Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/34

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CHAPTER III.

IDEAS OF A SUPREME BEING—BELIEF IN A FUTURE STATE—IDOLATRY UNKNOWN—GERMS OF ARTISTIC SKILL.

It has been shown that whatever shade of authority exists among the aborigines partakes of the patriarchal kind. From whatever original cause this may have sprung, it indicates a state of things highly favourable to the New Hollander, as it shows that, however unpropitiously circumstances may have operated in his regard, however low he may have fallen, he has preserved himself free from the imputation of one great crime—the voluntary sacrifice of his freedom. It also indicates another fact, still more favourable, which is, that though, in the course of his long and desolate wanderings, he may have lost those fixed and definite ideas of the Creator which he derived from his fathers, he has not set up a human deity in His stead.

Now comes one of the most important considerations which can possibly be brought under review, whether in connection with the savage tribes of Australia or the most polished and enlightened of mankind. This consideration relates to their ideas and opinions as to a Supreme Being and a second state of existence. For several reasons this is one of the most difficult questions to determine in connection with