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B 505: Lecture on the Aborigines of Australia and papers on Wirradhurrei dialect, 1837-1840

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I have a copy, at least a partial copy, was unfortunately in a different dialect, so that neither the George [indecipherable] nor I [indecipherable] make any meaning of it, there being but a few words resembling the Wirradurri spoken at Wellington, The George [indecipherable] communicated to me, on the same occasion, the following respecting Baiamai [indecipherable] their [indecipherable], ' When we die we go to [indecipherable] which is [indecipherable] [indecipherable] the using of the [indecipherable] where Baiamai resides. There [indecipherable] we [indecipherable] (alive with) his [indecipherable] [indecipherable]. In this state we cannot see Baiamai, But a [indecipherable] length of time we shall all be struck dead again by the word of Baiamai', [indecipherable] When [indecipherable] away on the [indecipherable], some huge animals in shape something like a dog will come to lick our faces and so raise us to life again [indecipherable] we shall have much [indecipherable] & larger bodies. In this new body we shall be permitted also to see Baiamai, but let me add that these Aborigines entertain little or no hope

Last edit 4 months ago by smcintyre
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that the women [indecipherable] [indecipherable] shall [indecipherable] [indecipherable] expect for themselves a peace of [indecipherable] paradise, for a new race of women for [indecipherable] much more beautiful shall be [indecipherable] for them who are said to be descended from the race of the Barrabin [indecipherable] beings residing with the deity Baiamai. It was particularly [indecipherable] me not to divulge this secret respecting the women.

I am not [indecipherable] that [indecipherable] this belief had any great [indecipherable] inflence upon them, but they have some idea that those who have led a good life would fare better than others.

I would [indecipherable] in conclusion that these are [indecipherable] their own original [indecipherable] not any thing derived from their intercourse with Europeans since though [indecipherable] are very doubtful as [original text crossed out: to who made them [indecipherable] the world]the father of all things they fancy that much like Baiamai made originally all, Now whatever errors cannot [indecipherable] [original text crossed out: they may have mixed up] may adhere to this their belief, we cannot

Last edit 4 months ago by smcintyre
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doubt but it is a little [indecipherable] [indecipherable] from agreed [indecipherable] of the [indecipherable] if a Supreme Being [indecipherable] a future state. They believe to have a soul - a something [indecipherable] there that is superior to the body since they are generally [indecipherable] to [indecipherable]that the soul will not die. Even the very name or word for the soul appears to imply in its [indecipherable] a significant meaning. It is [indecipherable] & derived from a [indecipherable] [indecipherable] [indecipherable] sight, [indecipherable] [indecipherable] [indecipherable]. There is also a tradition among them of a very great flood which [indecipherable] all the people except two or three who hid themselves in a cave for some time. The cave they suppose was that well known cave near [indecipherable] [indecipherable] Valley. Of course they thought that they would leave [indecipherable] over that cave. It has always been my impression that the original race of the Aborigines were more enlightened than the present race. They have themselves some [indecipherable] impressions [indecipherable] one of them painted [indecipherable] those marks or impressions found in certain caves such as that at [indecipherable] as a [indecipherable] saying those who made them knew more than they [indecipherable]. I am satisfied that these impressions of hands & fingers required a certain art & whatever the meaning of them may be whether they be [indecipherable] the [indecipherable] for a [indecipherable] ceremony or burial places, they hark back to some more [indecipherable] [indecipherable] That the present use new no [indecipherable] is easily accounted for.

Last edit 4 months ago by smcintyre
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I shall now give you a description of their way of living, their [indecipherable] and the irregularity to which from various [indecipherable] [indecipherable], often from want & necessity, they have become habituated. [indecipherable] country is extremely poor in its natural [indecipherable] [indecipherable] productions. the oppossum, the wallabi, the [indecipherable] the kangaroo [indecipherable], nearly all very coarse & [indecipherable] fat, form their principal animal food. At the same time they eat all manner of creeping things, not even the snake exempted, which they catch with much care lest he should bite himself & [indecipherable] his flesh poisonous. When they can catch fish they are some what better off. They also eat various birds. But they being naturally indolent and with out any for thought for the morrow, they often are subject to the peculiarity [indecipherable] and make no great effort or reasonable force until hungerstimulates them. Then, if successful in their feasting excursion the eat [indecipherable], often an excessive quantity at once, I may illustrate this by a occurrence where they give proof, as indeed often they did, how much they can devour at once. They one afternoon asked me whether I would allow them to kill a certain cow to [indecipherable] an [indecipherable] [indecipherable] occurrence from which she was not likely to recover. I gave them permission. There were at the utmost 50 Blacks, old & young & the cow [indecipherable] at least from 4-500. so that from 7-8 thought to have [indecipherable] The next morning

Last edit 4 months ago by smcintyre
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some of the women came to me complaining that all the cow wa seaten & they had got nothing. [in margin crossed out: [This ought to have been at least for 8 persons for each in [indecipherable] as you can see]]But then whilst the can eat so much at once, it is nothing uncommon with them to go 2 or 3 or 4 days without a substantial meal, often a whole day without tasting any thing but water, a litlle water. Of wild fruits scarcely any thing grows worth naming, but there are various roots of herbs which they eat, some berries they wash them in hot ahes, their meat they often eat half raw, But they know to roast or steam larger portions of meat [in margin: By means of a huge fire]as to render it both wholesome & well flavoured. They make a number of stones hot, [indecipherable] a sort of oven with them, throw some hot stones & green branches on the meat, it may be besides [indecipherable] hot ashes. The meat is roasted especiall if there be a good quantity [indecipherable] a kind of feast to them. They are particularly fond of a species of grubs they find in little holes in trees, these they often eat raw, with much gusto. I remember one morning [crossed out: immediately] after breakfast walking out into the bush accompanied by one of our most [indecipherable] Blacks. he had just eaten a hearty breakfast of mutton [indecipherable] & damper. We [indecipherable] a little hole in a tree, [indecipherable] with him a small [crossed out: little] then [indecipherable] of wood with a hook at the end such as they use. [indecipherable] he [indecipherable] in the [indecipherable]

Last edit 4 months ago by smcintyre
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and soon pulled out, a white fat-looking grub which he at once swallowed, as if the greatest delicacy. I exclaimed What eat that [indecipherable] thing just after a good breakfast!? O yes, sir he replied, that very good, very sweet, delicious, I think you would call it? All the clothing they use is the oppossum cloak which also serves asa bed at night. This might do pretty well, if they were always careful enough to make a good one. Indeed the blanket which they use now so [indecipherable] to get, is but a poor substitute for it. But in [indecipherable], they care not much about any sort of covering & neglect [indecipherable] to be much better provided in winter. Their [crossed out: habitations] huts or shelter consists of a few sheets of bark only in hot & dry weather mainly of a few boughs & branches. they could encamp more than three nights on the same spot as a superstitious fear haunts them & drives them away lest the evil spirit should hurt them. In fact many reasons [indecipherable] to their wandering & unsettled habits, it may be in search of food, or to settle a dispute, to fight or to escape some enemy, or it may be the habit & fondness of changes. As regards their character they are naturally very suspicious & [indecipherable] and as a race [indecipherable]

Last edit 3 months ago by smcintyre
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rather treacherous not only to stranger but even amongst themselves. [in margin: They are no less revengeful, but revenge for an inury received is often, as I shall show [indecipherable] a matter of [indecipherable]] they are, however, generally trustworthy, if you send them on an errand, and dishonesty is not so common amongst them,[indecipherable] forwards [indecipherable] as many people are a [indecipherable] to [indecipherable] I had several about our house where [indecipherable] we could fully rely on. If they rob Europeans of provisions or steal their cattle when the [indecipherable] first settle amongst them, it must not [indecipherable] [indecipherable] be ascribed to [indecipherable] properties. They naturally look on the White man as an [indecipherable] and can see no harm in molesting & annoying him, or even in killing him. And in this they only reinstate the example of men [indecipherable] act thus. Similar acts we read of in the history of [indecipherable] [indecipherable] as proofs of [indecipherable] & [indecipherable]. And the more civilized Chinese [indecipherable] the Indian [indecipherable] as the present day acts much [indecipherable] the same impulses as the Aborigines of this country. [in margin: I cannot give them much praise for gratitude though instances of grateful attachment, an [indecipherable] friend. There is something very reserved in their demeanor, rather [indecipherable] & [indecipherable] as in [indecipherable]for [indecipherable] [indecipherable] I [indecipherable] may be [indecipherable] to their form of government.] That they are very indolent & without any forthought as I have already intimated, hence they scarcely provided for any future want, seldom they save any food for the next day, and if requiring for [indecipherable] against [indecipherable] a few [indecipherable] if back, they often only commence cutting the [indecipherable] after the rain has commenced. To this indolence [indecipherable] [indecipherable] may be ascribed also the luck that they have but little idea of any sort of art or handicraft

Last edit 3 months ago by smcintyre
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Still the women know to do a kind of [crossed out: knitting] netting very neatly with a sort of wooden crochet needdle and spin the yarn first from oppossum wool or also from the bark of the [indecipherable] with a piece of wood acting as a spindle. They often knit little bags and longer pieces of knitting serve as a kind of bandage round the head to keep the hair together. Some of the [indecipherable] too, such as the well known boomerang (or [indecipherable] as it is called here). The shield for others are occasionally nicely shaped smoothed & carved. Their original cutting instrument is a hard stone, often a black flint ground down on another stone into the shape of an axe or hatchet to which they sometimes manage to fasten a wooden handle. But of course it was a wearisome task to [indecipherable] with such a tool & here they delight to get a tomahawk from Europeans.

One of the worst features in their natural character is almost the utter absence of a feeling of shame, there are here & there slight exceptions, but too often they are seen in a perfect state of nudity or generally nearly so. They are rather generous towards each other, when they can afford it, sharing their food & too often [indecipherable] their few articles of [crossed out: carving or] clothing. In fact this propensity renders them quite [indecipherable] especially after they find any European clothes. You may give one of them an old hat in the morning, after a few hours it may have changed several owners, perhaps towards evening more than a dozen have [indecipherable] with it. I may here add that

Last edit 3 months ago by smcintyre
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in this transition state when they begin to wear clothes by putting odd pieces of [indecipherable] apparel on, they often present the most grotesque figure putting on single articles of dress [crossed out: leaving part of the body uncovered], it may be a jacket or a waistcoat & then puts an old hat without any thing [crossed out: or little] else. In their original state they ornament themselves by various colourings made of red or yellow ochre [crossed out: & part of the] & pasting it [indecipherable] on their chests and on the cheeks. This [indecipherable] serves for coroborries & also for [crossed out: fights] war excursions, when for war their colours seem to laid on more thickly especially on the face & under the eyes & in such a way as to [indecipherable] themselves a very wild appearance. The yellow [indecipherable] of the [indecipherable] Cockatoo is stuck in front of the head as an ornament. The White [indecipherable] clay colour serves as a sign of mourning. The women wear beads, often long & numberous strings of them, made of seeds & grarasses, but [indecipherable] most extraordinary ornament, if such it may be called, is [indecipherable] plain piece of slender bone [crossed out: about six inches] from 4 to 6 inches in length worn through the nose across the face, the septum or [indecipherable] [indecipherable] between the nostrils having a hole [indecipherable] through. Another ornament no less [indecipherable] in our eyes are those [indecipherable] marks in 1 case which they [indecipherable] both on the chest and on the back just [indecipherable] the spinal [indecipherable], on the chest they are [indecipherable] [indecipherable] in parrallel lines crossing & brought about by a rather painful & gradual operation! They cut up the skin, [indecipherable] only with sharp [indecipherable] if [indecipherable] or possibly pieces of wood, now [indecipherable] with broken pieces of [indecipherable].

Last edit 3 months ago by smcintyre
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This first cut is again & again lacerated [crossed out: & kept safe open] and not allowed to heal. In some months until the flesh is [crossed out: so raised] sufficiently raised as to appear when closed up as if little cords were lain across the chest & grown over by the skin. the most remarkable performance of theirs is the way they climb trees of almost any [indecipherable]. They cut above them little notches & [indecipherable] for the large toe to rest on, & then they [indecipherable] step by step. In hunting & fishing they are very expert & were they less indolent they might often [indecipherable] themselves better with food than they do. They throw their [indecipherable] weapons such as the Boomerang with much precision either after [crossed out: [indecipherable]] quadrupedes such as the Wallabi or birds in the air, and it is susprising how keen they are in discovering whether an opposum is in a tree. They will for instance asertain with their quick eyes from the little scratches on the back of the tree whether the animal, after going up has come down again. In tracking each other they are no less [crossed out: shrewd] quick & sharp. They mostly can tell each other's foot marks, no wonder Europeans are so glad to employ them to track [indecipherable] & in turn [indecipherable] to track bushrangers.

Last edit 3 months ago by smcintyre
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