An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Volume 2 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 388 pages of information about An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Volume 2.

Mr. Flinders was of opinion, that this mode of procuring their food would cause a characteristic difference between the manners, and perhaps the dispositions, of these people, and of those who mostly depend upon the spear or fiz-gig for a supply.  In the one case, there must necessarily be the co-operation of two or more individuals; who therefore, from mutual necessity, would associate together.  It is fair to suppose, that this association would, in the course of a few generations, if not much sooner, produce a favourable change in the manners and dispositions even of a savage.  In the other case, the native who depends upon his single arm, and, requiring not the aid of society, is indifferent about it, but prowls along, a gloomy, unsettled, and unsocial being.  An inhabitant of Port Jackson is seldom seen, even in the populous town of Sydney, without his spear, his throwing-stick, or his club.  His spear is his defence against enemies.  It is the weapon which he uses to punish aggression and revenge insult.  It is even the instrument with which he corrects his wife in the last extreme; for in their passion, or perhaps oftener in a fit of jealousy, they scruple not to inflict death.  It is the play-thing of children, and in the hands of persons of all ages.  It is easy to perceive what effect this must have upon their minds.  They become familiarised to wounds, blood, and death; and, repeatedly involved in skirmishes and dangers, the native fears not death in his own person, and is consequently careless of inflicting it on others.

The net also appearing to be a more certain source of food than the spear, change of place will be less necessary.  The encumbrance too of carrying large nets from one place to another will require a more permanent residence; and hence it would naturally follow, that their houses would be of a better construction.  Those which had been met with in Shoal Bay and Glass-House Bay were certainly far superior to any that had been seen in the neighbourhood of Port Jackson; and this superiority Mr. Flinders attributed to the different mode of procuring fish which had been adopted by the inhabitants.  He likewise supposed that the use of nets, and consequently whatever resulted from such use, arose from the form of the bay, which, being shoal for a considerable distance from the shores, gave the greatest advantage to nets, over every other method, more especially the setting and scoop nets.  Pumice Stone river, being full of shoals, required the same manner of fishing; and it was observed that most, if not all, of the islands in the bay were surrounded by extensive shoals, which, by extending the necessity, would assist in bringing nets into more general use.

At one time they saw near twenty natives engaged in fishing upon one of these flats, the greater part of whom were employed in driving fish into a net which was held by their companions.  That they were so engaged, they convinced our people by one of the party holding up a fish to them while he was standing in the water.

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