Page:Last of the tasmanians.djvu/389

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THE LAST OF THE TASMANIANS.

the savage audacity and proud independence of its gigantic Indians. Fuego, though so much more southward, though stormed by western gales, and though oft wrapped in wintry fogs, has so much greater geological advantages, that it may before long be appropriated by Europeans, who will till its rich valleys, fish in its prolific waters, and raise their homesteads to leeward of its wood-crowned hills.

What will then be the fate of its dark tribes? Without a faith, they are little likely to accept of one. Migratory, they will not dwell in huts, or cultivate the soil. Like the Tasmanians, they will have no other land to fly to. They may retire before the white faces more southward from Magellan's Strait, more westward from the sheltered valleys, till the rigour of an inclement coast, and the melancholy of evil days, sink them from sight and memory. As fishers, not bold hunters, they may not, like our islanders, resist the stranger, and oppose the axe and gun with spear and waddy, but pass away in silence, leaving one race less of coloured Aborigines.

From general views of civilization let us descend to particular ones. A writer in the Christian Recorder for 1824 gives no flattering picture of Tasmanians when he says, "Though they have now been accustomed for several years to behold the superior comforts and pursuits of civilized men, they have not advanced one step from their original barbarism. All that they have imbibed from us is a smattering of our language, and a fondness for tobacco and spirituous liquors." But there are a few instances where the Tasmanians have been brought up from infancy in the homes of colonists, and have received a good training as well as fair education. But the ingrained barbarism often glanced through the superficial gloss of our civilization.

A good story is told by Mr. Gideon Lang, of Melbourne, about an Australian of his acquaintance, which will apply to the case of the home-taught children of the forests of Van Diemen's Land, and exemplify the difficulty of overcoming the savage instincts. A certain Jemmy, who had been brought up from mere infancy by the missionaries, was able to read his Bible, and was reputed as a fair-going sample of a Christian. One day Mr. Lang found him reading the "Sermon on the Mount," but looking very fierce and gloomy. Upon inquiry, it was learnt that the man's mother was dead. "Bogan black