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spirit of the British nation, awakened parliamentary investigation; the Caffre territory is restored by order of government; a new and more rational system of policy is adopted, and it is to be hoped will be steadily persevered in.
THE ENGLISH IN NEW HOLLAND AND THE
In this chapter we shall take a concluding view of our countrymen amongst the aborigines of the countries they have visited or settled in; and in doing this it will not be requisite to go back at all into the past. To trace the manner in which they possessed themselves of these regions, or in which they have from that period to the present extended their power, and driven back the natives, would be only treading over for the tenth time the scenes of arbitrary assumption and recklessness of right, which must be, now, but too familiar to my readers. We will, therefore, merely look at the present state of English conduct in those remote regions; and, for this purpose, the materials lie but too plentifully before us. With the exception of the missionary labours, the presence of the Europeans in these far regions is a fearful curse. The two
great prominent features of their character there, are violence and debauchery. If they had gone thither only to seize the lands of the natives, as they have done everywhere else, it might have excited no surprise; for who, after perusing this volume, should wonder that the Europeans are selfish: if they had totally exterminated the aborigines with the sword and the musket, it might even then have passed in the ordinary estimate of their crimes, and there might have been hope that they might raise some more imposing, if not more virtuous, fabric of society than that which they had destroyed; but here, the danger is that they will demolish a rising civilization of a beautiful and peculiar character, by their pestilent profligacy. That dreadful and unrighteous system, which Columbus himself introduced in the very first moment of discovery, and which I have more than once pointed to, in the course of this volume, as a very favourite scheme of the Europeans, and especially the English, the convict system-the penal colony system -the throwing off the putrid matter of our corrupt social state on some simple and unsuspecting country, to inoculate it with the rankness of our worst moral diseases, without relieving ourselves at all sensibly by the unprincipled deed, has here shewn itself in all its hideousness. New South Wales and Van Dieman's Land have been sufficient to curse and demoralize all this portion of the world. They have not only exhibited the spectacle of European depravity in the most frightful forms within themselves, but the contagion of their evil and malignity has been blown across the ocean, and sped from island to island with destructive power.
In these colonies, no idea of any right of the natives to the soil, or any consideration of their claims, comforts, or improvements, seem to have been entertained. Colonies were settled, and lands appropriated, just as they were needed; and if the natives did not like it, they were shot at. The Parliamentary Inquiry of 1836, elicited by Sir William Molesworth, drew forth such a picture of colonial infamy as must have astonished even the most apathetic; and the Report of 1837 only confirms the horrible truth of the statements then made.
It says: "These people, unoffending as they were towards us, have, as might have been expected, suffered in an aggravated degree from the planting amongst them of our penal settlements. In the forma tion of these settlements it does not appear that the territorial rights of the natives were considered, and very little care has since been taken to protect them from the violence or the contamination of the dregs of our countrymen.
"The effects have consequently been dreadful beyond example, both in the diminution of their numbers and in their demoralization."
Mr. Bannister, late attorney-general for that colony, says in his recent work, "British Colonization and the Coloured Tribes,"" In regard to New South Wales, some disclosures were made by the secretary of the Church Missionary Society, Mr. Coates, and by others, that are likely to do good in the pending inquiries concerning transportation; and if that punishment is to be continued, it would be merciful to destroy all the natives by military massacre, as a judge of the colony once coolly proposed for a particular
district, rather than let them be exposed to the lingering death they now undergo. But half the truth was not told as to New South Wales. Military massacres have been probably more common there than elsewhere; in 1826, Governor Darling ordered such massacres—and in consequence, one black native, at least, was shot at a stake in cool blood. The attorneygeneral of the colony* remonstrated against illegal orders of this kind, and was told that the secretary of state's instructions authorized them."
Lord Glenelg, however, adopted in his despatch to Sir James Stirling in 1835 a very different language, in consequence of an affair on the Murray River. The natives on this river, "in the summer of the year 1834, murdered a British soldier, having in the course of the previous five years killed three other persons. In the month of October, 1834, Sir James Stirling, the governor, proceeded with a party of horse to the Murray River, in search of the tribe in question. On coming up with them, it appears that the British horse charged this tribe without any parley, and killed fifteen of them, not, as it seems, confining their vengeance to the actual murderers. After the rout, the women who had been taken prisoners were dismissed, having been informed, "that the punishment had been inflicted because of the misconduct of the tribe; that the white men never forget to punish murder ; that on this occasion the women and children had been spared; but if any other persons should be killed by them, not one would be allowed to remain on this side of the mountains."
That is, these white men, "who never forget to
* Mr. Bannister.
punish murder," would, if another person was killed by the natives, commit a wholesale murder, and drive the natives out of one other portion of their country. Lord Glenelg, however, observed that it would be necessary that inquiry should be made whether some act of harshness or injustice had not originally provoked the enmity of the natives, before such massacres could be justified. His language is not only just, but very deseriptive of the cause of these attacks from the natives.
"It is impossible to regard such conflicts without regret and anxiety, when we recollect how fatal, in too many instances, our colonial settlements have proved to the natives of the places where they have been formed; and this too by a series of conflicts in every one of which it has been asserted, and apparently with justice, that the immediate aggression has not been on our side. The real causes of these hostilities are to be found in a course of petty encroachments and acts of injustice committed by the new settlers, at first submitted to by the natives, and not sufficiently checked in the outset by the leaders of the colonists. Hence has been generated in the minds of the injured party a deadly spirit of hatred and vengeance, which breaks out at length into deeds of atrocity, which, in their turn, make retaliation a necessary part of self-defence."*
It is some satisfaction that the recent inquiries have led to the appointment of a protector of the Aborigines, but who shall protect them from the multitudinous evils which beset them on all sides from their intercourse with the whites-men expelled by the laws from their own country for their profligacy, or men corrupted Despatch to Sir James Stirling, 23d July, 1835.