Spencer & Gillen

A journey through Aboriginal Australia

Letter from Spencer to Howitt


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My dear Howitt,

I have been speaking to Professor Masson in regard to the question of how to set to work to secure a Civil List pension. Unfortunately he has only a vague recollection but says that a kind of petition was sent from Melbourne & the rest was managed in England.

Accordingly I have drafted a short statement which if you approve of it we can get signatures to in Australia.

I took it down to the Royal Society this evening intending to get some signatures but on reflection decided that as it contained matter of a personal nature I would send it to you for your perusal before doing anything. Masson tells me that it will be necessary to state something in regard to Fison's pecuniary position & as this is a rather delicate & personal matter I would like to have your advice as to whether anything in the documents is

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likely to be disagreeable to our friend & his family before showing it to strangers.

If you think the statement a suitable one will you please sign it & I think it would be advisable for you to add your degree. In a petition sent out from England asking the Governments of Victoria & S.A. to grant Gillen & myself leave of absence to go into Central Australia I noticed that everyone stated exactly who he was.

I have left the first space for Chief Justice Way of S.A. & will also get Professor Stirling of Adelaide to sign as he has very considerable influence at home. In Sydney we can get Professor David the President of the A.A.S. & in New Zealand Captain Hutton the ex-president.

My only fear is that before we can get the petition signed & sent home it may be too late. I will write by next mail to Frazer & tell him that the document is coming. Siyden can write to Dr Macdonald.

The Head Tutor of Trinity is Dr.

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Jackson but it would be quite enough if you were to write to Frazer & Ridgeway. When the document is signed out here it had better be sent to Frazer with a request that he will take such steps as are necessary to put it in form.

I hope that before long we may see you again.

Yours very sincerely

W. Baldwin Spencer.

Rights: State Library of Victoria

Document Details

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Document Details

Letter To
Howitt, Alfred William
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State Library of Victoria