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1 correction by peter-macinnis - Show corrections

CORRESPONDENCE. [Mr. Henry Landor's observations on the Aus- tralian Native published by us least week, seem to have excited particular attention. We this day publish two letters, one in opposition to Mr. Landor's views, the other in support of them, in so far as the writer attacks certain opinions put forth by a correspondent of the Perth Gazette, and intended, we conclude, to disprove Mr. Lan- dor's arguments. We think it would have been as well if reply had been reserved until the ap- pearance of the other letters promised by Mr. Lan- dor, for that gentleman has, as yet, scarcely even entered upon his subject, and it is rather prema- ture to assail an argument that is not yet fully developed. We have little doubt that Mr. Lan- dor will be found well able to maintain his po- sition before he has done ; all that we shall do for the present is to offer to the disputants "a clear   field, and no favour." — Ed.] To the Editor of the "Inquirer." Sir, — I have read with some interest and at- tention the letter from Mr. Henry Landor re- specting the natives of this country, which appeared in your paper of the 4th inst. This communication contains remarks and inferences which have not a little surprised me, emanating, as they do, from a person to whom I should have looked for a cooler judgment, and a more enlarged and philosophical view of his subject. Mr. Landor seems to me to have fallen into an error, common to those who have come in contact with uncivilised man and his habits for

the first and only time in their lives. His open- ing observation would lead one to suppose that the Australian race differs most evidently from all other races of men. Every thing is so strange to him, that he concludes nothing like the Abori- ginal state of affairs here has ever been discovered on the broad face of the globe before. I thought, Sir, that no axiom was so indisputably true as the historical one that, under the influence of similar surrounding objects and circumstances,

mankind, in all ages and in all parts of the world, have been found everywhere the same. Mr.Landor puts forth as his thesis, upon which apparently he intends hereafter to write more fully, a remark that must have startled some of your readers — ' Whether,' he says, 'this race is   derived from a stock distinct from the rest of mankind, or whether it is to be regarded as a variety of the known species,' is a point of diffi- cult determination.' Does this gentleman believe his Bible ? I conclude he does, for afterwards he speaks of a wide field being open in this coun- try among the Aborigines for 'Christian energy.' Yet if he does, his reading and understanding of that book have disclosed to him what I cannot discern — that any of the great family of man are descended from other parents than Adam and Eve. But the animals of this country are so remark- ably dissimilar in structure and habits to those of the other regions of the earth, that the human species, à fortiori, must be equally dissimilar. In New Zealand, before those islands were dis- covered by Cook, the inhabitants had never seen a four-footed animal. Would it not have been unsound logic on the part of a New Zealand physiologist to have argued from this the anoma- lous origin and condition of the men and women dwelling in those regions, which produced such odd things as pigs and goats? and yet how much   would bis argument be strengthened could he have brought forward specimens of the chame- lion, the camel, thecamelopard, and the hippopo- tamus. Mr. Landor proceeds further to show that the Australian is elevated only a little higher than the brutes, by instituting an overwhelming com- parison between him and the white races. 'In   the white races alone,' we are told, ' we meet with true love of liberty, and other passions and virtues of great souls.' Here again he seems to me to stumble at the threshold. Had he said Christians, instead of white races, I could have partially agreed with him, though still with very considerable modification. For when we ex- amine closely into the matter, what large deduc- tions must be made, in many cases, from the glorious list of virtues with which he has en- dowed the people of his own colour and religion. Is a Russian Serf, or an Austrian peasant, so free as my friends Munday, Miago, and Boka- berry? Can the deeds of Venice; the private assassinations of the Italian republics; the mass- acre of St. Batholomew; the burning of witches;   the slave-trade, or the sacking of towns in modern warfare, be cited as indications of generosity and clemency, compassion and benevolence? These 'wretched Australians,' however, are   without laws, without government, without arts, without ingenuity, and without many other good things, which we would kindly bestow upon them,

but which they decline to accept, as not percei ing the want of them. It is not quite correct to represent them as being without laws. They have certain rules, not held in high estimation by our more civilised selves, but the observance of which is rigidly enforced by them; though generally, to be sure,   they live, as did the Barons of old, according to the adage, that 'might makes right.'   With regard to arts and ingenuity, I leave the miro or throwing-board, and the kyli, to speak for themselves. Agriculture, it must be confessed, is not prac- tised by them, because this country does not boast one single indigenous grain, root, or fruit, the cultivation of which would reward their toil and industry. This is their misfortune, not their fault. They care nothing about clothes, and very little for houses; for the reason that the climate   does not necessitate any particular bodily cover- ing, or even shelter, during the largest portion of the year. Are not the Gipsies in England, and those who live much in the bush in this country, pretty nearly of the same opinion with the Abori- gines?   They possess no arms or warlike instruments beyond the simplest wooden spears; and what   more could Mr. Landor expect or require? Not fowling-pieces, with detonatory locks, or Paix- hau's guns ! — and there is no wood to be found in Australia sufficiently elastic for bows. I trust   Mr. Landor may never have the trial made upon him of the efficacy of the wooden spear. I am afraid he would find it one of the simplest modes of putting a man to death that could well be de-

vised, and the simplicity if an instrument is com- monly what we most admire in it. Before Mr. Landor draws any final conclu- sions respecting these people, particularly as to their being a race apart from the rest of their fellow-creatures, I would recommend him to Dr. Robertson's History of America. He will there find every individual trait of character, which now strikes him as so singular and peculiar to the Australians, recorded of the tribes of South Ame- rica. The edition of Robertson to which I have ac- cess is in 10 vols., 800 ; 1821. Vol. 7, p.p.342, 343, 346, 348, 349, 353, and 362; and vol. 8, p.p. 2, 3, 15, 16, 19, 20, 30, 31, 37, 55, 56, 59, and 66; might be extracted and printed as a history of the Aborigines of Australia. ********* *