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The Eureka Stockade
In Person I solicit no subscription--in writing I hereby ask no favour from my reader. A book must stand or fall by the truth contained in it.
What I wish to note is this: I was taught the English language by the Very Reverend W. Vincent Eyre, Vice Rector of the English College, Rome. It has cost me immense pains to rear my English up to the mark; but I could never master the language to perfection. Hence, now and then, probably to the annoyance of my Readers, I could not help the foreign idiom. Of course, a proper edition, in Italian, will be published in Turin.
I have nothing further to say.
Prince Albert Hotel, Bakery Hill,, Ballaarat, Anniversary of the Burning of Bentley's Eureka Hotel, 1855.
Mendacium sibi, sicut turbinis, viam augustam in urbe et orbe terrarum aperuit. Stultus dicit in corde suo, "non est Deus." Veritas vero lente passu passu sicut puer, tandem aliquando janunculat ad lucem. Tunc justus ut palma florescit.*
[*Listen to me-- The lie, like the whirlwind, clears itself a royal road, either in town or country, through the whole face of the earth. The fool in his heart says, "There is no God." The truth, however slow, step by step, like a little child, someday, at last, finds a footpath to light. Then the righteous flourish like a palm tree.]
I undertake to do what an honest man should do, let it thunder or rain. He who buys this book to lull himself to sleep had better spend his money in grog. He who reads this book to smoke a pipe over it, let him provide himself with Plenty of tobacco--he will have to blow hard. A lover of truth-- that's the man I want--and he will have in this book the truth, and nothing but the truth.
Facts, from the "stubborn-things" store, are here retailed and related-- contradiction is challenged from friend or foe. The observation on, and induction from the facts, are here stamped with sincerity: I ask for no other credit. I may be mistaken: I will not acknowledge the mistake unless the contrary be proved.
When two boys are see-sawing on a plank, balanced on its centre, whilst the world around them is "up" with the one it is "down" with the other. The centre, however, is stationary. I was in the centre. I was an actor, and therefore an eye-witness. The events I relate, I did see them pass before me. The persons I speak of, I know them face to face. The words I quote, I did hear them with my own ears. Others may know more or less than I; I mean to tell all that I know, and nothing more.
Two reasons counsel me to undertake the task of publishing this work; but a third reason is at the bottom of it, as the potent lever; and they are--
1st. An honourable ambition urging me to have my name remembered among the illustrious of Rome. I have, on reaching the fortieth year of my age, to publish a work at which I have been plodding the past eighteen years. An ocean of grief would overwhelm me if then I had to vindicate my character: how, under the hospitality of the British flag, I was put in the felon's dock of a British Supreme Court to be tried for high treason.
2nd. I have the moral courage to show the truth of my text above, because I believe in the resurrection of life.
3rd. Brave comrades in arms who fell on that disgraced Sabbath morning, December 3rd, worthy of a better fate, and most certainly of a longer remembrance, it is in my power to drag your names from an ignoble oblivion, and vindicate the unrewarded bravery of one of yourselves! He was once my mate, the bearer of our standard, the "Southern Cross." Shot down by a murderous hand, he fell and died struggling like a man in the cause of the diggers. But he was soon forgotten. That he was buried is known by the tears of a few true friends! the place of his burial is little known, and less cared for.
'Sunt tempora nostra; non mutabimur nec mutamur in illis; jam perdidi spem.'
The work will be published on the 1st of December next, and given to each subscriber by the Author's own hand, on the site of the Eureka Stockade, from the rising to the setting of the sun, on the memorable third.
A Jove Principum.
"Wanted a governor. Apply to the People of Victoria:" that was the extraordinary advertisement, a new chum in want of employment, did meet in the usual column of 'The Argus', December 1852. Many could afford to laugh at it, the intelligent however, who had immigrated here, permanently to better his condition, was forced to rip up in his memory a certain fable of Aesop. Who would have dared then to warn the fatted Melbourne frogs weltering in grog, their colonial glory, against their contempt for King Log? Behold King Stork is your reward. 'Tout comme chez nous.'
One remark before I start for the gold-fields. As an old European traveller I had set apart a few coppers for the poor at my landing. I had no opportunity for them. "We shall do well in this land;" was my motto. Who is going to be the first beggar? Not I! My care for the poor would have less disappointed me, if I had prepared myself against falling in the unsparing clutches of a shoal of land-sharks, who swarmed at that time the Yarra Yarra wharfs. Five pounds for landing my luggage, was the A, followed by the old colonial C, preceded by the double D. Rapacity in Australia is the alpha and omega. Yet there were no poor! a grand reflection for the serious. Adam Smith, settled the question of "the wealth of nations." The source of pauperism will be settled in Victoria by any quill-driver, who has the pluck to write the history of public-houses in the towns, and sly-grog sellers on the gold-fields.
Let us start for Ballaarat, Christmas, December 1852.--'Vide'--'tempore suo'-- 'Julii Caesaris junioris. De Campis Aureis, Australia Felix Commentaria.'
For the purpose, it is now sufficient to say that I had joined a party; fixed our tent on the Canadian Flat; went up to the Camp to get our gold licence; for one pound ten shilling sterling a head we were duly licensed for one month to dig, search for, and remove gold, etc.--We wanted to drink a glass of porter to our future success, but there was no Bath Hotel at the time.--Proceeded to inspect the famous Golden Point (a sketch of which I had seen in London in the 'Illustrated News'). The holes all around, three feet in diameter, and five to eight feet in depth, had been abandoned! we jumped into one, and one of my mates gave me the first lesson in "fossiking,"--In less than five minutes I pounced on a little pouch-- the yellow boy was all there,--my eyes were sparkling,--I felt a sensation identical to a first declaration of love in by-gone times.--"Great works," at last was my bursting exclamation. In old Europe I had to take off my hat half a dozen times, and walk from east to west before I could earn one pound in the capacity of sworn interpreter, and translator of languages in the city of London. Here, I had earned double the amount in a few minutes, without crouching or crawling to Jew or Christian. Had my good angel prevailed on me to stick to that blessed Golden Point, I should have now to relate a very different story: the gold fever, however, got the best of my usual judgment, and I dreamt of, and pretended nothing else, than a hole choked with gold, sunk with my darling pick, and on virgin ground.--I started the hill right-hand side, ascending Canadian Gully, and safe as the Bank of England I pounced on gold--seventeen and a half ounces, depth ten feet.
One fine morning (Epiphany week), I was hard at work (excuse old chum, if I said hard: though my hand had been scores of times compelled in London to drop the quill through sheer fatigue, yet I never before handled a pick and shovel), I hear a rattling noise among the brush. My faithful dog, Bonaparte, would not keep under my control. "What's up?" "Your licence, mate." was the peremptory question from a six-foot fellow in blue shirt, thick boots, the face of a ruffian armed with a carbine and fixed bayonet. The old "all right" being exchanged, I lost sight of that specimen of colonial brutedom and his similars, called, as I then learned, "traps" and "troopers." I left off work, and was unable to do a stroke more that day.
"I came, then, 16,000 miles in vain to get away from the law of the sword!" was my sad reflection. My sorrow was not mitigated by my mates and neighbours informing me, that Australia was a penal settlement. Inveterate murderers, audacious burglars, bloodthirsty bushrangers, were the ruling triumvirate, the scour of old Europe, called Vandemonians, in this bullock-drivers' land. Of course I felt tamed, and felt less angry, at the following search for licence. At the latter end of the month, one hundred and seventy seven pounds troy, in two superb masses of gold, were discovered at the depth of sixty feet, on the hill opposite where I was working. The talk was soon Vulcanish through the land. Canadian Gully was as rich in lumps as other gold-fields are in dust. Diggers, whom the gold fever had rendered stark blind, so as to desert Ballaarat for Mount Alexander and Bendigo, now returned as ravens to the old spot; and towards the end of February, '53, Canadian Gully was in its full glory.
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