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3-106 (Raw)

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author,male,Carboni, Raffaello,34 addressee
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Carboni, 1855
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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. 
[2] 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. 
II. 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 Æsop. 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. [3]
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. 
[4] III. Jupiter Tonans.
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 carabine 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. 
IV. Incipit Lamentatio.
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. [5]
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 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. 
[6] V. 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 La Trobe, 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 car. 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. [7]
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. 
[8] VI. 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. 
[9] 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. 
VII. Ludi Ballaaratenses.
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. [10]
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? 
VIII. Flat 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 bill, 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. [11] 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.) 
"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. 
[12] "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. 
IX. 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. [13] 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.