Chapter 54 [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.]


In vino veritas.

The Vandemonian was, of course, accompanied by nine more of his pals, all of them armed to the teeth with revolvers, swords, pikes, and knives.

Carl Wiesenhavern, a man of noble character, and, therefore a man who hates knavery, and has no fear of a knave, answered with his peculiar German coolness, “Here I am, what do you want?”

“Nobblers round,” was the eager reply.

“If that’s what you want,” replied Wiesenhavern, “you shall have it with pleasure.”

“We got no money.”

“I did not ask for any: understand me well, though;” pointing at each of them with the forefinger of his clenched right hand, “you will have a nobbler a-piece, and no more: afterwards you will go your way. Are you satisfied with my conditions?”

“Yes, yes! we agree to that: go on you b——.”

Wiesenhavern scorned to notice the fellow, and, according to the old custom of the house, placed two decanters of brandy, together with the tumblers, on the bar, saying, “Help yourselves, gentlemen.”

They fell at once upon the brandy, and their mean rascality was shown by some seizing the glass and covering it with the full hand to conceal their greediness. Nobbler-drinking is an old colonial habit; it gives pluck to the coward when he is “up to something;” so happened it with these fellows.

“Well, landlord, your brandy is d—-d good—the real sort of stuff, and no b——y mistake. You shouted nobblers round for all hands — that’s all right; it’s no more than fair and square now for the boys to shout for you:” and, with a horrible curse, “Fill up the bottles; let’s have another round.”

Wiesenhavern kept himself quiet. One of the ruffians showed his intention to enter the bar, and play the landlord within. Wiesenhavern coolly persuaded him back by the promise he would fetch from his room, “something rowdy, the right old sort of stuff — Champagne Cognac, tres vieux.” The fellows presumed their “bouncing” was all the go now, and laughed and cursed in old colonial style. Wiesenhavern fetched his pistols, and his partner, Johan Brandt, a double-barrelled gun. Now Mr. Brandt is one of those short, broad-shouldered, sound, dog-headed Germans, with such a determinate look when his otherwise slow wrath is stirred up, that it is not advisable to tackle with his fists, and much less with his rifle. Wiesenhavern, with that precision of manners, which always gains the point on such occasions, placed a decanter full of brandy on the bar, and, with cocked pistols in both hands, said, “Touch it, if you dare; if any one among you got the pluck to put in his tumbler one drop out of that bottle there, he is a dead man;” and Mr. Brandt backed him by simply saying: —

“I’ll shoot the fellow, like a dog.”

What was the result? Of course the same, whenever you deal with knaves — and you make them understand what you mean. They were cowed; and as by this time, the high words had called in several old customers of the house who wished well to it, because they knew it deserved it, so the ruffians had to cut for fear of their own dear lives.

Then it was related with sorrow, that several similar bands were scouring the gold-fields in all directions and in the name of the committee of the Eureka stockade, under cover of pressing for fire-arms and ammunition, plundered the most respectable stores of all they could lay their hands upon.

One instance, as reported there and then by parties who had just witnessed the transaction.

A similar gang, four strong, had entered the store of D. O’Conner, on the Golden Point, and asked in the name of the committee, powder and shot, but the vagabonds did not care so much for ammunition for their guns, as for the stuff for their guts, what tempted them most was fine good Yorkshire hams, and coffee to wash it down. In short, they ransacked the whole store; and each took care of “something,” the best of course, and therefore the cash-box, worth some twenty pounds was not forgotten.

The above are facts. I do not assert that such were the orders of the committee, got up after four o’clock of same Saturday at the Eureka stockade. I had no part or portion in the committee, and know nothing of it personally.

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 68-69

Editor’s notes:
in vino veritas = (Latin) “in wine there is truth”

tres vieux = (French) “very old”

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