Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/40

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25
GERMS OF ARTISTIC SKILL.

"wise in their generation," in whose counsel they place reliance, and to whose direction they yield obedience. If they have not among them men "cunning to work all works," they must have men who devote themselves to artistic and mechanical studies and labours. Barbarous and unsettled as is their mode of life, they must have some hours unoccupied by their usual necessary occupations, when all or some amongst them must seek employment in some work of mere pleasure. Such are a few questions which naturally suggest themselves in reference to the matter under consideration. Now, for many reasons already adduced, it could be deemed nothing extraordinary should the slightest trace of any such accomplishment as those referred to be found wanting. It must, therefore, be considered no small additional recommendation to the aboriginal if it can be shown that, not only has he given evidence of genius and talent, but of genius and talent existing in no inconsiderable degree. Here, again, it must be premised that those ever-recurring obstacles to investigation arising from the utter disregard heretofore manifested towards the aborigines and all that relates to them become formidable in the extreme. As, however, the object in view is not to analyze, but to paint, and bearing in mind the axiom that he is the best workman who quarrels least with his utensils, no alternative remains but to make the most of what light exists on the subject.

First, then, as to the poetry of the aborigines.