Page:Last of the tasmanians.djvu/348

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CHAPTER XI.

HALF-CASTES.

 

The subject of Half-castes is one of the saddest of the many dark stories in the history of the Tasmanians.

Some travellers have expressed themselves so strongly upon the repulsive characteristics of our Southern races, that it might occasion surprise to hear of association between their females and the stranger son from Europe. But, after the French portraiture of an Ourâ Ourâ, and the romancings of even some graver Englishmen, we may be prepared for the manifestation of some sympathy between the opposing colours. The rougher class of our people would be the first attracted, and the presentation of food, a fig of tobacco, or a gaudy dress would occasionally melt the chaste bosom of a dark beauty.

In all parts of the world such alliances may be found, though more abundant and stable in proportion to the agreement of hue. The lighter the complexion, the greater the antipathy to union with black people; but the Southern men of Europe—the Spaniard, Portuguese, Italian, and Turk—have no such refinement of scruples. The connexion would be either of a lasting character, almost approaching the condition of formal marriage, or one of simple convenience and the impulse of the hour.

The chastity of the dark races has been much, and most unjustly, impugned. We have incontrovertible evidence that many Blacks, especially among the Papuans, illustrate that virtue quite as much as the lighter and more civilized peoples. Even in Africa, in many parts, travellers assure us of the propriety of women, and the extreme difficulty of procuring a return of love, unless upon a basis recognised by the laws of the tribe. In all countries where a form of marriage existed, the European has had to go through certain legal ceremonies