Chapter 10 [The Eureka Stockade, by Raffaello Carboni, 1855]

[Editor: This is a chapter from The Eureka Stockade by Raffaello Carboni. A glossary has been provided to explain various words and phrases that may be unfamiliar to modern readers.]

X.

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, 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. 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.




Source:
Raffaello Carboni. The Eureka Stockade: The Consequence of Some Pirates Wanting on Quarter-Deck a Rebellion, Public Library of South Australia, Adelaide, 1962 [facsimile of the 1855 edition], pages 13-14

Editor’s notes:
jam non estis hospites et advenoe [advenae] = (Latin) “now you are no more strangers and foreigners”, or “you are no longer strangers and aliens”; from Ephesians 2:19 in the Latin Bible

traps = police (Australian slang)

References:
jam non estis hospites et advenae:
Ephesians 2”, New Advent (accessed 29 December 2012)
Ephesians 2:19”, Online Multilingual Bible (accessed 29 December 2012)

Speak Your Mind

*