Page:Last of the tasmanians.djvu/73

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48
THE LAST OF THE TASMANIANS.

jurisdiction over the lives of their subjects. Consequently, when any case of plunder or felony occurred, the prisoner was forwarded to Port Jackson or Sydney, where the judge held his criminal court. No jury of citizens then existed. There was no trial of a man by his peers. Four military officers of the regiment formed the council to try the prisoners. The announcement, therefore, of being sent to Port Jackson, was to give force to the proclamation, as notifying the Governor's estimate of the crime. But the Gazette is quite reticent about the passage of any one, although it was notorious that similar offences continued.

A brighter page meets our eye in 1818. The Temple of Janus might have had its gates closed. A serene air is breathed by the colony. A burst of philanthropic feeling prevailed. The moral sentiments of the editor of the solitary newspaper were strangely brought into action. A real sermon is delivered on April 25th, 1818, and an affecting appeal is made on behalf of the oppressed and gentle ones of the forest. Let us read it:

"Notwithstanding the hostility which has so long prevailed in the breast of the Natives of this island toward Europeans, we now perceive with heartfelt satisfaction that hatred in some measure gradually subsiding. Several of them are to be seen about this town and its environs, who obtain subsistence from the charitable and well-disposed. The more we contemplate the peculiar situation of this people, the more are we impressed with the great arrearage of justice which is due to them. Are not the Aborigines of this colony the children of our Government? Are we not all happy but they? And are they not miserable? Can they raise themselves from this sad condition? Or do they not claim our assistance? And shall that assistance be denied? Those who fancy that "God did not make of one blood all the nations upon the earth," must be convinced that the Natives of whatever matter formed can be civilized, nay, can be christianised. The moral Governor of the world will hold us accountable. The Aborigines demand our protection. They are the most helpless members, and being such have a peculiar claim upon us all, to extend every aid in our power, as well in relation to their necessities as to those enlightening means which shall at last introduce them from the chilling rigours of the forest into the same delightful temperature which we enjoy."

Captain Philip King, R.N., to whom Australia owes so much