Page:Australia an appeal.djvu/51

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.



Sir—Those who are inimical to the moral and religious improvement of the native tribes, have opened their first line of batteries upon me. Yet their fire is so feeble that it would not be worth returning, were it not for the consideration that the best of causes, undefended, may suffer in the minds of the ignorant and unreflecting. In the estimation of the multitude, silence is defeat.

Your correspondent conceives that the way to obtain a correct view of the character of the Aboriginal inhabitants in private life, is, to pass by all that is to be admired in their disposition, all that's commendable in their conduct, and to fix our eyes upon their vices only. What would the colonists say—what would the world think—were he to refer us to the calendar of Newgate for the real character of the British people!

In public life, he severely censures their demonstrations of hostility. Would he then have us to take the character of the nations of Europe from the acts of an infuriated soldiery in the heat of a military contest? He forgets that we have provoked these people to hostilities. Taking possession of the country, and also destroying the fish and the game, we leave them no alternative but to resist or to perish.

But he complains of their mode of warfare. Did he never hear of the stratagems of war—a branch of military tactics justified by ancients and moderns, and practised by civilised as well as savage nations. Had he been a Dane, in days that are gone, he would have complained bitterly of the ferocity of the British when resisting Danish invasion; and Alfred, at one time hiding himself in a marsh, and at another entering the enemy's camp in disguise, would have been pronounced by the enemies of the Derbalese, a cunning and cowardly savage. Such, according to their mode of reasoning, would have been the character of a prince justly and universally admired—a pattern of every virtue, moral and military—an example to kings and a model to Christians.

Is it not amusing to hear the invaders of a country complaining of the manner in which the inhabitants attack their enemies and defend themselves? The guerilla war, in which Spain repelled the invader of her throne, was lauded from one extremity of Europe to another.

I allow, not however in the sense of your correspondent,that some of the natives may at times be guilty of theft. A people who know not what private property means, are in this respect, like children. Having neither barn house nor store, and living as the fowls of heaven do, to help themselves to food, wherever they find it, is to them as natural as to drink at the brook and to breathe the air; and to take their lives for so doing, without any attempt to instruct them in the moral impropriety of the act, is just about as rational as it would be to put children to death for fancying