Chapter 88 [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.]


Sunt leges: vis ultima lex: tunc aut libertas aut servitudo; mors enim benedicta.

On the reassembling of the Court, at three o’clock, Mr. Ireland rose to address the Jury for the defence.

The learned Counsel spent a heap of dry yabber-yabber on the law of high-treason, to show its absurdity and how its interpretation had ever proved a vexation even to lawyers, then he tackled with some more tangible solids. The British law, the boast of urbis et orbis terrarum, delivered a traitor to be practised upon by a sanguinary Jack Ketch:— I., to hang the beggar until he be dead, dead, dead; II., then to chop the carcase in quarters; III., never mind the stench, each piece of the treacherous flesh must remain stuck up at the top of each gate of the town, there to dry in spite of occasional pecking from crows and vultures. The whole performance to impress the young generation with the fear of God and teach them to honour the king.

I soon reconciled myself to my lot, and remembering my younger days at school, I argued thus:—

Where there are no bricks, there are no walls: but, walls are required to enclose the gates; therefore, in Ballaarat there are no gates. Corolarium — How the deuce can they hang up my hind-quarters on the gates of Ballaarat Township? Hence, Toorak must possess a craft which passes all understanding of Traitors.

The jury, however, appeared frightened at this powerful thundering from Mr. Ireland, who now began to turn the law towards a respectable and more congenial quarter, and proved, that if the prisoner at the bar had burnt down all the brothels not kept on the sly in Her Majesty’s dominions, he would be a Traitor; yet, if he had left one single brothel standing — say, in the Sandwich Islands — for the accommodation of any of Her Majesty’s well-affected subjects, then the high treason was not high — high enough and up to the mark, that is, my fore-quarter could not be legally stuck up on the imaginary gates of Ballaarat.

His Honour appeared to me, to assent to the line of argument of the Learned Counsel, who concluded a very lengthy but most able address, by calling on the jury to put an end by their verdict to the continued incarceration of the man, and to teach the government that they could not escape from the responsibilities they had incurred by their folly, by trying to obtain a verdict, which would brand the subjects of Her Majesty in this Colony with disloyalty.

The jury now appeared to me to be ready to let the high traitor go his way in bodily integrity.

Mr. Aspinall then rose to address the jury on behalf of the prisoner. His speech was spirited, cutting, withering; but could only cover the falsehood, and NOT bring to light the truth: hence to record his speech here cannot possibly serve the purpose of this Book: hence the four documents, and my important observation on them in the following chapter.

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 113-114

Editor’s notes:
Jack Ketch = John Ketch (commonly known as Jack Ketch), an English executioner who was infamous for his inhumane and terrible bungling of the beheadings of Lord Russell (1863) and James Scott, the Duke of Monmouth (1685)

*sunt leges: vis ultima lex: tunc aut libertas aut servitudo; mors enim benedicta = (Latin) “are the laws: the highest faculty is a law, then either freedom of speech or slavery; for blessed is the death of” (*rough translation)

urbis et orbis terrarum = (Latin) “the city and the world”; derived from “Fasti” (book II, line 684), by Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso, 43 BC – 17 AD) “romanae spatium est urbis et orbis idem” (“the space of the city of Rome is the space of the world”, i.e. “the domains of Rome’s city and the world are one”); “urbis et orbis” is also used to denote certain Papal blessings

romanae spatium est urbis et orbis idem:
P. Ovidi Nasonis Fastorvm Liber Secvndvs”, The Latin Library (accessed 14 January 2013)
Johann P Arnason, S. N. Eisenstadt, and Björn Wittrock (editors). Axial Civilizations and World History, Koninklijke Brill, Leiden (The Netherlands), 2005, page 445 (accessed 14 January 2013)
Urbi et Orbi”, New Advent (accessed 14 January 2013)
Urbi et Orbi”, Wikipedia (accessed 14 January 2013)

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