Page:Last of the tasmanians.djvu/400

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359
HOPELESS CIVILIZATION.

pulses of the girl were speaking too, and the very reading of her tasks had quickened the growth of love. When Lady Franklin went to England, Mathinna was sent among the Blacks, and had the squalid children of the tribe as her companions. With her developed nature, and her being cast down among the refuse of a White population, the consequences may be understood. In a short time she died at Oyster Cove, friendless and hopeless; but affording another opportunity for some to deplore the depravity of human nature, and to lament mistaken kindness to a degraded race.

When, in 1841, Mr. Robert Clark brought to my house in Hobart Town four Tasmanian youths, my feelings of the prospective civilization and happiness of the race were of the most buoyant character. The dear lads were so interesting and artless as to gain my heart. They were clean, cheerful, and intelligent. Dressed in comfortable, and even respectable, European attire, with their fine open countenances, their languid smile, their beautiful eyes, I could not recognise them as the sons of degraded savages. Their replies to my questions were given in such correct English, they read the Testament so fluently, and conversed so agreeably, that I was ready to proclaim their civilization from the very housetop. But when, twenty years after, I saw a company, consisting chiefly of dirty, ignorant, drunken, and ugly old men and women, the last of the race, my sentiments changed most uncomfortably. I sighed for the lads that went childless to their graves. I thought of the dark-eyed maidens, all gone, after a miserable and barren life. I felt, amidst the chill of the present, a melancholy despondency seize me, and all hope of civilization for Aboriginal races seemed to die within me.

The last story to be brought forward, though relating to an Aborigine of New South Wales, is enough to depress the most sanguine worker. I give it in the words of my friend the Rev G. Ridley:—

"Bungaree, who, after taking prizes at the Sydney College, speaking good Latin, and behaving as a gentleman in elegant society, returned to the Bush, and then entered the Black police, once said, in a melancholy tone, to Lieutenant Fulford (who repeated the remark to me at Surat on the Condamine), 'I wish I had never been taken out of the Bush, and educated as I have been, for I cannot be a white man; they will never look upon me