Page:Last of the tasmanians.djvu/275

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The Bishop of Tasmania, whom I heard preach one of his most thrilling and eloquent discourses upon the occasion of this catastrophe, revisited King's Island years several after, and thus refers to that awful night: "The surgeon was the first to perish; the poor, unhappy girls were tossed into the ocean as they were, unclad, unprepared; the wild, screaming death shriek mingling with the wilder storm." The good man walked along the beach, accompanied by the sealer who had found the wreck two days after the accident. He heard him say, "Yonder I dragged on shore the bodies of eighteen poor girls; some were locked in each other's arms, others as tranquil as though asleep, others bent and twisted with the most distorted forms; and here I dug their grave and buried them." In one place he buried fifty; in another, twenty; and in a third, two hundred and forty-five bodies.

Such a place, though favourable on account of difficulty of approach, was not suitable as a home for the Aborigines, as it was held of great importance to have them under some civilized control.

The Kent's Group, named after H.M.S. Kent, presented some advantages at first, and were recommended by the Aborigines' Committee as early as December 1st, 1829, because of their utter isolation from the Main, and as possessing wood, water, mutton-birds, and some game. But they were exposed to terrific southerly gales, and were cold and wet. Deal had water in its granite crevices, but Erith, four miles in extent, was utterly barren. Passing them this year I was struck with their repulsive appearance. A lighthouse stands on Deal, 1,600 feet above the sea. A pyramidal granite rock rears 300 feet high in the midst of the sea.

Cape Barren Islands, south of Flinders, was suggested by the Committee, on May 26th, 1831, but was also objected to; though twenty miles long, it is a hopeless country. Clark Island, ten miles from the Main, and south of Cape Barren Island, next rose in favour, but was found by Mr. Robinson without anchorage, water, soil, or food.

Maria Island was the one most approved by Mr. Robinson. It possessed charms to alleviate the sorrows of banishment. It was a lovely spot, abounding in picturesque scenery, noble forests, undulating downs, mountain streams, and fertile valleys.