A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 233 pages of information about A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson.
was brought that an Indian family lay sick in a neighbouring cove:  the governor, attended by Arabanoo, and a surgeon, went in a boat immediately to the spot.  Here they found an old man stretched before a few lighted sticks, and a boy of nine or ten years old pouring water on his head, from a shell which he held in his hand:  near them lay a female child dead, and a little farther off, its unfortunate mother:  the body of the woman shewed that famine, superadded to disease, had occasioned her death:  eruptions covered the poor boy from head to foot; and the old man was so reduced, that he was with difficulty got into the boat.  Their situation rendered them incapable of escape, and they quietly submitted to be led away.  Arabanoo, contrary to his usual character, seemed at first unwilling to render them any assistance; but his shyness soon wore off, and he treated them with the kindest attention.  Nor would he leave the place until he had buried the corpse of the child:  that of the woman he did not see from its situation; and as his countrymen did not point it out, the governor ordered that it should not be shown to him.  He scooped a grave in the sand with his hands, of no peculiarity of shape, which he lined completely with grass, and put the body into it, covering it also with grass; and then he filled up the hole, and raised over it a small mound with the earth which had been removed.  Here the ceremony ended, unaccompanied by any invocation to a superior being, or any attendant circumstance whence an inference of their religious opinions could be deduced.

[No solution of this difficulty had been given when I left the country, in December, 1791.  I can, therefore, only propose queries for the ingenuity of others to exercise itself upon:  is it a disease indigenous to the country?  Did the French ships under Monsieur de Peyrouse introduce it?  Let it be remembered that they had now been departed more than a year; and we had never heard of its existence on board of them.  Had it travelled across the continent from its western shore, where Dampier and other European voyagers had formerly landed?  Was it introduced by Mr. Cook?  Did we give it birth here?  No person among us had been afflicted with the disorder since we had quitted the Cape of Good Hope, seventeen months before.  It is true, that our surgeons had brought out variolous matter in bottles; but to infer that it was produced from this cause were a supposition so wild as to be unworthy of consideration.]

An uninhabited house, near the hospital, was allotted for their reception, and a cradle prepared for each of them.  By the encouragement of Arabanoo, who assured them of protection, and the soothing behaviour of our medical gentlemen, they became at once reconciled to us, and looked happy and grateful at the change of their situation.  Sickness and hunger had, however, so much exhausted the old man, that little hope was entertained of his recovery.  As he pointed

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