Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/38

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23
BELIEF IN A FUTURE STATE.

celestial powers and celestial virtues. The New Hollander, in like manner, invested the White man, when his presence first broke on his vision, with attributes, if not divine, at least with a superiority which in his mind rendered him infinitely beyond the sphere of his notions of humanity. His imagination or his vanity, however, gave rise to an idea which never entered into the mind of the Indian or any other savage previously. He believed that in every one of the new beings before him he beheld some one of his ancestors or relatives returned from the land whence his whole race are translated after death, there to enter on a new and exalted state of existence. This would appear, from every source of information, to be the nearly general belief of the whole people—a deduction which, however much of simplicity it may display, seems as reasonable and as logical as could possibly be expected. Instances are known, in confirmation of this belief, of individual Europeans, from their supposed resemblance to some deceased aboriginal, being called by his name, and kindred claimed with him by the relatives of the supposed original. The fact is made manifest, by this strange opinion, that the aborigines do believe in a future state of existence, as, if they had not previously held the belief that the souls of their relatives survived their corporeal decease, they could not arrive at the conclusion that they had transmigrated into the bodies of the white men. In further confirmation of their belief in a second existence, instances are known where indi-