agreed upon by themselves alone, to call it 'spare ground,' was now a grown-up institution. Hence, whenever the gutter, 120 feet below, took it into its head to bestir and hook it, the faithful shepherds would not rest until they were sure to snore in peace a foot and a half under ground from the surface, and six score feet from 'bang on the gutter.'
This Ballaarat dodge would have been innocent enough, were it not for 'Young Ireland,' who, having fixed headquarters on the Eureka, was therefore accused of monopolising the concern. Now, suppose Paddy wanted to relish a 'tip,' that is, a drop of gin on the sly, then Scotty, who had just gulped down his 'toddy,' which was a drop of auld whisky, would take upon himself the selfish trouble to sink six inches more in Paddy's hole, which feat was called 'jumping;' and thus, broken noses, and other accomplishments, as aforesaid, grew in proportion to tips, and 'toddy' drunk on the sly.
I frequently saw horrid scenes of blood; but I was now an old chum and therefore knew what was what in colonial life.
I had a Cameleon for a neighbour, who, in the garb of an Irishman, flung his three half-shovels out of a hole on the hill punctually every morning, and that was his work before breakfast. Then, a red shirt on his back, and a red cap on his head, he would, in the subsequent hour, give evidence of his scorning to be lazy by putting down some three inches deeper another hole below in the gully. 'Full stop;' he must have a 'blow,' but the d——d things—his matches—had got damp, and so in a rage he must hasten to his tent to light the pipe; that is, to put on the Yankee garb and complete his forenoon work in a third hole of his, whose depth and shape recommended him as a first rate grave-digger.
And what has all this bosh to do with the Eureka Stockade?
Fiat Fustitia, Ruat Coelum.
As an old Ballaarat hand, I hereby assert, that much of the odium of the mining community against red-tape, arose from the accursed practice of jumping.
One fact from the 'stubborn-things' store. The Eureka gutter was fast progressing down hill towards the Eureka gully. A party of Britishers had two claims; the one, on the slope of the hill, was bottomed on heavy gold; the other, some four claims from it, and parallel with the range, was some ninety feet deep, and was worked by day only, by three men: a fourth man would now and then bring a set of trimmed slabs from the first hole aforesaid, where he was the principal 'chips.' There was a Judas Iscariot among the party. One fine morning, a hole was bottomed down the gully, and proved a scheisser. A rush, Eureka style, was the conseqence; and it was pretended now that the gutter would keep with the ranges, towards the Catholic church.
A party of Yankees, with revolvers and Mexican knives—the garb of 'bouncers' in those days—jumped the second hole of the Britishers, dismantled the windlass, and Godamn'd as fast as the Britishers cursed in the colonial style. The excitement was awful. Commissioner Rede was fetched to settle the dispute. An absurd and unjust regulation was then the law; no party was allowed to have an interest in two claims at one and the same time, which was called 'owning two claims.' The Yankees carried the day. I, a living witness, do assert that, from that day, there was a 'down' on the name of Rede.
For the commissioners, this jumping business was by no means an agreeable job. They were fetched to the spot: a mob would soon collect round the disputed claim; and for 'fair play,' it required the wisdom of Solomon, because the parties concerned set the same price on their dispute, as the two harlots on the living child.
I. The conflicting evidence, in consequence of hard swearing, prompted by gold-thirst, the most horrible demon that depraves the human heart, even a naturally honest heart.—II. The incomprehensible, unsettled, impracticable ordinances for the abominable management of the gold-fields; which ordinances, left to the discretion—that is, the caprice; and to the good sense—that is, the motto, 'odi profanum vulgus et arceo;' and to the best judgment—that is the proverbial incapability of all aristocractical red-tape, HOW TO RULE US VAGABONDS. Both those reasons, I say, must make even the most hardened bibber of Toorak small-beer acknowledge and confess, that the perfidious mistake at head-quarters was, their persisting to make the following Belgravian 'billet-doux' the 'sine qua non' recommendation for gold-lace on Ballaarat (at the time):—
"To the Victorian Board of Small Beer,
"Toorak (somewhere in Australasia, i.e., Australia Felix—inquire from the natives, reported to be of blackskin, at the southern end of the globe.)
"Belgravia, First year of the royal projecting the Great Exhibition, Hyde Park.
"LADY STARVESEMPSTRESS, great-grand-niece of His Grace the Duke Of CURRY-POWDER, begs to introduce to FORTYSHILLING TAKEHIMAWAY, Esquire, of Toorak, see address, her brother-in-law, POLLIPUSS, WATERLOOBOLTER, tenth son of the venerable Prebendary of North and South Palaver, Canon of St. Sebastopol in the east, and Rector of Allblessedfools, West End—URGENT."
In justice, however, to Master Waterloobolter, candidate for gold-lace, it must not be omitted that he is a Piccadilly young sprat, and so at Julien's giant 'bal-masque', was ever gracious to the lady of his love.
"Miss Smartdeuce, may I beg the honour of your hand for the next waltz? surely after a round or two you will relish your champagne."
"Yes," with a smothered "dear," was the sigh-drawn reply.
Who has the power to roar the command, "Thus far shalt thou go, and no further," to the flood of tears from forlorn Smartdeuce, when her soft Waterloobolter bolted for the gold-fields of Australia Felix.
To be serious. How could any candid mind otherwise explain the honest boldness of eight out of nine members of the first Local Court, Ballaarat, who, one and all, I do not say dared, but I say called upon their fellow miners to come forward to a public meeting on the old spot, Bakery-hill. September, Saturday, 30th, 1855. Said members had already settled at that time 201 disputes, and given their judgement, involving some half a million sterling altogether, for all what they knew, and yet not one miner rose one finger against them, when they imperatively desired to know whether they had done their duty and still possessed the confidence of their fellow diggers! They (said members) are practical men, of our own adopted class, elected by ourselves from among ourselves, to sit as arbitrators of our disputes, and our representatives at the Local Court. That's the key, for any future Brougham, for the history of the Local Courts on the gold-fields.
It has fallen to my lot, however, to put the Eureka Stockade on record; and, from the following 'Joe' chapter must begin any proper history of that disgracefully memorable event.
Abyssus, Abyssum Invocat.
"Joe, Joe!" No one in the world can properly understand and describe this shouting of "Joe," unless he were on this El Dorado of Ballaarat at the time.
It was a horrible day, plagued by the hot winds. A blast of the hurricane winding through gravel pits whirled towards the Eureka this shouting of "Joe." It was the howl of a wolf for the shepherds, who bolted at once towards the bush: it was the yell of bull-dogs for the fossikers who floundered among the deep holes, and thus dodged the hounds: it was a scarecrow for the miners, who now scrambled down to the deep, and left a licensed mate or two at the windlass. By this time, a regiment of troopers, in full gallop, had besieged the whole Eureka, and the traps under their protection ventured among the holes. An attempt to give an idea of such disgusting and contemptible campaigns for the search of licences is really odious to an honest man. Some of the traps were civil enough; aye, they felt the shame of their duty; but there were among them devils at heart, who enjoyed the fun, because their cupidity could not bear the sight of the zig-zag uninterrupted muster of piles of rich-looking washing stuff, and the envy which blinded their eyes prevented them from taking into account the overwhelming number of shicers close by, round about, all along. Hence they looked upon the ragged muddy blue shirt as an object of their contempt.
Are diggers dogs or savages, that they are to be hunted on the diggings, commanded, in Pellissier's African style, to come out of their holes, and summoned from their tents by these hounds of the executive? Is the garb of a digger a mark of inferiority? 'In sudore vultus lue vesceris panem'* is then an infamy now-a-days!
[* In the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat bread.]
Give us facts, and spare us your bosh, says my good reader.—Very well.
I, CARBONII RAFFAELLO, da Roma, and late of No. 4, Castle-court, Cornhill, City of London, had my rattling 'Jenny Lind' (the cradle) at a water-hole down the Eureka Gully. Must stop my work to show my licence. 'All right.'
I had then to go a quarter of a mile up the hill to my hole, and fetch the washing stuff. There again—"Got your licence?" "All serene, governor." On crossing the holes, up to the knees in mullock, and loaded like a dromedary, "Got your licence?" was again the cheer-up from a third trooper or trap. Now, what answer would you have given, sir?
I assert, as a matter of fact, that I was often compelled to produce my licence twice at each and the same licence hunt. Any one who knows me personally, will readily believe that the accursed game worried me to death.
Jam Non Estis Hospites Et Advenoe
It is to the purpose to say a few words more on the licence-hunting, and have done with it. Light your pipe, good reader, you have to blow hard.
Our red-tape, generally obtuse and arrogant, this once got rid of the usual conceit in all things, and had to acknowledge that the digger who remained quietly at his work, always possessed his licence. Hence the troopers were despatched like bloodhounds, in all directions, to beat the bush; and the traps who had a more confined scent, creeped and crawled among the holes, and sneaked into the sly-grog tents round about, in search of the swarming unlicensed game. In a word, it was a regular hunt. Any one who in Old England went fox-hunting, can understand pretty well, the detestable sport we had then on the goldfields of Victoria. Did any trooper succeed in catching any of the 'vagabonds' in the bush, he would by the threat of his sword, confine him round a big gum-tree; and when all the successful troopers had done the same feat, they took their prisoners down the gully, where was the grand depot, because the traps were generally more successful. The commissioner would then pick up one pound, two pounds, or five pounds, in the way of bail, from any digger that could afford it, or had friends to do so, and then order the whole pack of the penniless and friendless to the lock-up in the camp. I am a living eye-witness, and challenge contradiction.
This job of explaining a licence-hunt is really so disgusting to me, that I prefer to close it with the following document from my subsequently gaol-bird mate, then reporter of the 'Ballaarat Times':—
Police Court, Tuesday, October 24th.
HUNTING THE DIGGER.—Five of these fellows were fined in the mitigated trifle of 5 pounds, for being without licences. The nicest thing imaginable is to see one of these clumsy fellows with great beards, shaggy hair, and oh! such nasty rough hands, stand before a fine gentleman on the bench with hands of shiny whiteness, and the colour of whose cambric rivals the Alpine snow. There the clumsy fellow stands, faltering out an awkward apology, "my licence is only just expired, sir—I've only been one day from town, sir—I have no money, sir, for I had to borrow half a bag of flour the other day, for my wife and children." Ahem, says his worship, the law makes no distinctions—fined 5 pounds. Now our reporter enjoys this exceedingly, for he is sometimes scarce of news; and from a strange aberration of intellect, with which, poor fellow, he is afflicted, has sometimes, no news at all for us; but he is sure of not being dead beat at any time, for digger-hunting is a standing case at the police office, and our reporter is growing so precocious with long practice, that he can tell the number of diggers fined every morning, without going to that sanctuary at all.—'Ballaarat Times', Saturday, October 28, 1854.
Salvum Fac Populum Tuum Domine.
The more the pity—I have not done yet with the accursed gold licence. I must prevail on myself to keep cooler and in good temper.
Two questions will certainly be put to me:-
1st. Did the camp officials give out the licence to the digger at the place of his work, whenever required, without compelling him to leave off work, and renew his licence at the camp?
2nd. It was only one day in each month that there was a search for licences, was it not? Why therefore did not the diggers make it a half-holiday on the old ground, that "all work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy."
The first question is a foolish one, from any fellow-colonist who knows our silver and gold lace; and is a wicked one, from any digger who was on Ballaarat at the time.
'Fellah' gave the proper answer through the 'Ballaarat Times', October 14th;—here it is:—
To the Editor of the 'Ballaarat Times', October 14, 1854.
Permit me to call your attention to the miserable accommodation provided for the miner, who may have occasion to go to the Camp to take out a licence. Surely, with the thousands of pounds that have been expended in government buildings, a little better accommodation might be afforded to the well disposed digger, who is willing to pay the odious tax demanded of him by government, and not be compelled to stand in the rain or sun, or treated as if the 'distinguished government official' feared that the digger was a thing that would contaminate him by a closer proximity; so the 'fellah' is kept by a wooden rail from approaching within a couple of yards of the tent. In consequence, many persons mistaking the licence-office for the commissioner's water-closet, a placard has been placed over the door.
I am, Sir, yours &c.,
Who had to walk a few miles to pay away the money he had worked hard for, and was kept a few hours standing by a rail—not sitting on a rail, Mary.
Now I mean to tackle in right earnest with the second question, provided I can keep in sufficiently good temper.
On the morning of Thursday, the 22nd June, in the year of Grace, One thousand eight hundred and fifty-four, His Excellency SIR CHARLES HOTHAM, Knight Commander of the Most Noble Military Order of the Bath, landed on the shores of this fair province, as its Lieutenant-Governor, the chosen and commissioned representative of Her Most Gracious Majesty, the QUEEN! Never (writes the Melbourne historian of that day) never in the history of public ovations, was welcome more hearty, never did stranger meet with warmer welcome, on the threshold of a new home:
VICTORIA WELCOMES VICTORIA'S CHOICE, was the Melbourne proclamation.
The following is transcribed from my diary:-
"Saturday, August 26th, 1854: His Excellency dashed in among us 'vagabonds' on a sudden, at about five o'clock p.m., and inspected a shaft immediately behind the Ballaarat Dining Rooms, Gravel-pits. A mob soon collected round the hole; we were respectful, and there was no 'joeing.' On His Excellency's return to the camp, the miners busily employed themselves in laying down slabs to facilitate his progress. I was among the zealous ones who improvised this shabby foot-path. What a lack! we were all of us as cheerful as fighting-cocks.—A crab-hole being in the way, our Big-Larry actually pounced on Lady Hotham, and lifting her up in his arms, eloped with her ladyship safely across, amid hearty peals of laughter, however colonial they may have been.—Now Big Larry kept the crowd from annoying the couple, by properly laying about him with a switch all along the road.
"His Excellency was hailed with three-times-three, and was proclaimed on the Camp, now invaded by some five hundred blue shirts, the 'Diggers' Charley.'
"His Excellency addressed us miners as follows:-
"Diggers I feel delighted with your reception—I shall not neglect your interests and welfare—again I thank you.
"It was a short but smart speech we had heard elsewhere, he was not fond of 'twaddle,' which I suppose meant 'bosh.' After giving three hearty cheers, old Briton's style to 'Charley,' the crowd dispersed to drink a nobbler to his health and success. I do so this very moment. Eureka, under my snug tent on the hill, August 26, 1854. C.R."
Within six short months, five thousand citizens of Melbourne, receive the name of this applauded ruler with a loud and prolonged outburst of indignation!
Some twenty Ballaarat miners lie in the grave, weltering in their gore! double that number are bleeding from bayonet wounds; thirteen more have the rope round their necks, and two more of their leading men are priced four hundred pounds for their body or carcase.
'Tout cela, n'est pas precisement comme chez nous, pas vrai?'
Please, give me a dozen puffs at my black-stump, and then I will proceed to the next chapter.
Sufficit Diei Sua Vexatio.
Either this chapter must be very short, or I had better give it up without starting it at all.
Up to the middle of September, 1854, the search for licences happened once a month; at most twice: perhaps once a week on the Gravel Pits, owing to the near neighbourhood of the Camp. Now, licence-hunting became the order of the day. Twice a week on every line; and the more the diggers felt annoyed at it, the more our Camp officials persisted in goading us, to render our yoke palatable by habit. I assert, as an eye-witness and a sufferer, that both in October and November, when the weather allowed it, the Camp rode out for the hunt every alternate day. True, one day they would hunt their game on Gravel-pits, another day, they pounced on the foxes of the Eureka; and a third day, on the Red-hill: but, though working on different leads, are we not all fellow diggers? Did not several of us meet again in the evening, under the same tent, belonging to the same party? It is useless to ask further questions.
Towards the latter end of October and the beginning of November we had such a set of scoundrels camped among us, in the shape of troopers and traps, that I had better shut up this chapter at once, or else whirl the whole manuscript bang down a shicer.
"Hold hard, though, take your time, old man: don't let your Roman blood hurry you off like the hurricane, and thus damage the merits of your case. Answer this question first," says my good reader.
"If it be a fair one, I will."
"Was, then, the obnoxious mode of collecting the tax the sole cause of discontent: or was the tax itself (two pounds for three months) objected to at the same time?"
"I think the practical miner, who had been hard at work night and day, for the last four or six months, and, after all, had just bottomed a shicer, objected to the tax itself, because he could not possibly afford to pay it. And was it not atrocious to confine this man in the lousy lock-up at the Camp, because he had no luck?"
Allow me, now, in return, to put a very important question, of the old Roman stamp, 'Cui bono?' that is, Where did our licence money go to? That's a nut which will be positively cracked by-and-bye.
Ubi Caro, Ibi Vultures.
One morning, I woke all on a sudden.—What's up? A troop of horse galloping exactly towards my tent, and I could hear the tramping of a band of traps. I got out of the stretcher, and hastened out of my tent. All the neighbours, in night-caps and unmentionables, were groping round the tents, to inquire what was the matter. It was not yet day-light. There was a sly-grog seller at the top of the hill; close to his store he had a small tent, crammed with brandy cases and other grog, newly come up from town. There must have been a spy, who had scented such valuable game.
The Commissioner asked the storekeeper, who by this time was at the door of his store: "Whose tent is that?" indicating the small one in question.
"I don't know," was the answer.
"Who lives in it? who owns it? is anybody in?" asked the Commissioner.
"An old man owns it, but he is gone to town on business, and left it to the care of his mate who is on the nightshift," replied the storekeeper.
"I won't peck up that chaff of yours, sir. Halloo! who is in? Open the tent;" shouted the Commissioner.
"I say, cut down this tent, and we'll see who is in;" was the order of the Commissioner to two ruffianly looking troopers.
No sooner said than done; and the little tent was ripped up by their swords. A government cart was, of course, ready in the gully below, and in less than five minutes the whole stock of grog, some two hundred pounds sterling worth, or five hundred pounds worth in nobblers, was carted up to the Camp, before the teeth of some hundreds of diggers, who had now collected round about. We cried "Shame! shame!" sulkily enough, but we did not interfere; first, because the store had already annoyed us often enough during the long winter nights; second, because the plunderers were such Vandemonian-looking traps and troopers, that we were not encouraged to say much, because it would have been of no use.
As soon, however, as the sun was up, and all hands were going to work, the occurrence not only increased the discontent that had been brewing fast enough already, but it rose to excitement; and such a state of exasperated feelings, however vented in the shouting of 'Joe,' did certainly not prepare the Eureka boys to submit with patience to a licence-hunt in the course of the day.
First and foremost: it is impossible to prevent the sale of spirits on the diggings; and not any laws, fines, or punishment the government may impose on the dealers or consumers can have an effect towards putting a stop to sly-grog selling. A miner working, as during the past winter, in wet and cold, must and will have his nobbler occasionally; and very necessary, too, I think. No matter what the cost, he will have it; and it cannot be dispensed with, if he wish to preserve his health: he won't go to the Charley Napier Hotel, when he can get his nobbler near-handy, and thereby give a lift to Pat or Scotty.
Secondly: I hereby assert that the breed of spies in this colony prospered by this sly-grog selling. "We want money," says some of the 'paternals' at Toorak.
"Oh! well, then," replies another at Ballaarat, "come down on a few storekeepers and unlicensed miners and raise the wind. We can manage a thousand or two that way. Let the blood-hounds on the scent, and it is done."
And so a scoundrel, in the disguise of an honest man, takes with him another worse devil than himself, and goes round like a roaring lion, seeking what he may devour.
If I had half the fifty pounds fine inflicted on sly-grog sellers, and five pounds fine on unlicensed diggers, raised on Ballaarat at this time, I think my fellow-colonists would bow their heads before me. Great works!
Thirdly: An act of silver and gold lace humanity was going the rounds of our holes, above and below.
A person is found in an insensible state, caused by loss of blood, having fallen, by accident, on a broken bottle and cut an artery in his head. He is conveyed to the Camp hospital.
After some few hours, because he raves from loss of blood, and at a time when he requires the closest attention, he is unceremoniously carried into the common lock-up, and there left, it is said, for ten hours, lying on the floor, without any attention being paid to his condition by the hospital authorities, and then it was only by repeated representations of his sinking state, to other officials, that he was conveyed to the hospital, where he expired in two hours afterwards!
"Jim; the miners of Ballaarat demand an investigation."
"And they must have it, Joe."
Such was the scene in those days, performed at every shaft, in Gravel-pits, as well as on the Eureka.
Flagitur Vulcano Si Fulmina Parata.
Here is a short resume of events which led to the popular demonstration on Tuesday, October 17th, 1854.
Two men, old friends, named Scobie and Martin, after many years separation, happened to meet each other in Ballaarat. Joy at the meeting, led them to indulge in a wee drop for 'Auld lang Syne.' In this state of happy feeling, they call at the Eureka Hotel, on their way home, intending to have a finishing glass. They knock at the door, and are refused admittance, very properly, on account of their drunkenness. They leave, and proceed on their way, not, perhaps without the usual colonial salutations. At about fifty yards from the hotel, they hear a noise behind them, and retrace their steps. They are met by persons, unknown, who inflict blows on them, which render one insensible and the other lifeless.
A coroner's inquest was held on the body, the verdict of which was, "that deceased had died from injuries inflicted by persons unknown;" but public feeling seemed to point to Mr. Bentley, the proprietor of the Eureka Hotel; who, together with his wife and another party, were charged with the murder, tried at the police court, and acquitted.
The friends of deceased, considering that both the inquest and the trial were unfairly conducted, agreed to meet on Tuesday, October 17th, on the spot where the man was murdered, and devise measures to discover the guilty parties, and to bring them to justice.
Accordingly, at an early hour, the hill on which is situated the Eureka Hotel was thronged by thousands; so great was the excitement.
THOMAS KENNEDY, was naturally enough the lion of the day. A thick head, bold, but bald, the consequence perhaps not of his dissipation; but of his worry in by gone days. His merit consists in the possession of the chartist slang; hence his cleverness in spinning, a yarn never to the purpose, but blathered with long phrases and bubbling with cant. He took up the cause of the diggers, not so much for the evaporation of his gaseous heroism, as eternally to hammer on the unfortunate death of his country-man Scobie, for the sake of 'auld lang syne.'
When pressed by the example of others to burn his license, at the subsequent monster meeting, he had none to burn, because he had a wife and four children dependent on him for support, and therefore I do not know what to say further.
These and other resolutions were carried unanimously:-
"That this meeting, not being satisfied with the manner in which the proceedings connected with the death of the late James Scobie, have been conducted, either by the magistrates or by the coroner, pledges itself to use every lawful means to have the case brought before other, and more competent authorities.
"That this meeting deems it necessary to collect subscriptions for the purpose of offering a reward for the conviction of the murderers, and defraying all other expenses connected with the prosecution of the case."
Nam Tua Res Agitur, Paries Cum Proximus Ardet.
The one pervading opinion among the multitude of miners and others who had been attracted thither, appeared to be that Bentley was the murderer; and loud were the cries, the hooting, and groans against him. It would appear that the Camp authorities contemplated some little disturbance, and consequently all the available force of police and mounted troopers were on guard at the hotel and made a very injudicious display of their strength. Not only did they follow, but ride through, the crowd of people at the meeting; and it is to this display of their strength that must be attributed the fire, and other outbursts of indignation. Miners who have stood the working of a Canadian or Gravel-pit shicer, scorn danger in any form.
The crowd, excessively irritated on seeing the large display of the hated police force began to shout and yell. Presently, a stone came from the mass, and passing near the head of one of the officials, broke a pane of glass in one of the windows of the hotel. The sound of the falling glass appeared to act like magic on the multitude; and bottles, stones, sticks, and other missiles, were speedily put in requisition to demolish the windows, until not a single pane was left entire, while every one that was broken drew a cheer from the crowd. The police, all this time, were riding round and round the hotel, but did not take any vigorous measures to deter the people from the sport they appeared to enjoy so much. The crowd advance nearer—near enough to use sticks to beat in the casements. They make an entrance, and, in a moment, furniture, wearing apparel, bedding, drapery, are tossed out of the windows; curtains, sheets, etc., are thrown in the air, frightening the horses of the troopers, who have enough to do to keep their saddles; the weather-boards are ripped off the side of the house, and sent spinning in the air. A real Californian takes particular care of, and delights in smashing the crockery.
Mr. Rede, the resident Commissioner, arrives, and endeavours to pacify the people by speechifying, but it will not do. He mounts the sill of where was once a window, and gesticulates to the crowd to hear him. An egg is thrown from behind a tent opposite, and narrowly misses his face, but breaks on the wall of the house close to him. The Commissioner becomes excited, and orders the troopers to take the man in charge; but no trooper appears to relish the business.
A cry of "Fire!" is raised; a horse shies and causes commotion. Smoke is seen to issue from one of the rooms of the ground-floor. The police extinguish it; and an attempt is made to form a cordon round the building. But it is too late. Whilst the front of the hotel occupies the attention of the majority of the crowd, a few are pulling down the back premises.
Mr. Rede sends for the detachment of the gallant 40th now stationed on Ballaarat.
A shout is raised:—"The 40th are coming."
"Don't illuminate till they come."
"They shall see the sight."
"Wait till they come."
Smash go the large lamps in front of the hotel. The troopers ride round and caracole their horses.
"Where's the red-coats?"
"There they come, yonder up the hill!"
"Hurrah! three cheers."
The 40th arrive; they form into line in front of the hotel, swords drawn. "Hurrah! boys! no use waiting any longer."—"Down she comes." The bowling alley is on fire.—Police try to extinguish the flames—rather too warm.—It's too late.—The hotel is on fire at the back corner; nothing can save it.—"Hip, hip hurrah!" is the universal shout.
I had opportunities enough to observe in London, that a characteristic of the British race is to make fun of the calamity of fire, hence I did not wonder, how they enjoyed this, their real sport on the occasion.
A gale of wind, which blowed at this exact time, announcing the hurricane that soon followed, was the principal helper to the devouring of the building, by blowing in the direction most favourable to the purpose.
The red-coats wheel about, and return to the Camp. Look out! the roof of the back part of the hotel, falls in! "Hurrah! boys, here's the porter and ale with the chill off."
Bottles are handed out burning hot—the necks of two bottles are knocked together!—Contents drunk in colonial style.—Look out! the roof, sides and all fall in!—An enormous mass of flame and smoke arises with a roaring sound.—Sparks are carried far, far into the air, and what was once the Eureka Hotel, is now a mass of burning embers!
The entire diggings, in a state of extreme excitement.—The diggers are lords and masters of Ballaarat; and the prestige of the Camp is gone for ever.
Loquar In Amaritudine Animoe. Meoe
Now my peace of mind being destroyed, I had recourse to the free British press, for information, wishing to hear what they said in Melbourne. At this time the Morning Herald was in good demand; but the 'Geelong Advertiser' had the swayn on the goldfields. Geelong had a rattling correspondent on Ballaarat, who helped to hasten the movement fast enough. As I did not know this correspondent of the 'Geelong Advertiser' personally, so I can only guess at his frame of mind. I should say the following ingredients entered into the factory of his ideas:-
1st. The land is the Lord's and all therein; but man must earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. Therefore, in the battle of life, every man must fight his way on the old ground, "help yourself and God will help you."
2nd. In olden times, wherever there was a Roman there was life. In our times, wherever there is a Britain there is trade, and trade is life. But with the lazy,—who, either proud or mean, is always an incapable, because generally he is a drunkard, and therefore a beggar, there is no possible barter; and, inasmuch as man does not live on bread alone, for a fried sole is a nice thing for breakfast, so also it must be confessed that the loaves and fishes do not condescend to jump into one's mouth all dressed as they ought to be. Therefore—and this is the zenith of the 'Geelong Advertiser's' practical correspondent—be not perplexed, if the loaves and fishes wont pop fast enough into your mouth particularly; let Mahomed's example be instantly followed: go yourself to the loaves and fishes, and you will actually find that they are subject to the same laws of matter and motion as everything else on earth.
3rd. The application. For what did any one emigrate to this colony? To sweat more? Well, times were hard enough for the poor in old Europe. Let him sweat more, but for whom? For himself of course, and good luck to him. Is there not plenty of Victoria land for every white man or black man that intends to grow his potatoes? Oh! leave the greens-growing to the well-disposed, to the well affected, ye sturdy sons who pant after the yellow-boy. "Take your chance, out of a score of shicers, there is one 'dead on it,'" says old Mother Earth from the deep.
Sum total.—With the hard-working gold-digger, there is a solid barter possible. Hurrah! for the diggers.
'The Argus' persisting in 'our own conceit,' and misrepresenting, perverting, and slandering the cause of the diggers, ran foul, and went fast to leeward. Experience having instructed me at my own costs, that there cannot possibly exist much sympathy between flunkies and blueshirts, I can only guess at the compound materials hammered in the mortar of 'The Argus' reporter on Ballaarat:—
lst. The land is the Queen's, and the inheritance of the Crown.
2nd. Who dares to teach the golden-lace the idea how to shoot?
3rd. Let learning, commerce, even manners die, But leave us our old nobility.
4th. 'Sotto voce':—In this colony, however, make money; honestly if possible, of course, but make money; or else the 'vagabonds' here would humble down a gentleman to curry-powder diet.
5th. To put on a blue shirt, and rush in with the Eureka mob! fudge: 'odi profanum vulgus et arceo.' There are millions of tons of gold dug out already, as much anyhow, as anyone can carry to Old England, and live as a lord, with an occasional trip to Paris and Naples, to make up for the time wasted in this colony.
Sum total.—Screw out of the diggers as much as circumstances will admit; they have plenty of money for getting drunk, and making beasts of themselves, the brutes!
To be serious; should a copy of this book be forgotten somewhere, and thereby be spared for the use of some southern Tacitus, let him bewail the perfidious mendacity of our times, whose characteristic is SLANDER, which proceeds from devil GROG; and the pair generate THE PROSPERITY OF THE WICKED. Here is a sample:-
On Saturday, September 29th, 1854, the members of the Local Court, Ballaarat, held a public meeting on the usual spot, Bakery-hill, for the purpose of taking the sense of their fellow miners, respecting the admittance or nonadmittance of the legal profession to advise or plead in said court.— See report in The Star, a new local paper, No. V, Tuesday, October 2nd.
Messrs. Ryce and Wall having addressed the meeting in their usual honest, matter-of-fact way:-
"Great Works" was shouted and immediately appeared C. Raffaello, member of the Local Court. He hoped, that if there were any Goodenough present that they would see and not mislay their notes while he briefly brought three things before the meeting; the first concerned the meeting and himself, the second concerned himself, and the third concerned those present. The first was easily disposed of—have I, as I promised, done my duty as member of the Local Court to your satisfaction? (Yes, and cheers.) Very well, the second matter concerns myself—personally he was under no obligations to the lawyers—the services he received at the trial was done to him as a state prisoner, and not to Carboni Raffaello individually; when individually, he requested to be supplied with six pennyworth of snuff by Mr. Dunne, it was promised, but it never came to him. It would not have cost much to have supplied him, and it would have greatly obliged him, as habit had rendered snuff-taking necessary to him. With the permission of those present he would take a pinch now. (He took a pinch amidst laughter and cheers.)
The admission of lawyers into the Local Court would give rise to endless feuds, where valuable interests were concerned, and so much time would be lost in useless litigation. As he had no wish through any personal obligation to see the lawyers in the Local Court, and as he considered that it was for the advantage of the miners that they should not be admitted, he opposed their entrance.
The third matter concerned those present. What did they come to Australia for? Why, to improve their prospects in reality, though on shipboard they might say it was to get rid of the 'governor,' or to get clear of an ugly wife, and now that you are here are you to allow the Ballaarat lawyers to fleece you of your hard earnings? Not being fond of yabber-yabber he would simply ask: are you fairly represented by us? (Yes, yes.) If so then support us, and if we do not represent you we will resign. Don't say yes if you don't mean it, for I do not like yabber-yabber.
I beg to assert, that the above report is correct, as far as it goes. Some five hundred diggers were present. Now for the perversion from the reporter of 'The Argus', Melbourne, Tuesday, October 2.
"Carboni Raffaello, a foreigner [a foreign anarchist, if you please, Mr. Editor], then spoke in his usual style [that is, sedition, revolution, and rebellion, that's it], the principal (sic) points of his remarks being, that while incarcerated in the Melbourne gaol [was it for common felony, or high treason?] he was not supplied with snuff, though he had entreated his learned counsel, Mr. J. H. Dunne, for sixpenny worth. He [Please, Raffaello or Dunne? fine pair together] did not consider himself under any obligation to the lawyers: he [but who? Dunne or Raffaello?] was not fond of yabber-yabber."
Thus an honest man is brayed at by asses in this colony! The fun is odious and ridiculous enough.
When such reporters of the British press prostitute British ink, the only ink that dares to register black on white the name, word and deed of any tyrant through the whole face of the earth, and for the sake of a pair of Yankee boots, lower themselves to the level of a scribbler, thus affording to be audacious because anonymous, the British press in the southern hemisphere will be brought to shame, and Victoria cannot possibly derive any benefit from it.
Let the above observation stand good, I proceed with my work.
'The Age' was then just budding, and was considered, on the diggings the organ of the new chum Governor. 'The Age' soon mustered a Roman courage in the cause of the diggers, and jumped the claims both of The Herald and 'The Argus'; and though the 'own correspondent,' under the head of Ballaarat, be such a dry, soapy concern that will neither blubber nor blather, yet 'The Age' remained the diggers' paper.
The 'Ballaarat Times' was all the go, on the whole extent of the diggings. Soon enough the reporter, aye, the editor himself, will both appear 'in propria persona'.
Arcane, Impenetrabili, Profunde, Son Le Vie Di Chi Die L'Esser Al Niente.
When our southern sky is overloaded with huge, thick, dark masses, and claps of thunder warn us of the pending storm, then a gale of wind is roaring in space, doing battle with the bush, cowing down man and beast, sweeping away all manner of rottenness. This fury spares not, and desolation is the threat of the thunder.
A kind Providence must be blessed even in the whirlwind. Big, big drops of rain fight their way through the gale; soon the drops muster in legions, and the stronger the storm, the stronger those legions. At last they conquer; then it pours down—that is, the flood is made up of legions of torrents.
Is the end of the world now at hand? Look at the victorious rainbow! it reminds man of the covenant of our God with Noah, not far from this southern land. The sun restores confidence that all is right again as before, and nature, refreshed and bolder, returns again to her work.
Hence, the storm is life.
Not so is the case with fire. Devouring everything, devouring itself, fire seems to leave off its frenzy, only to devour the sooner any mortal thing that comes in the way to retard destruction. A few embers, then a handful of ashes, are the sole evidence of what was once kingly or beggarly.
Fire may destroy, consume, devour, but has no power to reduce to 'nothing.'
Hence the calamity of fire is death.
The handful of ashes lie lifeless until a storm forces them into the living order of nature, which, when refreshed, has the power to ingraft those ashes to, and make them prosper with, the grain of mustard seed.
Hence death is life.
Such is the order of Providence. Now, good reader, watch the handful of ashes of what was once Bentley's Eureka Hotel.
Pecunia Omnia Vincit.
In the dead of the night after the burning of the Eureka Hotel, three men had been taken into custody, charged with riot, and subsequently committed to take their trial in Melbourne.
I think the diggers at this time seriously contemplated to burn down the Camp, and thus get rid in a blaze of all their grievances.
A committee for the defence of these men, met at the Star Hotel, and sent round to all the tents on Ballaarat for subscriptions. I contributed my mite, and then learned that VERN, KENNEDY, and HUMFFRAY were the triumvirate of said committee.
The following placard was posted throughout the goldfields:-
500 POUNDS REWARD
for the discovery, apprehension and conviction of the murderer of James Scobie, found dead near the late Eureka Hotel, etc., etc.
At one and at the same time, also, the following placards were posted at each prominent gum-tree on the goldfield:-
500 POUNDS REWARD
increased by Government to
for the apprehension and conviction of the robbers of the Bank of Victoria.
A desperate deed was committed in broad mid-day; Monday, October 16th, in the Ballaarat township.
Four men in the garb of diggers, wearing sou'-wester hats, and having crepe over their faces, entered the Bank of Victoria, and succeeded in carrying off property in notes and gold, to the amount of about 15,000 pounds.
Who would have told me then, that soon I should be messmate to those unknown audacious robbers, in the same gaol!!
Let's go to the public meeting in the next chapter.
Una Scintilla, Sparasi La Bomba, Spalanca A Multitudini La Tomba.
The following story was going the rounds of the Eureka. There was a licence-hunt; the servant of the Rev. P. Smyth, the priest of the Catholic church, Bakery-hill, went to a neighbouring tent to visit a sick man. While inside, a trooper comes galloping up at the tent-door, and shouts out, "Come out here, you d——d wretches! there's a good many like you on the diggings." The man came outside, and was asked if "he's got a licence?" The servant, who is a native of Armenia, answers, in imperfect English, that he is a servant to the priest. The trooper says, "Damn you and the priest," and forthwith dismounts for the purpose of dragging Johannes M'Gregorius, the servant, along with him. The servant remonstrates by saying he is a disabled man, unable to walk over the diggings. This infuriates the trooper, he strikes and knocks down the poor disabled foreigner, drags him about, tears his shirt—in short, inflicting such injuries on the poor fellow, that all the diggers present cried out "shame! shame!"
Commissioner Johnson rides up, and says to the crowd about him, that he should not be interrupted in the execution of his 'dooty.' The priest hears of his servant's predicament, comes to the spot, hands a five-pound note to Johnson as bail for his servant's appearance the next day at the police-office.
The following morning, Johannes M'Gregorius is charged with being on the gold-fields without a licence. The poor foreigner tries to make a defence, but was fined five pounds. Commissioner Johnson now comes in and says, M'Gregorius is not charged with being without a licence, but with assaulting the trooper Lord—ridiculous! This alters the case. The trooper is called, and says the old story about the execution of 'dooty,' that is, licence-hunting.
A respectable witness takes his oath that he saw the trooper strike the foreigner with his clenched fist, and knock him down.
The end of the story is in the Ballaarat tune, then in vogue: "Fined 5 pounds; take him away."
Public Meeting Held at the Catholic Chapel, Bakery-hill, Wednesday, October 25th.
After a good deal of pretty intelligible talk about the 'helpless Armenian,' the trooper Lord, and our respected priest; Thomas Kennedy, pouncing on the thing of the day proposed:—
"That it is the opinion of this meeting that the conduct of Mr. Commissioner Johnson towards the Rev. Mr. Smyth has been calculated to awaken the highest feeling of indignation on the part of his devoted flock: and to call upon the government to institute an inquiry into his (gold-lace) character, and to desire to have him at once removed from Ballaarat."
The priest was requested to address the meeting.
Father Patricius Smyth, a native of Mayo, looks some thirty-five years old, and belongs to the unadulterated Irish caste—half-curled hair, not abundant, anxious semicircular forehead, keen and fiery eyes, altogether a lively interesting head. He is a Latin and Celtic scholar; and that excuses him for his moderate proficiency in modern languages. He was educated at Maynooth, the eye-sore of Sabbatarians, and therefore believes it incontestable that the authority conferred on him by the Bishop must needs be derived from God; because the Bishop had been consecrated by the Pope, who—inasmuch as a second branch of the Prince of the Apostles never was heard of at the time of St. Augustin—is the successor of St. Peter, the corner stone on which OUR LORD did build the Christian church, and our Lord's warrant is written in St. John, chapter xiv, 24: 'Sermo quem auditis non est meus, sed ejus qui misit me, nempe Patris.' And so Father Smyth feels himself entitled to adopt what was said of the Divine Master, 'Docebat enim eos ut habens auctoritatem, non autem ut scribae.' St. Matthew, chap. vii, 29. Hence his preaching, though not remarkable for much eloquence, does not lull to sleep. There is no cant, and strange as it may appear, there is little argument in his short-framed sentences, because they are the decided opinion of his mind and the warm expression of his heart, anxious for the salvation of his flock, as he believes he will be called to account if any be lost. He, out of civility, may not object to hear what Paley or Butler has to say, but he scorns any conversation with Voltaire, and would see the fellow burnt, as in the times of old. His character was never impeached, because his conduct is an example to all of the strength of his faith. Either at the altar or at the table he forgets not that he belongs to the priesthood of Ireland, the 'proved gold' of the Catholic church. His song is, 'Erin, my country,' and 'I love thy green bowers,' is the end of his story, which is a hint to me that this is not the place to say more for the peace of John Bull. Hence Ireland produced a Daniel O'Connell, but has not yet got the repeal.
Father Smyth, in addressing the meeting, spoke with coolness and forbearance, yet commendatory of the constitutional manner in which his congregation sought redress from the government, for the insult offered them, through his person, in the abuse of his servant by the trooper Lord. On concluding his address, he was warmly cheered, when the reverend gentleman and his friends adjourned to the parsonage, to partake of some refreshments.
Public Meeting Held on Bakery-hill, November llth.
Political changes contemplated by THE REFORM LEAGUE.
1. A full and fair representation.—Don't you wish you may get it?
2. Manhood suffrage.—Thanks to the Eureka-boys, it costs now one pound. Cheap!
3. No property qualification of members for the Legislative Council.—The identical thing for 'starring' on stumps to a fellow's heart's content.
4. Payment of members.—That's the accommodation!
5. Short duration of Parliament.—Increase the chances of accommodation, that's it.
What was the freight per ton, of this sort of worn out twaddle imported from old England?
How much does this new chum's bosh fetch in the southern markets, and in the Victorian market particularly?
For my part I decline to answer, because I want to attend at the meeting. J. B. Humffray, is the Secretary of the League; his name is going now the round of the diggings; I wish to see the man in person; is he a great, grand, or big man? that's the question.
When you seen JOHN BASSON HUMFFRAY, you have at once before you a gentleman, born of a good old family; his manners confirm it, and his words indicate an honest benevolent heart, directed by a liberal mind, entangled perhaps by too much reading of all sorts, perplexed at the prosperity of the vicious, and the disappointment of the virtuous in this mysterious world of ours, but could never turn wicked, because he believes in the resurrection of life. He is looking some thirty five years old, his person is well proportioned, but inclining to John Bull's. His prepossessing countenance is made up of a fine forehead, denoting astuteness, not so much as shrewdness, how, when and whither to shift his pegs in the battle of life; of a pair of eyes which work the spell; of a Grecian nose; of a mouth remarkable for the elasticity of the lips, that make him a model in the pronunciation of the English language. His voice, that of a tenor, undulating and clear, never obstreperous, enables his tongue to work the intended charm, when his head puts that member into motion; but the semi-earnestness of his address, his cool sort of John Bull smile, betray that his heart does not go always with his head. Hence he has many enemies, and yet not one ever dared to substantiate a charge against his character; he has as many friends, but not one friend, because it is his policy ever to keep friendly, with redcoats and gold-lace, at one and the same time as with blueshirts and sou'-westers.
As I cannot possibly mean any thing dishonourable to our old mate, John Basson Humffray, I may here relate what his foes do say of him.
Suppose any given square and the four pegs to be:
C -D W B -E
C., that is, the Camp; E., that is, the Eureka; D., that is, the doodledom of red-tape., and B., that is, blue-shirts.
Let W., that is work, be the central point at C, E, and D, B. Now: John is sinking at Eureka with the red cap; and Basson cracks some yabber-yabber at D, that is, getting a sip of Toorak small-beer, as aforesaid. Again: when Basson puts on a sou'-wester to go through the main-drift with blue-shirts, then John feels entitled to tramp up to Camp, and there, somewhere not far off, toast on the fourth of July a Doctor Kenworthy; soon after, however, said Johnny bends his way to shake hands with Signor Raffaello, at the old peg Eureka, and helps him to rock the cradle. Further, to give evidence of his consistency, Humffray himself will express his sorrow to Peter Lalor for his loss of the left arm at the same peg Eureka; and, to atone for past transgressions, he will soon after call in both the prodigal John and yabbering Basson, and with his whole heart and voice, strike up, 'God Save the Queen,' at peg Camp. As for bottoming his shaft at the central point Work, that's a different thing altogether; and yet it must be admitted that he is 'all there' in his claim, when the hole is bottomed, especially if a drive is to be put in with his quill. Sum total:—He was, is, and ever will be, John Basson Humffray, Esquire, of Ballaarat; 'Honi soi qui mal y pense', because his friends want him in St. Patrick's Hall.
Strike Off A Medal In Commemoration.
We are on Bakery-hill, though, attention. Immediate objects of the Reform League.
I. An immediate change in the management of the goldfields, by disbanding the Commissioners (undoubtedly the unanimous demand, or 'desire'—if the word suit better the well-affected—of all blue-shirts). Three cheers for Vern! Go it hearty! Fine fellow! Legs rather too long! Never mind.
II. The total abolition of the diggers' and storekeeper's licence tax. (Ah! ah! prick John Bull at his pounds, shillings and pence, that's the dodge to make him stir.)
Three cheers for Humffray! Hurrah!
The whole of the grand talk of these Bakery reformers leagued together on its hill, can properly be framed in, on a 'copper;' thus doing justice to all.
Image. LET a course of action be decided on and carried out unswervingly until the heel of our oppressors be removed from our necks. DON'T LET THE THING DROP THROUGH, for want of co-operation and support NOTA BENE. 2s. 6d. gentleman's ticket. No admission for ladies at present. 'Durum sed levius fit Patientia.' REMEMBER! GOD HELPS HIM WHO HELPS HIMSELF (to the 2s. 6d.) DO NOT LET the word 'British' become a bye-word. AND ABOVE ALL LEAVE OFF SINGING 'Britons never, never shall be slaves,' until you leave fondling the chains which prove the song a lie, a mockery, a delusion, a snare. —— Great works!
Ortica ensis: Prima.
Here is a plant of Cayenne pepper, growing in those days on Ballaarat: it withered some three months in limbo, but...oh yes, butt at it again.
'Ballaarat Times', November 18, 1854.
"THE REFORM LEAGUE.
"There is something strange, and to the government of this country, something not quite comprehensible, in this League. For the first time in the southern hemisphere, a Reform League is to be inaugurated. There is something ominous in this; the word 'League,' in a time of such feverish excitement as the present, is big with immense purport (indeed!) Indeed, it would ill become 'The Times' to mince in matter of such weighty importance. This League is not more or less that the germ of Australian independence (sic). The die is cast, and fate has stamped upon the movement its indelible signature. No power on earth can restrain the united might and headlong strides for freedom of the people of this country, and we are lost in amazement while contemplating the dazzling panorama of the Australian future (Great works). We salute the League [but not the trio, Vern, Kennedy, Humffray], and tender our hopes and prayers for its prosperity [in the shape of a goodly pile of half-crowns]. The League has undertaken a mighty task [the trio'll shirk it though], fit only for a great people—that of changing the dynasty of the country (Great works). The League does not exactly propose, nor adopt such a scheme, but we know what it means, the principles it would inculcate, and that eventually it will resolve itself into an Australian Congress." (Great Works!!)
Vote for HUMFFRAY to be Auctioneer, KENNEDY to be Bellman, VERN to be Runner, of the 'Starring league.'
Ortica ensis: Secunda.
Out came the 'Ballaarat Times', Saturday, November 25, 1854. Work was stopped at every hole: the miners left the deep and mobbed together round any reader of the full report of the—
Trial of MR. AND MRS. BENTLEY, Hanse, and Farrel, FOR THE MURDER OF JAMES SCOBIE. —— Supreme Court, Melbourne. —— GUILTY! of Manslaughter. Mrs. Bentley scot-free.
His Honour considered their conduct was wanton and reckless. He should mark his sense of the outrage of which they have been found guilty, by passing on each of them a sentence of THREE (!) YEARS' IMPRISONMENT WITH HARD LABOUR ON THE ROADS.
Trial of Fletcher, M'Intyre and Westerby, for BURNING THE EUREKA HOTEL. —— Supreme Court, Melbourne. Criminal Sittings. —— GUILTY, with a recommendation to mercy!!
The Foreman of the Jury appended the following rider to the verdict:—
"The jury feel, in giving their verdict against the prisoners at the bar, that in all probability, they (the jury) should never have had that painful duty to Perform, if those entrusted with the government offices at Ballaarat had done theirs properly."
His Honour said: THE SENTENCE of the Court is, that you, M'Intyre be confined in H.M. gaol, at Melbourne, for THREE MONTHS, but I shall not subject you to labour. (Great works!) You, Fletcher, to four months; and you, Westerby, to six months confinement... ...The Executive was sufficiently strong to punish those who outrage the law! (Great works at Toorak!)
La vita in grammatica, Facil declinazione; La vita poi in pratica, Storta congiugazione: Della vita lo spello dal mondo sciolto, Al mondo vivi, poiche non sei sepolto.
Epistolam Hanc Misi, Tunc Bene, Nunc Valde Ad Opus.
Prepaid. To W. H. ARCHER, Esq. Acting Registrar General, Melbourne. Ballaarat Gold-fields, Eureka, November 30, 1854.
My dear Mr. Archer,
I was in some anxiety about you; not receiving any answer to my letter of the 17th October, and especially to that of the 22nd ditto. I was at Creswick's Creek, when I was informed that Father Smyth had a letter for me, and last Monday I returned to Ballaarat, where I received, through Messrs. Muir Brothers, your letter of the 20th October. I am heartily glad to learn that you are well, and now I suppose a few lines from me are as welcome to you as ever.
Somehow or other, verging towards the fortieth year of my age, having witnessed strange scenes in this strange world, very, very different from my dream of youth, I feel now more disposed to the sober reality of the things of this life.
However desponding and humiliating may be, as it really is, the sad reflection, that at the enormous distance of sixteen thousand miles from dear homes and dearer friends, people should be called upon to assemble, NOT to thank God Almighty for any special mercy, or rejoice over the first good harvest or vintage on this golden land; but melancholy is it to say, for the old purpose, as in olden times in the old country, 'FOR THE REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES;' and so yesterday we had a monster meeting on Bakery-hill, and I was the delegate of upwards of one thousand foreigners, or 'aliens,' according to the superlative wisdom of your Legislative Council.
The Camp was prepared to stand for the Colonial Secretary Foster! Yes; you may judge of the conduct of some officers sent to protect the Camp by the following:—
On Tuesday Evening (November 28th), about eight o'clock, the Twelfth Regiment arrived from Melbourne. The expert cleverness of the officer in command, made the soldiers, riding in carts drawn by three horses each, cross the line exactly at the going-a-head end of the Eureka. An injudicious triumphant riding, that by God's mercy alone, was not turned into a vast funeral.
From my tent, I soon heard the distant cries of 'Joe!' increasing in vehemence at each second. The poor soldiers were pelted with mud, stones, old stumps, and broken bottles. The hubbub was going on pretty desperate westward of the Hill and WE had hard work to preserve the peace; but at the upper end of the Hill, the game was going on upon a far more desperate scale. It appears that a party of Gravel-pits men had been in the bush for the purpose. They stopped a cart, pulled the soldiers out, robbed them of their ammunition and bayonets; in short, it was a hell of a row. All of us camping on the Hill were talking about this cowardly attack, when a detachment of said soldiers came up again, and the officer, a regular incapable, that is, a bully, with drawn sword began to swear at us, and called all of us a pack of scoundrels. He was, however, soon put to rights, by the whole of us then present offering ourselves to look out for the missing soldiers; and eventually, one of them was discovered in a deserted tent, another was found in a hole lower down the Warrenheip Gully, and so on. This disgraceful occurrence, coupled with the firing of guns and pistols, kept up the whole of the night, did not give us cheering hopes for the next day.
The Monster Meeting.
Bakery-hill, Wednesday, November 29th.
"All the diggings round about were deserted, and swelled the meeting, the greatest I ever witnessed in this Colony. At two o'clock there were about ten thousand men present! The Report of the Deputation appointed by the League to wait upon his Excellency, relative to the release of the three prisoners, M'Intyre, Fletcher, and Yorkie, was listened to with great anxiety."
George Black was the man of the day, and was received by the people with three hearty cheers.
From his outward appearance, one would take him for a parson, a Christian one, I mean; not a prebendary or a bishop. His English is elegant, and conscious of having received an education, and being born a gentleman, he never prostitutes his tongue to colonial phraseology. His reading must have been sober from his youth, for in conversation he indulges in neither cant nor romance; though, in addressing the people, he may use a touch of declamation stronger than argument. From the paleness of his cheeks, and the dryness of his lips, you might see that the spirit was indeed willing, though the flesh was weak. The clearness of his eyes, the sharpness of his nose, the liveliness of his forehead, lend to his countenance a decided expression of his belief in the resurrection of life. His principles are settled, not so much because that is required for the happiness of a good conscience, but because the old serpent has crammed the ways of man with so many deceits in this world of vanity and vexation of spirit, that a heart of the honesty of George Black, cannot possibly have any sympathy with the crooked ways of rogues and vagabonds; and so he is afflicted at their number and audacity, especially in this Colony. His disposition of mind makes him enthusiastic for the virtuous, his benevolent heart prevents him from proceeding to extremities with the vicious. Hence the Diggers' Advocate, of which he was the editor, though conducted with ability, failed, because he thought that gold-diggers interested themselves with true religion, as laid down in Saint James' Catholic Epistle; but he made a greater mistake in not taking into consideration that men, though digging for gold, do still pretend to some religious denomination or other. However, let him now address the Monster Meeting.