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Reading Robinson: Companion Essays to George Robinson’s Friendly Mission


7

A Self-Made Man

CASSANDRA PYBUS

ON 23 DECEMBER 1829, GEORGE AUGUSTUS ROBINSON recorded in his journal that he ‘received Black Tom’ at the Aboriginal asylum he had established next to his house in Hobart. The next day he took in ‘the black chief’ known as Umarrah.1 These two Aboriginal men had been sent by the Chief Constable at Richmond, Gilbert Robertson, with whom they had established an intimate relationship. The young man known as Black Tom, whose Aboriginal name was Kickerterpoller, had been living at Robertson’s house, ‘Woodburn’, for over a year.

It is possible that Gilbert Robertson knew Kickerterpoller from his arrival in Van Diemen’s Land in 1822. Robertson came a poor man, with little or no capital, but held a recommendation from Lord Bathurst that he receive a free land grant. This connection secured him 400 acres in the Coal River Valley, which he increased by leasing the neighbouring farm of Thomas Birch. Birch had died the previous year, having farmed the land for some time. About a decade earlier, he had, somehow or other, acquired Kickerterpoller, then a child, from the Oyster Bay people. He had him baptised and set him to work as a farm hand. It is possible that along with the land, Robertson inherited Kickerterpoller, also known as ‘Birch’s Tom’ or ‘Black Tom’. If this was so, it was not for long. Sometime in 1824, if not before, Kickerterpoller returned to live with a remnant group of Oyster Bay people from around the Pittwater area at the mouth of the Coal River. It was not until at least December 1826 that he could be found living with Robertson at Richmond.2

Kickerterpoller acted as a guide for Robertson’s roving party on 5 November 1828, when a group of the Stoney Creek people from the North Midlands was captured. Among the captives were the chief Umarrah, a youth named Cowerterminna and three others. Although officially consigned to Richmond Gaol, where Robertson had secured an assigned convict to provide assistance to the chief, Umarrah and Cowerterminna were regular visitors to Robertson’s house.3 Sometime in 1829 Robertson arranged for Cowerterminna, whom he renamed Jack Woodburn, to live at his house, while Umarrah joined Kickerterpoller as a guide for Robertson’s roving party during August of the same year.4 In December, Robertson reluctantly yielded the services of both Kickerterpoller and Umarrah when George Augustus Robinson commandeered them for his Friendly Mission to Port Davey. He resisted sending Cowerterminna as well, insisting that he was ‘a mere boy … ill qualified for the service required’.5

Robinson was very pleased to secure the service of Umarrah, given his status as a formidable Aboriginal leader. He was also delighted to have Kickerterpoller by his side – the young man not only spoke good English but more importantly, in Robinson’s view, was well ‘accustomed to subordination’.6 A few days after Robinson received the two Aborigines in Hobart, they were transferred to his Aboriginal establishment on Bruny Island, where he issued them with European clothing and gave them each a blanket. On 11 January 1830, he confided in his journal:

I entertain great hopes of the assistance of the aboriginal Tom who has hitherto been very respectful and compliant. If I can succeed in influencing his ideas so as to unite them with my own as regards the welfare of his aboriginal countrymen, much good may result to my endeavours. He is a famous interpreter and this is the stronghold on which I build my chief hopes.7

Robinson’s generic description of Aboriginal deference and compliance was reinforced by his action of issuing a blanket to the men as if they were docile supplicants. These stereotypical depictions were so far removed from reality that one wonders how a man in Robinson’s position could utter them, let alone believe them. He must have known about the history of these two men, and their connections to violence and resistance against the European invaders. Yet his journal gives no hint of it. His apparently naive account has Kickerterpoller quitting his European employment at the behest of an Aboriginal girl.8 While sexual attraction may have played a part in Kickerterpoller’s defection, it seems clear he severed his relationship with the settlers at the instigation of Musquito, an Aboriginal man exiled from his country in New South Wales. Musquito was employed in 1818 as a tracker in the hunt for the notorious bushranger Michael Howe, who had joined up with the Oyster Bay people, and he came to Robertson’s house in the period 1822-24.9 Despised by other convicts, and prevented from return to New South Wales, Musquito had turned coat, instigating guerrilla warfare against white settlers across the island until he and another Oyster Bay man known as Black Jack were captured in 1824.10 By then Kickerterpoller himself was actively engaged in violent assaults on settlers in the southern midlands. He was recognised by his effective command of the English vernacular as he taunted those he attacked as ‘white buggers’.11

Captured and gaoled in December 1826, Kickerterpoller was spared the fate of his compatriots Musquito and Black Jack, who had been hanged nearly two years before, after a dubious trial.12 It was Robertson’s close friend Police Magistrate James Gordon who recommended the release of Kickerterpoller from the Richmond gaol.13 Gordon’s report suggested that he would ‘find a home with his old mistress’.14 In fact Kickerterpoller went to live with Robertson at Woodburn and later acted as guide for his roving party. They appear to have had a mutually supportive relationship, which Robertson held up to Governor Arthur as an example of what could be achieved by conciliation. The young man certainly influenced Robertson’s view that Aboriginal bands were fighting a guerrilla war.15

Umarrah and his band were likewise implicated in a series of attacks on settlers across the midlands. In reporting the capture of the group, Robertson wrote that ‘they consider every injury they can afflict upon white men as an act of duty and patriotic … having ideas of their natural rights which would astonish most other European statesmen’.16 A story in the Hobart Town Courier, which was probably the work of Robertson himself, reinforced these opinions, describing Umarrah as a warrior chief ‘whose indignation at being deprived of his liberty is very great’, who had declared it his purpose ‘to destroy all the whites he possibly can, which he considers a patriotic duty’.17 Robertson further insisted that the execution of Musquito and Black Jack had been a catalyst for further attacks on settlers. In argument eerily familiar to our age, Robertson argued that the indigenous people ‘consider the sufferers under those punishments as martyrs in the cause of their country’.18 Governor Arthur was duly persuaded by this reasoning not only to commute the execution of Umarrah, but also to treat him honourably as a prisoner of war.19

Robertson repeated this argument in evidence he gave to the Aboriginal Committee in 1830, telling the members that the slaughter of settlers was retaliation for the judicial murder of Musquito and Jack – a radical perspective that failed to inspire the confidence of the committee.20 Robertson’s intimacy with the Aborigines, and his view that they were patriot warriors rather than debased, murderous savages, did not endear him to his fellow settlers. The Aboriginal Committee emphatically rejected the theory that Aborigines were ‘retaliating for any wrongs which they conceive themselves collectively or individually to have endured’.21

Both Gilbert Robertson and George Augustus Robinson were unusual settlers in that they were each motivated to protect indigenous Tasmanians from the terrible injustice inflicted by white settlement. Equally, both men believed the Aborigines were fellow humans suffering a loss as profound as any European might feel. Here the similarity ended. Gilbert Robertson’s characterisation of Kickerterpoller and Umarrah as patriot warriors was in stark contrast to George Augustus Robinson’s view of them as deferential supplicants. The divergence of opinion goes far in explaining why Governor Arthur chose Robinson to conciliate the remaining Aboriginal people of the island, rather than Robertson, who had originally proposed the scheme.

Gilbert Robertson Esq. was a gentleman of illustrious Scottish descent – his grandfather was a younger son of the chief of the clan Robertson of Kindaece – and, even if he did spend much of his time in court addressing matters of pressing debt, he remained a substantial landowner. Within a year of his arrival in the colony, he made the first of a series of court appearances that were to become a fixture of his Van Diemen’s Land life, as defendant against a series of dubious charges. In response to a complaint from Robertson, the local magistrate, George Western Gunning, wrote in outraged tones a letter to the Colonial Secretary objecting most strongly to Robertson’s assumption of intimacy between them. Neighbouring landholders they may have been, but ‘how dare he presume’ a friendship between them. ‘With what impertinence and swaggering Gilbert Robertson conducts himself’, Gunning ranted.22 The magistrate’s indignation was the opening salvo in an enduring conflict that set the pattern for disputes with men of entrenched interest that persisted throughout Robertson’s very chequered career in Van Diemen’s Land. By 1828 Robertson had thoroughly alienated almost every office holder and government crony in the colony.

For all his family connection and excellent education, Robertson could not escape the fact that he was the bastard son of a Scottish plantation owner and his slave mistress, contemptuously described in Governor Arthur’s diary as ‘a mulatto from America’. While his colour was no hindrance in his early life in Scotland, at the edge of Empire in Van Diemen’s Land, a place beset with racial anxiety, he was seen as suspect, harbouring the savage Other beneath his skin. Magistrate Gunning summed up Robertson’s problem in his outraged missive of 1823: ‘you have seen this man’, he expostulated. Another powerful landholder, William Kermode, reportedly remarked that when he worked as a slave trader on the coast of Africa he had bought better men than Robertson for a barrel of gunpowder.23 By implication Robertson was a gentleman in name only, who would never be allowed full partnership in the colonialist enterprise.

While he was Chief Constable at Richmond, Robertson developed a scheme for recruiting Aboriginal warriors like Umarrah to act as negotiators in a process of conciliating the Aborigines. He achieved notable success using both Kickerterpoller and Umarrah. But his asking price was too high. Robertson demanded a salary of £200, a land grant of two thousand acres on his return from roving and a grant of one hundred acres for each of his six children. There were also suspicions about Robertson’s commitment to the task. Personally he appeared to spend more time tending his property and making appearances in court than roving for Aborigines. Sometimes he used the convicts assigned to his roving parties as farm labourers, and at others the members of the parties were so dilatory in their duty that they aroused the suspicion that really all they were up to was having a jolly fine time out in the bush, liberally provisioned at the government’s expense. Robertson had long since alienated the Colonial Secretary, John Burnett, with his endless entreaties and complaints. He infuriated the Police Commissioner at Oatlands, Thomas Anstey, by failing to supply proper reports.24 And, by October 1829, the governor had grown weary of the cycle of complaint and counter-complaint that had Robertson in its vortex. Clearly, it would be cheaper and less troublesome to hire someone else to carry out the business of conciliation.

The governor found his man in an ambitious tradesman of limited education who emigrated in 1824 hoping to secure a more comfortable social niche for himself and his large family. George Augustus Robinson was an astute businessman, as his later financial dealings showed, and in 1829, in addition to his trade as a builder/bricklayer, he owned several houses that he let out. It was remarkable that he was willing to throw over his potentially successful trade to become a custodian of blackfellows. There is no reason to believe he applied for the job solely because of the modest salary on offer; he seemed genuinely motivated by a missionary impulse that had already involved him prominently in the Wesleyan Missionary Society, bible societies and a mission to seamen. Like Governor Arthur, Robinson was an evangelical Anglican and his application for the job was couched in evangelical language, stressing his desire to ‘ameliorate the condition of the aboriginal inhabitants … as the degraded Hottentot has been raised in the scale of beings and the inhabitants of the Societies Islands are made an industrious and intelligent race’.25

For all his evangelical zeal, Robinson understood that by undertaking a mission to the Aborigines he would achieve a status in Hobart denied to him as a mere artisan. Hence the careful self-massaging of his image – in the journal he kept for future publication, as well in his public utterances – as the sole protector and father figure of the Aborigines. Nevertheless, when he took control of the Aboriginal establishment at Bruny Island, Robinson found that his posturing as the governor’s envoy achieved no such effect. Even among the convict workforce assigned to him, he was subjected to open derision, and his social background never failed to draw caustic comment. His self-important diary entries would seem rather pathetic, were it not for the unmistakable sense that Robinson saw the Aborigines as the key to the upward mobility he so craved. The more he was ridiculed, the more he sought to use the Aboriginal mission to transcend the social class that rendered him vulnerable, forging a fundamental connection between his own fortunes and the fate of the Aboriginal people of Van Diemen’s Land.

Robinson’s overweening ambition to succeed as the conciliator of the Aborigines meant that he would brook no rivals and that every Aboriginal person in Van Diemen’s Land must be in his personal charge. It was with this aim in mind that, on New Year’s Day 1830, he set off on ‘public duty’26 with Kickerterpoller and two convicts to collect all the Aborigines who remained in the Richmond lockup for transfer to his asylum in Hobart. To his chagrin, he discovered that one of the captives was enjoying the hospitality of Robertson’s house. Off he went to Police Magistrate Thomas Lascelles, a bitter enemy of Robertson, to remedy this situation. By 15 January 1830, among the Aboriginal people transferred was one from Gilbert Robertson.27 However, as soon as Robinson left Hobart, Cowerterminna returned to Robertson’s household.

In January 1830 Robinson set off on his expedition to Port Davey with Kickerterpoller and Umarrah as guides, along with a woman from Port Davey. He took ten others who were the sole survivors from his mission on Bruny Island. These were intelligent people who acted on their own volition, not the traumatised victims pitifully dependent on Robinson as is typical of subsequent portrayals. Nor were they his dupes, remaining loyal to Robinson solely because of his skills as a mesmerist.28 Undoubtedly the Aborigines attached to Robinson’s party had mixed motives for remaining with him and, anyway, not all of them did. They knew the terrible risks of going it alone in occupied territory, and once in the bush they understood Robinson offered them the best chance for independence and survival.29

On the first leg of the trek, Robinson set a cracking pace over an appalling terrain of swamp, dense rainforest, sheer cliffs and deep ravines. When the group emerged at the coast they were in a state of total exhaustion and on the point of starvation. Three debilitated youths were sent back to Hobart aboard the supply boat. Kickerterpoller complained to Robinson that this was not how Aboriginal people travelled. Even the roving parties he had accompanied over level, open country had not travelled at such a pace, he explained. The rigours of the trip, and possibly Kickerterpoller’s warnings, convinced Robinson that he would not be able to survive the journey to Port Davey without relying upon Aboriginal assistance for obtaining food supplies, as well as their knowledge of the bush. Henceforth Robinson kept the more leisurely pace expected by the Aboriginal people for whom travel was subordinate to the requirements of hunting and ritual. ‘[M]y greatest confidence was in the natives’, he wrote on 12 February 1830. ‘They were well acquainted with the resources of the country and would not allow me to want.’30

At pains to make himself part of the camp rituals, he joined in the evening singing and dancing by playing his flute, to his companions’ great delight, and at night he slept around the fire with them. He learnt their language and ate the food they caught, unlike the convict retainers who spurned the blackfellow’s crayfish, abalone and game in favour of spoiled rations of potatoes and salt meat. Robinson marvelled at his ‘sable companions’ mental and physical adaptation to the natural world and he showed a genuine interest in Aboriginal culture. Yet his actions were also a calculated ploy to secure their trust, ‘as I was obliged to do were I at all desirous of being successful amongst them’, he confessed on 24 March 1830.31 He was canny enough to see the potential value that a record of Aboriginal life in the wild would have in the European publishing world, but he was too culturally blinkered to perceive the signals his behaviour was sending to his indigenous companions. They undoubtedly had a radically different perspective upon the relationship. His detailed journal entries offer no glimmer of consciousness that his ‘sable companions’ might think they were engaged in a relationship of mutual support and obligation. Having cast himself as their saviour and protector, Robinson was unable to recognise Aboriginal expectations of reciprocal obligation. The greater his interaction with them, the more determined was his view that Aborigines were wretched, simple-minded dependants, hopeless without his help. The notion that they might have regarded themselves as equal partners in his enterprise was too absurd to trouble his evangelical head.

The first sign of a dissonance between the expectations of Robinson and his guides came when he persistently failed to capture their traditional enemies, the Toogee people, when they met them. By late March, Robinson’s journal reveals a marked deterioration in the relationship. On 28 March 1830, two days after the Toogee slipped away yet again, Robinson angrily jotted down that the conduct of Kickerterpoller, once so well regarded, was ‘very improper; he appeared to act independent of me’.32 Continuing to ignore the entreaties of Kickerterpoller and Umarrah to capture the Toogee, he refused to use his firearms, because, he explained on 18 April 1830, he needed to ‘shew them that my motives was pure and free from chicanery’.33 Umarrah and Kickerterpoller were having none of that, believing themselves humiliated by Robinson’s show of weakness. Robinson’s journal described Umarrah as a model of attentiveness until 12 May 1830, when, after more ineffectual contact with the Toogee, he suddenly left, taking with him two other men and their dogs. Robinson’s journal was uncharacteristically brief about this defection, not even mentioning Umarrah by name, merely writing ‘three natives went away’,34 as if he didn’t even know them.

Robinson could invest his companions with the fundamentally human and empathetic feelings of sadness and pleasure, even affection and loyalty, but he was unable to grant them the powers of complex reasoning and the ability to participate in intricate social relationships. Had his eyes been open, the rationale of his mission would have been destroyed. Instead, he was disinclined to dwell on rebellious behaviour. No matter the extent of evidence that his companions were intentionally subverting his mission, he persisted with the notion that they were merely children, incapable of such sophisticated subterfuge, who would be lost without the care and guidance of their good father. Any restiveness, anger or independent action was interpreted as the innate wickedness or the natural belligerence of simple beings. ‘This man is innately wicked’, he wrote of the disobedient Kickerterpoller on 28 March 1830.35

When Robinson returned to Hobart in January 1831 he had his foot firmly on the ladder of upward mobility. The Black Line undertaken in his absence had proved a horribly expensive farce, whereas he had succeeded in bringing in about two dozen ‘conciliated’ Aborigines. The Governor was delighted and so were the members of the Aboriginal Committee to whom Robinson gave an expansive and self-serving report. The Committee, who had been so dismissive of Gilbert Robertson’s evidence and so disturbed by his pecuniary demands, were now pleased to recommend Robinson for a salary of £250 with an additional gratuity of £100 and a freehold grant of 2,500 acres. Flushed with success, the conciliator turned his attention to the youth who was once again living under Robertson’s roof at Richmond. On 14 February 1831, Robinson recorded that Cowerterminna ‘arrived at this asylum from Black Robertson’.36 When he forcibly detained the youth, preventing his return to Woodburn, Robertson was incensed. Indignant, he despatched a letter humming with outrage:

… you will have the goodness to explain under what pretext or by what authority you have already deprived the lad of his liberty and me of his services … Under the circumstances in which that lad stands I conceive that any person taking upon themselves to remove or detain him from me without both his consent and mine been first obtained might with right and justice come into my house and forcibly take away one or all of my children as suited their pleasure.37

This haughty reprimand was to no avail. Robinson’s deployment of the contemptuous appellation ‘Black Robertson’ indicated he now believed that he wielded the upper hand. In turn, he fired off a letter to the Colonial Secretary complaining that Robertson was attempting to obstruct his mission. Playing to Burnett’s enmity toward his rival, Robinson insisted he be given ‘proper authority’ to allow him to fulfil his important role. ‘For want of this authority I have been exposed to the contemptness [sic] of many individuals’, he whined, ‘… and the undertaking has been much impeded.’38 Though he never received the full authority he wanted, he did retain the youth, who was shipped off to the Bass Strait. Cowerterminna was one of the first of many to die in the unhealthy environment of Swan Island, where the despairing doctor recorded his death of dysentery on 23 April 1831.39

That was not entirely the end of the matter. The rivalry with Robertson was to surface again in 1836 when Robertson was the editor of the newspaper the True Colonist, the mouthpiece of disaffected settlers, and as such engaged with a bruising war of words with the governor and colonial secretary. By this time Robinson was the Commandant at the Aboriginal settlement Wybalenna on Flinders Island, where he had everything he had craved: authority, status, a good salary, official recognition and the promise of a pension. His determined self-deception, so obvious in early journals, had now developed to a point where he actually created fiction in his journal, describing an elaborate fantasy of industrious Aborigines enjoying the fruits of civilisation, all the while bombarding the government with utterly fraudulent reports. His journal accounts of the activities undertaken at Wybalenna reveal that Robinson wrote his Aboriginal charges into the parts he had created for them as dutiful Christian serfs – fanciful descriptions constructed to fit the heroic narrative he had mapped out years earlier. But the inescapable reality was that Wybalenna was destined to be one huge graveyard, and that he was trapped as a witness to the disintegration of a people he had professed to save and for whom he alone held responsibility.

In the middle of his fevered negotiations to escape Flinders Island and secure the position as Protector of Aborigines in South Australia at a salary of £500, Robinson was apoplectic when he heard Governor Arthur suggest that the original concept of conciliation might belong to Gilbert Robertson. His journal entries become barely coherent for rage: ‘Mr Robertson indeed! It is monstrous!’ he expostulated on 25 September 1836.40 The governor apparently repeated the slur on 15 October, telling Robinson: ‘Robertson was an enemy of mine because he thought that I had taken the work out of his hands.’41 By that time, Robertson was certainly an enemy of Governor Arthur, which is why he was incarcerated at His Majesty’s Pleasure in Hobart gaol on a second lengthy stint for libel.42 From his cell, he sent a petition to the House of Commons protesting the many irregularities of Arthur’s regime. First among his charges was that the governor had deliberately obstructed his attempts to conciliate the Aborigines and forcibly removed his self-taught guides, while ‘another person … was employed to carry into effect the plan which [I] had first devised and suggested and which has succeeded to the satisfaction of the whole colony’. He believed that in the light of the very generous payment to this ‘other person’, while official vindictiveness had reduced him to near penury, some compensation was now due to him. Robinson’s response was mightily defensive: ‘with Gilbert Robertson there was no definite plan … He was not the man’, he insisted to his journal on 15 October 1836.43 Other influential people thought differently. Robinson was furious that Henry Melville’s History of Van Diemen’s Land for the Years 1824 to 1835 gave a long and glowing account of Robertson’s conciliation activities.

A few months after Robinson’s interview with the governor, when he was still trapped on Flinders Island performing daily eulogies for his rapidly diminishing charges, insult was added to injury. He received a copy of the Colonial Times (14 April 1837), where the claims of Robertson were repeated and given credence by further statements made by Alexander McGeary, who had been an assigned convict with Robinson’s early missions. In August that year more fuel was added to the fire, when the Tasmanian newspaper reported that Robinson had set himself up as a ‘governor’ of the Bass Strait, while his Aboriginal charges were simply ‘dying off’. Worse, the following day the Cornwall Chronicle chose to highlight the ‘distressing’ situation of the Aborigines on Flinders Island that reflected poorly on his administration of the Aboriginal settlement.44

The mail package sent from Flinders Island on 23 September 1837 was bulging with Robinson’s livid responses. All his huff and puff provide a chilling insight into the man’s inexhaustible capacity for self-enhancement and self-delusion. One letter protesting Robertson’s ‘impudent assumption … as regards the aborigines’ was addressed to Robertson’s long-standing antagonist, Thomas Anstey. ‘[W]hat sort of Philanthropy can that be that would lead an hostile party to pursue the poor aborigines with fire arms’, Robinson pontificated. ‘I have always understood that coercion and philanthropy were diametrically opposed.’45 Here self-congratulation conveniently elided his eventual resort to firearms in the conciliation of the recalcitrant Toogee, as well as the Tarkiner people from the west coast. No doubt, he had reasoned on 21 May 1833, ‘[w]hat signified firearms if God had not made them willing to go’.46 A letter to the editor of the Tasmanian protested their ‘malicious slander’ against him and included the testimonials he had cajoled from three other officials at Wybalenna. Writing to Mr Clark at Campbell Town, he promised that his forthcoming book ‘would not fail to do justice … to the host of Pseudo Philanthropists who have ventured to assail my hard-earned reputation’, at the same time acknowledging the receipt of the money pledged to him by grateful settlers. To his lawyer he wrote to enquire what could be done to stem the ‘moral assassination’ of his character, as well as urging the sale of the 500 acres he was granted for his Bruny Island mission. A second letter requested the lawyer order multiple copies of the bust Robinson commissioned from sculptor Benjamin Law.47 Most significantly, he wrote to the new Colonial Secretary, who had arrived with the incoming Governor Sir John Franklin, that the conciliation plan was ‘conceived in my own mind unaided by the advice of any individual whatever’. Robinson pointed out that he had had to rescue Aborigines brought in by Robertson’s party from mistreatment at the hands of depraved white men at the Richmond gaol. How Robertson’s approach to the Aboriginal population could be ‘calculated to produce kindly feelings or prepossess them in favour of the white inhabitants may be easily imagined’, he trumpeted, neglecting to explain that all those he had rescued from Robertson’s unfeeling grasp had since died under his own care.48

Robinson had no trouble seeing off the claims of his beleaguered rival, having ingratiated himself with the new Governor Franklin and his ever-curious wife by procuring for them an Aboriginal skull as a contribution to their scientific collection.49 By the time Franklin began to express ‘extreme anxiety’50 about the terrible mortality on Flinders Island, Robinson had sold up all his land grants and left to become the Chief Protector of Aborigines at Port Phillip District.

The fate of the Aboriginal Tasmanians is now so indelibly imprinted on our historical imagination that there is no point in considering the possibilities had Gilbert Robertson, rather than George Augustus Robinson, been the man chosen as conciliator. Certainly, there is little to suggest such an alternative narrative might be less catastrophic. In this tragic saga there are few elements more disturbing than the spectacle of these two colonial misfits scrapping over the paltry financial benefit and dubious social advantage to be got in taking credit for the almost complete destruction of a whole people.

Reading Robinson: Companion Essays to George Robinson’s Friendly Mission

   by Anna Johnston and Mitchell Rolls