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Martins, among the barbarous aboriginal tribes of the
Brazils. There seems, however, to be the same affinity
between the different aboriginal languages of Australia
as there is between those of America ; for Humboldt
has observed that it is much easier for an American
Indian to learn any Indo- American language of which
there may, notwithstanding, not be a single word iden-
tical with the corresponding word in his own, than to
learn any European language whatever. There seem
to be peculiar channels in which the stream of thought
is made to flow among the different great divisions of
the family of man in the formation of language, giving
a specific and distinctive character to all the languages
connected with one of these great channels, notwith-
standing the greatest difference in the particular words
of each as compared with those of others ; so that lan-
guages of the aboriginal stock, or " old connexion," are
much easier for an Indo- American or an Australian
Papuan to learn than those of " the new connexion,"
or European stock. The languages of the same stock



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THE ABOBIGIKES OF AUSTRALIA. 443

may be of very different materials as respects each
other, or, in other words, the corresponding words in
each may be very different, but still they have all been
cast, so to speak, in the same common mould; their
grammatical construction is identical, or nearly so, and
the stream of thought in the formation of them all has
evidently flowed in the same channel. And this iden-
tity of grammatical construction in their respective
languages, is a far stronger proof of aflBnity between
different nations than any fancied resemblance between
different words of their respective tongues. I was led
to remark this phenomenon of language on observing,
many years ago, the remarkable afl&nity between the
grammatical construction of the Polynesian and Indo-
Chinese families of language, and the absence of every
thing like a bond of union or common formative prin-
ciple between these languages and those of the western
world. And in the year 1840, when I had the pleasure
of meeting with the late Dr. Du Ponceau, one of the
greatest linguists of the age, at Philadelphia, and he
did me the honour to ask me, as a minister of religion,
what I thought had been the nature of the divine in-
terposition in the confusion of tongues at Babel — ^whe-
ther it was a mere dialectic distinction that had been
produced, or a radical difference in the whole form and
structure of different languages? and I mentioned the
strong impression produced on my own mind by the phe-
nomena to which I have just referred (in reference to
the Polynesian and Indo-Chinese languages, as com-
pared with those of the west), that the divine inter-
position at Babel must have consisted not in the pro-
duction of mere dialectic differences, but in scooping out,
so to speak, new and totally different channels for the
stream of thought to flow in in the formation of lan-
guage. Dr. Du Ponceau observed that his own opinion
on the subject was precisely the same.

The Aborigines of Australia give distinctive and re-
markably appropriate names, descriptive either of the
natural features of the scenery or of the physical qua-
lities by which it is distinguished, to every remarkable



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444 COOKSLAND.

locality in the country ; and the number of these names,
and the consequent facility with which the natives can
make appointments with each other, are incredible to
a European.

Nullum sine nomine saxum.

Every rock, river, creek, mountain, hill, or plain, has
its native name. Thus Mount Djerran, or the Dread-
ful Mountain, in Upper Hunter's River, is a mountain
abounding in deep, dark ravines and frightful preci-
pices ; Cabramatta, or the Cabra pools, is a locality
about twenty-five miles from Sydney, in which there
are several large pools of water abounding with the
Cabra insect — ^a species of Teredo, which burrows in
timber under water, resembling the contents of a mar-
row-bone — of which the natives are remarkably fond.

The names of individuals are sometimes descriptive
of some peculiarity in the appearance of the individual,
as Qnunyege* merr-woorrook, " Small-eyed ruaid," the
name of a female child in the Western District of Port
Phillip, remarkable at its birth for the smallness of its
eyes ; or commemorative of some remarkable event
coeval with the birth of the child, as Burdy-kang-nook^
"Spear-nose-boy," the name of a male child in the
same locality, whose father happened to spear a kan-
garoo in the nose the day it was bom.

There is nothing that so strongly exhibits the su-
perior intellectual capacity of the Papuan race as the
facility with which they can give names to objects or
implements of European civilization, with the nature
or uses of which they are tbtajly unacquainted. In the
exercise of this inventite faculty, indeed, they seem to
be greatly superior even to the lighter or Polynesian
race. When the latter, for example, were first visited
by European missionaries, and had frequent opportuni-
ties of seeing books in the hands of the missionaries,
they had no native name, of course, for the strange

* Pronounced Nghunnyeghe.



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THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA. 445

object at which they saw the white strangers constantly
looking, and no conception whatever of its use ; and
they waited patiently, therefore, without venturing to
give it a name, till the missionaries told them what it
was and what to call it. It has consequently received
the English name, with the change necessary to suit
the genius of the language, both at Tahiti and New
Zealand, being called, in both islands, Buka^ or Buka-
buka. But the Papuan native of Australia scorned to
be indebted to the white man for a name for this foreign
object or implement, or to confess the same poverty of
invention as the Polynesian had exhibited ; and the
mental process by which he invented an appropriate
native name for it is as amusing as it is original. It
must be borne in mind, therefore, that the black native
of Moreton Bay was not made acquainted with books
in the mere infancy of literature, like the ancient Greek
or Eoman, who named them respectively from the
Egyptian reed or the inner bark of a tree,* of which pa-
per was anciently made. His first acquaintance with
literature is in all likelihood made through one of the
latest issues from the press of Albemarle Street, Lon-
don, brought out by one of the last arrivals in the
Colony, in the shape of a flashy octavo, bound in cloth
and embossed. This object, therefore, he examines
with the keen eye of a naturalist, anxious to ascertain,
from its external characteristics, under what order,
class, and genus in the Systema Naturae he ought to
place the undescribed plant, mineral, or animal he has
discovered. He observes, accordingly, that the Euro-
pean implement or book has two covers or shells of a
bluish colour, finely streaked and marked ; that it
opens and shuts, and that it has a hinge at the back :
and, in virtue of these characteristics, he assigns it its
proper place at once in his system, and names it
Mooyoom^ a muscle! Nay, from this root he forms a
derivative or compound to designate General Literature,



* Bi/3X0f and Liber.



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446 COOKSLAND.

or every Uiing that is done with the book, whether in the
shape of reading, writing, or arithmetic ; for all this
he designates mooyoom-yacccu, or muscle-work : andl may
add, that for this species of work, however scanty the
portion he may have performed of it, the black native
expects to be paid by the poor missionary as regularly
as the ablest contributor to the London Times, or the
Edinburgh Review.

The same principle is observable in the multiplica-
tion of derivatives or compound words, from a compa-
ratively small number of primitives in the native lan-
guage itself. Thus Beegy^ the sun, may be supposed
to be one of the oldest words in the language of the
Aborigines at Moreton Bay ; but the reduplication of
that word, or beegy-beegy, is the name of an object pos-
sessing the peculiar quality of the sun, a bright yellow
colour, in a high degree — the Regent-bird. Again,
relationship of any kind to the ol^ect designated by
the primitive word, is expressed by adding to it the
affix oba or o^. Thus Beegy, the sun ; beegy-oboy a
European object or implement that serves the same
purpose as the sun to the white man, by telling him
the time — a watch.

A few other instances of the latter of these principles
will exhibit, in some measure, the genius and power of
the language. Thus, tarangy the thigh ; tarang-dbcL^ thigh-
dothes or trousers. Mawgool^ the head ; mawgooUc^
a hat; muUerOy a black-fellow; mullera-g-aba^ some-
thing belonging to a black-fellow. Here the letter g
is evidently paragogic, being inserted, as is not unusual
in more polished languages, cavsd euphomae, or for the
sake of sound ; for the black native seems to have ra-
ther a good ear. Paiango, sick ; paiango-ba, sick-stuff
or medicine. Here one short vowel, preceded by an-
other short vowel, suffers elision, as in the same po-
lished languages already referred to.

The affix do has some transforming power inherent
in it, the nature of which I did not exactly ascertain:
as taratckin-do, from taratchiUy a white man. But tHe
affix CO performs the imp(»*tant function of changing



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THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA. 447

nouns into verbs ; as dahil, water ; dabU-co, to go a-
watering, or to fetch water.

The word yacca in the Moreton Bay dialect of
the Aboriginal language, is one of those unfortunate
words that has more than double duty to perform. It
signifies every thing in the shape of service or perform-
ance from the first incipient attempts at motion, to the
most violent exertion, and it usually takes its significa-
tion from the noun to which it is appended, as in the
instance I have given above, mooyoom-yaccoy to read,
to write, or to cast accounts.*

The following is a specimen of the Moreton Bay
dialect of the Aboriginal language : —

Biro (term of address), Sir.
Malar, . . • Man.

Butang,
Awang,
Tading,

Dalo, or goyum,
Darkanbean,
Mooyum, •
Dourour,
DingcUf
WaiaroOf .



Father.

Mother.

Brother.

Sister.

Fire.

Cane.

Paper, Book.

Net

Fat.

Hungry.



^ It is very difficult now to ascertain what are really the pe-
culiar words of any particuhir dialect or Unguage among'tiie
Aborigines in the Moreton Bay district — ^there is such a confu-
sion of tongues, especially in their intercourse with Europeans.
A considerable number of the words of the Sydney Aboriginal
dialect, known to the convicts, or other white persons, in the
earlier period of the Penal Settlement at Moreton Bay, were na-
turally enough made use of in attempting to hold communication
wiUi Uie black natives. These words, mActi were quite as unin-
telligible to the natives as the corresponding words in the verna-
cular language of the white men would have been, were learned
by the natives, and are now commonly used by them in convers-
ing with Europeans, as English words. Thus oorrobhory, the
Sydney word for a general assembly of natives, is now com-
monly used in that sense at Moreton Bay ; but the original word
there is yanerwiUe. Gabon, great ; narana, little ; boodgere\
good; myall, wild native, &c.. &c.. are all words of this description,
supposed by the natives to be English words, and by the Euro-
peans to be Aboriginal words of the language of that district.



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448



COOKSLAND.



Nangka,

Marumba,

BagooroOf

Magvlf

Kapuif

Mulroo,

Mia, .

Durdur,

Doogai,

Sidney,

Deea^

Ammoo,

Yamma,

Marra,

DabU,

Dar, .

Yarun,

Mogara,

TuruMturum,

Umpie,

Gondol,

Gargar,

Danduru,

Boona,

Boruda,

Dabilbello,

Binempta,

GambartOy

Greeba,

Younggurba,

Dunlcay,

BorrUf

Andeikal,

Boygun,

Wovlauy

Dagauy

DabU ban,

Nokum,

Dabira,

Billar,

Warlee,

Koola,

Ban, .

Ganar,

Burla,

Burla aanar,

Burla burla,



Hot

Cold.

Good.

Stick, Tree.

Head.

Hair.

Nose.

Ear.

Eye.

Neck.

Tail.

Foot

Teeth, or Edge.

Breast, Milk.

Arm.

Hand.

Water.

Earth.

Hunting-Groiind.

Thunder.

Bain.

House.

Bark, and Boat (because madeof bai^.)

Gum-Tree.

Iron-Bark.

Blood-Wood.

Forest-Oak.

Box-Tree.

Blood-Gum.

Fir-Tree.

Ebb-Tide.

Flood-Tide.

East Wind.

West Wmd.

Mullet

Whiting.

Bream.

Cat-Fish.

Saltwater.

Vessel

Shield.

Spear.

Bad.

Displeased, angry.

Dirty, nasty, very angry.

One.

Two.

Three.

Four.



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THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.



449



AUa, .

Inta, .

Ariba,

Enuba,

MenidfUi,

Menah,

Menango,

Yawoi,

Yagar,

Virennaf

Balkali,

Dalto,

Barter,

Bogan^

Woora,

Bogui,

Bouwaia,

Pitney^

Yarto,

KindHnni,

Burrima,

Gandatai,

Garba,

GartDcdiko^

(q. Grood while ago,)

MvUagOf or Unungabo,

Wooppa^

Gorun,

Kibbom,

Beeki,

Boguru,

Wciumgan^

Kuttee,

Wunna,



More than four, much, great

Thou.

BeloDgmg to me.
Belonging to thee-
Why!
What!

What is the matter!
Yes.
No.

Arrive,
Come.
Eat
Bite.
Sleep.

Put down, lie down.
Swim.
Dive.

• See, look — ^literally, eye^ye.
Hear, understand.
Go.

Laugh.

Quickly, hasty.'
Slow,
Another.
Yesterday, or time past — ^probably

English.
To-morrow.
White.
Black.
Moon.
Sun.
String.
Shell.
To black themselves with grease and

charcoal.
Where!

Sbntbncbs. — Intangan? What is your name ! Wunna yar-
un malar ? Where are the blacks of the district ! Inta teunna
yanmana 9 Where do you go to ! Answer — wmlanoo, daroo,
dabUoo f — to catch fish, to work the ground, to fetch water. — (The
affixed syllable eo having the effect of changing the noun to whidi
it is joined into something like an active verb, of which that noun
expresses the action.) Andeihal inta manan 7 Have you fish !
Andeikal yagar, woulan yagar ; dabU waiaroo, — Answer — There
is no mullet nor bream : the watei^is hungry. Menahinta mar-
ra 7 What will you work ! — Answer — Inta pitney ; — ^you know.
JBtro, aUa voaiaroo, aHba ** jke island f* I am hungry: give roe
br«ul. (The first biscuit they ever saw they received from the

2p



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450 COOKSLAND.

erew of a boat belonging to the ^ Five Islands/' from which it
has received this name.)

As a proof that the Papuan race is not so utterly de-
void of intellectual capacity as is alleged by certain in-
terested parties in the colony of New South Wales, I
may add that they have actually given names to several
of the constellations, as " the black-fellow and his jin,"
which I believe is their name for the constellation Gre-
mini ; and " the black-fellow in his canoe." Their
poetry also is by no means contemptible, and although
it generally consists only of a single couplet, it has aJ-
ways the credit of being the immediate ofl&pring of in-
spiration, in common with the more extended produc-
tions of the ancient Greeks and Romans. And when
a new song has been revealed^ (for this is actually the
language that is used on the subject by these children
of nature,) to any favourite of the Muse, the tribe to
which he belongs learn the song in the first instance,
and then communicate it, as it seems they consider it
incumbent on them to do, to the next tribe. That tribe
learn the song also, and pass it in the same way to
the tribe beyond it, insomuch that songs are often sung
by the natives in the language of a far-distant tribe
which they do not understand.* The following is one
of these songs, composed by a native of the Cowpas-
ture District, with a pretty free translation, or rather
paraphrase : —

PARAPHRASE AND TRANSLATION OF A SONG OF TUB ABORIGINES.

Ngaan nubang dhuraa !
Barrabooriong gil-waa!

A warrior lies.'in yonder dell,

His eye-Kds closed for ever!
Heroes! I slew him, and he fell

Near Warragumby river.
Who is he ere we dig his grave 1

Come tell me in the song.
Oh, he is like a warrior brave,

Bold Barrabooriong.

♦ In the month of June 1845, about a fortnight before I left
New South Wales for England, Tomlawry, the chief of the tribe



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J



THE ABORIGINES OP AUSTRALIA. 451

Now, although this song consists of nothing more, in
the original, than the apparently simple question and
answer, " Who is it that I ^p^ared? He is like Barra-
booriong," it appears to me to contain, especially in
what the lawyers would callits inuendoes, the very soul
of poetry. The victorious native, returning from the
single combat in which he has slain his antagonist,
informs the tribe assembled in Corrobbory, that he has
slain some enemy, and asks them exultingly. Who it is?
Every one, of course, fixes on some individual of in-
ferior note in the hostile tribe, not supposing that one,
who had, perhaps, never distinguished himself before,
would have ventured to measure spears with a more
eminent antagonist They are all, of course, at fault,
and the victor at once relieves them from their sus-
pense, and excites their astonishment and admiration,
by giving them to understand that the enemy he has
slain is Barrabooriong, the principal warrior of the hos-
tile tribe, of whom they had all previously been afraid.
The effect of this intelligence on the assembled natives
must be greatly heightened by the dramatic style in
which it is communicated. The victor does not say
expressly that it is Barrabooriong, he only says it is like
him, — they may ascertain the fact for themselves, if
they have any doubt of it. Besides, this way of pro-
claiming the fact tends greatly to raise the character
of the victor in the estimation of his tribe. It is exactly
in the style of the speech of a gallant Colonel, now in
New South Wales, when his own health and that of his
regiment was drunk, in the month of June last, at a

public dinner in Sydney, — " The (mentioning the

number of his regiment) had done their duty, and they
were ready to do it again." In like manner, the vic-
tor, in the case before us, had doubtless speared Barra-

that usually resides on my brother's property of Dunmore, Hun-
ter's River, went up to Patrick's Plains, about thirty miles dis-
tant, to learn a new song that had just been revealed to some
native poet in that district. It seems also that when the Muse
has revealed one couplet to the poet, the tribe remains stationary
in the place till she enables him to add other two.



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452 COOKSLAND.

booriong ; but distinguished as that hero waa, in the
annals of aboriginal warfare, only shew him a better
man, and he was ready to spear him too. In shorty if
the Papuan Homer had only a Colonial Eustathius to
explain his meaning, and to bring out his beauties,
there is no doubt that his claim to a niche in the temple
of fame would be universally acknowledged.

The natives are passionately fond of music, and sing-
ing, accompanied with beating on the shield with a
club, or on the thighs with the open palm, leaping,
dancing, and clapping of hands, is one of the chief amuse-
ments of their merry Corrobbories. The words, on these
occasions, are often extempore, and simple enough;^ but
any joyous idea that occurs to the principal performer,
who acts the part of an Italian improvisatore, is imme-
diately expressed in the cadence of the song, and re-
peated again and again by the delighted company.
Games, in mock imitation of a kangaroo or emu hunt,
in which the bodies of the performers are fantastically
decorated and painted, are also a never-failing accom*-
paniment of these merry meetings, which, at least, in
their native and unsophisticated state, are never dis-
graced by scenes of beastly intoxication.t

* Ab f)r instance, BUxdah gallon, bibalah ffalUm, << bread is
good, bread is good," repeated a thousand times. I sa^>ect, how-
ever, that bibalah is merely a native corrnptiop of the English
words, Fiye Islands. — See p. 450.

+ The following is a description of a Coryobbory, by Sir
Thomas Mitchell :—

This amusement always takes place at night, and by the light
of blazing boughs. They dance to beaten time, accompanied by
a song. The dancers paint themselves white, in such remarkably
varied ways, that no two individuals are at all alike. The sur-
rounding darkness seems necessary to the effect of the whole, all
these dsmcers being more or less dramatic; the painted figures
coming forward in mystic order, from the obscurity of the back
ground, while the singers and beaters of time are invisible, have
a highly theatrical effect. Each dance seems most tastefiilly
progressive, the merriment being at first slow, and iotrpdnced by
two persons, displaying the most graceful motions, both of arms
and legs, while others, one by one, drop in, until each, impercep-
tibly wearing into the truly savage attitude of the " Corrobbory "
jump, — the legs striding to the utmost} the head turned over one



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THE ABORIGINES OP AUSTRALIA. 453

The subject of religion, however interesting and im-
portant, is one upon which, unfortunately, there is
little to be said in reference to the Aborigines of Aus-
tralia, and that little is entirely in the form of negation.
They have no idea of a Supreme Divinity, the Creator
and Governor of the world, the witness of their actions,
and their future Judge. They have no object of wor-
ship, even of a subordinate and inferior rank. They
have no idols, no temples, no sacrifices. In short, they
have nothing whatever of the character of religion, or
of religious observance, to distinguish them from the
beasts that perish. They live "without God in the
world."

Count Strzelecki, to whom I have already had occa-
sion to refer, has, doubtless, maintained a somewhat
different opinion, giving the Aborigines credit for a
degree of religious knowledge, and religious feeling,
quite refreshing to contemplate. " One fact appears
certain," observes the Count, — " they recognise a God,
though they never name him in their vernacular language^
but call him in English, ' Great Master,' and consider
themselves his slaves. They believe in an immortality,

shoulder; the eyes glaring, and fixed with savage energy in one
direction ; the arms raised, and inclined towards the head ; the
hands usimlly g:rasping waddies, bommerengs, or other warlike
weapons. The jump now keeps time with each beat, and at each
leap the dancer takes six inches to one side, all being in a con-
nected line, led by the first dancer. The line is doubled, or
tripled, according to space and numbers; and this giv^s great effect,
for when the great Ime jumps to the lefly the second jumps'to the
right, the third to the left again, and so on, until the action ac-
quires due intensity, when all simultaneously and suddenly stop.
The excitement which this dance produces in the savage is very
remarkable. However listless the individual, laying half asleep,
perhaps, as they usually are when not intent on game, set him to
this dance, and he is fired with sudden energy, — every nerve is
strung to such a degree that he is no longer to be recognised as
the same individual, until he ceases to dance, and comes to you
again. There can be little doubt but that the Corrobbory is the
medium through which the delights of poetry and the drama are
enjoyed, in a limited degree, even by these primitive savages of
New Holland. — Three ExpedUiona xtOo the Interior of Eastern
Australia, ^c. ^e. By Sir T, L, Mitchell, ^o, ^c. Vol. ii. p. 5.



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454 COOKSLAND.

or after-existence, of everlasting enjoyment, and place
its locality in the stars, or other constellations, of which
they have a perfect knowledge." *

Now, I confess I have always been very sceptical in
regard to the ideas alleged by certain travellera to be
entertained by barbarous tribes on the subject of Grod
and of religion. The Apostle Paul informs us, that
"the world," that is the Grecian and Boman world, *'by
wisdom knew not God;" and are we to suppose that the
American Indians, with the comparatively pure and
exalted ideas they are alleged by certain writers to
entertain of the Great Spirit, and the miserable Abo-
rigines of Australia, who, according to Count Strzelecki,
are equally good theologians, have attained to a know-
ledge in Divine things which escaped the keenest re-
searches of the sages of Greece and Rome I Aris-
totle, who, in point of genius and acquirements, was
perhaps the firstof the Grecian philosophers, had, never-
theless, no higher idea of the Supreme Divinity than
that of a skilful artificer, who could consti'uct creatures



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