Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/39
THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.
viduals - of the race have appealed to the names of their parents and other relatives when accused of a crime, to add force and effect to their protestations of innocence.
Idolatry—that manifestation of intellectual blindness which seems to belong to man in a secondary-stage of civilization rather than in his primitive simplicity—has never been attributed to the New Hollander. Carved images, of a very rude description, and of an uncouth aspect, have been found among them, but that they were ever used otherwise than as baubles, or originated otherwise than as experiments in barbarous art, there is no reason whatever to believe.
We now arrive at the consideration of another important phase in the history and description of this people—namely, the gleamings of artistic skill amongst them, and their taste and capacity for works and performances of a purely intellectual description. From the aptitude or inaptitude which they will here be found to display, we will, as certainly as from any other criterion whatever, arrive at a just estimation of their mental powers, and the possibility of extending to them some, or all, of the blessings of civilization. If the aboriginal race be in reality of a better stamp, they must have some other proof to bring forward besides mere personal qualifications—good countenance and figure. If they have no priests, they surely must have poets; if they acknowledge no chiefs, they certainly must have among them men