[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.]
Eureka was advancing fast to glory. Each day, and not seldom twice a day, the gutter gammoned and humbugged all us “vagabonds” so deucedly, that the rush to secure a claim “dead on it” rose to the standard of “Eureka style,” that is, “Ring, ring,” was the yell from some hundred human dogs, and soon hill and flat poured out all spare hands to thicken the “ring.”
By this time, two covies — one of them generally an Irishman — had stripped to their middle, and were “shaping” for a round or two. A broken nose, with the desired accomplishment of a pair of black eyes, and in all cases, when manageable, a good smash in the regions either of the teeth, or of the ribs — both, if possible, preferred — was supposed to improve the transaction so much, that, what with the tooth dropping, or the rib cracking, or both, as aforesaid, it was considered “settled.” Thus originated the special title of “rowdy mob,” or Tipperary, in reference to the Irish. Let us have the title clear.
The “shepherding,” that is the squatting by one man — women and children had not got hold of this Dolce far niente yet — the ground allotted by law to four men; and the astuteness of our primitive shepherds having found it cheap and profitable to have each claim visibly separated from the other by some twenty-feet wall, which was mutually agreed upon by themselves alone, to call it ‘spare ground,’ was now a grown-up institution. Hence, whenever the gutter, 120 feet below, took it into its head to bestir and hook it, the faithful shepherds would not rest until they were sure to snore in peace a foot and a half under ground from the surface, and six score feet from “bang on the gutter.”
This Ballaarat dodge would have been innocent enough, were it not for “Young Ireland,” who, having fixed headquarters on the Eureka, was therefore accused of monopolising the concern. Now, suppose Paddy wanted to relish a “tip,” that is, a drop of gin on the sly, then Scotty, who had just gulped down his “toddy,” which was a drop of auld whisky, would take upon himself the selfish trouble to sink six inches more in Paddy’s hole, which feat was called “jumping;” and thus, broken noses, and other accomplishments, as aforesaid, grew in proportion to “tips” and “toddy” drunk on the sly.
I frequently saw horrid scenes of blood; but I was now an old chum and therefore knew what was what in colonial life.
I had a Cameleon for a neighbour, who, in the garb of an Irishman, flung his three half-shovels out of a hole on the hill punctually every morning, and that was his work before breakfast. Then, a red shirt on his back, and a red cap on his head, he would, in the subsequent hour, give evidence of his scorning to be lazy by putting down some three inches deeper another hole below in the gully. “Full stop;” he must have a “blow,” but the d——d things — his matches — had got damp, and so in a rage he must hasten to his tent to light the pipe; that is, to put on the Yankee garb and complete his forenoon work in a third hole of his, whose depth and shape recommended him as a first rate grave-digger.
And what has all this bosh to do with the Eureka Stockade?
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 9-10
dolce far niente = (Italian) “pleasant idleness”, or “sweet idleness” (literally, “sweet doing nothing”)
ludi Ballaaratenses = (Latin) “games in Ballaarat”
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