Page:Last of the tasmanians.djvu/385

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

introduce some of our maxims and practices which could be easily engrafted upon theirs, without requiring them absolutely to resign their own, or contemptuously deride the ways of their forefathers?

It must be confessed, to the shame of our age and progress elsewhere, that we know not how to treat the Aborigines. "Search history," says Mr. F. Boyle, F.R.G.S., "and in the north and south, east and west, the story is ever the same,—we come, we civilize, and we corrupt, or exterminate." We attempt too much at first. If we meet with a hunting tribe, we seek to make them farmers and clerks at once. In the processes of nature, it took, perhaps, thousands of years to effect this transformation with our own ancestors, when we would fain accomplish it in a year with others.

Mr. Brooke, jun., of Borneo, had no such great expectations of immediate returns, when—speaking of the Bakatans—he writes: "who have become sufficiently civilized to build habitations, although they will be little able to appreciate them for at least a generation to come." De Maistre exhibits our folly and failure with Natives. "For three centuries," exclaims that author, "we have been there with our laws, our arts, our sciences, our civilization, our commerce, our luxury; what have we gained upon the savage state? Nothing! We destroy these unfortunates with the sword and brandy; we thrust them insensibly into the desert interior; until, at last, they disappear entirely, victims of our vices as much as of our cruel superiority."

Our striking failure with both Australians and Tasmanians has brought forward many apologies for our ill-success, and some commiseration for the Blacks themselves. Mr. ex-Protector Dredge exclaims indignantly, "They have been treated empirically; and, because the nostrums have proved valueless, their failure is attributed to some latent, inherent incompetency in the patients, which places them beyond the reach of ameliorating appliances; and we are upon the point of pronouncing their case hopeless, and abandoning them to their wretched fate."

This outburst of virtuous indignation is hardly justifiable. Mr. Dredge and several other gentlemen were sent to Port Phillip about 1840 to act as Assistant Protectors under Mr. G. A. Robinson, the Tasmanian hero of the Conciliatory Mission. They had their own plans, they had the support of the Home