Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/77

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64 THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.

find those feminine characteristics which excited the admiration and called forth the praise of Mungo Park, when journeying among the African tribes, reflected in the strongest light amongst a people if possible more barbarous and certainly more miserable than the ebon children of the Ethiopian desert The far- famed traveller says, referring to the treatment which he experienced during his sojournings among the African tribes : —

"To a woman I never addressed myself in the language of decency and friendship without receiving a decent and friendly answer. If I was hungry or thirsty, wet or sick, they did not hesitate, like men, to perform a generous action. In so free and kind a manner did they contribute to my relief that if I was dry I drank the sweetest draught, and if hungry I ate the coarsest morsel, with the sweetest relish."

The picture here drawn of the African women might very well be applied to the females of the New Holland tribes, according to the accounts of nearly every one who has travelled amongst them while still enjoying their primeval simplicity, ere yet the corrupting influences which ever accompany civilized society had been brought to bear in lessening their simple dignity. The aboriginal females are described by all travellers as exhibiting, when viewed in favourable circumstances, the virtues of modesty and bashfulness in the highest degree, combined with a kindliness of disposition and a natural politeness of manners not to be surpassed. These characteristics are displayed more strikingly in the younger women; they appear to diminish as they