Page:Australia an appeal.djvu/50

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their hands.[1] Taking advantage of this feeling, and alarmed at the appearance of a better one beginning to spring up, it was determined, by those who ought to have acted a different part, to embody all that could be said against them in an article which was published in The Gazette. So miserable, however, was this attempt, that the Editor himself candidly acknowledged that the writer by no means handled the subject with the ability which it required. They were described as being ferocious, cunning, cowardly, dishonest, contemptible, and destitute of every virtue, moral or military, that could command esteem. To these misrepresentations the following reply was sent; but the Editor refused to publish it, being, as is supposed, forbidden by authority.

  1. Walking from Perth to Fremantle once, on descending an elevation into an open valley near the sea-beech, I beheld two lawyers apparently wrestling with a grass tree. My surprise was excited. As I approached, I perceived that they were trying to uproot and throw it down. This not being an action of trover but one of assault, and seeing the harmless tree exposed to the vengeance of the law, I was induced to inquire what offence it had committed? They informed me that, mistaking it for a native, it had more than once dreadfully frightened them, and that they were determined it should, never do so again. These redoubted champions of the oppressed and the oppressor, so bold amidst courts and clients, were terrified at the very idea of meeting an Aborigine.

    The following account, so illustrative of the feeling which pervaded the settlement from its commencement, is from the journal of the leader of a party upon an exploring tour in his own words.

    "At midnight we were aroused by the most alarming cries —'The natives, the natives are among us!' I started up, and saw a dark shadow passing swiftly near me. All were now awake, and running against each other, scarcely comprehending the cause of the alarm or the extent of the danger; but adding their shouts to the general uproar. A voice, low cried, 'I have him: I've got him fast.' Where? where? Blood an' oons, where?' cried another close beside me, on his knees, with his gun pointed from his shoulder,—we had overturned each other. The intimation of a capture implying the certainty of an enemy in the camp, added to our confusion; figures were seen running to and fro—who could know in the dark where to retreat? or whether the spear would strike in front or in rear?—'twas dreadful! Pinjara and blood-thirsty retaliation, were in our minds. The fire at length brightened a little, and showed the position of the party—some were on the ground, dead or dying, perhaps—one was roaring dreadfully. To our inexpressible delight, we got together unhurt, and no strangers were seen. 'But where is the captured native!' we all cried. It proved to be only a grass tree, closely hugged by one of the party. A dream had caused the whole alarm; and the sharp shrubs around accounted for the fancied pricking of the spears."