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Charles Boydell

Charles Boydell - journal, 1830-1835

King Jackey's Funeral August 1833 A long neck of land formed by the junction of a Creek with the river was the place chosen as that of interment, at the extremity towards the river the brushes on three sides the fertility of the whole was as pretty a place for the purpose as I know of any where. When I approached, an old man was digging the grave which [was] a most laborious task, the ground being very hard and the only tool used for the purpose a tommyhawk or small hatchet. The form of the grave was oval & its depth when finished short of four feet. There were about 16 savages squatting or standing around, amongst them the Father, Mother and several brothers of the deceased the parents were [the] only howlers in company, the cry can be termed nothing else. These sounds long dwelt upon give an idea of the male's voice a______ar_ar_____ o~~~~~ r______ The females more treble er_____on______n________ This noise they kept up sans intermission. The body itself trussed up in as small a compass as possible and wrapt up in rugs & all. The insignia of a New S Wales Aboriginal was supported by two relations about 4 yards from the grave & laying on their knees whilst they bent over it full of grief & affection. The digging part of the grave being finished the [Sexton] went to some of the younger and fresher looking trees and broke the small branches with leaves off and proceeded to line the grave with them. Which being done a brother of the deceased was desired to try whether the grave was comfortable which he did by lying in the posture the deceased was to be placed, after some more slight alteration he again got into it and the signal given the younger branches of the family came forward surrounded the corpse and as they lifted it up gave a great [sh….] and then as it were [conjured] by blowing and waving hands over the body the same noise and blowing was repeated upon lowering the remains into the arms of his brother who received them and carefully placed them in the most comfortable position and so that not a particle of ground should touch the body. The shout then set up by them was awfully deafening The old Father rushed past me seized a tommyhawk and cut his head in several places until the blood gushed in quantities from the wound. Another old man snatched it from him and commenced upon his own. Three or four men did the same some most viciously whilst others seemed to think a little of the thing went a long way. The howling continued all the while. Bark was carefully placed over the body and the old men stretched themselves at full length on the ground and howled dreadfully. One of them at length got up took a bit of bark and laid it across the grave and stretched himself upon it crying with all his might and then left them [,] nothing of the ceremony remaining but filling in the grave. My reflections on the occasion were curious and many. I thought of what grief really was and fancied that I saw it there, I thought within myself also where will that creature go to and could not for a moment believe that he was doomed to hell. Altho he was no Christian and tho perhaps he may have committed sins from want of knowing better which to us would appear horrible but still amongst the Blacks was a good one, he was what they termed a strong party on their side tho perhaps not much of a warrior he was a politician and an orator for no man could inflame rage more than he, no one could talk better as they term it - blow up an enemy - no one in short had more sway over their minds than King Jackey as he was termed [ XXXXXXX ]