It is our privilege at Oxford to be visited from time to time by officers of the Public Service, who modestly apply to us for instruction in Anthropology, more particularly as it bears on the history of the native races of the Empire. Not infrequently, however, they bring with them a previously acquired stock of anthropological information, such as almost takes away the breath of their duly constituted teachers. Thereupon the latter feel inclined to offer to change places; and, instead of teaching, to play the part of learners in regard to them.
Mr. Rattray furnishes a case in point. When he joined our School of Anthropology, he was already a past-master in all that relates to Chinyanja folk-lore, a subject on which he had actually published a useful book. Besides, though but recently transferred from British Central Africa to the West Coast, he was already at close grips with more than one of the languages current in that most polyglot of regions.
To claim, therefore, any share whatever in the origination of the present work would ill beseem one who merely offered sympathetic encouragement when Mr. Rattray proceeded to unfold his latest design. This design was to compass two ends at once - to obtain trustworthy linguistic material, and to explore the inner secrets of the Hausa mind - by giving a somewhat novel turn to an old and approved method.