Ecco troncato il canto per ritornare al pianto.
My letter to Mr. Archer continued :—
“Thanks be to God, the day passed ‘unstained,’ a glorious day for Victoria when the SOUTHERN CROSS was first unfolded on Ballaarat; gathering round itself all the oppressed of the world.
“The whole purpose of the meeting was, that a Reform League be formed and fully organised to carry out the clearance of all our grievances, on the old style of the Corn Law League in Great Britain.
“Next Sunday, we leaguers — (I took out a ticket of membership from Reynolds, one of the treasurers, and paid my 2s. 6d. on that very day, November 29th, precisely, on the platform of the meeting) — have a meeting at two o’clock at the Adelphi to organise the people and appoint a responsible executive committee. I am the old delegate to it, and therefore I shall be able to give you, Mr. Archer, a full answer to your letter of the 24th instant.”
Mark this, good reader !
“1. Meanwhile, privately, as an old Ballaarat hand, I beg respectfully to convey to you, to employ your influence and reach the ears of the Lieutenant Governor. The licence-fee, as a tax, is perhaps a cause of growling like any other tax in Great Britain or elsewhere in the world; but, on the gold-fields, has become an ‘abomination.’ The inconvenience in the Camp-insolence at our getting it, the annoyance and bore for showing it, when asked by some ‘pup’ of a trap whilst at our work; the imbecility and arrogance of so many commissioners and troopers uselessly employed for the purpose, etc., etc.; make the gold-licence an abomination to the honest digger. The Vandemonian, you know, never dreamt of taking out a licence, of course not.
“Paramount is this grand consideration: John Bull, rather of a doggish nature, will growl to himself if left alone picking his bone: the passport system is a bone that he will not pick; no, no ways and under no shape whatever — I know it by experience.
“2. A memorial to his Excellency for the release of the three prisoners under sentence for burning the Eureka Hotel, is, through Humffray, in course of signature. It is our earnest desire that his Excellency may show mercy; though it may appear, that he would do thus an act of justice to the diggers, considering how rightly they guessed the Bentley affair.
“3. The whole pack, commissioners, troopers and traps on the Ballaarat Camp, with the exception of magistrate Hackett, are detested by the diggers: there will be eternal discontent as long as Rede and fraternity are lodging over that way. The whole Camp had better be changed at once, and entrusted to good experienced hands and honest men. Perhaps Sir Charles may turn into a Diogenes in vain — nil desperandum. There are now and then honest men to be found even in this colony.”
Good reader, listen to me: I shall tell you no lie: do not lose sight of the above letter: I intend to give the end in the next chapter: meanwhile, fill the pipe, let’s have a ‘blow’ together.
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 41-42
Adelphi = the Adelphi Theatre in Ballarat
Diogenes = Diogenes of Sinope, a Greek philosopher (died 323 BC); Diogenes was known for his philosophical escapades, such as carrying a lamp in the daytime, claiming to be looking for an honest man (apparently this is what Carboni is referring to, i.e. the search for good and honest officials to oversee the goldfields, “good experienced hands and honest men”)
*ecco troncato il canto per ritornare al pianto = (Italian) “truncated here to return to the song cry” (*rough translation)
nil desperandum = (Latin) “never despair” or “do not despair”