Page:Australia, from Port Macquarie to Moreton Bay.djvu/275

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INTELLIGENCE OF THE

convicts at Norfolk Island; and indeed I think that all endeavours to make them adopt more settled habits will be useless, for what great inducement does the monotonous and toilsome existence of the labouring classes in civilized communities offer, to make the savage abandon his independent and careless life, diversified by the exciting occupations of hunting, fishing, fighting, and dancing.

It is not certainly from want of intelligence that the Australian Aborigines have hitherto proved so unreclaimable. The mental faculties of the Australian savage have been too much underrated, except by those authors who have had the best opportunity of witnessing their manners and customs in their purely wild state, such as Oxley, Sturt, and Mitchell, especially the latter, whose occasional remarks on the Aborigines, are full of graphic truth. I will conclude by two or three examples of the intelligence of the natives which have come under my own observation. During the time that my tents were pitched near the Nambucca, some years ago, a native arrived at my camp, unable to hold any communication with my men in the ordinary jargon, forming the medium of communication between the blacks and the whites. As I made it a rule never to allow the natives to loiter about my tents, unless they performed some slight service for me, for which I repaid them with flour or tobacco^ I told my tentkeeper to give this man something to do. Accordingly, he brought out some muskets, which required