Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/151

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THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.

of those from whom they were entitled to expect nothing but the most considerate treatment. The very fact of all the atrocities quoted above having been committed previous to the year 1842 is sufficient evidence in proof of this assumption. But a further proof is found in the fact that previous to that time nothing like combined or general hostility towards the Europeans had shown itself among the aborigines. Sometimes, indeed, a bullock was speared, or a half-dozen sheep were driven off, but even these acts of aggression were never resorted to till the tribes had been utterly deprived of their ordinary means of sustenance by the encroachments of colonization; and there is every reason for believing that for years some of the settlers and their servants had been accustomed to punish such offences in a summary and murderous manner when the offenders were detected.

Of the extent of the depredations committed on the settlers, their men and property, during the border warfare of 1842-4, no comprehensive statistical account is available. Some idea may, however, be formed of the loss of life and property throughout the colony by showing, from a Parliamentary paper of 1844, what the losses were during a very brief period in a small district. The paper in question is quoted in an excellent little work entitled "Recollections of Sixteen Years' Labour in the Australian Backwoods," published in London in 1847, and it thus enumerates the outrages and depredations committed by the blacks in the neighbourhood of Port Fairy during two