Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/164

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EXECUTION OF THE CULPRITS.

then it did not cry in vain—that even when such a fratricide was committed there, there was a power which could and dared avenge it. It is consoling, in fine, to know that this country has not now to atone for such an atrocious deed.

It has been said that the execution of the culprits had the effect of making the aborigines throughout the colony more audacious. But should it not rather be inferred that the hostility on their part which followed was the result of the supposed inadequacy of the punishment—allowing that the legal proceedings and their consequence were understood by the aboriginal tribes? Is it not more probable that the aborigines throughout the colony, learning from various sources the nature and extent of the terrible onslaught made on their brethren, were, in their subsequent hostility, rather actuated by a desire to revenge their death than encouraged by the punishment of their slayers to aggravated deeds of violence?

It was alleged, on the part of the settlers, at the period in question, that the police protection of the colony was insufficient, and that, therefore, the Europeans were entitled to take the law into their own hands. Indeed, the doctrine was seriously laid down by the most influential journal in the colony, in 1839, that, as matters then stood, the slayers of the blacks could not be held responsible. "If," said the Sydney Gazette in December of the above year, "the police force may be insufficient for the due protection of property necessarily exposed to the incursions of