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Title: The Autobiography of "Cockney Tom" Author: Thomas Bastard * A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook * eBook No.: 0800591h.html Language: English Date first posted: June 2008 Date most recently updated: July 2013 This eBook was produced by: Peter Kelly Project Gutenberg Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg Australia License which may be viewed online at http://gutenberg.net.au/licence.html
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Production notes: ----------------- Minor spelling errors have been silently corrected. The following changes have been made throughout the text for consistency, according to author's most frequent usage "honor" has been changed to "honour" "labour has been changed to "labor" "favour" has been changed to favor
It has been said that where there is no sense of danger, there no danger need be feared; so the writer of this Autobiography ventures, despite any array of critics, to present the sketch of his life to a public whose indulgence he craves. He claims no merit for literary workmanship, but solely for truth and candour, and in those respects his book cannot be excelled. As understood by the writer of this preface, the aim of the work has been twofold, namely, to leave to a large circle of cherished friends, acquaintances, and relatives the exact memorials of a life marked by more than an ordinary vicissitudes; and also of the manner in which it is intended to illustrate how possible is the growth of evil habit, upon a genial, sociable disposition, and how equally possible an absolute reformation. If the work should prove pleasant, the author would be pleased; if profitable, he will be paid by coin that he would not exchange for the best mintage of the world.
CONTENTS. [Note: Page numbers are shown in the paper book, however there is no other indication as to the actual place where the description of each event begins. In this ebook, which does not include the original page numbers, the list below merely provides the sequence of events described in the book.] Part I. My Grandfather, and what he was Introducing My Father and Uncle Phillip My Mother, Foster Mother, and Nurses A Rich Aunt and an Old Gun Nearly Burnt to Death Old Gun Takes me Home—What he did with me there I am Apprenticed—My Master, and What He Was Like I get into Prison, and make many acquaintances I Get Out Again, and Return to My Master I Run Away, and Travel to Gain Knowledge I Commence Singing for a Living, and Return to London My Courtship, Marriage, and many Hardships A Change in My Life much for the better Join the Choristers at St. Barnabas, Pimlico Become a Tradesman, and have many Good Customers I Catch the Gold Fever, and make up my mind to go to Australia My Visit to the Rev. W. E. Bennett His Parish Clerk I Embark at Southampton My Voyage Part II. My Arrival at Adelaide What I Did, and How I Got My Living I Leave Adelaide for Victoria and the Goldfields My Arrival in Melbourne, and What I Thought of It On the Tramp to the Diggings—Events on the Road I Arrive at Forest Creek, and Make Acquaintances Depart From Forrest Creek, and Goes to Tarrangower The Ball at Castlemaine, and What Took Place There Life in the Diggings at Tarrangower My Tramp Back to Melbourne Part III. My Return to Adelaide My Military Career as a Sergeant in the Army—My Discharge I Become a Bank Messenger, Public Singer, Agent, &c. Tired of the Bank, I Turn My Attention to Swimming I Become Acquainted with the Man who Robbed the Duke of Edinburgh Tries Boating on the River Torrens The Dam Bursts Up, And I lose My Boats I Establish Turkish Baths—the Good They Have Done to the City My Wife Dies, and I take to Drink I meet with the Rev. Matthew Barnett The Good Results of His Doctrines I Attend His Lecture on "Yankee Bill" I Become a Sober Man, and Write this Autobiography Dates and Particulars LIST OF SUBSCRIBERS [These are shown at the end of the ebook] LIST OF IMAGES The Author On the Diggings at Tarrangower Advertisement for "The City Baths"
I, Cockney Tom, am the son of a gun, who was so called because his father was a general in the Navy. Now this requires a little explanation. My grandfather, you must know, was master-at-arms on board the Royal Standard, 74 guns. It was his duty as a warrant-officer to officiate when a man was to be flogged for getting drunk, or any other crime. They were tied up to a grating and punished with the cat in those days. Thank goodness it is not so now in the British Navy. It was the duty of the armorer to attend the surgeon of the ship in full uniform, with drawn sword, to see that the prisoner received his allowance. The armorer was to count the lashes, and the doctor's duty was to tell the boatswain to cast the man off when he saw he could bear no more. So this is how the aforesaid son of a gun's grandfather was nicknamed the flogmaster-general. Gun was armorer's mate, fought in three engagements, and got his discharge without pension. His brother was not so fortunate. He rose by merit to be a second lieutenant, and one day was ordered to man the boat and go on shore at Portsmouth with orders for the ship. When he reached the stairs the men begged so hard to be allowed to go on shore for a short time to purchase some necessaries, that Gun's brother gave them leave, on their engaging, on honour, to return soon. Imagine his feelings when he returned to find that all his men had deserted. In this dilemma Gun's brother did not know what to do; to go on board he was ashamed, and therefore he made up his mind to follow the example of the men and bolt. He did so, was caught, and was sent to Portsmouth gaol to be identified by his brother officers. They came the next morning and took him on board, and placed him in irons. A court-martial was called; he was reduced from lieutenant to common seaman, and then they sentenced him to two dozen lashes, which he received on his birthday as a very unwelcome present. Gun obtained his discharge, went to London, and got married, by which transaction he increased and multiplied the earth to the extent of ten children, I being the wind-up of the lot, which consisted of nine boys and one girl.
Now began some of the stirring and painful events of my wonderful life. My mother died when I was only five months old, and my sister became my only nurse. She used to carry me round the parish to mothers who had babies, and beg a drop of milk from one and another, so that I had many foster-mothers. Now, it so happened that I had a rich aunt, and she made an offer to Old Gun that if he would give me up entirely to her care, she would settle her property on me, as she had no children of her own, which offer Old Gun readily accepted. The will was made and duly registered, and I was taken from Old Gun and placed under the care of a good nurse. Old Gun took to drink, and when drunk visited my nurse, and listened to her complaints against my aunt. He called and had words with her, which so disgusted the old lady that she sent for a lawyer and altered her will, without leaving me a single penny. (So much for drink.) I remained with this nurse about five years. About this time I was nearly burned to death, my nurse having left me to mind the house. I got playing with the fire until my pinafore caught alight, when I ran out into the street all in a blaze. Two working men, who happened to be passing, seized me and threw me into a ditch close by. After that they took me to a doctor, and I was laid up in bed for twelve months. When Old Gun heard of it, he took me away from my nurse, and when he got me home he made use of me to fetch his gin, while he was on the drink. I remember fetching Gun as many as nineteen half quarterns of gin before dinner, and sometimes he would be on the fuddle for a fortnight. Gun having got into debt with a publican, to the extent of two pounds, he summoned him for the amount. As Gun refused to pay, the publican caused him to be sent to gaol for six weeks. I used to visit father Gun in prison, and take him coffee and sugar. Now, while Gun was in trouble I was also doomed to suffer. Gun's landlady refused to give me a night's lodging. I lived on the few coppers earned by running about the city and holding gentlemen's horses. At last, to get rid of me the landlady took me to the workhouse, and left me there till Gun came out of prison. When Gun did come out, it was only to have a change from gaol to workhouse. At last the end came, and Gun died a penitent sinner.
The parish apprenticed me to a shoe-maker, a man that wanted the premium much more than he wanted the boy. My master treated me more like a dog than a human being. I was fed badly, and clothed worse; was allowed one suit of the commonest corderoy that could be got per year. In fact I wore one pair of trousers until they became kneebreeches. One pair of common boots a year, and a good sound thrashing twice a week. Not only were my hours of labor from five o'clock in the morning until ten at night, but my fare was far worse. Now it so happened at this period of my life that I took a fancy to swimming, and in order to gain a knowledge of this art I used to get up very early every morning and bathe in a canal which was not far off. This pastime nearly cost me my life. No less than three times I was brought out of the water nearly dead; but I was determined not to be beaten, and after taking lessons of a professor I became a very fair swimmer. I soon found that my master was a bad man, the woman that lived with him had left her husband (a respectable farmer in Yorkshire), and both these worthies took to heavy drinking. At this time I was between 15 and 16 years of age. My master kept a fine house, but like many other worthies, he forgot to pay his rent, and was so clever that he got into debt with everyoue. At last, being greatly troubled in his mind, he determined to shoot, not himself, but the moon, as it was called in London, which being interpreted means that he ran away from his house in the night time, not forgetting to take his goods with him; but in his hurry and excitement left an old bedstead in the house. I was ordered to go early the next morning and get this bedstead out by the back door, my master being there to help me carry it home. To accomplish this task I had to, get through the cellar window. I succeeded in taking down the bedstead, put the screws in my pocket, and got it outside, when, alas, I beheld that kindest of friends, the policeman, who most affectionately put his hand upon my arm and marched me off to the lockup on a charge of house-breaking. I was taken before the magistrate and the landlady appeared against me. I was committed for trial on the charge, and was most graciously conveyed in His Majestys King William the IV's carriage to Horsemonger Lane Gaol. I was kept in prison eleven days before my trial, and no one was allowed to see me but my fellow prisoners, and when at last I was tried, I pleaded my own case, and succeeded in justifying my conduct by explaining that I was only an apprentice, and therefore bound to obey my master's orders, and keep his secrets, according to the wording of my indentures, and so I was honourably acquitted. While I was in gaol I had to attend chapel. Now any moral or religious benefit I might have received from such attendance was utterly neutralized by bad management of our prisons, in compelling comparatively innocent persons to mix with the greatest blackguards and thieves in London. As a matter of fact there was some prisoners there at the same time that I. was obliged to associate with who were guilty of every crime you can mention, including murder. Amongst them, however, was a Rev. Dr. Taylor, who was imprisoned for speaking against the bible and the government. He used to lecture at the rotunda in the Blackfriar's Road. He made my acquaintance, and taught me many good things, and although a prisoner, he was not by any means a bad man, for he had the fear of God in his heart. He persuaded me to attend Sunday-school and church when I got out. Altogether this Rev. gentleman's influence upon me was for my good, and far more likely to effect my reformation than any punishment in gaol, especially when injudiciously administered. I did not forget his good counsel, for when I got back to my master I begged to be allowed to go to a Sunday-school, and also to church. This request was granted, and many a time I went without my Sunday's dinner rather than be late at school. The Parish clerk found out that I had a voice, so he sent for me and gave me lessons in hymn and psalm singing, and chanting the service. I felt very proud of this, and although I occasionally received a good thrashing from my master for the most trifling mistakes in my work, I bore up well till I was nearly seventeen years of age. By this time, however, my master's treatment grew rather worse than better, so I determined to run away and try the country, for a change of air. I had a married brother living at Hastings, in Sussex, and to go there I began to save up for the journey out of my pocket money, which was only threepence per week, out of which I saved two-thirds.
At length, with my savings, which amounted to tenpence, a two pound loaf, and no butter, I rose at three o'clock on a beautiful summer's morning and crept down stairs very softly, opened the door and got outside without being heard by any of the inmates. After walking about five miles without resting, I began to sing a verse from an old man-a-war song, as follows:—
"I wish I was at Hastings With my true love along with me, Everything that's fitting, To serve His Royal Majesty. Where liquor there is plenty, Flowing bowls on every side, Hard fortune ne'er shall daunt me, For I'm young and the world is wide."
After walking eight miles, I had a rest, and refreshed the inner man with bread and water. While resting, a fish van happened to pass on its way to Hastings, the very place I was bound for. I made a dart and got up behind. When the driver stopped to change horses, I asked him if he would allow me to ride behind, for which privilege I offered to skid the wheel, which means, in railway language, put on the brake. When the driver learnt that my brother lived at Hastings he took an interest in me, and was very kind for the rest of the journey. I arrived safe and sound the same night, and found out my brother's residence, but, unfortunately, my brother was ten miles from home, working at a gentleman's seat, and did not return for a week after my arrival. My sister-in-law was very good to me at first, but soon began to speak in terms that convinced me that she was no friend of mine. She used to drink gin on the sly, and get drunk, and deceive her husband by making him believe that she was ill. Fearing that I would let my brother into the secret, she became my bitter enemy. I saw through it, and when I had managed to get work, I left my brother's house and took lodgings amongst a tribe of gipsies who lived in the neighbourhood. My new master was a regular "out and outer" a splendid workman, well educated, a good reciter, but too fond of company and drink, which kept him poor, and made his wife miserable. She was very good to me, and gave me many a meal when my master was on the spree.
I left the Gipsies, and found cheap lodgings by the sad sea waves, in the fishing boats. I used to rise early and assist the fishermen to wash and pack their fish for market, for which service I used to get a fish for breakfast. It was at Hastings that I improved in the art of swimming; I might have been seen in the sea, three times a day; and so the time rolled on. I improved in my trade, but, unfortunately, at the end of the season I had no work to do. I then took it into my head that I would return to London, and find out my sister. The next question was how to get there without money to start with? The thought struck me that I could sing my way back. I started accordingly early one morning and walked eight miles to a place called Battle, the spot where the great battle of Hastings took place. When I arrived, I found there was a fox hunt on, and that after the hunt there was to be a dinner for the sportsmen, so I made up my mind to stay and offer my services as a singer, and trust to their generosity as to what they would give me. I did so, and so pleased the company that they gave me a good dinner and four and ninepence to boot, and the landlord gave me a night's lodging. I started next morning for Tunbridge, in Kent; next I went to Maidstone, where I met with a harpist with whom I joined company, I to sing, and harpy to play, and go share in the profits. We waited on the mayor of the town, and got his permission to play and sing in the streets. We did well, lived like fighting cocks, and saved money. From Maidstone we travelled to Sittingbourne, where we were engaged to play and sing in the Assembly Rooms, and there made a great hit in my song, "Funking the Cobbler," sung in caricature. I now began to fancy myself. From there I found my way to Chatham, where I was engaged in a low concert room, frequented by soldiers, sailors, and bad women. I learnt no good there, but a great deal that was bad. I did not stop long there but went on to Rochester, got work at my trade, and for a time gave up singing.
From Rochester I went to Gravesend, where I worked at my trade, singing now and then professionally. Thence I travelled to London and found out my sister, who received me with sisterly love. I got work and lived very happily with her for a long time. It so happened that my sister had an acquaintance who used to call and see her occasionally. One day this friend brought her eldest, daughter with her. I was engaged at my work, singing away as only shoemakers can sing, the following beautiful lines:—
"Beware those finikin lasses, And never by beauty be led; For a girl that surpasses all others 'Tis she that works hard for her bread."
"Who is that singing?" enquired the young woman. "It is my brother Tom," replied my sister. "I should like to see him," she said, "You shall," said my sister, and she brought the young woman into the room where I was working. I blushed, for I thought, I had never before seen such a good-looking young person. We all had tea, and I had the impertinence to ask her to take a walk, and she did not refuse. From that time we became lovers, and were four months afterwards married at St. John's Church, Waterloo-road, Lambeth. After I had bought the ring, paid the parson, and given a dinner (which I had also paid for), I took my bride to furnished lodgings. I got up the next morning to work with the large capital of three shillings and sixpence to start a new life. I, however, was not going to be discouraged with such a small beginning, and as neither my wife nor I were deficient in pluck, we both determined to work early and late, and soon got a home of our own—a small one—in Walworth, where we lived as happily together as if our house had been a mansion.
But this happy state of things was destined not to last long. When the winter came, I was thrown out of work, and my wife was confined of a daughter, and things had now come to such a pass, that I took to singing again in order to obtain food. The result of having to be out late at nights, was that I fell ill, and was laid up with a fever. The doctor ordered me to St. Thomas' Hospital, where I remained for eight weeks, during which time none of my friends, save my good wife, came to see me. At last I found myself better, and left the Hospital; but only for a short time, for a second attack obliged me to return for some weeks longer, until I had regained my strength. I then made a flesh start, got work at a bespoke shop, and became the don during the two years I worked as journeyman. I then left Lambeth, and obtained work in Chelsea, with better wages; but as food and rent was dear, I was no better off than before I came to the West End. My troubles seemed as if they would never end, for my wife and four children now took the measles, and when my wife got better, I was again taken bad with a cold in my eyes, which nearly blinded me. I then became an outpatient at the Ophthalmic Hospital, Charing Cross; and for many weeks I could not work, and had to go to the parish for bread for my children. After suffering great privation, I at last got better, and again worked at my trade, and in order to make up for lost time, I again took to singing at night in low concert-rooms, receiving from three to five shillings per night, and my beer. I followed this up for some time, when a sudden change took place in my life. It happened while I was working one day, and at the same time rehearsing my songs for the night's entertainment, that I was disturbed by a gentle knock at the door. "Come in!" said I, and a lady entered, with the remark, "I beg your pardon, but was that you singing just now?" "Yes, ma'am," said I; "I have to get my living partly by singing." "Do you sing at church?" "No, I do not," I replied. "Can you sing by music?" "No ma'am." "Would you like to be taught?" "I should like very much, ma'am," said I. "Do you go to our church? we have beautiful singing there, and I am sure you would like it. Will you come if I promise to be your friend? I see you are a shoemaker. Would you object to work for yourself instead of a master?" I said that I should very much like to be my own master, and be able to give up the concert-room business. "Well, then, to begin with, you can take my measure for a pair of shoes, and come to my house in Grosvenor Place, and I will leave several pair for you to repair, and if you want any money to buy material with, you can have it." "Thank you, very much," I said; "and I will attend to it." I told my wife when she came home all about it, and she was delighted. "I have heard of that lady," said she. "She is a very good woman, and visits the sick and relieves the poor, and takes an interest in every thing that is good." I called on the lady, the next day, and was received kindly. To help me in my business, she introduced me to her servants, who favored me with their orders, and gave as much work, as would take me a week to perform. I finished the work and gave general satisfaction. I was then persuaded to go to church and hear the singing, which was very grand. The incumbent was a good preacher, and used to attract the nobility from the west-end of London. I was sent for by the minister, who undertook to have me taught music, and for this purpose I was invited to attend practice, in order to meet the organist and try my voice. I did so, and was told it was somewhat a rough one, but that if I gave my mind to study, I would, in course of time, make a fair chorister. I attended practice twice a week for two years, and at church twice on Sundays. About this time the Rev. W. C. Bennett conceived the idea of building a poor man's church, as his own church being crowded with the rich, the poor were crowded out. When he announced his intention, Earl Brownlow gave the land, and a collection was made, the proceeds of which amounted to the large sum of £2,220, in the short space of a quarter of an hour. Money came from all parts, and £50,000 was subscribed in less than three months. I was engaged to carry a banner at the laying of the foundation stone; and when the ceremony was over there was a good dinner given to the poor, and I had the honour of singing at the feast.
My business increased so much every week that I soon began to employ workmen, and at one time had fifty ladies of title on my books; also lords, earls, dukes, and duchesses. The Countess of Cardigan was one of my best customers, and the Duchess of Argyle was another. My ambition at last got so high that I asked a Lady of honour to the Queen to try to get for me Her Majesty's patronage. In this I, however, failed, and was told that the Queen never changed her trades people. I, however, succeeded in getting the work of the Duke of Wellington's household, the University Club, Army and Navy Club, Civil Service Club, and many others. So I continued to go on prospering till the Poor Man's Church was finished. That was a great day, and the church was opened with much pomp and ceremony on St. Barnabas's Day, the 11th of June. It was named St. Barnabas's Church from that circumstance. On that day, for the first time in my life, I was arrayed in a surplice, and introduced to the singers as a member of the choir of St. Barnabas, Pimlico; and I now felt not a little proud of myself. Besides the church, they built a parsonage for the clergyman, and a schoolhouse to accommodate 1,000 children, with sleeping rooms for twenty singing boys, who were supported out of the foundation fund, and who, besides being educated, were fed and clothed like young gentlemen. The whole of the buildings cost no less than £100,000 when finished. I found out that to be a chorister was no easy billet, as I had to attend daily service at 6 a.m. on Holy Days; there were three services a day, with communion and sermons on Sundays—early communion at 7 a.m., prayers at 8 a.m. for the poor, and breakfast at 9 a.m. All the singers (men and boys) sang "Non nobis Domini" both before and after. At it again at 11 a.m., litany, anthem, and sermon; after which came post-communion; then home to dinner. After which I came back again at 3 p.m. to baptism, followed by afternoon service. After tea came evening prayer, at 7 p.m., with anthem and sermon. After these engagements, I and the rest would adjourn to the parsonage with the clergy, and have cake, or tea, or coffee, and then we would sing the "Benedictus," and, lastly, return home to bed.
This is the way I spent seven years of my life, most happy in my mind, and living in the fear of God, and endeavoring to bring up my family in the same happy way. But this happiness was doomed to have an untimely end. The newspapers declared war against Mr. Bennett, and accused him of preaching the doctrines of the Church of Rome, asserting that the service was more like an opera than the sacred worship of God. The Bishop sent for him, and accused him with unfaithfulness to the Church of England. The outside public were against Mr. Bennett, and riots frequently took place on Sundays. I was sworn in as a special constable to protect the church property, and I used to go into the choir with a policeman's staff under my surplice. Meetings were called by the parishioners, and votes of censure were passed against the Bishop. In this trouble the poor also had their say. I was elected chairman of the Poor Man's Committee, with power to raise subscriptions for Mr. Bennett. A meeting was called for the rich and poor of the parish, and I had to make a speech, in preparation of which I had sat up till two o'clock in the morning. When it was my turn to speak, however, I was so flurried that I could not make out my notes; and I resolved on speaking extemporaneously, and had the satisfaction of winning a hearty round of applause. My speech was published in the Daily Chronicle of February 8th, 1857. The unfortunate result of all this dissension was that the Rev. W. C. Bennett had to resign his living, and went on the continent for the benefit of his health, which was very much broken down by mental anxiety. His admirers in their sympathy presented him with a purse of £7,000, and I and thousands of others, lost a good friend. I left the church, and transferred my singing to Westminster Abbey, and also sang sometimes at St. Paul's Cathedral. These events made me very unhappy; and, through reading the newspapers, I became interested about Australia. Whilst thinking of emigration I fell ill with fever; but during my illness told my wife my thoughts on the subject. She stoutly refused to join me, and said, "Thomas, you may go; but I shall do nothing of the kind." After considering the advantages my children would have in a new country, I made up my mind to go. As a first step, I called on a nobleman whom I worked for, Sir Frederick Rogers, the Emigration Commissioner, and told him that I would like to go to Australia. "How many children have you?" asked Sir Frederick. "Six, Sir Frederick," I replied. "Then you can't go, as you have one child too many. If you only had five I would give you your passage at once." I thanked him, and returned home very downhearted and disappointed. When I got home, I told my wife the result, and she was as glad as I was sorry. Not long afterwards the new incumbent called on me, and offered an appointment as verger and chorister at St. Barnabas's, with a decent salary and perquisites; and I accepted the offer. I forthwith got measured for a black cassock and new surplice, and on the following Sunday I presented quite a grand appearance. But in spite of all this Australia kept running in my mind. Now, it happened that one of my children was taken ill, and I called in a doctor, who said the boy had water on the brain, and accordingly treated him for it. The child, however, got no better, and I got the services of a physician who said the boy had been wrongly treated, for, instead of water on the brain the boy had disease of the lungs. This doctor gave no hopes of his recovery, and the child died shortly afterwards. I grieved very much over the loss of my boy; but I was visited and condoled by many of my friends. The clergy were very kind to me in my trouble, and even allowed the chorister boys to go a distance of three miles to Brompton Cemetery to attend the funeral. It was very impressive to see them dressed in their surplices, and hear them sing psalms at the grave, and also a short anthem at the close of the service. All this was very consoling to me, as it showed how much I was respected, and how deeply and truly they all sympathised with me. But in spite of all their love I was not happy; Australia still ran in my head. Mr. Bennett returned to England improved in health, and was offered a living as vicar of Frome, not far from Bath. It was in the gift of the Marchioness of Bath and Wells, and was worth £700 a year, which Mr. Bennett accepted.
Things went on at St. Barnabas as before. Private confessions to the clergy, baptismal regeneration, penance, fasting, keeping Saint days, and the real Presence in the Sacrament was the style of the teaching which was held and believed in by the congregation. "What has all this to do with Cockney Tom?" some people may ask. At any rate I could descry enough to see that there was more behind the scenes between the Bishop and Mr. Bennett than I had brains to understand. I gave notice to leave the church. I called on Sir Frederick Rogers and told him that having lost one of my children I was then within the limit. He told me to make ready as soon as I could, and let him know, and he would get my order made out so as to sail by the next ship. I undertook no more work. I sold off my household goods, collected my debts, paid all I owed, and took lodgings in Salisbury Court, Fleet Street. I received orders to be ready to go on board at Southampton on a certain day. When my wife saw the order she nearly fainted, and had a sleepless night, but I comforted her all I could, and bought her a new silk dress. I was busy every day preparing for the voyage, and took leave of my brothers and sister Sarah, my original dry nurse. Many tears were wont to wet our cheeks as the subject of my departure was discussed. I resolved to visit Frome before I left England. Accordingly I called on one of the church wardens, a friend of mine, and told him I would like to see Mr. Bennett before I left. He said "I will go with you, I want a trip out of town," so we fixed the time to start, and brought a perfect model of St Barnabas Church, made by one of our members (a very clever architect). We paid him three pounds for it, and it was well worth ten. So off we started by the morning train for Frome, and arrived at five in the evening. The vicar received us with all love and kindness. We dined with him and his family, and after dinner the presentation took place. He was delighted. I was given over to the parish clerk to find my lodgings. This clerk, who was born and bred in Frome, and had been parish clerk for twenty years, was, as they would say in America, a most "curious cuss." Nothing would suit the clerk, but he must take me to his "pub," where the choristers and himself used to booze. The ale was very good, and in fact the town had quite got its name up for its ale. But sad to say the clerk got drunk, and in the exuberance of his feelings would sing, thinking no doubt that he would astonish me. This, however, he failed to do. After much persuasion they got me to sing on Sunday at the church. I rose early on Saturday and visited the old church (where good Bishop Kenn was buried), and also the market, and the river which runs through the town. After breakfast and morning prayer at the church I visited the schools, and the hospital for the aged poor. In the evening I went up to their service, which was read by my friend, the clerk; then to bed. Up early on Sunday morning, a long walk, back to refresh, and get ready for church. Sang Jackson's "Te Deum" and "Jubilate," and was complimented by Mr. Bennett and the choir; arranged for the start back the next morning. Breakfasted early, received from Mr B. a present of a book to remind me of my visit to Frome, and lastly received his prayer and benediction. I got back safely, and found my wife willing to share my fate and to emigrate to Australia. When every thing was ready I received a letter from the Countess of Cardigan, full of good wishes for me and my family, and a cheque for £5 which I did not refuse.
I and my family started from London to Southampton, where we arrived the same night, and stopped at the depot. Very little sleep. After breakfast took a walk over the old town of Southampton—nothing much to astonish a Londoner. Went on board to report myself and family to the doctor, and to learn when we were to be examined. On answering to my name on the roll being called, the doctor said humorously, "Are you the person whom Sir Frederick Rogers wrote to me about?" I replied that I certainly had the honour of knowing Sir Frederick, but I knew nothing about any letter. "I will not forget you," said he, very kindly. "Tomorrow you will be examined, and will sail on Sunday morning." Next day I passed the examination, and was sent on board. I and my family got our berths allotted and our luggage stowed away, then the bell rang for the muster, and as the names were called out they had to pass from one side of the ship to the other. When my name was called out by the doctor, he bid me come forward, and calling the attention of the passengers, said that he had the right to appoint all constables, for the proper carrying out of the ship's regulations, and the general good order of the passengers, and it was his pleasure to appoint the said Cockney Tom first constable of the vessel "William Stuart." We were all very jolly on board the ship on Saturday night, some singing, "I'm afloat, I'm afloat," others, "a life on the ocean wave, a home on the rolling deep." I felt rather dull. In the performance of my duty I had to walk the decks till all the single women were locked up for the night, and to protect them against all intruders, which I afterwards found to be so difficult a task, as to be almost more than I could manage. The tug came alongside next morning and took us on our way, not rejoicing, but feeling rather "dicky" as we got out to sea. Sea-sickness is a general complaint, and caused the passengers to turn up their noses even at the sight of a roast beef and plum pudding dinner. Singular to say, but nevertheless quite true, nobody found fault with the food for the first week, but after that, when the appetite returned, there was a great deal of grumbling at finding the supplies insufficient to satisfy their ravenous hunger although there were many on board who had never lived so well in their lives before. Some of them got as fat as pigs, others ate very little, on account of being almost always sick. I was one of the latter. A few days sailing brought the ship into the Bay of Biscay. It was a grand thing for bilious people, for it was as good as physic to most. At length we got out of the "troubled waters," and arrived at Madeira, and could see the land and houses looking very beautiful. The weather was fine, and dancing and concerts of an evening, and fishing in the day time, made all very comfortable. Crossed the line; weather very hot. Could not sleep below, so laid on deck, crowded together like sardines in a box. After being becalmed nearly a week we got a start with the trade winds, and bore away down south into the cold regions. Now I will tell you something that happened to my wife. It was then very stormy weather, and the sea ran mountains high, when she was confined and gave birth to a son, which they partially named after the ship, Stuart; the name of my brother Philip, being placed first. A great rejoicing took place on board, and all the sailors got extra grog. I was appointed nurse, and had no objection to the billet at night, except the difficulty of carrying in the dark the necessaries required in such cases. For instance, when the ship was rolling heavily my foot slipped and I fell down and nearly broke my arm, at which mishap the sailors indulged in a hearty laugh. One night when I was doing duty as nurse, a knock came to the hospital door. "Who's there," cried Tom. "It is Jones, Mr. Constable," said the visitor, "there is a smell of fire in the ship." I was out in a jiffy, and soon discovered that the second mate's cabin was on fire. We bust the door open, and there he was fast asleep, and part of his clothes burning. There was a cask of rum in his cabin and other spirits. We roused him out, got help, and soon put the fire out. Had the wind blown in the opposite direction the ship would have been burned to the water's edge, and every soul have gone to "Davy Jones' locker". How thankful I felt for this delivery of all from the very jaws or death. Soon after this I got into a little trouble. I had warned the sailors to keep away from the single women, and threatened to complain to the doctor. The sailors discussed the subject, and one of them was sent to inform me to look out, or I would never reach Adelaide alive, but would be sent to feed the fishes instead, which I did not believe in. The voyage, however, was nearly at an end, and I kept my eyes open; thought much, but said nothing, At length we anchored off the Semaphore after a voyage of seventy-eight days, ill nearly all the time. Next morning I went on shore, having arranged with my wife that I would go up to Adelaide in search of a house and work. In closing the first part of my narrative, I feel constrained to record my sense of the Providence of God that had preserved me amid so many vicissitudes and privations, and although it has been said it is good to bear the yoke in our youth, I cannot help thinking that had my earlier history been spent under the advantages of good education I might have developed a much better character and nobler career. The young, especially, should learn to value the privileges and seize the opportunities for good which in these days are so freely offered to them, but which were very sparingly bestowed in my time. I, however, do not repine, but refer the kind reader to the more hopeful passages, and altogether brighter aspects which marked my later history, and which will appear in the second and third parts of this autobiography.
I was rather surprised to find Adelaide such a miserable-looking place; but that was in 1853. It is very different now. I failed at first in getting work, and found that house rent was high and food dear. I thought I would dine at a pub, for there were no restaurants where one could get a good "feed" for one shilling in those days. I had to pay 2s. 6d. for my meal, which rather astonished my weak nerves. Almost in despair I took up the daily paper, and saw the following advertisement, 'Wanted: a conductor for the Star Concert Hall.' "I think I understand that business," said I to myself, so I called to see what it was like. The landlord told me I might come that night, and let him hear what sort of a singer I was. I next waited on the Dean, and presented a letter to him from the Bishop's brother in England to Bishop Short of Adelaide. The Dean read the letter and told me it was simply asking him to find employment for me, and that I might call on him again, as the Bishop had gone to England, and he would see what could be done for me and my family; but he never asked me to sit down, or whether I wanted any assistance, although he was told that I had a wife and six children on board the ship "William Stuart." I left the Dean with a broken spirit, for I had expected to have been received kindly by the clergy of the church that I had endeavored to serve with all sincerity in the old country. As night came on I found my way into a shoemaker's shop, and asking for employment I was told that there was scarcely any work to be done, as nearly all the men were at the diggings in Victoria, and that Adelaide was like a deserted village. The shoemaker kindly advanced me five shillings, and told me to repay it when I got work. I did so, and afterwards the same man became bankrupt, and was so reduced in circumstances that he had to go to the Destitute Asylum, where he died; but I never forgot the old shoemaker and his five shillings. My first song was sung at the Concert Hall. It was a long room, and would hold about 100 people. A big chair at the end for the conductor, who, with piano and violin players, made up the company of artists engaged; amateurs did the rest. When I entered the room I found it full of smoke, and lots of drink going on; and the landlord was acting as chairman. He possessed a fine baritone voice, and sang several of Russell's songs in good style; and, subsequently, played the flute and cornet with good taste, which told me that I had no bad judge to sing to. After a time the chairman rose and said, "Gentlemen, we have here to-night a gentleman from London, who will oblige us with a little harmony." Cries of "Bravo!" came from all sides of the room. I went up to the piano, and asked the player if he knew such airs; but to which he replied in broken English that he had never heard them. He was a German, and a very bad accompanist; so I sang without music one of my favorite songs, "Give me a Cot in the Valley I Love," and as I sang I thought of my dear wife on board, and broke down. I sat down and felt thoroughly ashamed of myself. I had nothing to drink, and altogether felt quite ill. Presently a gold digger came in and sat down by my side. "What are you drinking?" he asked. "I am not drinking at all," said I. "Then I'm going to shout," he replied. "Have a glass of hot brandy with me; it will set you all right." I consented, and the digger narrated some strange stories about the diggings. I was listening at the same time to some comic songs that seemed to please the company better than the sentimental ones. A very good violinist then showed up, and I called to him to have a chat with me. I told him that I was also a professional, and asked him to accompany me in a comic song, "With pleasure," said he. "Do you know the first figure in the Irish Quadrilles?" "Yes," said he. "Can you play in the key of D?" "Yes," said he. "All right." I replied, and began to feel quite a new man. The brandy began to operate, and when I felt its stimulating effects, I rose to my feet. The chairman called to order, and I said, "Mr. Conductor and gentlemen—I find that I made a great mistake in my first effort, and if you will give me another trial I will endeavor to make amends, and will sing you a song of my own composing." "All attention!" said the conductor. The fiddler and the pianist played an introduction, and I commenced to sing, and the company began to laugh. Every one was delighted, and I had to sing it over three times. The landlord then sent for me and said. "What will you take to drink? Come and take the chair, and consider yourself engaged. You shall stay here to-night, and breakfast with me in the morning, and then we will settle about salary and other matters." I went to bed that night in better spirits than I had expected, and the next morning, being Sunday, I prepared for church, to return thanks to my maker for my safe voyage. I had dinner with my new master, and agreed to sing every night, Sundays excepted, for three months at one pound ten shillings per week, with board and lodging. I signed an agreement to that effect, and was sorry afterwards that I had done so. The next day I went to the Port to see if the ship was in, and was informed that she would not be in for some time, on account of low tide. I was very much disappointed at this, especially as it cost me twenty shillings to be taken from the shore to the ship and back again, which I could ill afford. I returned to town, and wrote a letter to my wife, telling her all the news, and promising to be at the Port when the ship came into harbor. After this I took my nightly seat as conductor, and the place was always crowded. I now began to feel myself at home again, and I made all sorts of acquaintances, some of whom I did not care for, I was next offered an engagement at a concert room, at a salary of £1 per night, which, owing to my engagement, I was obliged to refuse.
I next took a house, not far from the hall, at a rent of 25s. per week, so as to have a home to take my wife and children to when they got on shore. I bought some furniture, a load of wood, and such other things that were necessary for a commencement new home. The days seemed like months to me till the ship was in Port. The next day I was up early and, being anxious, went down to the Port in the first cart, for there were no railways in those days, nor was it anything unusual for the Port cart to be upset, and for all the passengers to be pitched out on the road, and in those primitive days colonists thought very little of such adventures, which only served to produce a little excitement and interest in the otherwise monotonous round of their everyday life. The vessel got into port in the afternoon, and I went on board and bid the captain and doctor good-bye; took my wife, children, and luggage on shore, engaged a drayman, loaded up the dray, placed my wife and children on top, and started for town, which we reached at dark. There was then no gas, only dismal oil lamps, and everything looked wretched at night. I took them home, and left my wife crying when I had to go to my engagement, but promised to be home as soon as possible, and did so. Got up the next morning and chopped wood; a job I was not good at, and went to market, and found everything very dear. After a time I got a little work to do mending old boots; a thing I had not done for years. My wife did her best to get on; she took a family's washing, and we used to fetch it four miles and a half, and take it home again when it was done. So time went on. The wife, however, did not like the neighbourhood we lived in, so to please her I took a house in North Adelaide with a shop front, and worked in the shop as I called it; but had no stock except my wife and children, shoemaker's tools, and some leather I had brought with me. It so happened one day while I was at work that two men passing stopped, and looked in, "How do you do, shopmate?" said one of them, whom we will call Mr. Sweetwilliam; a gentleman from whom, in after days, I received many favors, which I take this opportunity of acknowledging, and bearing testimony to his kindliness of heart and superiority of intellect. His claim to mental ability, however, does not require any confirmation of mine, as he has, unaided, by his own talents, worked himself up commercially to one of the leading positions of our city; and, politically, to the high honour of being a Minister of the Crown. As a public speaker, few can surpass him, and in kindly sympathy he has few equals in Adelaide. The profits of his great literary success, "Lights and Shadows of London Life," have been entirely devoted to charitable purposes, and the widow and orphan have had good cause to bless this exercise of his mental activity; also his exertions in aid of the Blind, Deaf, and Dumb Institution, at Brighton, and many other charitable institutions, bear better proof than anything I can say to his benevolent disposition. Last, but not least, the assistance he kindly lent me in establishing the Turkish Baths in Adelaide—an undoubted blessing to our citizens, as supplying a necessity and a luxury for their use—which I now gratefully acknowledge. The other was a Mr. Johns. "How long have you been out?" said Mr. Johns. "Nearly two months," said I. "How do you like the climate?" said Mr. Sweetwilliam. "Rather hot, at times," said I. "We have only been out a week," said he. "We live at the corner up the street. You come from London, I'll swear." "I came from Bermondsey," said Mr. Johns. "Call in and see us when you are passing. We brought out a stock of boots and shoes, perhaps we may be able to do some business together," said they. I agreed to do so when passing. "Where do you go in the evening?" asked they. "I sing at the Star Hall," said I, "I am a professional singer, you must know." "We will come and hear you," said they, "we like a good song." "All right! Good morning!" I called accordingly, and had a look over the stock. They advised me to take a shop and put up my name as shoemaker, from London. "Can't we do some business together?" said Mr. Johns, "I'll give you credit if you have no money." "I'll think over it," said I. They attended the concert and were very much pleased at my singing. Mr. Sweetwilliam sang several very funny comic songs. Mr. Johns made himself quite at home, and told me that he would call in next morning. I consulted my wife about getting into debt. She wisely suggested to take fifty pounds worth on sale or return, and I did so. Mr Johns stipulated that I was to settle up once a month. I selected my stock, made a show of goods, and sold two pairs the first day, and felt that I had struck a lode, as the diggers would say. All went on smoothly enough for some time. I increased my stock till it amounted to two hundred pounds, and kept up my payments too. Everybody had confidence in me. My engagement was then up, and the landlord wanted me to renew it, but I said "No, I have been offered a pound a night to sing, and it won't pay me to do it for two pounds a week." "I'll give you more," said he, but I declined, having something else in my head, and that was to try my luck at gold-digging on the Melbourne side. I consulted my wife about it. "Go by all means, Thomas," said she, "If you think you will be lucky." This being settled, before starting I called on my friends, including Mr. Sweetwilliam and Mr. Johns, who gave me advice as to what I should do when I got there: which advice turned out to be all bunkum, for they had not been there themselves, and, as a matter of course, they knew nothing about it. I had two neighbours who had also the gold fever. They had a little money, and asked me to make one of their party. Seeing no objection to this, I agreed to take them as mates, and accordingly we all got ready, went to the Port, and took our berths on board the steamboat "Havilah," bound for Melbourne. The passage money then for the steerage was seven pounds each; now you can go for two. My eldest son, Jack, and many friends, so-called, that could drink nobblers at my expense, went down to the Port to see us off. The captain was a friend of mine, and had been the chief mate of the "William Stuart" that brought me out from England, so we wanted for nothing during the trip round, which was a very pleasant one. We arrived safely in Melbourne on a Saturday night at dark. There was a great rush to the wharf by the sailors, as they wanted to get rid of their cargo, and I nearly lost the best of my things by a mistake. We first went down Collins-street, and saw the City Coffee House, with board and lodgings for travellers. We went in and took tea at one shilling and sixpence each, made arrangements to lodge there, put our things away, and then took a stroll about Melbourne and found the buildings there were superior to those in Adelaide. Got home early and went to bed, but not to sleep, the mosquitoes were too numerous, for there could not (as some lodger remarked) have been a single one in the house; they must have been all married and with large families. Up early next morning and took a walk to the Chinamen's camping grounds, and tried in vain to converse with them. Returned to our cafe, had breakfast, went to church, but did not think much of the singing there. In the afternoon took a long walk, returned, had tea, and then to bed early, thinking to have a good night's rest, but I suppose we must have been very wicked, as there was no rest for us that night. The mosquitoes mustered in full force and laid siege to our faces, so that in the morning we hardly knew each other. So much for the City Coffee House. Got up and went in search of fresh lodgings, and got them in Little Bourke-street. Found a singing room, and got an engagement to sing two or three songs a night at a salary of two pound a week, from seven till nine o'clock. There was dancing afterwards till two and three o'clock in the morning, but I had nothing to do with that part of the business. I got work as a shopman in a large boot and shoe warehouse at a salary of four pounds per week, and might have saved money in Melbourne, but I was determined to go further and try my luck at the diggings. I had a letter of introduction to a very respectable man and his family in Melbourne, from a dear friend of theirs in Adelaide. They received me as if I had been a brother, invited me to supper, and asked me to bring my mates also, as they intended to give a party. I accepted the invitation, and made myself up for the occasion, and introduced my friend, Jim the Fiddler, as I will call him in the future; he was a good player. There was a good supper provided. After supper a little music was proposed, and everybody said, "Hear! hear!" Fiddler Jim played Scotch tunes with variations, which gave immense pleasure. After that nothing would do but that I must sing, with violin accompaniment, the following song that had gained me much applause in London:—
I miss thee, my mother, thine image is still The deepest impressed on my heart; Thy tablet so faithful, I in death must be chilled, 'Ere a line of that vision depart. Thou wert torn from my side when I treasured thee most, When my reason could measure thy worth, And I know but too well that the idol I lost Could ne'er be replaced upon earth.
A Yankee gentleman present began to cry. He had left home when a boy, and had not heard from his mother since. I also sang some comic songs, which, by the aid of a little grog, made them all merry. My new friends were very strict Roman Catholics, and they persuaded me to attend the Cathedral with them to hear the grand music and their imposing ceremonies, which at once put me in mind of St. Barnabas's. They afterwards introduced me to their priest, who was greatly affected with my account of St. Barnabas's, and remarked that I was as good a Catholic as himself. After a short time they persuaded me to be conditionally received into their Church. My kind friends put themselves about to witness the ceremony, and wanted me to stop in Melbourne, and not to go to the diggings at all, and offered to lend me £300 to go into business with, to be paid back by instalments with small interest. This I declined with thanks, and made up my mind to go in search of the precious metal.
So I and my mates gave notice to leave to our employers the following week. Fiddler Jim was a painter, and George was a plumber and gas-fitter, and henceforth he will be called "Plumber George." Before starting from Melbourne for Forest Creek diggings, we went into committee to see what money we had After fitting ourselves out as diggers, with blue guernseys, knee-boots, pistols, tin pannikins, &c., we started on our journey, walked a few miles out of Melbourne, and got hungry. We stopped and took breakfast, paying for it three shillings each, and believing that a nobbler would not hurt us, we called for three, for which we paid very reluctantly one shilling each. We called a council of ways and means, for it was plain at that rate of charges we should not have sufficient money to take us half-way to Forest Creek. It was agreed, therefore, to reduce ourselves down to two meals per day, instead of three; two drinks, ditto, instead of three; and push on as fast as we could. We reached Keilor Plains, a wild-looking country; not a tree to be seen, while the sun was so hot that it burnt the skin off our faces. It was getting dark when we arrived at the township of Keilor, which consisted in the year 1854 of two stores, butcher's shop, and restaurant, where we put up for the night. It was dreadful what we had to pass through that night, for it rained so hard that it came in and ran down our mattresses, which were on the ground. I got such a cold that I thought I had quite lost my voice. My mates were also very ill. We started early for the next town, Gisborne, at the foot of Mount Macedon, near the entrance to the Black Forest, and arrived there about dinner time very hungry, but afraid to have anything, as our funds were getting very low. We sat in committee outside the Forest Inn. Fiddler Jim said he wished that we were back in Adelaide. "So do I," said Plumber George. "I'll see what the diggings are like first," said I. "How are we to get there?" asked they. "Fear not, but trust in Providence," I replied; and just at that the moment a gentleman rode up on horseback. I went up to him, and said, "shall I hold your horse, sir?" "My good man," he said, "it is the first time that I have been asked such a question since I have been in Victoria." "The fact is, sir," said I, "my mates and I are rather hard up, and are on our way to the diggings, and have but very little money." He dismounted, and handed me the reins. "I will not be long," said he; and he was not many minutes settling his business, and then he came to me and slipped five shillings into my hand. I thanked the gentleman, and ran to my mates.
Fiddler Jim said he would starve before he would do such a thing; Plumber George thought different. "Well, we will have a drink out of the five shillings," said I. "Most, willingly," said Fiddler Jim; for he was not too proud for that. We entered the inn, and called for beer. The landlord was playing an accordion. "Are you fond of music?" said I. "Very much," replied the landlord. "We can give you a treat in that line if you have a large room," said I, "for one of my mates is a first-class violinist from Julien's Band, London, and I, myself, am a London concert-singer, comic and sentimental." "Well," said he, "It would not pay me to engage you. There are so few people living about here." "Well," said I, "If you will give us our board and lodging for two days we will not charge you anything further." "Have you got any bills printed?" he asked. "No," I replied; "but we will write free orders, and take them round to the stores and tents, and when we get the people here, we will make it pay you and ourselves too." "All right," said he; "I'll light the room by eight o'clock; and now what will you take to drink?" and we tried three nobblers of brandy. "Now boys to work," said I. "Get out writing paper and write out one hundred orders to 'Admit bearer. Notice to the inhabitants of Gisborne! At the Forest Inn a grand concert will take place this evening! Admittance free. Cockney Tom, manager.'"
These we distributed ourselves at every tent within two miles round. Our programme was a very simple one, and our stage was made of brandy cases, with carpet over them. There was a chair for Jim the Fiddler, and one for me, and Plumber George had to keep order as conductor. I commenced with a sentimental song, which was followed by a violin solo. Then came the landlord on the concertina; after which I sang "Billy Nutts, the Poet," and had to repeat it; then came a selection of Scotch airs, by Fiddler Jim, which was encored; and that ended the first part. Refreshments all followed, for the benefit of the landlord. Part of the second, a comic song, in caricature, by myself, entitled "Timothy Black," proved quite a sensation. Sang two more songs, then announced that after an interval of ten minutes the dancing would commence. The company began to get so numerous that we wondered where all the people came from in that lonely part of the world. I spoke to the landlord about passing round the plate. He entered into the idea with pleasure, going round with it himself, and collected over four pounds, and was requested to have the entertainment repeated the next night, which was agreed to; and we went to bed very tired. Next day I found a spring of beautiful water, had a bathe, and returned to dinner. After a rest, we had a look around the place, and saw in the afternoon what we had never seen before. A young man had been to Melbourne and was returning to the diggings with a bullock-dray loaded with provisions. He stopped at the Forest Inn, and you may easily imagine he was drunk, for he began to boast of the amount of money he was making.
The landlord told him, as he had so much money, he had better shout £10 worth of champagne. "All right," said he. "Where is the money?" asked the publican. "You think I haven't got it," said he. "I will show you." And then down went a £10-note, which the landlord put in his pocket. Up came ten bottles of fiz. Everybody drank some; the bullock-driver got beastly drunk, and the landlord took him by the nape of his neck and kicked him into the road. Next morning I fancied I heard him sing the following lines:—
"It was the cussed liquor that fired up my soul, And caused me from my duty to depart; So onward now my journey I'll pursue— But, golly! how my head begins to smart!— So, 'gee up Strawberry!'"
The second night the room was crowded. The same programme was gone through as on the previous occasion, and nearly everybody got the worse for drink. They were very generous, however, and the subscription amounted to £11, and we all had a good "booze" at the close. The following morning, after breakfast, we prepared to start for the next township, Kyneton, about 20 miles distant. The road lay through the Black Forest. How it got the name of Black Forest was on account of the many black deeds that had been done in it. Numerous murders were committed, travellers were plundered, and the gold escort stuck up. It was twelve miles through, and had only one inn and a store passing the distance. There is another reason why it is called Black Forest, viz., that there was a Black Thursday in those days, which is recorded in the "History of Victoria" as the hottest day ever known there. On that day the forest took fire, and burnt for weeks, being one great fire furnace for many miles, and when it died out every tree was as black as charcoal. From that day to the present it has been called the Black Forest.
We left Gisborne, with our treasury much increased, and we felt grateful thereat. Walked on about five miles into the forest, when we saw a house in the distance, which turned out to be a public house; and, as it was very hot travelling, Fiddler Jim proposed to have a drink. "If you like," said Plumber George. "I don't care about it," said I; "so I'll stay outside and mind the swags." I saw a flower-garden close by the house, and being fond of flowers, I thought I would have a look at them, and did so; but was surprised to see a blackboard there, on which was written— "Here lies the body of William Brown, who was murdered by his mate whilst coming down from the diggings. He afterwards confessed, and was hung in Melbourne in 1842." I wanted a nobbler after reading that inscription, and had one. On calling my mates' attention to the board, it made them shudder. Further on we met the gold escort, consisting of about thirty horsemen with drawn swords, carbines, and pistols, coming from the diggings. Some were guarding each side of the gold carts, and others acting as scouts, riding through the bush near the road. They all wore red jumpers and helmets, The next thing that we noticed was a poor bullock, knocked on the head, merely because he was worn out. We got through the forest at last, and it seemed a long twelve miles. It was then getting late, so we pushed on as well as we could, but we couldn't walk fast, as our swags were too heavy, and Fiddler Jim began to complain that he could not go much further. As darkness came on we lost our way, but found it again and arrived in Kyneton about 9 o'clock at night, completely knocked up.
Got up late the next morning, and took a walk through Kyneton, which was the best-looking town we had seen out of Melbourne. There were three good hotels, several stores, drapers, watchmaker, tailors, shoemakers, and butchers, and bakers. Lots of diggers were returning who had made their pile, and others going to try to make theirs; of course we were amongst the latter. After sundry refreshments we went into committee to consider what was to be done next. We all agreed that a day's spell would do us a deal of good, and that we should be all the better prepared for gold-digging afterwards. We were then only twelve or fourteen miles from Forest Creek, and I proposed looking for fresh lodgings, as the house we were staying at was anything but respectable. This was agreed to, and we searched and were successful in finding good beds, food and liquors, and plenty of company.
"This will do," said I; "we must make some money here." "How?" said Fiddler Jim. "The same as at the Forest Inn," replied I. "At any rate we can but try," said Plumber George; "I am good to keep the door and repair their beer engine, if through being overworked it should happen to get out of order." "Well, I'll see what's best to be done," said I; "in the meantime you have a rest till I come back." I went into the kitchen and saw the girls. "I beg your pardon," said I to one of them; "but will you inform me if you have a room large enough for a dance." "Oh! yes; we use the lodge room when we have a ball, and Mrs. Halliday is very fond of a dance; she will be so pleased, so by all means go and see her at once, and let us know when it is to take place. Plenty of people will be glad to come I am sure," said the girl, and so off I went to see Mrs. Halliday. "Are you musicians?" asked she. "My mate plays and I am a London concert singer, will you give us an engagement?" said I. "'No,'" said she, "I will not do that, but you can have the use of our club room for nothing, and you can charge what you like for admission." I told her that at the Forest Inn the landlord found us in board and lodging. "Very well, then," said she, "I will do the same. When do you propose to commence?" "To-night," said I. "Then," said she, "I'll tell the ostler to light up the room and get your stage ready."
I had a nobbler and returned to my mates and found them asleep. "Wake up," said I, "there's business to be done." "What's up?" said Fiddler Jim. "Anything fresh?" asked Plumber George. "Yes," said I, telling them all about my arrangements. "What's to be done first?" said I, "we must get a large piece of cardboard and write on it in large letters, 'A grand ball and concert will take place here to-night. Admission 2s.; to commence at 8 sharp. Cockney Tom, anager.'" The remainder of the day was spent going about informing the inhabitants what a treat was in store for them.
You must know that Fiddler Jim and myself had brought with us an old dress coat each, and black trousers and white waistcoat, all the worse for wear. These, and my coats and other rags for caricature business, and the fiddle, comprised our professional stock-in-trade. Eight o'clock came and the folks began to muster. Plumber George was at the door taking the two shillings, which I thought was little less than a robbery, but I had agreed to do it. They commenced the same programme as at the Forest Inn, and all went off well. The interval as before, and drinks all round.
Everybody was eager for the dance; off they went. Mrs. Halliday came in; she was a Scotch lassie, and couldn't keep her feet quiet while the "Reel of Tullegoram" was being played; she rushed into the room and began to twist and twirl about like an eel till she nearly fainted. They kept it up late, and we promised to repeat the entertainment the next night with a slight change in the programme. We thanked the company, and retired to our room, counted the cash, and found we had taken eight pounds. "It's not bad," said Fiddler Jim. "Let's have another nobbler before we go to bed," said Plumber George. "All right," rejoined I. The next day we took a long walk; and found good farming country around Kyneton. Home to dinner, everything going right. Rested in the afternoon, and then got ready for concert and ball No. 2. The place was not rushed the second night, but we nevertheless added four pounds more to our treasury.
After a good night's rest we got up and prepared to start, and bid goodbye to the landlady, the servants, and the town of Kyneton. We had about twelve or fourteen miles to walk to the great forest diggings that had given me the fever in London. We stopped at Sawpit Gully and had a rest and beer, six miles more and then we saw what is not easily forgotten. We arrived safely at the creek, and were astonished to see the number of tents, the thousands at work, men, women, girls, and boys of all ages, and the deep holes nearly frightened me. When the diggers saw us they they began to shout, "Joe! Joe!" which was responded to all round the diggings. It was a saying or cry they had. When the police went round to examine their licences, I and my party walked on, taking observations, when all at once some one called out, "Is that you, Plumber George?" "Yes," said he, "all that remains of me since I left London." "What do you think of the diggings?" said Mr. Postman. We had better call him by that name, for after he left the diggings he came back to Adelaide and got an appointment as mail guard, which he held for twenty years. He is alive now and has retired, or is about to retire from the service an independent man. Once he was a poor tailor in London. "How long have you been here?" said Postman. "Just arrived," said we. "Have you had any dinner?" "What did you say?" "Have you had any dinner?" "No," said I, "we have only just arrived. "You shall dine with me in my tent, and I'll give you a shakedown to-night," said he. "Thanks," said I. "My mates," said Postman, "are out prospecting, and I don't, expect them back for a day or two. In the meantime I will tell you a thing or two about the goldfields. Come with me to my butcher's." The butcher's shop was a tent, with two or three sheep hanging up, also some sausages. "A quarter of mutton," said Postman. "All right," said butcher, "we expect to have half of a bullock next week." "These are some friends of mine from Adelaide; you may safely trust them if they get hard up," said Postman. "They can have what they like on your recommendation." We arrived at his tent, and soon made a fire. "How are you going to cook?" asked Fiddler Jim. "You shall soon see", said Postman. Whereupon he got a tin bucket, washed it out, put water in, slung it over the fire, cut off the leg of mutton, and in that went, after that flour was made into hard dumplings, potatoes, onions, and oatmeal all went in the same bucket that was used for getting out the gold dirt from the holes. Then Mr. Postman proposed that we should go with him to Johnny Allsort's store and get some beer, while the dinner was cooking, to which we all agreed. Mr. Postman gave us a hint that we had better look out for the holes, or we might find ourselves in a bath.
As we walked along, Mr. Postman endeavored to enlighten us by explaining the names, &c., of the various claims within view. Where we then were was called Pennyweight Flat. "On our right is Moonlight Flat; then over there is Long Gully; that hill on the left is called Adelaide Hill; and the next is Friar's Creek; then further on is Campbell's Creek; and then comes Murder Creek, which takes you on to Tarrangower." We arrived at Johnny Allsorts, and had two bottles of beer, for which we paid 8s. We were introduced to Johnny as new arrivals. He had made his fortune by selling to new chums such articles as tents, cradles, buckets, tubs, and frying-pans; in fact he could supply anything except gold dust, which he bought, or exchanged for tea, sugar, or grog. We arranged to call next morning and do business with him. Got back safely, and enjoyed our dinner, after which we had a long yarn about digging, followed by a song.
Some neighbours came in, and Jim turned out his fiddle, and played a bit, after which we had some grog, fired off our pistols, reloaded them, made up the fire, and then turned into our blankets, with our firearms under our pillows. I slept well till daylight, when I got up and made a fire, put on the billy, and had breakfast. We then gave Johnny Allsorts another call, all of us going together. Mr. Postman accompanied us to see that we were not imposed upon. Johnny greeted us with, "How are you this morning? Will you take a nobbler?" "After business," said I. "Good," said Mr. Postman. "Now, then," said Allsorts, "what is the first thing?" "A good, warm tent," said Fiddler Tim. "I can accommodate you to a T. I have one not far off that I bought off three diggers who went to the new rush. Come with me and you shall see it, and then judge for yourself." We all went to look at it, and found it to be a good second-hand tent. "It's dirt cheap at £5," said Johnny Allsorts. "Too much," said Mr. Postman. "If it was offered to you to-morrow you would not give any more than £2 for it." "Well, we will not quarrel about a pound," said he. "It is yours for four." "All right," said the lot of us. Mr. Postman selected what we should want to begin with, such as a cradle, buckets, rope picks, shovels, dishes, a camp-oven, flour, potatoes, onions, matches, &c. When the account was made up we had not enough to pay it; so Johnny said, "Never mind the balance now. If you are lucky, come and pay; and, in the meantime, give me your names for the account, so that if you have to leave I may have a claim on the tent." We consulted together, and agreed to his terms. We then had nobblers all round, took possession of our goods, and moved into our new tent. We arranged that Plumber George was to be cook for the first week, and the first thing that he had to do was to chop a tree down, but Fiddler Jim, however, had to help him. I went off to the butcher's shop, and got credit for a quarter of mutton; and when I got back they had lighted a fire, so I fried some mutton, boiled some potatoes, and had dinner; after which we went into committee.
"What's the first thing to be done?" asked George. "We must take out our licence before we begin to dig," said Jim. "Ah!" said I; "I forgot that! We shall have to pay three pounds for it." "And I should like to know where the money is to came from," said Fiddler Jim. "I'll try my friend, Mr. Postman," said George. He did so, and got it. We then took a walk to the Commissioner's tent, and got our licences, after which we had a good look over the township, which was called Castlemaine, and is so called to this day. Its original name, however, was Mount Alexander. We returned, and marked out our claim near a spot where we were told lots of gold had been found. As it rained heavily, we agreed not to start work until the next day, so we returned to our tent and wrote letters, informing the folks at home of our safe arrival. Got to work next day, and took it in turns, one to use the pick, and the other the shovel. We got down about four feet the first day, and were very tired. Our hands, not being used to pick and shovel work, were very sore. The next day we expected to bottom the hole. The diggers told us that we should strike the pipe-clay at about seven feet. The deeper we went, the labor of getting the stuff to the surface was increased, as every bit had to be drawn up in buckets.
The third day we got to the pipe-clay, under which was found a small deposit of gravel. We hauled it up very carefully for fear of losing any, and we put it through the cradle, as we had seen the others do, after which we washed it in a tin dish, and then at the bottom of it we found some very fine specks of gold, about two pennyweights, valued at about seven shillings, and this was the glorious result of three days at the diggings—a splendid sum to divide among three men. It is needless to say that we were disheartened, and Jim the Fiddler was affected almost to tears. As it was a moonlight night, I suggested a walk into town, and we went; and it was not altogether unprofitable, for I fell in with a man of the name of Ashton, whom I had known in Adelaide, where he had been Crown Lands Ranger. His father was proprietor of a large establishment known as "Ashton's Hotel," and he had many acquaintances, but I only had the pleasure of his son's friendship. "Ah! my boy," said he, "how do you get on? Come to try your luck?" "Yes," said Jim, "but it has only been bad luck as yet." "You must not despair." said Ashton. "Come and take a nobbler with me." Not one of us refused, we all went to the Albert Hotel, and had two nobblers each. The landlord could see that we were new chums, as he had come from London himself, so he told us, and had made money by digging, and had invested it in the Albert Hotel. "What trade are you?" he asked. "My mates are both tradesmen—one is a plumber, and the other is a painter," I replied. "And what are you?" said he. "Why, I am a professional singer from London." "You'd do well, if you had some music with you," said he. "Why, one of my mates is a first-class fiddler," said I. "Humph!" said he; "come down to-night, and we will see what we can do for you; at any rate, I will give you something to start with." We bade our friend good-bye, and promised him that if we made a change we would go to his place at Tarrangower.
We returned to our tent and had tea. Then we took the fiddle and went to our first engagement on Forest Creek, for which we received about seventeen shillings and a bottle of brandy. We were to play and sing every night there, unless we had other engagements. We were next told that we should do much better if we worked in the creek, as many were doing very well there, so we gave that a trial, and found it much easier, and much more profitable than sinking holes. We got several nice nuggets of gold there; and what with gold-digging, fiddling, and singing, we soon paid Johnny Allsorts and Mr. Postman what we owed them; and more than that, for we soon got our names up as Jim the Fiddler and Tom the Singer; and were engaged to play at a grand cricketing dinner, to celebrate a match between eleven Castlemaine players and eleven from Bendigo. There I sang the Gold Digger's Song, the chorus of which was as follows:—
"Merely ply the pick and spade, And rock the cradle fast; Here we pursue no idle trade, For we may be rich at last."
which was greatly appreciated much to the satisfaction of myself and Fiddler Jim. We stopped there that night, but there was no sleep as they all got drunk. Champagne was the order, not of the day, but of the night, and a general scrimmage with pillows and bolsters flying about, and such like, was carried on till daylight in the morning.
Things went on with us pretty well for several weeks. Our gold-digging averaged about half an ounce per day, which was not so bad had it lasted; but bad weather set in and, a lot of rain falling, the creek was flooded, so we had to work up to our hips in water, and Plumber George was soon taken bad and could not work. When the mail came in, I and Jim went to the Post Office to see if there were any letters for us. After waiting about two hours we got our letters; one for George, one for Jim, one for Mr. Postman, and one for me also. We returned to our tent and then went over to Mr. Postman, who read his letter to us, which was to the effect that his only child was dying, and that if he wanted to see it before it died he must return at once. He was not long in making up his mind. "I'm off," said he "to Adelaide to-morrow morning, and leave everything to my mates to settle. I have made a little gold, and if all goes well I'll come back and make some more."
When we told George the Plumber that Mr. Postman was off to Adelaide, he said "I'll be off with him, for I am sick of gold-digging; this kind of life may suit you who can make money by singing and playing, but it don't suit me at all, and another thing, I want to get home to my wife, as I am quite sure this life don't agree with me." We gave him a fair share of what we possessed, and the next morning saw Mr Postman and Plumber George off to Adelaide. Of course we gave them several commissions, which they faithfully executed. We only remained a short time on Forest Creek after our mates had gone. Truly we lived a fiddling kind of life for the violin and singing was now our principal support, and strange were the scenes we were obliged to witness. One night after playing and singing at the Albert Hotel, we were just about to leave when we saw one of the "traps" as they were called on the diggings, and which means no more nor less than "policeman in plain clothes." I saw that he had his eyes on someone, so we thought we would watch and see what was up, and we had not long to wait. A poor drunken digger, who had been shouting to everybody, came out of the Albert Hotel and, strange to say, the very man who ought to have taken him in charge for being drunk, and have protected him from robbery, knocked him down with his staff, knelt on him, and robbed him of all he possessed, and then left him on the ground to die if he liked, and, what is worse to relate, it was more than your life was worth to utter a word against this shameful proceeding. Such was the state of society in those days on the goldfields.
Not far from us there lived two men given out to be diggers. We thought that they were, but we soon found out our mistake. They wormed themselves into our company at every opportunity, and were uncommonly civil. I could see that these men were no good, and found out that they got their living by sly-grog selling, cheating at cards, or any other little game. As we could not get rid of them, our only course was to leave Forest Creek as quietly as possible. We did so, and meeting with some new chums who had come to try their fortune, we sold them our tent, furniture, and stock-in-trade at a loss; but which was better after all than selling them to Johnny Allsorts, and off we started next morning for Tarrangower, a distance of only fifteen miles. We had to go through Campbell's and Fryar's Creeks, Deadman's Gully, Murder Flat, and at all these places the gold fever was raging. We passed through without much chaff; now and then, "There goes Fiddler Jim and Singing Tom" would be called after us from the creek, but we took no heed and went on our way as fast as we could.
After walking about ten miles we came to a small township called Mucklesford which lay in a beautiful valley, and reminded me of my song, "Give me a cot in the valley I love." The cottages were all built of wood, with neat little gardens around them, and a creek of beautiful water ran through the township, which contained two stores, one public house, and smith's and shoemaker's shops. I had a chat with the disciple of St. Crispian, and found him to be an old hand from the other side. We enquired how they got their living, and he informed us that most of them grew vegetables, and supplied the diggers. We asked him to have a drink with us which he did not refuse; when to our surprise the two men we were in dread of confronted and upbraided us for not telling them that we were going to Tarrangower. They knew where the new rush was, and would like to chum in with us, they said. We told them that we had a friend there where we intended to stay; but they would not be put off, and determined to keep us company, to protect us in case of our meeting bushrangers. They asked us many questions such as "You must have made a lot of money at the Creek with your playing and singing." I told them we had made very little indeed, and what we had got we had sent home to our wives in Adelaide. We were very civil to these strangers for it was no use being otherwise, as they were well armed and not particular.
After a long walk we arrived at Tarrangower at dark, completely knocked up. Fiddler Jim said he had never walked such a long fifteen miles in his life; it seemed to him more like thirty. I soon found out my friend Ashton, who was glad to see us. We shouted to the men who had kept us company, and bade them good night. "All right," said they, "we will see you in the morning." I told Ashton about these men. "Oh! I know them," said he, "they are the biggest rogues and thieves on the diggings, and one has been tried for murder; keep out of their company." We thanked Ashton for his advice. As he could not furnish us with lodgings, he took us to a friend who kept a large saloon. He undertook to give us a shakedown for three shillings each. About thirty of us slept in one large tent on boards, with just a mattress laid on them, every man finding his own blankets.
We slept pretty well, and got up early, took a walk round the township, which was called Maulden, on account of a man of that name owning a lot of land in that district. It had formerly been known as Bryant's Ranges. This Bryant was a sheep farmer, and had made a large fortune when the diggings were first started by supplying the diggers with mutton. We had breakfast and called on Ashton, who said, "I am glad you have turned up, as I have got you an engagement with my neighbour that keeps the National Hall, he wants someone that is likely to draw well, so I will go and introduce you to him; he is a black man, but not a bad sort." We found his words true. Jim requested me to make the engagements, as I was a better general at that sort of thing than he was himself, so to oblige him I engaged myself and Fiddler Jim to a black man for three months, at a salary of three pounds per week each, and what money we could collect, with board and lodging, and with the full right to dig in the day time. The agreement being duly signed and witnessed, we cracked a bottle of wine over it—which, by the way, was not very good.
Our first night was not such a great success as we had anticipated it to be. We got our bills out; but the people did not show up at first, which was to be accounted for by the fact that a week before we arrived there had been a company of minstrels known as Rainer's New York Niggers playing there, who had done well, and then gone on to Bendigo. We had a miserable attendance to begin with, but as the evening advanced the company increased, and at the end of the first part I made a speech to the effect that there would be a change of programme every evening, and dancing would commence at nine o'clock and close at eleven; also that there was to be no charge for admission, but that they were to give what they liked to the "musicians. Now," said I, "take your places for the first dance." "Let's have a Scotch reel," said one digger. "Good," said another; and off they started. Presently more company arrived, and in came Ashton and his friends, and they all began to dance. Fiddler Jim kept them close at it. Ashton went round with his hat and collected three pounds the first time; he repeated it again and got nearly as much more. At the finish we all went to Ashton's tent and every one of us got more or less the worse for drink. We found out afterwards that Ashton and our master, the black man, were working together in more ways than one.
Next day we had a look round the diggings, and it was a grand sight to see so many hills and gullies covered with tents of all sorts, and occupied by people of all nations. We now purchased a new set of digger's tools, hearing that a new rush had taken place at Long Gully, a place about two miles from Maryborough. We did a fair business at the hall on our second night, for the ladies put in an appearance in good force, and we felt certain the men would soon follow. The next morning we were off to the new rush. We had to pass through a lot of bush country, and as there were no tracks we lost our way, but after a long time fell in with a digger who set us right again, and got to our destination about the middle of the day. We marked out our claim close to the spot where we were told they had struck gold, and as we had to get back to the hall in time for dinner, we had no time to try our luck that day. We still heard reports that lots of gold had been found near our claim, so next morning early off we went, and got to work. We sank about four feet and got no gold; our neighbours in the next claim got down to the pipe clay, and struck a small patch of gold, about two pennyweights, which gave them courage to persevere, and the next day we bottomed, scraped up the wash-dirt, and carried it home to wash, there being no water nearer than three miles, and of course we were very anxious to see what gold we had got, and so washed it very carefully, and found we had about half an onnce, and a few grains of nuggety gold; which we considered not so bad a result.
The next day Jim was unwell, and could not work; so I went to the claim alone. Imagine my surprise when I found the man I wanted most to avoid coolly working our claim, and getting gold. "Hilloa!" said he; "I heard this was your claim, and that you were going to give it up as a duffer. I'll go in with you; my tent is close by, and I shall be on the spot to see that no one jumps the claim." I said that I would speak to my mate and give him an answer the next day; so he went to work, and I shared the gold with him, which we sold at a store for two pounds. When I got home I found Jim much better, and I told him about our Forest Creek friend, which rather frightened him. "You will have to watch him pretty closely," said he. "I don't know what else you could do than keep in with him; so keep on digging, and I will be about and keep my eyes open, for you know I myself am not much good at digging." Fiddler Jim was right; he did not like the pick and spade. Things went on very well, as we thought, but an old man who worked in the next hole to us, quietly said to me: "Where did you pick up with your mate?" I told him in confidence all I knew about him. "I know him," said he. "I came from Sydney; that's where I met him. There has been a lot of tents robbed, and a store down in the Gully was stuck-up last night, and this cove is one of the mob suspected. Be careful, my boy," continued the old Sydney man; "I have been on the diggings four years, and have made very little gold; but what little I do get I send to my poor daughter, who is in Sydney." After that I began to like the old man—very much.
In the afternoon of that day I heard a great noise, and a voice shouting, "A fight! a fight!" I got out of the hole to see what was up, and sure enough there were two men stripped, and a mob of blackguards backing them up. I thought I would go and have a look on, but the crime carried the punishment, for I tumbled down a hole and nearly broke my arm. I afterwards ascertained that the men had quarrelled about a claim, and to settle the dispute they determined upon a fight, and the best man was to have it. The fight lasted nearly two hours, when they both were taken to their tents—the losing man could not work for a week after, and the winning man was more than a fortnight getting round. So much for fighting. This took place on a Friday, and the next day my new acquaintance came to my hole while I was at work, and said in a whisper: "Are you by yourself?" "Yes," said I; "my mate has gone to a store to get a nobbler." "Then come up," said he. I did so, and after the old man had a look round to make sure he was not being watched, he unrolled a dirty, old, colored handkerchief. "Look at that, my boy. I have been looking after this for four years, and now I am off to my dear child in Sydney, and I shall never see you again. Don't tell anyone about my luck," and as he spoke he showed me a lump of gold and quartz as big us a pint-pot. It must have weighed eight or ten pounds. He had just struck it with his pick in a corner of his claim. He went away very quietly, and I never saw him afterwards. We worked hard there for some time after that, but there were no great nuggets for us.
It so happened one day that a man, whom I knew by sight, called to me: "I say, Tom, I can lay you on to a real good thing, and it's not to every one I would do so, but as I know you I give you the first chance. It is this:—I have received a letter from my sister, stating that my mother is dangerously ill, and that I must go down to Melbourne as quickly as I can. Now, this claim of mine is very rich, and if you like to give me a five-pound note you can take my claim and work it out. You will get gold enough to pay you back in one day. To convince you," said he, "just come down and judge for yourself." I went with him, and he began to pick away, and to examine the stuff. I looked on with astonishment, as there was no mistake about it-there was gold in every shovel full of dirt taken up. I said: "I'll tell you what I will do; I'll give you four pounds, and chance it." "Well, as I want to get away," said he, "I will take it." When I told my mates what a bargain I had struck, my Forest Creek mate remarked, "You have been nicely got at! That fellow gets his living that way. You bet, the hole was prepared." "What's that?" said I, "Why, he planted the gold there himself to deceive you." I could hardly believe it; but, alas! it turned out to be too true. I now began to have a very bad opinion of myself as not being so smart a man as I had thought.
A day or two afterwards, while a poor fellow was working in his hole, which was not very far from my claim, and where, by the bye, I was getting nothing, a cry arose that the earth had given way and buried him. Everybody was ready to lend a hand to dig him out; but when they recovered him he was quite dead. This sad event put a stop to work that day, and I and Fiddler Jim resolved to leave the Long Gully, and work nearer the hall. So a day or two afterwards we told our Forest Creek mate what we were going to do, and, to our surprise, he was quite agreeable, remarking that he wanted a change himself. "But," said he, "we may meet again. I didn't like you chaps at first, but I don't know how it is, I have taking a great liking to you all at once, so we will have a drink together before we part;" which we did, and felt relieved of a companion who had kept us both in fear. We next went to work in German Gully, but got very little gold. We left there and went to work at Chinaman's Flat, and there did nothing at all. Then we tried our luck at Sailor's Gully, and Spearmint Hill, and got a little gold, but not enough to pay, as it cost us ten shillings a load for water to wash the stuff we dug up. The professional business at the hall now began to flag, and we found out that the black man was very much in debt, and, consequently, we could not get our salary. We went into council with Ashton, and he advised us to stay and work up a benefit. He informed us that a digger's ball was to take place, and that we might get the job to work it up.
A day or two later I was destined to witness a painful sight, which depressed my spirits for several days afterwards. As I was going home to my tent I saw a crowd of diggers walking three abreast, and carrying in front what seem a sailor's chest. It looked very much like a rollicking party of drunken fellows bent on some Bacchanalian festival. Some were smoking, while others were indulging in coarse jokes and loose conversation, and it was quite evident to me that most of them were very much under the influence of drink. When I came up to the party I naturally inquired what was the matter. "Oh, nothing particular-it's only a digger that has been found dead in his tent. He was bad for some time, and his mates have got permission from the police to bury him." "Has he no relations with him?" I enquired. "None that are known. Nobody even knows his real name; he is called Bill the Sailor." I followed them to a place leading up to the mount, where they stopped, let down the box by the side of a hole about three feet deep, and tried to get the box in; but the hole was not big enough, and they had to set to work digging until it was the proper size. At last they managed to get the box down, and when fairly in the hole it was about two feet below the surface. They shovelled in the earth over the poor fellow, who was buried like a dog, without a word of prayer; but not without a certain amount of jesting and rude remarks, which nearly made me commit myself. My feelings were harrowed up to such a pitch at this exhibition of the demoralizing influence of gold-digging, that I felt almost ready to exhort them to think of their own latter end; but on thinking the matter over I decided that it would be better not to do so, but offered a prayer to God in silence instead.
When I got back to the hall, Fiddler Jim and a man whom we had better call Mr. Fiddler No. 2, who knew Jim in London, were waiting to see me on business. "What is it to be?" I asked. "Well," said Mr. Fiddler No. 2, "I am sent by Mr. Hitchcock, of Castlemaine to offer you an engagement for a day and a night—you to sing, and Mr. Fiddler Jim to play the fiddle, with me and a pianist. We don't want much rehearsal, as you understand each other's business. You will have to sing at the opening dinner, for which there are two hundred tickets issued, at two guineas each, and there is to be a ball and concert. It is to celebrate the opening of a large restaurant to dine three hundred a day, and they are sparing no expense to get the thing up in Al style. Now, what do you think would pay you to come down the day before, and go back the next afternoon?" "Well," said I, "I don't think we can do it for less than five pounds each and expenses. What do you think, Jim?" "I should say that is little enough; but mind, we are not going down in a bullock-dray. He must send us up a decent trap and a pair of horses." "All right," said Fiddler No. 2. "write out the agreement, and if you are agreeable to the terms you shall sign it. I will witness it, and I will send it up to you with particulars when you are to come." "All right," I said; "we will come, and now let us have a liquor. Had you not better stop to our show to-night, and go down to-morrow." "All right," said he; "but I only wish I had brought my fiddle with me." "Never mind that," said I; "we can borrow one for you." We had a very jolly night of it; for bottled ale, porter, and sherry being the order of the band. It was proposed that we should have the Huntsman's Chorus, which we all sang in union with the black man, Ashton, and several others, I arranging the words as follows:—
"We will chase the kangaroo, We will chase the kangaroo— Thro' the wild woods we will follow, And will chase the kangaroo."
No less than twenty times was this repeated, till everybody thought we were mad, and they were not far out in their judgment. The next day we saw our friend Fiddler No. 2 off, but not before we had arranged with him about our benefit. From that time we did very little gold-digging.
I made the acquaintance of a somewhat intelligent Chinaman, who was cook at the police camp. He was well dressed, and had his hair closely cropped. He drank no beer or spirits, but indulged freely in tobacco smoke; but no opium for him. He used to relate droll stories about his country and their clever tricks, and said for plundering, no nation could beat his at that sort of thing, as their depredations were simply wonderful. They could vie with all creation, and they could live cheaper than any other people; also, that they were more numerous than any other people, excelled in gambling and cheating, and were the oldest-fashioned people on record. In fact, everybody was just simply nobody when compared with the Celestials. John Chinaman completely shut me up.
On the following Sunday Fiddler Jim and I received an invitation to dine on Mount Tarrangower. Mrs. Ashton gave out the invites, and the party consisted of Mr. Blackman and wife, Mr. New York and his sweetheart, a neighbouring digger and wife, two young ladies—one of whom was a dressmaker, and the other took in washing—and Mr. and Mrs. Ashton, with two kangaroo dogs for hunting. We started at 10 a.m. from the camp on a very hot day, and consequently had to rest and refresh very often, and by the time we reached the top of the mount it was past one o'clock; but the magnificent sight rewarded us for all our trouble in getting there. The view is altogether beyond my power to describe. The scenery about Mount Lofty and Adelaide are grand, but Mount Tarrangower eclipses both. We had dinner, prepared by the ladies, and then took a walk. Met a native with boomerangs under his arm, and the dogs would have bitten him had not Ashton called them off. We asked the native to show us how they used the boomerang, and he did so very cleverly. The next thing to be done was, under orders from the ladies, to get some dry wood and make a camp-fire. As a matter of course we instantly obeyed, and on went a billy, which they had brought with them. "Now, you can have a smoke," said Miss Dressmaker. "Yes, till tea is ready," said Miss Washerwoman. "And a nobbler," said Fiddler Jim. "I second that," said Ashton, and it was carried unanimously. After a short stroll we returned to tea, everything being first-class, consisting of boiled fowls, ducks, pickles, cakes, etc.
After tea we had nobblers all round, the ladies joining in, and then made a start for home, which we reached in half the time it took us to ascend. We were all very tired, and soon got to bed, some to dream, and others to think over the wonderful works of the great Creator. I could not sleep, my thoughts wandering from the mount to Adelaide and my wife and children who were waiting to receive me; but eventually I dozed off.
I slept until roused for breakfast, after which I went to the post-office to see if there were any letters for me. Sure enough there was one addressed to "Cockney Tom and Fiddler Jim, esqrs., National Hotel Tarrangower." It read as follows:—"Dear Sirs-Consider yourselves engaged at Castlemaine for Wednesday next. Your terms are accepted, and I shall be there to meet you with carriage and pair. Get everything ready to start, and on our way back we can see the races at Mucklesford. Trusting you are all jolly, believe me, my dear brothers, yours sincerely, Fiddler No 2." "All right," said Jim; "we must get everything ready—clean white vests, white shirts, neckties, and dress-coats." "By George!" said I, "our boots are very bad, and we will have to see what we can borrow. We must not look shabby in our carriage." "I believe," said Fiddler Jim, "that I shall be the first of my family who ever rode in a carriage to a five-pound engagement." "I can say ditto to that," replied I. We had got everything ready when Wednesday morning arrived, and the carriage and pair, with our friend, Fiddler No. 2, looking mighty big in it. "Give the horses a spell, and let's have a nobbler before we start," said I. "I am quite agreeable," said Fiddler No. 2. "By-the-bye," said he, "do you think I could do any thing in the photographic line up here." "I think you would do well," said I, "as there is a lot of women about, and they are fond of that sort of thing." "I'll think it over," said he.
By this time we had got all our luggage in the carriage, ourselves seated, we waved our hands to our friends, and started. Nothing particular occurred on the road. We arrived at Mucklesford and repaired to the racecourse, about a mile off. What a sight it was to see so many people there. "Where did they all come from?" was the general enquiry. "Some from one diggings and some from another," was the reply. Gambling and drinking were all the rage. We saw but one race, they called it a steeplechase, and in that race a jockey, a poor little boy, fell from his horse, broke his arm, and was carried off for dead. We did not stop to see any more races, but drove on and arrived safely at Castlemaine, refreshed ourselves, and got ready for business.
We were introduced to lots of people, including our host, Mr. Barnes, who treated us as gentlemen. We then made out our programme, which he approved of. The dinner was to be on the table at 5 p.m., concert and ball to begin at 9 p.m., and to wind up we set down Sir Roger de Coverley for 4 a.m.; I acting as toast-master, singer, manager, &c. At five o'clock the first act commenced with eating and drinking, and corks were soon flying about in all directions. In course of time they got tired of that; then the chairman rose (he was the Commissioner of Police stationed there) amid thunders of applause. "Gentlemen," said he, "Dr. Brown will preside at the piano, and a gentleman from London will lead the singing. First I'll give you 'The Queen'." I then sang the solos and the company joined in the choruses, after which several grand speeches were made, and songs were sung. I sang several songs and was encored, and then occupied myself in getting others to sing, and so kept them alive.
At 9 o'clock sharp the ladies began to arrive for the ball, and the old adage that "it is not all gold that glitters" had its truth amply proved on this occasion. There were many at that ball who had no proper notion of ballroom etiquette. They had evidently come to see and be seen, just as some people go to places of worship, and in all such cases we must carefully draw the line. There were some present who could not dance at all, and others who attempted and failed. The most amusing part was the women laying their heads together and taking stock of each other's dresses; and the vanity they displayed—some with gold rings on every finger, others with necklaces composed of nuggets of gold, with holes pierced through them, and strung together on a piece of narrow ribbon, the same with their bracelets, and their dresses simply baffled description. Some, however, were there dressed neat, and not gaudy, which showed at least that they had been respectably brought up, and consequently knew how to behave themselves in company.
When the dancing first commenced, very few ladies stood up. We had a walk-round, and then a polka, and, more ladies arriving, things began to brighten up a bit. I dressed up for my caricature song, and appeared on the stage, which was composed of old cases from a draper's store, one of which not being very firm gave way and let me fall, to the great amusement of everybody. I, however, not being hurt, soon got on my feet again, and as the music began to play, I commenced singing, and the audience laughed right heartily. I had to come on three times, and I was all the go with the company for the remainder of the night. We had supper at 1 a.m., and there was any quantity of champagne, all seeming bent on enjoying themselves. Those who could not dance were indulging in a little gambling freak in a back tent, got up for the purpose. The affair was kept up till four o'clock in the morning, when a fight was about to take place, but the police interfered, and all made tracks for their tents, not quite sober. I and my mates had coffee royal, and then went to bed at 5 a.m. I slept till past 11, got up refreshed and had bottled ale and porter, after which we received our pay, and ordered our carriage for 2 o'clock. Fiddler No. 2 resolved to go with us, and try his fortune as photographic artist at Tarrangower. We walked round the town, and saw many faces we recognised from the Creek. Some of them were doing well, whilst others had not earned their salt. We got back to Mr. Barnes, the landlord of the restaurant, and lunched with him. He was very sanguine of making his fortune, and told us he had a good friend in Mr. Hitchcock, as the restaurant and half the town belonged to him.
About ten years afterwards, I met Mr. Barnes in Adelaide. "How do you do?" said he; "you've forgot me." "I think I have seen your face before," said I; "but I don't remember your name." "Don't you recollect me paying you five pounds for singing five songs." "What! Is it Mr. Barnes?" "Yes, Tom; it is I. I was a rich man then, and worth twenty thousand pounds, and now I am a poor draper's assistant at Mr. ——'s, in Rundle street." "Is it possible?" said Tom; "What has become of Hitchcock?" "Ah, poor fellow; he went to law, lost all his property, and now he is as badly off as I am." "You astonish me," cried I; "come and let us have a drink." "I will, with pleasure," and we did so. Since that time we have frequently met, and talked over our experience at the diggings.
But to return to Castlemaine. We started at about 3 p.m., stopped once only at Mucklesford, and got back to Tarrangower in time for supper and concert. We spent a very pleasant evening, and got to bed early, tired out, and almost done up. We went out the next morning with Fiddler No 2 to get a tent for him to start business in, and we got it for 10s. per week. Walked down the town, and called in at the saloon, where we saw the proprietor. "When did you get back?" said he. "Last night," said Jim. "I heard that everything went off in first-clas style. Our ball comes off next week; it will take the shine out of the Castlemaine people. We have a committee of gentlemen to act as stewards, and no one can get a ticket except through them. No diggers will be allowed in except they wear a silk jumper or dress coat. You bet, they will be very particular as to what ladies they admit. I have been authorised to entrust you with the job of working up the band. Ashton spoke to me about you. He says you understand all about it. Will you undertake to provide the band and superintend the dancing, and then I shall have nothing to do but to look after the eating and drinking department" "What he says I'll agree to," said Jim. "How many in the band?" asked I. "Five;" said he; "two fiddlers, piano, cornet, and trombone; but we cannot get them up here" "I'll tell you what we will do," said I. "I'll engage to provide you with as good a band as we can get, five in number, for fifty pounds, cash down on the night of the ball." "Too much," said he. "All right," replied I; "there is no harm done; it will cost nearly £20 to get a piano and player over from Bendigo." We then had a drink, and left. "We might have done it for forty," said Fiddler Jim. "He will give you fifty," said Fiddler No. 2. He was right, for in the afternoon I was sent for, and the bargain was struck. We set to work to make the best arrangements we could. There was a pianist at Bendigo who owned a piano, and we wrote to him, offering him £18 to bring his piano and play at the ball. He accepted, and we retained Fiddler No. 2 for £5, with a promise to play for our benefit for nothing. We got a clarionet and cornet player, with triangle, to come for nothing, just to see the fun, and have a good booze.
The night of the ball arrived, and with it a great number of people. The band played "God Save the Queen;" but no dance music. "'When are you going to begin?" asked the proprietor. "When you pay me £50," I replied. "That be blowed," said he; "but I'll tell the committee." "All right; we don't play till we get the money, and mind, no cheques." He went away, and soon returned with the cash, and paid it down with a bad grace. I gave him a receipt, and ordered the band to play up. Nothing happened to mar the pleasure of the evening until after supper, when a digger ran up against the clerk of the police, who for some offence had got him fined a day or two before. "I'll have that fine out of you," said he, and struck him such a violent blow that I thought he was killed. The digger was arrested, and the man was taken into a small tent, where the camp doctor mesmerised him, and got him round, and then sent him to the camp to be taken care of, and the next day the digger was fined £15 for assault. The ball was kept up till 5 o'clock in the morning, and then, by way of a change, they indulged in skittles and champague, and how they got to their homes is a mystery. We found our way home, and that is all we knew, except that the Castlemaine ball was the best.
Next morning we paid the band people, after which we took a rest, and wished ourselves away from Tarrangower. After thinking the matter over, we decided to stay for our benefit, and take away as much money as we could, and then no more digging or fiddling till we got back to Adelaide. So it was settled to get out our bills at once, and the benefit was arranged to come off on the following Monday. We had a fair house, and everybody seemed sorry we were going. Ashton drove us part of the way to Castlemaine, where we arrived that night, and put up at friend Barnes', where we met several gentlemen, who invited us to the police barracks to play at whist, and they proved very kind to both of us.
We left Castlemaine the next morning after breakfast, and met nothing worth recording till we arrived at Sawpit Gully, where we met with some troopers whom we knew at Maryborough. "What! Fiddler Jim, is that you? where are you bound for?" asked one of the policemen. "For Adelaide, to our wives and children. We have had enough of the diggings," said I. "If it is not a rude question," said Fiddler Jim, "where are you going to?" "Melbourne," he replied; "we are taking down a man to be hanged for murder. He was tried a few weeks back; but you must have heard of it. He nearly killed a poor woman with a stick, and then completed the job by putting her on the fire and burning her to death." "What a beast," said I. "Where have you locked him up?" "Nowhere," said the policeman; "he is sitting there, eating his dinner." "What!" said Jim, "that old man? why, he must be 70 years old, at least." "You are not far out, according to his own account. He doesn't think much about it. We let him have what he likes to eat and drink, and we are not to hurry him on the road. He will be there soon enough. We are going to stay here to-night, and you had better stay and keep us company over a hand of cards." "No thanks; we must get to Kyneton to-night, as the landlady expects us, and we must keep our engagement." "Well, if you must go, let us have a liquor first." We did not refuse the drink, and glad we were to get away. Jim remarked that he could not have stopped in the house with a man who had committed a crime like that. I also said that when the policeman spoke of murder I thought of our two Forest Creek friends, and it would not have surprised me if he had been one of our late mates from Tarrangower.
We reached Mrs. Halliday's in time for supper, had a refresher, and. enjoyed our meal; and after a little chat went to bed, and slept soundly and dreamed, not of murders, but of "Home, sweet home." We were up next morning early, and made arrangements with the driver of a conveyance to pick us up on the road. We had to pass through some bad country for horses, but pushed on, were taken up by the coach, and arrived safely at Gisborne. We stopped there that night, and next day got into Melbourne, where all our old friends were glad to see us. We put up at our lodgings, and my Catholic friends begged me to stop in Melbourne; but I could not be so persuaded. As the steamer did not leave for several days, I went to work for a warehouseman in a large firm. The principal of the house was a Mr. Montefiore, the original owner of property situated on a hill known by that name in North Adelaide; and I might have stopped there, but preferred going on to Adelaide. While I was there, however, I met with a gentleman from Adelaide, who had heard of my church singing. This gentleman was a churchwarden, and held a responsible position under Government. I was introduced to him, and found him to be a kind-hearted man. He made me promise to call on him when I got back to Adelaide; and fortunately I did not forget, as he turned out to be a good friend to me afterwards. As the time arrived for the steamer to leave we bade Melbourne and our friends good-bye, took our swags on board, and had a pleasant passage back. There was plenty of fun, as a great many diggers were returning home with lots of gold; but alas! neither I nor Fiddler Jim belonged to that class, so could not join in their merriment with anything like zest. Our pleasure was confined to the knowledge that we were going home to those whom we loved, and who were anxiously awaiting our return; and although we were returning not much better off than when we started, yet we had seen something of the world beyond the ordinary horizon, and hoped at least that we had grown wiser.
"What do you advise me to do when I get to Adelaide?" said Jim. "Get a place, and turn dancing-master," said I. And he did so, made a lot of money, left Adelaide and went to Melbourne again, where he did nothing worth mentioning, and died only a poor fiddler. We arrived at last, safe and sound, after being away five months. We had acquired much more knowledge than gold, it is true; but in spite of all defeats and failures, there were two at least who were thankful for all things, and they were my wife and I. In this short period of five months, that completes the second stage of my history, I experienced many adventures and vicissitudes, and had much experience which, though perhaps not very interesting to the general public, contained many lessons highly interesting to me, and which I have reason to believe acted beneficially upon my subsequent career, and which, also, I cannot but think tended to give a better tone to the third and last stage of my history, which I am spending in South Australia, where, in spite of all my faults and failings, the Almighty Ruler of events has been pleased to bless me with a much greater measure of prosperity than I am conscious of having ever deserved.
In those days there were no telegraphs or railways, so that when I arrived at Port Adelaide I had no means of making my arrival known to my wife and family, and was unable to make a quick journey to the city, but had to be jolted along a rough road in a very modest spring cart, I was not even favored with a public demonstration, but "Never mind," thought I, "stop till I get home, for there I know I shall meet a warm and loving reception from my dear wife and children, perhaps more so than if I had been the Governor of the Province," and as it happened I was not far wrong. After a great deal of pulling and hauling by the children, and kissing and hugging by my wife, there was a pause, and then came questions and answers too numerous to mention, and amongst others there was, "Have you been lucky, Tom?" "Yes!" replied I, "lucky to get home safely." "That is not what I mean," said my wife, "have you got any gold?" "Very little, I am sorry to say," was my reply. The news of my return, however, soon spread, and the neighbors flocked in to see a returned digger, but, alas, with very little gold.
The next day I employed myself in taking stock, and it proved anything but satisfactory; but it was no use to grumble at finding myself in debt, as it proved, to the tune of two hundred pounds, and with only about one to pay it, such, however, was the case. The first thing to be done was to call on all my creditors, report myself, and say, "Have patience and I will pay thee all," and I did so, and was kindly received. Mr. Johns had taken a shop in Rundle-street, and Mr. Sweetwilliam was engaged as his shopman. "What luck?" said Mr, Johns when I saw him. "Very little," I replied. "Did you get any gold?" asked he. "Yes!" said I, "and I have brought you a nugget for your kindness to my wife while I have been away." "I won't take it as a gift," said he, "I shall give you full value for it and you can pay me what you owe in instalments as soon as you can, as I believe you are honest," said he. "Well," said I, "I am as honest as most men, and time will prove that." I gave Mr. Johns the nugget, it weighed an ounce, and was a very pretty specimen of pure native gold. Mr. Johns was much pleased with it, and said, "I will send this home to my dear sister in London,". which decision pleased me very much. Whilst Mr Johns was showing the nugget to his wife, Mr. Sweetwilliam called me aside and said, "Keep in with Johns, he is a good sort of fellow, at least I have found him so, and he is going to start me in business on my own account, so he will want a shopman, and you will just suit him." I thanked Mr. Sweetwilliam, and told him I intended to go in for singing if I could get well paid for it. "I won't lose sight of you, however," said Mr. Sweetwilliam, "I do a little preaching and singing myself on Sundays." "I don't intend to stick to shoemaking myself either if I can help it," said I. We then all adjourned to the York Hotel and had a nobbler each.
On my way home shortly afterwards I met a postman named Chapman. "What, are you back again?" said he, "Have you no engagement?" "No!" answered I. "I know of one," said he, "where a man like you is wanted—a fellow that can please everybody." "What is the salary?" I asked. "You had better call and make your own terms," he replied, "you can mention my name if you like. Thanks!" said I, "but where is it." "At the Black Horse Assembly Rooms, not far from the Black Bull, Hindley-street," said he. I accordingly called there, saw the proprietor, and took the engagement at three pounds per week, and a bottle of wine to treat my friends with on Saturday nights. "Not so bad," thought I, "and much better than doing nothing," so I went home to tell my wife of my good luck. I had just got home when a clergyman came in and enquired for me. "I am the party," said I; "what is your pleasure, sir?" "I have been informed," said he, "that you understand church singing, and your neighbour, Mr. Lillywhite, has recommended you to me." "What are the duties?" asked I, "and what church?" "The duties," he replied, "are to teach the children to chant and sing a few hymns, practice on Fridays, and morning and afternoon service on Sundays. We are holding service in the schoolroom until we get our church built. It is situated at Glen Osmond, about four miles from Adelaide." "What is the salary?" asked I. "Thirty pounds a year to begin with, and refreshments on Sundays, and when the church is finished I will increase the salary." I accepted the offer and things went on smoothly for some time.
I afterwards called on my friend, Mr. Hawkesgood, at the Treasury, who inquired into all the particulars of my family, and what they were doing. "I'll take your eldest boy," said he, "and see what I can do with him." "I'll consult my wife," said I, "and let you know in a day or two." "Very good," said he; "I will not forget my promise. If you want a friend let me know." "I will," said I, and wishing him good morning, with many thanks, I departed. I thought a great deal about my new friend, and told my wife all about his offer. She consented, provided the boy was allowed to come home once a week and go to church, which was agreed to.
About this time the Crimean war broke out. France joined England, and all the world seemed up in arms and eager for the fray. Everybody said we should have privateers paying us a visit some fine day, who would burn our houses, and send our wives and children adrift. Meetings were called, and it was decided to form a volunteer force, and every man was called upon to join, and, for myself, I thought the matter over seriously. Now, at this time I had a companion from London, whom I will call George Rollinson. We met together and conversed on the subject, and Rollinson said that unless he had a chance to go in as a substitute, and get well paid for it too, he would not join. I said I would, on condition that they made me an officer, which Rollinson said was not very likely.
A meeting was called at the Dover Castle, North Adelaide, to enlist those who took an interest in bloodshed. The most agreeable part of the programme put forth was that each man was to receive six shillings per day when called out for practice, and each company was to have the election of its own officers, who were to be chosen by ballot; each company was also to appoint its own shoemaker and tailor. In fact, there was to be everything to make the men comfortable. A neighbour of mine, a good fellow, whom we will call Mr. Sain (afterwards Captain Sain), and who had an eye to business, called on me and said, "I think we can manage it." "Manage what?" said I. "Well, I have been thinking the matter over about the appointment of officers for the volunteer force, and I don't see why I shouldn't be made captain, with you as my color-sergeant. It would be good thing for me, and you too." "How is it to be done," said I.
"I will tell you," said he. "After we are sworn in, you make a proposition that William Sain is a fit and proper person to represent the company as captain. I have a man who will stand for lieutenant, and if we are elected you shall be color-sergeant." "I don't care about the job," said I, "for it don't seem to me quite the thing, as everbody will have a vote; but to oblige you I'll do it." The time came round for holding the meeting of the company for the men to select their officers, viz., captain, lieutenant, ensign, color-sergeant, second sergeant, and two corporals. There were three cheers given for the Queen, and then more or less all present got the worse for liquor, and I went home full of the soldiering business. My wife laughed at me for being such a donkey. "Never mind," said I, "wait till the Russians show up, and then you won't laugh." Of course the Russians never did show up. Rollinson did not come up to the swearing business; possibly because he objected to swearing on principle. He acted, however, afterwards as he said he would, as substitute for a man who had to go into the country. Another meeting was called, and the election took place; a poll was demanded, and my proposition carried. Mr. Sain got in by a majority of one vote, and Lieutenant Franklin, being a friend of mine. They decided that I should be sergeant Tom, No. 1. My uniform, however, was far more brilliant than my military career was destined to be.
In order to work myself up in discipline, I employed the drillmaster to give me private instruction, in the art of self-defence and military movements; so I soon became passable; but there was one part of the drill which I could not manage, and that was the goose-step. I well remember on one occasion receiving orders from my colonel to take a file of men and proceed to Private Hornabrook's residence, in Kermode-street, North Adelaide, and bring him on to the parade-ground, to be dismissed from Her Majesty's service as a warning to all volunteers, for getting drunk, which poor Hornabrook was in the habit of doing. This duty I carried out to the letter, and when I arrived on parade the men were standing at ease, and a great deal of giggling was going on in the ranks. Private Rollinson was laughing, so I called "Attention!" which brought Rollinson to stand at ease and dress up. The colonel called Hornabrook to the front. "Attention!" shouted I. "Private Hornabrook, I dismiss you from Her Majesty's service. You are a disgrace to the company, and ought to be drummed out of the regiment as a drunkard." "Now, you can go," said the colonel. "Thank you, my bunny," said Private Hornabrook.
On the first of every month one of my duties was to go with the captain to the Treasury to receive the men's money. Now it happened that the captain kept a public-house, and one of my orders was that, after drill on pay-days, I was to march the men four abreast from the parade-ground to his house to be paid. The natural result of such a course was that the men spent the better part of their pay in drink. As a frightful example of this may be mentioned the fact that ex-Private Hornabrook mortgaged his cottage and land to Sergeant Phelps, the landlord of the Scotch Thistle, for money to spend in liquor, and was never able to redeem the property. I merely mention this as an illustration which came under my notice of one of the evils resulting from the curse of drink. Such conduct didn't speak much for military discipline in those days. Happily things are much better in this respect now, and doubtless they will go on improving as the Temperance flag waves through our streets. In those old times, however, I went on progressing with shoemaking, singing, and soldiering, and, upon the whole, was making a fair living.
About this time a change took place in my position in life, by a gentleman calling on me to ask if I would sing at a concert for the benefit of a poor widow woman, who had suffered severely in being burnt out through a bush fire, and had lost all her property, consisting of a small farm and its belongings. The gentleman who called on me was a merchant in Grenfell-street, Adelaide, and having heard that I could sing in glees, requested my help to make up the number required. I said that I would most willingly give my services, but being under an engagement I had to ask leave, which was granted on my agreeing to find a singer to take my place at the Assembly Rooms for that night. I went to the rehearsal, which was at the Old Theatre, off Currie-street, and everything passed off well. The Governor was there, and the poor widow had a good benefit. The next night, when I went to my engagement, I was told that after the following week my services would not be required. "All right," said I; "I can get other engagements as good." "You may," said the landlord, "but not at £3 per week." As soon, however, as it became known that I was about to leave the Black Horse, I was offered £1 per night for two years to sing at the Black Bull, which I, of course, accepted. My next trouble arose through the clergyman of the church where I was singing on Sundays having a dispute with a Mr. Osmond Gillies, who had given him the living, and a lawsuit was the result. The clergyman lost his living, and, as a consequence, I lost the precentorship with its emoluments. However I did not fret much about it as it was a long way to travel to the church every week. I next joined the choir at St. Peter's College Church, in which Mr. Hawkesgood, a friend of mine, took great interest. I sang sometimes at Christ Church, North Adelaide, at Trinity Church, and at St. John's Church, but mostly at the College.
About this time another change took place in my history. Whilst I was at work one morning I received a note from a friend, who was then a churchwarden of St. John's, informing me of a billet at a bank, which my friend thought would suit me better than shoemaking. "Secure it at once," said he "or somebody else will be before you, and take with you the letters you brought out with you from London." I lost no time, and was soon at the Union Bank, not far from King William-street, and was introduced to the manager there. "What's your name?" said he. "Cockney Tom," said I. "Where do you come from?" "London." "Have you any letters as to character!" "Yes," said I; "here they are, sir. One from my late clergyman, one from the Countess of Cardigan, one from Bishop Short's brother, and several others." After carefully reading them over, he said, "Have you anyone in Adelaide you can refer me to?" "Yes, sir; I know Mr. Hawkesgood at the Treasury," said I. "Well," said he, "can you wait till I go out for a short time? And when I return I will give you an answer." I accordingly waited in a small room till he returned, when I was again called into the manager's room. "What wages do you expect?" said he. "Just what is usual," replied I. "It is a position of great responsibility," said he. "You will have to sleep on the premises, collect large sums of money, and do whatever you are told to do either by myself or by the accountant. The salary will be £120 a year at first, which will be increased according to length of service. Do you think you could live and pay your way out of that?" "I have lived on much less than that," I said. "Well, you may consider yourself engaged," said he, "from this date." He introduced me to the accountant and teller, and I was soon set to work with orders which were sent in from the country for collection. I soon shaped myself to my work. I went home after business hours, and told my wife all about my good fortune, which made us happy and grateful. "Well, it was a slice of luck," said my wife. "I will call on my friends, Mr. Hawkesgood and Mr. Churchwarden Delany, and report," said I, "and tender my thanks, and also my resignation of my engagement at the Bull; for it would be hardly consistent with my engagement at the bank during the day to be singing at a place of that description at night." "Just do what you think would be right," said my wife.
The next day, whilst on my rounds collecting, I called on my friend, Mr. Hawkesgood, and informed him what I had done. "I know all about it," said he, "the manager is a very intimate friend of mine, and came to me respecting your character, and I popped in a word for you" Oh!" said I, "it's you, then, that I have to thank for my appointment in the bank." "It's a pleasure," said he, "to be able assist any one I think is deserving." I then informed my friend, Private Rollinson, that I did not intend to do any more shoemaking; so, if he would like to take my shop and the little business connected with it he was welcome. "I'll consider," said Rollinson. "You know," said he, "that I have a wife and family in England; and if I could manage to get them out, I would accept your offer at once." "Think it over," said I, "and if you make up your mind, I will help you all I can." "I suppose," said Rollinson, "you will be above drinking with me now that you are connected with a bank; I wonder what you will be next?" I was a little proud of my improved position; but I was not too proud to drink with Private Rollinson. He promised to let me know his decision about the offer the next night, which he did, and said, "I have thought over the matter, and accept your offer; I have saved a little money, and should have had much more had it not been for my long illness at the Port; so I should like to get my family out here, as I think that my son George would get on better in Adelaide than in London." It was settled that his wife and family should come out, the passage-money was paid, and Rollinson took my business, and all went well for several months, when Rollinson received a letter from his wife, saying that they were about to sail for Adelaide. He came to me and reported the fact. "Keep steady, old boy," said I, "and it will be all right by the time they arrive." When they did, Rollinson donned himself in full military uniform, looking for all the world like a lieutenant, and such was the effect of his disguise that his family scarcely knew him."
Sometime after this, a circumstance occurred, which was the cause of great unhappiness in my family. It should be remembered that I had some Roman Catholic friends in Melbourne, who had been very kind to me whilst I was there; and I had some in Adelaide also, and amongst them was a watchmaker, a man of good moral character, who persuaded me to go with him to hear Bishop Murphy preach. I went, and was very much struck with the Christian charity and goodwill to all men enforced in his discourse. Instead of speaking against this or that denomination, the Bishop spoke rather in favor of every religion being good, and calculated to make bad men better. I remembered my pledge to my Melbourne friends, and thought much over it. Shortly after this, I was introduced to the Rev. Father Smyth, whom I found to be the very essence of goodness in everything, and had several private interviews with him on matters, of faith, and a number of other things hard to be understood; but Father Smyth soon explained them all, by telling me there were many things practised in the Church of Rome which were not necessary to a man's salvation. He then introduced me to good Bishop Murphy, who listened kindly to my history, and was pleased to accept me as a member of the Catholic Church. I tried to keep all this to myself; but it was soon spread abroad, and my wife felt very much hurt at what I had done, and declared that she would sooner have her arm cut off than desert the church in which she had been baptized. Many cross words ensued, and my wife strongly objected to our children being taken from the Protestant and sent to the Catholic school, and I, for the sake of peace, yielded. After a time I was summoned by the Bishop, and told it was my duty to join the choir. I explained that I was but a poor scholar, and did not understand English, much less Latin; but he introduced me to Father Maurice Lencioni, a good man, who held the office of choir singing-master and confessor, and whose duty it was to visit the sick, bury the dead, and bring young people together for marriage. Everybody liked this priest, myself particularly. He was an Italian, a splendid musician, and gifted with a good voice; he undertook to teach me the Latin service, and he had his work to do. It was a long time before I could manage it; but at length I succeeded fairly well, but never became A1.
About this time the Bishop announced his intention to raise money to build a cathedral, and collections were made, and the money came in from all parts of the colony. A building committee was formed, and I was selected a member. My duty was to watch the work, attend the meetings, and collect as much money as I could; and every Sunday I might have been seen going about West Adelaide with a collection book, receiving from the poor Catholics their small gifts of 3d., 6d., and 1s. per week, and they gave most freely, according to their means. Just about this time the good Bishop was taken ill. He had an account at the Union Bank, and on one occasion meeting me there he offered me the collectorship of all the town rents belonging to the church, which I accepted with thanks. The Bishop grew worse, and eventually died, and was buried in the unfinished cathedral. The funeral was the largest ever known in Adelaide, and was attended by all classes and denominations. Afterwards, when the cathedral was partially finished and opened, I was requested to join the choir, and consenting, was appointed receiver of all moneys taken at the doors by the collectors; which money I had to pay into the bank every Monday to the credit of the Cathedral Fund.
About this time that great singer Madame Anna Bishop paid a visit to Adelaide, accompanied by Mr. George Loder, an accomplished musician. They took apartments at the York Hotel, kept by a Mrs. Bray, who conceived such a liking for Madame that in her will she bequeathed her a legacy of one thousand pounds, besides making her other presents. Madame required a local agent, and Mrs. Bray, knowing me, recommended me to her. I was accordingly sent for and engaged to make myself generally useful, to sing when required, and to act as money taker at her concerts, and White's Rooms were fixed upon and engaged by me from the proprietor, Mr. Geo. White, on behalf of Madame. The bank authorities allowed me the privilege of taking the engagement of White's Rooms so long as I did not neglect my duty at the bank, and by such engagements I was brought into the society of all the leading artists who visited Adelaide. Perhaps it would not be out of place to mention some of their names, viz., Madame Caley, fellow pupil of Jenny Lind, Richard W. Kohler, Miska Hauser, the greatest violinist that ever came to Australia, Linly Norman, Richard White, Madame Carandini, Walter Sherwin, Madame Goddard, the premier pianist, W. Montgomery, B. Fairclough, and many others.
When I had been engaged at the Union Bank for about three years and a half, the manager, a widower, got married, which made me more work than I could well do; my salary besides not being proportionately increased, as was promised when I entered on my engagement with the bank, I began to be discontented, and thought that I would look out for something better than remaining in that billet. About this time a new bank was projected by a gentleman from Melbourne, as it was generally believed that as there were at that time only three banks in Adelaide, and the colony was steadily progressing, that there was room for one more, and so it was decided to establish another. Adelaide can now boast of seven. I thought I would try for a billet in the new hank, which was to be called The National. I made application and was engaged; there was only half the amount of work to be done as at my old billet at the Union Bank, with a much better salary. I held the position of bank messenger and collector there for seven years and a half. The bank prospered, and the average collection for the last three years of my service amounted to no less than two hundred thousand pounds per annum; and I am glad to be able to say that I never made a mistake, or lost any of the bank's money.
One or two things worthy of mention occurred whilst I was in the banks that might perhaps serve as a lesson to bank clerks, should any of them perchance read this narrative. On one occasion the teller was in such a mighty hurry to get to the races that in locking up the cash he forgot the exchanges on other banks. After they were all gone, my duty was to go round to see that everything was all right, when, lo and behold! I found the exchanges left in the drawer, instead of being locked up in the safe. There was only the trifling sum of seven thousand pounds in bank notes, and it was a good thing for the bank that I was not a Kelly. I locked them up, engaged a cab, drove to the racecourse, found the teller, brought him back, and showed him what he had done or rather what he had not done. He locked up the money safely, thanked me, and begged that I would not tell the manager. Upon another occasion five hundred pounds were overlooked, and left under the counter. I slept with the money under my head that night, and thought what a rich pillow I had, and what a temptation it would have been to many who not only had money on the brain, but the love of it in their hearts, I gave it up the next morning, and was glad to be rid of it.
Just about this time, one of my daughters was living with a family who were spending their summer mouths at Brighton for the pleasure of sea bathing. Whilst indulging with them in this luxury she got out of her depth, and had it not been for two gentlemen who happened to be passing she would doubtless have been drowned. They rushed in with their clothes on, and brought her out nearly dead. When I heard of it I was very much concerned, and called on the gentlemen, and thanked them for saving my daughter's life. I wondered how I could show my gratitude, and the idea that struck me was that though there were baths at hand, there was no swimming master. I will apply to the Corporation to be allowed to teach swimming, thought I, and did so, and the privilege was granted to me, and for two years I taught every Saturday afternoon, without fee or reward. Many availed themselves-of this opportunity, and became good swimmers.
About this time the Adelaide City Baths were advertised by the Corporation to be let by tender, and as I began to want a change, for I felt that I had been in the National Bank long enough, and longed to be my own master once more, so I tendered for the lease, which was granted me, not alone because my tender was the highest, but that I was thought to be the best man out of the four that tendered. I consequently sent in my resignation to the bank and in return they made me a present of £21, as an acknowledgment for past services; they also gave me a testimonial as to character, which I am proud of to this day.
It was in February, 1866, that I took charge of the baths, and I flattered myself that I would make my fortune out of the speculation; but at the end of the year I found myself on the wrong side of the ledger. I then had to turn my attention once more to professional pursuits, and accordingly I engaged to serve Mr. George Coppin as money-taker at the Town Hall and Theatre Royal; and I was also engaged with the South Australian Jockey Club in the same capacity for ten years. About this time a friend of mine suggested the advisability of adding Turkish baths to my business in Adelaide, believing that it would pay well, as a great number of people were compelled to go to Melbourne and Sydney to obtain them. I pondered over the matter, and also called on a gentleman that had been to Sydney for that purpose, and who had received much good therefrom. Now, as I knew very little of Turkish baths, I consulted my old friends, Mr. Sweetwilliam, who was then Mayor of Adelaide, and Mr. Johns, who was then a large tradesman, and who since then has been a corporation councillor, and a member of Parliament. A meeting was called at which the Mayor took the chair, and Turkish baths were decided on. The first thing to be then done was to get the opinion of the medical faculty, and a promise of their support, and I undertook that work, and succeeded.
My next step was to see what money I could raise towards building them, and succeeded in this also beyond my most sanguine expectations. I then employed an architect to prepare plans, and wrote to the Corporation explaining everything, and offered to put £400 towards the building, if they would supplement it. Rather more than £350 was subscribed by friends of the movement, to whom I gave subscribers' tickets, representing the full value of their subscriptions, and the balance I made up myself. After the matter was discussed in the City Council it was passed, after considerable opposition, by a majority of three, and tenders were called for the building, and the work commenced, and it was eventually opened to the public by the Mayor and Councillors of the city. From that time to the present (1881) the Turkish Baths have been a blessing to many, especially to the afflicted; and numerous testimonials have been given to me for establishing this institution in the city of Adelaide.
At this time the then town clerk received a letter from a man calling himself Edward Baldiston, stated to be manager of the Turkish Baths in Melbourne, giving a long account of his experience at Constantinople, and other places in Turkey, and applying for the management of the Adelaide Turkish Baths. The town clerk sent his letter on to me, and advised me to answer it. I did so, but was sorry for it afterwards. The baths in Melbourne were burnt down shortly after that, and Baldiston found his way to Adelaide, and presenting himself and wife at the baths, gave me to understand that he had come over at the request of several gentlemen to superintend the Turkish Baths' department. I disabused his mind at once, and told him that no one had any power to engage him but myself; whereupon he said, "I'll see about that." He called on several of my friends and made out that I knew nothing about keeping baths, and in every possible way tried to injure my character. He did not, however, succeed as well as he expected. The next thing he did was to prepare a document for me to sign, appointing him shampooer, and came down to the baths with this document while no one but the boy was about.
When he saw me he said: "Will you sign this?" "No!" replied I, "I will have nothing to do with you." He thereupon struck me a blow in the face, which knocked me into the water. I called for help, and my wife came to my assistance, and found Baldiston, who was a powerful young man, trying to hold me under water. "You wretch!" said she, "you are trying to drown my husband." "Yes!" he answered, "and I'll drown you too," and the next moment in she was sent likewise. Hearing the noise, some passers by came in, to whom he declared that the swimming master and his wife had been trying to drown him, and in the struggle we had all slipped into the water together. I went for a policeman and gave him in charge, but the policeman refused to take the charge on account of not having seen the disturbance, and before I could change my clothes and get to the Police Court, Baldiston had anticipated my action, and taken out a summons against me for an assault with intent to drown. All that I could then do was to issue a summons against the bad man, and employ a respectable solicitor named Brooks. When the time arrived for the case to be heard Mr. Brooks could not attend, so I secured the services of Mr. Bundey, a very able lawyer, and now a Q. C. Baldiston engaged Mr. Downer, who, of course, came down like a thousand of bricks on me for the alleged attempt to drown his most respectable client. My solicitor, however, gave a very different version of the whole affair, and called my wife, who declared that Baldiston was holding me under the water when she came to my assistance, and that before she knew where she was she found herself floundering about in the bath, with Baldiston threatening to drown her and her husband into the bargain. Roars of laughter came from everybody in the court.
My daughter also gave evidence that she saw her father and mother both in the water at the same time. (More laughter). Mr. Beddome, and the Commissioner, gave their joint opinion that all parties were in the wrong, and inflicted a fine of five shillings on each, with costs, and I and my family and friends left the Court disgusted; but, nevertheless, felt glad to be rid of a man who had taken his Maker's name in witness to a most deliberate falsehood. A few days after that I received a letter from Baldiston, in which he confessed that what he had stated in Court, was untrue, and begged me to forgive him and forget the past, and that he would endeavor to make amends to me by working the baths into such a state of perfection that I would be sure to make my fortune out of them in a very short time. "All my eye and Betty Martin," thought I, "I will have no more truck with you." But, alas, I did have, and that in such a manner as will astonish the reader.
About this time an important undertaking in which I had taken a great interest, and which was known as the Torrens Dam, was completed, and I had obtained permission from the Mayor to put boats on the river, as I reckoned it a speculation that would pay well. So I called on a friend who was blessed with plenty of money, whom we will call Mr. Gray—this gentleman was then reading for the law, and I mention this because, as one of our colonial youths, he won golden opinions for his talent and industry, and did great things to advance South Australia. He also represented our fair city in Parliament, and raised himself to the high position of Attorney-General. "What's your pleasure?" he asked. "Well, sir," I replied, "I have a notion that money can be made on the River Torrens by boating, and I want some one to go in with me and supply the necessary means, and I myself will undertake to find the skill and labor to make it a paying concern. How much money do you want to begin with?" asked he. "Besides what I can raise I want fifty pounds," I replied. "Well, here is my cheque for £50," said he, "draw out an agreement and we will sign it at once, and I will trust to your proper management of the whole thing." It was soon settled, and I took out a waterman's licence, purchased three boats to begin with, and had them on the river the next day. Boating then was all the rage, and my fleet amounted in a short time to ten crafts. I formed rowing clubs, and my boats were well patronised. At one time there were no less than forty boats on the river, and it gave quite a new appearance to the city; but it proved too good to last, for a sudden change took place that nearly ruined me. Bad weather set in as late as October, and the floods came down from the hills carrying everything before them. At last the water got underneath the dam and down it went, and everything was carried away in the flood, and amongst other things all my boats. At this disaster I was greatly discouraged, seeing that all my hopes and expectations respecting the dam were suddenly dashed to the ground; but my friend Mr. Gray took the matter quite easily, and endeavored to cheer me up.
Shortly after this the Duke of Edinburgh arrived in the colony on a second visit to Adelaide, and about the same time the new Governor, Sir James Fergusson, arrived. Now, at this stage of my history something connected with the celebrated Baldiston occurred which is worth mentioning. Through the interest of the late Governor Daly he had been appointed valet-de-chambre to the Prince and had been recommended to him as a smart man, and in a very short space of time Baldiston sustained his reputation in this respect, for whilst the Duke was staying at Government House he wantonly robbed him of his linen and other valuables; and not being content with that, he forthwith fell in love with the Governor's property, and not only stole his plate, but had the audacity to appropriate the Governor's under-garments. Housebreaking at this time was quite common in Adelaide, so much so that the Government had to increase the police force; but with all their sagacity the police could not detect the thief.
Now, amongst my acquaintances at this time was one Tom Doyle, a corporal in the detective department of police. He called on me one morning and said, "How are you, old fellow?" "Quite well," said I. "Have you heard of the numerous robberies that have been committed lately, Tom?" said he. "I saw a letter in the newspaper," said I, "complaining of the police, and making out that they could not be over smart, or they would long since have discovered the thief; but don't you suspect any one?" "Well," said he, "as you are a sworn constable, I'll tell you in confidence that I suspect that fellow that tried to drown you and your wife. So keep your eyes open, and if you hear anything let me know at once. A family in North Adelaide of the name of Fitzpatrick has had their house robbed while they were at church. The thieves took Mrs. Fitzgerald's dresses, the child's clothes, and a musical-box that was on the table. Now, as you are fond of music, should such a thing as this be brought here for sale, make some inquiries about it and let me know the result." I kept a good look out and it so happened that I was destined to be the means of bringing the thief to justice. One of my friends kept a watchmakers shop in Rundle-street, and I cautioned him that if any person called to sell a musical-box, or to have one repaired, to take down the particulars, "Well, I shall have enough to do," said he; "for every day I have repairs to make of that kind." I, however, kept calling on my friend every day, as we were very great chums and sang together at the cathedral, and other places not worth mentioning, and on one of these occasions my friend said, "Do you remember speaking to me about a musical-box?" "I do," said I; "what about it?" "Nothing particular," said he; "only a woman came in to-day with one to have a new frame made for it. The instrument is good, but there are one or two teeth broken; I never had a job like it before."
"What is the name of the person that brought it?" asked I. He looked in the book, and read as follows:—"Mrs. Baldiston, Grenfell-street, Adelaide." "Good-bye," said I; "I will see you this evening;" and the first thing I did was to see my friend, Tom Doyle, whom I soon found. "My boy, I have got a scent, and believe I can put you on to the man who stole the musical-box," and with that I told him all I knew; and when I mentioned the name, Doyle was ready to jump out of his shoes. "That's the man at Government House," said he, "and we will soon have him. The first thing to be done is to see Mr. Pfaendler, the watchmaker, and then to call on Mr. Fitzpatrick and arrange with him to meet us at Pfaendler's, to swear to the box. If he can do so, I'll get out a warrant to arrest my man, and search his house." We met at the appointed time at Pfaendler's, set the musical-box going, and before it had finished the second tune, Mrs. Fitzpatrick exclaimed, "That is my box, and I will swear to it in any court of Justice!" "Sign this paper, then," said Doyle, "and I will see you to-morrow morning."
Doyle immediately took out a warrant and sent a policeman to Baldiston's house. He then walked down to Government House to inquire, when who should answer the door to him but Baldiston himself in full livery. "I want. you," said the detective. "Want me! what for?" asked the indignant valet. "Here is my authority," said the detective, showing his warrant "If you will be good enough to wait till I change my clothes," said the valet, "I will go with you. I won't be long," The detective was taken off his guard by this little stratagem, for his prisoner quickly made tracks for the back door, bolted down the garden, jumped the wall, and made straight for his house. As soon as the detective discovered the trick, and fearing the escape of his man, he also proceeded to Baldiston's house in Grenfell-street, to catch him there. As soon as he found the detective was at his heels, he made his escape at the back door, mounted the fence, got into Rundle-street, and crossed North Terrace, followed by a crowd of men and boys who had heard the cry of "stop thief" from the detective who was not far behind him in the chase. As they neared the Botanic Gardens they lost sight of Baldiston for a short time, but a boy having given information that he had seen a man get over the railing into the stableyards of Sir Henry Ayers, the detective, and the mob that had gathered, besieged the yard and stable. Doyle got into the hayloft, turned over the hay, and found the wretched man rolled like a dog. The detective pulled him out, ornamented him with the bracelets, and took him first to his own house, where he took Mrs. Baldiston also in charge, and marched both of them off to the station. He had also taken the precaution to leave a policeman in charge of the house, where the thief had an immense lot of stolen property stowed away. The next day they had their hearing, and the wife was discharged; but Baldiston was committed and afterwards tried at the Supreme Court, and was sentenced to seven years' penal servitude. I never appeared as a witness against him, for although he had robbed and mistreated me and my wife sorely, yet I bore no malice towards the poor fellow, but left him to his fate; neither were the Prince or His Excellency the Governor called at the trial. This evil-disposed man had robbed so many people that at least a hundred charges could have been laid against him, and there was a perfect dray-load of stolen property taken to the police station to be claimed by the owners.
Whilst in prison his conduct at first was fearful, he even attempted to cut his own throat, but after a time finding it was no good to be stubborn, he got to be as quiet as a lamb, and became very pious, he even preached to the prisoners on Sundays when he could get a chance, and wrote a long letter making a full confession of what he had done and left undone. Amongst the latter was a design to blow up the City Baths. He stated in his letter that he intended getting on to the roof of the baths and dropping down the chimneys sundry bags of gunpowder, so that when the strings got burnt the bags of powder would fall, and a general blow-up of the whole place would have been the happy result. The Rev. Wilton Hack, a good man and a minister of the gospel, used to visit the prison. This gentleman took a liking to the prisoner, and is said to have converted him, and after a time baptized him in the presence of all the prisoners.
He was relieved from hard labor and appointed attendant in the sick ward. His general behaviour was so good that at the end of four years he was released. Mr. Hack helped to set him up in business in North Adelaide as a green-grocer; his wife rejoined him, and all seemed to go well for some time. He held prayer meetings and occasionally preached on Sundays, sometimes at one place and sometimes at another; but his wickedness could not have been thoroughly eradicated, and an evil fate seemed to have cast its shadow over his life. Truly the way of transgressors is hard. His wife left him, and he mixed himself up with some old chums from the stockade. At this time a cart and horse were missing, and somehow or other he was summoned as a witness in the case, and when asked his name he said it was Edward Turner; but the judge remembered him as the notorious Baldiston who had robbed the Prince. The indefatigable detective Thomas Doyle was promoted to the rank of sergeant, with a reward of twenty pounds for the zealous performance of his duty to his Queen and country in the celebrated Baldiston case.
About this time the Governor, Sir James Fergusson, was taking a course of Turkish baths, and I used to attend him professionally, and instruct him in the art of natation; and the Governor, in appreciation of my services, employed me to teach his children, Master Charles and the two Misses Fergussons. I had some scruples at that time with regard to teaching ladies to swim; but these were soon got over by Sir James pointing out that it was nothing but false modesty, and one that ought to be abolished; and further, that in his travels round the world he had observed in every place he had visited where bathing was practised, that the males and females bathed together in costume, and concluded his remarks with the well-known quotation, "Evil be to him that evil thinks."
I then undertook the task, and commenced my labors the next morning at 6 a.m. The young ladies were very anxious to learn, and soon became good swimmers. Master Charles was not quite so quick as his sisters, but in time he also became a first-class swimmer. His Excellency was so delighted when he came to the baths to witness their performances in the water, that he complimented me, and sent me a very handsome present in the shape of a beautiful breast-pin, ornamented with a miniature painting on ivory of Lahore, Gale Palace India. It is mounted in gold, and bears the following inscription:—"Presented to T. B. by His Excellency Sir James Fergusson, Bart., Adelaide, 1870," and was accompanied with the following written testimonial:—"Government House, 3rd December, 1872. Mr. T. B.—I am much obliged to you for the care you have taken of my children, and for your excellent instruction to them in the art of swimming, which I am sure will be of lasting service to them. (Signed) JAMES FERGUSSON," It was, indeed, destined to be of very great service to them; for in the month of April of the following year, whist Master Charles was bathing in the sea at Robe, he swam out too far for his strength: but his sisters swam out to his assistance, and saved his life. (See Adelaide Express, 3rd May, 1872.) Sometime after the above event, I was appointed swimming master to the Government Model Schools; and ever since that date of my diploma—24th March, 1874—I have enjoyed the distinguished title of "Professor."
From this time my business increased considerably. My swimming matches, which I had established in 1864, became very successful, and many thousands of good swimmers have been the result, and many lives have been saved in consequence. Two of my daughters I brought out as swimming mistresses, and they have taught a great number of young ladies swimming accomplishments. About the end of the year 1877 business was very bad, and my health also began to fail, and my medical attendant, Dr. Way, advised me to abstain from drink, and take a change in the country; for the reader must know the truth—viz., that I had given way to excessive drinking—and I think now that it was hardly to be wondered at, considering the temptations I had been exposed to as landlord of three public houses in Adelaide—namely, the Prince Alfred, the Earl of Zetland, and the Theatre Royal Hotel. In these places I saw dissipation enough to make men shudder at the thought of a drunkard's life. The effect on me was the growing habit of taking nobblers with everybody who asked me, which habit became so confirmed that I felt as though I could not live without it; but, happily for me, I have since found out that that was entirely a mistaken notion. My good wife at this time was becoming too ill to work, so I thought it was my duty to let her rest. I, therefore, took a house, and made over the business to my son Phillip, and retired, believing it would be as good for myself as for my wife. Everything being arranged we left the baths, I still retaining the lease and the rights thereunder. Shortly after this my wife's illness became serious, and she gradually got worse, and three months afterwards departed this life in hope of a better beyond. I am glad to be able to say, and those who knew her will endorse the statement, that there was no reason to fear as to her future, for she died trusting wholly in our Lord her Saviour. I was then left with ten children out of fourteen, but fortunately most of them were grown up men and women. It was a great blow to me to lose my partner in life, after being married to her thirty-seven years. I returned to the baths and lived there with my children; but not as the indefatigable man that I had once been. After that time I kept myself alive with free indulgence in company and nobblers, both of which stimulants I have since discovered were wofully deceiving. My end seemed to be fast approaching, and I began to think seriously over my past life, and came to the conclusion that, to a very large extent, it had been a mistake, and that now it had become a case of life or death with me, and that whichever it was to be rested entirely with myself. "To be, or not to be!" that was the question. I had no strength of my own left upon which to act, and I felt that, unless superhuman help came to me, I was a doomed man. I secretly prayed for help, and it came in a way I little expected.
Now about this time there arrived in Adelaide a good man by the name of Matthew Burnett. He brought a good character for benevolence and self-sacrificing work with him from Victoria, where he had spent eighteen years of his life in preaching the word of God, and advocating the cause of temperance. He had made many thousands of converts. Some people in Adelaide looked upon him at first as one of the many adventurers who had come over from Melbourne with the idea of doing better here; but they had misunderstood him, as it was quite clear such was not his aim. It was no pecuniary or sordid motive that had brought him over; but the grand object of his life evidently was to rescue from an early grave, and to lead on to God, and to everything that was good, those who were being allured, step by step, to destruction through indulgence in the cursed drinking system. At this time I met an old chum named Dyer. "Have you been to hear this man, Burnett?" said he. "No," I replied; "I don't go to such humbug. Come and have a drink." "Well," said he, "I will just have one with you; but I mean to give it up, Tom. I went to hear him," said he, "and he opened my eyes somewhat. He is a very wonderful man. Why, there was one woman there who nearly fainted, his eloquence had such power over her. He is a great man and no mistake; and I intend to join next week. Just have one nobbler with me now; you paid for the last, you know. Will you join if I do," said Dyer. "I'll think it over," said I.
I did think, and that was all, until I got so bad that I had to send for my friend, Dr. Way. When he came and found me in bed, he said, very sadly, "Ah! Tom, you have been at it again," and I could not deny it; for it was too true. The doctor gave me good advice and physic, and I swallowed the latter but forgot to practise the former. I stayed at home for several days and got a little better, and tried hard to knock off my bad habit; but although I was fully aware of the fact that my frequent indulgence was the cause of my illness, I had not the resolution to abstain from drink. A few days after this Mr. Burnett paid visit to the workmen at the Railway Works, to give them a short lecture during their dinner hour. A great number were present besides the workmen, and amongst them was I, who went there merely as looker-on and to kill time. The subject of the lecture was "Yankee Bill," a man that at one time wrote some lines to Mr. Burnett, threatening to hang him on a wattle tree. He afterwards thought better of it, and became one of Mr. Burnett's best friends, working with him in the good cause of temperance. The life of Yankee Bill is a lesson most people might learn. I took a great interest in the lecture, and studied well the good advice it contained, and it seemed to me to go down much better than physic.
A day or two afterwards when I was taking a glass of ale, my son Charles came to me and said, "Father, there is a gentleman waiting to see you upstairs. He says he don't want any money, but he wants to give you something good." "I'll be there," said I, and went to him at once. "Your pleasure?" said I. "Well, the truth is," said he, "I heard you were unwell, and called to see if you were better. You remember Mr. Giles, who used to deliver letters to you some time back?" "I think I do," said I; "and it's very kind of you to call. I have been very ill for sometime, but I know the cause of it; I take too much to drink." "I thought so," said he. "Now, if you were to join Mr. Burnett's crusade, it would make a new man of you. I have been a teetotaller myself for the last two years, and can, therefore, speak, from experience," said Giles. "I have a very good mind to try it," said I. "Why don't you say at once that you will try it? You will never repent it as long as you live," said Giles; "and, with your permission, I will call in and introduce Mr. Burnett to you. He is a very pleasant man to speak to." "Well you may," said I; "but mind I do not pledge to join." "Good afternoon; keep yourself quiet," said he; "I can see you are in a very weak state; but you will get over that in time, if you follow Mr. Burnett's advice."
The next day, while I was indulging in a glass of ale, my daughter Grace rushed into my room, and said, "Here is Mr. Burnett come to see you." "Ask him in," said I; "I will see him directly." At that moment I was engaged in warming my beer. I, however, left it in the glass on the mantelpiece and went to see Mr Burnett. "How do you do?" said he; "I have much pleasure in making your acquaintance, Professor; for I have heard a great deal about you." "A great deal of no good, I fear," said I, "unless it has been to landlords of hotels." "You mistake me; you have many good friends who fear that, in your love for society you are yielding rather too freely to indulgence in drink, and positively injuring your health by it. They don't want to lose you yet, and they tell me that they are heartily sorry to see such a marked difference in your looks; and I tell you, my friend," said he, "it cannot positively last long. I have witnessed many cases like yours, and I tell you candidly the remedy entirely rests with you. There are many days of health and happiness in store for you, if you will only embrace the present opportunity. Pledge me your word now that you will positively give up the drink, and all that I promise is yours—peace of mind and good health." "Well, it's worth trying for," said I; "but if the sudden knocking of it off kills me, as many say it will, I shall have caused my own death by doing so." "That's all nonsense," said Mr. Burnett; "you try it, and you will find that I am right and they are wrong." "I have thought over the subject pretty well," said I, "and I think I will give it a trial." "Good!" said Mr. Giles, who was present at the interview; "sign at once." "Oh! Do, father," said my daughter Grace. "Will you sign if I do?" said I. "Yes, father," was the reply. Mr. Burnett thereupon produced the agreement, and I signed it; and my three sons and daughters have since joined, together with my three servants. It is scarcely necessary to say that there was great rejoicing. I threw my glass of ale into the fire, and I am glad to say that I have not touched alcoholic liquors since.
I then described to Mr. Burnett how the desire for drink increased, and the more I drank the more I wanted. "To prevent that craving," said Mr. Burnett, "I will give you a very simple remedy; it was given to me by the celebrated Dr. D'Unger. It is this, and you take three teaspoonfuls of it every four hours the first day, two the next, one the next, and so on until you have taken the contents of the bottle. My dear friend," continued Mr. Burnett, "I will call and see you again in the course of a day or so, and in the meanwhile take as much nourishing food as you can. Good-bye. I will call in, say on Friday, and Mr. Giles will call to-morrow with Dr. D'Unger's medicine." The first day and night was a sore trial for me. Oh, how I longed for beer and nobblers! But I had given my word, and I would not break it. I had lost my appetite, but managed to take a cup of cocoa and a small slice of toast, and was so reduced in body that when I weighed myself I was alarmed to find that I had dwindled down from 10st. 4lb. to 8st. 1 1/2lb. The next morning Mr Giles called.
"What sort of a night did you pass?" said he. "Very bad," replied I. "You will be better tonight, after you have taken this medicine, which is not nauseous. You will find your appetite return, and it will make you sleep as well." I found it all true what was said. It is a most wonderful discovery, and its effect is simply marvellous. The second day after I had taken it, I could eat and sleep well, a thing I had not done for years. Mr. Burnett called on me on Friday, according to promise, and gave me a few comforting words, which tended to encourage and strengthen me under my severe trial; but happily for me the medicine was so effectual that every day seemed to bring with it less of the craving for drink. In the course of about a month I found myself getting the master of the cursed passion that had enslaved me so long, and, alas! not only me, but hundreds of thousands besides; and I intend, with God's help, to continue steadfast in my resolution to the end of life, and as long, as I live to use all my influence to promote the good cause of total abstinence, and to follow the example of Mr. A. W. P. Ward, one of Mr. Burnett's converts, and the veritable "Yankee Bill," before mentioned, whose warm advocacy induced no less than seventeen thousand persons to take the pledge. In drawing this long story of my life to a close, I desire to inform the reader that it is not for my own glory it has been written, but with the hope that some good may be the result. I hope that nothing has been written that will offend anyone, for I have endeavored to avoid anything like arguments on vexed subjects, and to write the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
If I have not been perfectly accurate in my dates, I wish to set myself right by recapitulating the following facts:—I was born on September 22, 1818, in the city of London, and was baptized at old Cripplegate Church; I was married on August the 10th, 1840, left England in 1852, and arrived in Adelaide on July 16, 1852; left Adelaide for the diggings in March, 1853, and returned the same year, pursued the banking and professional part of my life until the year 1866, established the Turkish Baths in 1870, lost my wife in 1877, and became a follower of Mr. Burnett in 1880.
I here finish my autobiography up to the present and give place to those who may think fit to criticise this humble attempt, and leave the after to some one who knows me well to add something by way of comment concerning my life, and to refer to what I have done and undone; and I trust that when my hour shall arrive to depart from this present state of being, I will be able to depart in peace with God and goodwill to all men. In concluding this narrative, I desire to inform the reader that I do not for a moment flatter myself that I am giving forth to the world anything that may be designated a literary production, but only an emanation from one born within the sound of Bow Bells. I feel that I am merely contributing a simple and unvarnished story of one who may be fairly taken as the type of a large class in the great City of London.
MY EPILOGUE. "'Tis Education that forms the mind, Just as the twig is bent the tree's inclined"— So runs the adage of an age that's past; An aphorism that is bound to last. Long have I taught our gentle youth Natation, And tried to raise the physique of our nation. To better their physiques no physic they require To train developed biceps that never tire. To keep their heads with ease above the waters, Much have I done to train our sons and daughters. Now, as an author, I humbly strive to win— Old pupils' help. Come, gratify my whim, And float me on the literary tide— And make your OLD PROFESSOR gratified. Grant me your patronage, for 'tis most sure This is the first fruits of my "Water Cure." Before dear MATTHEW BURNETT came, my nose Did blush and blossom like the budding rose, And, conscientiously, I did take my beer As well as any in the hemisphere. With festive glass I strove to drown my care— Reflect upon the past I scarcely dare— New on the path that doth become a man, I tread, and have cast off the ban. Help me, old colonists, to do what's right; Help me, old pupils, with your smiles so bright; Help me, ye daughters of this sunny clime— You'll ne'er regret it in the coming time, When you and yours upon the stream of life Shall safely ride as husband or as wife: And as you con my book you'll think of him Who in your youth first taught you how to swim.
LIST OF SUBSCRIBERS Ayers, Sir Henry Astles, Dr. Anderson, J. M. Allen, Joseph Arch, A. Bray, J. C., M.P. Brind, Mrs. Bower, D., M.P. Bonythorn, J.L.. Burnett, J, Brind, E. Brooks, C. H. Bean Bros. Beresford, G. W. D. Baye, H. Brine, Edward Berry, A. Beyer, F. V. Colton, J., M.P. Cox, Rev. F. W. Cooper, Wm. Cockburn, Arthur Chapman, Wm. Compton, Chas. Campbell, Dr. A. Crawford, W. T. Crawford, Fraser S. Charlick, H. Cox, J. Cussen, R. Clark, A. Cox, G. Christian, C. Chittleborough, J. Derrington, E. H., J.P. Deslandes, J. Dunn, John (Dunn & Co.) Darling, J., M.P. Davis, Mrs. Day, Chas. Dillon, W. Downs, Geo. Dearman, W. Doyle, Thos. Diamond, A, Downer, J. W., M.P. Dyer, C. Edwards, Ellis. Everett, Chas. Evens, W. R. English, Thos. Fraser, Hugh, M.P. Fabain, T. Finniss, Hon. B.T. Fowler G. S., M.P. Freeman, Geo. Finlayson, .J. H. Fleming, J. Fox, Mrs. M. Farr, Canon, M A. Glyde, Hon. L. Gosse, Dr. Wm. Grundy, —. Gall, David Giles, J. F. Gall, Thos. Hill, Jno. Henry, Ivan Hooper, Wm. Hack, Theodore Hines, J. N. Hagedorn, T. Harris, T. W. Hall, .Jno. Howell, C. W. Hanton, J. Hawkes, G. W., S. M. Harris, G. T. Howells, P. A. Hellman, F. Hartisch, Otto V. Hare, C. S., M.P. Jervois, Sir W. F. D., K.C.M.G. Johnson, Thos. Jackson, Thos. Jury, R. King, Hon. Thos. Klauer, A. Lazar, S. Lazar, A. Laughton, Geo. Lawrence, V. Lyall, Rev. J. Lee, Jno. Lower, Fredk. Lockwoocl, Geo. Lee, Phillip Longson, E. C. Longson, Chas. Morgan Hon Wm. Morphett, Sir Jno. Maddison, T. McCarthy, B. McEllistor, Thos. Matson, Miss Madge, M. H. McDonald, Mrs J. Mumme, C. Mead, Rev. S. Morey, Benj. Main, Wm. Millbank, Geo. Malcom, A. R. Marshall, O. W. Nankivell, J. Ninness, W. Nimmo, Jas. Norman, Dr. Oldam, N. Oehlmann, H. O'Halloran, H. D., J.P. Otto, F. H. Parr, J. H. Peacock, Caleb, M.P. Pickering, Jno. Perrin, E, Powell, Thos. Penman & Galbraith Russell, Dean Ramsey, Hon. J. G. Rounsevell, W.B., M.P. Rowe,—. Russell, —. Robertson, H. Robertson, Geo. Rigby, C. Robinson, —. Rowe, P. J. Rees, R., M.P. Rough,-. Smith, E.T., Mayor of Adelaide Stow, J., J.P. Santo, Hon. P. Setch, G. Solomon, J. Solomon, S. Stevens, W. B. Schrader, Mrs. Stone, —. Stratton, W. Stoneham, H. Solomon, Emanuel Spiller, E. Squire, J. H. Schlork, T. H.. Smith, Captain Stone, Geo. Sawers, W.R. Stuckey, Robt. Simms, W.K., M.P. Sanderson, F. Saunders, S. Stewart, Chas. Seymour, G. Stewart, Chas. Temple, Chas. Townsend, Wm. M.P. Turnbull, J. T. Tomsett, Wm. Way, Chief Justice Warburton, Major Worsnop, Thos. Wright, Fredk. Wright, E. W. Way, Dr. Woodcock, H. Weber, P, Woodforde, Geo. Wilson, T. Winham, W. Wigley, J. Wigley, J. S. White, Chas. Vauzey, R. Vaughan, Richard
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