Chapter 76 [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.]


Quid sum miser, nunc dicturus.

At Bacchus Marsh we were thrown into a dark lockup, by far cleaner than the lousy one of Ballaarat. Captain Thomas, who must have acknowledged that we had behaved as men, sent us a gallon of porter, and plenty of damper; he had no occasion to shoot down any of us. I write now this his kindness with thanks.

At last, after a long, long day, smothered with dust, burning with thirst, such that the man in the garb of a digger had compassion on us, and shouted a welcome glass of ale to all of us — we arrived before the Melbourne gaol at eight o’clock at night.

From the tender mercies of our troopers, we were given up to the gentle grasp of the turnkeys. The man in the garb of a digger introduced us to the governor, giving such a good account of us all, that said governor, on hearing we had had nothing to eat since mid-day, was moved to let us have some bread and cheese.

We were commanded to strip to the bare shirt — the usual ignominy to begin a prison life with — and then we were shown our cell — a board to lie down on, a blanket — and the heavy door was bolted on us.

Within the darkness of our cell, we now gave vent to our grief, each in his own way.

Sleep is not a friend to prisoners, and so my mind naturally wandered back to the old spot on the Eureka.

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], page 98

Editor’s notes:
porter = a dark beer, used in the 1700s and 1800s

quid sum miser, nunc dicturus [quid sum miser, tunc dicturus] = (Latin) “What am I the wretch then to say?”, or “Ah then, poor soul, what wilt thou say”, or “What am I, miserable, then to say?”; a line from the Latin hymn “Dies Irae” (“Day of Wrath”), believed to have been written by Thomas of Celano (circa. 1200 – circa.1255), and used as a part of the Requiem Mass (Mass for the Dead) in the Roman Catholic Church, although Carboni has used the word “nunc” (“now”), whereas the line in the Mass is given with the word “tunc” (“then”), “quid sum miser, tunc dicturus” [also used as a line in the play Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)] [Carboni used the following line from “Dies Irae” as the title for chapter LXXXI (81)]

quid sum miser, tunc dicturus:
Dies Irae”, The Franciscan Archive (accessed 27 December 2012)
The Eclectic Review, MDCCCXXXVII; January – June; New Series, Vol. I, William Ball, London, 1837, page 40 (4th last line) (accessed 27 December 2012)]
Dies Irae”, Wikipedia (accessed 10 January 2013)
Hymni Et Cantica”, The Latin Library [see: “Dies irae (Hymnus in exequiis) Thomas of Celano, fl.1215”] (accessed 10 January 2013)
Thomas of Celano”, The Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent (accessed 27 December 2012)
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller (translated by Lord Francis Leveson Gower). Faust: A Drama, by Goethe. And Schiller’s Song of the Bell, John Murray, London, 1823, page 230

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