The State Prisoners.
I beg to say at once, that with the exception of Hayes and Manning, of the remaining ten, seven were perfect strangers to me; three I had simply met at work on the gold-fields; and I won’t say anything further.
Yes, though, Michael Tuhey was the stoutest heart among us, an Irishman in word and deed, young, healthy, good-hearted chap, that hates all the ways of John Bull, he had been misled by honest George Black countenancing the two demagogues at Creswick-creek, and had hastened with his double-barrelled guns to Ballaarat, and stood his ground like an Irishman, against the red-coats. He never was sorry for it. His brother paid some forty pounds to a certain solicitor for his defence, but when Mic was tried for his neck, the Hog was not there. God save the people!
Thomas Dignam, a serious-looking, short, tight-built young chap, a native of Sydney, who hated all sort of rogues, because he was honest in heart. He brunted courageously the mob fury on Tuesday evening, November 28th, on the Eureka, and actually saved at the risk of his own life, the life of a soldier of the 12th regiment on its way to Ballaarat; he took up arms in the cause of the diggers in Thursday’s licence-hunt, was subsequently under drill at the stockade; fought like a tiger on Sunday morning; repented not of having put on stretchers a couple of red-coats; was always cheerful, contented and kind-hearted during the four months in gaol; paid his last farthing out of the honest sweat of his brow, to Stephens his solicitor for the defence (above thirty pounds) and when put in the dock to take his trial for high-treason, lo! there was no charge against him; the prosecution was dropped. God save the Queen!
We are however still in chokey at Ballaarat. We were put under the officious care of Sergeant Harris, who condescended to show some affection for Joseph, to prove that his Christian love could extend even to niggers; but the red-coat wanted to draw worms from the black rebel. We were nigh bursting for laughter, when Joseph during his two days’ trial came into our yard for his meals, and related to us with such eye-twinklings, widening of nostrils, trumping up the lips, scratching all the while his black wool so desperately, and the doodle music of his unearthly whistle! “how old chappyman and a tother smart ’un of spin-all did fix that there mob of traps; ’specially that godammed hirpocrit of sergeant, I guess.”
John Joseph, a native of New York, under a dark skin possessed a warm, good, honest, kind, cheerful heart; a sober, plain-matter-of-fact contented mind; and that is more than what can be said of some half-a-dozen grumbling, shirking, snarling, dog-natured state prisoners.
Sergeant Harris took it into his head to humble Hayes — humility is also a Christian virtue — and so honoured him with the perfumery job of clearing the tub at the corner, full of urine and solids. Hayes, for the lark did it once, but found it against his principles to practise on said tub again, and thus got into disgrace with our over-kind sergeant.
To be serious: Timothy Hayes, our chairman at the monster meeting, aristocratically dressed among us, had like the rest his plump body literally bloated with lice from the lock-up. Poor Manning was the worst. Myself, I was plagued with that disgusting vermin, all through those ignominious four months in gaol.
It were odious to say many, many other things.
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 90-91
The State Prisoners = this was a phrase used in various newspaper reports of the time to refer to the men on trial for the Eureka uprising [Carboni uses the same title for chapters LXXI (71) and LXXX (80)].
“The State Prisoners”, The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, NSW), Wednesday 17 January 1855, page 5
“Colonial news” [see section entitled “Trials of the State Prisoners”], The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (Maitland, NSW), Saturday 27 January 1855, page 2 of the supplement
“The State Prisoners” [letter], The Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer (Geelong, Vic.), Tuesday 30 January 1855, page 3
“The Ballarat State Prisoners”, The Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer (Geelong, Vic.), Friday 23 February 1855, page 2
“Legislative Council” [see section entitled “The State Prisoners”], The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), Friday 2 March 1855, page 4
“The State Prisoners” [letter], The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), Saturday 3 March 1855, page 6
“Bendigo” [see section entitled “The State Prisoners”], The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), Tuesday 27 March 1855, page 6