Page:Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Volume 1 (2nd edition).djvu/62

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42
Description of the Natives of King George's Sound

They have probably many other remedies, for they seem partial to medicines, and will swallow the most nauseous dose to the dregs. The complaints to which they are most subject are those arising from cold, sore throat, and bowel complaints, which are frequently terminated by death, particularly with children.

A young man, standing one day by my fire apparently in good health, fell suddenly on his face senseless, with convulsive twitchings of the face, neck, and arms. I raised him up, and after a few minutes he recovered, and requested I would give him medicine. He told me that such attacks were not uncommon, and wished much to know if we were subject to them. I have seen very few cases of eruptions or boils. Instances of deafness and blindness sometimes occur, but are not common. On the whole they appear to have few ailments. The practice of the mulgarradocks is principally confined to the cure of spear wounds, to which, indeed, comparatively little attention is paid by them. They are very skilful in extracting the weapon, after which they apply a little dust, similar to what is used for pigment, and then bind the wound up tightly with soft bark. In the diet of the sick, however, they are very particular, and the stages of convalescence are marked by the food which they are permitted to eat. At first, roots only are allowed, afterwards lizards, then fish, &c. No cases of deformity have been observed amongst them. Fainting occasions no alarm. They once saw some of our people in a state of inebriety, one of them quite unable to stand; upon which they came to me in great alarm, under strong apprehension that he would certainly die before the following day; adding that black men were sometimes taken so and died. I endeavoured to ascertain the nature of the disease, and think they must have meant a coup de soleil.

The treatment they adopt for the bite of a snake is simple and rational. They tie a ligature of rushes above the part, enlarge the wound with the claw of the kangaroo or the point of a spear, and then suck it, washing it and their mouths frequently with water. Where water cannot be procured, it is considered dangerous to suck the wound. One of the natives (Wannua) was bitten on the finger, and lay ill for a day or two, and some time afterwards appeared thin and unhealthy.

With respect to the divisions and subdivisions of tribes, there exists so much intricacy, that it will be long before it can be understood. The classes Erniung and Tem are universal near the Sound; but the distinctions are general, not tribual. Another division, almost as general, is into Moncalom and Torndirrup; yet there are a few who are neither. These can scarcely be distinguished as tribes, and are very much intermingled. The Moncalon, however, is more prevalent to the eastward of our establishment,