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- The Eureka Stockade - 6/34 -
proceedings connected with the death of the late James Scobie, have been conducted, either by the magistrates or by the coroner, pledges itself to use every lawful means to have the case brought before other, and more competent authorities.
"That this meeting deems it necessary to collect subscriptions for the purpose of offering a reward for the conviction of the murderers, and defraying all other expenses connected with the prosecution of the case."
Nam Tua Res Agitur, Paries Cum Proximus Ardet.
The one pervading opinion among the multitude of miners and others who had been attracted thither, appeared to be that Bentley was the murderer; and loud were the cries, the hooting, and groans against him. It would appear that the Camp authorities contemplated some little disturbance, and consequently all the available force of police and mounted troopers were on guard at the hotel and made a very injudicious display of their strength. Not only did they follow, but ride through, the crowd of people at the meeting; and it is to this display of their strength that must be attributed the fire, and other outbursts of indignation. Miners who have stood the working of a Canadian or Gravel-pit shicer, scorn danger in any form.
The crowd, excessively irritated on seeing the large display of the hated police force began to shout and yell. Presently, a stone came from the mass, and passing near the head of one of the officials, broke a pane of glass in one of the windows of the hotel. The sound of the falling glass appeared to act like magic on the multitude; and bottles, stones, sticks, and other missiles, were speedily put in requisition to demolish the windows, until not a single pane was left entire, while every one that was broken drew a cheer from the crowd. The police, all this time, were riding round and round the hotel, but did not take any vigorous measures to deter the people from the sport they appeared to enjoy so much. The crowd advance nearer--near enough to use sticks to beat in the casements. They make an entrance, and, in a moment, furniture, wearing apparel, bedding, drapery, are tossed out of the windows; curtains, sheets, etc., are thrown in the air, frightening the horses of the troopers, who have enough to do to keep their saddles; the weather-boards are ripped off the side of the house, and sent spinning in the air. A real Californian takes particular care of, and delights in smashing the crockery.
Mr. Rede, the resident Commissioner, arrives, and endeavours to pacify the people by speechifying, but it will not do. He mounts the sill of where was once a window, and gesticulates to the crowd to hear him. An egg is thrown from behind a tent opposite, and narrowly misses his face, but breaks on the wall of the house close to him. The Commissioner becomes excited, and orders the troopers to take the man in charge; but no trooper appears to relish the business.
A cry of "Fire!" is raised; a horse shies and causes commotion. Smoke is seen to issue from one of the rooms of the ground-floor. The police extinguish it; and an attempt is made to form a cordon round the building. But it is too late. Whilst the front of the hotel occupies the attention of the majority of the crowd, a few are pulling down the back premises.
Mr. Rede sends for the detachment of the gallant 40th now stationed on Ballaarat.
A shout is raised:--"The 40th are coming."
"Don't illuminate till they come."
"They shall see the sight."
"Wait till they come."
Smash go the large lamps in front of the hotel. The troopers ride round and caracole their horses.
"Where's the red-coats?"
"There they come, yonder up the hill!"
"Hurrah! three cheers."
The 40th arrive; they form into line in front of the hotel, swords drawn. "Hurrah! boys! no use waiting any longer."--"Down she comes." The bowling alley is on fire.--Police try to extinguish the flames--rather too warm.--It's too late.--The hotel is on fire at the back corner; nothing can save it.--"Hip, hip hurrah!" is the universal shout.
I had opportunities enough to observe in London, that a characteristic of the British race is to make fun of the calamity of fire, hence I did not wonder, how they enjoyed this, their real sport on the occasion.
A gale of wind, which blowed at this exact time, announcing the hurricane that soon followed, was the principal helper to the devouring of the building, by blowing in the direction most favourable to the purpose.
The red-coats wheel about, and return to the Camp. Look out! the roof of the back part of the hotel, falls in! "Hurrah! boys, here's the porter and ale with the chill off."
Bottles are handed out burning hot--the necks of two bottles are knocked together!--Contents drunk in colonial style.--Look out! the roof, sides and all fall in!--An enormous mass of flame and smoke arises with a roaring sound.--Sparks are carried far, far into the air, and what was once the Eureka Hotel, is now a mass of burning embers!
The entire diggings, in a state of extreme excitement.--The diggers are lords and masters of Ballaarat; and the prestige of the Camp is gone for ever.
Loquar In Amaritudine Animoe. Meoe
Now my peace of mind being destroyed, I had recourse to the free British press, for information, wishing to hear what they said in Melbourne. At this time the Morning Herald was in good demand; but the 'Geelong Advertiser' had the swayn on the goldfields. Geelong had a rattling correspondent on Ballaarat, who helped to hasten the movement fast enough. As I did not know this correspondent of the 'Geelong Advertiser' personally, so I can only guess at his frame of mind. I should say the following ingredients entered into the factory of his ideas:-
1st. The land is the Lord's and all therein; but man must earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. Therefore, in the battle of life, every man must fight his way on the old ground, "help yourself and God will help you."
2nd. In olden times, wherever there was a Roman there was life. In our times, wherever there is a Britain there is trade, and trade is life. But with the lazy,--who, either proud or mean, is always an incapable, because generally he is a drunkard, and therefore a beggar, there is no possible barter; and, inasmuch as man does not live on bread alone, for a fried sole is a nice thing for breakfast, so also it must be confessed that the loaves and fishes do not condescend to jump into one's mouth all dressed as they ought to be. Therefore--and this is the zenith of the 'Geelong Advertiser's' practical correspondent--be not perplexed, if the loaves and fishes wont pop fast enough into your mouth particularly; let Mahomed's example be instantly followed: go yourself to the loaves and fishes, and you will actually find that they are subject to the same laws of matter and motion as everything else on earth.
3rd. The application. For what did any one emigrate to this colony? To sweat more? Well, times were hard enough for the poor in old Europe. Let him sweat more, but for whom? For himself of course, and good luck to him. Is there not plenty of Victoria land for every white man or black man that intends to grow his potatoes? Oh! leave the greens-growing to the well-disposed, to the well affected, ye sturdy sons who pant after the yellow-boy. "Take your chance, out of a score of shicers, there is one 'dead on it,'" says old Mother Earth from the deep.
Sum total.--With the hard-working gold-digger, there is a solid barter possible. Hurrah! for the diggers.
'The Argus' persisting in 'our own conceit,' and misrepresenting, perverting, and slandering the cause of the diggers, ran foul, and went fast to leeward. Experience having instructed me at my own costs, that there cannot possibly exist much sympathy between flunkies and blueshirts, I can only guess at the compound materials hammered in the mortar of 'The Argus' reporter on Ballaarat:--
lst. The land is the Queen's, and the inheritance of the Crown.
2nd. Who dares to teach the golden-lace the idea how to shoot?
3rd. Let learning, commerce, even manners die, But leave us our old nobility.
4th. 'Sotto voce':--In this colony, however, make money; honestly if possible, of course, but make money; or else the 'vagabonds' here would humble down a gentleman to curry-powder diet.
5th. To put on a blue shirt, and rush in with the Eureka mob! fudge: 'odi profanum vulgus et arceo.' There are millions of tons of gold dug out already, as much anyhow, as anyone can carry to Old England, and live as a lord, with an occasional trip to Paris and Naples, to make up for the time wasted in this colony.
Sum total.--Screw out of the diggers as much as circumstances will admit; they have plenty of money for getting drunk, and making beasts of themselves, the brutes!
To be serious; should a copy of this book be forgotten somewhere, and thereby be spared for the use of some southern Tacitus, let him bewail the perfidious mendacity of our times, whose characteristic is SLANDER, which proceeds from devil GROG; and the pair generate THE PROSPERITY OF THE WICKED. Here is a sample:-
On Saturday, September 29th, 1854, the members of the Local Court, Ballaarat, held a public meeting on the usual spot, Bakery-hill, for the purpose of taking the sense of their fellow miners, respecting the admittance or nonadmittance of the legal profession to advise or plead in said court.-- See report in The Star, a new local paper, No. V, Tuesday, October 2nd.
Messrs. Ryce and Wall having addressed the meeting in their usual honest, matter-of-fact way:-
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