Page:Australian race - vol 1.djvu/22

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INTRODUCTION.

In the compilation of this work the author has had in view two objects; to collect as much information as possible in connection with the manners^ customs, and languages of the Australian Blacks, from one end of the continent to the other; and to demonstrate from the materials collected a number of facts connected with the long past history of this section of the human family.

Not having made ethnology a study, the writer thinks it desirable to say a few words in explanation of his having taken upon himself an important inquiry belonging of right to the adepts in that science.

It occurred in this way. In 1866 a number of gentlemen in Melbourne were busying themselves with the collection of Victorian vocabularies, and the writer was invited to join in the undertaking, which, however, on several grounds, he excused himself from doing. But a trifle will sometimes change one's views. In 1873, being in conversation with a Blackfellow of the Swan Hill neighbourhood, the writer was surprised to meet with a word used by the Ngooraialum tribe, whose country was a hundred and fifty miles away on the Goulburn, which he was aware was not found in the language of the Bangerang, who occupy (or lately did) a portion of the intervening country. Struck by a circumstance so contrary to his preconceptions, he collected for his own information, as occasion offered, a number of short vocabularies of the languages of the tribes whose territories