Chastity was a virtue in which they certainly did not pride themselves; at least, we knew women who, for a loaf of bread, a blanket, or a shirt, gave up any claim to it, when either was offered by a white man; and many white men were found who held out the temptation. Several girls, who were protected in the settlement, had not any objection to passing the night on board of ships, though some had learned shame enough (for shame was not naturally inherent in them) to conceal, on their landing, the spoils they had procured during their stay. They had also discovered that we thought it shameful to be seen naked; and I have observed many of them extremely reserved and delicate in this respect when before us; but when in the presence of only their own people, perfectly indifferent about their appearance.
During the time of parturition these people suffer none but females to be present. War-re-weer, Bennillong’s sister, being taken in labour in the town, an opportunity offered of observing them in that critical juncture, of which some of our women, who were favourites with the girl, were desired to avail themselves; and from them we learned, that during her labour one female, Boo-roong, was employed in pouring cold water from time to time on the abdomen, while another, tying one end of a small line round War-re-weer’s neck, with the other end rubbed her own lips until they bled. She derived no actual assistance from those who were about her, the child coming into the world by the sole efforts of nature; neither did any one receive it from her; but, having let it drop, one of our women divided the umbilical cord; after which, she retired to a small hole which had been prepared for her, over which she sat until the after-birth took place. The person who cut the navel-string washed the child, which she readily permitted, though Boo-roong and the other natives objected to it. She appeared much exhausted, and, being faint, fell across a fire that was in the place, but without receiving any injury.
I saw Bennillong’s wife a few hours after she had been delivered of a child. To my great surprise she was walking about alone, and picking up sticks to mend her fire. The infant, whose skin appeared to have a reddish cast, was lying in a piece of soft bark on the ground, the umbilical cord depending about three inches from the navel. I remained with her for some time, during which she was endeavouring to get it off, to effect which she made use of the small bone of the leg of the kangaroo, round the point of which Bennillong had rolled some punk, so that it looked not unlike the button of a foil. She held it every now and then to the fire, then applied and pressed it to the navel until it cooled. This was persevered in, till the mother thought the cord sufficiently deadened, and then with a shell she separated it.*
[* I here find in my papers a note, that for some offence Bennillong had severely beaten this woman in the morning, a short time before she was delivered.]