Page:Last of the tasmanians.djvu/431

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THE LAST OF THE TASMANIANS.

(one of whom is now a fine boy about nine years old) by a black countryman, to whom she was united upon being removed from her European protector." Dr. Jeanneret of Flinders declares: "I do not think Strzelecki was right in his estimate of their fertility."

To my interrogative of "Why did they cease having children?" I received the following reply from Dr. Story, a benevolent member of the Society of Friends, who has lived at Swanport, in Tasmania, for between forty and fifty years:—"I think it a physiological question, that from want of sufficient data could not be answered. I do not know if the medical men who have attended the Natives ever ventilated the question. The deaths at Flinders Island, and the attempts at civilizing the Natives, were consequent on each other. If left to themselves, to roam as they were wont, and undisturbed, they would have reared more children, and there would have been less mortality. The change to Flinders induced or developed an apathic condition of the constitution, rendering them more susceptible of the heats and chills attendant on their corrobories, inducing a peculiar disease in the thoracic viscera." Elsewhere he writes: "After 1823 the women along with the tribe seemed to have had no children; but why I do not know. Their being at war with the Whites may have caused the mothers to neglect their infants, or frights caused continual abortions, until the uterine system was habituated to it."

Among the opinions collected upon the theory of non-fertility, a letter was sent me from Mr. Surveyor-General Calder, of Hobart Town. "I believe," wrote he, "there is mighty humbug in Count Strzelecki's theory, that where a savage woman has had sexual intercourse with a white man, she is for ever after incapable of having children by a man of her own race. What can colour signify? I should almost as soon think of asserting that a black mare could not have a foal by a black horse after having had one by a white one." But he was good enough to enclose me a note from Mr. Solly, Assistant Colonial Secretary of Tasmania; and to whom I take this opportunity of acknowledging my gratitude for past literary assistance. Mr. Solly says: "When I was a resident in South Australia, I knew a woman, an aboriginal Native, the mother (at least I have no doubt she was the mother) of a half-caste child, who had subse-