Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/48

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STOICISM. 33

result of a close investigation of the subject. The Australian aboriginal will detect at once the spot under which a human body lies buried, or will indicate the point in a river or a creek where it has sunk. This, on first view, would be considered a species of second sight, whereas it is merely the result of an observation of minute appearances and indications. In the former case, certain peculiarities in the insects on the surface show to the eye of the black that mortality moulders beneath; in the latter case, appearances equally trifling afford the necessary token. So, likewise in their navigation, aids and indications unknown to civilized man, because unnecessary, supply the place of science, and in some instances put to the blush the discoveries and improvements of ages.

A certain stoicism of demeanour is likewise a characteristic of the aborigines of New Holland, in common with some other primitive tribes. This is principally evinced in the indifference with which they regard, on first view, the wonders of civilization — its ships, warlike implements, vehicles, horses, and various other appurtenances. An extraordinary instance of this stoic indifference is on record. A ship having touched at a part of the coast where it was highly improbable that a European vessel had ever called before, a boat party landed for the purpose of procuring wood and making observations on the nature of the country. When the party landed a solitary aboriginal approached them in the most confident