Page:Australia an appeal.djvu/35

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attempted to soothe and pacify their victors, by singing a few stanzas of poetry. This brought to my mind the case of the Athenians, many of whom saved their lives, after the terrible affair of the Asinarius, in the contest between them and the Lacedemonians for the ascendant in Sicily, by reciting some of the verses of Euripides; and also that of the Jewish captives who, when the Babylonians desired them to sing, hung their harps on the willows and made that affecting, reply: "How can we sing the songs of Zion in a strange land."

I saw, I felt, that a crisis had arrived, and that if the government carried into effect their intention of putting these men to death, it would lay the foundation of interminable hostilities. There was not a moment to be lost, I stepped up to the Honorable ——— ———, a member of Council, and said; "The putting of these chief's to death, will be attended with fearful consequences. Nor is there any thing to justify sanguinary proceedings. The necessity of hostilities might be altogether prevented, if we only knew the language of the Aboriginal inhabitants. Can I have access to the prisoners? What do intend to do with them prior to the doom that awaits them?" The answer was: "We intend to send them to jail." I said, "I will go to jail with them." He replied: "You may, if you can get a magistrate to commit you. Turning to the Honorable W. H. Mackie and Captain[1] Irwin the Lieutenant-Governor, men of very different sentiments and feelings, I said: "Refrain from an act that is as impolitic as it is unjust and cruel. Give me the lives of these men—let mine answer for them—and let me have access to them, that I may acquire a knowledge of their language and prevent that frightful state of things in which the deliberate shedding of blood will involve the settlement." After talking for a moment together, Mr. Mackie turned to me and said: "Your request is granted. The prisoners will be sent to the island of Carnac. Thither you may accompany them; and there prosecute the object you have in view." The-Lieutenant Governor, then, to show the cordial manner in which they entered into my views, said: "Come and take tea with me to-morrow evening that we may have some conversation on the subject."

I arranged, or rather abandoned my own affairs to their fate, and in a few days gave notice that I was ready. Lieutenant Dale, the aid-de-camp, was ordered with a guard of soldiers to accompany me and the prisoners to Carnac, a barren rock, perhaps 600 yards long by 200 in width, between Garden Island and Rotnest, and about eight or ten miles from the main.

On a Monday morning about the beginning of October, we

  1. Now Major.