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2-203 (Raw)

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author,female,Thomas, Mary,52 addressee,male
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Private Written
Private Correspondence
Hale, 1950
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2-203-raw.txt — 2 KB

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February 7, 1839. At present I must content myself with giving you some account of the natives, which may not be uninteresting. They are for the most part a harmless, inoffensive people, but extremely ignorant, and rank among the lowest of the human people. They seem to have but little intellect for improvement or imitation which is proved by their never attempting to build themselves substantial houses, notwithstanding the example which we have set before them, and the assistance, with an abundant supply of tools and material, which would be afforded them if they had either the ingenuity or the industry to avail themselves of them. But they (the men) are naturally indolent and averse to labour of every kind. They leave what little work there is to do, such as carrying burdens, their young children, and such-like, entirely to their women, and will encumber themselves with nothing but their warlike weapons, which you may be sure are rude enough, consisting of long spears pointed at one end, and, since the arrival of the whites, studded about two or three inches from the point with broken glass. They have no tools whatever, nor, so far as I have ever heard, any kind of domestic utensil. Consequently, they cook their provisions, consisting chiefly of kangaroos, opossums, iguanas, lizards, snakes, etc, on the bare coals, without divesting them, I believe, of either skin or entrails - at least the small animals. [176] Birds are deprived only of their feathers. They likewise eat several kinds of roots and herbs. The omen are generally tall and well made, but most of the women are the most abject-looking beings you can imagine. The latter are diminutive of stature sod are always stooping, from their habit of carrying everything at their back. Soon they have all the appearance of old age.
There is one thing more which I must mention, and that is the correctness with which they pronounce our language, though at first, when we came among them, it was only by repeating what we said. For instance I said to a woman, "What is your name? "to which she replied, with great accuracy, "What is your name?"
I made answer, "My name is Mary Thomas," and she again replied,
"My name is Mary Thomas."
But now they are rather more enlightened (I speak of the tribe about Adelaide), and some of them have learned what is said to them tolerably well, and to give, in some instances, rational answers. There are some white persons who have likewise studied their dialect so far as to make themselves understood by them.