Chapter 8 [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.]


Fiat justitia, 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 hill, 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. 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.)

“Belgravia, 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.

“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.

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 10-12

Editor’s notes:
billet doux = (French) “love letter” (literally, “sweet letter”)

fiat justitia ruat coelum = (Latin) “let justice be done, though the heavens fall”

Joe = on the goldfields, this was a call of derision; from the call of warning regarding police on the diggings searching for miners without gold licences, where a general call would go out amongst the diggers of “Joe”, being a reference to Governor Joseph LaTrobe

Judas Iscariot = the disciple who betrayed Jesus Christ; used as a general term for a betrayer or traitor

odi profanum vulgus et arceo = (Latin) “I hate the profane masses and keep them at a distance”, or “I hate the unholy rabble and keep them away”; from Odes, Book 3, section I (line 1), by Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65 BC – 8 BC)

sine qua non = (Latin) literally, “without which not”, a phrase used to denote something which is absolutely indispensable

odi profanum vulgus et arceo:
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 295 (accessed 29 December 2012)
Odi Profanvm Vvlgvs Et Arceo”, LatinR (accessed 29 December 2012)
Q. Horati Flacci Carminvm Liber Tertivs”, The Latin Library [“Odi profanum uolgus et arceo”] (accessed 29 December 2012)

sine qua non:
Eliezer Edwards. Words, Facts, & Phrases: A Dictionary of Curious, Quaint, & Out-of-the-Way Matters, Chatto & Windus, London, 1897, page 516 (accessed 10 January 2013)

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