The Last of the Tasmanians/Chapter 4
OUTRAGES OF THE BLACKS.
The cruelties perpetrated by the Whites upon this unhappy race have been described. It is now the duty of the chronicler to reverse the shield, and show the darker features of the Tasmanian character.
The Aborigines' Protection Committee, consisting of the Archdeacon, the Rev. Mr. Bedford, the Rev. Mr. Norman, the Colonial Treasurer, the Colonial Surgeon, and three other gentlemen, in treating of the war, said that "the injuries and insults which the Aborigines had received from dissolute characters had led them to a certain extent, in addition to their savage spirit, to wreak indiscriminate vengeance." Mr. Clark, catechist to the Natives on Flinders' Island, has this remark in a letter to me: "They did commit much mischief prior to their removal from Van Diemen's Land, but it was from a feeling of retaliation, and also their imagining the "Whites to be a distinct race of beings, against whom they were bound to make war, after the first outbreak was produced."
Both the "Cruelties of the Whites," and the "Outrages of the Blacks," may be regarded by some as modes of warfare; but, while regretting and condemning the conduct of both nations, one must estimate the criminality by the provocations received, and the degree of intelligence and moral light with which the parties were favoured.
Previous to entering upon the details of this singular warfare, the action of the Government requires our consideration. The course pursued by the colonial authorities may be learnt from their several Orders and Proclamations. Resuming the thread of the narrative from the second chapter, the part played by the successor of Colonel Sorell will be introduced.
It was in June 23, 1824, that Colonel Arthur, the new Governor, felt it necessary to issue the following Proclamation, on behalf of the outraged ones:—
Whereas it has been represented to His Honor the Lieut.-Governor that several Settlers and others are in the habit of maliciously and wantonly firing at, firing, and destroying the defenceless Natives and Aborigines of this island; and whereas it has been commanded by His Majesty's Government, and strictly enjoined by His Excellency the Governor-in-Chief that the Natives of this Colony and its dependencies shall be considered as under British Government and protection:—
"These Instructions render it no less the duty than it is the Disposition of His Honor the Lieut.-Governor to support and encourage all Measures which may tend to conciliate and civilize the Natives of this Island; and to forbid and prevent, and when perpetrated to punish, any Ill-treatment towards them.
"The Natives of this Island being under the protection of the same Laws which protect the Settlers, any Violation of those Laws, on the Persons or Property of Natives, shall be visited with the same Punishment as though committed on the Person and Property of any other.
"His Honor the Lieut.-Governor declares thus Publicly his Determination that if after the Promulgation of this Proclamation any Person or Persons shall be charged with firing at, killing, or committing any Act of Outrage, or Aggression, on the Native People, they shall be prosecuted for the same before the Supreme Court.
"All Magistrates and Peace Officers, and others His Majesty's Subjects in this Colony, are hereby strictly required to observe and enforce the Provisions of this Proclamation, and to make them known more especially to Stock-keepers in their several districts, enjoining them, not only to avoid all Aggression, but to exercise the utmost forbearance towards the Aborigines, treating them on all occasions with the utmost kindness and compassion.
"By Command, &c,
"J. Montague, Secretary.
As an historical document this is valuable; as it re-affirms the declaration of previous Governors that the State was interested in the welfare of its dark people, and it reasserts their equality with Whites in the eyes of the law, and the equal penalties to be paid by both races for injuries to either. It reads full of justice and benevolence, like the proclamations of Governors Collins, Davey, and Sorell, and was just as useless as those for any practical purpose. The Aborigines understood little of these legal rights, and believed nothing. The Europeans denied the assumption, and disregarded the orders. Both knew that native testimony was valueless in court, and were equally convinced that no English testimony would be likely to appear on behalf of the Aborigines.
This is the estimate formed of the character of the forest man by the Hobart Town Gazette of April 1825:—
"He shows that he is a brilliant gem, though casketed in ivory, and, therefore, able to repay the polish which British philanthropy may labour in bestowing, but he will not be wantonly aggrieved without panting for vengeance. He will not tamely bear extirpation by vindictiveness: or suffer his feelings to be first roused by hopes, the produce of reliance on European promises, and then endure without resenting their equally inexpedient and cruel violation. There are in his powers which inimically used may well be shrunk from, and by the aggravated exercise of which he will scatter blood, conflagration, death, and ruin throughout every district in the colony."
When, some years after, blood was freely shed, homesteads were perishing in flames, inquests were almost daily held, and country property had fallen to zero, people remembered the prophecy, and admitted the truth of the seer.
The following formidable Government Notice appeared in the Gazette of Nov. 29th, 1826, in consequence of the continuation of the conflict:—
"The series of outrages which have of late been perpetrated by the Aborigines of the Colony, and the wanton barbarity in which they have indulged by the commission of murder, in return for the kindness, in numerous instances, shown to them by the Settlers and their Servants, have occasioned the greatest pain to the Lieut.-Governor, and called for His most anxious Consideration of the Means to be applied for preventing the Repetition of these treacherous and sanguinary Acts.
"His Excellency has uniformly been anxious to inculcate a spirit of Forbearance toward the Aborigines, in the hope that confidence and cordiality might subsist, and be conducive to their Improvement and the security of the Colonists; but it is with extreme regret He perceives a result so contrary to His hope and expectation.
"An impression, however, still remains that these savages are stimulated to acts of Atrocity by one or more Leaders, who from their previous Intercourse with Europeans may have acquired sufficient Intelligence to draw them into Crime and Danger. The capture of these Individuals, therefore, becomes an Object of the first Importance, and to this Point the Lieut.-Governor would particularly direct the Attention of those who may be called to Aid the Civil Power in the Execution of the justifiable measures to which they may have recourse: and His Excellency deems it necessary to promulgate, for general Information, but especially for the guidance of the Magistrates, Constables, and Military:—
"1. If it shall be apparent that there is a Determination on the Part of one or more of the Native Tribes to attack, rob, or murder the white Inhabitants generally, any Persons may arm, and joining themselves to the military, drive them by force to a safe distance, treating them as open enemies.
"2. If they are found actually attempting to commit a felony, they may be resisted by any Persons in like manner.
"3. When they appear assembled in unusual Numbers, or with unusual Arms, or although neither be unusual, if they evidently indicate such Intention of employing Force as is calculated to excite Fear, for the purpose of doing any Harm, short of Felony, to the Persons or Property of any one, they may be treated as Rioters, and resisted, if they persist in their attempt.
"4. If they be found merely assembled for such Purpose, the Neighbours and Soldiers armed, may, with a Peace-Officer or Magistrate, endeavour to apprehend them, and, if resisted, use Force.
"5. If any of the Natives have actually committed Felonies, the Magistrates should make such diligent Enquiries as to lead to certainty of the Persons of the Principals, or any of them (whether this consists in knowledge of their Names or any particular Marks or Characteristics, by which their Persons can be distinguished), and issue Warrants for the Apprehension of such Principals. The Officer executing a Warrant may take to his Assistance such Persons as he may think necessary; and, if the Offenders cannot otherwise be taken, the Officer and his Assistants will be justified in resorting to Force, both against the Principals and any Others who may, by any Acts of Violence, or even of Intimidation, endeavour to prevent the arrest of the Principals.
"6. When a Felony has been committed, any Person who witnesses it may immediately raise his Neighbours and pursue the Felons, and the Pursuers may justify the Use of all such Means as a Constable might use. If they overtake the Parties, they should bid, or otherwise signify to them, to surrender: if they resist, or attempt to resist, the Persons Pursuing may use such Force as is necessary: and if the Pursued fly, and cannot otherwise be taken, the Pursuers then may use similar means.
"By Command of the Lieut-Governor,
"W. H. Hamilton."
Thus was officially inaugurated, what had previously been but petty skirmishes, The Great Black War.
"The Lieutenant-Governor," adds the Government Notice of Nov. 29th, 1827, "has with great concern received reports, that the aggressions of the Aborigines against the stock-keepers and other white inhabitants, have been renewed with increased violence, and that several murders have been perpetrated.
"The protection of the settlers, therefore, calls for the prompt exertions of the civil power, to put an end to these acts of barbarity; and His Excellency requests the attention of the magistrates throughout the colony to the Government Notice of the 29th of November, 1826, and enjoins them to act themselves with vigour upon the principle laid down in this Order; and desires them to invite and encourage the hearty co-operation of all persons in their respective districts, who are bound instantly to obey their summonses for the common defence and protection of the community."
The Lieutenant-Governor was now out of leading-strings. From this hour he had become "His Excellency." The overshadowing supremacy of the Sydney Government was withdrawn. Prisoners were no longer sent to Port Jackson to be tried. Colonel Arthur is more free to act, and he promises in this instance what he is anxious to perform, and with a consciousness that he will find no lack of physical as well as moral support.
It was in 1826 that two men. Jack and Dick, were hung for the murder of Mr. Hart's stock-keeper, at Great Swanport, on the east coast. Poor Dick, when asked what he had to say for himself, exclaimed in an excited manner, "I didn't kill him. I didn't want to hurt him. Jack spear him." Jack hung his head, sulkily, and would answer nothing. Mr. Widowson has this notice of one of the men:—"I remember a very old man who was thus affected (bush-scab) being tried and hung for spearing one of Mr. Hart's men; the culprit was so ill and infirm as to be obliged to be carried to the place of execution." That was an awful Sessions for the colony. At one sitting, no less than thirty-seven persons were sentenced to death. The two Blacks were in no want of company. Seven were hung on September 13th, seven more on the 15th, and nine others on the 18th. Executions were so common in that Bushranging era, that the Lieutenant-Governor, in his Government Notice of September 13, 1826, hardly notices the Europeans, but singles out the case of the Aborigines:—
"In the Number of the unhappy Men upon whom the extreme Sentence of the Law has thisbeen carried into Execution, were the two Natives who murdered the Stock-keeper of Mr. Hart, at Great Swanport; and the Lieut.-Governor would hope that this Example may tend, not only to prevent the commission of similar Atrocities by the Aborigines, but to induce toward them the Observance of a conciliatory line of Conduct, rather than harsh or violent Treatment; the latter being but too likely to produce Measures of Retaliation, which have their Issue in Crime and Death.
"His Excellency is particularly desirous that Magistrates, and Settlers generally, shall impress on the minds of their Servants, the necessity for preserving a good Understanding with this ignorant race, which is alike dictated by Humanity and Self-interest; for, although it may at present be found difficult, and perhaps impracticable, to improve their moral Condition, perseverance and kindness may do much toward lessening aggression on their Part, and rendering them comparatively harmless.
"Whilst, therefore, a manifestly wanton and direct Violation of the common Laws of Mankind, such as was perpetrated by the Two Individuals who suffered this Day, will assuredly be visited with the same Punishment, the Lieut.-Governor is Determined to Protect the Aborigines of the Colony from injury or annoyance, and on an Offender in this respect the severest Penalties which the Law may prescribe will be inflicted without the slightest interposition of mercy.
"By Command of His Excellency,
W. H. Hamilton."
How an intelligent Aborigine might have smiled at this discriminating policy! Both aggressors are subject to the same penalty; both are threatened, but the punishment falls only on one side. The execution of these two men, so far from terrifying the tribes, served only to increase their hostility; and some, that before this had had faith in the good feelings of Government, renounced all confidence, and blindly rushed into the war. The Aborigines then well knew the feeling of the Whites towards them; for, said Mr. Knox, in his "Races of Man"—"There is no denying the fact, that the Saxon, call him by what name you will, has a perfect horror for his darker brethren." And this justifies the statesman-like utterance of Lord Stanley, in 1842: "With a view to the protection of the Natives, the most essential step is to correct the temper and tone adopted toward them by the settlers."
This sort of feeling is not confined to Australia and Tasmania, but is now exhibited toward the Maories of New Zealand; who, however, by the repeated checks they have given to British arms, have compelled the observance of respect denied to other races. A quotation from the Wellington Independent of September 10th, 1868, will illustrate the remark:—"What are we to do with these bloodthirsty rebels? These men must be shown no mercy. They should be treated as wild beasts, hunted down, and slain. Modern history teaches us that irreclaimable savages, who rendered colonization impossible, and the lives of peaceful settlers insecure, have been, in the interests of society, exterminated. It does not matter what means are employed, so long as the work is done effectually. Head-money, blood-money, killing by contract—any of these means may be adopted." So once felt the Saxons toward the Britons, the English toward the wild Irish, the Lowlanders of Scotland toward the Highlanders, the Russians toward the Circassians.
The war went on more determinedly than ever. What could possibly be done? The Governor was bewildered, the benevolent were in despair. It was suggested that a system of isolation be tried. But here Colonel Arthur himself expresses the difficulty: "My intention was to have given up one district to the Natives, but such a spirit of dissension exists among the tribes themselves, that it cannot possibly be accomplished." And then the humanity of the officer exclaims: "It is painful and distressing to banish the Natives from their private haunts." The late brave but kind-hearted Captain Sturt has well stated the case thus:—
"The cattle tread down the herbs which at one season of the year constituted his food; the gun, with its sharp report, drives the wild fowl from the creeks, and the unhappy Aborigine is driven to despair. He has no country on which to fall back. The next tribe will not permit him to occupy their territory."
But yet, with a knowledge of its impracticability, the scheme must be attempted by the Governor. The Demarkation Order is to be proclaimed. The Natives are to be prevented coming into the settled districts—the central and eastern portions—by keeping them back among the swamps, scrubs, and tiers of the West. In that cheerless clime of everlasting rain or frost; that region of vast mountains, dreary morasses, and almost lifeless solitudes; a locality undesired by the colonists, and nearly deserted by fowl and quadruped;—there were the tribes to dwell, banished from their sunnier homes, their richer hunting lands, their recognised borders, the graves of their fathers.
The Proclamation of Demarkation, dated April 15th, 1828, is too important to be passed over lightly. Men cannot forbear a smile at the Despatches and Government Orders of this period of colonial history, and the care and trouble of officialdom with a very few hundreds of Aborigines, having miserable weapons, while controlling a colony of many thousands of Europeans, and possessed of a large executive power in British soldiers and well-armed constables. But the facts remain, that both the supreme authority and the country settlers were at their wits' end. But, to the Proclamation:—
"Whereas, and since the primary settlement of the colony, various acts of aggression, violence, and cruelty have been, from different causes, committed on the Aboriginal Inhabitants of the Island, by subjects of His Majesty.
[Then follow notices of the Proclamations of Governor Collins in 1810, and of Colonel Arthur in 1824, 1826, and 1827.]
"And whereas, these several measures have proved ineffectual to their objects; and the Persons employed in the Interior of the Island as Shepherds and Stock-keepers, or on the coast as Sailors, do still, as is represented, occasionally attack and injure the Aboriginal Natives without any authority:—and the Aborigines have, during a considerable period of time, evinced, and are daily evincing, a growing spirit of hatred, outrage, and enmity against the subjects of His Majesty resident in this colony, and are putting into practice modes of hostility, indicating gradual though slow advances in art, system, and method, and utterly inconsistent with the peaceable pursuits of Civilized Society, the most necessary arts of human subsistence, or the secure enjoyments of human life.
"And whereas, on the one hand, the security and safety of all who have entrusted themselves to this Country on the faith of British protection, are imperatively required by the plainest principles of justice;—and, on the other hand, humanity and natural equity equally enforce the duty of protecting and civilizing the Aboriginal Inhabitants.
"And whereas, the Aborigines wander over extensive tracts of this country, without cultivating or permanently occupying any portion of it, making continual predatory incursions on its Settled Districts, a state of living hostile to the safety of the Settlers, or to the amelioration of their own habits, character, and condition.
"And whereas, for the purpose of protecting all classes and orders of Persons in this Island and its Dependencies;—of bringing to an end, and preventing the criminal and iniquitous practices hereinbefore described, by whomsoever committed;—of preserving, instructing, and civilizing the Aborigines; and of leading them to habits of labour, industry, and settled life: it is expedient, by a Legislative enactment of a permanent nature, to regulate and restrict the intercourse between the Whites and the Coloured Inhabitants of this Colony; and to allot and assign certain specified tracts of land, for their exclusive benefit and continual occupation.
"And whereas, with a view to the attainment of these ends, a negotiation with certain chiefs of Aboriginal tribes has been planned; but some prompt and temporary measure is instantly called for, not merely to arrest the march, but entirely to cut off the causes and occasions of plunder and crime, and to save the further waste of property and blood; and it is, therefore, become indispensably necessary to bring about a temporary separation of the Coloured from the British population of this Territory, and that, therefore, the Coloured Inhabitants shall be induced by peaceable means to depart, or should otherwise be expelled by force, from all the therein Districts.
"Now, therefore, I, the Lieut.-Governor aforesaid, in pursuance and in exercise of the powers and authorities in me vested in this behalf, do hereby notify, that for the purpose of effecting the separation required, a line of Military Posts will be forthwith stationed and established along the confines of the Settled Districts, within which the Aborigines shall and may not, until further orders made, penetrate, in any manner or for any purpose, save as hereinafter specially permitted;—and I do hereby strictly command and order all Aborigines immediately to retire and depart from, and for no reason or on no pretence, save as hereinafter provided, to re-enter such Settled Districts, or any portions of land cultivated and occupied by any Person whomsoever, under the authority of His Majesty's Government, on pain of forcible expulsion therefrom, and such consequences as may be necessarily attendant on it.
"And I do hereby direct and require all Magistrates, and other Persons by them authorized and deputed, to conform themselves to the directions and instructions of this my Proclamation, in effecting the retirement or expulsion of the Aborigines from the Settled Districts of this Territory;—and I do further authorize and command all other Persons whomsoever, His Majesty's Civil Subjects in this Colony, to obey the directions of the Civil, and to aid and assist the Military Power (to whom special orders adapted to situations and circumstances will be given), in furtherance of the provisions hereof, and to resort to whatever means a severe and inevitable necessity may dictate and require for carrying the same into execution; subject, however, to the following rules, instructions, restrictions, and conditions:—
"1. Lands, the property of the Crown, and unlocated, or adjoining remote and scattered Stock Huts, are not to be deemed Settled Districts, or portions of land cultivated or occupied, within the meaning of this Proclamation.
"2. All practicable methods are to be employed for communicating, and making known, the provisions of this Proclamation to the Aborigines, and they are to be persuaded to retire beyond the prescribed limits, if that be possible.
"3. A failure of the expedient last mentioned, capture of their persons without force is to be attempted, and, if effected, the prisoners are to be treated with the utmost humanity and compassion.
"4. Whenever force cannot be avoided, it is to be resorted to, and employed, with the greatest caution and forbearance.
"5. Nothing herein contained shall authorize, or be taken to authorize, any Settler or Settlers, Stock-keeper or Stock-keepers, Sealer or Sealers, to make use of force (except for necessary self-defence) against any Aboriginal, without the presence or direction of a Magistrate, Military Officer, or other person of respectability, named and deputed to this service by a Magistrate, of which Class a numerous body will be appointed in each District; and any unauthorized act of aggression or violence committed on the Person or property of an Aboriginal shall be punished as hereinbefore declared; and all Aborigines are hereby invited and exhorted to inform and complain to some constituted authority of any such misconduct or ill-treatment, in order to its coercion and punishment.
"6. Nothing herein contained shall prevent the Aborigines from travelling annually (according to their custom) until their habits shall have been more regular and settled, through the cultivated or occupied parts of the Island to the Sea-coast, in quest of shell-fish for sustenance, on condition of their respective Leaders being provided with a General Passport under my Hand and Seal,—arrangements for which form a part of the intended negotiation.
"Given under my Hand and Seal, at Government House, Hobart Town, this fifteenth day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty-eight.
"By His Excellency's command,
God Save the King."
One cannot forbear smiling at this very intelligible address to the hunted savages. The composition is strictly legal, for its author is the Attorney-General As British subjects they are presumed to be well acquainted with the forms of British law. It is true that the Proclamation is written for those who never read, and is in a language with which they are not acquainted. It may remind one of an English country notice on a board, at the end of which the wayfarer was admonished that, if unable to read, he was to inquire of the blacksmith over the way. The pain of forcible expulsion will be endured without the consciousness of the offence of trespass, and the "consequences necessarily attendant" will be fatally experienced, although innocent of the official poster on the gum-tree. It was not very probable that they would become acquainted with the occasion for a passport to go to the coast,—that they would venture among their enemies to apply for this permit, and that the gentle shepherds of the interior would respect the parchment and seal.
Sir George Murray, in acknowledging the despatch containing his proclamation, tells Colonel Arthur, "I cannot omit to impress upon you my most earnest desire that no unnecessary harshness may be exercised in order to confine the coloured inhabitants within the boundaries which you have fixed."
As the first proclamation was attended with no beneficial result, as the Whites still persisted in murder, and as the Blacks still wandered over their own soil at large, another proclamation was issued on November 1, 1828. It was prefaced with the false announcement that "every practicable measure has been resorted to for the purpose of removing the Aborigines from the settled districts of the colony; and for the putting a stop to the repetition of such atrocities." It then adds: "It seems at present impossible to conciliate the several tribes of that people." Then come the awful words:—
I the said Lieutenant-Governor, do by These presents declare and proclaim, that from and after the date of this my proclamation, and until the cessation of hostilities shall be by me hereafter proclaimed and directed, Martial Law is and shall continue to be in force against the several black or aboriginal Natives, within the several districts of this island; excepting always the places and portions of this Island next mentioned (that is to say)—
"1st. All the country extending southward of Mount Wellington to the ocean, including Bruni Island.
"2d. Tasman's Peninsula.
"3d. The whole of the north-eastern part of this Island which is bounded on the north and east by the ocean, and on the south-west by a line drawn from Piper's River to Saint Patrick's Head.
"4th. And the whole of the western and south-western part of this island, which is bounded on the east by the river Huon, and by a line drawn from that river over Teneriffe Peak to the extreme Western Bluff; on the north by an east and west line from the said extreme Western Bluff to the ocean, and on the west and south by the ocean."
A people so well acquainted with our language and our geographical nomenclature, would surely have no difficulty in recognising their duty and ability to abide within these accurately described limits. Though, with all their compass aid and trigonometrical learning, the English colonists would have been puzzled to have drawn these said lines, and still more puzzled to have hunted after kangaroos for twelve months without passing the boundaries,—yet it was sagely conjectured that such difficulties would not exist in the minds of savages who were such admirable Bushmen. A reference to the map will show the reader the desirable nature of the country thus allotted to the Natives. It will be seen that sixty years' occupation of Tasmania has never induced the adventurous stockholder to advance into those sterile realms. The editor of the Colonial Times of that period has thus well hit off the absurdity. "An Aborigine named Black Tom, who was brought up by Mr. E. Hodgson, went out with the first party who were sent in pursuit of his countrymen, after the proclamation of Martial Law. The Lieutenant-Governor being desirous to make use of Tom as a negotiator with the savages, questioned him very particularly on the cause of the hostility of the Aborigines against the Whites. The following dialogue took place, as reported by a bystander:—
Tom.—"A'nt your stock-keeper bein' a kill plenty black fellow?
Governor.—"But your countrymen kill people that never did them any harm—they even kill women and children.
Tom.—"Well, a'nt that all same's white un? A'nt he kill plenty black un, a woman, and little picaninny too?
Governor.—"But you know, Tom, I want to be friendly and kind to them, yet they would spear me if they met me.
Tom (laughing).—" How he tell you make a friend along him? A'nt he all same a white un? 'Pose black un kill white fellow, a'nt you send all your soddier, all your constable after him? You say, that black a devil kill a nurra white man; go—catch it—kill it—a'nt he then kill all black fellow he see, all picaninny too? A'nt dat all same black fellow—a'nt you been a take him own kangaroo ground? How den he like?"
Tom laughed most immoderately on hearing the proclamation read, particularly at the idea of the tribes applying for passports to travel through the settled districts.
Tom says—"You been a make a proflamation—ha! ha! ha! I never see dat foolish (meaning, I never saw anything so foolish). When he see dat? He can't read; who tell him?
Governor.—"Can't you tell him, Tom?
Tom.—"No! me like see you tell him yourself; he very soon spear me?"
It was about this time that the Government undertook the expedition against the Aborigines on the principles of the Fine Arts. As the Blacks could not read the Demarkation Order, or any other of the important official documents of the day, and as no one liked to be Envoy Extraordinary with unwelcome despatches, and even Tom had feared a spearing, it was thought good policy to hang up in the Bush divers illustrations of retributive justice for the edification of parrots, 'possums, and Black fellows. Boards were adorned with lively representations of Blacks hanging for the murder of Whites, and of Whites suspending for the slaughter of Blacks. There were the soldiers with their red coats, stiff necks, and naked bayonets. There were the slain victims, with striking streaks of vermilion to delineate currents of blood. There was the great chief, the Governor, with a feather in his hat. There was a white woman nursing a black child, and a black woman a white child, to exhibit the blessings of peace. But the accompanying plate will tell its tale sufficiently for the reader's comprehension. It is photographed from an illustrated pine board found under the floor of Government House a few years ago.
A friend informed me that he saw one of the boards, about 1828, in Hobart Town, all in its fresh and glowing condition ready to be nailed to a gum-tree. It will be painful to the lover of true art to learn, that the island Aborigines were such utter barbarians as to be insensible to these appeals of fancy grouping and gay colouring.
On another occasion an artistic effort was made to communicate with the Natives; and this was through the Surveyor-General, Mr. Frankland. The Hobart Town Review of November 26, 1830, has this paragraph: "Before the departure of Numarrow, Mr. Frankland presented him with a little sketch, executed with much spirit, of the consequences of the Aborigines adopting a peaceable demeanour, and of continuing their present murderous and predatory habits. In one part of the sketch, the soldiers are represented firing upon a tribe of Blacks, who were falling from the effects of the attack; on the other side, another tribe, decently clad, receiving food for themselves and families."
Martial Law, with all its stern enactments, was proclaimed on November 1, 1828. This was followed by the Order, in which a reward of five pounds was offered for the capture of an adult native, and two pounds for a child. "Capture Parties" were organized, and the war went on with undiminished energy.The year 1830 was particularly distinguished as the period of the parties after the Blacks, and of the great event, known as the Line, when the colonists attempted to thrust the whole of the Natives, by a sweeping process, into a neck of land on the east coast, and so by one effort capture the turbulent tribes. For the
PICTORIAL PROCLAMATION FOR THE BLACKS.
THE BLESSINGS OF CIVILIZATION AND PEACE ARE ILLUSTRATED IN ONE PART, AND THE RIGHTEOUS ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE IS EXHIBITED IN THE OTHER.
Whether from the early activity of so many separate parties being engaged in native hunting, for five pounds a head, or from several causes co-operating, a part of this year was comparatively free from outrages. In fact, notwithstanding the Demarkation Order, and the Martial Law itself, so jubilant did the Governor appear to be at one time, as almost to hope that better times had fairly commenced. Under the influence of this comforting assurance, his ready pen set to work and produced the following Government Notice, 160, on August 19th, 1830:—
"It is with much satisfaction that the Lieut.-Governor is at length enabled to announce that a less hostile disposition towards the European inhabitants has been manifested by some of the Aboriginal Natives of this island, with whom Capt. Welsh and Mr. G. A. Robinson have succeeded in opening a friendly intercourse.
"As it is the most anxious desire of the Government that the good understanding which has thus happily commenced, should be fostered and encouraged by every possible means. His Excellency earnestly requests, that all settlers and others will strictly enjoin their servants cautiously to abstain from acts of aggression against these benighted beings, and that they will themselves personally endeavour to conciliate them, wherever it may be practicable; and whenever the Aborigines appear without evincing a hostile feeling, that no attempt should be made either to capture or to restrain them; but, on the contrary, after being fed and kindly treated, that they should be suffered to depart whenever they may desire it."Such a document might well excite the astonishment of the colony. After the most formidable arrangements for the capture of the Blacks, the leaders, whose hopes of five-pound notes and grants of land lay in prospect of successfully carrying out their mission, were in the simplest manner appealed to, and requested to feed the fellows, and then let them go. Some thought the Governor very weak of purpose; others, excessively benevolent; while a few doubted not that it was a stroke of policy to throw the injured tribes off their guard, for the purpose of beguiling them into the great net he was then preparing.
Perhaps many people were not surprised that, within, five weeks of the pacific and agreeable notice, one so opposite in principle and feeling should be issued, giving the first announcement of the intention of Government to raise the whole of the white inhabitants against the sanguinary tribes!
It was as a sort of counter-proclamation, that an address from the Clyde District was, in March 1830, presented to the Lieut.-Governor, acknowledging the recent Order, and its reference to humane feelings. The colonists therein announce it as their opinion that "any attempt to seek the friendship of the Blacks, in their present too evidently hostile bearing, will be construed by them, in their ignorance, to the want of power on the part of the Whites to compel submission, and consequently will encourage them to become every day more audacious, and embolden them not to attack the solitary and helpless individual only, but, in formidable bodies, to march into the populous settlements with their firebrands in one hand and their unerring and deadly weapons of warfare in the other.
"We do not yield to any set of men our innate feelings of humanity, and to none would it impart more heartfelt joy to see the Aborigines brought into terms of friendly intercourse than to us. But, situated as we are in the interior, and having had the opportunity, either personally or through the medium of others, of knowing the treacherous disposition of these Natives, and of experiencing by their daily atrocities their deep-rooted enmity towards us colonists, viewing us as intruders, we altogether despair of their being induced to receive our offers of friendship."
The address concludes with a request for more Government assistance, and an appeal for the removal of the tax on dogs, because of their utility at the present crisis.
In this document we have a just view of the sentiments of the colonial settlers. They felt the burden, and cried out. Whatever the cause of the war, they were the immediate sufferers. While plans were suggested, and Government Orders issued, their homesteads were in hourly danger, and their very lives in jeopardy. It was natural for them to deride a little bitterly the philosophical calmness of the dweller in town, and sneer at the philanthropic gazette of authority. Whatever hope of conciliation might be cherished by Government, they "altogether despaired" of future friendly relations with the wild men who viewed them as intruders.
The Proclamation of October 1, 1830, advances us another stage in the Black War. Driven from the Settled Districts by the provisions of the Martial Law, the Aborigines were now to be allowed no place of retreat, no city of refuge. There is no peace to be made with them, as they are supposed relentless as wolves, and they must, like those blood-mouthed marauders of the woods, be driven from their dens. A new and more stringent Martial Law is to be proclaimed.
Whereas, by my Proclamation, bearing date the first day of November, 1828, reciting, among other things that the Black or Aboriginal Natives of this island had for a considerable time carried on a series of indiscriminate attacks upon the persons and property of His Majesty's subjects, and that repeated inroads were daily made by such Natives into the Settled Districts, and that acts of hostility or barbarity were thus committed by them, as well as at the more distant stock runs, and in some instances upon unoffending and defenceless women and children, and that it had become unavoidably necessary, for the suppression of similar enormities, to proclaim Martial Law, in the manner hereinafter directed, I, the said Lieut.-Governor, did declare and proclaim that from the date of that my Proclamation, and unto the cessation of hostilities, Martial Law was, and should continue to be, in force against the said Black or Aboriginal Natives within the several districts of this island, excepting always the places and portions of this island in the said Proclamation after mentioned; and whereas, the said Black or Aboriginal Natives, or certain of their tribes, have of late manifested, by continued repetitions of the most wanton and sanguinary acts of violence and outrage, an unequivocal determination indiscriminately to destroy the white inhabitants, whenever opportunities are presented to them for doing so; and whereas, by reason of the aforesaid exceptions so entertained in the said Proclamation, no Natives have been hitherto pursued or molested in any of the places or portions of the island so excepted, from whence they have accordingly of late been accustomed to make repeated incursions upon the Settled Districts with impunity, or, having committed outrages in the Settled Districts, have escaped to those excepted places, where they remain in security; and whereas, therefore, it hath now become necessary, and because it is scarcely possible to distinguish the particular tribe or tribes by whom such outrages have been in any particular instance committed, to adopt immediately, for the purpose of effecting their capture, if possible, an active and extended system of military operations against all the Natives generally throughout the island, and every portion thereof whether actually settled or not. Now, therefore, by virtue of the powers and authorities in me in this behalf vested, I, the said Lieut.-Governor, do, by these presents, declare and proclaim, that from and after the date of this my Proclamation, and until the cessation of hostilities in this behalf shall be by me hereafter proclaimed and directed, Martial Law is and shall continue to be in force against all the Black or Aboriginal Natives, within every part of this island (whether exempted from the operations of the said Proclamation or not), excepting always such tribe, or individuals of tribes, as there may be reason to suppose are pacifically inclined, and have not been implicated in any such outrages; and for the purposes aforesaid, all soldiers and others. His Majesty's subjects, civil and military, are hereby required and commanded to obey and assist their lawful superiors in the execution of such measures as shall from time to time be in this behalf directed to be taken. But I do, nevertheless, hereby strictly order, enjoin, and command, that the actual use of arms be in no case resorted to, by firing against any of the Natives, or otherwise, if they can by other means be captured, that bloodshed be invariably checked as much as possible, and that any tribes or individuals captured, or voluntarily surrendering themselves up, be treated with the utmost care and humanity. And all officers, civil and military, and other persons whatsoever, are hereby required to take notice of this my Proclamation, and to render obedience and assistance therein accordingly.
"Given under my hand and seal at arms, at the Government House, Hobart Town, this first day of October, in the year of the Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty.
About this time the following Government Notice appeared in the Gazette:—
"It has become necessary, in consequence of the repeated incursions of the Aborigines, to extend the military Outposts to remote Stations, where no Quarters have been erected for the accommodation of the troops: the Lieut-Governor, therefore, requests the Settlers, residing in the vicinity of those Stations, will supply the military parties with the authorized Rations, for which they will be paid by the Commissariat; but His Excellency feels satisfied that, on reflection, the Settlers will be sensible, as the Parties are sent solely for their protection against Runaway Convicts and the Aborigines, that they should gratuitously afford such accommodation as is within their power; consequently no charge for the temporary occupation of their huts by the military will henceforth be sanctioned, or admitted into the public accounts.
"The circumstance of some few individuals having charged the Government for such temporary accommodation, whilst it has generally been gratuitously afforded, renders it necessary for the Lieutenant-Governor to make known the course which will be pursued."
Although it would seem very churlish to deny shelter to the military so engaged, and very avaricious to seek payment for such rude accommodation, yet the company of soldiers was not always thought pleasant by the head of a family isolated in the Bush.
It remains here simply to mark the official termination of the war, the removal of Martial Law. This, happily, the last document proceeding from the Government, relative to the Aborigines, is dated October 24th, 1833.
"Whereas, by my Proclamation, made and bearing date the first day of November, in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty-eight, I did declare and proclaim, that from and after the date of that Proclamation, and until the cessation of hostilities shall be by me thereafter proclaimed and directed, Martial Law was and should continue to be in force against the several Black or Aboriginal Natives within the several Districts of this colony, excepting always the places and portions of this Island next in the same Proclamation after mentioned:"And whereas, by a certain other Proclamation by me made, and bearing date the first of October, in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty, I did declare and proclaim, that from and after the date thereof and until the cessation of hostilities should be by me thereafter proclaimed and directed. Martial Law was and should continue to be in force against all the Black or Aboriginal Natives within every part of this Island (whether excepted from the operation of any said former proclamation or not), excepting always such tribes or individuals of tribes as are therein mentioned or described. Now, I do hereby proclaim and direct, from and after the date of this my Proclamation, all hostilities against the Black or Aboriginal Natives of this Island shall cease in every part thereof, and, further, that from and after the same date Martial Law so proclaimed by me, as aforesaid, shall not be in force against the said Blacks or Aboriginal Natives, within this Island or any part thereof.
"And all officers, civil and military, and other persons whatsoever, are hereby required to take notice of this my Proclamation, and to govern themselves accordingly.
"By command, &c.,
Having disposed of the official history of one part of the Black War, let us turn to the general facts of this melancholy period, and particularize some incidents of the "Outrages of the Blacks."
This desperate leader in many an outrage by the Aborigines appears so prominently in the Black War, as to demand a separate and particular notice. He was not a Tasmanian, but a New Holland, or Australian native. Although endowed with superior physical powers, as well as a vigorous intellect and indomitable will, he was indebted to his acquirements in civilization for his extra ability in working mischief. Belonging to the Broken Bay tribe, located to the north of Sydney, he soon associated with a low class of convict population in his neighbourhood, and became an English scholar in our national vices of drinking and swearing, as well as in the employment of our tongue.
The crime that brought him under the penal care of Government, was one with which he was associated with another wretched man, known by the settlers as Bulldog. These two Blacks waylaid a woman, ill-used, and then murdered her. To gratify their horrible propensities, they ripped open the body of the poor creature, and destroyed the infant she carried. Strange to say, for want of some European evidence, the authorities simply sent them to the penal settlement of Norfolk Island. After the death of his bulldog accomplice, Mosquito was forwarded to the convict island of Van Diemen's Land in 1813.
There he was, according to the mode of the day, assigned as servant to Mr. Kimberley of Antill Ponds. It was not far from that place that I heard some account of the man. For some years he conducted himself tolerably well, or so carefully guarded his acts as to keep out of the hands of the constable. An old man, named Elliot, who came to the colony in 1815, told me that he knew Mosquito when at service with a Mr. Lord, and that he there contracted an improper connexion with Black Hannah, whom he subsequently murdered in a fit of passion.
Mr. Melville mentions that he was employed to track Bushrangers. For such a task he was peculiarly suited. Of a very tall, slim figure, of a wiry, active frame, with remarkable acuteness of sense, even for a native, and animated by a profound love of excitement and mischief, he made an admirable bloodhound. Distinguished success attended his tracking. But, as the constables with whom he was associated were men of the prisoner class, some of them ex-Bushrangers, and all with a powerful sympathy for the unfortunate robber, excepting in cases where his capture would bring dollars to their pockets, the zeal of Mosquito soon excited their ill-will, and plots were laid to get him into trouble.
Being sent down to Hobart Town in 1818, he formally connected himself with some half-civilized, alias drunken. Aborigines, who hung about the town, over whom, by his superior intellectual energy, he established his authority. The Rev. Mr. Horton, on his visit to the colony, fell in with this so-called Tame Mob, and wrote the following account for a London magazine of 1822:—
"It consisted of persons (twenty or thirty of both sexes) who had absconded from their proper tribes in the interior, and is governed by a native of Port Jackson, named Muskitoo. This man was transported from Sydney to Van Diemen's Land, some years ago, for the murder of a woman, and was for some time after his arrival employed as a stock-keeper. How he was raised to this present station, as a leader of this tribe, I know not, unless it was in consideration of his superior skill and muscular strength. This party, like the rest of their race, never work, nor have any settled place of abode, but wander about from one part to another, subsisting on what is given them by the benevolent, and on kangaroos, opossums, oysters, &c. which they procure for themselves."
This man had drawn them around him as their acknowledged chief, in a sense superior to any known among the equality-loving Tasmanians, and governed them after the approved European model. Many of them had transgressed tribal laws in their own districts, and were obliged to live abroad for a season. The superior attractions of town life may have seduced some from the forests. Others came from a distance to place themselves under the command of the wily New Hollander. It was easy for him to play the part of a ruler, in gathering the choicest of women for his wives. It was his conduct to these that illustrated the cruelty of his natural disposition. He had several whom he used for private purposes of aggrandizement with the tribe, or for the procuring of extra luxuries from the Europeans. But one wife, the really fine-looking "Gooseberry," from the Oyster Bay tribe, was reserved for his exclusive service. This woman eventually excited the jealous anger of her savage lord, who murdered her in the Government Domain, outside of Hobart Town.
An ex-Bushranger is my authority for some stories about the man. He was well known, as a fellow forester, to this dreaded chief at the period when they in common, though on separate commissions, preyed upon the country settlers. Coming once upon his track at an inconvenient time, when he was wanted by the Governor, the familiar Bushranger was ordered off, as Mosquito was impressed with the notion that he might seek his own pardon by the betrayal of his black acquaintance. He cried out to him, "What do you do here? Go away." The hint was sufficient, and he hastened off. But he said that he knew for a fact that once the terrible monster cut off the breast of one of his gins, because she would persist, against his orders, in suckling her child.
He hung about the neighbourhood of Hobart Town for some time, soliciting bread for his people. That food he would exchange for tobacco and rum, to gratify his own civilized tastes. Receivers and exchangers were readily found at the huts of the convict servants. His manner of life is spoken of by a witness, one Thomas M'Minn, in some evidence on a murder case, given before Mr. Anstey, Police Magistrate at Oatlands.
"I arrived in the colony," said he, "in 1820, and was placed in the service of Captain Blythe, near Oatlands, with whom I remained until his death in 1823. The Blacks were very quiet when I arrived here. Mosquito and his Mob came to Mr. Blythe's hut very often. Mosquito had three wives or gins. He would not allow any man to have intercourse with them. The other gins were allowed to prostitute themselves to white men for bread and other things. Mosquito ordered a gin to retire with a White man, and she obeyed his orders. This happened, as I am told, very often."
According to old Ward, of the first fleet. Mosquito "kept the tethers," and sent the Blacks to rob and slaughter. He would lurk about, gain information, lay his plans in a skilful manner, and then, from his retreat, despatch his band to carry on the warfare. It was among the Oyster Bay Mob, of the east coast, that this worthy practised his demoniacal arts, and that for a long period, with singular address and success. His people kept the land in a state of terror. Old Talbot gave me particulars of the horrible death of a woman and her daughter, at the Ouse River, and declared that the "Darkies were as quiet as dogs before Mosquito came." In the language of Mr. Meredith, a settler of that district: "They spared neither age nor sex; the aged woman and the helpless child alike fell victims to their ferocity." He adds, also: "Owing to their extreme cunning, activity, and cat-like nature, retaliation was all but impossible." It does not appear, however, that Mosquito was a favourite with all the tribe; for we read of a number of them setting on him one day, and beating him nearly to death with their waddies. Doubtless, this arose from a little political feeling, some of the old chief not approving of the assumption of the premiership by a stranger, though a good White-hater. It may have been some Brutus and Cassius conspirators, loving their Cæsar much, but their freedom more, who sought to get rid of their self-constituted Dictator.
His outrages became conspicuous in 1819, when his first murder of a white man took place. The same Mob had gone down to the east coast for swans' eggs. There Mosquito, wanting some ship's stores, placed in charge of John Kemp, a whaler, killed the custodian of the articles. From one course of crime he proceeded to another, always endeavouring by subtlety to throw the blame on others, should discovery of an offence be made.
Tom Birch joined Mosquito in 1822. This young Native had been brought up by Mr. Birch of Hobart Town from boyhood. From his aged and very estimable mistress, I gathered information about him. She repeatedly spoke of "Poor Tom," expressing a deep interest in him. He was so good and useful a lad, so obliging and gentle, so honest and careful, and so thoroughly devoted to his master. He spoke English perfectly, and could read and write. In his attendance at church, and general deportment, he gave promise of true civilization. But in an evil hour Mosquito made his acquaintance. He poisoned his mind against Europeans, representing them as the enemies of his race. He pictured the hopelessness and aimlessness of his future. What could he ever be but the slave of the Whites? Could he get a wife among them? Would they admit him on an equality with themselves? Did they not look upon him as a black dog? and would they not treat him very soon accordingly? Then temptations were placed before him. He was incited to drink. He was admitted into the licentious orgies of the roaming tribe. The master and mistress saw the change coming over him, and strove to counteract the evil, but in vain. His regard for them was too strong and real to permit him to wrong them, or suffer their property to be injured by his vicious friends. But he could not stay. He bolted to the Bush, and was then recognised as a bold robber of the forest, and an active accomplice of Mosquito's.
Although the rascally chief long kept his own neck out of the halter by his duplicity and unscrupulous sacrifice of his confederates, poor Tom Birch was soon captured. His old employer was able to preserve his life from the law's demands, but he was sentenced to the dreaded convict settlement at Macquarie Harbour. He escaped thence through his fertility of expedients, and associated himself with the Abyssinian Mob, then engaged in the Black War. It was while Tom was out the second time, that he was connected with several robberies and murders near the Shannon. Mr. G. Taylor, writing to the Hobart Town paper of November 11th, 1826, refers to the hut of Mrs. Simpson being robbed of supplies, and to Tom having speared a man-servant in the hand. In his indignation he says, "They are a lawless, brutal mob, under the guidance of this Black Tom, who had at a former period voluntarily become a member of this community, who lived many years as a free servant to one of our settlers, and who now, with the basest treachery, turns the very weapons which he then acquired, to the destruction of that society which he had deceived into confidence. He is, therefore, not a deserter, but a rebel, a civil and internal enemy, and those who have joined him are alike guilty with himself."
His Hobart Town friends heard of his whereabouts, and determined, if possible, to save him. They represented to the Governor the desirability of obtaining the help of so intelligent a native in his plan of Conciliation, and overtures were made to the outlaw. He accepted the proposed terms, and was attached to one or other of the roving parties, proving himself a valuable friend to both contending races. A life of Bush exposure proved fatal to him at last, and he died at Emu Bay, in 1832, from dysentery.
Black Jack, Mosquito's other prominent mate, and who subsequently came to trial with him, was very different to Tom. Able to read and write, this civilized Aborigine was a fit companion for Mosquito. When taking to the Bush, he exclaimed, "I'll kill all the white ——." He has been heard to say, when torturing some unhappy creature, "Jack will touch him there again, he don't like it." Old Talbot gave him a very bad character, pronouncing him as cruel as the leader of the Mob. The Hobart Town Gazette of April 2d, 1824, has a paragraph about him, when speaking of the man being speared on the Old Beach, near the Derwent: "It does not appear that Mosquito or Black Jack were seen with this party; although there is reason to believe they must have been near the spot, from the circumstance of the Natives having been, with one or two exceptions only excepted, entirely harmless, until these two Blacks have lately appeared among them." About that time, however. Mosquito enticed a man out of his hut at Pittwater, and speared him through the back, in order to steal his rations.
The reader is referred to the chapter on "Outrages" for further particulars of the crimes of this bad man. The copy of the Gazette notice of his trial will furnish information concerning the charge which secured his presence at court. His later exploits were confined to the south-eastern and eastern districts. On one occasion the whole gang might have been captured, but from the impulsive conduct of the constables, who had primed themselves too much with grog, and, in their Dutch courage, made so much noise in their charge, as to give their dark foes sufficient warning to escape to the scrub.
The course of this hero of blood was stayed in consequence of a murder committed near the east coast. Mr. Meredith, who was living near the scene of the conflict at the time, is our historian of the event. It appears that Mosquito came with some of the Oyster Bay tribe to Grindstone Bay, upon a run belonging to Mr. Silas Gatehouse, on pretence of hunting. Radford, a stock-keeper, held a sort of parley with the ruffian, and, as he saw him seizing some fine kangaroo dogs, called out, "Don't take our dogs away." The reply to this was a spear wound in his side from Black Jack. A rush to the hut took place. Radford ran wounded, with naked feet, for three miles, chased by the Blacks; but he escaped. Two men in the hut were speared to death, Mormer or Mammoa, a Tahitian native, and one William Holyoake. This took place on November 15th, 1823.
Falling in with an "Old Hand" at Warrmambool, toward the end of 1858, I got another version of the story from one who claims to have been with Radford on that eventful occasion. The old man was one of the notables of Port Phillip history, being one of Mr. John Batman's men on his visit to that colony in 1835. For several years before, he had lived with the Batman family in Tasmania, at their Ben Lomond Home, and had accompanied John Batman in his chase of Bushrangers and Black fellows. As he stood before me, then seventy years old, I was much struck with his appearance. Of middle height, but of massive proportions, he would be more than a match for many a younger man in a close conflict. His chest was of the Attila mould, and his neck betokened great physical strength. His white locks curled briskly from under his broad-brimmed hat, and his hair hung down in a handsome and magnificent beard, the envy of a Pasha. His mien was bold and cheerful. His eye was quick and ingenuous. His ruddy cheeks stood out with good humour and the most robust health. Old Daddy, as he was called, bore a good name; and, making every allowance for improvements upon a tale so often told, and referring to a date now six-and-forty years ago, I have reason to believe that his yarn contained more than the elements of truth, and that it was not a mere story founded upon facts. There may have been reasons why some things he spoke about were not told before.
Substantially his story is the same as others about Radford, Holyoake, &c. Radford and he happened to leave the hut one morning without their guns, contrary to their custom, as the weather was wet. When fleeing from the Blacks, he received two spear wounds, one in his thigh. Informing his master of the outrage, that gentleman is said to have sworn not to rest two nights in his bed until he had taken a bloody revenge. Collecting a party of thirty—constables, soldiers, and neighbours—he set off to execute his threat. One Douglas Evans, a Sydney native, was met upon the road, and from him information was received that a large body of the Aborigines had camped for the night in a gully by Sally Peak, six miles from Bushy Plains, on the border of Prosser's Plains.
They proceeded stealthily as they neared the spot; and, agreeing upon a signal, moved quietly in couples, until they had surrounded the sleepers. The whistle of the leader was sounded, and volley after volley of ball cartridge was poured in upon the dark groups around the little camp-fires. The number slain was considerable. Few passed the fatal line. Many children were among the wounded ones. A sergeant seized hold of a little boy, who attempted to rush by him in the darkness; and, exclaiming, "You ——, if you ain't mischievous now, you will be," swung him round by his feet against a tree, and dashed his brains out. Women were lying about still grasping their children amidst their dying torments.
The extraordinary sagacity of Mosquito enabled him to elude several snares for his capture; but he was at length secured through the courage of a half-civilized native, named Tegg.
This young lad, though brought up with Europeans, was known to have communications with the murderer. Applications were made to enlist his help in securing the arch chieftain. He agreed to attempt the capture if provided with the company of constables at hand, and was promised a boat should he succeed. His ambition had been to possess a boat of his own, and trade between Bruni and Hobart Town. Day by day he sought the retreat of Mosquito, who had now separated from his gang, because of the hot pursuit, and was concealed with two of his gins near Oyster Bay. Godfrey and Marshall, two constables, were with Tegg when the human tiger's lair was discovered. Sending the Europeans to secure the women, this lad of seventeen ran toward Mosquito, and shot, him in the thigh. Singularly enough, the wretched man had no spears near him at the time, and had to run for his life, pursued by the Black, who fired another barrel at him. Brought to bay by loss of blood, he leaned against a tree, and in impotent rage threw sticks at the advancing youth.
He was brought down to Hobart Town, and for a while his life was in jeopardy from his wounds. The ex-whaler Goodridge, who wrote an amusing book of his adventures, says of Mosquito: "This Negro was in gaol at Hobart Town at the period I was confined on the charge of being a runaway sailor from the King George."
The following particulars of the trial of Mosquito and Black Jack are related in the Hobart Town Gazette for December 1824:—
"Mosquito and Black Jack (the first a native of New South Wales, the latter born on the island) were placed at the bar, arraigned as principals in the second degree, for aiding and abetting in the wilful murder of William Holyoake, at Grindstone Bay, on the 15th of November, 1823.
"The Attorney-General described the facts, and called John Radford, who deposed as follows:—
"I am, and for six years have been, a stock-keeper on the run of Mr. Silas Gatehouse, at Grindstone Bay. I had a fellow-servant, named Mammoa, who was a native of Otaheite. I knew the deceased. He was servant to Mr. George Meredith, at Swan Port, and came to our hut in November twelve months. He said he was returning home from the Colonial Hospital, where he had been an invalid, and begged permission to remain a day or two, as he was not very able to go further. He came on a Wednesday, between the 10th and 15th, and remained until the following Saturday. The morning after he came a party of the Natives arrived, with the prisoners at the bar. Their number was about 65. Some of them had spears, and sticks about two feet long; but some of the spears, which were wooden ones, might be six, and others twelve feet long. I asked whither he was going, and he said, "To Oyster Bay." He then begged for some provisions, and I told him to follow me into the hut, where he should have some bread and meat. After he had eaten some, I inquired how many Natives were with him. He answered he could not tell. I then asked if they would kill any of the sheep; he said, "No." Soon afterwards he retired for that night. On the following morning he again came to the hut, and brought two or three women. Some of the Blacks were on the opposite side of the creek. He asked for, and had, some breakfast with me. He lingered with the party about the Plains until two or three o'clock, and then went away to hunt. In the evening he returned, and I gave him some supper. In the hut there hung a small fowling-piece, and a musket, the one by the bed, and the other over it. Mosquito handled the musket. On Saturday early the Blacks were in the sheep-yard, sitting round a fire at their camp; this was about half-past five o'clock. At six they came to the hut, with the prisoners at the bar, over the creek, on the other side of which they had been at their diversions, some of them still remaining there near the stockyard, which approaches to within ten yards of the hut. The Natives who were playing might be one hundred and fifty yards from the hut. I walked out to look at them, after Mammoa, and left the deceased in the hut, but he came out after me. At this time, Mosquito was on the other side of the creek with a number of Blacks, who were armed, but he had no spear. The weapons he had were a waddy and a stick shaped like the axe of a tomahawk. I then desired the deceased to bring the guns, should he leave the hut before my return; but he did not. Mosquito then called Mammoa to the other side of the creek, and he went over. He first, however, asked if the Blacks would spear him, and Mosquito said "No." They talked to Mammoa for a few minutes, then took up their spears, and walked towards the hut, I got to it first; the guns had been taken. When I returned, Holyoake was walking behind me, and I asked him if he had put away the guns. He said "No." I made the same inquiry of Mammoa, and received the same reply. At this moment he and Mosquito were at the other side of the creek coming towards the hut. When they came opposite they got over. The other Natives were by the hut door, so that now the whole body of the Natives were assembled. I stood with the deceased two or three yards off. I had three kangaroo dogs, and a sheep dog. The deceased had one dog. They were tied to a stump. I saw Mosquito untie them, and take them into the sheep-yard. I heard Mammoa beg of him not to take them; but he made no answer. The Natives stood with their spears raised, and their points directed to deceased and me. I told him the best thing we could do was to run away, and that otherwise we should be killed. We accordingly did run, when one of the Blacks threw a spear, which pierced my side. I at first ran two hundred or three hundred yards, but the deceased could not keep up with me. He called out for me to return, and pull a spear out of his back. I did so. The wound was three or four inches deep. Some of the Natives armed with spears were pursuing us; there might be from thirty to forty. I again ran away, and the deceased after me. I received another spear in the back of my thigh. At this moment the Blacks were within thirty yards of me. The deceased exclaimed, "Jack! don't leave." I made no answer, but continued running till I heard him cry, "O my God! the Blacks have got me." He was then about two hundred yards behind me. I looked back. The Natives were close to him. I saw five or six spears sticking in him (some in his side, and others in different parts of his body). He was throwing some rotten sticks at the Blacks, who appeared to be standing quiet. After looking at them for a few minutes, I recommenced my flight, and some of them still pursued me; eventually, however, I was lucky enough to escape. When ten days from the time had elapsed, I ventured back to the hut; and four days after my return I found the body of the deceased, quite dead, covered with sticks, and more than half consumed with vermin. There were some spears broken in it. I am quite positive as to the persons of Mosquito and Black Jack. I can swear that no provocation was given to the Natives, or any violence shown by me, or to my knowledge by the deceased.'
"Cross-examined by the Court.—'When the dogs were untied by Mosquito, I was deterred from interfering by the whole body, who raised their spears, with their points directed to me. I knew Black Jack very well by his figure, and because his lips were much thinner than those of the Natives in general. He had gone into the hut several times, and I saw him in it on the Saturday morning, three-quarters of an hour before the body of the Blacks came to it. On being spoken to, he answered me in English perfectly well. I never heard the prisoner called "Black Jack;" I called him Black Jack from his colour.'"Cross-examined by Dr. Hood (one of the Jury).—'There were some women with the Natives, but neither the deceased nor myself had offered any offence, or ventured to take any liberties.'
"Verdict:—'Mosquito, guilty; Black Jack, not guilty.' The same principals were then arraigned as principals in the second degree, for aiding and abetting in the wilful murder of Mammoa, the before-named Otaheitean. His Honour the Chief Justice summed up, and the jury, after retiring a few minutes, pronounced an acquittal"
Although Black Jack escaped from the first charge, he was subsequently convicted of the murder of Patrick Macarthy, hut-keeper, Sorell Plains. He and his chief. Mosquito, were to die together. He implored the judge to send him to the penal hell of Macquarie Harbour, instead of hanging him; discreetly saying to a friend, "Then I'll soon run away." His Honour seemed to take that view of the question, and declined to grant the favour. One of my tell-tale acquaintances remarked, "I had the pleasure of seeing them both tucked up comfortably." They were in other company, for five Bushrangers were to be suspended with them. The scene of their execution was at what was called Mr. Muster Master Mason's place. This was at the "Cascades," the site of the present Female Factory at the upper end of Macquarie Street, Hobart Town, where the basaltic columns of Mount Wellington appear to overhang the spectator. It was on the 25th of February, 1825. The Chaplain, the Rev. W. Bedford, made a forcible address to the multitude of curious ones there. He thus appealed to them:—"These poor unhappy fellow-worms, whose lives have become forfeited to the laws of violated justice and humanity, implore you to shun the path that leads to death." All the officers in attendance upon the solemn occasion were attired in deep mourning. Several of the condemned men joined in singing a funeral hymn. To all the clergyman's exhortations, Mosquito preserved a sullen silence, but Black Jack was much alarmed. The Old Hands are fond of telling the story that, upon the clergyman exhorting Jack to pray, he exclaimed, "You pray yourself; I too b———y frightened to pray." Upon this, to use the language of the newspaper of the day, "the hapless offenders, after a short interval, were launched into eternity."
But, without doubt, the execution of Mosquito, who exerted so fascinating an influence upon the simple tribes, was attended with important results. Many Natives came into town to implore the pardon of the man; and, upon the failure of their efforts, returned to the Bush with bitterer feelings against the dominant race. As Mr. Gilbert Robertson wrote in 1831:—"Although Mosquito has been removed, yet the lessons he afforded the Aborigines of this island have not been forgotten; experience has taught them craft, cunning, activity, and watchfulness, and at this moment they have found means to spread terror amongst the Colonists residing in the interior." The "Black War" is, indeed, dated by some persons from the death of Mosquito.
The captor, Tegg, or Teague, as it has been written, did not get the price of blood; and he, therefore, in sullen anger, betook himself to the Bush, saying, "They promised me a boat, but they no give it; me go with Wild Mob, and kill all white men come near me." Many murders were attributed to him. He was concerned in the murder of two stockmen belonging to Messrs. Cox and Barclay. It is also recorded of him, that a native woman, brought up from infancy by Whites, was, when far advanced in pregnancy, speared to death by the revengeful fellow. Strange to say, he subsequently returned to Hobart Town, and received his boat, which was, said the newspaper, "to conciliate the youth's unfortunately aggravated feelings" (!)
The "Black War" may be said to have drifted onward, like a neglected wound, which often terminates in an incurable and painful disorder. Not expected to be so serious, many were as surprised as they were shocked at its formidable and rapid growth. The English traveller, in 1823, could write of the native inhabitants:—"They are so very few in number, and so timorous, that they need hardly be mentioned. Two Englishmen with muskets might traverse the whole country in perfect safety, as they are unacquainted with fire-arms." And yet many residents at that very time trembled with apprehension, and the numbers were not so few, by several hundreds at least, as they were when putting the whole island in terror, and calling forth the colonists en masse into the field against them. Another writer, Mr. Wentworth, of Sydney, gives quite a different picture of the same year, in 1823, and refers to the "rencontres that have subsequently taken place between them and the settlers. These, whenever occasion offers, destroy as many of the Natives as possible, and they, in their turn, never let slip an opportunity of retaliating on their bloodthirsty neighbours." But he sees little cause of alarm, as the wild tribes seldom or never are known to act on the offensive, except when they have met some of their persecutors singly." For this reason only could two persons armed with muskets traverse the land in safety.
The impression of their being disagreeable neighbours, and yet so powerless or cowardly as to be easily confronted, was pretty general from the earliest days. Old Kemp told me, that in 1821 he saw about three hundred of them "poking" after bandicoots. He immediately guessed that his hour was come, and thinking, he said, that he might as well die with a good heart as a bad one, he started his dogs into the mob, and, on their flight, took himself hastily off. A similar glorious feat is recorded by Mr. D. A. C. G. Lemprière, who was stationed at the first settlement of Macquarie Harbour, the entrance to which, the opening to the prisoners' place of torment, went by the name of Hell's Gates. A number of Natives visited the rude hut of a convict stationed there to bum shells for lime, but they were, as the prisoner informed the authorities, repulsed at the very sight of him; which must have been formidable, as Mr. Lemprière states that he was "a man four feet eleven inches in his shoes, armed with a rake."
At no time was there much correspondence between the two races; and this was apparent in the narrative of the honest castaway sailor Goodridge. "During the time," said he," I was at Compton Ferry (near Hobart Town), in 1824, fifteen or twenty of the Natives made their way into Mr. Earle's large room, and were much delighted at seeing themselves in the looking-glass, and commenced dancing and making all kinds of mimicry. They then essayed to get behind the glass, and appeared greatly confused at finding nothing but the wall. They were all quite naked; and, indeed, if clothes were given them when they appeared at Hobart Town, they seldom wore them after they left, throwing them off as a great encumbrance."
It was about that time that Mr. Roberts, of Bruni, went down the coast of the channel in search of coal; and, as he has since told me, the Natives were quite friendly, helping even to carry his swag, and procuring him some food. It was not long, however, before the violence and repetition of attacks alarmed the whole colony.
In one of my Victorian journeys I fell in with an "Old Hand," who had thoroughly redeemed his character, having been then for above twenty years a consistent member of the Wesleyan Church. The experience of this man was similar to others—that the Natives were not the aggressors. He had lived under the Western Tier for three or four years without molestation, though constantly moving about the Bush after stock. Frequently has he come upon their recent tracks, and must have been the object of their observation, without catching sight of any. When aroused to fury at last, the tribe acted as others had done previously, committing atrocious and indiscriminate slaughter. Missing his shepherd-mate one day, he entered upon a search, and came upon his body pierced with several spears. His fears were excited on behalf of a poor sick shepherd, who lay in a hut belonging to a Mr. Bryant. Collecting a party of neighbours, he made a hasty run to the spot. When about 300 yards from the hut, they met Mr. Bryant running rapidly with torn dress. From him they learned that the Blacks arrived there soon after he came to visit his sick servant; that, after forcibly breaking off the ends of spears, thrust at him through the window, he had made a desperate rush through the mob, and had thus escaped. The rescuers went on to the hut. Not a Black was to be seen. They entered, and found their friend in his last agonies, with a quantity of wood burning under his bed, the men having fired that as well as the bark of the roof.
The rapid movements of the Blacks were extraordinary. Fifty miles a day must have been often traversed by them in the height of the war. It was during that war that settler noticed a marked decrease of children. This arose from the policy of the tribes, who, finding themselves hard-pressed by the company of the young in their marches, and who feared the betrayal of their haunts by the cry of a little one, had most unrelentlessly resolved upon the destruction of their families. Mothers even were known to murder their own babes, rather than have them fall into the hands of their implacable enemies.
Mrs. Meredith records two or three sad Tasmanian tales. In the year 1826, some parties in the Bush noticed a man staggering along with groping arms. As they neared the object, they were shocked to perceive the poor creature with battered head and speared body, and the sores swarming with maggots. One of his eyes was knocked out, and the other was totally blind from a blow. In a few words the unhappy man moaned forth his story. He had received a spear in his breast, while endeavouring to get away from a mob. This after some difficulty he extracted, and ran on again. Another pierced his back, and broke short off in the wound. Sickening with pain, his step faltered, and the savages reached him. Several spears were thrust into him, and waddies played heavily about his head. He was left for dead. Reviving, he made an effort to reach some settlement, and so fell in with the party. Upon further conversation, the rescuers were horrified at discovering that the attack had taken place three days before; the time accounted for the dreadful condition of his wounds. He was conveyed to the hospital, but death soon released him from suffering.
One Josiah Gough lived with his wife and two girls in a part of the interior. Becoming alarmed for the safety of his family, he went off to the town to procure assistance to remove them to a place of safety. While away, the Natives stole down the chimney into the hut, speared, and then brained, the poor woman, and cruelly waddied the children. Taking what they desired, the murderers withdrew. The father soon after arrived, and heard the sad tale from the dying lips of his surviving girl. We cannot be surprised at some fearful retaliation by the neighbours. In 1827, a farmhouse was attacked, under similar circumstances, when the master had gone for a military party. The wife, daughter, two sons, a servant, and a traveller, were in the hut when the barbarians surrounded it with their mad cries for blood. The armed inmates defended themselves with much courage and coolness; the conduct of one of the boys was quite heroic. The contest continued for some time, when the enraged Blacks set fire to the thatch of the roof, to drive out the family, that they might be more readily and certainly destroyed. At this critical period, a dozen soldiers appeared through the forest, and soon put the tribe to flight.
So rancorous was the hatred of the Natives against the Whites, that every expedient was adopted to carry out their malevolent purpose, and torments were used with almost an Indian refinement of cruelty. In the early days, as the men, the servants especially, only wore a sort of moccasin of kangaroo skin, sharp stones and pointed burnt sticks were set up into paths known to be passed, so as to pierce the feet. The most abominable atrocities were perpetrated upon some victims' bodies. But this was adopted for the purpose of exhibiting their deadly animosity against the Europeans for their treatment of the native women, and was a terrible retaliation for similar cruelties practised upon the male Blacks. Some of our countrymen were emasculated, and the dying were often given up to the torturing hand of the gins, who, with sharp stones upon secret parts, added poignancy to the last agony. Several Bush hands have told me such stories, unfit for publication, but all evidencing the Blacks' deep-rooted spirit of revenge.
A leading settler of Swanport had his house beset by the wild East Mob. The party within were well armed, and maintained the siege with great spirit. One man managed to evade the observation of the leaguers, and set off at full speed to give the alarm at the nearest military post, Pittwater, fifty-four miles off. He was in such a fright, that by the time he reached the town of Sorell his hair had turned completely grey. Assistance was rapidly forwarded, and the siege was raised, though murders in the neighbourhood continued for a long time after. Much discussion ensued as to the reason of this attack by Natives with whom the settler had always been on the most friendly terms, and for whom a number of them had often been employed. As usual, it was set down to the natural devilment of the Blacks, and no means were spared to extirpate them in that part. Some twenty years after this, my informant, who had been previously acquainted with the facts, stopped for the night at a roadside inn. Among the callers was one who, under the excitement of liquor, was detailing some portions of his early history, and especially his exploits with the Black Crows, as he called them. The gentleman took no particular interest in the narrative until he heard particulars of the outrage to which we have just alluded, and the explanation of what had at the time appeared to be so enigmatical as to the attack. According to the testimony of this story-teller, he had been out shooting with his father. Spying a black fellow behind a tree, the young fellow cried out to his father that he had got a capital mark for a shot. The settler reproved the wanton cruelty of his son, and told him to go home. The other resolved, however, not to be cheated out of his sport; so, watching until his parent had retired, he took aim at the inoffensive native and dropped him dead at once. Of course, he never told at the house what he had done. It was only two or three days after that that the attack upon the premises took place, and thus the wicked conduct of the lad had nearly caused the destruction of all the family.
Many narrow escapes are recorded. A stock-rider found himself suddenly beset by a mob in the Abyssinian Marshes. Rising in his stirrups, and setting spurs to his horse, he charged in upon the masses with his formidable weapon, the stock-whip. Loud cries followed his rapidly administered strokes, and the field became his own.
Nothing can be more sickening than the many tales of cruelty to women and children. Thus we read in the Gazette: "The Aborigines plundered the hut on the Lake river of everything in it, and murdered Mary Daniels and her two infants in cold blood." The Rev. J. West tells us of a Mrs. M'Alister, who received a spear wound from the Natives, and hid herself in a corn-field. But, missing her children, she came out crying after them. The savages saw her, came down, and murdered her. Ferguson narrates the story of some constables having protected a farm, and left from a conviction that no Natives were abroad in that locality. No sooner had they gone, than the house was invested and the mistress and her children killed. A similar circumstance occurred in another place, also deserted by some constables who had been keeping guard there. The farmer and his servants were engaged in a field not fifty yards from home when loud cries called them, but too late, to the house of death; for upon their entrance they saw the corpses of the mother and all her children. A friend gave me the following sad story of a settler near Jericho. A number of Natives had for three days been watching for an opportunity of exercising their bloody propensities. At length, the man, unguardedly, left his house without his musket. He was immediately surrounded and murdered. The people then went up to the homestead, and dashed out the brains of the wife and her seven children.
Occasionally they found even females too much for them. Between Lovely Banks and Spring Hill, some forty miles north of Hobart Town, a beautifully wooded region, there dwelt in the olden times a worthy settler upon a moderate-sized farm. Taking advantage of his temporary absence from home with his two men, the ever-watchful Natives descended from the Tiers. The mother was alone with her two children, a boy and a girl. Being washing-day, a large pot or billy of water was suspended from the chimney-hook over the fire. Immediately upon the cry of "the Blacks," they all rushed into the house, but not before the little boy received a severe wound in his leg. Nothing daunted, the family prepared for resistance, knowing if they could hold out for an hour or two the father would return. The poor mother, then within three weeks of her confinement, seized a gun from over the mantelpiece, and fired at the assailants. Then, keeping watch at an opening in the wall, she waited until her suffering boy had charged the weapon, when she again sent its contents among the cowardly band. This was repeated time after time, the brave boy assiduously helping his noble mother, regardless of his own wound.
Thus unexpectedly repulsed, the enemy prepared, another and more dreaded mode of attack. Fiery Wing-wangs, of lighted bark, were hurled against the bark roof of the hut, while, taking advantage of the withdrawal of attention of the inmates, they made a new rush to the door. But here commenced the heroism of the little girl, who, bidding her mother keep to her post, calmly and resolutely took her station by the fireplace, and with her pannikin at the billy steadily threw water upward upon the ignited bark. The mother, in the meanwhile, dealt another and another blow upon the savages. The contest had thus continued for hours, when, to the great joy of the wearied and suffering besieged, the report of guns outside reached their ears. The enemy disappeared, and the fainting wife was soon in the arms of her delivering partner. Governor Arthur was so pleased with the heroism of the woman, that he presented her with a grant of three hundred acres of land, and undertook to provide for the future of the brave boy and girl.
A man who had some forty-five years ago been brick-making for Mr. Robinson, the apostle of the Blacks, and whom I found a dozen years ago still making bricks, though now by the Yarra-Yarra, gave me some incidents of his career in the island over the way. He spoke of a party out kangarooing who came upon a mob rather suddenly. A fine, tall, naked chieftain was shot, and the others fled shrieking over the Fourteen-Tree Plains. A boy and girl, dropped in the flight, were picked up by the pursuers, and afterwards found themselves at the Orphan School, New Town.
An old carter once told me that he was assigned to a person at Flat-top Tier, some twenty miles from Hobart Town. One morning the cook of the hut had gone down to the creek for water, to prepare the supper of the expected shepherds, when the Natives came down from the Tier and speared him. The men returning homeward found their meal unprepared, and the hut vacant. When the body of the murdered man was discovered, they seized their guns and set off in pursuit of the tribe. After a long and vain chase they returned to their quarters, and, to their consternation, found the hut burnt to the ground.
An ex-Bushranger gave me the intelligence that he had been once followed by the Blacks for two or three miles. When out of breath, he halted behind a tree, and presented his gun to keep the others in check. A party of the Ouse Mob burnt down the hut of a shepherd and murdered the owner. They were about to destroy his daughter, when the girl fell upon her knees, and in piteous accents sought their mercy. Their savage hearts were softened, and the orphan was suffered to escape. Captain Gray, of Avoca, as well as many other masters, was often seen standing over his threshing with a loaded musket. Men regularly took out their gums with them when they went to plough, sticking the weapon against some stump in the field.In the primitive days it was the custom for the rations of flour to be kept in an uncovered cask in the hut. Robberies would thus be effected. A shirted black fellow would approach, and smilingly enter upon a jabber with the inmate; all the while seemingly just fingering the flour, while in reality he was quietly conveying it by a rapid and clever movement up his sleeve. The story is told of a certain chief who was rather remorselessly making free with the contents of a barrel, when he suddenly gave a yell, and withdrew his arm minus his hand. The shrewd farmer had planted a strong steel trap in the flour, which had thus seized upon the thief. Years after this man was one of those conveyed to Flinders Island. He never liked an allusion to the playful accident of former years. He was described to me by a Government officer as always keeping the injured arm secreted under his blanket or rug, and as looking uncommonly sulky when asked why he did not eat with that other hand.
Two sawyers were at work in the Bush, having taken their arms with them. The musket of one was beside him; the other had carelessly left it upon a neighbouring log. The watchful Natives observed this carelessness, and managed, under cover of the scrub, to reach the place, and draw away the weapon. Its removal was noticed, and the two men immediately fled. Fortunately, they were able to retreat in safety under the protection of the remaining piece. In the height of the terror no single shepherd, though armed, was allowed to proceed to work. Two flocks were run together under the two shepherds; or, as it was often necessary in disturbed places, two shepherds were in charge of one flock; thus adding to the expense as well as anxiety of the unhappy sheep-master. Repeatedly has the owner gone forth to discover his servant murdered, and his sheep not only scattered but maimed or stolen. Those were not the royal days of squatterdom.
Such incidents remind one strongly of the struggles of the American colonists when they encountered the enmity of the Red Indian. Then the pine forest was cleared by the axe, with the gun slung over the shoulder. The Blockhouse was the village fort, to which in times of pressing emergency the inhabitants retreated from their malignant foe. Every river, hill, and township has its traditionary tale of horrors. For awhile, so imminent was the danger, that hope of permanent settlement of the country was well-nigh abandoned. There too, as in Tasmania, the outrages of the Aborigines could be traced in most cases to the frauds and cruelties practised upon the tribes by unprincipled Whites. There, too, as in the southern isle, indiscriminate attack and slaughter followed the perpetration of crime by the individual. The civilized colonists acted upon the same principle, and dealt wide blows as a return for the faults of the few. The Rev. Samuel Waterhouse found the same practice among the rude and cannibal Fiji islanders. The secret crime of one man is revenged upon the whole tribe. It was so among the New Zealanders. The same law existed among the ancient Israelites, and the English, Scottish, and Irish people. Even now, in too many instances, is society called upon to suffer for the misdemeanour of the individual.
The Martial Law produced no result, except that of satisfying the scruples of some who needed the authority of legality to urge them to action. The "Black War" was then pursued with increased energy.
But while the woods echoed with discharges of musketry against the Natives, many a cry arose from terror-tricken hut-keepers. On the 13th of March, 1829, a Mr. Miller was returning to his homestead on the east bank of the North Esk, when he saw Natives on the farm. He ran to his neighbours for help, and then beheld a scene of horror. One man lay dead twenty yards from the house, while another was found with dislocated neck and with eleven spears in his body. Entering, with unspeakable anxiety, the farmer saw his wife a dreadful object upon the bed, her brains having been dashed out by a waddy blow. Sugar, flour, powder, and clothes had been taken away.
Mr. Lloyd has an anecdote of his uncle, one of the settlers, who had missed a quantity of potatoes from a field. A pursuit was ordered. They took cudgels, whips, or swords, recovered one bag of the roots, and captured a black thief. Putting a rope around his neck, and tugging him well under a tree, as though intending to hang, the gentleman let him go in considerable fright, with a wholesome caution.
The Dog Act, requiring a licence for animals, as they had often proved mischievous to flocks, was at the same time held to be a sore hardship with men in the Bush. One writing to the paper, under the signature of "Hedgestake," asks the editor for counsel under his troubles. To protect his home he got two dogs, for one of which he had paid one pound, and which had twice saved his place from attack and flames. But two constables call, and demand his licence for the faithful brutes. In his isolated position, and very fear of leaving home in such times of danger, he had neglected to procure the desired document. At once, the men of the law shot the dogs, and threatened him with a fine. Then said the poor fellow, "I am a simple man, Mr. Editor, but when I am working five or six hundred yards from my cottage (I dare not be more remote), with my musket beside me, listening with intense anxiety and dread to every sound, no longer relying on the baying of my faithful Barkwell, should the Blacks in consequence succeed in secretly entering my cottage, and murder my wife and children, will these constables be in any measure accessory?" Such a catastrophe did occur in one place. A man, without a dog, had been working on his ground within sight of his hut, when some Blacks came down the hill behind, got in at a window, and murdered the wife and child before the settler knew they were there.
A treacherous act is recorded. An armed man travelling with his wife was met by some Natives. One of the latter sang out, "White man lay down gun, Black man lay down spear." The simple fellow agreed. But while one came up smiling to shake hands, another got behind and felled the Englishman with his waddy. Spears finished him, and the wife was left for dead. Mr. Hobbs' two stockmen were attacked by a large mob on York Plains, on the northern side of the island. For five hours, by shots and a bold front, they kept the foes at bay. But when the long grass was fired by the miscreants, and the wind drove smoke and flame over them, the Bushmen ran for their lives, and did not obtain assistance till half an hour had passed. These, and other convict servants, felt it to be a hard case that they should be thus exposed to continual terror, while protecting the property of the masters to whom they were assigned as little better than slaves, and subject to be severely flogged for any supposed neglect of duty. As one very properly observed, that on being sentenced to transportation, it was not a part of the punishment that they were to be exposed to the chance of being speared by savages.
Within six years, 121 outrages by the Blacks were recorded in Oatlands (central) district alone. Mr. Anstey, P.M. of Oatlands, held twenty-one inquests upon murdered persons between 1827 and 1830. I was informed that there were in the Public Office one thousand pages of MSS. upon these inquests and outrages.
In the meantime parties were nominated for the capture of the Blacks; for the account of which the reader is referred to the next chapter, a continuance of the Black War. Then we read in the annals of 1829 such stories as these: "Nine men taken and three killed, near St. Paul's River;" "Ten men shot and two taken near the Eastern Marshes." A letter from Swanport, in September 1829, says: "Boomer, the black native, having struck the sergeant of the detachment to which he was acting as guide in pursuit of the Aborigines, endeavoured to escape, and received the reward of his treachery and presumption by being shot dead." But from another letter some explanation is given. The man Boomer, or Bruni Island Jack, complained of the treatment his wife received from the soldiers of the party; that is, "was actuated by a strong feeling of jealousy." It is then said that Jack started off from the party, accompanied by his wife. She was retaken. He scorned their invitation, and leaped into the Clyde. Corporal Hares fired, and missed, for the man dived below. But each time the head reappeared on the surface, a shot was ready. The aim was at last fatally successful.
It is very grievous to hear of children suffering. In a valley among the tiers of the central interior, and not far from Jericho, lived a farmer named Hooper, with his wife and seven children. The Blacks, for reasons not explained, waited three days to catch the man away from his house without his gun. When helpless, he was surrounded, and killed. The others then proceeded to the log-hut, and destroyed all its inmates. Another farmer, residing in one of the most secluded parts of the island, called " The Den," had gone into his fields to labour, leaving behind his wife who had recently been delivered of twins. Looking back, he fancied he saw the door of his place opened and shut too quickly. He feared the worst, and ran home. He arrived to find his beloved ones bathed in their blood, by the spear and waddy wounds they had received.
A woman named Walloa, gin to a chief in the north-west, became a terrible foe to the Whites. She had been stolen by a sealer, and learned in the island to use fire-arms. Ultimately she escaped, and returned to her tribe. Her nature was changed by her cruel bondage, and her spirit of contradiction and vehemence made such quarrels among her people, that they permitted another sealer to have her. Again escaping, she raised a band of discontented, or heroic spirits, and led them to every species of outrageous cruelty against the solitary dwellers of huts. She boasted of her bloody work among the "Black Snakes," as she termed her European foes.
As some relief to the darker shades of history, let the following incident be told. A number of Blacks came to a lonely hut, and found no one there but a woman. When they were about to spear her, they were arrested by an aged chief, who noticed the appearance of approaching maternity, and forbade the slaughter of the woman for the sake of her unborn child.
There is a narrative given by Mr. M'Minn at an inquest in 1830, relative to an earlier period, which reveals some colonial practices, and shows the grave obstacles presented in the way of the civilization of the Natives, and the preservation of peace. He deposes: "About forty years ago, a mob of twenty men, women, and children, remained a month, or nearly so, in the Marsh, about a quarter of a mile from Mr. Anstey's house. They had bread given them frequently. McGregor, a sawyer, had frequent intercourse with the gins. He was accused by my fellow-servant of stealing their sugar to bribe the black men to allow their gins to return with him. Frank Allen, one of Mr. Anstey's convict servants, was also suspected, and accused of doing the same I believe no complaints were ever made to Mr. Anstey of their doings. This was the dirtiest, and most diseased body of Natives I ever saw. They followed a party of Mr. Anstey's men, and two or three of the Road-men, to the Bush about five miles off, and robbed the huts of all the blankets and the things therein belonging to Government and to Mr. Anstey. There had been no quarrel between these Blacks and the white men."
A characteristic tale of the times has recently been sent to me by Dr. G. F. Story, of Swanport, an excellent member of the Society of Friends in Tasmania, whose friendship I formed twenty-eight years ago in Hobart Town. He had been giving me an account of some ancient wrongs of the settlers, and appended this narrative to his letter, obtaining his information from the daughter of the gentleman who suffered from the marauding violence of Mosquito's gang, just fifty years ago.
"Having seen to-day," he proceeds, "one of Thomas Buxton's daughters, she has given me a rather different account of the attack by the Natives at Mayfield. The Natives encamped in the morning on the other side of the river, and opposite to Thomas Buxton's hut, built of sods. Some of them came across to the hut and said that all the party were tame Blacks, not wild ones, meaning they were all peaceable. At this time the Natives had learnt to speak English. They asked the Buxtons to come over to their camp, and have 'a yarn.' After dinner two of the daughters took the cows to a marsh a quarter of a mile distant, and from thence saw the Natives showing signs of warfare. Balawinna, the head of the tribe, a tall, strong man, nearly six feet high, was marked with the red ochre. They ran to tell their mother, who immediately called her husband and three other men, who had gone to cut some thatch for a stack of wheat they had just got together (a small, and their only stack, for they had been but a short time there). In the meantime the Natives had crawled up to the hut, and almost stripped it, taking also two guns, the only ones they possessed. The last Native was leaving the hut with a loaf of bread when Thomas Buxton entered, and caught him round the neck, and made him drop the loaf. The other men were speared before they could get to the hut The Natives having taken the plunder to their camp, and knowing there were no more guns, came up boldly again, and one of them was about lighting a stick at a fire that was outside the hut for cooking. But it happened that a pistol was put away by one of the daughters, and this having been loaded T. B. fired at the Black who was going to the fire. Then the Natives took their wounded man away, and tried to throw firesticks at the thatch. But T. B., having cut port-holes in the hut, stationed the children and men at the holes to watch: and when any approached, the pistol was poked out at the hole. When night came the Blacks retired up the creek, and made a fire for the night. T. B. despatched a man to Waterloo Point for help, and George Meredith, jun. and some men came before morning. In the morning the Natives came again; and one with a firestick fixed to his spear came to the hut, and threw it on the stack of wheat. When those in the hut saw what the Blacks had done, they rushed out with their guns. The Natives, seeing the men with guns, immediately made off. The wheat was saved. At night the fire of the Natives was seen up the creek, and the party going to it, killed several of the Blacks, and recovered some of the plunder."
Dr. Story's own of a tree that had fallen, and commenced lopping off the branches to burn up the trunk. Whilst thus engaged, one of them [Jones] looked up, and to his dismay saw the Blacks approaching, and one even handling the guns. He called out to his companions, threw his axe at a Black that was approaching him, and fled. Now the piece of land they were working on was thick with trees. There was a lagoon betwixt it and the sea-beach, and a creek on either side. On the north side the men's hut stood. Jones, in running away, received some spears into his body, which he managed to extract, and crossed the lagoon; as did also Rogers, who was also speared. The other man, Flack, jumped over the north creek, and escaped unhurt, though very much frightened. The Blacks, not liking to cross the lagoon, had to go round it. Jones got away from them by this means, but Rogers was followed by one more persevering than the rest on to the sea-beach, Rogers keeping close to the surf, while the Black ran alongside, every now and then throwing his waddy at him. But Rogers, being a London lad, dexterously dodged his head, and the waddy went into the water. Thus they went on until, at the end of the beach, the Black became exhausted and gave up the pursuit. Jones by this time had got some distance on his road to Waterloo Point, when he met his master coming as usual to see after the workmen; and addressed him with, 'Oh, Master ! make haste and get back! The Blacks are after us. They have killed Rogers.' Francis Cotton immediately turned, and reported it to the Commandant, and the military and constables were sent to the spot. But although I was with the sergeant, the first to arrive, there was not a trace of them could be seen. They had stripped the hut of everything, and taken away two kangaroo dogs. One of these dogs returned after two or three days, badly wounded with spears. The other we supposed they had kept, as he was of a milder disposition. However it may have been, we never saw him again. The two men were ill some time with their wounds.is related thus: "We commenced settling at Kelvedon in 1829; Francis Cotton, his family, and myself living at Waterloo Point, the military station, until a hut should be built and some land cleared. Three men were employed in clearing a piece of land for the garden and homestead, living in a hut on the creek side. Whilst at breakfast one morning they observed the bullocks come running to the hut, as if something had frightened them; but, not thinking of the Natives, took no further notice of it. [Domestic animals were terrified at the Blacks.] The men went as usual to their work, taking with them their guns, and placing them at the butt
"The inhabitants were kept in constant alarm by the repeated attacks of the Blacks, which called forth the sympathies of the Lieutenant-Governor, Colonel Arthur, yet no means could be devised to rid the country of such a fearful scouige. They had a great antipathy to the Redcoats; and no soldier, when sent on escort, or other duty, was allowed to go alone, never less than two were sent together. For the protection of the inhabitants several stations were formed, where two or more soldiers were placed. A soldier at one of these stations, called Boomer Creek, was sitting amongst some young wattles, peeling the twigs for a bird cage, when the Natives stole upon and beat him to death with their waddies. Two sawyers were at work on their pit near Mayfield House, when the Blacks came upon them. They, however, escaped to the house; but one was so terrified that he fell into a fever, and died. So great a terror did they strike into the Europeans, that, notwithstanding their physical superiority, they were unable, through fear, to defend themselves."
One of the most charming retreats known to me in Tasmania is on the banks of the Clyde. Mr. Glover, the distinguished artist, has left us some sketches of this romantic part of the interior. Twelve years before my visit to the beautiful home of Mr. Sherwin, the Natives had attacked the homestead of that gentleman. The outbuildings, and even the house itself, were fired by the tribe. While the farm-servants were busy in moving the flour from the burning store, the shrewd Blacks set fire to a neighbouring fence, by way of distracting the attention of the servants, and giving themselves easier access to the great object of attack,—the flour-bag. As usual, they did not remain to fight. They fired the premises, less as a measure of offence, than as a means of securing plunder. This partially secured, the band hastily retreated to the forest, and the unhappy settler mourned the loss of his property.
So bold an outrage excited the fears of the colonists, and increased that sense of insecurity which troubled every Bush household. The pen of the ready writer, the Governor, was instantly put in motion, and the following Order appeared in the Gazette, February 25th, 1830. After a detail of the circumstances on the Clyde, His Excellency assured his people that such outrages
"The parties employed in aid of the police will be augmented, and in order to stimulate them to increased activity the Lieutenant-Governor has directed that a reward of five pounds shall be given for every
"It surely is not too much to expect, that in every district the most respectable inhabitants will forthwith confer together upon the measures most desirable for their common security, and that they will act up to them with vigour and perseverance.
"His Excellency will, within a limited period, make a tour through the districts, to ascertain personally the individual effort which is made to give full effect to the measures which he now expects to be universally adopted.
"The repeated orders which have been put forth by this Government must convey the idea out of the colony that there exists a horde of savages in Van Diemen's Land, whose prowess is equal to their revengeful feelings, whereas every settler must be conscious that his foe consists of an inconsiderable number of a very feeble race, not possessing physical strength, and quite undistinguishable by personal courage, but who are undoubtedly more and more formidable from the success which has hitherto attended their unexpected and sudden attacks upon unarmed persons, almost defenceless.
"The Lieutenant-Governor feels assured that it is not necessary to repeat the strong injunction which the Government has invariably pressed upon the community generally, as well as upon the parties employed, more particularly, that every degree of humanity should be exercised toward the aboriginal natives, which is consistent with the overruling necessity of expelling them from the settled districts.
"By His Excellency's command,
There was much mystery in the case. Mr. McGeary, the best linguist among the roving parties after the Aborigines, protested that the crime was never committed by the three men, but by some of the supposed friendly Sorell tribe on the occasion of a quarrel. A letter from Launceston appeared in the paper of September 14th, giving the story of a native woman. She stated that both were armed, and were accompanied by some decoy females, for the capture of some Blacks. The rest is told in her own words: "White man and black man fight—white man kill black man—black man kill white man." Strange to say, the three supposed murderers were merely sent to Flinders Island, where they roamed freely with the other Aborigines.
One of the most stirring incidents in the history of the war is given in an official communication to the Colonial Secretary, dated August 25th, 1831, by Captain Moriarty, so well known and respected afterwards in the port of Hobart Town. It narrates the circumstances attending an attack upon an isolated homestead, and exhibits the heroism of a half-cast, Dalrymple Briggs. She was so named from being born at Port Dalrymple, and was the first of her race on the northern side. She had married a settler in the interior, and, in her contention with the Natives, forgot the blood of her own race, in her feelings as a wife and a mother. For six long hours did she sustain a siege, and nobly did she defend her position. It is customary for the historian to describe the strength of the beleaguered place, when detailing a succession of assaults. Our heroine fought behind no granite wall, nor was she shielded by a bomb-proof roof. Her castle was a simple slab hut; though the bark roof, fortunately for her, had been covered with a thick coating of mud and lime to keep out the weather. The story will be better told in the Captain's words:—
"There was no person in the hut, when the Natives first appeared, but a woman named Dalrymple Briggs, with her two female children, who, hearing some little noise outside, sent the elder child to see what was the matter, and hearing her shriek went out with a musket. On reaching the door, she found the poor child had been speared. The spear entered close up in the inner part of the thigh, and had been driven so far through as to create a momentary difficulty in securing the child from its catching against either door-post. Having effected this object, she barricaded the door and windows, and availed herself of every opportunity to fire at the assailants, but—as they kept very close either to the chimney, or the stumps around the hut, and she had nothing but duck shot—with little effect, though she imagines she hit one of them. Their plan was evidently to pull down the chimney, and thus effect an entrance; but they were intimidated by her resolution. Finding this fail, they went off, and returned in about an hour. This interval had been employed by them in procuring materials and forming faggots, which, on their return, they kept lighting and throwing on the roof (to windward), with a view to burn her out. She, however, shook them off as fast as they threw them on, and maintained her position with admirable composure, till the return of Thomas Johnson, the stock-keeper, pointed out to them the necessity of a retreat."
So noble a defence called forth the warmest expressions of applause. The Governor was not the last to acknowledge her heroic conduct.
There is a story told, in connexion with the early American settlements, of a man whose house had been attacked by Indians during his absence, and who returned to find the ghastly remains of his wife and children amidst the smouldering embers of his hut. It was said that the man there and then solemnly devoted the rest of his life to revenge. Alone, he followed the trail of the savages. In silence he pursued the murderers of his family. Feverish with excitement, worn by fatigue, ill through exposure, he still went on, year after year, dealing a sure but stealthy blow upon any of the copper-coloured tribes. All attempts to divert his purpose were unavailing. He visited the settlements but to gain a fresh supply of ammunition. He said nothing of his exploits, though the Border rang with his deeds; and the Indians whispered low, as they spoke of the White-hairs sheltered by the Manitou from their scalping-knives. Something similar might be told of some in Van Diemen's Land, who had lost kindred by attack, and who, vowing vengeance against the whole race of Natives, were unsatiated by slaughter, and unrelenting in revenge.
One of the fortunate few who escaped from Macquarie Harbour, and eventually reached an asylum in the Backwoods of America, tells us in his autobiography of a desperate struggle with the Natives in 1826. He was engaged as one of the convict crew of a small coaster, carrying round a party of ladies and gentlemen to the east coast. Landing for the night on East Bay Neck, a notable place for depredations at that period, he heard the stealthy approach of the bloodthirsty tribe, when his companions were asleep. Arousing the crew, and putting them upon their guard, he permitted the band of some forty marauders to near the fire, when, at a signal from him, a general discharge of muskets took place, which strewed the ground with dead and dying. Dreading a renewal of the attack, the gentlemen proceeded to spread themselves among the trees of the forest, and kept up an irregular fire to distract the attention of their enemies. Despatched upon a mission to the tent, wherein the ladies were staying for the night, the narrator of the story narrowly escaped a spear thrown at his crouching form. Fearful of exciting unnecessary alarm by firing at his adversary, he secreted himself till he came nearer. The attack is thus described: "I waited till he was within arm's length of me. In an instant our eyes met—his spear was uplifted. Another moment brought me to my feet, the tomahawk grasped firmly in my right hand. His look, as far as I could ascertain, was wild and ferocious, but I stood calm and collected. His eyes gave no evidence of fear, for they appeared like balls of fire. His raised spear descended first, but, happily for me, its point struck the steel buckle of my belt, opposite my breast. In the next instant, the tomahawk whirled round his head, and fell with a force which a head thicker than that of a savage could not resist, and, without a sigh, he fell dead to the ground."It was lucky for one poor fellow that the Natives enjoy a sense of the ridiculous. A shepherd of Jerusalem—which lies in a carboniferous region, with the greenstone covering the coal, and not far from Jericho and the River Jordan—being oppressed with the indolence of his occupation, and the heat of the day, placed his gun against a tree and fell asleep. Some Blacks came softly round, took away the weapon, and, with a loud simultaneous shout, startled the Bushman from his dreams. He jumped up in a great fright, saw the Natives around, missed his gun, and stared in such indescribable confusion, that the risible faculties of the robbers were much excited; and so, after a hearty laugh at their intended victim, they permitted him to leave in safety.
In one of the most charming spots of Bagdad—the seat of an ancient overflow of basalt on the palæozoic floor, and, therefore, a fertile district now—was a farm belonging to Mr. Espie. One day the tribe attacked the overseer, a man of energy and tact. Quickly closing the door, and shouting loudly, he brought down one marauder with a shot. Then through holes in the slab sides of the hut he continued to fire, calling out in simulated voices, as if several were with him, and more than once letting part of his body be seen with a changed coat or cap, to impress the enemy with a sense of his strength of support. The ruse succeeded, and the discomfited warriors departed. Waiting a while, he opened his door, and saw the coast clear. He picked up the dead body which was left, and stuck it up in the hollow of a tree, with a spear in the chin to keep it upright. Years after, when Mr. Robinson was bringing some of his voluntary captives to the town, the skeleton in its hideous position was observed, and the leader, to the great satisfaction of his wild followers, took it down, and decently buried it. The disappointed foes, on leaving the overseer, had set fire to a store-hut on the farm, and destroyed a ton of flour, a thousand skins, and a quantity of butter.
Old George, whom I saw at Casterton, on the beautiful banks of the Glenelg of Victoria, is my informant for a story. In 1821 the Blacks in his neighbourhood, beyond the Norfolk Plains of the expatriated Norfolk Islanders, were very quiet and harmless. But a new overseer arriving at the station, a pretty gin was demanded. The chief, her husband, expostulated with the Englishman, but was brutally knocked down with the butt-end of a musket, and the tribe were forcibly driven off. "From that time," said George, "they became regular tigers, and speared right and left."
Three soldiers went out from their station at Fingal to spend the day kangarooing. They had only their dogs with them. Engaged in their sport, they all at once beheld an armed tribe stealthily surrounding them. Off they started, terror lending wings to flight, hotly pursued by the yelling spearsmen, who gave them a twelve miles' chase to their barracks.
Plunder was the primary object of attack. But many a hut was stripped by convict servants and others, and the offence charged upon the Aborigines. Mr. John Batman relates several instances of unfounded accusations. A letter from Ben Lomond, also, says: "The report in the Colonial Times respecting the Natives plundering Mr. Bostock's shepherd is entirely false; and I am sorry to say similar falsehoods are daily spread, which oftentimes leads the parties astray who are in pursuit of the Blacks. Not a Black has been seen in these parts for two months past."
An old settler of the interior once told me that he had been confined to his bed with a splinter in his foot. Hearing Natives coo-ey, he sent a lad to reconnoitre, with injunctions to return, and not to call out. The lad was terrified, and hid himself. Johnstone got up, and looked out upon the advancing party. Forgetting his lameness, he rushed out and ran four miles off to Salt Pan Plains to where a shepherd kept a flock. The splinter came up through his foot with the violence of his running, but without his consciousness. Another informed me that he escaped through wearing an old shirt His hut had been fired, and, as he tried to escape, he was seized by his shirt sleeve. The piece gave away, and he managed to get clear off.
A fine hill rises suddenly from the plain at the junction of the Blackman and Macquarie rivers, and goes by the name of Don's Battery. A man, called Don, being chased by some Natives, reached this rampart, and from its top defended himself for hours with such courage and success, that the wearied attacking mob left him the victor.
The most remarkable circumstance connected with the Black War is this, that, though the native women had been so cruelly treated by the Whites, the male Aborigines, though ready to inflict death by the spear, singularly enough abstained from outrages upon the persons of our females. A good authority has distinctly stated, "In all the incursions made by the Blacks into the settlements, it has never been known that a single white woman has hem violated by any of them." The only approach to this crime has been made by the half-civilized Natives, who invariably became the greatest ruffians in the war. It would seem that not until they became acquainted with the usages of Christians in warfare, could they be guilty of the atrocities that have stained the arms of Europe even in Christian lands themselves. The horrors of the Peninsular and Thirty Years' wars were heightened by this dreadful addition to the sufferings of women.
Spear-wounds, inflicted by a sharpened point of wood, were far from being so severe as others, and in most cases, when not mortal, rapidly healed. The stick could be often withdrawn without the fatal consequences of the removal of the javelin from the breast of Epaminondas. Marvellous stories are given of the recovery of men left for dead, when transfixed by several spears. A Mrs. Cunningham was in her garden when a spear was thrown at her, which pierced her back. Catching up her child, she fled towards the house, but received another spear. A native came up and struck her down with a blow of his waddy, just as another spear was thrust into her body. She drew herself over her child, and in her senseless state had other spears thrust into her before the people left her for dead. Recovering consciousness, she was able to drag herself and her child to the house of a neighbour, and lived till the next morning.
Near the banks of the classic Isis, and within view of the snow-clad Ben Lomond, stood Elenthorpe Hall, the Ladies' Boarding School of the period, and conducted by Mr. and Mrs. G. C. Clark. Being situated in a lonely place, about half-way from Hobart Town to Launceston, some alarm was experienced by parents at a distance, lest their daughters should be forcibly carried off by the Bush warriors. As a means of protection, a military station was formed in its neighbourhood, so that Venus could be shielded by Mars.
When I stood at the head of the Jordan, near Jericho, which was then particularly infested with thieves,—for a probation party of several hundreds then occupied a position in that bleak retreat,—I heard a series of bloody tales from Mr. Salmon of that district. It was there, near Lemon's Lagoon, so called from a celebrated Bushranger, that Mrs. Gough, her child, and Ann Geary were killed. The Quoin and the lofty Table Mountain there were favourite haunts of the Natives, from which they made their descents upon stray colonists. A poor Jew lad had been betrayed into some liaison with a gin there, and was subsequently killed by the men. When his corpse was recovered, it was found horribly mutilated by the jealous people of the tribe; a portion of the body being found thrust into the mouth of the corpse. It was at no great distance that Mr. Jones, concerning whom a previous narrative has been given, became the subject of another attack, which is thus described by himself at the inquest before Mr. Anstey, P.M. of Oatlands:—
"In November, 1826, I was attacked by a numerous tribe of Aborigines at my residence at Pleasant Place, in the parish of Rutland, in the county of Monmouth. On Thursday evening I left my wife and family at home, proceeding myself in search of some sheep, and returned about ten o'clock of the forenoon. I had scarcely entered my dwelling when my little boy came in crying that the Blacks were about; I seized my musket and went out, and saw two. I pursued them; when I got half-way to the tier, I saw about twenty Natives in ambush amongst some wattle trees. My wife was at the time standing at my door, with a loaded pistol in her hand, and called to me to come down, which I did. The Natives followed, swearing at me in good English. They now extended themselves, and as the trees were at that time standing close to the house, they singly skulked behind them. I was on the alert, for I observed one man on one side, and another one on the other side, with lighted bark in their hands; the women and children were up in the tier. I was much perplexed, for I was obliged constantly to run forwards and backwards. The centre of them worked down when they saw an opportunity.
"It had been a high flood the day before, and the water had scarcely left the marshes, so we were hemmed in on all sides, the river behind and the Blacks before us. Mrs. Jones had several times prevented the men from coming to the house by presenting her pistol at them, which so exasperated them that he who was taller than the rest, and seemed to be their chief, exclaimed in a great passion, in English, 'As for you, ma-am—as for you, ma-am, I will put you in the b——y river, ma-am;' and then he cut a number of capers. We had then with us a courageous and faithful little girl, who proposed to go upon a scrubby hill, about a mile distant, to tell the sawyers who were at work there, the dangers to which we were exposed; but we could not allow it, fearing she would be speared; it appeared afterwards that she had crawled along the fences, and succeeded in getting up to the sawyers. Guessing that she had proceeded thither, in about half an hour after we coo-eed, and were speedily answered by the men. The native women on the tier gave out signal, and the Blacks all fled. We pursued them, and I got very close to one, when he stooped under the boughs of a fallen tree, and I could see no more of him. We came up to a spot where we found a fire, with some kangaroo half roasted. We then observed the Blacks ascending the second tier, and we quitted further pursuit, as it would not have been safe to leave the house and family unprotected. This engagement with the Natives lasted about four hours."
It must, however, be borne in mind, that a Guerilla warfare, which was dignified in Spain against the French, heroic against the Persians in Greece, and patriotic in the Tyrolese against Napoleon, was regarded in Van Diemen's Land as the blind fury of a nest of savages! Not so thought an old convict servant-man of mine, who, speaking of the bold deeds of the Ouse tribe, said, "They fought well. I admire their pluck. They knew they were the weaker, but they felt they were the injured, and they sought revenge against many odds, they were brave fellows. I'd have done the same." One tribe, that was once known to possess three hundred fighting men, was reduced in ten years to twenty-two.
There was little quarter on either side. The old writer Underhill, meeting the objections of timid or gentle persons against the Indian warfare, answers thus: "It may be demanded, Why should you be so furious? Should not Christians have more mercy and compassion? But I would refer you to David's war. When a people is grown to such a height of blood, and sins against God and man, and all confederates in the action, then he hath no respect to persons, but harrows them and saws them, and puts them to the sword, and the most terrible death that may be."
But we must really acquit the rough, convict Bushmen of Van Diemen's Land of being influenced by any of the pious sentiments governing the opinions, and hardening the hearts, of these citers of Old Testament history.
A Dutch historian of New Amsterdam, afterwards the New York of the United States, explains a colonial native difficulty: "In 1642, some Dutch traders, having sagaciously contrived to get an Indian drunk, robbed him of his valuable dress of beaver skins. In vengeance for this injury, the warriors killed two white men." A barbarous war was the result. But some hundreds fled to a tribe near the settlement of New Amsterdam. The governor, Kieft, would not rest. "A band of soldiers and colonists was despatched on the horrid errand: the unsuspecting savages were surprised in their sleep, and more than one hundred of them were massacred in cold blood. The Indians living on the Hudson rose to revenge this cruel treachery, and were joined by the tribes of Long Island. A confederacy of eleven clans, numbering more than fifteen hundred warriors, was formed, and a furious war blazed wherever a Dutch settlement was to be found."
A little substitution of names would make this the record of the "Black War" of Van Diemen's Land.
The year 1831 presented appalling scenes before the colonists. Outrages were still in the ascendant. The exasperated Aborigines saw no hope before them, and seemed resolved to die as warriors that, in defending their land, were resolved to do the enemy as much mischief as possible. They seemed ubiquitous, from the rapidity of their march. The sky was illuminated by fires in various quarters. Spears were thrown here and there with such terrible energy, as apparently to multiply the forces of the Natives, and keep the country settlers in constant and harassing watchfulness. About one hundred and fifty men alone were sufficient to excite such alarm in the breasts of the members of a flourishing British colony.
The time of terror was well described to me by a colonist, who bore a trying part in the events of that period: "Thus they continued menacing the settlers," wrote he, "and murdering those that were found alone and unprotected; so that it was unsafe for a person to travel alone and without a gun, and the mind had to be made up beforehand as to which was the nearest house to run to, in case he was beset by the Blacks. He must not fire his gun, but keep them at bay by pointing it at them, for they had learnt that what they thought would go 'Pop, pop, pop,' would only pop once; and this being over, they would rush upon the unfortunate, and soon despatch him with their spears and waddies."
A similar state of fear among the North American settlers is related by Washington Irving, in these words: "It was a sleepless night in Winchester. Horror increased with the dawn: before the men could be paraded, a second messenger arrived, ten times more terrified than the former. The Indians were within four miles of the town, killing and destroying all before them. He had heard the constant firing of the savages, and the shrieks of their victims. The terror of Winchester now passed all bounds. Washington put himself at the head of about forty men, militia and recruits, and pushed for the scene of carnage. The result is almost too ludicrous for record. The whole cause of the alarm proved to be three drunken troopers, carousing, hallooing, uttering the most unheard-of imprecations, and ever and anon firing off their pistols. The reported attack on the house of Isaac Julian proved equally an absurd exaggeration. The ferocious party of Indians turned out to be a Mulatto and a Negro in quest of cattle. They had been seen by a child of Julian, who alarmed his father, who alarmed the neighbourhood."
But while several of the alarms of the settlers of Van Diemen's Land were quite as senseless and ridiculous, there were real occasions for anxiety. The travelling postman in the month of November was met by five Natives, who sent a spear through his jacket. Bother Tom's hut was attacked in Bother Tom's Marsh, and a man speared while feeding pigs. On the 8th of June, a number robbed a hut on the Macquarie, wounded a woman, and beat to death a young woman of sixteen years, who was carrying a child at her breast. Fifty confronted four stout stock-keepers near Lake Echo, but had to fly off with decreased force. A shepherd, when milking a cow, had his head broken by waddies. One person recommended settlers to raise a parapet on their walls, behind which they could fire. Another suggested an improvement on this scheme,—that each house should have a trap-door in the roof, so that the females might thence escape to the top.There was reasonable cause for uneasiness in the minds of out-station settlers. One, writing from the Shannon, March 8, 1831, says: "The whole of the inhabitants of this district have been thrown into the greatest alarm, in consequence of the repeated incursions of the aboriginal tribes. Neither barn nor dwelling-house is safe from their attacks. No person dare go any distance from his home without arms and his faithful companion the dog, the latter to give notice of the approach of the savages."