My dear Howitt,
Very many thanks for the map. After you had gone I felt, in Biblical language,"like an owl in the desert or a Pelican in the wilderness"- in other words I very much missed our evening talks & the discussion of things Ethnological as, apart from you & Gillen, there is no one in Australia to discuss such matters with. It is surely getting near the time when we might expect to hear something more of your conflict with the enemy. There is one point to which I wish you would turn you attention. A.L. now asserts that, if I remember rightly, the majority or at all ??? a very large number of the 'moiety' names (Matteri. etc) of the tribes are known to be those of animals. He has of course raked his evidence together from all
Letter from Spencer to Howitt
kinds of sources - any Tom Dick or Harry who publishes a paper or makes a remark to a friend who publishes it is good enough evidence for A.L.
I Have a recollection of your saying somewhere in the S.E. Tribes that moiety names which are those of animals are few in number & this I believe to be really the case.
Do you remember Morton who was the Sec. of the Hobart meetings of the A.A.A.S. at which I think you were present. Last week he came over to Melbourne & I have had the painful business yesterday of seeing him quietly go back to Hobart knowing that he was suffering from a severe angina pectoris & could not last long. While he was here he stayed with me & Dr Grant whom he consulted wrote me that he was in a most critical state & I said good bye to him with very little hope of ever seeing him again. This kind of thing is very depressing.
Yours very sincerely
W. Baldwin Spencer.
Rights: State Library of Victoria