Friday, December 14, 2012

A Rumpus in the Back Slums

According to reports of the day, street fighting was not uncommon in the early days of Brisbane Town. In fact, many of the townspeople considered outbreaks of pugilism an entertainment.

To the disgust of one correspondent to the Moreton Bay Courier, some of the most enthusiastic spectators were women.

Colonial Soldier
PUGILISTIC DISPLAYS. - A correspondent in calling our attention to a desperate fight which took place in North Brisbane on Tuesday last, between a soldier and a sawyer, says:-

"I counted no less than eight women who were present, looking on with great interest; and one disgrace to her sex was actually cheering and goading the men on by applause, oaths, and shouts!

This virago was the wife of one of the combatants."

O témpora, O mores[1]![2]

Women were not only spectators. They were not shy to enter the field of combat themselves.

A frequent correspondent to the Moreton Bay Courier using the nome de plume "Asmodeus”[3], described one such bout in the area of humble abodes behind the main street of Brisbane Town.

The report is a wonderful example of the erudite and entertaining writing style of a educated person of the time, observing the street life of the town.

Early View of Queen Street, Brisbane

RUMPUS -A correspondent signing himself "Asmodeus[4]" calls our attention to the rows which he states nightly take place in some of the houses at the back of Queen-street, near the Military Barrack.

On Monday evening it appears there was a regular “shindy" amongst the folks in the "back slums," and a first rate scene was exhibited between two married females, both of middle age.

The combatants commenced by belabouring one another with broomsticks, and eventually resorted to "fistycuffs," displaying no little science, and several distinct rounds came off with great applause. Jealousy, we understand, was the belli tete rima causa[5], and we are enabled to state that the conjugal rights were effectually vindicated, as the offended spouse completely destroyed that beauty which had beguiled her husband, who, by the way, stood by during the whole combat, apparently delighted at the contest for his affections.

Victorian Era Street Scene

To his great astonishment, however, his spouse having demolished her feminine adversary, immediately directed her energies to her liege lord and master, and, amid the roars and cheers of the bystanders, gave him a sound drubbing.

She was, however, "hauled off," as Jack would say, but not before the countenance of her dear husband had been made a miniature map of the Carribbee Islands, which had been graphically described thereon by the nails of his better half.[6]

There are no reports of any police involvement in the skirmish so the citizens involved seemed to have settle their dispute without the interference of the law.

[1] Oh, the times! Oh, the morals! (Latin)
[2] The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 18 December 1847
[3] Hebrew King of demons.
[4] Hebrew King of demons.
[5] Cause of the nasty fight. (Latin)
[6] The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 27 November 1847

No comments:

Post a Comment