Page:Last of the tasmanians.djvu/29

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THE LAST OF THE TASMANIANS.

likewise made signs for me to land; and as this could not be effected, I left them, in hopes of a nearer interview at the watering place. When they first came in sight, they made a prodigious chattering in their speech, and held their arms over their heads."

Elsewhere he adds: "They talked to us, sitting on their heels, with their knees close to their armpits, and were perfectly naked." His last observations are founded upon the information of another: "The account which I had from Brown, the botanist's assistant, was, that in his search for plants, he had met an old man, a young woman, and two or three children. The old man at first appeared alarmed, but became familiar on being presented with a knife. He nevertheless sent away the young woman, who went away very reluctantly. He saw some miserable wigwams, in which were nothing but a few kangaroo skins spread on the ground, and a basket made of rushes."


Among the first-fruits of the French Revolution were a generous impulse toward suffering humanity, a chivalrous desire for universal brotherhood, and a remarkable development of science. To these circumstances perhaps we owe the celebrated voyages of discovery conducted by Admiral D'Entrecasteaux, of the Recherche and Espérance, in April 1792, and by Admiral Baudin, of the Géographe and Naturaliste, in 1802. The historian of the first was the amiable naturalist, M. Labillardière, and that of the second was the susceptible naturalist, M. Peron. The latter, however, did not live to complete the narrative, which, some years after, was carried on by Lieutenant Freycinet, who subsequently commanded in a similar enterprise under the Restoration.

As in some other expeditions of our Gallic neighbours, there was a want of prudence and foresight, a defect of discipline, and a loss of material resources, connected with the ships of M. D'Entrecasteaux, which occasioned much misery on board, and frustrated the purposes of discovery. But our concern is simply with the observations upon the Tasmanians. The Storm Bay of Tasman was avoided, and so the channel between an island and the mainland led the seamen past the mouth of a noble river, up to near the future site of Hobart Town, Admiral Bruni D'Entrecasteaux named the island after his own first name, and the