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becomes, in manhood, a sordid, crafty, cowardly savage, expert in intrigue, petty theft, and cattle stealing. Few are long-lived: at thirty, they are in the vale of life; at forty, old men and
They are fast disappearing before the white man, and many of the populous tribes which formerly inhabited the colonies are now buried in oblivion. The introduction of European diseases, and the use of tobacco, and of alcoholic liquors, prove highly detrimental to their fragile constitutions. Numbers are annually carried off by a peculiar disease, which is common among them, and which they are unable to treat; many also die of low fever, and of pulmonary consumption, and of other chest diseases. When a relation dies, they paint their bodies; for days together they sit fasting, weeping, and mourning, and lacerating themselves. They also abstain for a considerable time from washing; and religiously avoid mentioning the name of the deceased. Some tribes bury their dead, some burn them, and others place the corpse in a wicker cover
ing, which they suspend from the boughs of
That the interests of these people might be protected, and their condition, as far as possible, ameliorated, government has appointed protectors of the aborigines, and assistants, and also instituted " native schools” for the instruction of the black children. But the young savages, who only attend these schools for the food and comforts they afford, profit little by the teachings of the schoolmasters; and on approaching manhood immediately desert the book and slate, for the spear, the waddy, and the wild life of their parents.
The aborigines of the Australian colonies are now so thoroughly overawed by the settlers, that they rarely commit any depredations upon them, beyond the abstraction of a little flour or sugar from an unprotected hut, or occasionally purloining a stray sheep or bullock. In many instances they are useful to the settlers as labourers, although, being essentially creatures of impulse, and having no ambition to benefit their condition, they look with contemptuous superiority on the laborious habits of their European associates. They say: “White fellow plenty too much workee, black fellow little workee, black fellow plenty gentleman.”
Zoology of Australia - Kangaroos - The wombat
The bandicoot-Opossums — Squirrels - The native cat_The dingo - The platypus—Birds-The black swan-Warblers---Birds of prey-Fishes-Reptiles.
In the present work it would be out of place to dwell on the zoology and botany of the colonies in Australia. A brief notice, comprising the most important and interesting information must therefore suffice.
There are no dangerous beasts in Australia : lions, tigers, and other blood-thirsty carnivora are unknown; and, indeed, with the exception of one or two varieties of the snake family,
every living creature flies from man, as from a mortal foe.
Most of the quadrupeds are of the marsupial family, an extraordinary race of animals, remarkable for the manner in which they bring forth and nurture their young. A few days after conception, the young animal is produced in a state incapable of motion, and barely exhibiting the rudiments of limbs, when the mother, who possesses an abdominal pouch enclosing the teats, immediately places the imperfect offspring therein, and it becomes attached to the teats of the parent, and remains fixed there until it has acquired a degree of development comparable to that with which other animals are born. There are a few kinds of marsupialia not possessed of abdominal pouches, but the young even of these hang to the mammæ of the mother for a considerable period.
Of kangaroos there are several varieties. The forester is the largest, standing six feet high, and weighing from 100lbs. to 140lbs.;