Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/171

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158 THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.

question, that the coo-ee will be heard at a greater distance than any other sound which the human voice articulates—a fact which, in whatever light regarded, must be taken as some evidence of a keen perception, or intuitive sense of the perfect, being the gift of those with whom the word and sound originated.

The next point to be considered in connection with the coo-ee is its history—its origin and application. The origin of the coo-ee is readily guessed. The first thing which would suggest itself to the first aboriginal immigrants, previous to setting out from the northern coast, where they first landed, was the necessity of having some shout whereby they would be enabled mutually to hold converse amid the depths of the forest which extended before them. Whether the coo-ee was then for the first time invented, or whether the note was an importation which the first voyagers carried with them from the shares of Southern India; whether, in fine, the sound was that first adopted and used, or whether it was discovered at a subsequent period during the migrations of the tribes, it is impossible to say and of little consequence to know. Suffice it that the coo-ee was, when Australia was first discovered, and is at the present day, universally used by the aborigines from one extreme of the country to the other.

Although it is certain that the chief purpose to which the coo-ee is applied by the aborigines, as well as by the Europeans, is that of maintaining a running correspondence when the tribes are engaged in