Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/44

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CHAPTER IV.
FACULTY OF OBSERVATION—INTUITION—STOICISM—RITES OF SEPULTURE, AND REVERENCE FOR THE DEAD.

The faculties of observation and perception are, perhaps, the greatest endowments of the mind. Among civilized men whole nations are distinguished by the possession of these gifts, and on their exercise depends, more than on anything else whatever, the destiny of individuals. It is not alone, however, in investigating and comprehending cause and effect that the exercise of observation or perception consists; the simple fact of noting the existence of certain objects or phenomena is in itself an effort often deserving consideration and merit. No man, for instance, not born blind, has failed to see that beautiful flood of light in the firmament known as the Milky Way, but how many have lived and died so absorbed in their own immediate thoughts, and so prone to earth, that its existence could be scarcely said to come within the limits of their knowledge. Hence, among a primitive people, the close and exact observation of great facts and remarkable phenomena may be considered as great an accomplishment as would be the detailed investigation and description of them among enlightened men. Innumerable proofs exist to show that the Australian aboriginal is by no means deficient in this respect. That he is not indifferent to the