Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

The cultivation was confined to maize, wheat, potatoes, and other garden vegetables. Wheat, however, from the heat of the climate, occasional droughts, and blighting winds, was but an uncertain crop; nor could it be averaged at more than eighteen bushels per acre, though some yielded twentyfive. Of maize. [commonly called Indian wheat] the harvests were constant and plentiful; and two crops were generally procured in a year. The average produce was forty-five bushels per acre.

In those parts which were not cleared of timber, the underwood was covered with a succulent herbage; which, with the fern and other soft roots, afforded the best food for swine. Many settlers availed themselves of this advantage, and inclosed some of the uncleared ground; where individuals kept from 20 to 150 of these animals each. On Phillip Island, too, was to be found the best feed for swine. The Governor kept there an hundred and seventeen. Several large hogs had been brought thence, which weighed, when fattened, from 180 to 306 pounds. Cattle for labour, however, were scarce, and sheep much wanted for a change of food ; though it is certain that sheep breed there as well as in any other part of the world, and had not yet felt any of the disorders common to that kind of stock.

The want of artificers of all descriptions, and the scarcity of labourers at public works, had retarded the construction of a number of necessary buildings; so that not more than ten settlers had been yet able to erect dwellings better than log-huts : but many were beginning to build comfortable framed and weatherboarded habitations, at their own expence.

Provisions were cheaper than at New South Wales, as ap. pears from the following table : • Average prices of provisions raised on the island, either for sale,

for barter, or in payment for labour.

PLENTIFUL ARTICLES.
Fresh pork 6d. per lb.
Pickled ditto 8d.
Wheat from 75. 60. to 10 s. per bushel.
Maize from is. 6d. to 5 s.
Potatoes from 18. to 3 s. 6d. per cwt.
Full-grown fowls from 6d. to Is. each.
Ditto ducks iod. to 16. 3d. each.
Ditto turkeys 7s. 6d. cach.

SCARCE ARTICLES.
Geese sos. each.
Female goats 8l. each.
Goats' hesh or mutton to government od. per Ib.
Ditto to individuals s. 6d. ditto.'

The

tivation an experimuperior to towany pains and i

The price of a labourer's day's work was 3$. with food, and 55. without it.

The original inducement to settle in this island was the cultivation of the flax-plant. It grows here spontaneously; and though an experiment had been made to cultivate it, the produce was not so much superior to that which grew in a natural state, as to make it advisable to bestow any pains on its culture. There is no more than one looin on the island, and the slay or reed is designed for coarse canvass ; nor do they possess a single tool required by flax-dressers or weavers, beyond the poor substitutes which they are obliged to fabricate for themselves. In this defect of necessaries for the manufacture, only eighteen people could be employed in it; and of these the united la. bour, in a week, produced sixteen yards of canvass, of the size. called No. 7.

Such is an outline of the statement given of Norfolk Island by its Governor Mr. Collins annexes to it some account of New Zealand, as collected from two natives who had been brought thence by Lieut. King. It communicates several curious particulars relating to those people, and their language ; for which we must reluctantly refer to the volume.

In the general remarks which form the Appendix to this work, is comprised all that Mr. Collins was able to collect in a six years' residence at New South Wales, respecting the govern. ment, religion, and customs of the natives. It is probable that many readers will be more pleased with these particulars than with the body of the work; because the novel and amusing scenes, which must occur in delineating savage life, are more entertaining than a dry journal of daily occurrences.

In contemplating the picture of the Botany Bay savage, as exhibited by Mr. Collins, we see little to distinguish him from the other children of ignorance with whom the Southern hemisphere is peopled. All the vices and all the virtues of mea in such a state of nature are found in him; and he has no trait of unusual ferocity, nor any mark of a stronger or weaker intellect to distinguish him from his brethren. Of the mode of government under which he lives, little can be said ; for in fact he seems to have no idea of government beyond that which the head of a family exercises over his household. Existing in that state which is supposed to have been common to all men previously to their formal union in a common society, no authority is known among them but that which nature has given to the father over his children, and to the husband over his wife. Accordingly, the epithet of father (Be-anna) is their highest title of honor, and that which they uniformly apply to those who, they perceive, exercise authority over

he and that whicine authority, berso

others. We are told, however, that, though they have no idea of legal government, they are acquainted with that kind of deference and submission which weakness yields to strength; and that to one powerful tribe or family, the rest of the na. tives pay a tribute,-the tribute of a tooth forced from every male youth, when he arrives at a certain age.

In the article of religion, Mr. Collins tells us, the natives of New South Wales falsify the bold assertion of our orthodox divines, namely, “ that no country has yet been discovered, where some traces are not to be found of religious worship.”

From every observation and inquiry I could make among these people,' says Mr. Collins, from the first to the last of my acquaint. ance with them, I can safely pronounce them an exception to this opinion. I am certain that they do not worship either sun, moon, or star; that, however necessary fire may be to them, it is not an object of adoration ; neither have they respect for any particular beast, bird, or fish. I never could discover any object, either substantial or imaginary, that impelled them to the commission of good actions, or deterred them from the perpetration of what we deem crimes. There indeed existed among them some idea of a future state, but not connected in anywise with religion ; for it had no influence whatever on their lives and actions. On their being often questioned as to what became of them after their decease, some an. swered that they went either on or beyond the great water ; but by far the greater number signified, that they went to the clouds. Conversing with Ben-nil-long, after his return from England, where he had obtained much knowledge of our customs and manners, I wished to learn what were his ideas of the place from which his countrymen came, and led him to the subject by observing, that all the white men here came from England. I then asked him where the black men (or Eora) came from? He hesitated.–Did they come from any island ? His answer was, that he knew of none : they came from the clouds (alluding perhaps to the aborigines of the country); and when they died, they returned to the clouds (Boorow-e). He wished to make me understand that they ascended in the shape of little children, first hovering in the tops and in the branches of trees; and mentioned something about their eating, in that state, their favourite food, little fishes.

• If this idea of the immortality of the soul should excite a smile, is it more extraordinary than the belief which obtains among some of us, that at the last day the various disjointed bones of men shall find out each its proper owner, and be re-united ?- The savage here treads close upon the footsteps of the Christian.'

Though these people have no conceptions of religious reward and punishment, Mr. C. tells us that they have ideas of distinction between good and bad, and have expressions in their language which are significant of these qualities. They do not apply the terms good and bad merely to sensible objects; they use them to mark right and wrong, and to describe sensations of the mind as well as of the senses.' We do not, however, understand the distinction which Mr. Collins means to establish between sensations of the mind and sensations of the senses.' They may, as he says, call their friends good, and cannibalism bad; and yet they may mean only by these expressions, that friends are serviceable like the flesh of a kangaroo, and that cannibalism is disgusting, without having any distinct ideas of right or wrong, of virtue or vice. It is probable, however, that those people have some vague notions of these qualities; and we only mean to say that what Mr. C. advances as proof of it does not prove it.

them

Owing to poverty of living, the persons of the natives are thin, and their limbs are small; their features, particularly those of the women, are described as far from unpleasing; and the females possess a modesty which in the want of covering gives them an attitude that brought to the author's mind,

“ The bending statue which enchants the world.” Both sexes use the disgusting and common practice among savages, of rubbing fish oil on their skins; which, together with their perspiration, produces in hot weather a most horrible stench. The practices of scarring their bodies in grotesque figures, and of boring the cartilage of the nose in order to admit ornaments, are equally prevalent. The women have a pe. culiar mode of marking their rank :- it consists in cutting off the first and second joints of the little finger of the left hand : which operation is performed, when young, by means of a tight ligature, by which the circulation is destroyed, and the finger mortifies and drops off. Their colour is not uniform ; in some cases being as black as that of an African negroe; in others, resembling the copper colour of a Malay.. The only personal superiority which they seem to possess, over the greater part of the civilized world, is the peculiar excellence of their sight. On the accuracy of this sense, indeed, their existence very often depends ; for a short-sighted man would never be able to defend himself from their spears, which are thrown with amazing force and velocity.

With respect to their habitations, nothing curious occurs in this account. Every man knows that the savage lives in a cave or a hut, and that the division of a dwelling into apartments is a consequence of advanced civilization. That the savage subsists on fish, when he inhabits the sea-coast; and that, when he is placed more inland, he resorts to the chase or to stratagem for prey; are circumstances also too generally known to be entertaining to the reader in the recital. It is however a disguste ing novelty in the South Wales native, that he feeds on worms: Rey. Dec. 1798.

Dd

• In • In the body of the dwarf gum tree, (says Mr. C.) are several large worms or grubs, which they speedily divest of antennæ, legs, &c, and, to our wonder and disgust, devour. A servant of mine, an European, has often joined them in eating this luxury; and has assured me, that it was sweeter than any marrow he had ever tasted ; and the natives themselves appeared to find a peculiar relish in it.'--'In an excursion to the river Hawkesbury, we fell in with a native and his child. We had Colc-be (a native) with us, who endeavoured, but in vain, to bring him to a conference ; he launched his canoe, and got away as expeditiously as he could, leaving behind him a specimen of his food and the delicacy of his stomach ; a piece of water-soken wood, full of holes, the lodgment of a large worm named by them cab-bro, and which they extract and eat ; but nothing could be more offensive than the smell both of the worm and its habitation.-There is a tribe of natives dwelling inland, who, from the circumstances of their eating these loathsome worms, are called Cah-bro-gal.'

To love, or rather to its enjoyments, the prelude in this country is violence. The maleschoose their mates invariably from a tribe different from their own, and with whom they are at enmity. --Secrecy is necessarily observed; and the poor female is surprised in the absence of her protectors, and, when purposely stupified with blows inflicted with clubs or wooden swords, is dragged through the woods by one arm with a violence which, we might suppose, would displace it from its socket. Regardless of every obstacle which lies in the way, the lover drags his victim to a place of safety, bruised, and torn ; and when once he has her beyond the reach of pursuit, a scene ensues which cannot be related. The outrage is not resented by the relations : but the tribe retaliate by a similar injury when opportunity offers. Such men are not likely to confine themselves to one woman, nor are such wives likely to be faithful. Monogamy and chastity, therefore, are here uncommon.

The reader will find in the Appendix a series of copper. plates, representing the various ceremonies used in striking out the tribute-tooth from the head of a boy. Mr. Collins observes, in treating of this operation, that, in two instances in which he saw it performed, it took place exactly at the same time of the year, viz. in the beginning of February, though the interval between the two operations was five years. This he deems strange, because they have not any idea of numbers beyond three,' and of course have no regular computation of time.'- It appears to us very questionable whether the natives cannot number somewhat farther; first, because their neighbours of New Zealand have names for numbers, as appears by the vocabulary of Lieutenant King, to a very considerable height ;-and, secondly, because, according to Mr. Collins's

owa

« AnteriorContinuar »