Page:Last of the tasmanians.djvu/419

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376
THE LAST OF THE TASMANIANS.

believed that he had a right to the land from which his dark-skinned hunter had been driven.

The learned Bodichon expresses the sentiments of many political economists and jurists in these words:—"In the eyes of theology they are lost men; in the eyes of morality, vicious men; in the eyes of humanitary economy, they are non-producers. From their origin they had not recognised, and they still refuse to recognise, a supreme law imposed by the Almighty, viz. the obligation of labour." He advances, and develops the extreme views of the question in these words of ominous meaning to the few aboriginal races remaining:—"True philosophy should not tolerate the existence of a race whose nationality is opposed to progress, and who constantly struggle against the general rights and interests of humanity."

The author of the work on "The Universal Destruction of Aboriginal Nations," denies the position assumed by the Necessitarians. He who talks of a necessity," says he, "that uncivilized man must perish away before civilized, proud though he may be in his own fancied light, is, with respect to the nobler qualities of man, barbarous and uncivilized himself. That almost all historical experience is on the side of the exterminating politician we are compelled, alas! to admit, to the shame of our race and of our country; but, in the name of humanity, we indignantly deny that the circumstances which impel the civilized race to root out the uncivilized are inevitable."

The decline, however, has in some cases at least been observed to have commenced before the advent of Englishmen. As Rome had sensibly fallen before the walls were polluted by the tramp of the barbarian, had declined in vigour, had decreased in population, and was crumbling to decay by the operation of causes within, so were the Natives in some places deteriorating in numbers, and waning in social strength. Devastating pestilences had swept over the forests, intestine wars had thinned the tribes, and physical decadence of family had commenced. Mr. Wohlers, of New Zealand, has these remarkable observations upon the fall of the Maories, which may, perhaps, be applied with justice to other people:—

"Studying the old New Zealand mythology, and other information about the Aborigines in the South Seas, it is my individual opinion that, at one time, long ago, they had obtained a far