Pages That Need Review
B 505: Lecture on the Aborigines of Australia and papers on Wirradhurrei dialect, 1837-1840
Fish they sometimes spear often they catch them with their hands. On the larger rivers, such as the Barwon, they have nets. Their [indecipherable] consist almost entirely in [crossed out: smaller & larger vessels being mainly a piece of wood hollowed and] [in margin: a block of wood is hollowed out with much [indecipherable] [indecipherable]] wooden vessels of smaller & larger size varying from a quad or two to three or four gallons in measure, to fetch water in. Warm water in their original state is made by hot stones being [indecipherable]thrown into their vessels of water. Fire they make [crossed out: with two pieces of wood] by means of friction between two pieces of wood. For instance, they will lay a flat piece on the ground or on a stone & take a pointed stick twisting it around upon the flat peice like a spindle so as to bore a hole into it [indecipherable] the action till the wood ignites. But you may guess they prefer to this tedious method of making fire the flint & steel or else matches if they are shown them from Europeans. As mimicks they excel, they have a [indecipherable] aptitude to imitate any thing [crossed out: Strange as] odd & [indecipherable] they may [indecipherable], [indecipherable] they not infrequently amuse themselves by mimicking any oddities they [indecipherable] in Europeans. At the
same time they are fond of applying nicknames both to [crossed out: them] some of their own people and to Europeans. There is certainly a European known to them for when they are not indolent some adventerous but [indecipherable] name or appellation indicative of a peculiarity they may [indecipherable] [indecipherable], whether in his [indecipherable] or [indecipherable]the expression [in margin: The [indecipherable] leads, the [indecipherable]] of his countenance or his doings or his [indecipherable] accented [indecipherable] in speaking. Canibalism, [indecipherable] [indecipherable] [indecipherable],has sometimes occurred amongst them, [indecipherable][ [indecipherable] was never so general as among the New Zealanders & [indecipherable] But I must hasten to the conclusion lest I should weary you and [indecipherable] finish with a description of their peculiar form of government which I would call, [indecipherable]- [indecipherable]-democratic, if such a term may be used, that is to say, the elderly men are the [indecipherable] and often hold meetings of [indecipherable] to decide questions of dispute or causes of war, but the younger men say from 25 upwards are also admitted & have a voice in the matter. At these meetings they often make long speeches; the speaker not always but mostly rises & often speaks with much animation sometimes they speak more calmy not without a degree of dignity & even greater [indecipherable]. But if they cannot agree upon any point, the minority are not always [indecipherable] by the [In the margin: with the Boomerang in his hand] decision of the majority. They may decide on a war excursion against another tribe, yet they cannot always force those who are opposed
to it to join the rest. [Inserted above: They rule by no distinct or precise laws but by custom & precedents.] Kings or chiefs who rule the rest they have act, [Inserted above:Europeans have erroneously attributed such titles to them] they have [indecipherable] a [indecipherable] term to signify a chieftain or ruler. though some [indecipherable] warrior or a man of much shrewdness & ability, [Inserted above: especially one of their doctors] may often [indecipherable] a [indecipherable] influence and may be called Ginnemai, or a father or a teacher, but his influence will be chiefly excercised on the Gang Men. In fact the Gang Men are under great [indecipherable] to the elderly ones. This is one of the chief hindrances to [indecipherable] or [indecipherable] them. The old men are obstinately adhering to their own habits & customs & use various means to deter the Gang Men from [indecipherable] [indecipherable] their old ways whilst the women old & young are [indecipherable] subjected to the [indecipherable] of the old men as I shall on a future occasion if desired more fully explained. I have yet [indecipherable] of some of the most interesting customs & [indecipherable] amongst the Aborigines such as the [indecipherable] of the women, certain customs as to marriage their [indecipherable] relationship, certain war-scenes & combats that take place amongst them, the [indecipherable] ceremony of making [indecipherable] [indecipherable] their funeral ceremonies their corroborrees [indecipherable] above all the peculiarities of their language with their various dialects, should the [indecipherable] and the committee [indecipherable] to take up the [indecipherable] again in another lecture, I shall if spared [indecipherable].
Second Part of a Lecture on the Australian Aboriginies
Mr Chairman, Ladies & Gentlemen,
In resuming my lecture on the Aborigines of this Country, I deem it desirable to recapitulate the [indecipherable] of my former lecture with the view of giving those who may not have been present on that occasion an idea of the various subjects that [inserted above: have been referred to] may be of interest in reference to these wild sons of the forest when we are accustomed to look upon as so inferior and degraded a race as scarecely belonging to the human species who yet may afford proof that they have more similarity than dissimilarity to other human races.
In the first place I endeavour to show their possible or probable origin from some parts of Asia and how they might have come to this county by the
various chains of islands almos connecting Australia with parts of Asia. I have further tried to account for the fact of there being such a mixed race being a resemblance both to Asiatics & Africans. I then described their characteristic features & complexion, and [indecipherable] [indecipherable] as far as I could for certain inferiorities in their bodily appearances partly by their nude mode of living and the irregularity of their means of subsistence sometimes seeming to excess in eating sometimes obliged to fast an unusual length of time. Yet in most faculties I stated they are scarcely inferior to the generality of human tribes.
I also related some of their ideas as to a supernatural order of being believing in evil spirits when they call Wandong & how certain so called doctors among them or [indecipherable] profess to have these evil spirits at their command for [indecipherable] & for good and perform certain supposed
wonderful cures, by various means and maneuvours. I then stated that I had fully ascertained another faith viz: that they believe in a superior being called Baiamai to whom they in their simple way attribute the idea of an eternal existence of goodness and of great, if not omnipotent person, with whom they also suppose some superior beings to reside, he being supposed to [indecipherable] towards the [indecipherable] of the [indecipherable]. I have further intimated that the [indecipherable] of a fure state is not quite foreign to them whatever [written above: errors] absurdities they may mix up with the same. These ideas existing among them are to my mind at least as I intimated a confirmed [indecipherable] of the argument used in natural theologyfor the existence of the Deity that every nation & tribe however ignorant & degraded had some impression left of a Supreme Being.
I then made various statements as to their general character some of their
natural propensities, their indolenence, want of for thought, their various kinds of foods, their few acquirements as to netting spearing sewing their better art of making weapons and other implements their fishing hunting ornaments & I concluded by describing their form of government, the elderly men and more or less all who had attained to the full age of man [indecipherable] [indecipherable] the rest not by any fixed laws but by traditional custom, no one being [indecipherable] speaking a chief among them by right, though some by superior attributes or exploits in war might [indecipherable] a [indecipherable] [indecipherable] influence.
And [indecipherable] I could add in [indecipherable] of my subject that this peculiar form of government admitting of no [indecipherable] [indecipherable] in rank, but allowingeach man a share in their circustances & decisions as many questions arising among them stamps a feeling of
independence & even haughtiness with an appearance of dignity in the character of the men rarely to be met with among other differently governed natives. As they have no titles for distinction nor a proper name for a chief so they have neither a word in their language to signify a servant, and certainly though the women are most subservient, as I shall show, to the men no man has an idea of serving another. This idea of their own dignity & importance is carried so far that they hesitate long before they apply the term Sir to any European even when they know full well of the distinction we make, (between master & servant).
In their original state there must have have been some very spirited & resolute men among the Aborigines who gained renown by their bravery, but their subjugation by Europeans has an evident tendency to [indecipherable] their spirits & to subdue their pride. Still among themselves ther are frequent instances where they display a very haughty spirit, the slightest insult may provoke
[indecipherable] amongst them of course as a matter of [indecipherable]. Various weapons are employed in their duels it may be the spear or the the cudgel or some other weapon such as the [written above: [indecipherable] or] mulga shaped like the boomerang but at one end fashioned something like an axe. Both parties have their their friends to watch them. They feel most idignant to be called cowards, still I must confess most of them often display great cowardice, from whatever motive, they were on most occasions glad, if some one, especially a European, interfered & prevented a conflict. [crossed out: even when it came to quarrel between different tribes] I was sometimes both pleased & amused when any one of them was afraid to fight a duel, or when a number where to enter into some combat or a whole tribe into a battle with another tribe, one party would usually inform me with much apparent alarm as to the seriousness of the affair with a view that I might interfere. This I generally
did & almost invariably succeeded in preventing a duel or a general fight. Then of course they have a good excuse, if the opposite party [indecipherable] them as cowards they would de[indecipherable]. They would have fought had not [indecipherable] stopped them. I could always make sure when they on earnest to fight, they tried as much as possible to hide their movements from me.
I will now try to give you a brief description of their war proceedings or fights, & their pre[indecipherable]. But you can easily imagine that a very [indecipherable] affair may prove the cause. In every short [indecipherable] by one tribe against the other, or an insulting menage, or an under [indecipherable] on their own territory (for the different tribes have certain boundaries) their [indecipherable] ground or hunting ground, more frequently a dispute about some woman or women who may have been stolen from another tribe becomes the occasion. They usually send their messengers [written above: who are mutually treated with respect] to & fro who may have something to settle the matter in dispute amicably or to come to some compromise. It may be after much preparation the tribes meet and come to an amicable arrangement possibly after a long dispute with words or verbal abuse, for they are not so prone to fight (in another engagement). Or perhaps it ends in