The Last of the Tasmanians/Chapter 11
The subject of Half-castes is one of the saddest of the many dark stories in the history of the Tasmanians.
Some travellers have expressed themselves so strongly upon the repulsive characteristics of our Southern races, that it might occasion surprise to hear of association between their females and the stranger son from Europe. But, after the French portraiture of an Ourâ Ourâ, and the romancings of even some graver Englishmen, we may be prepared for the manifestation of some sympathy between the opposing colours. The rougher class of our people would be the first attracted, and the presentation of food, a fig of tobacco, or a gaudy dress would occasionally melt the chaste bosom of a dark beauty.
In all parts of the world such alliances may be found, though more abundant and stable in proportion to the agreement of hue. The lighter the complexion, the greater the antipathy to union with black people; but the Southern men of Europe—the Spaniard, Portuguese, Italian, and Turk—have no such refinement of scruples. The connexion would be either of a lasting character, almost approaching the condition of formal marriage, or one of simple convenience and the impulse of the hour.
The chastity of the dark races has been much, and most unjustly, impugned. We have incontrovertible evidence that many Blacks, especially among the Papuans, illustrate that virtue quite as much as the lighter and more civilized peoples. Even in Africa, in many parts, travellers assure us of the propriety of women, and the extreme difficulty of procuring a return of love, unless upon a basis recognised by the laws of the tribe. In all countries where a form of marriage existed, the European has had to go through certain legal ceremonies before being permitted freedom by the females. A payment has elsewhere been enforced, as a recognition of the principle. It has been said with derision that the formality was of so trifling a nature that the virtue must be weak indeed. To this it may be replied, that the Scotch law of marriage, at least, is not very formidable in provisions, and yet satisfies an otherwise particular people. It is neither safe nor kind to pronounce upon the relative chastity of countries, until we know the principles upon which they form their moral code. That which was quite correct in the days of the patriarchs would subject one to legal penalties in Europe. The debasement of the fair sex, in all periods and climes, has made the question of chastity one of grave difficulty. In almost all places and times it is only a question of agreement between parents, and the rate of barter.
As the Tasmanians had no elaborate ceremonies before marriage, and as their women were, as in Europe, the property of the men, we must be discreet in our judgment of their acts. The Frenchmen of 1792 and 1802 found them proof against their seductions, and deaf to their voice of love. In this respect they were, as the Papuan race generally upon first acquaintance with the Whites, different in their grade of virtue to the more civilized South Sea Islanders. The shyness of the tribes, their early suspicion of the colonists, their speedy experience of the heartless cruelty and selfishness of such associations, tended to discourage contact and diminish vice. But as some, by the force of circumstances, were brought in proximity with settlers, the barrier was occasionally broken down.
In the chapters of "Cruelties" and "Sealers," some details may be read proving force to have been one prominent means, employed by unscrupulous men to overcome the virtue of the women of the forest. But desire for the curious and palatable food of the new-comers, or for the bright and pretty things they possessed, exercised a charm over feminine fancy in Van Diemen's Land as similar temptations do elsewhere. A third and more humiliating cause of these alliances may be found in the enforcement of the rights of property; for husbands, after the degradation of a pseudo-civilization, are sometimes found ready to barter the virtue of a wife for a piece of tobacco, a morsel of bread, or a silver sixpence. This is well known to residents even now in the vicinity of European settlements in Australia, Cape Colony, and America. The laws of civilized and Christian nations acknowledge the abstract principle; as in England, a husband cannot punish a man who has desecrated his domestic hearth, and cursed him and his children with a life-long sorrow, otherwise than by charging the villain with injuring his property, and so procuring damages for loss in his goods! When woman has her real rights in Britain, men may speak more freely in condemnation of customs elsewhere.
The character of the union between the two races influenced the morals of the parties in question. A mésalliance without respect to residence is never one calculated to do otherwise than deteriorate; but that attending habitual companionship, though for no determined period, is deprived of much of its wrong, at least; and in certain instances may be the occasion of even the moral elevation of a person. But it is not merely a question of the moral state of the individuals, but of effect upon the offspring. The fruits of concubinage are not to be envied anywhere. The experience and poems of Savage illustrate the sad tale. The sins of the fathers have been bitterly visited upon the children. The unknown author of the apocryphal "Wisdom of Solomon" declares that "the imperfect branches shall be broken off, their fruit unprofitable, not ripe to eat, yea, meet for nothing. For children begotten of unlawful beds are witnesses of wickedness against their parents in their trial." Elsewhere he refers to such seed, and exclaims, "Horrible is the end of the unrighteous generation." Alas! this is the cry of the historian when he speaks of the Tasmanian half-castes.
These unhappy products of intercourse in the Bush, the marriage of the hour, if permitted to see the light, seldom lived long in the tribe. The mother, to conceal her shame, or repenting of her act, would often prevent the birth by abortion; or, if unsuccessful, would destroy the infant upon its entrance into the world. If the philoprogenitive instinct led her to spare her child, the husband or brother might avenge the family wrongs by a fatal blow.
Dr. Broca is mistaken in thinking that "the murder of the Australian mulattoes is a vulgar tale," and that the destruction of half-castes by the Natives is unnatural. Dr. Story tells me that he never knew a half-caste in the tribe with which he was acquainted in Tasmania. So others have said of the wandering tribes. Even in Australia it was exceedingly rare to see a half-caste, at a time when children's laughter rang through the encampment. Then, as Mr. Schmidt, the Queensland missionary, found, "it was the rule to destroy the half-caste immediately after birth." Mr. G. A. Robinson and other Protectors said the same thing of Port Phillip. In more modem times, since a birth of any kind has become so uncommon a circumstance, the half-castes have been occasionally suffered to live, and have been even cherished with pride by the tribe. I have been several times pleased with the exultant satisfaction of the miserable remnant of a once mighty tribe at the yellow baby. Once, while admiring a very pretty specimen of the mixture in Victoria, a fine-bearded young fellow strode up smiling to me, saying, "That me picaninny—you gib it tixpence." He then burst into a roar of laughter at his assumption of paternity. But even these, as Mr. Protector Parker observed, disappear mysteriously at the age of puberty, if suffered to last so long.
To the honour of the Government of Van Diemen's Land, efforts were made to save the offspring of such connexions. We read of a sawyer, one Smith, and his black friend, Mrs. Fanny Cochrane Smith, receiving twenty-five pounds a year for their half-caste child. Grants of land have been made to reputed parents, subject to the life of the offspring in some cases, and in others contingent upon the orthodox marriage of the mother. But the tribe have repeatedly avenged their honour by murdering the little one, whom they decoyed to their secluded haunts.
That which has excited most astonishment and disgust has been the indifference of English fathers to the future being of their progeny. Dr. Carl Vogt, in his work on Man, thus calls attention to the charge:—"Even if it were true that the Australians (or Tasmanians) killed the bastards who with their mothers return to their tribe, it might at the same time be fairly assumed that all European fathers, who produce children with Australian women, were not such monsters as to expose them to certain death. We cannot suppose such an abnegation of every human feeling to have existed, even among the first criminal population of Australia." Yet such was the case. It can scarcely be pleaded in extenuation of their brutality, that gentlemen at home, admitted into the best circles, have been quite as heedless as to the future existence, or otherwise, of the fruits of their illicit intercourse with their own but poorer countrywomen.
It is not upon the first convicts only of these settlements, but upon those of all subsequent periods, that the sad charge can be laid; and not of convicts only, but those of higher position, free from legal restraint. It is not often, however, that such a narrative can be written as that by Mr. G. A. Murray, Police Magistrate on the river Murrumbidgee. He was officially informed that eleven half-caste boys had been decoyed, murdered, and afterwards their bodies consumed to ashes in separate fires. He rode to the spot, saw the remains of the fires, and, in raking about the ashes, discovered fragments of human bones. In his evidence he averred that though female half-castes were sometimes permitted to live, the males were invariably destroyed in his district. Even the former were tolerated only as ministering to the lustful appetites of the tribe, and an additional means of obtaining supplies from lascivious white men. The mother of one of the slaughtered infants sought to deprecate the anger of the gentleman by this: "Cawbawn me sorry; cawbawn me sorry; Black fellow always do like that."
How strange is it, then, to meet with such a passage as this in the medical works of Dr. Carpenter: "There is strong reason to believe that these hybrid races, the parents of whom are Europeans on the one side and the aborigines of any country on the other, are generally destined to become the dominant population of those countries!" Before the half-castes existed in any number, or when mostly confined to the sealers of the Straits, the Surveyor-General of Van Diemen's Land in 1823, Mr. Evans, in common with some other benevolent individuals, had a dim hope, amidst the rising horrors of the Black War, of the future utility of the half-castes. Alluding to the massacre of 1803, he continues: "The inimical impression will doubtless wear off, and the mixed race, now arising from the British seamen and the native females, will essentially contribute to bring about so desirable a reconciliation." Such a mission never was fulfilled. The Eurastians of India, the Griquas of the Cape, the Mulattoes of America, have hardly produced such a result.
It may be questioned whether more could be expected from the half-castes of the little island than from those of other parts of the world. It has been observed with pain, that, while in intellect they have been superior to the dark race, they have been, perhaps, even inferior to them in morals. How far this has arisen from unfavourable circumstances may appear in subsequent narratives. The Rev. George Taplin, Missionary to the Australian Natives, once gave me this description of the half-castes: "They are generally very bad and low, especially the women." Professor Agassiz has some melancholy reflections upon this subject "Let any one," he says, "who doubts the evil of this mixture of races, and is inclined from a mistaken philanthropy to break down all barriers between them, come to Brazil. He cannot deny the deterioration consequent upon an amalgamation of races, more wide-spread than in any other country in the world, and which is rapidly effacing the best qualities of the white race, the Negro, and the Indian, leaving the mongrel nondescript type deficient in physical and mental energy."
Although it is said that there are used in Peru twenty-three appellations for varieties of humanity from the three stocks of White, Negro, and Indian, we may cite the following from Dr. Wilson's "Prehistoric Man," as known in Mexico:—
|White and Negro||produce a Mulatto.|
|White and Indian||"Mestizo.|
|Indian and Negro||"Chiuo or Zambo.|
|White and Mulatto||"Cuarteron.|
|White and Mestiza||"Creole.|
|White and Cuarterona||"Quintero.|
|White and Quintera||"White.|
|Negro and Mulatto||"Cubra.|
|Negro and Mestiza||"Mulatto—Oscuro.|
|Mulatto and Zambo||"Zambo.|
|Mulatto and Mestiza||"Chino.|
An interesting question has been raised as to the fecundity of the mixed races. Dr. Broca, of Paris, is correct in saying, "We may assume it as a fact that cross-breeds of Europeans and native Australian men are very rare." Some reasons have been already mentioned. It should, however, be borne in mind that while intercourse between Whites and Tasmanian gins was not unfrequent, the latter were almost uniformly found among the besotted and degraded creatures near the townships, subsisting upon the food of the strangers, and given up to drunkenness and indiscriminate licentiousness. To suppose such women capable of having offspring by either White or Black, is to credit public prostitutes with fecundity.
But to the abstract question of the fertility of mixed races the learned have directed our attention, Mr. Brace, in his "Races of the Old World," sees no objection, and instances the families of Mulattoes and Indian half-breeds, and adduces the fact of the Mohawk tribe having only two of the original stock. Dr. E. Dally says, "If cross-breeding in families is necessary, the same thing among races is also necessary; and if crossed families are superior to pure blood, why refuse the same superiority to crossed races?" M. Pouchet adheres to the law that a half type cannot exist by itself. Senor Pacheco declares that there are not eight thousand pure Spanish in the eight million population of Mexico. Dr. Nott, the distinguished ethnologist of the United States, assures us that the Mulattoes are the most short-lived race in the world, and are less capable of fatigue than the present races; that the women are bad breeders, extremely delicate, and very subject to abortions; and that many children die young. Dr. Broca takes a more hopeful view; and, after mentioning the rarity of cross-breeds in Australia, adds: "The fact is so much opposed to the usual theory of interbreeding of human races, that it is worth while to examine whether there may not be other than physiological causes for it." In the elaborate work of Messrs. Hombron and Jacquinot, alluding to the few half-castes of our Southern coloured people, it is written: "This absence of the mixed race between two peoples, living in contact upon the same country, proves very incontestably the difference of species."With the advocates of non-fertility there is the learned Dr. Knox. Mr. Hyde Clarke believes in the utter extinction of the Turk before long from intermarriage, and says, "It was very rare to see a Mulatto in Turkey, though there were many black children." Professor Agassiz, after telling us of the Mamelucos of Brazil, the offspring of Indian and White, and of the Cafuzo, the children of the Indian and the Negro, proceeds: "My observations upon the cross-breeds in South America have convinced me that the varieties arising from contact between these human species, or so-called races, differ from true species, and that they retain the same liability to revert to the original stock, as is observed among all so-called varieties or breeds."
Mr. Warren wrote: "The half-caste of India comes to a premature end, generally without reproduction; and if there are any offspring, they are always wretched and miserable." Volney was struck with the paucity of remains in Egypt of the light Mameluke blood, though those brave warriors held concubines of the country. Graf Gortz, cited by Professor Waitz, declares the cross of Dutch and Malay to be weak both in body and mind. The same has been said of the offspring of Arabs and Negresses. Kohl records the deficiency of vitality in the cross of French and Indians. Boudin agrees with Dr. Yvan that Mulattoes are not productive after the third generation. The same thing has been said of the Mulattoes of Java. At the third stage, girls only are produced, who are almost always sterile. The Lipplappen race of Java, a cross of Dutch and Malay, form a distinct class in Batavia, but are remarked as dying out Dr. Gutzlaff, referring to Cambodia, observes: "The marriages of native females with the Chinese are productive at the first generation, but gradually become sterile, and completely so at the fifth generation."
Some other authorities are more hopeful Professor Quatrefages contends that weakness is not such a quality of the mixed races. The Paulistras of Brazil, from the union of Portuguese and Indian, though much condemned by the Jesuits, are thought by others a powerful and energetic race. Dr. Rufz asserts, "We are warranted in concluding that the interbreeding of the White and the Black races has exercised a favourable rather than unfavourable influence upon the resultant race." M. Thevenôt, in his enthusiasm, exclaims, "The Mulatto may be all that the white man is. His intelligence is equal to ours." M. de Gobineau regards the crossing as a cause of degradation; but Quatrefages triumphantly holds up the European, "the hybrid crossed a thousand times from the Allophyllic and the Aryan races."
There are, however, some remarkable evidences of the persistency of race, a subject ably treated by Sir William Denison. It is observed that in four generations Mulattoes will become white, or black in five, according to the character of marriage. Many are of opinion that the intermarriage of Mulattoes produces a sickly offspring, and that hence the women of that race prefer a connexion with the Whites. The Indian stiff hair is preserved in the mixed people to the third generation. Castelnau found the child of a white man and Indian female more of its mothers type; that of an Indian and Negress had stiff hair and oblique eyes; and that of a white man and Mestiza having a light copper colour, with oblique eyes and stiff hair. A dark-skinned woman has been often noticed with lighter coloured children by her own race after bearing offspring with a white man. The Griquas of South Africa by continued crossing have become almost pure Africans. It is singular that while the union of a white man and a Negress is fecund, that of a black man with a white woman should be often sterile. Professor Waitz ascertained that while Mulattoes were not very fertile among their own people, they were sufficiently so with the original races, and more so with the darker than lighter partners.
A remarkable case of tendency to return to the parent stock is narrated by Sir W. Denison, formerly Governor of Tasmania and of New South Wales. Norfolk Island was then one of his dependencies, and the Pitcairn islanders had been lately removed to that lovely and fertile home. "But," says the Governor, "they are gradually getting darker, and reverting to the Tahitian type; not on account of the climate, for they are in lat. 33° S., but, probably, I should say possibly, owing to some quality of skin handed down by their Tahitian mothers."
It may, perhaps, be admitted that to some extent, at least, mixed races are of transitory duration, and of varied character. The distinguished Parisian anthropologist, Dr. Paul Broca, contends for the principle of changing and unequal degrees of eugenesic hybridity. He describes the differences thus:—the hybridity of fertility; the agenesic, or unfertile; the dysgenesic, or nearly sterile; the paragenesic, or of partial fecundity. Dr. Peter Browne, of Philadelphia, in his learned treatise on Hair, perceived no tendency in half-breeds to produce a new and separate form of hair, but only to perpetuate one kind of pile, or more commonly to possess the character of the hair of both parents on the head at the same time. But he was led by his examination to assert—"When the progeny hold an intermediate place, and they breed together only, they gradually become less and less capable of reproduction, and after a few generations the race runs out."
Although one of the American Indian protectors has lately inserted in his report, "A visible increase is discerned among the half-breeds" of one tribe, yet the contrary is the rule. In 1858 there were but three half-castes in the powerful tribe of the Ngatowhauroa of New Zealand. Mr. Consul Pritchard deplored the rapid decay of that beautiful race in Samoa and other South Sea Islands, pronouncing their intermarriages as less prolific than the parent stock, and by no means so robust, or so easy to rear.
In Tasmania the half-castes were certainly never numerous under the most favourable circumstances. This induced Dr. Gliddon to announce:—"Even a convict population of athletic and unscrupulous English males failed, in their intercourse with Tasmanian females, not merely to produce an intermediate race, but to leave more than one or two adult specimens of their repugnant unions." The French author Jacquinot wrote:—"When the ancient inhabitants of Van Diemen's Land, reduced to the number of 210, were taken to Flinders Island, not only had the union of the women with the unscrupulous convicts been unable to form a distinct race, but only two adults were found who were the produce of these unions." And yet Mr. Robinson, when depriving the sealers of their black companions, acknowledges that a large number of children remained behind, few coming off with their mothers. One woman had thirteen children by a sealer. Maryann, the wife of King Walter, assured me that her black mother had five by her white father. Captain Stokes counted twenty-five on Preservation Island and neighbourhood. But Dr. Jeanneret reported on Flinders Island, in 1846, forty-seven Natives of pure blood, and five of half-caste.
I have endeavoured to ascertain the number living, both of the first and second degree. The best reply to my inquiries came from Mr. Surveyor-General Calder, of Hobart Town. In November 1868, he sent me word that the total number then amounted to eighty or ninety. "This statement," he adds, "I make upon faith of a letter lately received by me from Captain Malcolm Laing Smith, formerly of the 78th regiment, I think, who interests himself much about them. They are stationed on some of the smaller islands of Furneaux' group, between, or about. Flinders and Cape Barren Islands."
My half-caste friend Maryann gave a pleasing account of her father and mother in their island homestead. Before removal to Flinders Island she had resided at Launceston, being conveyed there by her father to the care of a friend. Although she was of superior ability to most white children, and would, if more happily situated, have become a truly distinguished woman, she was thrown by officials among the degraded Blacks of the island, to her own serious moral and intellectual loss. Repelled in cold disdain by her father's blood, she clung to her mother's kind, and ultimately contracted a childless marriage with Walter George Arthur, the most intelligent and educated of the Native race. Her sister Fanny, many years younger than herself, married a European, after some vicissitudes of virtue. After a marriage of five years, she gave birth to a child. The Government had made the pair a grant of one hundred acres of land, though not to be sold. Maryann had, at the time of her conversation with me, recently received a letter from her sister, stating that she was then living perfectly happy with her husband in Hobart Town.
A friend lately gave the melancholy account of a family of half-caste girls, all of whom but one had turned out badly, and died early from dissipation. Another instance was more favourable. A lady had taken a boy and girl under her care. They had not been related, but were ultimately married, went on a farm, and did well. There was lately a Tasmanian half-caste couple living on the Victorian diggings.
Dr. Nixon, first Bishop of Tasmania, undertook a voyage to the islands of the Straits, on an episcopal tour, but with particular reference to the condition of the half-castes there. His notices of them possess much interest. He baptized many of them and their children, besides having the pleasure of uniting some in marriage who had long cohabited unlawfully. Full of sympathy for the mixed race, he was ready to see, if possible, a favourable side to their character, and foster in their minds a love for the truthful and good. In his interesting narrative of "The Cruise of the Beacon," he bestows a compliment upon one whom he describes as "the greatest lady" of his acquaintance. It is another corroborative testimony to the care exerted by some white fathers of this interesting race, who acted as old Adams of the Pitcairn islanders. His lordship says, "Lucy Beadon, a noble-looking half-caste, of some twenty-five years of age, bears the burden of twenty-three stone. Good-humoured, and kind-hearted, she is every one's friend upon the island. High-minded and earnest in her Christian profession, she has set herself to work to do good in her generation. From the pure love of those around her, she daily gathers together the children of the sealers, and does her best to impart to them the rudiments both of secular and religious knowledge."
A Launceston newspaper of January 1867 adds some further information concerning the family of the worthy Lucy. Her father, it would appear, assumed the name of Beadon, but was connected with a highly respectable family in England, and for a number of years was in the receipt of a handsome allowance, transmitted through a colonial firm. His early career was doubtless a wild and unsatisfactory one. Circumstances led him to adopt the sealer's life about the year 1827. An aboriginal woman bore him several children besides Lucy. Whatever his habits when young, he evidently adopted a better course, and endeavoured to promote the real welfare of his family. Although possessed of means with which he could have comfortably resided in civilized society, he preferred his rocky, storm-girt home on Badger's Island. His wife and most of his children died before him, and were buried on Gun Carriage Island. In January 1867, he expired at the ripe age of sixty-nine, and was laid, at his own request, beside the remains of the Tasmanian mother of his offspring.
Having to christen a child at one place, the Bishop has given us a notice of the juvenile half-caste. "One of them," he says, "a boy of two years of age, was as magnificent a little fellow as I ever saw. His large, full black eyes, and finely-formed features, would have done honour to any parentage."
He writes with much feeling of his astonishment and pleasure at finding in most of these regions of storm, and among so rough a class, the observances of religion, and those of his own Church. In that ramble of 1854 he visited Gun Carriage Island, from which the sealers were originally driven by Mr. Robinson for a temporary home of his gathered exiles, and to which, upon the transfer to Flinders, they were permitted to return. There he conducted service, and afterwards tells his tale:—
"It was with a solemn sense of the privilege conferred upon me, that there, in that storm-girt hut, the winds and the waves roaring around me, I, as the first minister of God that had set foot upon the island, from the dawn of creation until then, commenced the humble offering of prayer and praise to that creation's Lord. . . . . These simple half-castes, the last relics of the union of aboriginal women with the sealers, had taken the Prayer-book as their guide, and did not set up their own rebellious wills against its plain injunctions. They were not too proud to kneel; their psalmody, too, was correct, and touching in its expressiveness. There was a deep earnestness with which my half-caste congregation joined in the several parts of the service, that I should be glad to witness in the more educated and polished gatherings of Christian worshippers."
Visiting their simple burial-ground with gratification, he observes: "I endeavoured, and I hope not without success, to impress upon them the true Christian reason for this feeling; reminding them, that as the body is the temple of the Holy Ghosts so each corpse must be reverently handled and dealt with, as a something which God himself has vouchsafed to honour and to sanctify for his own dwelling."
Quite another scene is now presented by his pen: "I united an old sealer, named Edward Mansell, to Judy Thomas, an aboriginal woman. Upon investigating the facts of the case, I was glad to find that the best motives induced the man to repair past sin and folly by a union with this woman, aged as she was. She, poor creature, could with difficulty repeat the necessary words of the service. Indeed, her English, if such it might be called, was such as to elicit a violent explosion of mirth on the part of the bridegroom, an unseemliness which was promptly repressed and rebuked by Captain King, who acted as father upon the occasion."
Some of the half-castes have been noticed as possessing uncommon beauty, and travellers, like Lieutenant Jeffreys and Captain Stokes, have been eloquent in their praises. The distinction between them and the real aboriginal girls has been thus indicated by the latter: "One was half European and half Tasmanian, and by no means ill-looking. She spoke very good English, and appeared to take more care of her person than her two companions, who were Aborigines of pure blood. A few wild flowers were tastefully entwined with her hair, which was dressed with some pretensions to elegance." The very beauty of the little things has, without doubt, been the means of sparing their lives awhile, even with the wild tribe. A writer of the year 1815 had a funny tale to tell of a pretty half-caste child, whom he observed in company with one of the Natives. Turning toward the man, he jocularly exclaimed, "That not your child—too white." The savage, ready at a joke, and willing to give a laughable turn to his partner's frailty, claimed the little one as his own, but excused its pale colour because "my gin (wife) eat too much white bread."
In the early days, a sealer of King's Island was drowned, leaving behind two pretty little half-caste girls and a boy. Some benevolent person, pitying the state of the children, made some representations to the Governor, and the Gazette appealed to the public on their behalf. Mr. Fairfax Fenwick took the boy, who soon, however, ran away from his guardian. Two maiden ladies, Miss Newcombe and Miss Drysdale, afterwards historical characters in the annals of Port Phillip, accepted the charge of the girls, and conscientiously performed their duty toward them. They were well instructed and religiously trained. Kitty was remarkably attractive in person; and, being taken by her friends to the new colony across the Straits, obtained a husband, and lived there respectably. I heard of her last removing with her husband to Ballarat. Her sister, the much-admired Mary, was more erratic than Kitty. After some changes, she settled down as the wife of an Englishman, and became the mother of a fine family. Few troubled themselves about the parental feelings of the sealer's partner, the black mother of these half-castes. Soon after her children had been forcibly removed from her, she fretted so much as to die of a broken heart.
The wayward and passionate nature of the half-caste race may be illustrated in the following story: When on a visit to an aboriginal station in Victoria, I saw a fine, fat, rosy, jolly-looking girl, about eighteen years of age, whose sparkling, mischief-loving eyes would readily attract the gaze of the visitor. She was a half-caste, and, like the rest of her people, had more of the instincts of her ebon mother than of her European father. The superintendent gave me her curious history. A few months before, she was missed from the school. After police inquiries, he traced her to the hut of an old man near the Murray, and compelled her to return with him. The day after, she eluded his observation, and was lost again. Another search, another capture, brought her in safety to the station. The matron, as well as the excellent superintendent, endeavoured by suitable homilies to teach her her duty; but the spirit of the woods was too strong for moral suasion. That same night, by the aid of a young man, she gained liberty through the window, and was once more a wild tenant of the Bush.
A patriarch of the tribe was shocked at these mésalliances, and resolved for the honour of savage domesticities to capture the truant. Many a mile he traversed in tracking her course, till he secured the naughty maiden. The old man returned with his unabashed captive. What was to be done with such a self-willed lady? What would reform such erratic tendencies? She must be married. Among the dark skins she selected her future mate, who informed me that when he had finished his hut on the aboriginal station, he would lead to the altar this his blushing bride.
The romantic story connected with this subject remains to be told. It is the history of Miss Dolly Dalrymple, the first known half-caste of the colony, and so called from being born near Port Dalrymple, the port of the River Tamar.
Dolly was born in 1808. She was seen by Lieutenant Jeffreys in 1820, and described as "remarkably handsome, of a light colour, with rosy cheeks, large black eyes, the whites of which were tinged with blue, and long, well-formed eyelashes, with teeth uncommonly white, and the limbs admirably formed." She was then living with a lady and gentleman in Launceston who had undertaken her education and care.
Her mother, Bong, a genuine Tasmanian beauty, had been attracted to the side of a young sailor of the Straits. He is said to have been of respectable connexions at home, but of "a wild and volatile disposition." Dolly was not her only child; and it is in relation to another that she experienced a remarkable adventure. As may be conjectured, the men of the tribe were angry with the Whites who had stolen their gins, but especially indignant against those of the female members who preferred the society of the opposite colour. Several instances are recorded of murders on this account. The known attachment of Bong to the father of her children marked her out as an especial object of their jealous rage.
One evening, the sealers' party having been to Launceston for the sale of skins and the purchase of supplies, and Bong to revisit her eldest child, the boat had been anchored about ten miles from town, and Bong took a stroll in the Bush with an infant at her breast. Unfortunately, she was seen and tracked by a bloodthirsty company of Aborigines. The child, the mark of her tribal crime, was dragged from her, and pitched remorselessly into a native fire. The mother, in a fury of parental feeling, tore herself from her murderous countrymen, rushed to the fire, extricated her darling from the flames, and darted off into the obscurity of the forest for safety. Loud were the yells of the pursuers, and eager the search for their victim. Aware of her inability to outrun the men, she very adroitly sought the covert of a dense shade, and lay down breathless with fear and anxiety. Unable to find her track in the dark, the fellows gradually returned growling to the camp-fire, and after threats of revenge disposed themselves to sleep. The watchful mother keenly marked their reclining, and hastened to renew her flight, arriving at Launceston by the morning dawn. Her little one died in a few days from the burning.
It may be remarked, before leaving poor Bong, that, when the Conciliatory Mission was formed, she attached herself to the party, and proved of valuable service. Her vengeance for the loss of her baby was found in her labour of love for the redemption of her race from their forest miseries. Instead of recognising the claims of family, when the Black War was over, Mr. Robinson harshly ordered her to be sent to Flinders Island, with the other Blacks, instead of permitting her to live with Dolly Dalrymple, or with another daughter whom she had in Launceston.
The handsome Dolly, as usual, was exposed to many temptations. We have no record of her Launceston career after twelve years of age, but may fear the effect of her beauty in a colonial period not celebrated for the virtues. History brings her before us in the midst of the Black War, when living at the Dairy Plains, as the companion of a stock-keeper named Johnson.
A man, called Cupid, having been speared by the Quamby Bluff tribe, ran for shelter to Dolly's hut. She had no sooner extracted the spears from the body of the wounded man, than the mob surrounded the place. Seizing a double-barrelled gun, she gallantly defended her fortress, and compelled her assailants to retreat with heavy loss of life. Particulars of the conflict are given elsewhere. It is sufficient to say that, in addition to other testimonials, she received a grant of ten acres in the township of Perth, and the governor promised Johnson other ten acres, and a free pardon, he being then a convict, if he became legally married to the brave woman.
This was done, and the beautiful children she had were legitimized. She lived to bring up a family of girls, celebrated all over the country for their loveliness. One of them had perfectly white hair.