Page:The Aborigines of Australia (1988).djvu/55

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THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.

sable musicians, who succeed in producing thereby a droning noise, not unlike the tones of the bagpipes.

The manner of conducting their warfare is like everything else connected with them—novel. The hostility of the tribes to each other seems to be almost unremitting, and their encounters in their primitive state frequent. As, however, very few incentives inveterate to warfare are to be found amongst them, so they seem to have come to a mutual understanding that their struggles, however frequent, shall be as harmless as possible. Their encounters are said, in general, to follow from circumstances attending a death or marriage in the tribes. In the former case the contest results from a superstition among them that if a man dies before he has attained an old age, his death is the result of witchcraft, practised on the victim by some one of another tribe. After death an old man, who acts in the multiplex capacity of doctor, priest, magician, and councillor, pretends to interrogate the corpse as to who caused death; an answer is feigned to be received. The guilty party is named, who never fails to be some individual against whom the "doctor," or one of his friends, has a grudge. Death is immediately denounced against the alleged dealer of witchcraft, and a war follows to carry the sentence into effect. War generally succeeds marriages, owing to the custom which very generally prevails of carrying off wives by force from among the females