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B 505: Lecture on the Aborigines of Australia and papers on Wirradhurrei dialect, 1837-1840
here i would mention those mysterious caves of which there is one found in the district of [indecipherable]. One of the blacks referred to these caves as proof that their ancestors or else some other ancient native must have known more than, any of them knew adding we could not make such marks, "we not clever enough for that ", For the information of these who may
I deem it proper in the next place to give you a little information as far as i have been able to collect concerning any ...ideas and practices of
Have they any idea of a future state? Is there any sort of religious belief among them or do they practice any religious life? That they believe in evil spirits as evil spirits... is pretty well known. The dread of these evil spirits continually [indecipherable] them. All the ills they suffer sickness & other misfortunes especially...and if they are not easily... of the same are ascribed to the influence of some evil spirit...
attacked them. This of course [implies?] the belief in witchcraft. But then they have their doctors (as they usually call them in English) a sort of sorcerer or conjurer - Nguagin in their language - who is in communication with some of them demons as I [understand them?] who may have [?initiated?] at least [on?] some of them so as to have them at his bidding and command, it may be to do evil or good, to [indecipherable] inflicting an evil or to relieve by counteracting the evil done by another demon. By what means they accomplish this by what charm or conjuration or [indecipherable] is a deep mystery which they are [never?] disposed to reveal, either to the uninitiated amongst themselves or to Europeans. As these sorcerers,[indecipherable] [indecipherable] ever be their [indecipherable] a [indecipherable] sometimes employ natural means to achieve such [indecipherable] we will adopt the usual term doctor for them. The office a [indecipherable], as far as I could discover does not seem to be hereditary, but the [shrewdest?] amongst them are initiated, who [indecipherable] may be the offspring of a doctor. They among other things pretend to the power of causing rain to come where
so asked. They seem to know of a few [indecipherable] they [ xxtally?] employ, in certain cases, they also apply warm water; they breath at times in the sick persons nostrils or mouth or taking their hands they often manipulate upon by rubbing them for a time. F. [But?]I will give you some [indecipherable] of their mysterious performance.
[IN RIGHT SIDE MARGIN:] some of their performances [indecipherable] [indecipherable] one of mesmerism
I remember one evening, a black man was said to be in great pain - a [indecipherable] in his stomach on whom they manipulated. At last they came running to me and exclaimed that the blackfellow was cured showing me a stone - it was a white quarz - which they allege one of the doctors had by some mysterious process extracted from his body. Having examined the stone, I said Why this stone is so [dusty?] and [greezy?] just as if it had long been handled about and had been kept in one of these [dainty?] bags they carry about and I see blackfellows finger marks and it would not look so if it had just come out of a man's body. This caused a hearty laugh among my young men and they seemed to comprehend the delusion. On another occasion something more plausible was practised. I heard that something very extraordinary was going on at the camp
not far off. It was towards dark, I went to see and noticed a young man lying on the ground as if lifeless, when I enquired, whether he was dead they told me to stand quietly not to talk and just watch, then I would soon see something wonderful. Whether the young man was in a fit, or merely a willing instrument of [indecipherable]. I could not make out; but men and women were standing in rows on one side, and in solemn silence and as if in anxious expectation of some important scene. I soon heard about a hundred yards off a deep hollow sounding groan and observed a [indecipherable] one of the doctors, creeping flat on the ground like a snake [Holding?] a leaf from amongst the branches towards the body, uttering repeatedly this mysterious groan, until he reached [indecipherable] young man when he stretched himself for a few minutes when [indecipherable] breathed into his nostrils and [rubbed?] his hands. He was followed by another doctor who crept along in the same way and went through the same ceremony, then came the first again as before and so the third time the same ceremony was gone through. And at
third performance the doctor being again shetched [stretched] upon the supposed lifeless body, the doctor and the patient reanimated after a few seconds jumped up, and all the spectators men and women clapped their hands in [appreciation?] of the wonderful case with a few shouts of joy. When I tried afterwards to convince some [indecipherable][indecipherable] young men that probably all was merely a piece off [indecipherable] - gammen?} - they gravely explained : blackfellows know a good deal more than you think, but they can't tell you and they dare not tell all to other blackfellows." I have already intimated that the demons in which they believe are in their opinion not altogether evil spirits, but beings possessed of supernatural powers, both for good and evil, though obviously objects of dread. Now in these notions the Aborigines resemble other pagan natives such as the [ancient?] Greeks to whom we are inclined to look up to, as civilized. It is well know that the [indecipherable] ancient Greeks used the term demons, afterwards applied exclusively to evil spirits, for supernatural beings more or less disposed to do good and not merely evil
20 as a sort of [deity?] or beings of a superior order. He must [indecipherable] agree that if the Aborigines have no other belief than that in some superior [indecipherable] spirit, it may be said the idea of a supreme being exists among them and thus the proof is natural theology for the existence of a deity holier [indecipherable] even with these ignorant and degraded people. In other words I maintain that there is no nation sunk quite so low as not to have some little [belief?], however [indecipherable] and corrupt, of a a deity or deities. We may rest assured there is an innate idea of the existence and [need?] of a deity [remaining?] among all human races,
nor are they [indecipherable] [indecipherable] of [indecipherable] [indecipherable] expectations if [indecipherable] future excit... In some this idea is more deeply rooted, whilst others are more inclined to affex.... [indecipherable]. Some of these Aborigines [indecipherable] at times where I spoke to them of a future? state of existence exclaim, though usually with a blush and no double [indecipherable] to Aborigines. We shall [indecipherable] altogether, white settlers would grace firmly maiantain the probability that they would live hereafter. The idea ofthe [indecipherable] of the soul has [indecipherable] been [indecipherable] to the Aborigines, but I believe this is without foundation and is [indecipherable] an idea which some Europeans seem to [indecipherable] importance to them. But let me now tell you that I have fully
ascertained that a higher purer notion exists among these Blacks, though it may not be so generally believed as the notion of evil spirits They believe in a superior being whom they call Baiamai. This Baiamai they believe to be altogether a good spirit possessed of superior powers. I will give you a description such as the Blacks gave me of this Baiamai in their own simple way of expressing these ideas. Baiamai is altogether good and always likes to do good. He always has been and always will be a [indecipherable] [litterally.?] He always did and always will sit down, that is exist. Whatever he wishes to be done, must be done, he only needs command it and it will come to pass. If he wants bread, for instance, bread is laid before him; if he wants fish, fish will come to him out of the water. Hence you will observe we have in him the attributes of eternity of goodness and of omnipotence. F He is always supposed to have a fan. Sometimes himself