When a man is killed, his tribe instantly sets about revenging his death; but they are not particular whether they kill the principal offender or any other of his tribe. This feeling of retaliation is, however, extended much farther, for if a man be killed by accident, by falling from a tree, drowned in the sea, or any other way, the friends of the deceased will impute his death to some mulgarradock of an adverse tribe, and kill an individual belonging to it in retaliation. Also, when a man is seriously ill, and fancies he shall not recover, he will attempt to kill somebody, in hopes thereby of recovering.
In their personal conflicts they use their hammers, throwing-sticks and towks to strike with, and the blows therewith inflicted would doubtless frequently be fatal; but they seem incapable of giving a heavy blow, and strike more like women. They do not use shields, but are extremely dexterous in avoiding the spear.
Their quarrels most frequently arise about their women. For depredations on each other’s ground, or any slight cause, they are contented with spearing through the legs or thighs, and do not attempt to kill each other; and the moment one of the party is wounded, the engagement ceases.
In some parts of Australia they have regular war meetings for the purpose of fighting, but this is not the case at King George’s Sound. Their attacks, when intended to be fatal, are most frequently made at night, and always by stealth. We have more than once witnessed their common rencontres. As soon as the enemy is seen approaching, a shout or scream is set up, and all hasten, armed with their spears, to the spot, approaching them with loud noise, thrusting their beards in their mouths, and making the most hideous grimaces, so that they look as if they were frantic. It seldom happens that more than one or two of each party engages; and during the conflict, the rest frequently endeavour to separate the combatants, so that there is much running about. They throw their spears, standing only a few paces from each other; and their dexterity in avoiding them is really wonderful, although they seldom move from the spot, so that many spears are frequently thrown before one of either party is injured.
During the time of war they either quit their locations and go to distant places, for the safety of the women and children, or else assemble together in great numbers for mutual protection. At these times they seldom kindle a fire, except to cook their food, and very frequently remove their encampment, and use every other precaution for concealment. The single men are most frequently the warriors or the attacking parties. They travel in small detachments of three or four together, and endeavour to leave as little trace of their march as possible, avoiding the regular