Page:The Aborigines of Australia (1988).djvu/28

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13
CAUSES OF DEGENERACY.

against him, it is but right to mention that the aboriginal of Australia is to be viewed in some instances in a state in which the evidences of extreme degeneracy are in a great degree, if not altogether, wanting. Speaking of some natives with whom he came into contact in the neighbourhood of Port Essington, Captain Stokes, in the narrative of his "Discoveries in Australia," says:—

"I could not help comparing the bold, fearless manner in which they came towards us—their fine manly bearing, head erect, no crouching or averting of eye—with the miserable objects I had seen at Sydney. I now beheld man in his wild state, and, reader, rest assured there is nothing can equal such a sight."

Here is a most striking exception to that general falling-off so manifest in the Australian tribes—an exception the more worthy of note, and more fully illustrating our idea, as it is presented in the immediate neighbourhood of what we have reason to believe was the first landing-place of the founders of the entire race.

The next position in which it will be necessary to review the New Hollander, in order to see him thoroughly, is in his political and social relations—if such terms may be used without exciting a smile—as imposed by his new state. In issuing forth into the wilderness, in quest of sustenance and adventure, the impossibility of proceeding for any length of time in large bodies must very soon have forced itself upon the attention of the pilgrims. The few roots and herbs which they found fit for food were only to be