Page:Last of the tasmanians.djvu/155

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128
THE LAST OF THE TASMANIANS.

very close to one, when he stooped under the boughs of a fallen tree, and I could see no more of him. We came up to a spot where we found a fire, with some kangaroo half roasted. We then observed the Blacks ascending the second tier, and we quitted further pursuit, as it would not have been safe to leave the house and family unprotected. This engagement with the Natives lasted about four hours."

It must, however, be borne in mind, that a Guerilla warfare, which was dignified in Spain against the French, heroic against the Persians in Greece, and patriotic in the Tyrolese against Napoleon, was regarded in Van Diemen's Land as the blind fury of a nest of savages! Not so thought an old convict servant-man of mine, who, speaking of the bold deeds of the Ouse tribe, said, "They fought well. I admire their pluck. They knew they were the weaker, but they felt they were the injured, and they sought revenge against many odds, they were brave fellows. I'd have done the same." One tribe, that was once known to possess three hundred fighting men, was reduced in ten years to twenty-two.

There was little quarter on either side. The old writer Underhill, meeting the objections of timid or gentle persons against the Indian warfare, answers thus: "It may be demanded, Why should you be so furious? Should not Christians have more mercy and compassion? But I would refer you to David's war. When a people is grown to such a height of blood, and sins against God and man, and all confederates in the action, then he hath no respect to persons, but harrows them and saws them, and puts them to the sword, and the most terrible death that may be."

But we must really acquit the rough, convict Bushmen of Van Diemen's Land of being influenced by any of the pious sentiments governing the opinions, and hardening the hearts, of these citers of Old Testament history.

A Dutch historian of New Amsterdam, afterwards the New York of the United States, explains a colonial native difficulty: "In 1642, some Dutch traders, having sagaciously contrived to get an Indian drunk, robbed him of his valuable dress of beaver skins. In vengeance for this injury, the warriors killed two white men." A barbarous war was the result. But some hundreds fled to a tribe near the settlement of New Amsterdam. The