Flagitur vulcano si fulmina parata.
Here is a short resume of events which led to the popular demonstration on Tuesday, October 17th, 1854.
Two men, old friends, named Scobie and Martin, after many years separation, happened to meet each other in Ballaarat. Joy at the meeting, led them to indulge in a wee drop for “Auld lang Syne.” In this state of happy feeling, they call at the Eureka Hotel, on their way home, intending to have a finishing glass. They knock at the door, and are refused admittance, very properly, on account of their drunkenness. They leave, and proceed on their way, not, perhaps without the usual colonial salutations. At about fifty yards from the hotel, they hear a noise behind them, and retrace their steps. They are met by persons, unknown, who inflict blows on them, which render one insensible and the other lifeless.
A coroner’s inquest was held on the body, the verdict of which was, “that deceased had died from injuries inflicted by persons unknown;” but public feeling seemed to point to Mr. Bentley, the proprietor of the Eureka Hotel; who, together with his wife and another party, were charged with the murder, tried at the police court, and acquitted.
The friends of deceased, considering that both the inquest and the trial were unfairly conducted, agreed to meet on Tuesday, October 17th, on the spot where the man was murdered, and devise measures to discover the guilty parties, and to bring them to justice.
Accordingly, at an early hour, the hill on which is situated the Eureka Hotel was thronged by thousands; so great was the excitement.
Thomas Kennedy, was naturally enough the lion of the day. A thick head, bold, but bald, the consequence perhaps not of his dissipation; but of his worry in by gone days. His merit consists in the possession of the chartist slang; hence his cleverness in spinning, a yarn never to the purpose, but blathered with long phrases and bubbling with cant. He took up the cause of the diggers, not so much for the evaporation of his gaseous heroism, as eternally to hammer on the unfortunate death of his country-man Scobie, for the sake of “auld lang syne.”
When pressed by the example of others to burn his license, at the subsequent monster meeting, he had none to burn, because he had a wife and four children dependent on him for support, and therefore I do not know what to say further.
These and other resolutions were carried unanimously:—
“That this meeting, not being satisfied with the manner in which the proceedings connected with the death of the late James Scobie, have been conducted, either by the magistrates or by the coroner, pledges itself to use every lawful means to have the case brought before other, and more competent authorities.
“That this meeting deems it necessary to collect subscriptions for the purpose of offering a reward for the conviction of the murderers, and defraying all other expenses connected with the prosecution of the case.”
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 20-21
auld lang syne = (Scottish) “times long past” (literally, “old long since”), similar to “the good old days”; commonly known in relation to the song “Auld Lang Syne”, being the poem written by Robert Burns (and later set to music) which was based upon an old Scottish song
*flagitur vulcano si fulmina parata = (Latin) “shame if the fire bolts ready” (*rough translation)