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.

To the tribe of Cam-mer-ray also belonged the exclusive and extraordinary privilege of exacting a tooth from the natives of other tribes inhabiting the sea-coast, or of all such as were within their authority.  The exercise of this privilege places these people in a particular point of view; and there is no doubt of their decided superiority over all the tribes with whom we were acquainted.  Many contests or decisions of honour (for such there are among them) have been delayed until the arrival of these people; and when they came, it was impossible not to observe the superiority and influence which their numbers and their muscular appearance gave them over the other tribes.

These are all the traces that could ever be discovered among them of government or subordination; and we may imagine the deference which is paid to the tribe of Cam-mer-ray to be derived wholly from their superiority of numbers; but this superiority they may have maintained for a length of time before we knew them; and indeed the privilege of demanding a tooth from the young men of other families must have been of long standing, and coeval with the obedience which was paid to them:  hence their superiority partakes something of the nature of a constituted authority; an authority which has the sanction of custom to plead for its continuance.


It has been asserted by an eminent divine*, that no country has yet been discovered where some trace of religion was not to be found.  From every observation and inquiry I could make among these people, from the first to the last of my acquaintance with them, I can safely pronounce them an exception to this opinion.  I am certain that they do not worship either sun, moon, or star; that, however necessary fire may be to them, it is not an object of adoration; neither have they respect for any particular beast, bird, or fish.  I never could discover any object, either substantial or imaginary, that impelled them to the commissioin of good actions, or deterred them from the perpetration of what we deem crimes.  There indeed existed among them some idea of a future state, but not connected in any wise with religion; for it had no influence whatever on their lives and actions.  On their being often questioned as to what became of them after their decease, some answered that they went either on or beyond the great water; but by far the greater number signified, that they went to the clouds.  Conversing with Bennillong after his return from England, where he had obtained much knowledge of our customs and manners, I wished to learn what were his ideas of the place from which his countrymen came, and led him to the subject by observing, that all the white men here came from England.  I then asked him where the black men (or Eora) came from?  He hesitated; did they come from any island?  His answer was, that he knew of none:  they came from the clouds (alluding perhaps to the aborigines of the country); and when they died, they returned to the clouds (Boo-row-e).  He wished to make me understand that they ascended in the shape of little children, first hovering in the tops and in the branches of trees; and mentioned something about their eating, in that state, their favourite food, little fishes.

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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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