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An Historical Journal of the Transactions at Port

That they are abominably filthy


The men, thus armed and painted, drew themselves up in a line on the beach, and each man had a green bough in his hand, as a sign of friendship; their disposition was as regular as any well disciplined troops could have been; and this party, I apprehend, was entirely for the defence of the women, if any insult had been offered them. We also observed at this interview, that two very stout armed men, were placed upon a rock, near to where our boats lay, as centinels; for they never moved from the spot until we left the beach: I therefore suppose they were ordered there to watch all our motions. We left these people, after a visit of about four hours, both parties apparently well satisfied with all that passed.

In the different opportunities I have had of getting a little acquainted with the natives, who reside in and about this port, I am, I confess, disposed to think, that it will be no very difficult matter, in due time, to conciliate their friendship and confidence; for although they generally appear armed on our first meeting, which will be allowed to be very natural, yet, whenever we have laid aside our arms, and have made signs of friendship, they have always advanced unarmed, with spirit, and a degree of confidence scarcely to be expected: from that appearance of a friendly disposition, I am inclined to think, that by residing some time amongst, or near them, they will soon discover that we are not their enemies; a light they no doubt considered us in on our first arrival.

The men in general are from five feet six inches, to five feet nine inches high; are thin, but very straight and clean made; walk very erect*, and are active. The women are not so tall, or so thin, but are generally well made; their colour is a rusty kind of black, something like that of soot, but I have seen many of the women almost as light as a mulatto. We have seen a few of both sexes with tolerably good features, but in general they have broad noses, large wide mouths, and thick lips; and their countenance altogether not very prepossessing; and what makes them still less so, is, that they are abominably filthy; they never clean their skin, but it is generally smeared with the fat of such animals as they kill, and afterwards covered with every sort of dirt; sand from the sea beach, and the ashes from their fires, all adhere to their greasy skin, which is never washed, except when accident, or the want of food, obliges them to go into the water.

[* See a plate of the natives in Phillip's Voyage.]

Some of the men wear a piece of wood or bone, thrust through the septum of the nose, which, by raising the opposite sides of the nose, widens the nostril, and spreads the lower part very much; this, no doubt, they consider as a beauty; most of those we had hitherto met, wanted the two foremost teeth on the right side of the upper jaw; and many of the women want the two lower joints of the little finger of the left hand, which we have not as yet been able to discover the reason or meaning of. This defect of the little finger we have observed in old women, and in young girls of eight or nine years old; in young women who have had children, and in those who have not, and the finger has been seen perfect in individuals of all the above ages and descriptions; they have very good teeth in general; their hair is short, strong, and curly, and as they seem to have no method of cleaning or combing it, it is therefore filthy and matted.

The men wear their beards, which are short and curly, like the hair of the head. Men, women, and children go entirely naked, as described by Captain Cook; they seem to have no fixed place of residence, but take their rest wherever night overtakes them: they generally shelter themselves in such cavities or hollows in the rocks upon the sea shore, as may be capable of defending them from the rain, and, in order to make their apartment as comfortable as possible, they commonly make a good fire in it before they lie down to rest; by which means, the rock all round them is so heated as to retain its warmth like an oven for a considerable time; and upon a little grass, which is previously pulled and dryed, they lie down and huddle together.


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