Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/37

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THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.

without entering into any close reasoning on the subject, which our scanty information on the matter would no doubt render futile, it is impossible not to deduce from what we do know certain inferences favourable to the character of these primitive tribes. Whether or not they have any satisfactory idea of a Supreme Being, worshipped by the most refined and most barbarous as "Jehovah, Jove, or Lord," may be a matter of doubt; but that the object of their highest regard is a spirit, and not a material or visible being or object, is a matter of certainty. In this is not the Australian savage superior to the civilized inhabitants of Peru, whose deity was the sun, or the polished and luxurious Hindostanee, who to this day retains his hideous idols and monstrous pagan worship.

Next in order, as intimately bound up with the questions just considered, come the ideas of the New Hollander with reference to a future state of existence. Here we will have presented a conception of the human mind in its most uncultured state at once novel and singular. The American Indian, when he first beheld the European, with his mighty ships, his terrible implements of war, his glittering armour and silken apparel, deemed it impossible that such a being could be a mere inhabitant of the earth, possessed of the same attributes, the same passions and feelings as himself; and hence that simple race for many years regarded the Europeans as an order of beings descended from the skies, and endowed with