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Wilson, T / Peter Parley's Tales About America and Australia
The fashion of these ornaments was
left to each person's taste, and some, when decorated in their best
manner, looked perfectly horrible: nothing could appear more terrible
than a black and dismal face, with a large white circle drawn round each
eye.

[Illustration]

They scarify the skin in every part with sharp shells.

The women and female children are generally found to want the first two
joints of the little finger of the left hand, which are taken off while
they are infants, and the reason they assign is, that they would be in
the way in winding the fish-lines over the hand.

The men all want one of their front teeth, which is knocked out when
they arrive at the age of fifteen or sixteen, with many ridiculous
ceremonies; but the boys are not allowed to consider themselves as men
before they have undergone that operation.

They live chiefly on fish, which they sometimes spear and sometimes net;
the women, on the parts of the coast, aiding to catch them with the hook
and line.

"The facility," (observes Captain Sturt), "with which they procured fish
was really surprising.

"They would slip, feet foremost, into the water, as they walked along
the bank of the river, as if they had accidentally done so; but, in
reality, to avoid the splash they would have made if they had plunged in
head foremost.

"As surely as a native disappeared under the surface of the water, so
surely would he re-appear, with a fish writhing upon the point of his
short spear.

"The very otter scarcely exceeds them in power over the finny race, and
so true is the aim of these savages, even under the water, that all the
fish we procured from them were pierced either close behind the lateral
fin or in the very centre of the head."

[Illustration]

If a dead whale happens to be cast on the shore, numbers flock to it,
from every part of the coast, and they feast sumptuously while any part
remains.

Those in the interior are stated to live on grubs, insects, ants and
their eggs, kangaroos, when they can catch them, fern roots, various
kinds of berries, and honey; caterpillars and worms also form part of
their food.

Captain Phillip took every possible pains to reclaim these ignorant
savages, and he once nearly lost his life in endeavouring to conciliate
a party of them, having ventured amongst them unarmed for that purpose;
one of the savages threw a spear which pierced the upper part of his
shoulder and came out at his back.

But all the efforts of the governor to effect the permanent civilization
of these miserable people proved utterly abortive.

They possess the faculty of mimickry or imitation to a very considerable
degree. I was walking with a friend, one beautiful evening, on the banks
of the Paramatta, when Bungarry, chief of the Sydney tribe of black
natives, was pulling down the river with his two jins, or wives, in a
boat which he had received as a present from the governor. My friend
accosted him on his coming up with us, and the good-natured chief
immediately desired his _jins_ to rest upon their oars, for he was rowed
by his wives. During the short conversation that ensued, my friend
requested Bungarry to show how governor Macquarrie made a bow.

[Illustration]

Bungarry happened to be dressed in the old uniform of a military
officer, and standing up in the stern of his boat, and taking off his
cocked hat, with the requisite punctilio, he made a low formal bow, with
all the dignity and grace of a general officer of the old school.

The rich variety of vegetation on the Illawarra mountain, which is a
lofty range running parallel with the coast, contrasts beautifully with
the richness of the scenery. The fern tree, shooting up its rough stem,
about the thickness of a small boat's mast, to the height of fifteen or
twenty feet, and then, all at once shooting out a number of leaves in
every direction, each at four or five feet in length, and exactly
similar in appearance to the leaf of the common fern; while palms of
various botanical species, are ever and anon shooting up their tall
slender branchless stems to the height of seventy or a hundred feet, and
then forming a large canopy of leaves, each of which bends gracefully
outwards and then downwards, like a Prince of Wales' feathers.

Another beautiful species met with in the low grounds of Illawarra, is
the fan palm, or cabbage tree, and another equally graceful in its
outline, is called by the natives Bangalo.

[Illustration]

The nettle tree, which is also met with in the bushes, is not only seen
by the traveller, but occasionally felt, and remembered, for its name is
highly descriptive.

Both the animal and vegetable creation in Australia, are wholly
different from those in every other part of the world.

To show that the existence of a thing was not believed in, it was
compared to a _black swan_, but in New Holland we find black swans, and
blue frogs; red lobsters, and blue crabs; flying opossums, and beasts
with bills like ducks; fish that hop about on dry land, and quadrupeds
that lay eggs.

The quadrupeds hitherto discovered, with very few exceptions, are all of
the kangaroo or opossum tribe; having their hinder legs long, out of all
proportion when compared with the length of the fore legs, and a sack
under the belly of the female for the reception of the young.

[Illustration]

They have kangaroo rats, and dogs of the jackal kind, all exactly alike;
and a little animal of the bear tribe, named the wombat, but the
largest quadruped at present discovered is the kangaroo.

These pretty nearly complete the catalogue of four-footed animals yet
known on this vast island.

There is, however, an animal which resembles nothing in the creation but
itself, and which neither belongs to beast, bird or fish.

This animal is called the Duck-billed Platypus.

[Illustration]

Of all the quadrupeds yet known, this seems the most extraordinary in
its conformation; exhibiting the perfect semblance of the beak of a duck
on the head of a quadruped.

The head is flattish, and rather small than large; the mouth or snout so
exactly resembles that of some broad-billed species of duck, that it
might be mistaken for one.

The birds and fish are no less singular than the beasts. There is a
singular fish, which when left uncovered by the ebbing of the tide,
leaps about like the grasshopper, by means of strong fins.

[Illustration]

The Moenura Superba, with its scalloped tail feathers, is perhaps the
most singular and beautiful of that elegant race of bird, known by the
name of Birds of Paradise.

Cockatoos, Parrots, and Parroquets, are innumerable, and of great
variety.

The Nonpareil Parrot is perhaps the most beautiful bird of the parrot
tribe in the whole world.

The Mountain Eagle is a magnificent creature; but the Emu, or New
Holland Cassowary, is perhaps the tallest and loftiest bird that exists.

[Illustration]

The capital of the colony, and the seat of the colonial Government is
Sydney. The Town of Sydney is beautifully situated in Sydney Cove, which
I told you is one of the romantic inlets of Port Jackson, about seven
miles from the entrance of the harbour. The headlands at the mouth of
the harbour form one of the grandest features in the natural scenery of
the country.

It is not, however, a distant or cursory glance that will give you a
just idea of the importance of this busy capital.

In order to form a just estimation of it, you should take a boat and
proceed from Sydney Cove to Darling Harbour, you will then see the whole
extent of the eastern shore of the latter capacious basin equally
crowded with warehouses, stores, dock-yards, mills, and wharfs; the
store-houses built on the most magnificent scale, and with the best and
most substantial materials. The population of Sydney is supposed now to
exceed 10,000 persons.

The second town in the colony is Paramatta. It is distant about fourteen
miles from Sydney, being pleasantly situated at the head of one of the
navigable arms of Port Jackson. It contains nearly 5,000 inhabitants.
The other towns in the colony, are Windsor, Liverpool, Campbell Town,
Newcastle and Maitland. The last will doubtless ere long be the second
in the colony, as it is situated at the head of the navigation of
Hunter's river.

Very fine roads have been formed in Australia, particularly one leading
across the Blue mountains to Bathurst, on the western side of that
range, which is 180 miles from Sydney.

The openness of the country around Bathurst is more favourable for
hunting and shooting than most other parts of the colony.

The Kangaroo and the Emu are both hunted with dogs; they are both feeble
animals, but they are not altogether destitute of the means of defence.

In addition to swiftness of foot, the Emu has a great muscular power in
his long iron limbs, and can give an awkward blow to his pursuer, by
striking out at him behind, like a young horse, while the Kangaroo, when
brought to bay by the dogs, rests himself on his strong muscular tail,
seizes the dog with his little hands or fore-feet, and thrusts at him
with one of his hind feet, which is armed for that purpose with a single
sharp-pointed hoof, and perhaps lay his side completely open.

[Illustration]

When hotly pursued, the kangaroo sometimes takes to the water, where, if
he happen to be followed by a dog, he has a singular advantage over all
other quadrupeds of his own size, from his being able to stand erect in
pretty deep water.

In this position he waits for the dog, and when the latter comes close
up to him, he seizes him with his fore-feet and presses him under water
till he is drowned.

The Bustard, or native turkey, is occasionally shot in the Bathurst
country. It sometimes weighs eighteen pounds, and is different from the
common turkey, in the flesh of the legs being white, while that of the
breast is dark-coloured.

Among the natives the old men have alone the privilege of eating the
Emu, and married people only are permitted to eat ducks.

The natives suffer no animal, however small, to escape them.

One of the blacks being anxious to get an Opossum out of a dead tree,
every branch of which was hollow, asked for a tomahawk, with which he
cut a hole in the trunk above where he thought the animal lay concealed.
He found, however, that he had cut too low, and that it had run higher
up. This made it necessary to smoke it out; he accordingly got some dry
grass, and having set fire to it, stuffed it into the hole he had cut.

[Illustration]

A raging fire soon kindled in the tree, where the current of air was
great, and dense columns of smoke issued from the end of each branch as
thick as that from the chimney of a steam-engine.

The shell of the tree was so thin, that I thought it would soon be
burnt through, and that the tree would fall; but the black had no such
fears, and, ascending to the highest branch, he waited anxiously for the
poor little wretch he had thus surrounded with dangers, and devoted to
destruction; and no sooner did it appear half singed and half roasted,
than he seized upon it and threw it down to us with an air of triumph.
The effect of the scene, in so lonely a forest, was very fine. The
roaring of the fire in the tree, the fearless attitude of the savage,
and the associations which his colour and appearance called up,
enveloped as he was in smoke, were singular, and still dwell in my
recollection. He had not long left the tree, when it fell with a
tremendous crash, and was, when we next passed that way, a mere heap of
ashes.

The territory of the colony has been divided into ten counties, named as
follows:--Cumberland, Camden, Argyll, Westmoreland, Londonderry,
Boxburgh, Northumberland, Durham, Ayr, and Cambridge.

I will now give you a short account of Van Diemen's Land.

This fair and fertile island lies, as I have told you, at the southern
extremity of New Holland, from which it is separated by Bass' Straits.

Its medial length from north to south is about 185 miles, and its
breadth from east to west is 166 miles.

Its surface possesses every variety of mountain, hill, and dale; of
forests and open meadows; of inland lakes, rivers and inlets of the sea,
forming safe and commodious harbours; and every natural requisite that
can render a country valuable or agreeable.

It enjoys a temperate climate, which is perhaps not very different from
that of England, though less subject to violent changes.

The island is intersected by two fine rivers, rising near the centre;
the one named the Tamar, falling into Bass' Straits, on the north, and
forming Port Dalrymple; the other the Derwent, which discharges itself
into the sea, on the south-eastern extremity. Hobart Town, the capital,
is situated on the right bank of the Derwent, about five miles from the
sea.

The natives of Van Diemen's Land are described by all the navigators, as
a mild, affable, good-humoured and inoffensive race.

Though they are obviously the same race of people as those of New
Holland, and go entirely naked, both men and women, yet their language
is altogether different.

The British settlements in Australia are both numerous and important.
The oldest, most extensive, and valuable, was founded, as we have shewn
already, at Sydney. The island of Tasmania was next occupied; within the
last few years we have established the colonies of Port Phillip,
Melbourne, Victoria, Cooksland, and others. The progress of these
settlements has been rapid.

An extraordinary increase to emigration to Australia was given by the
discovery of the Gold Regions.

For many years reports had been current that the Australian Alps and the
Snowy Mountains were full of gold, but it was not till after the
Californian discoveries that any was found in Australia.

Two shepherds were the first persons who found any gold, and for a long
time they successfully concealed the source from which they obtained it;
but being watched, their secret was discovered, and the news spread like
wild-fire over the colony. Everybody was mad to go gold hunting;
shepherds forsook their flocks; traders closed their stores; sailors ran
away from their ships; servants threw up their situations; everybody was
mad to visit this newly-discovered Tom Tiddler's ground, to pick up gold
and silver. A groom informed his master, in one instance, that he would
stop with him, as he had been in the family for five years, for a guinea
a day, if it would be any convenience to him. Another family was left
with only a boy of sixteen to attend them, and his stipulations
were--two pounds a week, and wine to his dinner! In one year the
population of Melbourne rose from 23,000 to 85,000 inhabitants; the town
of Geelong trebled its numbers; perhaps never in the whole history of
the world had there been so extraordinary an emigration.

As a monument of the golden wealth of Australia, there is in the
International Exhibition a wooden obelisk dead gilt on the outside. This
column is nearly seventy feet high, and some ten feet square at the
base. It represents exactly the bulk of gold which Australia has sent to
this country since 1851, and which in all amounts to nearly 800 tons.
Valuing the precious metal at its ascertainable worth, it appears that
gold to the value of upwards of 15,000 sterling was dug from the bowels
of the earth, washed from the sand of the rivers, or discovered by
fortunate diggers in various parts of Australia in a single year.

The interior of Australia is still comparatively unknown. Last year an
expedition was undertaken to discover a way across the Continent, and
entrusted to a vigilant and enterprising commander named Burke. Although
a certain amount of success attended the object of the expedition, the
fate of Burke and his immediate companions was most deplorable. They
perished by starvation!




CONCLUSION.


I have now told you all that my present limits will admit, of those
interesting portions of the globe, called America and Australia, and I
wish you to read again all that I have said, and I wish you also to view
the inhuman conduct of the first discoverers of the former with proper
feelings of aversion. If you have read an account of William Penn's
first colony of Pennsylvania, you will see that his was the only just
way of establishing himself among the Indians. You must rejoice within
yourselves on this occasion, that they were not Englishmen who practised
these acts of cruelty and treachery towards the unoffending Mexicans and
Peruvians. The workings of Providence are full of mystery, and I cannot
help thinking that the state of anarchy and civil war in which Spain and
Portugal are now and ever have been engaged, is an act of retribution
awarded to their barbarity in the great scheme of God's providence.

It makes one blush for the sake of Christianity, to think that the
perpetrators of the outrages upon the original possessors of the
Americas were persons professing that sublime religion,--and that in the
midst of their slaughter and plunder, they impiously held forth the
cross of Christ. The confiding but dignified nature of the idolatrous
Mexicans, did much more honour to the purity of the Christian religion
than did the base treachery of their invaders, who professed Christ but
knew him not.

Had they by mildness, perseverance, and reason convinced the inhabitants
of the truth of the Christian religion, they might have become faithful
converts, but it was unreasonable to expect that they should cast off
the religion which their forefathers had professed, for a religion which
they knew not at all, and the professors of which came with the sword to
deprive them of their lives and their property.

I wish you, my young friends, to weigh all these circumstances whenever
you read. It will impress the different subjects more thoroughly upon
your memory; and if your minds be properly constituted, it will
cultivate the good and eradicate the bad. I will again ask you to read
this book a second time, and refer occasionally to the maps. And now
good-bye!



THE END.




Billing, Printer and Stereotyper, Guildford, Surrey.



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