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AN ESSAY ON THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.




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SEVERAL causes—the most prominent, the effects of communion with civilised man, which has enervated the constitution of the race; the deplorable custom of murdering the new-born infant, or exciting abortion; the inroads of the white man, and the enforcing of the laws of Great Britain, (although why the blacks of Australia can be subjected to such laws, without their own consent, I cannot dearly perceive)—have tended to thin the various tribes of Australian aborigines; nay, more, to create fears of their speedy extirpation. I would preserve every trace of this peculiar race. In appearance the native Australian stands about five feet and a half; his complexion is not darker than that of the American Indian, although the former has been named the black, and the other the red man. Their complexions are similar. The American Indian is not so very superior in natural parts to the Australian savage as has commonly been supposed; in cunning at least


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he is equal. The roamer of the forests of the “far west” excels in hunting, fishing, and in predatory warfare; the black aborigine of Australia, so far as he has field for exertion, is both an experienced hunter and fish-catcher, and no mean enemy at the “spear, boomerang, or waddie.”

It is a mistake to suppose an Australian black man simple; in every art with which he could possibly have become acquainted he is perfect. To throw the spear, boomerang, or waddie, seems almost “a second nature.” Place a gun in the hands of a black, he shames the best shots of sporting nations in Europe. Set him on horseback, he is a splendid rider. The young men of a warlike tribe will follow a hostile tribe for days to cut off some enemy, or do some other daring act. The parties sent out with this object commonly skulk to the river or water-hole, where they conceal their bodies in water, leaving their heads occasionally above, to imbibe the necessary amount of air. The person for whom they have watched at length approaches; he is dealt with in the most summary manner, for a blow of the cranguil or waddie, planted on some part of the head, sends him beyond the reach of foeman's hatred.

When at a tender age, the Australian aborigine is active and stately; there is nothing in his features expressive of sordidness or deceit. The mind appears active, and the spirits buoyant; sport and intrigue are anxiously pursued; but kindness, hospitality, and generosity seem to glisten in the sharp, jovial features. As years pass on, however, the whole character changes: the native becomes withered and disgusting; selfishness


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and deceit are depicted in the wrinkled, withered features; low-cunning gleams concealed in the fading, glistening eye; and instead of the bounding footstep, the foot now falls upon the grass with a cat-like, stealthy motion. In fact, as age creeps upon a savage, so he loses the fire of youth, and having no mental treasure to withdraw to for comfort, the natural organs of acquisitiveness and secretiveness become more prominently developed; and instead of becoming a quiet sharper, open thief, or penurious trader, he changes into a cunning savage, an adept at petty theft or sheep-stealing; and such characters are peculiarly dangerous, from the influence age gives them in the tribe to which they belong. Few or none are long-livers; at thirty they look old and ugly, while at forty they seem almost supernaturally aged. Many, however, die in youth. Wars are not uncommon between the different tribes; and even the members of a tribe occasionally quarrel and fight, and slay their own friends. Polygamy is allowed: an elder generally happens to possess himself of the finest young women in the tribe for his own bed; the young man (or Coolie) is compelled to content himself with one lubra (or gin) to cook in his miam; and it is no uncommon occurrence for this single woman to be old and ugly. It may hence be easily supposed that infidelity is not uncommon. Intrigues are of every-day occurrence; and when the elder discovers that one of his lubras has been guilty of intriguing with some younger member of the tribe, he punishes her, and not unfrequently both, in the severest manner possible. It has been asserted by some writers who have laid claim to an


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acquaintance with the customs of the aborigines of the continent of New Holland, that there exists a rite of marriage amongst the various tribes. I have given some little attention to the subject, and have come to the conclusion that no such rite ever did exist. It appears to me that every member of the tribe takes as many females under his protection as he can, from the extent of influence he possesses in the tribe, lay hold of. The younger men intrigue with the females, and thus the intercourse between the sexes is almost promiscuous. The grand error, however, rests here—the system which allows the old to lay violent hands upon the flower of the tribe is iniquitous; we can scarce wonder that the young lubras violate the bed of these withered old chiefs, and that daily feuds ensue in consequence of the jealousy of the old blacks.

The natural colour of the Australian aborigine is copper-colour or tawny-red.The hair is naturally fine, dark, and very long.They are habitually addicted to the use of paints of a dark colour, by which the complexion appears unnaturally swarthy. It is therefore a mistake to term them blacks, and the American natives Red Indians. Their natural complexions are alike. The head of the Australian is not flat; in general it is round and oval, with a rather low forehead, but not by any means remarkably low or flat, such as the natives of Southern Africa, where I have travelled. From the large acquaintance I have had with the tribes in the districts of Australia Felix, I am inclined to think that the aborigines possess average abilities. Their minds resemble rather a treasure which has been hermetically sealed ab initio,


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than a vacuum where all is void. At painting rude figures, and drawing likenesses, they display exquisite powers of imitation: in examining a picture with a young black, you cannot but be startled at his clever observations; not a trace or an outline escapes him. They display likewise some ability in vocal music, of which I shall speak more fully shortly. Their quickness in detecting game also deserves to be noticed. In following a kangaroo they often creep for a mile; when the eye of the animal is towards them, they remain fixed as so many statues— the trees around are not to all appearance more devoid of volition; by slow progress they come up to the animal, and, secured behind some favourable tree, the hunter takes deadly aim with the kangaroo spear, and lays the monarch of the Australian forest low. I have often hunted with the tribes on the Goulburn, Ex, and Yarra, and been astonished to remark their accurate aim with the boomerang. This singular weapon is thrown one way and returns straight upon the object in view when the aim was taken. With the light spear they are excellent marksmen. It is thrown by a long handle into which the spear is fixed, and again ejected by a sudden motion of the hand. The handle is commonly termed a namera. With this weapon they will strike a man at a hundred yards to a certainty; but although he may be killed outright, the chance is he only receives a wound in the side or back, for the blacks commonly throw at a person when his back is turned; and indeed it must be allowed they are rather too prone to this cowardly game. I have long wished to reconcile an apparent


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contradiction in their characters. They are in general bold and warlike, yet when a tribe is attacked by a few men the whole will generally scamper off; if they can get an advantage, they will fire from behind any object in the way, and even maintain their situation in a very gallant manner. I can only reconcile these discrepancies in this way,—the blacks of Australia are naturally cowards, but on the contrary are ferocious and far from devoid of brute courage. It is the want of a perception of general discipline which renders them cowards. Each man looks rather upon the personal danger he incurs than upon the aggregate strength of the tribe. He reflects upon his own chance of being shot, and says, “This must not be; I am not going to be shot for the good of the tribe;” and thus he is prone to take to his heels at a sharp contest when not protected by any cover. Did the poor savage reflect upon the numerical strength of the tribe as opposed to the assailing foe, and upon the necessity of each fighting for the safety of the tribe, the general result of engagements with whites would be very different.

I have now to give my opinion with regard to the health of the Australian aboriginal tribes. Few of the blacks I have seen are healthy, and the idea which civilised men generally entertain that all savages are hardy and healthy is a mistake. The constitution of the black man is peculiarly fragile; he shoots up to manhood like a reed, his form is very light and elastic, but although he could run for some time with remarkable velocity, yet he is soon tired out, and compelled to halt and draw his breath. While yet in the very


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bloom of youth, his form changes; he becomes stiff, withered, and frightfully ugly. The constitution, therefore, of the aborigine appears peculiarly delicate; and few either young or old enjoy good health. Cutaneous disease prevails to a great extent; and among many tribes, not a single member is free from it. Venereal is likewise common, and as they are unable to treat it by art, or administer medical relief, it not unfrequently undermines the constitution, engenders loathsome disease, or kills the patient outright. Low fever is often to be met with, especially in the hot weather; this the natives cannot understand. They remove the patient to a distance from the camp, where no aid is afforded him, except a drink of cold water; there he is in a blazing sun and scorching hot wind, in the most excruciating agony: few recover it. Inflammatory complaints are far from uncommon; and I have an idea that pulmonary consumption is not altogether unknown, although I could never clearly ascertain the fact. Rheumatism and rheumatic fever are prevalent; few aborigines are without this complaint, and many suffer extreme pain. The only remedy they know of or care to use is, stripping bark from the trees, and knotting it tight over the part affected; when they can procure cord, or any other kind of bandage, they use it instead.

I come now to the mental capacity of the aborigines, and may state that in general it is far superior to preconceived opinion. The race are habitually indolent; there is little or nothing to excite them in their general routine of living; to hunt a few hours a day for food, then to lie stretched on the ground by


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their miams (vulgo myamy) for days and nights with sullen indifference, is not a life calculated to excite their minds to any kind of mental exertion. The mind of a savage is the picture of the life he leads; it is one complete vacuum. He appears to have nothing to do, nothing to think about, nothing to care about. His wants are few, unless where converse with civilised men has created a craving for the artificial luxuries of civilisation, such as tea, tobacco, or spirits; then the whole nature of the savage changes, and he will take any trouble, and descend to the meanest artifices, to gratify the insatiable cravings of sense. Before, however, his wants are easily supplied, although at times a tribe will be in great destitution when food is scarce. There are no objects to excite their mental capacities, nothing to draw forth exertion; they know no better than to follow their erratic mode of life, wandering from one part of a district to another in quest of game or food, and they are set down as possessed of no mind superior to the brutes which perish; they have been prejudiced, and I shall speak of this again when I come to the Protectorate system. To display their habits as fully as lies in my power, I shall here give the description of an Indian camp.

It is situated in the heart of some vast range of forest. The miams of the blacks stretch over a space of ten or twenty acres, or perhaps twice as many. A miam (or myamy) is a very primitive structure. Two saplings are placed upright, having forked ends; another is placed at right angles; a triangular space thus marked out, sticks are fastened into the forks of the uprights, and against this barrier, sticks, bark, and


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leaves of trees are placed; and this forms a miam, which affords no despicable shelter when, as is generally the case, the shelter is from the weather. However, we suppose it is a warm day, and the aborigines all out of their miams, sitting or sleeping under the shelter of the large Eucalyptus, in parties of from five to twenty. Before each miam is the spear of the owner planted upright in the ground, a warning to all intruders. Small parties occasionally leave the camp in quest of food, while a few may be seen now and again returning from the chase. You pass group after group, and find them sunk in the very depth of ennui and indolence. Most of them lie on the ground enveloped in blankets or opossum rugs; all you observe is the shape, for every inch of the body is invisible to the eye. Sometimes one fellow looks up, gives a broad stare, and then sinks once more into his former quiescent state. Beside them lie their weapons and bags containing their meagre supply of provisions, with a few half-starved dogs keeping watch over this valuable property. Around some fires may be seen those who are awake, sitting round a fire in a complete circle, and devouring what food they happen to possess with great voracity.

Here and there a man may be observed forming rude implements of war, or turning opossum skins to form them into rugs; this is the only useful occupation which you can notice. The day wears away, and towards evening the men begin to rise, and some may be seen painting their faces and persons for the corroborie. The various hunting and shooting parties


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now begin to return; the men are loaded with kangaroo and opossum, and having lighted their fires, they cook their meal and devour it in haste. Large fires are lighted, and at dusk the corroborie dance commences.

A man commonly sits on a rug with two hard sticks, and a number of women sit round him with their opossum rugs tied into bundles. The man beats with the sticks, and the women keep time with the palm of the hand upon the rugs. To this rude music several chaunt some of their low monotonous songs, which are but an endless repetition of the same sounds, and at the same time the corroborie dance is progressing. The blacks commonly dance in a line; they strike their toes and heels alternately on the ground, bending their bodies, and turning out the knees: by these short leaps, they go a considerable distance, keeping correct time to the music. Some of them dance throwing the arms about, and making many kinds of wild gesticulations; there is commonly one who acts the clown, and excites considerable mirth by his frolics. The whole has an harmonious and pleasing effect—the beat of the song, the sticks, rugs, and dance, all keeping time.

This is the life of an Indian rover of the Australian wilderness; and whatever their mental powers naturally are, they have little field for their development. I cannot, however, say that their rude manner of life would lead any to suppose them capable of thinking.

Their means of living is however very precarious; they have to travel over great tracts of country when game is not to be found; what use therefore for them


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to erect better huts, when they seldom continue longer than three or four days in a place? From these erratic habits nothing can wean them.

Lady Darling educated a number of females in a school near Sydney; but ultimately they all returned, if not to a barbarous life, at least to erratic habits, for they wander to and fro about the country from station to station, and all the kindness of the whites is unable to keep them in any fixed situation for any length of time. I believe, however, that these girls displayed considerable ability and aptitude for acquiring education; and upon a close inspection of the heads of the aborigines, we find them commonly fine, with deep elevated eyebrows. I hold that it is not proved that the blacks are inferior in mental capacity, and am prepared to bring forward several instances to prove how easily they might be reclaimed.

About the year 1836, upon the recommendation of Captain Maconachie, superintendent of Norfolk Island, and Captain Longsdale, police magistrate, Melbourne, a native police force was established, and the command entrusted to M. de Villiers. It was, however, unsuccessful; it was again attempted in 1841, and the command of the corps given to M. Dana. Few expected it would succeed, but it did succeed. The troop now numbers twenty fine young aborigines: they possess the requisite intelligence for soldiers; education has improved their minds, and discipline has informed them of their united strength, and inspired them with courage. These soldiers are faithful, although in several instances, when sent against some tribe to seize a malefactor, one of the troop has betrayed the secret, and


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allowed the aboriginal offender against the laws to escape.

In many engagements with the native tribes these men have displayed the most indomitable courage. There cannot be a doubt but they have been reclaimed within the pale of civilisation; and no soldiers have ever given more convincing proofs of sagacity.

The Buntingdale station, Geelong, next deserves to be noticed, where the Rev. Francis Tuckfield has reclaimed fifty-two persons. This gentleman confined his labours to one tribe, and having placed it upon an isolated situation upon this reserved station, and kept every other tribe at a respectful distance, by the assistance of the police, he has succeeded in exterminating the darkening passions of the savage from their breasts, and brought each of the number to a clear understanding of his state, and to a firm belief in Divine truth. Mr. Tuckfield has taught them to read the Scriptures, to attend upon the ordinances of religion, and to seek for the salvation of their souls, and all this within the short space of twelve months. He finds them employment upon the station in cultivating the soil, while some of them have learned to make clothes and shoes. Mr. Tuckfield has a decided advantage over many, inasmuch as he possesses an intimate acquaintance with their language, habits, and customs. The success of his undertaking at the Buntingdale station demonstrates that the aborigine naturally possesses some degree of intellectual power.

I would not wish, however, to confound the present state of the savage of the Australian Continent with what it might be. I am sorry to say, that many


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tribes at the present moment are not only barbarous in their habits, but also in mind unrelenting, obstinate in cruelty, and ferocious: in fact, the character of the race is anomalous. Some white men have been tortured and murdered by them, while others have been saved from death through their interference. Nay, one black man has been faithful to one white and treacherous to another, as in the case of the man Bob, executed at Port Phillip in 1842 for murder. This man had been many years with Mr. Robertson, Chief Protector of Aborigines, to whom he was sincerely attached. He left Mr. Robertson, and performed two overland journeys with Mr. Langhorn, and saved his life in a severe conflict he had on the Murray with a tribe of wild natives. He left his employment, and was soon after guilty of the most treacherous and barbarous murder upon record.

The tribes in the Sydney and Port Phillip Districts are now pretty well accustomed to the whites, and seldom attack them: formerly, however, the settlers in the latter district were frequently cut off by the aborigines; in fact, at one period the Port Phillip tribe attempted to surprise the town, and, but for the merest accident in the world, would have cut off every one of the original settlers. Many settlers in the interior were surprised and cut off by the tribes; and, to this day, upon the banks of the Murray, no settler can regard his person or property altogether secure from the wandering aborigines. In the neighbourhood of Adelaide, the natives appear to give no trouble; but to the north of Sydney, on the Clarence River, and at Moreton Bay, neither good treatment nor coercion can tame


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them. All the way north, from such accounts as I have been able to find (for I have never travelled that country), the aborigines are a fierce, untameable race, debased by the grossest superstitions and vices, and addicted to cannibalism. They are not, however, of the same character at Port Essington; for several gentlemen who have explored that country have informed me that the natives are, in some situations, rather ignorant than sanguinary in character. Where the character changes, it would be almost impossible to say, as many crews of vessels wrecked in Torres' Straits on landing have been massacred by the natives. In fact, it is dangerous to approach this shore, or any island in the South Seas, unless the crew be fully armed, as many whalers have been cut off by these barbarian islanders.

The aborigines of Australia wander about; but each tribe possesses a certain acknowledged territory, and any inroad from another tribe is considered a gross insult, and treated accordingly. Properly speaking, there is no supreme authority in a tribe, although some person of repute as a warrior, statesman, and hunter, is looked upon as the leader, and very frequently assumes the empty title of king, or chief, of a tribe. There is a great chief on the Goulburn, in Australia Felix, named Billy Hamilton: he, however, has to hunt, fish, and provide for his belly the same as the meanest man in the tribe; and the influence he possesses is very limited indeed, and altogether of a political character (if I may use the word). The tribe is constantly moving about in quest of game. The men go hunting in parties of ten or twelve at a time,


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perhaps singly or in pairs. At certain seasons, they find fish and game in abundance, and live right royally, in one round of feasting and corrobories; but at other seasons they are more than half-starved. The kangaroo is the particular animal they generally hunt. They observe him grazing in the Bush, and proach him with extreme caution. The weapon used for this purpose is the kangaroo spear—a long spear pointed with glass; this they hurl with unerring aim when they approach within a respectable distance. Of opossums they are also particularly fond: they frequently find out the concealment of this animal by knocking on the trees; and where they find a hollow sound, they cut the tree and lay hold of the opossum. Turkeys, pigeons, parrots, &c., are occasionally killed by the boomerang, which they throw very well. The fish are speared for: they seem to entertain no idea of taking anything by line and hook. Some kind of snakes they regard as good food and eat eagerly, as also magpies, crows, hawks, &c. When very hungry, they pull the bark from the trees, and pick out the vermin, which they devour with singular and disgusting eagerness. They look for a particular kind of grass and several vegetable roots, which they eat. When very hungry, they boil the leaves of trees and fill their bellies.

Although not generally, so far as I have observed, prone to sheep-stealing or robbery, yet, when very hungry, any tribe in the country will resort to it, the general method being, upon such occasions, to attack an out-station, or a single flock under the charge of one individual. Sometimes the blacks take


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the whole flock; but upon other occasions they only take a few of the best, and tell the shepherd to keep the others until they return for them. They break the legs of the sheep when interrupted, and very commonly escape, although a good number may chance to fall by the rifle of some furious settler. Upon other occasions the blacks show fight, and the settlers either recover their flocks with loss, or are worsted. It commonly happens that the blacks are most in want of food in wet weather; the country is then flooded so that horses cannot be brought into play against them. The long, dark nights, and at times the hazy atmosphere, are also advantages of which they take good care to avail themselves—and they have a considerable advantage over the settler, and generally escape with a great booty. In many districts, however, the aborigines keep up a constant warfare with the settlers, attacking their huts and attempting to steal the flour or sheep without any cloak or attempt at concealment. When an attack is contemplated, the natives are abroad by break of day and surround the hut. When the first straggler opens the door and walks abroad, he is met by half-a-dozen spears, and a rush is made on the hut. If the person has presence of mind enough to shut the door, the chances are that the aborigines are repulsed. Should he fall, or forget to shut the door, the blacks rush into the hut and massacre the inhabitants. When laying siege to a settler's hut, they are brave; if once fairly repulsed, they retreat without endeavouring to take the place. In some districts they have the in-human practice of setting the hut on fire, and thus


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compelling the family to come forth, when they spear them without mercy.

The Australian savages entertain but very dark and confused ideas of another world. They are afraid of the "dibble dibble," or Spirit of Evil, and propitiate him by offerings; but of a Supreme Being of Good they entertain no belief. They however hold that the blacks, when they die, go to Van Diemen's Land, or some other island, and return as white men and women. In this manner do they account for the arrival of the whites among them.

Few, indeed, have ever been brought to the truth; yet a very few have, by the exertions of some missionaries, been brought within the pale of Christianity, and anxious to procure their salvation. Others, however, after being instructed by godly men, have fallen away, and casting in their lot with some wild tribe, have turned tenfold more dangerous to the whites from their mental superiority; and all they remember of the Holy Scriptures they turn into a jest. I might enlarge on this subject, but to no purpose, as I have already said everything which those who know the blacks intimately could say with regard to their religious feelings.

I now arrive at a very important question—not merely important as far as regards the blacks personally, but important as regards civilisation and colonisation. This question is,—Has the Government of England a right to take possession of the country, and, without any consent from the original proprietors, sell the land, and make them amenable to the laws of Britain, of which they know nothing, and very likely


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could not be brought to believe that such a country was, or ever existed? Has it a right, in short, to declare them—ignorant and superstitious as they must necessarily be, from their savage mode of life—to be subjects of Britain, and compel them to become so nolens votens? Has it authority to do this?

I leave this question unanswered. But whether England did or did not possess the power to act in this manner is little to the purpose: the aborigines have had their country taken from them;—and, after this robbery, the blacks are informed that trey are British subjects. Nay, even as if they were liege subjects to the Crown of the United Kingdom, they are compelled to fulfil the code of laws which has been administered to Englishmen. And there is another question—Even did England possess the power to take possession of the country, has it authority to administer its own laws to the original owners, without any discrimination?

It is unfortunate that no two statesmen or public writers can agree about the treatment which the aborigines ought to receive, and in no two Colonies have the tribes been treated alike. Some wish a system of rigid coercion, and even urge that unless the children are taken from their parents at a very early age, there is not the least chance of their imbibing the element of civilisation, “habits of industry.” This class advocate a system something like that described already as adopted by the Rev. W. Tuckfield at Buntingdale station, Geelong, and argue that the various tribes should be separated, and confined within the Reserves appointed for them; that the children ought to be separated


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at an early age from their parents, and placed out as apprentices to tradesmen in the town. That the blacks may to a certain extent be civilised, is quite apparent from the abilities the troopers of the native police have displayed. These men are distinguished for intelligence and fidelity. To their captain they have ever showed respect and love, and have fought and bled, even against their own people, at his side. They show none of the passion of the wild, uncouth native, but their conduct is uniformly marked by sagacity and firm forbearance. Rigid discipline has been the cause of much good in this corps. But we regret to record our firm belief, that were this troop dis-banded, each member would return to savage life, and become a leader, cruel and sanguinary in purpose. Such has ever been the case, and there are instances upon record without number which prove it; and this is the argument urged, by the party who wish coercion, on the public mind.

The other party hold, that the aborigines have peculiar claims upon the Government, and, therefore, that their whims ought, in some degree, to be studied, and their lives and liberties protected. Government were partly of the same opinion; and, for the object described, the Protectorate Establishment was formed in the Port Phillip District. We are compelled to say, that these men who were appointed to the offices of Protectors managed so miserably, that, after spending a great deal of money—as much as £15,000 a-year—the system proved a total failure. The Protectors, instead of learning the language of the blacks,


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as instructed by Lord Glenelg, or attempting to instruct them in the grand truths of religion, went about the country hunting, with or without the natives —for, by their instructions, they were ordered to follow the movements of the natives. When any depredation was committed by the aborigines under their protection, they attempted to screen the offender from justice by a tissue of fraud. The most common method to defeat the ends of justice, was for the native, when placed at the bar, to pretend either that he was imbecile, or that he could not understand the language when asked to plead. It was the Protector's business to interpret for him; but even if the prisoner could understand him, he would ever make it appear he could not. Thus the public were led to believe, that aboriginal men and women were ignorant and imbecile creatures which, for my part, I regard as a perfect error. The Protectors likewise gave great offence to the settlers. A murder was committed at Muston's Creek, we believe on the 23rd of February, 1842. A native woman, named Conger, was barbarously murdered in a tea-tree scrub. Three settlers, Richard Gumeas Hill, John Beswick, and Joseph Betts, were indicted for the murder, and tried before Mr. Justice Jeffcot, at Port Phillip, on the 31st July, 1848. It was evident a murder had been committed, and several even thought that the prisoners were the murderers; but opinion was divided, and the evidence being contradictory, the men were found “Not guilty.” So far well—the men were tried before a jury, and they had a chance, and it would have been cruel to deprive


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them of their chance. The Protectors thought otherwise: they spoke of the jury in terms which would disgust my readers; and there were even mysterious hints abroad of unfair play—as, certainly, a man named McGuiness, the principal witness against the three prisoners, received a present of fifty pounds from the Government or the Protectorate.

The eyes of the Government were then opened, and the perfect failure of the system became but too evident. Much blame attaches to the Protectors, inasmuch as having it in their power to work a large amount of good, they allowed the opportunity to pass. They were men with hearts set upon the comforts and luxuries of life; they had no curiosity to acquire a correct knowledge of the language, history, and manners of the aborigines. The only intelligent person, in the Protectorate was Dr. Bailie, a medical gentleman attached to the Goulburn Protectorate station; and even his information, to my certain knowledge, is superficial, and little to be relied upon.

The Protectorate having proved a failure, the Government resolved to abolish it and dismiss the whole posse of Protectors. It comes therefore to be considered, what the ultimate fate of the blacks is to be. As civilisation extends into the backwoods and almost boundless plains of the Australian Continent, it is evident that instead of the kangaroo, the sheep and ox will be found, and that the poor blacks will have no resource but to depend upon the chary charity of the settlers for a miserable existence, or to turn Bushrangers and take with the strong hand. The seeds of disease are already


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deeply sown in their constitutions, famine and punishment for the crime of theft will do their work, and within a century the race will be nearly extinct. This seems almost their inevitable fate, and we cannot but deplore it. A fate nearly similar occurred to the natives of Van Diemen's Land about eight years ago. When the country became settled, the natives were found troublesome. At last the inhabitants rose and captured the miserable remnants, and had them sent in vessels from Hobart Town to Flinder's Island, in Bass's Straits, where a few still linger; but, alas! what a contrast to the tribes which inhabited Van Diemen's Land only twenty-five years before! The ultimate fate of the Australian aboriginal tribes will be similar.

I intended to have entered into a full explanation of the language; but as it would require an essay to do the subject anything like justice, I shall confine my observations, and draw this essay to a conclusion.

The language is guttural, and the natives speak with no ordinary volubility. It is, however, full of music, and permanent in its rules of construction. From Port Phillip to Port Essington, on the Gulf of Carpentaria, the language is the same in reality, although it varies with different tribes in particular words and idioms. The great peculiarity is, the double pronunciation in nouns, especially in proper names, such as Jacky Jacky, Billy Billy, the Yarra Yarra, &c. The songs are monotonous, and commonly a few lines frequently repeated. The tone is generally a deep “bumming,” very peculiar; and they appear to derive extravagant pleasure from the


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exercise. I have heard a black, at this exercise, repeat one verse for four or six hours without hardly waiting even to draw breath. In the corrobories, as afore-mentioned, they dance to the music, and a man keeps time with two hard sticks, and the women beat on their opossum skin rugs.

A few of their words are very much in vogue with the lower orders in Australia. So generally are they used, that in all probability they will be incorporated with the vernacular language of Australia. As it would be impossible to enter into a consideration of the structure of the language, I must conclude with a list of words used in the Colonies, which have been extracted from the aboriginal dialect:

               
Bulgano, Meat. 
BulgalIy,  A sheep. 
Gego,  To walk. 
Merry gig, Good, or me good. 
Borack,  Gammon, nonsense. 
Combollie, Come here. 
Combie,  A hut. 
Myamy, or Miami, A sleeping—place or hut. 
Coolie, A man. 
Lubra, A female. 
Gin, A wife or mother. 
Picaninny, A child. 
A leap,  A long walk or day's journey. 
Corroborie,  A dance. 
Gimbolock, A fool. 

The native weapons are, the spear (or geraor), which they throw by means of the wamera (or ulma) to an immense distance;—the waddie (gorgeran, or largon),


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which is of many different shapes, is a deadly weapon; —the boomerang, or curved weapon, and the neram, formed from the leg-bone of the emu, and a stout cord; —the shield (geraniem) is a large thick piece of wood, finely cut and carved.

THE END.

London: Printed by H. I. Stevens, 8, Philpot Lane.
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