Page:The Aborigines of Australia (1988).djvu/36

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absence is always attributed to the agency of the evil one, who is supposed to have carried him off to his unhallowed retreats.

It has heretofore been pretty generally entertained as a well-grounded belief that no other supernatural power besides this terror of the wilds is known to the New Hollander. Nor does the power with which he is invested, in the opinion of his believers, appear to be exercised with discrimination, extending only over the wicked, and punishing only the perpetrators of guilt. Caprice is the only rule of action attributed to him in all his dealings. An instance is recorded by a gentleman who took a considerable share of interest in the aboriginal race which will illustrate the extreme darkness investing their theological notions. In his endeavours to reflect on their understandings some of the simplest lights of truth, he sought on several occasions to impress them with the belief that their devil—or "debble debble," as they more generally called him—only destroyed or injured evil-doers, such as by turbulence, cruelty, and unkindness had been the cause of evil to their relatives or their tribe. This distinction, however, they are described as being utterly unable to comprehend, and sceptic mirth was the only manifestation drawn from the sable audience by the philanthropist's preaching.

That, however, they really have no knowledge of a supreme benevolent power, or that this power or spirit of which they know is in reality considered by them a purely evil one, it is very difficult to believe. But,