Page:Australia an appeal.djvu/61

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The personal appearance of the Aboriginal inhabitants furnishes conclusive evidence that, though a precarious supply of food may at times be accompanied with inconvenience, occasional inanition is far less injurious to health than the constant repletion of a richly furnished table, which never fails to draw after it in its train of consequences the attendance Of the physician and the apothecary. So equally does the Deity, holding human contrivances in derision, distribute human happiness to civilized and to savage.

It is not a little surprising that a people so unceremonious in the articles of their food, should have a greater horror of the dog fish than that entertained even by Europeans. Such a coincidence in the antipathies of nations so wide apart and in other respects so dissimilar, is remarkable; and, in whatever it may have originated, proves that the aversion is ancient and universal,

The rivers of Derbal are, in many places, easily forded; and, abounding with large and wadable estuaries, in which the finny tribes of the deep sport in myriads, are admirably adapted to spear fishing. Hence, there being few islands on the Coast, the Derbalese have not the least inducement to attempt navigation. Even swimming is unknown among them. They have been seen to paddle themselves across deep water with their hands, where the distance from bank to bank was short; but of the art of swimming they are entirely ignorant.

It is therefore not to be wondered at if a people, whose mode of life is so simple, and whose wants are so few and so easily supplied, should be found destitute of mechanical knowledge. Where one accustomed to the luxuries of life, could not contrive to live a day, nature, at the mandate of Him whose providence watches over every branch of the human family, brings forth annually for these inhabitants of the woods an abundant supply. Never Were the words of the poet more strikingly exemplified:

Man wants but little here below;
Nor wants that little long.

The apparent absence of ingenuity in these people, is therefore evidently occasioned by the nature of the country, the climate, and their mode of living; and is not to be attributed to any defect, physical, mental, or moral, in their constitution. But if we do not find in Derbal the halls of the Celtic and Gothic nations, in which the shell of joy circulated, or the high mounted car in which they rushed to battle, in other respects they greatly resemble those nations, particularly the ancient Caledonians. Like them, they are formed into distinct tribes who have their particular districts and whose chiefs have but