Grand Encounter at Preston
Mr. Weavell has kindly furnished us with the following particulars, of this reported landing (a refinement upon our
general rumours) of 200 natives, and spearing Mrs. Weavell and himself, the former in six places, (nothing like being accurate,) and killing the latter on the spot. But to the facts, ' About 80 na- tives were crossed this morning (Friday) at my ferry ; they went to the point to fish, and prepare their repast ; their fire spread to a considerable extent, which in addition to a rumour conveyed to Fre- mantle that Mrs. W. and myself had been speared, brought nearly every male inha- bitant of Fremantle to my house, some with guns without locks, some with guns without ammunition, others with ammu- nition without guns, some with pistols, others with bludgeons; a fine scene ! ! never was such a corps paraided in Western Australia ; however, as so great an interest, was expressed, and such a disposition shown to render eyery possi- ble assistance, I feel anxious to evince my gratitude, by the insertion of the en- closed letter, in your next number,'
A pretty rediculous piece of business the whole affair has proved ; and will, we hope, tend to check the extravagant and absurd statements, which are daily got up in the absence of other ' Lies of the day.'
A report that Mr. and Mrs. Watson
had been speared, we happen to know (from being a witness to the circumstan- ce which gave rise to the rumour) is a
malicious fabrication. Mr. Watson was
standing at our gate, when Yagan who
appeared enraged, came up to him. and used most violent, and threatening ges- tures ; he however, hurried away, without raising his spear, further than to evince his determination of bringing it into ex- ercise at some future period.
The only manner in which we can account for this threat, is, that Mr. Wat- son has frequently repeated to many of
his tribe a determination to shoot him.
Preston Point, April 12th, 1833 To the Editor of the Perth Gazette,
I beg leave to avail myself of the opportuni- ty, which your columns will, I trust, afford me of returning my sincere thanks to the inhabitants ge- nerally of Fremantle, as also to those gentlemen (from residents, but who happened to be there) for the very kind feeling evinced by their prompt aid and assistance this day on hearing the report of my premises having been destroyed, and Mrs. Weavell speared by the natives.—I regret exceed- ingly, a report so groundless should have been spread, thereby occasioning so much trouble, and probably inconvenience to many who instantanously left their homes and business, to render every as- sistance in their power, and shall at all times think of the circumstance with gratified remember
I am Sir,
We are told it is in contemplation to form a station at the flats, in order to command the native pass. This is a wise
and most essential measure.
CANNIBALISM.—Lord HOWICK moved for permission to bring in a bill to empower the Govern- ors and Council of New South Wales to make such regulations as may be necessary to prevent outrages being committed by British subjects in the South Sea Islands, In reply to questions from one or two Members as to the object of this Bill, his Lordship stated that the courts of New South Wales had the power of punishing offences committed in the colony,
but if an offence were committed in New Zealand they had no means of bringing the delinquent before them. And in. fact, in consequence of this defect in the law, a most atrocious offender had escaped with impunity. The Captain of a British ship, who had not been able to get a cargo of slaves, assisted one tribe of savages in decoying another, and actually permitted them to be slaughtered and eaten on board British vessel. Owing to the want of power to bring this man before the Courts, he escaped unpunished. Leave was given to bring in the Bill.
We have given insertion to Mr. Lyon's " Glance at the manners, and language of the Aborigines " without venturing an opinion as to its accuracy, from a con- viction of our inability justly to estimate his statements without submitting them to test of experience ; however, in lending ourselves to the promulgation of his opini- ons, by no means let it be infered
that we subscribe to the whole of his de-
ductions. The subject of the treatment of the natives, necessary to effect the grand object of pacification, is one of infinite perplexity , and the most desira- ble method, can only be arrived at by a knowledge of their manners and language; to attain this end , we have opened our columns for the discussion, which we hope will tend to remove individual pre- judices, and establish one general senti- ment throughout the Colony. There is considerable merit due to Mr. Lyon, for his application and research, in this dif-
ficult, and complicated enquiry, conse-
quently although we withhold our opinion upon the individual merits of his ' Glance &c.'—we still think the following anony- mous contribution, by no means handles
the subject with that minute criticism which can establish it, as an effectua, contradiction to his assertions
It must be allowed Mr. Lyon has ta- ken great pains to collect materials to form a Vocabulary, and his deductions, whether from premises or not, it requires no magician to define, will merely be re- ceived as those of an individual, and esti- mated accordingly by the public, into whose hands we commit Mr. Lyon and his anonymous oponent, reserving any further remarks, gleaned from general opinion, until the whole has been submit-
ted to that severe but accurate test.
Perth, April 9th, 1833 Mr. Editor,
In a ' Glance at the manners ' &c. of
the natives in your paper of the 30th March, we have abundance of assertion—deductions, I pre- sume, from premises, but without any statement of these premises. And as the assertions are much at variance with what is generally reported, permit
me to call to recollection a few well known facts.
The first or almost the first interview with the
natives after the establishment of the Colony, was a furious and wholly unprovoked demonstration of every thing but amity and kindness, by a native near Woodman's Point to a party of officers of H. M. ships Challenger and Sulphur.
The first natives seen on the Canning seized and
endeavoured to run off with a swan that was shewn to them.
Before the month of Nov., 1829, a corporal of the 63d Regt. who separated from his party and lost his way, was received by a number of natives in a most hostile manner, and only saved his life with his musket : and two boats far up on the Swan were beset in an inimical manner, and one of them attempted to be, if not actually robbed by those who are declared to be ' a harmless, liberal,
and kind hearted race '
The second exploring party that entered the South branch of the Estuary of the Murray, had to defend themselves against an utterly unprovoked
attack with their fire arms.
The first months after the establishment of the
Settlement of King George's Sound were character- ised by the hostility of the natives, and their deceit- ful stealing upon our people at work in the woods, for the purpose of spearing them.
The tribes in the vicinity of King George's
Sound with whose manners and customs we are
best acquainted, are well known to be generally thieves, liars, cheats. Their expertness and decep- tion would not do discredit to the accomplished swindler. They secretly steal upon the unsuspect- ing, attack the old and infirm, or the young and powerless, in sacrificing, if we may call it so, to the mains of their departed relatives, and conse- quently without courageously risking their own bodies in open and fair battle. If one has done another an injury, revenge is sought by cunning and duplicity.
The deceit and impertinence of the natives are daily complained of by the inhabitants of Perth at this very moment.
I pass over many instances of ingratitude for good treatment, of requiting liberality and kindness with depredation and outrage, when opportunity served them, because in their common intercourse with us it is difficult to separate retaliation from wanton trespass and assault.
' Martial courage ' is displayed by a native in the same way that a dog trampled upon, will in- stantly seize the offender, and will immediately slink away from fear.—It is not the martial cou- rage of a declared foe we have to dread in the natives , it is the dastard duplicity of the secret assassin and incendiary.
For all this I do not wish to countenance the inhuman and more than savage treatment which the natives have too often experienced from indi- vidual persons. Nor do I mean to condemn the original possessors of the soil, unheard and untried. They are endowed with mental faculties which if properly directed, might be turned to our and their advantage. To give this direction, the power of in- terchanging ideas, is the first step. But those who may be appointed to obtain such power, should be more than linguists ; they should possess a quick comprehension, a sound and cool judgment, and a fearless rectitude of action.