The Australian Race

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THE AUSTRALIAN RACE:


ITS ORIGIN, LANGUAGES,

CUSTOMS,

PLACE OF LANDING IN AUSTRALIA,

AND

THE ROUTES BY WHICH IT SPREAD ITSELF OVER

THAT CONTINENT.


BY

EDWARD M. CURR,

Author of "Pure Saddle Horses" and "Recollections of Squatting in Victoria."


IN FOUR VOLUMES.


VOLUME I.


MELBOURNE: JOHN FERRES, GOVERNMENT PRINTER.
LONDON: TRÜBNER AND CO., LUDGATE HILL.


1886.

THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED

BY THE AUTHOR

TO THE HONORABLE JONAS FELIX LEVIEN,

MINISTER OF MINES,

THROUGH WHOSE INFLUENCE IT WAS PUBLISHED
BY THE GOVERNMENT OF VICTORIA.

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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 surrounded those of the several Bangerang septs. From these he learnt that the latter people were encircled by a number of tribes, which spoke related languages, which differed materially from theirs. The result of this little discovery was, not only to sweep away some loosely-formed ideas about the migrations of our tribes, but to convince the writer that something positive might be learnt from language in connection with the past history of the Australian race. Then came curiosity, and without any view to publication (for it was understood at the time that Mr. R. Brough Smyth had been long engaged on the subject, which was afterwards found not to be the case), the writer got a vocabulary printed of a few common English words, which he managed to get filled up by stock-owners here and there, other facts new to him becoming apparent from the collation of his little collection. As he now commenced to discover some order in what had heretofore appeared a mere jumble of related tongues, the inquiry grew to have a certain fascination for him. Finding it necessary, if curiosity was to be satisfied, to extend inquiry, the writer addressed himself to the several Colonial Governments, the press, and a number of stock-owners, and asked their assistance in the collection of materials for the undertaking which he had begun to contemplate. As the inquiry progressed, the original words were altered two or three times, and to the last list were added God, ghost, boomerang, hilly, milk, eaglehawk, wild turkey, and wife, a circumstance which will account for their being untranslated in many of the vocabularies.

As raisons d'être for this publication then, it may be pointed out that when the author drifted into his undertaking, many tribes were passing away, leaving no record behind them, and no one seemed likely to step in and do what was necessary for ethnology. Besides, the vocabularies which were actually in print at the time did not perhaps exceed 40, and were of little use for comparison, in consequence of the want of agreement in the words they contained. In this way, in the absence of some one fitter, the writer found himself on the threshold of an ethnological work, touching the inhabitants of a large portion of the earth's surface, without any previous preparation. This want of training and more still perhaps of sufficient leisure, will, it is hoped, be some excuse for any short-comings.

Of what the writer has to say of the origin of our tribes, he has much pleasure in acknowledging that his inquiry on this point was suggested by a paper read before the Anthropological Institute, London, by Mr. Hyde Clarke, one of the Vice-Presidents of that body, in which he drew attention to certain affinities between the Mozambique and Australian languages. In addition, the writer is under no small obligation to that gentleman for the kindly interest he has evinced in this undertaking.

In some instances the writer has not hesitated to insert two versions of the same vocabulary. In doing so he has had several objects in view, for instance, to show the areas over which our languages prevail and also their minor dialectic differences. Another reason has been that the Australian languages have not unfrequently two words in the same sense, whilst few of the writer's contributors have given more than one. Of this lâche, indeed, no one has been more frequently guilty than the writer himself, who, however, it will be remembered, collected the vocabularies which appear with his name to them before he had any thoughts of publication, and when he only took a minor interest in the subject. This defect a variety of versions will to some extent remedy. Besides, on many Page:Australian race - vol 1.djvu/25 Page:Australian race - vol 1.djvu/26 Page:Australian race - vol 1.djvu/27 Page:Australian race - vol 1.djvu/28