Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/43

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THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.

in a hundred different forms. Nor does this primitive gallery appear to be the result of some chance experiments; several evidences exist in support of the supposition that the sable artists repaired thence periodically for the purpose of exercising their skill in imparting to the surface of the stone this mimicry of animation.

Instances are likewise numerous of individuals among the aborigines seeking to acquire the rudiments of the painter's art, by attempting, whenever paper and pencil were available, to copy pictures which they had seen, or sketch the objects with which they were most familiar—an exercise in which they are always described as exhibiting considerable aptitude. Indeed, their general powers of imitation, and their enlarged scope of comprehension, have been matters of the greatest surprise to all who have studied the habits of the native tribes of Australia; while the facility with which individuals among them adapt themselves to civilized usages, and form a correct estimate of anything connected with European life, are facts unparalleled in the history of barbarians.