« AnteriorContinuar »
Five YEARs' Experience INAustralia Felix: Comprising a Short Account of its Early Settlement and its Present Position, with many Particulars interesting to Intending Emigrants. By G. H. Haydon. With Illustrations by HENRY HAINsselin, from Sketches made on the Spot by the Author, Royal 8vo. London: HAMILTON, ADAMs AND Co.
This work, which is the product of one, who, by his long errata as well as numerous evidences in the body of the book, is evidently not either a scholar or a scientific man, has a charm and a utility that many travellers, being both, have failed to transmit to their pages. We can well forego the graces of the litterateur who would at least have swelled this volume into two, and are much better pleased to have this plain unadorned account of the author's experiences. He writes to convey information, and this he does in a methodical and clear mode. His conjectures of the ignorance of others are generally correct, and he concludes very properly that the majority of his readers are ignorant of even the locality of “Australia Felix,” and therefore commences his book with the following sentence:—
“The province of Australia Felix, also known as Port Philip, is situated on the south-east coast of New South Wales, between the 141st and 146th degree of east longitude. It is bounded on the south by Bass's Straits, on the west by South Australia, the River Murray in the 36th degree of south latitude forms its northern limit, and the swampy river in the 141st degree of east longitude bounds it to the eastward. It occupies a space of thirty thousand square miles, or twenty millions of acres. The greatest extent from east to west, is two hundred and sixty miles; from north to south, one hundred and sixty miles. It commands a navigable sea-coast of five hundred miles, and abounds with harbours and roadsteads.”
It is not our o to follow Mr. Haydon through every chapter of his interesting work; we can only take a few of the more important topics to introduce to the reader. The following picture is well worthy the contemplation of the philanthropic legislator, and no one can reflect upon it, and recur to our dense and in many places starving population, on whom chill penury sheds her debasing and benumbing influence, without building, not castles, but ships in the air, to convey them to this region, requiring and remunerating wholesome toil,
“As regards the capabilities of the land of Australia Felix and its matural fertility, I cannot do better than quote from the journal of its enterprising discoverer, Major Mitchell. Whilst passing over some of the back country of Australia Felix, *::::. M— says, “Every day we passed over land, which for natural fertility and beauty could scarcely be surpassed; over streams of unfailing abundance, and plains covered with the richest pasturage; stately trees and majestic mountains adorned the ever-varying scenery of this region, the most austral of all Australia and the best.” "And again, he says, “The splendid and extensive scene was different from any thing I had ever, before witnessed either in New South Wales or elsewhere, a land so inviting, and still without inhabitants. As I stood, the first intruder on the sublime solitudes of these verdant plains, as yet untouched by flocks and herds, I felt conscious of being the harbinger of mighty changes there, for our steps would soon be followed by the men and the animals for which it seemed to have been prepared.”
“Again, “As we proceeded, we found the country had all the appearance of a well kept park, and the rich black earth produced grass in greater luxuriance than I had ever before seen in Australia.” “We had at length,’ he roceeds, “discovered a country ready for the immediate reception of civiised man, and fit to become eventually one of the great nations of the earth. Unencumbered with too much wood, yet possessing enough for all purposes, with an exuberant soil, under a temperate climate, bounded by the sea coast and mighty rivers, and watered abundantly by streams from lofty mountains, this ...} interesting region lay before me with all its features, new and untouched as they fell from the hands of the Creator.” Much of the country seen by Major Mitchell, and mentioned with so much delight, is now occupied by the flocks and herds of the settlers, Stations have been formed where smiling plenty and a hearty welcome greets the way-worn traveller. The whole face of nature is undergoing a steady, but a sure change, and judging from its progress and its natural advantages, there is little doubt but that the few enterprising Britons who first settled on its shores are really the germ from which, in the lapse of years, a wealthy and powerful people will arise.
“The whole of the back country of Australia is denominated the bush. Beautiful plains with nothing on them but a luxuriant herbage, gentle rises with scarcely a tree, and all that park-like country met with in Australia Felix in such perfection, is included under the general designation of the Bush, and its white inhabitants as Bushmen.”
But the settlers must study the book for themselves, and we have never met one bearing on its face a greater appearance of being written with a genuine purpose: most Emigrants' Guides being a prospectus in ...; It is not, however, the emigrant that alone will find pleasure and profit in its perusal: the naturalist, both he who studies things on two legs as well as four, will find ample matter for consideration. The most curious and entertaining portion is that which treats of the Aborigines, where man is seen “a poor forked animal indeed.” Without letters, without inventions of the commonest kind, he seems but one remove from the beasts, and so vegetates from age to age, a divine ray never having penetrated to his benumbed and narrow senses. The contemplation rouses a thousand important reflections, and makes us feel we are indeed but such things as dreams are made of, and a very rough and coarse dream is the life of a native Australian.
* “Almost every night a corobbery is held, which is a kind of dramatic dance, “This strange wild dance of the aborigines of all parts of New Holland, as well as of Van Diemen's Land, is alike used on mystic, festive, and martial occasions. It is usually celebrated in the night, by the light of large fires, which produce a highly wild and picturesque effect.'
“The general form of government appears to be that of chieftainship, obtained by individual bravery, but the chief is generally guided by the elder warriors. When a council is held, the warriors all seat themselves in a circle, and conduct the proceedings with attention and decorum. Some laws exist for regulating the actions of younger men in their relation to the elders of the tribe, the flesh of the emu and kangaroo being prohibited to the former, and marriage interdicted until the performance of a certain ceremony which takes place about the age of thirteen. Their ideas of religion are very limited, and their belief of a future state is, that after death they will jump up white men. They believe in a “great Father, and in an evil spirit, the latter of which they fear exceedingly. The blacks have some crude notions of a judicial government, as their punishments for certain offences testify; for if a man kill his wife, accidentally or otherwise, he is exposed to the tortures of spearing, with only a small shield to ward off the blows inflicted in rotation by each member of his tribe ; if a person kill a dog, the owner of the animal is allowed to give him three blows on the head with a waddy, at discretion either hard or soft, but should he kill the offender during the punishment, he would render himself amenable to the first mentioned law. The men puncture themselves at a certain age, and raise large lumps of flesh as long and large as a man's finger; the women also tattoo themselves about the breast and arms. On particular occasions they paint, and adorn their head with emu or cockatoo feathers; they have no instrument of music, the corobbery songs being accompanied by the beating of two sticks together, and by the women thumping their opossum rugs. Their only dress consists of rugs made either from the opessum or kangaroo skin, a small bandage round the head, and a quantity of string made from opossum hair twisted, which is wound around the neck in a great number of folds. The women wear a belt of emu feathers to hide the person, and the men a wallaby skin cut into a number of narrow slips for the same purpose. The Goulburn, and some other tribes, knock out the front teeth on attaining to a certain age, but this is not a universal custom, for neither the Bournarongs or Woeworongs are found to do this.”
Of their Cannibalism the author has no doubt.
“It was for some time a matter of doubt whether these people were cannibals, but in consequence of a number of facts which have come under my observation, I am sorry to say, no doubt remains but that they are so. On several occasions I have seen human flesh in their possession, and have been told by them without much scruple that they always make a point of eating certain portions of their enemies killed in battle or by treachery, under feeling of revenge. When two tribes are about having a fair open fight, the head men of each challenge the others in nearly these words—“Let us fight, we are not afraid, my warriors will kill you all, and eat you up.' The part of the human body valued by them most is the kidney fat, to which they attribute supernatural powers and think it acts as a charm in many cases.”
If any one is still attached to Rousseau's theory of the superiority
of savage to civilised life, we think the following will destroy the illusion:
“There is another instance of the ignominy their women are subject to, in the manner a young man procures a wife. When he has determined on taking this step, he usually visits a neighbouring tribe, and having seen a woman whose sable charms overcome him, he first asks her to run a with him ; if she refuse, when opportunity favours he inflicts a blow on her head with a heavy waddy or club which stuns her, and then carries her off
to his own home, where she spends a life of drudgery and misery, in doing all the hardest of the necessary work, such as fetching wood and water, for which sérvices she is usually rewarded with the part of any food which the husband cannot gormandise; and should she attempt to escape and be discovered, the probability is that she would be o or beaten to death for her pains.” This instructive work is illustrated by some very characteristic litho
graphs, and only wants a map to make it complete.
EARLY MAGNETIsm, IN ITs High ER RELATIONs to HUMANITY, as veiled in the Poets and the Prophets. 8vo. London: H. Bailliere.
THE author of this book, whoever he may be, is one of the purifying spirits of the age: asserting the grandeur and immortality of the intellectual, and by the strength and energy of his own spirit lifting the thoughts to contemplations which always place the passions and the *. in that subordinate position necessary for the purification of the mortal and the preparation of the immortal being. We are not prepared to analyse the work as a philosophical production; to grant its theory; to test its logic ; but it has an elevation of argument, a readiness of illustration, and is so informed with a lofty, scholar-like sentiment, that we will pronounce it worthy of the study it requires. It has the fascination which ever belongs to the eternal; and to the investigation of the unknown vast that on all sides surrounds the earth and life. We take too little heed of these things; though in all ages and societies some spirits will be found to cultivate this white magic. It is strange, in these times, when solittle (for there is still some) opposition is offered to the boldest investigations, that the many should disregard them; and that formerly, when the fulminations of the Church were hurled against the simplest operations of science, they should have been popular. But science has her superstitions as well as religion. The spiritual nature of man will ever be to those not totally buried in the flesh, a wondrous, a dark, deeply interesting speculation. And in these pages the study is conducted in accordance with the received notions of religion, and with a deep natural piety which, let us hope, is inseparable from true philosophy. There is a sense of poetry in its sublimest flights, and verses that are touched with its ethereal sounds, that make us at times think the author of that noble and wonderful oem, “Festus,” may have written or contributed to it. Whoever is its author, he has the copiousness, comprehension, and vigour of utterance that so eminently distinguish the writers of the olden time, who wrote from the fulness of their souls and the irrepressible energy of their spirits. His tastes, too, have been moulded by these models, and the wood-cuts remind us of the illustrations to Quevedo's Visions, and perhaps he partakes also that author's mystic and seraphic vein. But the world to him is not a mere “pestilent congregation of foul vapours,” but a part and portion of a universe, and man a part of Deity. The following must induce the reader to look further into the work, frag
mentary as it here appears, and unjust as it is to rend away a small portion of the building as a type of the whole.
*At the present time when all are more or less eagerly engaged in the of external advantages, and, under penalty of being cast into the y furnace of the world's scorn, do fall down and worship that earth-born goddess of temporal utility which opinion has set up, it would be vain enthusiasm to attempt to divert attention, but for a moment, from so favoured an idol, were it not that in the minds of all, even its most degraded votaries, there already exists a most real and bitter sense of its insufficiency and latent deformity ;-and until Wisdom shall have effected that internal renovation which above all things we now need, it is vainly that we seek in externals a harmony and happiness which has not been imaged there. Yet still we o on in expectation; and with that abiding patience, which is the test of faith in a good eause, may we continue to seek on, not vaguely as heretofore, for passing excitements, but with steadfast perseverance looking within, until Wisdom reveal to us those higher objects of pursuit and truer attractions which will not suffer the mind aspiring to them to fall into dishonour; o: and corroborating as they draw, will, when at length they are worthily won, unite with and transmute their worshipper into that Harmony and Beauty which, in the dim beholding, he venerated and loved.
* Begin to-day, nor end till evil sink
* The Idea of the Good, the Pure, and the True is the alluring object which we all innerly worship—the progeny of Divine Intellect immortal and strong—even o Beauty which, though obscurely now, through the mists of sense and selfishness, ever shines attractively our Polar Star:
“When from the lips of Truth one mighty breath
toNDoN - BRADEURY AND Evans, PRINTERs, whirrrriats.