Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/155

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THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.

instinct of self-preservation gave rise to a general feeling on the part of the Europeans that something must be done to show the aborigines that they acted at once contrary to good policy and contrary to European law in assailing the lives and properties of the colonists—that they were assailing those who possessed the power to retaliate in a fearful manner. Accordingly, after the settlers had recovered from the panic into which they had been thrown by the first attacks which they sustained, a general system of armed defence, which sometimes proceeded as far as retaliation and aggression, was adopted.

It may be mentioned here that, in pursuance of the requirements of the Protectorate established in 1839, many of the settlers and squatters deprived their men of all firearms and other weapons which might be used in an offensive manner against the aborigines. Nothing, it was alleged by the partizans of the settlers, could have been more unwise than this course. The shepherd and others, finding themselves completely at the mercy of their enemies the blacks, became more fearful of them, and, as a natural consequence of their fear, contracted an inveterate hatred towards the entire race. On the other hand, the knowledge of the disarmament of the men at the stations, which soon spread throughout the interior, rendered the aborigines more audacious in their depredations. The result was that the Europeans, deprived of the ordinary means of resistance, had recourse even to extraordinary means of retaliation