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

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 744 pages of information about An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Volume 1.

APPENDIX VIII—­DISEASES

Their living chiefly on fish (I speak of those whom we found on the sea coast) produces a disorder which greatly resembles the itch; they term it Djee-ball djee-ball; and at one time, about the year 1791, there was not one of the natives, man, woman, nor child, that came near us, but was covered with it.  It raged violently among them, and some became very loathsome objects.

The venereal disease also had got among them; but I fear our people have to answer for that; for though I believe none of our women had connection with then, yet there is no doubt but that several of the black women had not scrupled to connect themselves with the white men.  Of the certainty of this an extraordinary instance occurred.  A native woman had a child by one of our people.  On its coming into the world she perceived a difference in its colour; for which not knowing how to account, she endeavoured to supply by art what she found deficient in nature, and actually held the poor babe, repeatedly, over the smoke of her fire, and rubbed its little body with ashes and dirt, to restore it to the hue with which her other children had been born.  Her husband appeared as fond of it as if it had borne the undoubted sign of being his own, at least so far as complexion could ascertain to whom it belonged.  Whether the mother had made use of any address on the occasion, I never learned.

It was by no means ascertained whether the lues venerea had been among them before they knew us, or whether our people had to answer for having introduced that devouring plague.  Thus far is certain, however, that they gave it a name, Goo-bah-rong; a circumstance that seems rather to imply a pre-knowledge of its dreadful effects.

In the year 1789 they were visited by a disorder which raged among them with all the appearance and virulence of the small-pox.  The number that it swept off, by their own accounts, was incredible.  At that time a native was living with us; and on our taking him down to the harbour to look for his former companions, those who witnessed his expression and agony can never forget either.  He looked anxiously around him in the different coves we visited; not a vestige on the sand was to be found of human foot; the excavations in the rocks were filled with the putrid bodies of those who had fallen victims to the disorder; not a living person was any where to be met with.  It seemed as if, flying from the contagion, they had left the dead to bury the dead.  He lifted up his hands and eyes in silent agony for some time; at last he exclaimed, ’All dead! all dead!’ and then hung his head in mournful silence, which he preserved during the remainder of our excursion.  Some days after he learned that the few of his companions who survived had fled up the harbour to avoid the pestilence that so dreadfully raged.  His fate has been already mentioned.  He fell a victim to his own humanity when Boo-roong, Nan-bar-ray, and others were brought into the town covered with the eruptions of the disorder.  On visiting Broken Bay, we found that it had not confined its effects to Port Jackson, for in many places our path was covered with skeletons, and the same spectacles were to be met with in the hollows of most of the rocks of that harbour.

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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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