Page:Last of the tasmanians.djvu/89

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62
THE LAST OF THE TASMANIANS.

Bushranger Dunn was very cruel to the Natives. A letter, in 1815, blames the Bushrangers as the great cause of the Aborigines not mixing with the settlers.

A respectable colonist, lately deceased in Melbourne, naming many instances of cruelty to the Natives, assured me that he knew of two men who had boasted of killing thirty at one time. Mr. Backhouse relates that one party, out after the Blacks, killed thirty in capturing eleven. Quamby's Bluff, an eastern spur of the great central highlands of the island, curling up with its crest as if torn by violence from the Tier, was so called from a poor hunted creature there falling upon his knees, and shrieking out, "Quamby, Quamby—mercy, mercy." A gentleman, many years a magistrate in these colonies, mentioned to me the death of a shepherd of his near the Macquarie River. Soon after a company of soldiers went in pursuit of the supposed murderers. Falling in with a tribe around their night fires, in a gully at the back of the river, they shot indiscriminately at the group. Many were slain, but no Government inquiry was made into the well-known circumstance. An eye-witness of a similar night attack has this description: "One man was shot; he sprang up, turned round like a whipping top, and fell dead. The party then went up to the fires, found a great number of waddies and spears, and an infant sprawling on the ground, which one of the party pitched into the fire."

It was from no mere feeling of political partisanship that Mr. Melville penned this remarkable passage: "In this riot of wildness, favourable in its very existence to the display of our worst attributes, or to the concealment of our better ones; how have they been treated? Worse than dogs, or even beasts of prey; hunted from place to place; shot; their families torn from them. The mother snatched from her children, to become the victim of the lust and cruelty of their civilized Christian neighbours!"

No more illustrative proof of the manners of that dark era can be presented, than we find recorded in the history of Jorgenson, when out in 1826: "Two days after I saw Scott," says he, "a large tribe came down to Dr. Thomson's hut, which was occupied by three assigned servants. These men struck a bargain with some of the Blacks for some of their women, and in return to give them some blankets and sugar. However, no