REMINISCENCES OF THE DIGGINGS.

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Post  Guest on Tue May 24, 2011 8:14 am

Hard Men Hard Days! The below article should have a haunting effect on the reader. This article is the best I have found while researching the old newspaper articles. The article will become a memorable story which you will recall from time to time.
Please enjoy.
James cheers


REMINISCENCES OF THE DIGGINGS.

BY W. H., PHILALETHES.

MARIE LOUISE; OR, THE ORPHAN.

It was a lovely morning in the month of September, 1853, the azure vault was beautifully clear, the sun shone with unwonted brilliancy unusual bustle and activity prevailed among the diggers, and a cry of "new diggings! new diggings:" was echoed from tent to tent and bank to bank of the auriferous Turon, until the shouts of the excited gold seekers became quite deafening. On instituting enquires as to the cause of these clamorous declamations, I gleaned that an important discovery of new and rich digging ground had been made by a member of the "Beardy Society," on a hill opposite Munday Point, and which, in honour of the fortunate discoverer had already been labelled "Beardy's Hill," Being a representative of the press a chronicler of the daily events that occurred in the sweet valley of the Turon. I placed my note book in my pocket, and started for the site of the new and startling gold field; little aware, however, of the affecting tale, that day to be confided to me, or of the heartrending scene I was to be an unwilling beholder. On arriving at Beardy's Hill, I found a large number of diggers, an heterogenous assemblage, containing members of nearly every nation of the world, concentrated in a very small compass. If the report of each grisly bearded digger were to be believed, one would have supposed that by a peculiar and unheard of principle of the attraction of gravitation, all the gold distributed throughout the entire globe was concentrated in that minitive locality. One had obtained a pannikin full of gold in a few minutes; another had found a nugget of such prodigious size that the Louisa Creek nugget of one hundred pounds was but a pea in comparison; this one's claim was so rich in the precious metal that fear alone prevented him from divulging it; and that one's contained such unheard of quantities, that the gold which decorated and embellished the temple of Solomon was nothing to it. Such were the astonishing revelations confided to me, in all apparent sincerity, as veritable realities, and which I was requested to publish as "confirmation, strong as holy writ" of the development of the unrivalled and inexhaustible auriferous re- sources of the Western Gold Fields. However, I saw quite enough to convince me that Beardy's Hill was not, as I had been led to suppose, a pyramid of gold, and having gathered all the information I deemed necessary, and personally inspected and witnessed the produce of many of the claims that had been bottomed, I took my departure for my domicile at Sofala. As I strolled quietly homewards, cogitating upon the extravagant exaggerations I had just heard, and ruminating upon the future; of Australia's greatness; and of the mighty nation forming at the Antipodes; my attention was arrested by deep
groans; emanating from a bark gunyah, at the back of which was attached a tent, of the most delicate and fragile texture, and which was situated on the banks of a tributary of the Turon, commonly known as Little Oakey Creek. I was induced by one of those irresistible impulses the human mind, which we cannot for the life us get over, to visit the gunyah from whence they proceeded. I went to the aperture and asked "if any one was within." A voice, feeble and plaintive, articulated "yes," and bade me enter. But never shall I forget, to the longest day that I live, the scene that startled my vision as I entered. Upon pallet of straw, and covered only by blanket, filthy, tattered and torn, lay a female not more than nineteen years of age, apparently in the last agonies of death. As I stood in silent contemplation of the human wreck before me, a smile crossed her features, indicative of gratification, at the sight of a fellow mortal. She pointed to her lips, and made other signs that she was suffering from extreme thirst. There was an hotel not far off, and I immediately procured some wine and water, and elevating her head, gave her a little to quench her burning thirst. For a few moments she lay motionless, and experienced great difficulty in breathing. Gradually, however, she recovered, and requested more drink. I gave her small quantities, at intervals, and she appeared much relieved, and breathed with greater freedom. To my astonishment, she thanked me in language the most dignified, and fervently invoked the blessings of heaven upon my head. But still she spoke as if she felt, and, indeed, every external appearance indicated, that the period of her dissolution was at hand. Anxious to know the circumstances that had reduced her to her present miserable and forlorn condition, I requested her history. She fixed her eyes upon me with intense amazement, but gradually relaxing, she replied, "Sir, you appear as young as I am, and your manner indicates the gentleman. But appearances are deceptive. I am the victim of a very externally, genteel individual, but possessed of a heart, base, cruel, and perfidious. My history, however, you shall have. To you it shall be confided; but on one condition.
"Name it," I replied.
"That you reveal it to no one until three years after my death."
"Most rigidly," I replied, "will I adhere the stipulated condition."
I endeavoured, so far as I was enabled, to place her attenuated frame in a position that she could speak, free from pain. Having administered, at her request, a little wine, she proceeded as follows:—

"My father was a physician and enjoyed lucrative practice in the beautiful city of Bath. At the age of thirty he married the daughter of a clergyman, remarkable for her unsurpassing beauty and accomplishments. Shortly after the marriage he was induced by those whom he believed his friends, but who proved his greatest enemies, to abandon his practice at Bath, and embark his future in the gay and profligate city of Paris. In the latter city I was born, and received, in honour of a distinguished friend of my father's, the name of Marie Louise. I have a dim recollection of my mother, and that is all, for she died when I was three years of age, of a disease which I believe was hereditary in her family, namely, consumption. Previous to my mother's death, my father found, that, in voluntarily exiling himself from his native land, he had taken a step in the wrong direction. He had not one-third of the practice at Paris, that he had at Bath, while the expenses of his establishment were such, that it would require the riches of a Rothschild to support them. So great was my father's grief at the loss of his amiable wife, that a violent fever ensued, and for days his life was despaired of. It pleased Providence, however, in the plentitude of his goodness, to restore him to health, and shortly after he revisited the land of his nativity and resided again in the city of Bath. Matters progressed as favourably as could be wished. He regained in a great measure his former practice and months and years—ah! would that I could recall them—glided smoothly along. To me these years are replete with happiness. A kind benevolent creature was provided as my governess and from her I experienced the solicitude of a mother. In the midst of my happiness, and when I had attained my seventeenth year, my father suddenly died, and was buried in the grave of his ancestors. At his death I found myself an orphan and the possessor of £500. At this time the discovery of gold in this land created a very great sensation in England, and a whimsical idea entered my head to visit the land of gold. There was something romantic, perhaps the fastidious will term it immodest, for a young lady of my age undertaking alone, a journey of sixteen thousand miles. But I had formed a resolution to leave my native land, and the earnest persuasive eloquence of my friends, failed to set that resolution aside. Had l but known what was before me, the intense mental and bodily suffering I was to undergo; the horrible crime I was to commit, which will render my memory execrable; and that you, Sir, were to find me the most wretched, the most miserable of beings, oh, how different, how different should I have acted! But fate! fate! How dark and inscrutable are thy ways. As I was observing, I made my determination, to frequent a foreign shore, and after taking leave of those I considered my friends, not forgetting my good kind governess, who sobbed like a child when I left her, I embarked on board the Roman Emperor, at Gravesend, and set sail for the El Dorado, I need not detail to you the particulars of the voyage, suffice it to say, we had a very pleasant and prosperous one, and arrived safely in Sydney Harbour about the middle of August. As I landed on the wharf, alone and unattended, I experienced the extreme loneliness of my situation, and for the first time since leaving home, I felt sensitively apprehensive of danger. However, I called into requisition, all the courage I was possessed of, and at once determined to surmount the difficulties and dangers that beset my intricate and thorny path. It is very easy to form resolutions, but quite another thing to carry them into effect. And notwithstanding my pre- conceived notions of firmness, on the very first essay, I found myself as weak and helpless as a child. I required respectable lodgings, how was I to get them? I felt an innate suspicion of every one. I fancied there was something sinister in the looks of every person I met, and to make enquires of such, was a thing impossible. In my dilemma I observed a police officer who must be honest I imagined. To him I explained my position, and he kindly guided me to a very respectable looking house, where I experienced great kindness, civility, and attention. The question now arose, what was I to do? I could not expect my £500, now reduced to £450, to miraculously imitate the widow's meal and oil. As a preliminary step, I placed my capital in a Bank, and then inserted an advertisement in the morning papers for the situation of a governess. On the following morning I received on answer from a lady at Camper- down, who had three daughters, for whom she required a governess. I engaged a cab, and proceeded to the address adverted to in the letter.
On my arrival I was received with great politeness and condescension. I explained the circumstances under which I arrived in the colony, and my simple story affected mama much, in the afternoon I was introduced to papa, and after much investigation we entered into a definite arrangement, and the next day was duly installed as governess. And now commences my tale of woe, my period of misery. Shrink not from my unmeaning gaze. Death has implanted his talons on my vitals. The unfathomable ocean of eternity extends before me. A few brief hours, and you, the world and I, shall have parted for ever, yes,
for ever. "As the last words escaped her lips, her features suddenly became fixed and rigid, and I involuntarily shuddered, as I reflected I stood in the presence of death. She remained apparently insensible for a few minutes, but soon gave signs of returning life. I gave her a little wine, which partially revived her, and addressed to her a few words of comfort and consolation. She received them kindly, but said that I must hear the remaining portion of her narrative, before I spoke to her of hope and mercy. Noticing a tear in my eye, she observed "weep not for me. Such wretches as I, are not worthy of a tear, You are doubtless impatient to hear the close of my sad history. How my heart trembles while my tongue relates, the terrible events, that have occurred in the last eighteen months of my painful existence. In that brief period I have been a wife, a mother, and a oh God! oh God! a murderer ! Yes, you stand in the presence of a mother, who has imbrued her hands in the blood of her child, and can you talk to me of hope? of mercy, and forgiveness? But listen, while my tale of horror makes your young blood curdle in your veins. I was duly installed governess. While there, a fiend in human guise, paid me the most assiduous attention. He was styled a gentleman, and outward appearances denoted him such. He seemed about thirty years of age, of most agreeable manners, and was said to be in possession of an annual income of some five hundred a year. Whenever I went for a walk he endeavoured to meet me, avowed his passion, and swore eternal fidelity, and invariably accompanied me home. Need I say, the poison he administered was of too subtle a nature, not to produce its effects. He won my youthful affections, and I promised to become his wife. He went to the diggings, and on his return four months after we were married. We remained in Sydney a month, and I then accompanied him to the Turon. Six months after, he left me for Tambaroora, promising to write every post. The first post day arrived, and with it the promised letter. But, oh, conceive if you can, my horror, my dismay, when the heartless wretch coolly informed me that I had been deceived, that when he allied himself with me, he had a wife and family in Melbourne, and consequently his marriage with me was null and void.
Conceive my agony, left in a mountain glen, with an unborn babe, alone, almost penniless, and this frail dwelling my only habitation. Half frantic, self-destruction now suggested itself to me, and preferring death to my miserable existence, I determined upon suicide. I thought of poison, and procuring some laudanum from a surgeon, I made up my mind that night to terminate my earthly career. But as the evening advanced I became cool and collected, I thought of my babe, and my resolution failed me. Two months after I was delivered of a son; he was a fine, strong, robust child, the very image of its father, and therefore you will suppose to me all the more odious. Its father, wretch, fiend, devil, that he was, I could in a paroxysm of revenge have plunged a dagger in his bosom. But the child —could I suppose it answerable for the hellish crimes of its parent? Oh no! I loved the in- nocent little creature. I nursed it with all the maternal solicitude I was possessed of. It was cross and peevish, or at least I imagined so; I never could get it to sleep soundly or quietly. I thought of the laudanum I had in my tent. I gave it a few drops and it produced the desired effect. One evening it was crying fearfully. I knew not what to do, I tried every means at my disposal to soothe and quiet it, but in vain. I gave it an unusually large dose of the fatal laudanum, and its cries were soon drowned in profound sleep. I retired to rest, and exhausted nature found repose in sleep. But, such a sleep! I was haunted, with a hideous dream, the memory of
which, makes me tremble. I dreamt that I was arrested by the officers of justice for the horrible crime of infanticide. I was brought to trial, the evidence of my guilt was overwhelming, and the jury pronounced me guilty. The judge placed the insignia of death upon his head, and addressed me in a voice, deep and powerful, yet tender and humane, upon the dreadful crime I had committed, and condemned me to die, by the hands of the executioner. I was placed in the condemned cell, and visited by the chaplain of the gaol. My crime was of such a heinous nature, that the prerogative of mercy would not be extended to me, and the day was fixed for my execution. The dreaded moment at length arrived, I was rudely pinioned by the executioner, and conducted to the fatal apparatus of death. The rope was adjusted, and while the clergyman, was reading the usual prayers, I lifted my eyes towards the multitude who were assembled to witness my execution, and beheld the pale features of my child. I gave a loud and piercing shriek, and awoke—it was but a dream. I involuntarily seized the child, by my side. Great god ! it was dead! cold and motionless! I, I, wretch! fiend! monster! yet its mother! was its murderer! And can you promise me hope, mercy, and forgiveness? Oh! my child, my child! would to god I had died before thee!" The fearful excitement she laboured under in rehearsing this portion of her narrative I as apprehensive would produce fatal results. She leaned back upon her coarse pillow of grass, and for several minutes was lost in a profound reverie, during which her countenance underwent a variety of changes, and it was quite evident death was slowly creeping upon her. I was afraid to rouse her, "but she spared me the pain of doing so, by energetically elevating herself into her former position. She took a little water to relieve her parched lips, and then proceeded—"I concealed, as you may suppose, the real cause of the death of my child, and as it was peevish and always whining, which my only female neighbour attributed to illness, no questions were asked, and on the following day a coffin was provided, and it was taken by four diggers and interred in the burial ground at Sofala. Two months have elapsed since the murder of my child, and the bitterness of a hundred lives have been concentrated in that brief period. I have never since left my bed. The slender means left at my disposal by my cruel and treacherous husband have long been exhausted, and had it not been for the kindness of a female friend, the grave, ere this, would have received its prey. It is with great difficulty I have been enabled to confide to you the particulars of my brief career. I cannot, in the nature of things, long continue in this wretched state; too good, however, for a murderer! Perhaps before you sleep I shall be in eternity, and when my ashes shall have commingled with their kindred clay, and time obliterated all traces of my memory, you can make what use you like of what I just related to you. You are the only mortal being I have seen for the last three days. May heaven reward you for jour act of kindness to me to-day; and may the God of sinners have mercy—ah! but that is impossible upon the guilty soul of the murderer!"
I remained conversing with her upon matters connected with her eternal salvation for a short
time, and after engaging a person to attend upon her and administer to her wants, I took my leave. About an hour after my departure she became insensible; and about ten o'clock that night she breathed her last. I followed her to the grave the ensuing day, and as the last sod was adjusted, I could not refrain from dropping a tear on the narrow cell that contained all that was mortal of the hapless orphan,
MARIE LOUISE.

Taken from
The Moreton Bay Courier
January 1857
http://newspapers.nla.gov.au/



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Post  Rustydog on Sat Jul 30, 2011 9:40 pm

haunting yes , and as you read this the pictures will fill your head on what this would have been like back then
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Post  Guest on Sun Jul 31, 2011 10:13 am

Heres the link mate cheers http://newspapers.nla.gov.au/ cheers cheers

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Post  Billy on Mon Aug 01, 2011 7:20 pm

Sent shivers down my spine and brought a tear to my eye as well Sad

What a well written story and thankyou James for sharing cheers
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Post  Hoffs Gold on Sat Nov 19, 2011 4:45 pm

Thanks for sharing James, indeed a good read, Smile
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Post  piston broke on Sat Nov 19, 2011 8:57 pm

Thanks James. I found the language quite challenging, but what a sad sad life story of that poor young women. cheers Pete.
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