SUGGESTIONS FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE ABORIGINES.
1st. It appears that the most important point, in fact almost the only essential one, in the first instance, is to gain such an influence or authority over the Aborigines as may be sufficient to enable us to induce them to adopt, or submit to any regulations that we make for their improvement, and that to effect this, the means must be suited to their circumtances and habits.
2ndly. It is desirable that the means employed should have a tendency to restrain their wandering habits, and thus gradually induce them to locate permanently in one place.
3rdly. It is important that the plan should be of such a nature as to become more binding in its influence in proportion to the length of time it is in operation.
4thly. It should hold out strong inducements to the parents, willingly to allow their children to go to, and remain at the schools.
5thly. It should be such as would operate, in some degree, in weaning the natives from towns or populous districts.
6thly. It should offer some provision for the future career of the children upon their leaving school, and its tendency should be of such a character as to diminish, as far as practicable, the attractions of a savage life.
7thly. It is highly important that the system adopted should be such as would add to the security and protection of the settlers, and thereby induce their assistance and co-operation, instead, as has too often been the case hitherto with past measures, of exciting a feeling of irritation and dislike between the two races.
I believe that all these objects might be accomplished, in a great degree, by distributing food regularly to all the natives, in their respective districts.
[Note 111: The whole of my remarks on the Aborigines having been hurriedly compiled, on board ship, during the voyage from Australia, it was not until my arrival in England that I became aware that a plan somewhat similar to this in principle, was submitted to Lord John Russell by a Mr. J. H. Wedge, and was sent out to the colony of New South Wales, to be reported upon by the authorities. I quote the following extract from Mr. La Trobe's Remarks on Mr. Wedge's letter, as shewing an opinion differing from my own (Parliamentary Papers, p. 130). "With reference to the supply of food and clothing, it has not been hitherto deemed advisable to furnish them indiscriminately to all natives visiting the homesteads. In one case, that of the Western Port District, the assistant protector has urged that this should be the case; but I have not felt myself sufficiently convinced of the policy or expediency of such measure to bring it under his Excellency's notice."]
I have previously shewn, that from the injuries the natives sustain at our hands, in a deprivation of their usual means of subsistence, and a banishment from their homes and possessions, there is at present no alternative for them but to remain the abject and degraded creatures they are, begging about from house to house, or from station to station, to procure food, insulted and despised by all, and occasionally tempted or driven to commit crimes for which a fearful penalty is enacted, if brought home to them. I have given instances of the extent to which the evils resulting from the anomalous state of our relations with them are aggravated by the kind of feeling which circumstances engender on the part of the Colonists towards them. I have pointed out the tendency of their own habits and customs, to prevent them from rising in the scale of improvement, until we can acquire an influence sufficient to counteract these practices; and I have shewn that thus situated, oppressed, helpless, and starving, we cannot expect they should make much progress in civilization, or pay great regard to our instructions, when they see that we do not practice what we recommend, and that we have one law for ourselves and another for them. The good results that have been produced when an opposite and more liberal system has been adopted (limited as that system was) has also been stated. It is only fair to assume, therefore, that these beneficial effects may be expected to accrue in an increasing ratio in proportion to our liberality and humanity.
My own conviction is, that by adopting the system I recommend, an almost unlimited influence might be acquired over the native population. I believe that the supplying them with food would gradually bring about the abandonment of their wandering habits, in proportion to the frequency of the issue, that the longer they were thus dependent upon us for their resources, the more binding our authority would be; that when they no longer required their children to assist them in the chase or in war, they would willingly allow them to remain at our schools; that by only supplying food to natives in their own districts they would, in some measure, be weaned from the towns; that by restraining the wandering habits of the parents in this way, there would be fewer charms and less temptation to the children to relapse from a comparative state of civilization into one of barbarism again; and that, by supplying the wants of the natives, and taking away all inducements to crime, a security and protection would be afforded to the settlers which do not now exist, and which, under the present system, can never be expected, until the former have almost disappeared before their oppressors.
Many subordinate arrangements would be necessary to bring the plan into complete operation, and from its general character it could not, perhaps, be carried out every where at once, but if such arrangements were made, only in a few districts every year, much would be done towards eventually accomplishing the ends desired.
At Moorunde flour was only regularly issued once in the month, but that is not often enough to attain the full advantages of the system, still less to remedy the evils the natives are subject to, or restrain their wandering propensities. Upon the Murray the natives are peculiarly situated, and have greater facilities for obtaining their natural food than in any other part of the country. They were consequently in a position more favourable for making an experiment upon, than those of the inland districts, where a native is often obliged to wander over many miles of ground for his day's subsistence, and where large tribes cannot remain long congregated at the same place. In these it would therefore be necessary to make the issues of food much more frequently, and I would proportion this frequency to the state of each district with regard to the number of Europeans, and stock in it; and the facility there might be for procuring native food. On the borders of the colony, where the natives are less hemmed in, the issue might take place once every fortnight, gradually increasing the number of the issues in approaching towards Adelaide as a centre. At the latter, and in many other of the districts where the country is thoroughly occupied by Europeans, it would be necessary, as it would only be just, to supply the natives with food daily, and I would extend this arrangement gradually to all the districts, as funds could be obtained for that purpose. It is possible that if means at the same time were afforded of teaching them industrial pursuits, a proportion of the food required might eventually be raised by themselves, but it would not be prudent to calculate upon any such resources at first.
Having now explained what I consider the first and most important principle, to be observed in all systems devised for the amelioration of the Aborigines, viz. that of endeavouring to adapt the means employed to the acquisition of a strong controlling influence over them, and having shewn how I think this might best be obtained, I may proceed to mention a few collateral regulations, which would be very essential to the effective working of the system proposed.
First. It would be necessary for the sake of perspicuity to suppose the country divided into districts, agreeing as nearly as could be ascertained with the boundaries of the respectives tribes. In these districts a section or two of land, well supplied with wood and water, should be chosen for the Aborigines; such lands, if possible, to be centrically situated with regard to the tribes intended to assemble there, but always having reference to their favourite places of resort, or to such as would afford the greatest facilities for procuring their natural food. I do not apprehend that these stations need be very numerous at first: for the whole colony of South Australia nine or ten would probably be sufficient at present; thus stations such as I have described, at Adelaide, Encounter Bay, The Coorong, Moorunde, the Hutt River, Mount Bryant, Mount Remarkable, and Port Lincoln would embrace most of the tribes of Aborigines at present in contact with the settlers; others could be added, or these altered, as might be thought desirable or convenient.
Secondly. In order to carry due weight when first established, and until the natives get well acquainted with Europeans and their customs, it would be essential that each station should be supported by two or more policemen. These might afterwards be reduced in number, or withdrawn, according to the state of the district.
[Note 112: "It is absolutely necessary, for the cause of humanity and good order, that such force should exist; for as long as distant settlers are left unprotected, and are compelled to take care of and avenge themselves, so long must great barbarities necessarily be committed, and the only way to prevent great crimes on the part of the natives, and massacres of these poor creatures, as the punishment of such crimes, is to check and punish their excesses in their infancy; it is only after becoming emboldened by frequent petty successes that they have hitherto committed those crimes, which have drawn down so fearful a vengeance upon them."—GREY, vol ii. p. 379.]
Under any circumstances a police is necessary in all the country districts, nor do I think on the whole, many more policemen would be required than there are at out-stations at present. They would only have to be quartered at the native establishments.
Thirdly. It would be absolutely requisite to have experienced and proper persons in charge of each of the locations; as far as practicable, it would undoubtedly be the most desirable to have these establishments under missionaries. In other cases they might be confided to the protectors of the Aborigines, and to the resident or police magistrates. All officers having such charge should be deemed ex-officio to be protectors, and as many should be in the commission of the peace as possible.
Many other necessary and salutary regulations, would naturally occur in so comprehensive a scheme, but as these belong more to the detail of the system, it may be desirable to allude only to a few of the most important.
It would be desirable to keep registers at all the stations, containing lists of the natives frequenting them, their names, and that of the tribe they belong to.
Natives should not be allowed to leave their own districts, to go to Adelaide, or other large towns, unless under passes from their respective protectors, and if found in Adelaide without them, should be taken up by the police and slightly punished.
[Note 113: Natives, from a distance, are in the habit of going at certain times of the year into Adelaide, and remaining three or four months at a time. They are said by Europeans to plunder stations on the line of route backwards and forwards, and to threaten, and intimidate women and children living in isolated houses near the town. There is no doubt but that they have sometimes driven away the natives properly belonging to Adelaide, and have been the means, by their presence, of a great decrease in the attendance of the children of the Adelaide tribes at the school. The protector has more than once been obliged to make official representations on this subject, and to request that measures might be taken to keep them away.]
Deaths, Births, and Marriages, should be duly registered, and a gratuity given on every such occasion, to ensure the regulation being attended to.
Rewards should be given, (as an occasional present, of a blanket for instance), to such parents as allowed their children to go to and remain at school during the year.
Rewards should be bestowed for delivering up offenders, or for rendering any other service to the Government.
Light work should be offered to such as could be induced to undertake it, and rewards, as clothing, or the like, should be paid in proportion to the value of the work done, and BEYOND THE MERE PROVIDING THEM with food.
Gifts might also be made to those parents, who consented to give up the performance of any of their savage or barbarous ceremonies upon their children.
Young men should be encouraged to engage themselves in the service of settlers, as shepherds or stockkeepers, and the masters should be induced to remunerate their services more adequately than they usually do.
The elder natives should be led as far as could be, to make articles of native industry for sale, as baskets, mats, weapons, implements, nets, etc., these might be sent to Adelaide and sold periodically for their benefit.
Such and many other similar regulations, would appear to be advantageous, and might be adopted or altered from time to time, as it should be deemed desirable.
Upon the subject of schools for the native children, it appears that much benefit would be derived from having them as far separated as possible from other natives, and that the following, among others, would be improvements upon the plans in present use.
1st. That the school buildings should be of such size and arrangement, as to admit of all the scholars being lodged as well as boarded, and of the boys and girls having different sleeping rooms.
2ndly. That the schools should have a sufficiency of ground properly enclosed around them, for the play-grounds, and that no other natives than the scholars should be admitted within those precincts, except in the presence of the master, when relatives come to see each other; but that on no account should any natives be permitted to encamp or sleep within the school grounds.
3rdly. That the children should not be allowed or encouraged to roam about the towns, begging, or to ramble for any purpose outside their boundaries, where they are likely to come under the influence of the other natives. This is particularly necessary with respect to girls, indeed the latter should never be allowed to be absent from school at all, by themselves.
4thly. To compensate in some degree, for what may at first appear to them an irksome or repulsive restraint, playthings should occasionally be provided for those children who have behaved well, and all innocent amusement be encouraged, and as often as might be convenient, the master should accompany his scholars out into the country for recreation, or through the town, or such other public places, as might be objects of interest or curiosity.
5thly. That a stimulus to exertion, should be excited by prizes, being given to children distinguishing themselves at certain stages of their progress, such as a superior article of dress, a toy, or book, or whatever might be best adapted to the age or disposition of the child.
6thly. That parents should never be allowed to withdraw the children, contrary to their wishes, after having once consented to allow them to remain there.
7thly. That children of both sexes, after having received a proper degree of instruction, and having attained a certain age, should be bound out as apprentices for a limited term of years, to such as were willing to receive them, proper provision being made for their being taught some useful occupation, and being well treated.
8thly. Encouragement should be offered to those who have been brought up at the schools to marry together when their apprenticeships are out, and portions of land should be preserved for them and assistance given them in establishing themselves in life. At first perhaps it might be advisable to have these settlements in the form of a village and adjoining the school grounds, so that the young people might still receive the advantage of the advice or religious instruction of the missionaries or such ministers as attended to this duty at the schools.
9thly. The children should be taught exclusively in the English language and on Sundays should always attend divine service at some place of public worship, accompanied by their masters.
In carrying into effect the above or any other regulations which might be found necessary for the welfare and improvement of the children. I believe that a sufficient degree of influence would be acquired over the parents by the system of supplying them with food, which I have recommended to induce a cheerful consent, but it would be only prudent to have a legislative enactment on the subject, that by placing the school-children under the guardianship of the protectors, they might be protected from the influence or power of their relatives; after these had once fully consented to their being sent to school to be educated.
[Note 114: "The best chance of preserving the unfortunate race of New Holland lies in the means employed for training their children: the education given to such children should consist in a very small part of reading and writing. Oral instruction in the fundamental truths of the Christian religion will be given by the missionaries themselves. The children should be taught early; the boys to dig and plough, and the trades of shoemakers, tailors, carpenters and masons; the girls to sew and cook and wash linen, and keep clean the rooms and furniture. The more promising of these children might be placed, by a law to be framed for this purpose, under the guardianship of the Governor and placed by him at a school, or in apprenticeship, in the more settled parts of the colony. Thus early trained, the capacity of the race for the duties and employments of civilized life would be fairly developed."—Letter from Lord John Russell to Sir G. Gipps; Parliamentary Report on Aborigines, p. 74.]
There is yet another point to be considered with respect to the Aborigines, and upon the equitable adjustment of which hinges all our relations with this people, whilst upon it depends entirely our power of enforcing any laws or regulations we may make with respect to them, I allude to the law of evidence as it at present stands with respect to persons incompetent to give testimony upon oath.
It is true that in South Australia an act has very recently passed the legislative council to legalize the unsworn testimony of natives in a court of justice, but in that act there occurs a clause which completely neutralizes the boon it was intended to grant, and which is as follows, "Provided that no person, whether an Aboriginal or other, SHALL BE CONVICTED OF ANY OFFENCE by any justice or jury upon the SOLE TESTIMONY of any such uncivilized persons." 7 and 8 Victoria, section 5.
Here then we find that if a native were ill-treated or shot by an European, and the whole tribe able to bear witness to the fact, no conviction and no punishment could ensue: let us suppose that in an attempt to maltreat the native, the European should be wounded or injured by him, and that the European has the native brought up and tried for a murderous attack upon him, how would it fare with the poor native? the oath of the white man would overpower any exculpatory unsworn testimony that the native could bring, and his conviction and punishment would be (as they have been before) certain and severe.
Without attempting to assign a degree of credence to the testimony of a native beyond what it deserves, I will leave it to those who are acquainted with Colonies, and the value of an oath among the generality of storekeepers and shepherds, to say how far their SWORN evidence is, in a moral point of view, more to be depended upon than the unsworn parole of the native. I would ask too, how often it occurs that injuries upon the Aborigines are committed by Europeans in the presence of those competent to give a CONVICTING TESTIMONY, (unless where all, being equally guilty, are for their own sakes mutually averse to let the truth be known)? or how often even such aggressions take place under circumstances which admit of circumstantial evidence being obtained to corroborate native testimony?
Neither is it in the giving of evidence alone, that the native stands at a disadvantage as compared with a white man. His case, whether as prosecutor or defendant, is tried before a jury of another nation whose interests are opposed to his, and whose prejudices are often very strong against him.
I cannot illustrate the position in which he is placed, more forcibly, than by quoting Captain Grey's remarks, vol. ii. p. 381, where he says:—
"It must also be borne in mind, that the natives are not tried by a jury of their peers, but by a jury having interests directly opposed to their own, and who can scarcely avoid being in some degree prejudiced against native offenders."
The opinion of Judge Willis upon this point may be gathered from the following extract, from an address to a native of New South Wales, when passing sentence of death upon him:—
"The principle upon which this court has acted in the embarrassing collisions which have too frequently arisen between the Aborigines and the white Europeans, has been one of reciprocity and mutual protection. On the one hand, the white man when detected (WHICH I FEAR SELDOM HAPPENS), has been justly visited with the rigour of the law, for aggressions on the helpless savages; and, on the other, the latter has been accountable for outrages upon his white brethren. As between the Aborigines themselves, the court has never interfered, for obvious reasons. Doubtless, in applying the law of a civilized nation to the condition of a wild savage, innumerable difficulties must occur. The distance in the scale of humanity between the wandering, houseless man of the woods, and the civilized European, is immeasurable! FOR PROTECTION, AND FOR RESPONSIBILITY IN HIS RELATION TO THE WHITE MAN THE BLACK IS REGARDED AS A BRITISH SUBJECT. In theory, this sounds just and reasonable; but in practice, how incongruous becomes its application! As a British subject, he is presumed to know the laws, for the infraction of which he is held accountable, and yet he is shut out from the advantage of its protection when brought to the test of responsibility. As a British subject, he is entitled to be tried by his PEERS. Who are the peers of the black man? Are those, of whose laws, customs, language, and religion, he is wholly ignorant—nay, whose very complexion is at variance with his own—HIS peers? He is tried in his native land by a race new to him, and by laws of which he knows nothing. Had you, unhappy man! had the good fortune to be born a Frenchman, or had been a native of any other country but your own, the law of England would have allowed you to demand a trial by half foreigners and half Englishmen. But, by your lot being the lowest, as is assumed, in the scale of humanity, you are inevitably placed on a footing of fearful odds, when brought into the sacred temple of British justice. Without a jury of your own countrymen—without the power of making adequate defence, by speech or witness—you are to stand the pressure of every thing that can be alleged against you, and your only chance of escape is, not the strength of your own, but the weakness of your adversary's case. Surrounded as your trial was with difficulties, everything, I believe, was done that could be done to place your case in a proper light before the jury. They have come to a conclusion satisfactory, no doubt, to their consciences. Whatever might be the disadvantages under which you laboured, they were convinced, as I am, that you destroyed the life of Dillon; and as there was nothing proved to rebut the presumption, of English law, arising from the fact of homicide being committed by you, they were constrained to find you guilty of murder. There may have been circumstances, if they could have been proved, which would have given a different complexion to the case from that of the dying declaration of the deceased, communicated to the Court through the frail memory of two witnesses, who varied in their relation of his account of the transaction. This declaration, so taken, was to be regarded as if taken on oath, face to face with your accuser; and, although you had not the opportunity of being present at it, and of cross-examining the dying man, yet by law it was receivable against you."
In vol. ii. p 380, Captain Grey says:—
"I have been a personal witness to a case in which a native was most undeservedly punished, from the circumstance of the natives, who were the only persons who could speak as to certain exculpatory facts, not being permitted to give their evidence."
Under the law lately passed in South Australia, the evidence of natives would be receivable in a case of this kind, in palliation of the offence. Although it is more than questionable how far such evidence would weigh against the white man's oath; but for the purpose of obtaining redress for a wrong, or of punishing the cruelty, or the atrocity of the European [Note 115 at end of para.], no amount of native evidence would be of the least avail. Reverse the case, and the sole unsupported testimony of a single witness, will be quite sufficient to convict even unto death, as has lately been the case in two instances connected with Port Lincoln, where the natives have been tried at different times for murder, convicted, and two of them hung, upon the testimony of one old man, who was the only survivor left among the Europeans, but who, from the natural state of alarm and confusion in which he must have been upon being attacked, and from the severe wounds he received, could not have been in an advantageous position, for observing, or remarking the identity of the actual murderers, among natives, who, even under more favourable circumstances are not easily recognizable upon a hasty view, and still less so, if either they, or the observer, are in a state of excitement at the time. Is it possible for the natives to be blind to the unequal measure of justice, which is thus dealt out, and which will still continue to be so as long as the law remains unchanged?
[Note 115: Governor Hutt remarks, in addressing Lord Glenelg on this subject:—"In furtherance of the truth of these remarks, I would request your Lordship particularly to observe, that here is one class of Her Majesty's subjects, who are DEBARRED A TRUE AND FAIR TRIAL BY JURY, whose evidence is inadmissible in a court of justice, and who consequently may be the victims of any of the most outrageous cruelty and violence, and yet be UNABLE, FROM THE FORMS AND REQUIREMENTS OF THE LAW, to obtain redress, and whose quarrels, ending sometimes in bloodshed and death, it is unjust, as well as inexpedient, to interfere with.
"A jury ought to be composed of a man's own peers. Europeans, in the case of a native criminal, cannot either in their habits or sympathies be regarded as such, and his countrymen are incapable of understanding or taking upon themselves the office of juror."]
I have no wish to give the native evidence a higher character than it deserves, but I think that it ought not to be rendered unavailable in a prosecution; the degree of weight or credibility to be attached to it, might be left to the court taking cognizance of the case, but if it is consistent and probable, I see no reason why it should not be as strong a safeguard to the black man from injury and oppression, as the white man's oath is to him. There are many occasions on which the testimony of natives may be implicitly believed, and which are readily distinguishable by those who have had much intercourse with this people—unaccustomed to the intricacies of untruth, they know not that they must be consistent to deceive, and it is therefore rarely difficult to tell when a native is prevaricating.
Among the natives themselves, the evil effects resulting from the inability of their evidence to produce a conviction are still more apparent and injurious. [Note 116 at end of para.] It has already been shewn how highly important it is to prevent the elders from exercising an arbitrary and cruel authority over the young and the weak, and how necessary that the latter should feel themselves quite secure from the vengeance of the former, when endeavouring to throw off the trammels of custom and prejudice, and by embracing our habits and pursuits, making an effort to rise in the scale of moral and physical improvement. Whatever alteration therefore we may make in our system for the better, or however anxious we may be for the welfare and the improvement of the Aborigines, we may rest well assured that our efforts are but thrown away, as long as the natives are permitted with impunity to exercise their cruel or degrading customs upon each other, unchecked and unpunished. We may feel equally certain that these oppressions and barbarities can never be checked or punished but by means of their own unsupported testimony against each other, and until this can be legally received, and made available for that purpose, there is no hope of any lasting or permanent good being accomplished.
[Note 116: Upon the inability of natives to give evidence in a court of justice, Mr. Chief Protector Robinson remarks, in a letter to His Honour, the Superintendent of Port Phillip, dated May, 1843—"The legal disabilities of the natives have been a serious obstacle to their civil protection; and I feel it my duty, whilst on this subject, respectfully to bring under notice the necessity that still exists for some suitable system of judicature for the governance and better protection of the aboriginal races. 'As far as personal influence went, the aboriginal natives have been protected from acts of injustice, cruelty, and oppression; and their wants, wishes, and grievances have been faithfully represented to the Government of the colony,' and this, under the circumstances, was all that could possibly be effected. There is, however, reason to fear that the destruction of the aboriginal natives has been accelerated from the known fact of their being incapacitated to give evidence in our courts of law. I have frequently had to deplore, when applied to by the Aborigines for justice in cases of aggression committed on them by white men, or by those of their own race, my inability to do so in consequence of their legal incapacity to give evidence. It were unreasonable, therefore, under such circumstances, to expect the Aborigines would respect, or repose trust and confidence in the Protectors, or submit to the governance of a department unable efficiently to protect or afford them justice. Nor is it surprising they should complain of being made to suffer the higher penalties of our law, when deprived (by legal disability) of its benefits. Little difficulty has been experienced in discovering the perpetrator where the blacks have been concerned, even in the greater offences, and hence the ends of justice would have been greatly facilitated by aboriginal evidence. It is much to be regretted the Colonial Act of Council on aboriginal evidence was disallowed."]
The following very forcible and just remarks are from Captain Grey's work, vol. ii. pages 375 to 378:—
"I would submit, therefore, that it is necessary from the moment the Aborigines of this country are declared British subjects, they should, as far as possible, be taught that the British laws are to supersede their own, so that any native who is suffering under their own customs, may have the power of an appeal to those of Great Britain; or to put this in its true light, that all authorized persons should, in all instances, be required to protect a native from the violence of his fellows, even though they be in the execution of their own laws.
"So long as this is not the case, the older natives have at their disposal the means of effectually preventing the civilization of any individuals of their own tribe, and those among them who may be inclined to adapt themselves to the European habits and mode of life, will be deterred from so doing by their fear of the consequences, that the displeasure of others may draw down upon them.
"So much importance am I disposed to attach to this point, that I do not hesitate to assert my full conviction, that whilst those tribes which are in communication with Europeans are allowed to execute their barbarous laws and customs upon one another, so long will they remain hopelessly immersed in their present state of barbarism: and however unjust such a proceeding might at first sight appear, I believe that the course pointed out by true humanity would be, to make them from the very commencement amenable to the British laws, both as regards themselves and Europeans; for I hold it to be imagining a contradiction to suppose, that individuals subject to savage and barbarous laws, can rise into a state of civilization, which those laws have a manifest tendency to destroy and overturn.
"I have known many instances of natives who have been almost or quite civilized, being compelled by other natives to return to the bush; more particularly girls, who have been betrothed in their infancy, and who, on approaching the years of puberty, have been compelled by their husbands to join them.
"To punish the Aborigines severely for the violation of laws of which they are ignorant, would be manifestly cruel and unjust; but to punish them in the first instance slightly for the violation of these laws would inflict no great injury on them, whilst by always punishing them when guilty of a crime, without reference to the length of period that had elapsed between its perpetration and their apprehension, at the same time fully explaining to them the measure of punishment that would await them in the event of a second commission of the same fault, would teach them gradually the laws to which they were henceforth to be amenable, and would shew them that crime was always eventually, although it might be remotely, followed by punishment.
"I imagine that this course would be more merciful than that at present adopted; viz. to punish them for a violation of a law they are ignorant of, when this violation affects a European, and yet to allow them to commit this crime as often as they like, when it only regards themselves; for this latter course teaches them, not that certain actions, such, for instance, as murder, etc. are generally criminal, but only that they are criminal when exercised towards the white people, and the impression, consequently excited in their minds is, that these acts only excite our detestation when exercised towards ourselves, and that their criminality consists, not in having committed a certain odious action, but in having violated our prejudices."
Many instances have come under my own personal observation, where natives have sought redress both against one another and against Europeans, but where from their evidence being unavailable no redress could be afforded them. Enough has however been now adduced to shew the very serious evils resulting from this disadvantage, and to point out the justice, the policy, the practicability, and the necessity of remedying it.
In bringing to a close my remarks on the Aborigines, their present condition and future prospects, I cannot more appropriately or more forcibly conclude the subject than by quoting that admirable letter of Lord Stanley's to Governor Sir G. Gipps, written in December, 1842; a letter of which the sentiments expressed are as creditable to the judgment and discrimination, as they are honourable to the feelings and humanity of the minister who wrote it, and who, in the absence of personal experience, and amidst all the conflicting testimony or misrepresentation by which a person at a distance is ever apt to be assailed and misled, has still been able to separate the truth from falsehood, and to arrive at a rational, a christian, and a just opinion, on a subject so fraught with difficulties, so involved in uncertainty, and so beset with discrepancies.
In writing to Sir G. Gipps, Lord Stanley says (Parliamentary Reports, pp. 221, 2, 3):—
"DOWNING-STREET, 20TH DECEMBER, 1842. "SIR,
"I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your despatches of the dates and numbers mentioned in the margin, reporting the information which has reached you in respect to the aboriginal tribes of New South Wales, and the result of the attempts which have been made, under the sanction of Her Majesty's Government, to civilize and protect these people.
"I have read with great attention, but with deep regret, the accounts contained in these despatches. After making every fair allowance for the peculiar difficulty of such an undertaking, it seems impossible any longer to deny that the efforts which have hitherto been made for the civilization of the Aborigines have been unavailing; that no real progress has yet been effected, and that there is no reasonable ground to expect from them greater suceess in future. You will be sensible with how much pain and reluctance I have come to this opinion, but I cannot shut my eyes to the conclusion which inevitably follows from the statements which you have submitted to me on the subject.
"Your despatch of the 11th March last, No. 50, contains an account of the several missions up to that date, with reports likewise from the chief Protector and his assistants, and from the Crown Land Commissioners. The statements respecting the missions, furnished not by their opponents, nor even by indifferent parties, but by the missionaries themselves, are, I am sorry to say, as discouraging as it is possible to be. In respect to the mission at Wellington Valley, Mr. Gunther writes in a tone of despondency, which shews that he has abandoned the hope of success. The opening of his report is indeed a plain admission of despair; I sincerely wish that his facts did not bear out such a feeling. But when he reports, that after a trial of ten years, only one of all who have been attached to the mission 'affords some satisfaction and encouragement;' that of the others only four still remain with them, and that these continually absent themselves, and when at home evince but little desire for instruction; that 'their thoughtlessness, and spirit of independence, ingratitude, and want of sincere, straightforward dealing, often try us in the extreme;' that drunkenness is increasing, and that the natives are 'gradually swept away by debauchery and other evils arising from their intermixture with Europeans,' I acknowledge that he has stated enough to warrant his despondency, and to shew that it proceeds from no momentary disappointment alone, but from a settled and reasonable conviction.
"Nor do the other missions hold out any greater encouragement. That at Moreton Bay is admitted by Mr. Handt to have made but little progress, as neither children nor adults can be persuaded to stay for any length of time; while that at Lake Macquarie had, at the date of your despatch, ceased to exist, from the extinction or removal of the natives formerly in its vicinity. The Wesleyan Missionaries at Port Phillip, notwithstanding an expenditure in 1841 of nearly 1,300 pounds, acknowledge that they are 'far from being satisfied with the degree of success which has attended our labours,' and 'that a feeling of despair sometimes takes possession of our minds, and weighs down our spirits,' arising from the frightful mortality among the natives.
"In the face of such representations, which can be attributed neither to prejudice nor misinformation, I have great doubts as to the wisdom or propriety of continuing the missions any longer. I fear that to do so would be to delude ourselves with the mere idea of doing something; which would be injurious to the natives, as interfering with other and more advantageous arrangements, and unjust to the colony, as continuing an unnecessary and profitless expenditure.
"To this conclusion I had been led by your despatch, No. 50, but anticipating that the protectorate system would promise more beneficial results, I postponed my instructions in the matter until I should receive some further information.
"Your despatches of the 16th and 20th May have furnished that further information, although they contradict the hopes which I had been led to entertain. After the distinct and unequivocal opinion announced by Mr. La Trobe, supported as it is by the expression of your concurrence, I cannot conceal from myself that the failure of the system of protectors has been at least as complete as that of the missions.
"I have no doubt that a portion of this ill success, perhaps a large portion, is attributable to the want of sound judgment and zealous activity on the part of the assistant protectors. Thus the practice of collecting large bodies of the natives in one spot, and in the immediate vicinity of the settlers, without any previous provision for their subsistence or employment, was a proceeding of singular indiscretion. That these people would commit depredations rather than suffer want, and that thus ill-blood, and probably collisions, would be caused between them and the settlers, must, I should have thought, have occurred to any man of common observation; and no one could have better reason than Mr. Sievewright to know his utter inability to control them. When such a course could be adopted, I am not surprised at your opinion that the measures of the protectors have tended 'rather to increase than allay the irritation which has long existed between the two races.'
"But after allowing for the effect of such errors, and for the possibility of preventing their recurrence, there is yet enough in Mr. La Trobe's reports to shew that the system itself is defective, at least in the hands of those whose services we are able to command. I am unwilling, at this distance from the scene, and without that minute local knowledge which is essential, to give you any precise instructions as to the course which under present circumstances should be pursued: but I have the less hesitation in leaving the matter in your hands, because your whole correspondence shews that no one feels more strongly than yourself the duty as well as the policy of protecting, and, if possible, civilizing these Aborigines, and of promoting a good understanding between them and the white settlers. At present, though I am far from attributing to the white settlers generally an ill disposition towards the natives, there is an apparent want of feeling among them, where the natives are concerned, which is much to be lamented. Outrages of the most atrocious description, involving sometimes considerable loss of life, are spoken of, as I observe in these papers, with an indifference and lightness which to those at a distance is very shocking. I cannot but fear that the feeling which dictates this mode of speaking, may also cause the difficulty in discovering and bringing to justice the perpetrators of the outrages which from time to time occur. With a view to the protection of the natives, the most essential step is to correct the temper and tone adopted towards them by the settlers. Whatever may depend on your own personal influence, or on the zealous co-operation of Mr. La Trobe, will I am sure be done at once, and I will not doubt that your efforts in this respect will be successful. In regard to the missions and the protectors, I give you no definite instructions. If at your receipt of this despatch you should see no greater prospect of advantage than has hitherto appeared, you will be at liberty to discontinue the grants to either as early as possible; but if circumstances should promise more success for the future, the grants may be continued for such time as may be necessary to bring the matter to a certain result. In the meantime, agreeing as I do, in the general opinion, that it is indispensable to the protection of the natives that their evidence should, to a certain extent at least, be received in the courts of law, I shall take into my consideration the means by which this can be effected in the safest and most satisfactory manner.
"I cannot conclude this despatch without expressing my sense of the importance of the subject of it, and my hope that your experience may enable you to suggest some general plan by which we may acquit ourselves of the obligations which we owe towards this helpless race of beings. I should not, without the most extreme reluctance, admit that nothing can be done; that with respect to them alone the doctrines of Christianity must be inoperative, and the advantages of civilization incommunicable. I cannot acquiesce in the theory that they are incapable of improvement, and that their extinction before the advance of the white settler is a necessity which it is impossible to control. I recommend them to your protection and favourable consideration with the greatest earnestness, but at the same time with perfect confidence: and I assure you that I shall be willing and anxious to co-operate with you in any arrangement for their civilization which may hold out a fair prospect of success.
"I have, etc. "(signed) "STANLEY."
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EXPLANATION OF THE PLATES OF NATIVE ORNAMENTS, WEAPONS, IMPLEMENTS, AND WORKS OF INDUSTRY.
1. Ku-ru-un-ko—tuft of emu feathers used in the play spoken of, page 228. 2. Three tufts of feathers tied in a bunch, with two kangaroo teeth, worn tied to the hair. 3. Tufts of feathers, used as a flag or signal, elevated on a spear; similar ones are worn by the males, of eagle or emu feathers over the pubes. 4. Let-ter-rer—kangaroo teeth worn tied to the hair of young males and females after the ceremonies of initiation. 5 and 6. Coverings for the pubes, worn by females, one is of fur string in threads, the other of skins cut in strips. 7. Tufts of white feathers worn round the neck. 8. Tufts of feathers stained red, worn round the neck. 9. Tufts of feathers stained red, with two kangaroo teeth to each tuft, also worn round the neck. 10. A piece of bone worn through the septum nasi. 11. Tufts of feathers worn round the neck, one is black, the other stained red. 12. Tufts of feathers stained red, with four kangaroo teeth in a bunch, worn round the neck. 13. Necklace of reeds cut in short lengths. 14. Band for forehead, feathers and swan's-down. 15. Man-ga—band for forehead, a coil of string made of opossum fur. 16. Mona—net cap to confine the hair of young men of opossum fur. 17. Korno—widow's mourning cap made of carbonate of lime, moulded to the head, weight 8 1/2lbs. 18. Dog's-tail, worn as an appendage to the beard, which is gathered together and tied in a pigtail.
1. Spear barbed on both sides, of hard wood, 10 1/2 feet long, used in war or hunting. 2. Similar to the last but only barbed on one side, used for same purposes. 3. Kar-ku-ru—smooth spear of hard wood, 10 1/2 feet, used for punishments, as described page 222, also for general purposes. 4. Short, smooth, hard wood spear, 7 1/2 feet long, used to spear fish in diving. 5. Reed spear with barbed hard wood point, used for war with the throwing stick—the way of holding it, and position of the hand are shewn. 6. Hard wood spear with grass-tree end, 8 feet long, used with the throwing stick for general purposes. 7. Hard wood spear with single barb spliced on, 8 feet long, used from Port Lincoln to King George's Sound for chase or war, it is launched with the throwing stick. 8. Ki-ko—reed spear, hard wood point, 6 to 7 feet long, used with the throwing-stick to kill birds or other game. 9. Hard wood spear, grass-tree end, barbed with flint, used with the throwing-stick for war. 10. The head of No. 9 on a arger scale. 11. The head of No. 1 on a larger scale. 12. The head of a Lachlan spear, taken from a man who was wounded there, the spear entered behind the shoulder in the back, and the point reached to the front of the throat, it had to be extracted by cutting an opening in the throat and forcing the spear-head through from behind—the man recovered. 13. The head of No. 7 on a larger scale.
1. Nga-waonk, or throwing-stick, about 2 feet long, and narrow. 2. Ditto but hollowed and conical. 3. Ditto straight and flat. 4. Ditto narrow and carved. 5. Ditto broad in the centre. 6. Sorcerer's stick, with feathers and fur string round the point 7. Ditto plain. 8. The Darling Wangn, (boomerang) carved, 1 foot 10 inches. 9. The Darling war Wangn, 2 feet 1 inch. 10. Battle-axe. 11. Ditto 12. Ditto 13. Ditto 14. The lower end of the throwing-stick, shewing a flint gummed on as a chisel. 15. The Tar-ram, or shield made out of solid wood, 2 feet 7 inches long, 1 foot broad, carved and painted. 16. A side view of ditto 17. War-club of heavy wood, rounded and tapering. 18. Port Lincoln Wirris, or stick used for throwing at game, 2 feet. 19. Murray River Bwirri, or ditto ditto 20. War club, with a heavy knob, and pointed. 21. Port Lincoln Midla, or lever, with quartz knife attached to the end. 22. Murray river war club.
1. Tat-tat-ko, or rod for noosing wild fowl, 16 feet long, vide p. 310. 2. Moo-ar-roo, or paddle and fish spear, 10 to 16 feet, vide p. 263. 3. Chisel pointed hard wood stick, from 3 to 4 feet long, used by the women for digging. 4. Ngakko, or chisel pointed stick, 3 feet long, used by the men. 5. Mun—canoe of bark, vide p. 314. 6. 7, 8. Varieties of Mooyumkarr, or sacred oval pieces of wood, used at night, by being spun round with a long string so as to produce a loud roaring noise for the object of counteracting any evil influences, and for other purposes. 9. 10, 11, 12. Needles, etc. from the fibulas of kangaroos, wallabies, emus, etc. 13. Kangaroo bone, used as a knife. 14. Stone with hollow in centre for pounding roots. 15. Stone hatchet. 16. Distaff with string of hair upon it. 17. Lenko, or net hung round the neck in diving to put muscles, etc. in. 18. Kenderanko, net used in diving, vide p. 260. 19. Drinking cup made of a shell. 20. Drinking cup, being the scull of a native with the sutures closed with wax or gum.
PLATE V.—WORKS OF INDUSTRY.
1. Lukomb, or skin for carrying water, made from the skins of opossums, wallabie, or young kangaroo; the fur is turned inside, and the legs, tail, and neck, are tied up; they hold from 1 quart to 3 gallons. 2. Pooneed-ke—circular mat, 1 foot 9 inches in diameter, made of a kind of grass, worn on the back by the women, with a band passed round the lower part and tied in front, the child is then slipped in between the mat and the back, and so carried. 3. Kal-la-ter—a truncated basket of about a foot wide at the bottom, made also of a broad kind of grass, used for carrying anything in, and especially for taking about the fragile eggs of the Leipoa. 4. A wallet, or man's travelling bag, made of a kangaroo skin, with the fur outside. 5. A small kal-la-ter. 6. Pool-la-da-noo-ko, or oval basket made of broad-leaved grass, used for carrying anything; from its flat make, it fits easily to the back. 7. An Adelaide oblong and somewhat flattish basket, made of a kind of rush. 8. The Rok-ko, or net bag, made of a string manufactured from the rush, it is carried by the women, and contains generally all the worldly property of the family, such as shells and pieces of flint for knives—bones for needles—sinews of animals for thread—fat and red ochre for adorning the person—spare ornaments or belts—white pigment for painting for the dance—a skin for carrying water—a stone for pounding roots—the sacred implements of the husband carefully folded up and concealed—a stone hatchet—and many other similar articles. The size of the rok-ko varies according to the wealth of the family; it is sometimes very large and weighty when filled.