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    Chapter 27

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    Chapter 28
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    Man is the Only Animal that Blushes. Or needs to.
    --Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.

    The universal brotherhood of man is our most precious possession, what
    there is of it.
    --Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.


    November 1--noon. A fine day, a brilliant sun. Warm in the sun, cold
    in the shade--an icy breeze blowing out of the south. A solemn long
    swell rolling up northward. It comes from the South Pole, with nothing
    in the way to obstruct its march and tone its energy down. I have read
    somewhere that an acute observer among the early explorers--Cook? or
    Tasman?--accepted this majestic swell as trustworthy circumstantial
    evidence that no important land lay to the southward, and so did not
    waste time on a useless quest in that direction, but changed his course
    and went searching elsewhere.

    Afternoon. Passing between Tasmania (formerly Van Diemen's Land) and
    neighboring islands--islands whence the poor exiled Tasmanian savages
    used to gaze at their lost homeland and cry; and die of broken hearts.
    How glad I am that all these native races are dead and gone, or nearly
    so. The work was mercifully swift and horrible in some portions of
    Australia. As far as Tasmania is concerned, the extermination was
    complete: not a native is left. It was a strife of years, and decades of
    years. The Whites and the Blacks hunted each other, ambushed each other,
    butchered each other. The Blacks were not numerous. But they were wary,
    alert, cunning, and they knew their country well. They lasted a long
    time, few as they were, and inflicted much slaughter upon the Whites.

    The Government wanted to save the Blacks from ultimate extermination, if
    possible. One of its schemes was to capture them and coop them up, on a
    neighboring island, under guard. Bodies of Whites volunteered for the
    hunt, for the pay was good--L5 for each Black captured and delivered, but
    the success achieved was not very satisfactory. The Black was naked, and
    his body was greased. It was hard to get a grip on him that would hold.
    The Whites moved about in armed bodies, and surprised little families of
    natives, and did make captures; but it was suspected that in these
    surprises half a dozen natives were killed to one caught--and that was
    not what the Government desired.

    Another scheme was to drive the natives into a corner of the island and
    fence them in by a cordon of men placed in line across the country; but
    the natives managed to slip through, constantly, and continue their
    murders and arsons.

    The governor warned these unlettered savages by printed proclamation that
    they must stay in the desolate region officially appointed for them! The
    proclamation was a dead letter; the savages could not read it. Afterward
    a picture-proclamation was issued. It was painted up on boards, and
    these were nailed to trees in the forest. Herewith is a photographic
    reproduction of this fashion-plate. Substantially it means:

    1. The Governor wishes the Whites and the Blacks to love each other;

    2. He loves his black subjects;

    3. Blacks who kill Whites will be hanged;

    4. Whites who kill Blacks will be hanged.

    Upon its several schemes the Government spent L30,000 and employed the
    labors and ingenuities of several thousand Whites for a long time with
    failure as a result. Then, at last, a quarter of a century after the
    beginning of the troubles between the two races, the right man was found.
    No, he found himself. This was George Augustus Robinson, called in
    history "The Conciliator." He was not educated, and not conspicuous in
    any way. He was a working bricklayer, in Hobart Town. But he must have
    been an amazing personality; a man worth traveling far to see. It may be
    his counterpart appears in history, but I do not know where to look for

    He set himself this incredible task: to go out into the wilderness, the
    jungle, and the mountain-retreats where the hunted and implacable savages
    were hidden, and appear among them unarmed, speak the language of love
    and of kindness to them, and persuade them to forsake their homes and the
    wild free life that was so dear to them, and go with him and surrender to
    the hated Whites and live under their watch and ward, and upon their
    charity the rest of their lives! On its face it was the dream of a

    In the beginning, his moral-suasion project was sarcastically dubbed the
    sugar plum speculation. If the scheme was striking, and new to the
    world's experience, the situation was not less so. It was this. The
    White population numbered 40,000 in 1831; the Black population numbered
    three hundred. Not 300 warriors, but 300 men, women, and children. The
    Whites were armed with guns, the Blacks with clubs and spears. The
    Whites had fought the Blacks for a quarter of a century, and had tried
    every thinkable way to capture, kill, or subdue them; and could not do
    it. If white men of any race could have done it, these would have
    accomplished it. But every scheme had failed, the splendid 300, the
    matchless 300 were unconquered, and manifestly unconquerable. They would
    not yield, they would listen to no terms, they would fight to the bitter
    end. Yet they had no poet to keep up their heart, and sing the marvel of
    their magnificent patriotism.

    At the end of five-and-twenty years of hard fighting, the surviving 300
    naked patriots were still defiant, still persistent, still efficacious
    with their rude weapons, and the Governor and the 40,000 knew not which
    way to turn, nor what to do.

    Then the Bricklayer--that wonderful man--proposed to go out into the
    wilderness, with no weapon but his tongue, and no protection but his
    honest eye and his humane heart; and track those embittered savages to
    their lairs in the gloomy forests and among the mountain snows.
    Naturally, he was considered a crank. But he was not quite that. In
    fact, he was a good way short of that. He was building upon his long and
    intimate knowledge of the native character. The deriders of his project
    were right--from their standpoint--for they believed the natives to be
    mere wild beasts; and Robinson was right, from his standpoint--for he
    believed the natives to be human beings. The truth did really lie
    between the two. The event proved that Robinson's judgment was soundest;
    but about once a month for four years the event came near to giving the
    verdict to the deriders, for about that frequently Robinson barely
    escaped falling under the native spears.

    But history shows that he had a thinking head, and was not a mere wild
    sentimentalist. For instance, he wanted the war parties (called) in
    before he started unarmed upon his mission of peace. He wanted the best
    chance of success--not a half-chance. And he was very willing to have
    help; and so, high rewards were advertised, for any who would go unarmed
    with him. This opportunity was declined. Robinson persuaded some tamed
    natives of both sexes to go with him--a strong evidence of his persuasive
    powers, for those natives well knew that their destruction would be
    almost certain. As it turned out, they had to face death over and over

    Robinson and his little party had a difficult undertaking upon their
    hands. They could not ride off, horseback, comfortably into the woods
    and call Leonidas and his 300 together for a talk and a treaty the
    following day; for the wild men were not in a body; they were scattered,
    immense distances apart, over regions so desolate that even the birds
    could not make a living with the chances offered--scattered in groups of
    twenty, a dozen, half a dozen, even in groups of three. And the mission
    must go on foot. Mr. Bonwick furnishes a description of those horrible
    regions, whereby it will be seen that even fugitive gangs of the hardiest
    and choicest human devils the world has seen--the convicts set apart to
    people the "Hell of Macquarrie Harbor Station"--were never able, but
    once, to survive the horrors of a march through them, but starving and
    struggling, and fainting and failing, ate each other, and died:

    "Onward, still onward, was the order of the indomitable Robinson. No one
    ignorant of the western country of Tasmania can form a correct idea of
    the traveling difficulties. While I was resident in Hobart Town, the
    Governor, Sir John Franklin, and his lady, undertook the western journey
    to Macquarrie Harbor, and suffered terribly. One man who assisted to
    carry her ladyship through the swamps, gave me his bitter experience of
    its miseries. Several were disabled for life. No wonder that but one
    party, escaping from Macquarrie Harbor convict settlement, arrived at the
    civilized region in safety. Men perished in the scrub, were lost in
    snow, or were devoured by their companions. This was the territory
    traversed by Mr. Robinson and his Black guides. All honor to his
    intrepidity, and their wonderful fidelity! When they had, in the depth
    of winter, to cross deep and rapid rivers, pass among mountains six
    thousand feet high, pierce dangerous thickets, and find food in a country
    forsaken even by birds, we can realize their hardships.

    "After a frightful journey by Cradle Mountain, and over the lofty plateau
    of Middlesex Plains, the travelers experienced unwonted misery, and the
    circumstances called forth the best qualities of the noble little band.
    Mr. Robinson wrote afterwards to Mr. Secretary Burnett some details of
    this passage of horrors. In that letter, of Oct 2, 1834, he states that
    his Natives were very reluctant to go over the dreadful mountain passes;
    that 'for seven successive days we continued traveling over one solid
    body of snow;' that 'the snows were of incredible depth;' that 'the
    Natives were frequently up to their middle in snow.' But still the
    ill-clad, ill-fed, diseased, and way-worn men and women were sustained by
    the cheerful voice of their unconquerable friend, and responded most
    nobly to his call."

    Mr. Bonwick says that Robinson's friendly capture of the Big River tribe
    remember, it was a whole tribe--"was by far the grandest feature of the
    war, and the crowning glory of his efforts." The word "war" was not well
    chosen, and is misleading. There was war still, but only the Blacks were
    conducting it--the Whites were holding off until Robinson could give his
    scheme a fair trial. I think that we are to understand that the friendly
    capture of that tribe was by far the most important thing, the highest in
    value, that happened during the whole thirty years of truceless
    hostilities; that it was a decisive thing, a peaceful Waterloo, the
    surrender of the native Napoleon and his dreaded forces, the happy ending
    of the long strife. For "that tribe was the terror of the colony," its
    chief "the Black Douglas of Bush households."

    Robinson knew that these formidable people were lurking somewhere, in
    some remote corner of the hideous regions just described, and he and his
    unarmed little party started on a tedious and perilous hunt for them. At
    last, "there, under the shadows of the Frenchman's Cap, whose grim cone
    rose five thousand feet in the uninhabited westward interior," they were
    found. It was a serious moment. Robinson himself believed, for once,
    that his mission, successful until now, was to end here in failure, and
    that his own death-hour had struck.

    The redoubtable chief stood in menacing attitude, with his eighteen-foot
    spear poised; his warriors stood massed at his back, armed for battle,
    their faces eloquent with their long-cherished loathing for white men.
    "They rattled their spears and shouted their war-cry." Their women were
    back of them, laden with supplies of weapons, and keeping their 150 eager
    dogs quiet until the chief should give the signal to fall on.

    "I think we shall soon be in the resurrection," whispered a member of
    Robinson's little party.

    "I think we shall," answered Robinson; then plucked up heart and began
    his persuasions--in the tribe's own dialect, which surprised and pleased
    the chief. Presently there was an interruption by the chief:

    "Who are you?"

    "We are gentlemen."

    "Where are your guns?"

    "We have none."

    The warrior was astonished.

    "Where your little guns?" (pistols).

    "We have none."

    A few minutes passed--in by-play--suspense--discussion among the
    tribesmen--Robinson's tamed squaws ventured to cross the line and begin
    persuasions upon the wild squaws. Then the chief stepped back "to confer
    with the old women--the real arbiters of savage war." Mr. Bonwick

    "As the fallen gladiator in the arena looks for the signal of life
    or death from the president of the amphitheatre, so waited our
    friends in anxious suspense while the conference continued. In a
    few minutes, before a word was uttered, the women of the tribe threw
    up their arms three times. This was the inviolable sign of peace!
    Down fell the spears. Forward, with a heavy sigh of relief, and
    upward glance of gratitude, came the friends of peace. The
    impulsive natives rushed forth with tears and cries, as each saw in
    the other's rank a loved one of the past.

    "It was a jubilee of joy. A festival followed. And, while tears
    flowed at the recital of woe, a corrobory of pleasant laughter
    closed the eventful day."

    In four years, without the spilling of a drop of blood, Robinson brought
    them all in, willing captives, and delivered them to the white governor,
    and ended the war which powder and bullets, and thousands of men to use
    them, had prosecuted without result since 1804.

    Marsyas charming the wild beasts with his music--that is fable; but the
    miracle wrought by Robinson is fact. It is history--and authentic; and
    surely, there is nothing greater, nothing more reverence-compelling in
    the history of any country, ancient or modern.

    And in memory of the greatest man Australasia ever developed or ever will
    develop, there is a stately monument to George Augustus Robinson, the
    Conciliator in--no, it is to another man, I forget his name.

    However, Robertson's own generation honored him, and in manifesting it
    honored themselves. The Government gave him a money-reward and a
    thousand acres of land; and the people held mass-meetings and praised him
    and emphasized their praise with a large subscription of money.

    A good dramatic situation; but the curtain fell on another:

    "When this desperate tribe was thus captured, there was much
    surprise to find that the L30,000 of a little earlier day had been
    spent, and the whole population of the colony placed under arms, in
    contention with an opposing force of sixteen men with wooden spears!
    Yet such was the fact. The celebrated Big River tribe, that had
    been raised by European fears to a host, consisted of sixteen men,
    nine women, and one child. With a knowledge of the mischief done by
    these few, their wonderful marches and their widespread aggressions,
    their enemies cannot deny to them the attributes of courage and
    military tact. A Wallace might harass a large army with a small and
    determined band; but the contending parties were at least equal in
    arms and civilization. The Zulus who fought us in Africa, the
    Maories in New Zealand, the Arabs in the Soudan, were far better
    provided with weapons, more advanced in the science of war, and
    considerably more numerous, than the naked Tasmanians. Governor
    Arthur rightly termed them a noble race."

    These were indeed wonderful people, the natives. They ought not to have
    been wasted. They should have been crossed with the Whites. It would
    have improved the Whites and done the Natives no harm.

    But the Natives were wasted, poor heroic wild creatures. They were
    gathered together in little settlements on neighboring islands, and
    paternally cared for by the Government, and instructed in religion, and
    deprived of tobacco, because the superintendent of the Sunday-school was
    not a smoker, and so considered smoking immoral.

    The Natives were not used to clothes, and houses, and regular hours, and
    church, and school, and Sunday-school, and work, and the other misplaced
    persecutions of civilization, and they pined for their lost home and
    their wild free life. Too late they repented that they had traded that
    heaven for this hell. They sat homesick on their alien crags, and day by
    day gazed out through their tears over the sea with unappeasable longing
    toward the hazy bulk which was the specter of what had been their
    paradise; one by one their hearts broke and they died.

    In a very few years nothing but a scant remnant remained alive. A
    handful lingered along into age. In 1864 the last man died, in 1876 the
    last woman died, and the Spartans of Australasia were extinct.

    The Whites always mean well when they take human fish out of the ocean
    and try to make them dry and warm and happy and comfortable in a chicken
    coop; but the kindest-hearted white man can always be depended on to
    prove himself inadequate when he deals with savages. He cannot turn the
    situation around and imagine how he would like it to have a well-meaning
    savage transfer him from his house and his church and his clothes and his
    books and his choice food to a hideous wilderness of sand and rocks and
    snow, and ice and sleet and storm and blistering sun, with no shelter, no
    bed, no covering for his and his family's naked bodies, and nothing to
    eat but snakes and grubs and 'offal. This would be a hell to him; and if
    he had any wisdom he would know that his own civilization is a hell to
    the savage--but he hasn't any, and has never had any; and for lack of it
    he shut up those poor natives in the unimaginable perdition of his
    civilization, committing his crime with the very best intentions, and saw
    those poor creatures waste away under his tortures; and gazed at it,
    vaguely troubled and sorrowful, and wondered what could be the matter
    with them. One is almost betrayed into respecting those criminals, they
    were so sincerely kind, and tender, and humane; and well-meaning.

    They didn't know why those exiled savages faded away, and they did their
    honest best to reason it out. And one man, in a like case in New South
    Wales, did reason it out and arrive at a solution:

    "It is from the wrath of God, which is revealed from heaven against
    cold ungodliness and unrighteousness of men."

    That settles it.
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    Chapter 28
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