Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/154

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The outbreak mentioned in the foregoing chapters of this book was but the climax to a state of things which had continued, in a mitigated degree, for some years previously. The event which is now to be described was, in fact, an occurrence in what may be termed a previous outbreak of the whites. For a considerable period the settlers in the remote districts had suffered to some extent from the depredations occasionally committed by the blacks, when the latter, driven by necessity, assailed the flocks and herds of the former, for the purpose of obtaining the ordinary means of subsistence. In the encounters which resulted from these depredations lives were sometimes sacrificed, and not unfrequently shepherds, hutkeepers, and stockmen paid with their existence their fidelity to the interests of their employers or masters. This course of events could not long continue to progress unchecked. The evils which the settlers suffered, and which every resident in the interior more or less felt, were too severe for endurance, much less were the men who at that period formed the bulk of the country population likely to remain passive spectators while their companions and neighbours were slaughtered and their property destroyed, no matter under what circumstances. The