Chapter 15 [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.]


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.

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 21-23

Editor’s notes:
nam tua res agitur, paries cum proximus ardet = (Latin) “for your property is in danger when the neighbouring wall [house] is on fire”, or “it is your concern when your neighbours’ wall is on fire”; from Epistles, Book I, section XVIII (line 84), by Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65 BC – 8 BC)

nam tua res agitur, paries cum proximus ardet:
Jon R. Stone. The Routledge Dictionary of Latin Quotations: The Illiterati’s Guide to Latin Maxims, Mottoes, Proverbs, and Sayings, Routledge, New York, 2005, page 119 [see entry: “tua res agitur, paries cum proximus ardet”] (accessed 29 December 2012)
Famous Quotes from 100 Great People, Mobile Reference [e-book, 2011, page 1161] (accessed 29 December 2012)
Q. Horati Flacci Epistvlarvm Liber Primvs”, The Latin Library (accessed 29 December 2012)

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