An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 866 pages of information about An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Volume 1.

When any of these came into the town, we have been immediately informed of their arrival, and they have been pointed out to our notice in a whisper, and with an eagerness of manner which, while it drew our attention, impressed us with an idea that we were looking at persons to whom some consequence was attached even among the savages of New Holland.  Another acceptation of the word Be-anna, however, soon became evident; for we observed it to be frequently applied by children to men who we knew had not any children of their own.  On inquiry we were informed, that in case a father should die, the nearest of kin, or some deputed friend, would take the care of his children; and for this reason those children styled them Be-anna, though in the lifetime of their natural parent.  This Bennillong (the native who was some time in England) confirmed to us at the death of his first wife, by consigning the care of his infant daughter Dil-boong (who at the time of her mother’s decease was at the breast) to his friend Governor Phillip, telling him that he was to become the Be-anna or Father of his little girl.  Here, if the reader pauses for a moment to consider the difference between the general conduct of our baptismal sponsors (to whose duties this custom bears much resemblance) and the humane practice of these uncivilised people, will not the comparison suffuse his cheek with something like shame, at seeing the enlightened Christian so distanced in the race of humanity by the untutored savage, who has hitherto been the object of his pity and contempt?  But sorry am I to recollect, and as a faithful narrator to be impelled to relate, one particular in their customs that is wholly irreconcilable with the humane duties which they have prescribed to themselves in the above instance; duties which relate only to those children who, in the event of losing the mother, could live without her immediate aid.  A far different lot is reservea ror such as are at triat time at the breast, or in a state ot absolute helplessness, as will be seen hereafter.

We have mentioned their being divided into families.  Each family has a particular place of residence, from which is derived its distinguishing name.  This is formed by adding the monosyllable Gal to the name of the place:  thus the southern shore of Botany Bay is called Gwea, and the people who inhabit it style themselves Gweagal.  Those who live on the north shore of Port Jackson are called Cam-mer-ray-gal, that part of the harbour being distinguished from others by the name of Cam-mer-ray.  Of this last family or tribe we have heard Bennillong and other natives speak (before we knew them ourselves) as of a very powerful people, who could oblige them to attend wherever and whenever they directed.  We afterwards found them to be by far the most numerous tribe of any within our knowledge.  It so happened, that they were also the most robust and muscular, and that among them were several of the people styled Car-rah-dy and Car-rah-di-gang, of which extraordinary personages we shall have to speak particularly, under the article Superstition.

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An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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