Page:Last of the tasmanians.djvu/75

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50
THE LAST OF THE TASMANIANS.

and another man. But the journal of the day gives the provoking cause in these words: "It is well known that some time before Kemp was killed a native man was shot in the woods by some of the stockmen to the eastward, and that the women have been also deprived of their children in that quarter."

Where the Whites had no settlement the Blacks were found without the hostility of other places. Mr. Kelly, the pilot, on discovering the spacious Macquarie Harbour, on the west coast, was pleased with the frank and manly attitude of the Natives. A letter addressed by a Hobart Town gentleman, in 1819, was published in the Asiatic Journal of Calcutta the following year, and expresses the same opinion. "Several interviews," says the writer, "have lately taken place between the people of the settlement and the Natives of the west coast; who, as appears very probable, are debarred from all intercourse and interchange of sentiment with their countrymen on the eastern side, by that lofty range of mountains which intersects the island from the northern to the southern extremity. From the fearless and unsuspicious deportment of the former in these interviews, it would seem that the hostile disposition of the latter towards the people of the settlement was rather provoked by bad treatment than the spontaneous effect of their native ferocity."

There is a detailed account of a skirmish in March 1819, given soon after the event by Robert Jones. Upon the occasion of an inquest, held seven years after, Mr. Jones (then residing at a romantic spot, known as the "Four Square Gallows") repeats the story of 1819 in some evidence he was called upon to declare. From the two versions a narrative can be prepared.

The man Jones occupied the position of stock-keeper on the station of Messrs. Morris and Stocker, near Relief River, subsequently known as the Macquarie. His fellow-servant, M'Candless, had gone to look after the sheep on the plains, and a neighbour's man, James Forrest, had called in at the hut. On a sudden, M'Candless burst in, nearly out of breath, declaring that he had run for his life from the Blacks, who were spearing the sheep. A chase was resolved upon, and two infirm muskets were taken for the battle. The light of day was departing when the men came in sight of about two hundred Aborigines. They sought to frighten them from the hill, and presented their pieces at them. The men of the forest, with a wholesome dread of