[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.]
Epistolam hanc misi, tunc bene, nunc valde ad opus.
“To W. H. ARCHER, Esq.
“Acting Registrar General,
“Eureka, November 30, 1854.
“My dear Mr. Archer,
“I was in some anxiety about you; not receiving any answer to my letter of the 17th October, and especially to that of the 22nd ditto. I was at Creswick’s Creek, when I was informed that Father Smyth had a letter for me, and last Monday I returned to Ballaarat, where I received, through Messrs. Muir Brothers, your letter of the 20th October. I am heartily glad to learn that you are well, and now I suppose a few lines from me are as welcome to you as ever.
“Somehow or other, verging towards the fortieth year of my age, having witnessed strange scenes in this strange world, very, very different from my dream of youth, I feel now more disposed to the sober reality of the things of this life.
“However desponding and humiliating may be, as it really is, the sad reflection, that at the enormous distance of sixteen thousand miles from dear homes and dearer friends, people should be called upon to assemble, NOT to thank God Almighty for any special mercy, or rejoice over the first good harvest or vintage on this golden land; but melancholy is it to say, for the old purpose, as in olden times in the old country, “FOR THE REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES;” and so yesterday we had a monster meeting on Bakery-hill, and I was the delegate of upwards of one thousand foreigners, or “aliens,” according to the superlative wisdom of your Legislative Council.
“The Camp was prepared to stand for the Colonial Secretary Foster! Yes; you may judge of the conduct of some officers sent to protect the Camp by the following:—
“On Tuesday Evening (November 28th), about eight o’clock, the Twelfth Regiment arrived from Melbourne. The expert cleverness of the officer in command, made the soldiers, riding in carts drawn by three horses each, cross the line exactly at the going-a-head end of the Eureka. An injudicious triumphant riding, that by God’s mercy alone, was not turned into a vast funeral.
“From my tent, I soon heard the distant cries of “Joe!” increasing in vehemence at each second. The poor soldiers were pelted with mud, stones, old stumps, and broken bottles. The hubbub was going on pretty desperate westward of the Hill and WE had hard work to preserve the peace; but at the upper end of the Hill, the game was going on upon a far more desperate scale. It appears that a party of Gravel-pits men had been in the bush for the purpose. They stopped a cart, pulled the soldiers out, robbed them of their ammunition and bayonets; in short, it was a hell of a row. All of us camping on the Hill were talking about this cowardly attack, when a detachment of said soldiers came up again, and the officer, a regular incapable, that is, a bully, with drawn sword began to swear at us, and called all of us a pack of scoundrels. He was, however, soon put to rights, by the whole of us then present offering ourselves to look out for the missing soldiers; and eventually, one of them was discovered in a deserted tent, another was found in a hole lower down the Warrenheip Gully, and so on. This disgraceful occurrence, coupled with the firing of guns and pistols, kept up the whole of the night, did not give us cheering hopes for the next day.”
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 35
*epistolam hanc misi, tunc bene, nunc valde ad opus = (Latin) “I have sent this letter, then it is indeed, now very much to the work of” or “I sent this letter, well then, now most of the work” (*rough translation)
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