COMMENTS ON TASMANIAN PUBLICATIONS OF 1884 AND 1973/74

Dr. Charles F. Urbanowicz / Professor of Anthropology
Department of Anthropology
California State University, Chico
Chico, California 95929-0400
530-898-6220 [Office]; 530-898-6192 [Dept.] FAX: 530-898-6824
e-mail: curbanowicz@csuchico.edu / home page: http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban

30 November 1998 (1)

[This page printed from: http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/Pacific/Tasmania.html]

  

© [All Rights Reserved] This paper was placed on the World Wide Web on 30 November 1998. About this author: Charles F. Urbanowicz (born 1942) received the Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon (1972) based on 1970 and 1971 field work in the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga, combined with archival research in Hawai'i, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. Reviews on Pacific topics have appeared in Ethnohistory (1975 and 1977), The Journal of the Polynesian Society (1978), Pacific Studies (1981), and the American Anthropologist (1989). Most recent Tongan publications include a chapter entitled "Tonga" for the Encyclopedia of World Cultures (1991), edited by D. Levinson as well as a Japanese translation of a chapter dealing with tourism in Tonga for the Japanese edition (1991) of the 2nd edition of Hosts and Guests: The Anthropology of Tourism (1989) edited by Valene Smith; this 1989 chapter was a modest revision of the chapter which appeared in the 1977 edition of the same title. Various articles on Tongan topics have been published in Ethnohistory (1973 and 1977), The Journal of the Polynesian Society (1977), Journal de la Société des Océanistes (1978), and Pacific Viewpoint (1979) and taking heed from the phrase Ab alio expectes quod alteri feceris ["You may look for the same treatment from others as you extend to others" or "Expect that as you do unto one, another will do unto you"], it is pointed out that identical chapters on Tonga were published in Psychological Anthropology (1975) edited by S. L. Seaton and J. M. Claessen as well as Political Anthropology: The State of the Art (1979) edited by T. R. Williams; similarities in certain presentations/papers also occur in some of my single-authored and joint-authored temecommunication papers/presentations of the late 1970s and 1980s. Much of my current research now focuses on "Charles Darwin" and/or the "gaming industry" and several of these papers obviously draw upon and build upon one another. For a complete résumé, with exact publications and titles, please go to the "home page" indicated below and continue from there. To return to the beginning of this paper, please click here.

 

INTRODUCTION
THE AUTHORS AND VOLUMES
THE COMPARISONS
WHAT IS GOING ON?
A SOLUTION? (A THIRD SOURCE?)
CONCLUSIONS!

INTRODUCTION

Two publications dealing with the aborigines of Tasmania are called to your attention: the first is the 1884 London publication of James Bonwick (1817-1906) entitled The Lost Tasmanian Race; the second is the 1973 London publication of David M. Davies (born in 1929) entitled The Last of the Tasmanians. In 1974 the Davies item was also published in the United States. The 1973 Davies item was "Copyrighted" by Dr. D. M. Davies and the following appears:

"All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photo-copying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of Frederick Muller Limited."

No such statement appears in the 1974 United States publication. Aside from this, the two Davies items are identical, down to "Contents" and pagination and may be considered a "single" publication and will be referred to as such. The 1970 reprint of Bonwick has no identifying caveat as to copyright.

 

THE AUTHORS AND VOLUMES

Bonwick's 1884 volume, The Lost Tasmanian Race, was originally published in London (Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington) and is available in a 1970 reprint from the Johnson Reprint Corporation (of New York City) and the Johnson Reprint Company, Ltd. (of London). The 1970 Bonwick reprint is part of the Landmarks in Anthropology series which are reprints in cultural anthropology under the General Editorship of Weston LaBarre. The 1970 Johnson Reprint of the 1884 Bonwick volume in the Meriam Library at California State University, Chico, has the Library of Congress classification of DU/473/B72/1884a. Davies' 1973 item, The Last of the Tasmanians, was first published in Great Britain (Frederick Muller Limited, London) and was also published in 1974 in the United States (by Harper & Row Publishers, Inc. of the Barnes & Noble Import Division). The two Davies publications in the Library at California State University, Chico, have the Library of Congress classifications of GN/667/T2/D38/1973 and GN/667/T2/D38/1974.

James Bonwick was a Fellow of the prestigious Royal Geographical Society and was also a Fellow of the Anthropological Institute; Bonwick was asked to do another edition of his 1870 publication of The Last of the Tasmanians; or, The Black War of Van Diemen's Land but chose, instead, to publish "in a simpler form, the leading facts of that sad tale of a Colonial Past" and this is the 1884 The Lost Tasmanian Race discussed in this web paper. Claudia Sagona's Annotated Bibliography of the Tasmanian Aborigines 1970-1987 lists several Bonwick items, including the reprint editions (#s 87-90) and she has the following about Davies (#248):

"A general and out-dated account of European contact with the Tasmanians, drawing largely from early accounts. The volume is useful more for its illustrations, maps and photographs of Tasmania and the Tasmanians, than content. Sources of reference are seldom documented. Chapters 13 and 14 are full of errors." Claudia Sagona, Annotated Bibliography of the Tasmanian Aborigines 1970-1987 (Plomley Foundation: Launceston, Tasmania), 1989, page 68.

Sagona concluded: "Compare J. Bonwick (1870) The Last of the Tasmanians, one of the main sources used." The point I shall attempt to argue is that the Bonwick publication of 1884 (The Lost Tasmanian Race ) may have been the only source used by Davies in 1973/74 (at least as far as I compared: explained below).

A check of scholarly journals provided two reviews of Davies' The Lost Tasmanian Race and neither addressed the issue in this current web-paper but both made interesting points. In 1975 a reviewer stated:

"Recommended to researchers on genocide, the work is no substitute for the classic ethnography, The aborigines of Tasmania by H. Long Roth (1899), or G.A. Robinson's ethnohistorical contribution Friendly missions, ed. by N. J. B. Plomley (1966). It does not even match the scholarship of the last attempt on the same topic, Black war by Clive Turnbull (1948). Indexed; incomplete bibliography; well illustrated." Anon., 1975, Choice, May, Vol. 12, No. 3: 427.

The anonymous reviewer also pointed out that Davies failed to address other points: "The Tasmanian survivors on Kangaroo Island, South Australia, until the 1890s are not mentioned."

In 1976 The American Historical Review reviewed three items: Aborigines and Colonists: Aborigines and Colonial Society in New South Wales in the 1830s and 1840s by R. H. W. Reece (1975), Discovering Monaro: A Study of Man's Impact on His Environment by W. K. Hancock (1972), and The Last of the Tasmanians by David Davies (1974). Describing Davies as a "Physical anthropologist," the following appeared:

"It is unfortunate that it [Davies 1974] is not well researched; there are no footnotes (though excessive use of long quotations), and the bibliography is inadequate. Neither organization nor treatment is nearly as good as Clive Turnbull's Black War (1948) or Robert Travis' The Tasmanians (1968), and Davies' chapter on the origins of the Tasmanians (ch. 14) does not compare with the brilliance of Geoffrey Blainey's third chapter in his latest book, Triumph of the Nomads (1975)." S.C. McCulloch, The American Historical Review, October 1976, Vol. 81, No. 4: 949.

McCulloch's review ended with the following: "The illustrations, photographs, and maps are superb. They brighten an otherwise disappointing book."

Davies is obviously known, from annotated bibliographies, reviews, and citations: Ryan's 1981 publication, for example, The Aboriginal Tasmanians (based on a 1975 doctorate from the School of History at Macquarie University) lists Davies under "Printed Works From 1900" and in her second edition (of the same title) published in 1996, Ryan cites the Davies item of 1973 (as well as only the Bonwick item of 1870 entitled The Last of the Tasmanians; or, The Black War of Van Diemen's Land . One can possibly ask, why this note considering that Davies and Bonwick are apparently well known to Tasmian researchers and reviewers of the literature?

 

THE COMPARISONS

Comparing the "organization" of Bonwick with Davies we see the following:

The Lost Tasmanian Race (1884) by James Bonwick

Introduction
Earliest Notices of the Natives
The race Under British Rule
Sorrows of the Race
The War
The Line
Capture Parties
Robinson the Consiliator
Flinders Island Refuge

The Last of The Tasmanians (1973/74) by David Davies

Introduction
Part One: Prologue
1. The Earliest Records
2. The Tasmanians Under British Rule

Part Two: War
3. The Tragedy Within the Race
4. The Black War
5. The Mosquito Bites
6. The Line
7. Search Parties

Part Three: Conciliation
8. Mr. Robinson--The Bailiff
9. "That-Me-Country"
10. The Remnant Returns
11. White Contacts
12. Decline and Extinction

Part Four: Epilogue
13. The Physique and Culture of the Tasmanians
14. Origin of the Tasmanians

Appendix I
Appendix II
Bibliography
Index

It would appear that there are similarities in the organization of these two items, but considering they were published almost ninety years apart, perhaps one should read further. Your attention is drawn to the following:

BONWICK 1884: page 1

"And who were the Tasmanians? When Tasman, the Dutchman, in 1642, was sailing along the then unknown Southern Ocean, that restlessly surges between Australia and the South Pole, he came upon a rocky, wooded island. This he called Van Diemen's Land, since changed to Tasmania. The aboriginal Tasmanians believed themselves alone in the world."

DAVIES 1973/74: page 9

"When, in 1642, the Dutchman, Abel Tasman, was sailing along the then Southern Ocean that lies between Australia and the South Pole, he came across a rocky wooded island. This he called Van Diemen's Land, later to become known as Tasmania. The aboriginals who inhabited the islands, like the aboriginals of New Guinea, believed themselves alone in the world, and had numerous legends about their origins."

These statements should cause a pause: are there not some similarities? Perhaps the two statements are, however, merely an indication of how authors set the stage for a discussion on Tasmania, since one can read in The National Trust in Tasmania (published in 1980) the following:

"When, in 1642, Abel Tasman first sighted the island later to be named after him, it was populated by some thousands of Australian Aborigines who had drifted southward, reaching the island before the landbridge with mainland Australia had submerged. Tasman never saw them, but reported some signs of habitation." J.N.D. Harrison (Text) and Frank Bolt (Photographs), The National Trust in Tasmania (Cassell, Australia), 1980, page 11.

Although Harrison and Bolt sound familiar, they go to other topics; but the 19th Century Bonwick publication and the 20th Century Davies publications continue to sound familiar. Perhaps this is understandable, since both authors had similar goals (albeit, almost a century apart).

BONWICK 1884: p. 2

"To tell the tale of sorrows flowing from this arrival, and how the war between the weak and the strong brought all-prevailing power to one, but dire extinction to the other, is the object of this present book."

DAVIES 1973/4: p. 10

To tell the tale of sorrows flowing from this arrival, how the war between weak and strong brought all-prevailing power to one, but eventual extinction to the other, is the object of this present book."

Similarities aside, Davies must know what he is doing since the flyleaf in 1973 and 1974 the following appeared:

"Dr. David Davies' first expedition was to Lapland in 1949, while he was still an undergraduate at Cambridge. Since then he has visited over thirty different countries, from South America to Indonesia, making a special study of deficiency diseases among primitive people. He has an M.A. from Cambridge in Anthropology and a Ph.D. from London University in medical sciences. For two years he was Professor of Anthropology at the University of Bangkok." David M. Davies, 1973/74: n.p.

These are impressive credentials yet one cannot but consider those similarities in the "Introductions" of Bonwick and Davies. The 1973/74 description for Davies continued:

"For a time he worked at University College, London, under Professor J.Z. Young, and he has also been a member of University College Hospital Medical School and the Royal College of Surgeons. He is at present on the staff of the International Institute of Human Nutrition, Oxford. He was a Churchill Fellow for 1971, and used the award to take an expedition to South America. His other books include A Dictionary of Anthropology [1972] and The Rice Bowl of Asia which has just been re-issued in a Muller edition [1973]." David M. Davies, 1973/74: n.p.

The 1973 and 1974 editions of The Last of the Tasmanians pointed out that Davies had also authored A Journey Into The Stone Age (1969) as well as The Influence of Teeth, Diet, and Habits on the Human Race (1972). Davies has also published The Centenarians of the Andes (1975). Even with such credentials, one should still, however, make comparisons, such as Bonwick on "Earliest Notices of the Natives" with Davies' Chapter 1: "The Earliest Records."

BONWICK 1884, page 3

"The discoverer of the island, Abel Jansen Tasman, never saw the original inhabitants. He detected notches in trees by which they ascended after birds' nests, as he supposed, after opossums, as we know. He did observe smoke, and heard the noise of a trumpet. Satisfied with hoisting the Dutch flag, he passed on to the discovery of New Zealand. A Frenchman, Captain Marion, held the first intercourse with the wild men of the woods. This was in 1772, being 140 years after Tasman's call. Rienzi, the historian, speaks of the kind reception of his countrymen by the Natives, whose children and women were present to greet the strangers. But bloodshed followed the greeting. This is the account:--'About an hour after the French landed, Captain Marion landed.'"

DAVIES 1973/4: p. 13

"The discoverer of Van Diemen's Land, Abel Jansen Tasman, never saw the original inhabitants. However, he detected the notches put in tree trunks by which they climbed the trees looking for, he thought, birds' nests, though later evidence showed that it was for opossums. He often saw smoke, and heard a noise like a trumpet (the blowing of the conch shell). Tasman was satisfied with hoisting the Dutch flag, and then he sailed on to discover New Zealand, much more welcome to an explorer. A Frenchman, Captain Marion, made the first contact with the wild men of Van Diemen's Land, in 1772, 140 years after Tasman's landing. Rienzi, the historian speaks of the kind reception the natives gave his countrymen. Women and children were present to greet the strangers, which indicated that they did not have war on their minds. But a little later there was bloodshed: 'About an hour after the French fleet had landed, Captain Marion landed.'"

Even the casual reader must begin to wonder: we have "notches" and "opossums" and "birds' nests" in both items, but Davies has a bit more and has told us it was a "conch shell" that was used. Although Bonwick wrote of the "children and women present to greet the strangers" Davies states that this indicated "that they did not have war on their minds." Incidentally, it should be noted that in his 1870 publication ofThe Last of the Tasmanians; or, The Black War of Van Diemen's Land, Bonwick pointed out that Domény de Rienzi was a French historian (1870: 7). It is quite obvious that Bonwick drew very heavily on his 1870 volume to create his 1884 publication.

One needs to ask the following: is the 20th Century Davies item an original work or an explication de texte of the 1884 Bonwick publication? Davies is certainly the 20th Century author, with impressive credentials, and the 1973/4 volume does have two Appendices. Bonwick had no bibliography and Davies has an impressive 64 item bibliography, from an earliest publication of 1642 (Abel Jansen Tasman's Journal van de Reis naar et Onbekende Zuiland in den Jone) to a 1968 published item (C.M.H. Clark's A History of Australia, Vol. 2, New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, 1822-38), but Sagona's point is well taken: "Sources of reference are seldom documented" (Claudia Sagona, 1989, Loc. cit.). Davies' Bibliography does include Bonwick's 1870 The Daily Life of the Tasmanians, but Davies does not list the 1884 Bonwick publication under discussion. It is, indeed, interesting to "compare" Davies to Bonwick, as Sagona suggested. One must think that Davies based this 1973/4 item on his bibliographic research since the information on the book jacket states:

"In this book David Davies recounts the tortuous history of the Tasmanians' extermination and examines the physique, morals and social structure of the race itself. The text is illustrated with rare etchings and unique, hitherto unpublished photographs of the last few survivors." David M. Davies, 1973/74: n.p.

The description, however, does not refer to any relationship to Bonwick's The Lost Tasmanian Race of 1884.

 

WHAT IS GOING ON?

By now, the reader should have noticed something. Reading Bonwick on "Sealers and Native Women" and Davies on "White Contact," one compares the following sentences:

BONWICK 1884: p. 191

"The rough sealers of the stormy Bass's Straits would form an interesting chapter in the early history of the colonies, apart from their association with the Aborigines of Van Diemen's Land, and the part they took in the Black War."

DAVIES 1973/4: p. 216

"The rough sealers of the stormy Bass Straits would form an interesting chapter in the early history of the colonies, even without their association with the aborigines of Tasmania and the part that they played in the Black War."

Davies of 1973/74 is a virtual match with Bonwick from 1884. Choosing two statements of "Decline and Extinction" albeit, one from 1884 and one from 1973/74, one reads:

BONWICK 1884: p. 210

"In taking up this painful subject--the Decline of the Tasmanians--it would be impossible to separate that fact from the advent of the Europeans. The Indian Cacique spoke of his people as melting like snow before the sun, when the palefaces came."

DAVIES 1973/4: p. 231

"It is impossible to separate he decline of the Tasmanians from the advent of the Europeans. The Red Indian spoke of his people as melting like the snow before the sun when the palefaces came."

 

Continuing with the above, there are some differences:

BONWICK 1884: p. 210

"Our Aborigines have not been suffered simply to pass off and onward before colonization, but have been hurried in their departure; and this, not by the gifts from Egyptian impatience, but by the poison of contact, and the sword of destruction. Not able to amalgamate with the European Colonists, the other unfortunate condition followed--they perished. The Puritans of America were not alone in the belief that the Aborigines were a sort of Canaanitish people, who were doomed to be exterminated by the peculiar people."

DAVIES 1973/4: p. 231

"The Tasmanians were hurried and harried from the face of this earth by the poison of European contact and the sword of destruction. Unable to merge with the European colonists, unable to withstand them, they perished. As early as 1830, the Secretary of State in England wrote to Lieutenant-Governor Arthur and mentioned that, due to despatches received, it appeared obvious that the Tasmanians would soon become extinct. The Puritans of America were not alone in the belief that aborigines, wherever they were found, were a kind of Canaanitish people, who were doomed to be exterminated by the chosen people as the scourge of God."

There are some differences, but the incredible similarities are simply incredible!

In 1884, Bonwick cited poems from the Hobart Town Magazine of 1834 and Davies did the same in 1973/74; but where Bonwick has no interpretive statement, Davies states that "Implicit in the first poem is the understanding that the Tasmanian aborigines were on their last legs" (see J. Bonwick, 1884: 150-152 as well as D.M. Davies, 1973/74: 173-174). Immediately after this Davies has that "Colonel Arthur, the Lieutenant-Governor, pleased them with his courtesy and kindness" and one can read in Bonwick that "Colonel Arthur pleased them with his courtesy." Davies does have those black and white photographs, as well as two chapters on the Tasmanians, and it is interesting to read about the photographs:

BONWICK 1884: p. 151

"It was on this occasion that portraits were taken of the Aborigines by Mr. Duterrau. My late esteemed friend, Mr. Thomas Napier, J.P., of Essendon, Victoria, then took sketches of some of the people, and copies of which paintings I have secured by the brush of the late Mr. Thomas Clark, the Melbourne artist. A few days afterwards a vessel was prepared, and the Natives were induced to go on board, in order to reach splendid hunting-grounds, where no soldiers and parties were to be found, and where they would never be molested."

DAVIES 1973/4: p. 175

"It was at this time that portraits of the Tasmanians, copies of which appear in this book as plates A27-A28, were painted by Mr. Duterrau. But a few days later came the rub, for a vessel was prepared and he natives were induced to go on board, in order to go to the splendid hunting grounds that Mr. Robinson and so many others had told them about: a place, they were told, where their sadly reduced numbers would be safe; a place where no soldiers and no capture parties were to be found, and where they would never be molested."

Perhaps one understands how Sagona wrote of comparing J. Bonwick with D. Davies in her Annotated Bibliography of the Tasmanian Aborigines 1970- 1987 (Plomley Foundation: Launceston, Tasmania), 1989 .

 

A SOLUTION? (A THIRD SOURCE?)

Given all of the above, is there the possibility that Bonwick and Davies wrote their items based on research from an earlier source? Returning to the beginning of Bonwick and Davies, when the French Captain Marion landed in 1772, we read the following:

BONWICK 1884: Page 3

"This is the account:--'About an hour after the French landed, Captain Marion landed. Advancing in front of him, one of the Aborigines offered him a lighted firebrand, that he might set light to a heap of wood heaped up on the flat shore. Marion took it, believing that it was a formality intended to give confidence to the savages; but hardly had the little pile of wood been enflamed, when the Aborigines retired in mass toward a little height, from which they threw afterwards a volley of stones which wounded the two captains.'"

DAVIES 1973/4: Page 13

"But a little later there was bloodshed: 'About an hour after the French fleet had landed, Captain Marion landed. Advancing in front of him, one of the aborigines offered him a lighted firebrand, indicating that he should set alight a heap of wood heaped up just above the waterline. Marion took it, believing it to be a formality that would go on to give friendship between the parties; but hardly had the pile of wood been lighted, when the aborigines retired en masse towards a little height on the foreshore, from which vantage point they threw a volley of stones, which wounded the two Captains on the beach below.'"

Even though both begin with "About an hour after the French," alas, the descriptions of the same 1772 event are different (even though both authors a century apart had their opening statements in quotation marks). Looking at other major sources and quotations used both by Bonwick in 1884 and Davies in 1973/1974 we read the following:

BONWICK 1884: Page 6

"But the most important narratives are those in the works of the French naturalists Labillardière and Péron. The former was with Admiral D'Entrecasteaux, in 1792; the latter with Admiral Baudin, in 1802. The first interview is thus described:--'We got ready a few cartridges as fast as we could, and set out towards the place where we had seen the Natives. It was now only nine o'clock. We had gone only a few steps before we met them. The men and youths were ranged in front, nearly in a semicircle; the women, children, and girls were a few paces behind.'"

DAVIES 1973/4: Page 16

"The most important contemporary accounts of Tasmania are those of the famous French naturalist Labillardiere and Péron. The former was a companion of Admiral d'Entrecasteaux on his visit in 1792; and the latter went with Admiral Baudin in 1802. Here is an extract of what Labillardiere had to say about his experiences on the island: 'We got ready a few cartridges as fast as we could, and set out towards the place where we had seen the aborigines. It was now only nine o'clock. We had gone only a few steps before we met them. The men and the youths were ranged in front, nearly in a semi-circle; the women, the children and then the older girls, were a few paces behind.'"

Interesting differences and similarities. One can read in Bonwick that "the hero of the hour was George August Robinson. He was of no high lineage. He was no worshipper of chivalry. He inherited no special enthusiasm. He had no direct training for a Mission" (J. Bonwick, 1884: 133) and read in Davies a century later:

"The man of the moment was George Augustus Robinson. He was of no high lineage and no worshipper of chivalry, nor did he inherit any special enthusiasm for the aborigines or have any direct training for a mission" (D.M. Davies, 1973/74: 157).

Reading about the final days of George Augustus Robinson's career and life, we have the following:

BONWICK 1884: Page 158

"A new sphere opened for him. Tasmanian settlers had crossed the Straits with their flocks, and the plains of Port Phillip were dotted with homesteads. The Native difficulty had arisen there. Cruelties on the one side, and outrages on the other, had indicated the beginning of another Black War. The Home Government, anxious to prevent a further depopulation of original inhabitants, sought by wise measures the conciliation of the dark tribes, and the safety of the colonists. Mr. Robinson received an offer of 500£ a year to be Protector of the Aborigines of Port Phillip. In 1838, he became a citizen of that colony. It is not within the scope of the present work to criticize the performance of his duties there. In 1853, he retired to enjoy his ease in England. Advancing age subdued the fire of his character, and in peaceful quietude he spent his declining days. He died at Prahran, Bath, on the 18th of October, 1866."

DAVIES 1973/4: Page 180-1

"Instead, a new sphere opened for him. The Tasmanian settlers had, with their flocks, crossed the Bass Straits into Victoria, Australia, and the plains of Port Phillip were becoming dotted with their homesteads. Hardly a surprising 'native difficulty' had arisen there. Cruelties were the order of the day on one side and 'outrages' on the other. All the indications seemed to point to the imminent outbreak of another 'Black War'. Mr. Robinson received an offer of £500 a year to be 'protector' of the aborigines of Port Phillip, and. by 1838, he had become a citizen of Victoria. It is not within the scope of this book to criticize the performance of his duties there. However, it can be said that in 1853 he sailed away to England. Advancing age subdued his former fire and vehemence, and he died in Bath in 1866."

Bonwick, almost a century before Davies, provides the reader with the exact date of Robinson's demise, and Bonwick also has the interesting point mentioned above that "The Home Government, anxious to prevent a further depopulation of original inhabitants, sought by wise measures the conciliation of the dark tribes, and the safety of the colonists," something Davies fails to mention.

We can read in Bonwick of "the removal of the Aborigines from the main island to one of the islands in Bass's Straits was contemplated even before the appointment of the Capture Parties" ( J. Bonwick, 1884: 158) and compare this with Davies and "the removal of the aborigines from the main island to one in Bass Straits was being discussed even before the making up of the capture parties" (D.M. Davies, 1973/74: 183). Bonwick wrote that "the terrible mortality of the Natives on Flinders Island excited the sympathy of their friends in Hobart Town" (J. Bonwick, 1884: 177) and Davies has "the terrible mortality of the Tasmanians on Flinders Island excited the sympathy of their friends in Hobart" ( D.M. Davies, 1973/74: 204).

 

CONCLUSIONS!

To read Bonwick of 1884 and Davies of 1973/74 side-by-side is truly an overwhelming experience! I am sorry for the reader who happens upon one publication without being aware of the other. The fact is granted that there are differences in the 1884 publication and 1973/74 items, but the similarities are almost too incredible to be believed! I am also curious about the state of 20th Century scholarship: earlier (and virtually identical) versions of this paper were submitted in the 1990s to the American Anthropologist, Ethnohistory, Journal of Pacific History, University Journal (California State University, Chico), Science, as well as The Times Literary Supplement and were rejected by all. Two submissions (over a year apart) were also sent to the Tasmanian Historical Research Association (Sandy Bay, Tasmania), but the editor was not interested. Needless to say, I still think the topic is appropriate for scholarly consideration and given the World Wide Web and the fact that I discuss Bonwick/Davies in my various classes at California State University, Chico, hence this paper.

Since Davies did provide the reader with an "Index," one may read a set of statements dealing with the first (of thirteen) specific reference of Bonwick that are made by Davies in 1973/74, although (once again) Davies does not have the 1884 Bonwick publication in his bibliography, he does have the 1870 Bonwick.

Please consider Bonwick of 1884 and Davies of 1973/74, followed by Bonwick of 1870:

BONWICK 1884: Page 25

"I regret to say that, though I have been much favoured in my researches among the old records of Tasmania, especially by the late Mr. Bicheno, Colonial Secretary, under Governor Franklin, and afterwards by the Premier, Sir Richard Dry, I was so unfortunate as to discover no papers relative to the first six years of the settlement. The story goes, that upon the sudden decease of the first governor, Captain Collins being found dead in his chair, two of the leading officers of the Government placed a marine outside the door, so that they might be undisturbed, and then proceeded to burn every document in the office!!! Although I subsequently knew one of these gentlemen, it was not likely I should learn from himself the correctness of the report, any more than the motive for such vandalism. But I take this opportunity of acknowledging my gratitude to Mr. Hull, Clerk of the Tasmanian Council, and son of my old and esteemed neighbour, Mr. Commissary Hull, through whose kindness I got access to the only remaining document, and for the disentombment of which record he is to be credited. This was the Muster Book of 1810, &c., kept at the barrack, &c., kept at the barracks, in which the commanding officer entered the countersign of the day, and in which, also, occasional notices of the days proceedings were written. To the previous Muster Books, doubtless conveyed for safety to the Governor's office, have all disappeared; they probably added to the conflagration on that one dark night of destruction."

DAVIES 1973/74: Page 38

"There seemed to be no government or official record for the first six years after the settlement at Hobart. The explanation of this seems to lie in the story that, upon the sudden death of the first Governor, Captain Collins, who was found dead in his chair, two of the leading officers of the government placed a marine outside the door so that they would not be disturbed, and proceeded to burn every document in the office. James Bonwick who wrote at the time when the aborigines had just disappeared states: 'I must acknowledge my gratitude to Mr. Hull, Clerk of the Tasmanian Council, and son of my old and esteemed neighbour, Mr. Commissary Hull, through whose kindness I obtained access to the last remaining document, and for its preservation he is to be credited. This is the Muster Book of 1810, that was kept at the barracks, in which the commanding officer entered the countersign of the day, and in which, also, occasional notices of the day's happenings were written. The previous Muster Books, which for safety had been conveyed to the Governor's Office, all disappeared in the fire as mentioned above on that one dark night of destruction.'"

Bonwick used his own 1870 publication of The Last of the Tasmanians; or, The Black War of Van Diemen's Land as the basis of his 1884 volume entitled The Lost Tasmanian Race; and in his earlier 1870 voluem Bonwick wrote

"I regret to say that, though I have been much favoured in my researches among the old records of Tasmania, especially by the late Mr. Bicheno, Colonial Secretary under Governor Franklin, and by the present Premier there, Sir Richard Dry, I was so unfortunate as to discover no papers relative to the first six years of the settlement. The story goes, that upon the sudden decease of the first governor, Captain Collins found dead in his chair, two of the leading officers of the Government placed a marine outside the door, so that they might be undisturbed, and then proceeded to burn every document in the office!!! Although I subsequently knew one of these gentlemen, it was not likely I should learn from himself the correctness of the report, any more than the motive for such vandalism. A similar mysterious disappearance of papers I observed at Sydney; the lapse taking place about the time of the celebrated rebellion against Governor Bligh."

"But I take this opportunity of acknowledging my gratitude to Mr. Hull, Clerk of the Tasmanian Council, and his son of my old and esteemed neighbour, Mr. Commissary Hull, through whose kindness I got access to the only remaining early document, and for the disentombment of which record he is to be credited. This was the Muster Book of 1810, &c, kept at the barracks, in which the commanding officer entered the countersign of the day, and in which, also, occasional notices of the day's proceedings were written. The previous Muster Books, doubtless conveyed for safety to the Governor's office, have all disappeared; they probably added to the conflagration on that one dark night of destruction" (James Bonwick, 1870, The Last of the Tasmanians; or, The Black War of Van Diemen's Land, page 39).

While there are similarities between the Bonwick of 1870 and Bonwick of 1884, the Davies of 1973/74 is not a perfect match with either Bonwick of 1870 or 1884 and I leave it to true Tasmanian experts to make a thorough line-by-line comparison and analysis of all of the Bonwick publications (1870 and 1884) with Davies of 1973/74. The final Bonwick-Davies comparison which follows is perhaps even more poignant when one considers the parallel readings:

BONWICK 1884: Page 38

"Who could adequately picture the story of the wrongs of the Tasmanians? We are indignant at the destruction of the Guanches of the Canary Isles by the Spaniards; we are horrified at the exterminating policy of the Napoleon of South African Zulus; we are awestruck at the total disappearance of whole nations of antiquity; and should we have no feeling of regret at causes which led to the annihilation of the tribes of Tasmania? They melted not away as the snow of the Alps beneath the soft breath of the Fön from the South, but were stricken down in their might, as the dark firs of the forest by the ruthless avalanche. It was not a contest between rival nations of civilization. No senator uttered a 'Carthage must be destroyed' to incite the faltering energies of a struggling people. No Thermopylae, which witnessed the expiring effort of its sons of freedom, remains in Tasmania's mountain fastnesses. No bard has chronicled the deeds of heroism, no Ossian told of chiefs and daughters fair. A long series of cruelties and misfortune gradually wrought the destruction of these primitive inhabitants."

DAVIES 1973/74: Page 57

"Who can give a true picture of the terrible wrongs done to the Tasmanian aborigines? We are horrified at the attempts by various races at the extermination of Jews, the extermination by the Spaniards of in [sic] Incas and the caribs, and more recently the Indians of the Amazon Forests. Should we not equally regret the causes that led to the annihilation of the tribes of Tasmania? It was not the result either of a contest between rival nations or civilizations. No senator uttered a 'Carthage must be destroyed', to incite the faltering energies of a struggling people. No Thermopylae, which witnessed the expiring efforts of its Greek sons of freedom, remains in Tasmania's mountain fastness. No Welsh bard has sung the deeds of heroism. But it was a long series of misfortunes and cruelties that gradually wrought the destruction of these primitive inhabitants of Tasmania."

Please note the reference to "Spaniards" and "Carthage" and "Thermopylae" almost a century apart.

There are numerous other interesting comparisons in Bonwick of 1884 and Davies of 1973/74, but there is insufficient space to document them in this brief web paper and my argument should have been established by now. You will recall that Sagona pointed wrote that "Chapters 13 and 14 in Davies are full of errors" so I make no comparisons with any publications on Davies' words on "The Physique and Culture of the Tasmanians" (Chapter 13) and "Origins of the Tasmanians" (Chapter 14). It will be interesting for someone else to comment on these chapters of Davies.

Once again, I invite anyone to compare Bonwick and Davies side-by-side and draw their own conclusions on the relationship between the The Lost Tasmanian Race published by James Bonwick in 1884 and the 1973 and 1974 David Davies' items entitled The Last of the Tasmanians. I have reached my conclusions: et tu?

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(1) © [All Rights Reserved] This paper was placed on the World Wide Web on 30 November 1998. About this author: Charles F. Urbanowicz (born 1942) received the Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon (1972) based on 1970 and 1971 field work in the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga, combined with archival research in Hawai'i, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. Reviews on Pacific topics have appeared in Ethnohistory (1975 and 1977), The Journal of the Polynesian Society (1978), Pacific Studies (1981), and the American Anthropologist (1989). Most recent Tongan publications include a chapter entitled "Tonga" for the Encyclopedia of World Cultures (1991), edited by D. Levinson as well as a Japanese translation of a chapter dealing with tourism in Tonga for the Japanese edition (1991) of the 2nd edition of Hosts and Guests: The Anthropology of Tourism (1989) edited by Valene Smith; this 1989 chapter was a modest revision of the chapter which appeared in the 1977 edition of the same title. Various articles on Tongan topics have been published in Ethnohistory (1973 and 1977), The Journal of the Polynesian Society (1977), Journal de la Société des Océanistes (1978), and Pacific Viewpoint (1979) and taking heed from the phrase Ab alio expectes quod alteri feceris ["You may look for the same treatment from others as you extend to others" or "Expect that as you do unto one, another will do unto you"], it is pointed out that identical chapters on Tonga were published in Psychological Anthropology (1975) edited by S. L. Seaton and J. M. Claessen as well as Political Anthropology: The State of the Art (1979) edited by T. R. Williams; similarities in certain presentations/papers also occur in some of my single-authored and joint-authored temecommunication papers/presentations of the late 1970s and 1980s. Much of my current research now focuses on "Charles Darwin" and/or the "gaming industry" and several of these papers obviously draw upon and build upon one another. For a complete résumé, with exact publications and titles, please go to the "home page" indicated below and continue from there. To return to the beginning of this paper, please click here.


To go to the home page of Urbanowicz, please click here;

to the Department of Anthropology;

to California State University, Chico.

[This page printed from: http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/Pacific/Tasmania.html]

 


Copyright © 1998 Charles F. Urbanowicz

30 November 1998 by CFU


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