Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/166

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
153
RIGHT TO WATER-HOLES.

they were to be fired at as though they were beasts of prey, the obvious reason being that these places were the favourite resorts of the flocks and herds of the settlers. So much had the blacks felt the hardship of this exclusion that, when by the regulations of the Protectorate the right to frequent the localities where fresh water was to be found was restored to them, their joy and gratitude knew no bounds. Thus the conclusion forces itself on every unbiassed mind that, whatever of natural right the aborigines might have had on their side in their occasional acts of aggression, the Europeans were justified by no law in resorting in retaliation to a war of extermination, or to those extreme acts of vengeance which appear to have been of frequent occurrence.

In a discussion which took place in the Legislative Council on the 23rd August, 1840, in which the right of the blacks to frequent the water-holes and rivers was discussed, the late Bishop of Sydney, Dr Broughton, not only maintained that the blacks had a superior claim to the possession of those natural reservoirs, which were so necessary to their sustenance, but held that they were justified in defending them against the inroads of the whites and their flocks and herds. And no one can deny that the arguments of the Bishop were founded on the immutable principles of right and justice. The following were his words:— "The aboriginal natives of the colony, as far as they choose to use it, have an equal, nay, a superior, right to the white men, to subdue