Quousque tandem abutere, Toorak, patientia nostra?
Lalor rose, and said.—
“Gentlemen, I find myself in the responsible position I now occupy, for this reason. The diggers, outraged at the unaccountable conduct of the Camp officials in such a wicked licence-hunt at the point of the bayonet, as the one of this morning, took it as an insult to their manhood, and a challenge to the determination come to at the monster meeting of yesterday. The diggers rushed to their tents for arms, and crowded on Bakery-hill. They wanted a leader. No one came forward, and confusion was the consequence. I mounted the stump, where you saw me, and called on the people to ‘fall in’ into divisions, according to the fire-arms they had got, and to chose their own captains out of the best men they had among themselves. My call was answered with unanimous acclamation, and complied to with willing obedience. The result, is, that I have been able to bring about that order, without which it would be folly to face the pending struggle like men. I make no pretensions to military knowledge. I have not the presumption to assume the chief command, no more than any other man who means well in the cause of the diggers. I shall be glad to see the best among us take the lead. In fact, gentlemen, I expected some one who is really well known (J. B. Humffray?) to come forward and direct our movement! However, if you appoint me your commander-in-chief, I shall not shrink; I mean to do my duty as a man. I tell you, gentlemen, if once I pledge my hand to the diggers, I will neither defile it with treachery, nor render it contemptible by cowardice.”
Brave Peter, you gave us your hand on the Eureka, and left there your arm: an incontestable evidence of Lalor’s Pledge.
Manning then proposed Raffaello, and pointed at his scars as an evidence of his tiger-pluck against the hated Austrian rule, which was now attempted, in defiance of God and man, to be transplanted into this colony.
I declined, because, during the past winter, I had overtasked my physical strength, and did not possess that vigour essential to such an emergency. Confidence is the bond necessary between the soldier and his officer. It was my decided opinion, however much a foreigner may be respected on the gold-fields, that the right man should be taken from among Britons.
Vern here began a portentous lecture on military science, military discipline, military tactics, and other sorts of militaryism, but his English was so wretched, his ideas so sky-blathering, his martial ardour so knocking down, that no one could make anything out of his blabberdom.
Of this I have perfect recollection. He was boasting eternally of his German rifle-brigade! 500 strong. That he had this brigade he urgently asserted; but where it was, that’s the rub!
No possible inquiry from Lalor could get at the bottom of Vern’s prodigal brigade. Is, then, the grand secret buried within Vern’s splendid chest? No; I mean to reveal it at four o’clock, Saturday, December 2nd.
Carboni Raffaello, who had heard heaps of cant in old Europe, did count for nothing the oceanic military knowledge of Vern, in spite of his big trail-sword, that made more jingling than enough.
I commended, in high terms, the conduct of Lalor during the morning, and it was my impression that he possessed the confidence of the diggers and should be their Commander-in-chief.
Thonen seconded the motion. The first “unnamed,” shewed approbation, and the appointment was carried by a majority of eleven to one.
Peter Lalor thanked the council for the honour conferred on him, assured the members that he was determined to prepare the diggers to resist force by force.
It was perfectly understood, and openly declared, in this first council-of-war, that we meant to organise for defence, and that we had taken up arms for no other purpose.
The council adjourned to five o’clock in the evening.
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 48-49
Quousque tandem abutere, Toorak, patientia nostra = (Latin) “How long will you abuse, Toorak, our patience?”; derived from a speech made in the Roman Senate by Cicero (Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106 BC – 43 BC) attacking Catiline (Lucius Sergius Catilina, 108 BC – 62 BC), “Quousque [Quo usque] tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra” (“How long, Catiline, will you abuse our patience?”)
Quousque tandem abutere, Toorak, patientia nostra:
Archibald A. Maclardy. Completely Parsed Cicero: The First Oration Of Cicero Against Catiline, Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Wauconda (Illinois), 2004, pages ii, 1 (accessed 7 January 2013)
“Cicero’s Orations”, Project Gutenberg (accessed 7 January 2013)
“Catiline Orations”, Wikipedia (accessed 7 January 2013)
“L. Annaei Senecae Maioris Suasoriarum Liber”, The Latin Library (accessed 7 January 2013)
“Seneca the Elder”, Wikipedia (accessed 7 January 2013)