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HORATIO EMMONS HALE, ETHNOLOGIST & PHILOLOGIST (1817-1896)

This cover interests me because it is an example of an association between 3 countries, which have been my home at stages in my academic life. It is addressed to Prof. Horatio Hale, M.A., J.R.D.C., Clinton, Ontario, Canada and it was sent from St. Arnaud, Victoria, Australia. The 2 Victorian stamps (pink ½d and lilac 2d “Stamp Duty”) are postmarked with the St Arnaud third duplex, AU 6/ (18)96 with the Barred Numeral ‘94'. There is a ‘Via Vancouver’ manuscript and the unseen reverse had a Vancouver transit and a Clinton Ont. backstamp (Figure 1).

This cover ties Hale to a correspondent in Australia in 1896 and there is evidence that he may have been in Sydney, Australia between January and March of 1838, when he was one of the scientists on board of an American fleet of 6 ships. He was born in Newport, New Hampshire on 3 May 1817, the son of David Hale, lawyer and Sara Josepha Hale, a popular poet and editor. Horatio graduated M.A. from Harvard in 1837, and during 1838-42 he was philologist to the United States Exploring Expedition. Hale prepared the sixth volume, Ethnography and Philology that resulted as part of that expedition, and its publication in 1846 was said to have laid the foundations of the ethnography of Polynesia.

He met and married his wife Margaret Pugh in 1854 and together they spent some time in Europe. When they returned he studied law and he was admitted to the Illinois bar in Chicago in 1855. In the following year, Hale and his wife moved to Clinton, Ontario Canada, to a piece of land owned by Margaret’s parents. Hale took advantage of the proximity of the nearby Indian settlements at the Six Nations Reserve, and although he continued to practice law, once again he returned to his first love as an ethnologist. He made many valuable contributions to the science of ethnology, attracting attention particularly by his theory of the origin of the diversity of human languages and dialects.

Beside writing numerous magazine articles, he read a number of valuable papers before learned societies, particularly between 1882 until 1891. He also edited for Brinton’s “library of Aboriginal Literature”, the Iroquois Book of Rites (1883). One of his biggest contributions was his influence on the work of Franz Boas, the most distinguished and influential anthropologist for half a century. Horatio Emmons Hale died at his home in Clinton, in South-western Ontario at the age of 79 on 29 December 1896. Boas wrote at Hale’s death “Ethnology has lost a man who contributed more to the knowledge of human race than perhaps any student”.

A picture of Horatio Hale is shown in Figure 2.


 
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