Page:Last of the tasmanians.djvu/439

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
394
THE LAST OF THE TASMANIANS.

supervening on his decease, has acquired a posthumous notoriety, which no condition of his life, or characteristics of his own, ever entitled him to. As a boy and youth he was very docile, and rather (as was very naturally to be expected) stupid and dull of apprehension. He never attended any public school, but an attempt was made by the catechist to teach him with the other children, an attempt which proved him a signal failure. Lanny or Lannie is, you will find, an aboriginal verb of the western tribe of Tasmania, signifying to fight or strike. How it came to be applied to the family I know not; it is certain they showed no fight when cleverly captured in the act of robbing in a shepherd's hut on the Cape Grim property of the Van Diemen's Land Company, shortly before the date at which I first saw them in H.M. gaol at Launceston. They were taken, I believe, between Mount Cameron and the Arthur River, on the west coast. . . . The aboriginal race of Tasmania possessed, in common with wild natives of other regions, great acuteness of vision at long distances; and to this faculty, rather than to any general fitness as a sailor, must be attributed the employment of Billy, and of many Polynesians of equally low development, on board whaling ships, where a keen eye at the mast-head is often worth a mint of money."

William Lanné afterwards sojourned with his own people at Oyster Cove. He then contracted an acquaintance with boat-men and sailors. Ultimately he became a whaler, and for years sailed from Hobart Town in the Aladdin, Jolly in habits as well as in appearance, he was always a favourite with his fellow-seamen, and was received with enthusiasm by the old ladies of the settlement whenever he paid them a visit As the youngest and handsomest of their tribes, they were loud in their praises of him to me. Consorting with the Europeans, and having no mate among his colour, it is not remarkable that he should have found fault with the excellent photograph copied in this work, and told Mr. Woolley, the artist, that it was "too black" for him.

Lanné continued cruising about for years. I never heard that her Gracious Majesty invited him to dine with her, although he had supposed, should he ever visit England, that compliment might have been paid to him as the last sovereign of his ancient race. It was some consolation to receive her smiles