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1-008 (Raw)

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author,male,Philip, Arthur,50 addressee,male
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Government English
Imperial Correspondence
Clark, 1977
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1-008-raw.txt — 3 KB

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With respect to the natives, it was my determination from my first landing that nothing less than the most absolute necessity should ever make me fire upon them, and tho' persevering in this resolution has at times been rather difficult, I have hitherto been so fortunate that it never has been necessary. Mons. La Perouse, while at Botany Bay, was not so fortunate. He was obliged to fire on them, in consequence of which, with the bad behaviour of some of the transports' boats and some convicts, the natives have lately avoided us, but proper measures are taken to regain their confidence.
The few hours I have to collect and put into method the observations I have made of these people will, I hope, excuse me to your Lordship for sending only extracts from my journal, as they have been set down when the little incidents occurred, and from which a more just opinion of these people may be drawn than I should perhaps be able to give.
When I first landed in Botany Bay the natives appeared on the beach, and were easily persuaded to receive what was offered them, and, tho' they came armed, very readily returned the confidence I placed in them, by going to them alone and unarmed, most of them laying down their spears when desired; and while the ships remained in Botany Bay no dispute happened between our people and the natives. [66] They were all naked, but seemed fond of ornaments, putting the beads of red baize that were given them around their heads or necks. Their arms and canoes being described in "Captain Cook's Voyage", I do not trouble your Lordship with any description of them.
When I first went in the boats to Port Jackson the natives appeared armed near the place at which we landed, and were very vociferous, but, like the others, easily persuaded to accept what was offered them, and I persuaded one man, who appeared to be the chief, or master, of the family, to go with me to that part of the beach where the people were boiling their meat. When he came near the marines, who were drawn up near the place, and saw that by proceeding he should be separated from his companions, who remained with several officers at some distance, he stopped, and with great firmness seemed by words and acting to threaten if they offered to take any advantage of his situation. He then went on with me to examine what was boiling in the pot, and exprest his admiration in a manner that made me believe he intended to profit from what he saw, and which I made him understand he might very easily by the help of some oyster-shells. I believe they know no other way of dressing their food but by broiling, and they are seldom seen without a fire, or a piece of wood on fire, which they carry with them from place to place, and in their canoes, so that I apprehend they find some difficulty in procuring fire by any other means with which they are acquainted. The boats, in passing near a point of land in the harbour, were seen by a number of men, and twenty of them waded into the water unarmed, received what was offered to them, and examined the boats with a curiosity that gave me a much higher opinion of them than I had formed from the behaviour of those seen in Captain Cook's voyage, and their confidence and manly behaviour made me give the name of Manly Cove to this place.
It is not possible to determine with any accuracy the number of natives, but I think that in Botany Bay, Port Jackson, Broken Bay, and the intermediate coast they cannot be less than one thousand five hundred.