Laying Informations!

"Chiltern, f. the Nord", by Eugene von Guerard, courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales Collection.


On Tuesday the two worthies, Carroll and Bassett, broke down fearfully. Although they had three informations then before the Court, they failed in sustaining even one of them, and were positively unable to raise the price of their nobblers from the revenue. This is a sad condition of things, and will not administer by any means to the lively hopes which the renowned Carroll and his comrade entertained on coming to these diggings in the respectable garb of informers and spies. Three failures in succession, upon one day are rather serious. To be disbelieved three times, even upon oath, is a matter somewhat damaging. If it be possible that an informer has a character to sustain, these constitute a series of mishaps which serve to remove any little traces of it that may perchance be found to remain.

When they went to Connor's at a quarter past ten at night, Carroll seems to have been thoroughly disguised. He wore moustachios, had on a grey shirt, and made himself appear as like a working man as hirsute appendages and toggery could do in that respect. His compatriot, Bassett, all the way from the shores of Italy, was equally well decked out, in a garb fashioned to disarm suspicion. He was dressed in a pair of white trowsers and a blue shirt. On the day they visited Connor's they seem to have done a stroke of business of no inconsiderable extent. They laid six informations that day. The one with his moustachios and the other in his pair of white ducks, took a quiet afternoon's ramble, looked in at ball-rooms, lolled upon sofas, admired the dances, very possibly passed a flattering opinion upon the young ladies who were careering in the waltzes, toppled off a couple of nobblers of brandy—dark brandy they seem to admire—took a moonlight walk to the Camp, and forthwith lodged their informations.

Pleasant life this ! Carroll likes it amazingly. He says it is much easier than that of the labouring business he was engaged in formerly. Bassett, in broken English, declares that it is a capitally "agree-a-bel '' mode of raising the wind, and that he means to write home a letter by the next mail to some of his relatives—the lazzaroni of Rome —to tell them of the good fortune which awaits them should they come out to Australia, and follow the occupation to which he has devoted his future fame.

To be sure the smash of Tuesday has served to darken the prospects of both these gentlemen, for not only did they fail in the case of Connors, but also in that of Prost, and also again in that of Griffiths. In the latter case they struggled hard for a conviction. They made a desperate effort to bag the £5 note ; but their failure was most signal. Carroll swore that the words, " Music Hall, George Griffiths, " were painted on the window, on the night they visited the establishment, whereas Bartlett, who painted the sign, distinctly deposed that the word 'music' only had been painted at the time, and that the other words were subsequently added. This was a floorer for Mr. Carroll, and he never recovered his legs since. He seems, however, to have had the use of his feet on the night he visited Griffiths ; for he admitted he entered the ball-room, tripped the light fantastic toe, and whirled round and round with one of the ladies, before he thought proper to toss off the nobbler that was to subject the landlord to the fine of £50.

It seems to us that these Informers have made a finish of it in this district, for, after three failures in succession, they cannot stand. The two gentlemen,—the strange co-partnership of the Irishman with the Italian had better dissolve, and the one having flourished his shillelagh to little purpose, and the other having used his stilletto to small advantage, they might as well place their respective' weapons upon the shelf, and betake them selves to some respectable line of livelihood in a distant part of the colony.

Since writing the above, we are happy to learn that Carroll and Bassett have taken their departure from amongst us for Beechworth. At two o'clock on Thursday the last of these memorable gentlemen was seen at the Camp. For some days previously they had been employed in sinking a well at the rear of that establishment—a sort of pleasant recreation which imparted an appetite—but the total break-down of their cases on Wednesday caused them speedily to decamp. Had the final departure of two such fashionable gentle men been generally known, doubtless some hundreds would have assembled to greet their departure with three enthusiastic cheers, but, for reasons capable of easy divination, they slipped away very quietly without doing any of us the honor of making known the time of their exit.

THE BREAK-DOWN OF THE INFORMERS. (1859, February 22). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1857 - 1918), p. 4. Retrieved October 8, 2013, from

So in the laying of information with the police, the informants were not able to withstand a vigorous defence - though one cannot help thinking that in fact a fair bit of sly grog had changed hands in these cases- but even the magistrates didn't think the informants were respectable or believable, and so they were forced to de-camp to Beechworth, and business at Chiltern went back to normal.