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Note on The Text

The present narrative was written in two stages. After beginning it just before the close of the Convention in March 1898 Deakin continued writing for the next few months until he reached the end of chapter XIV which he dated ‘30.7.98’. When he returned from England in July 1900 he set to work to record the successful conclusion of the federal movement, and wrote his last words on 14 September. His original title, chosen when the outcome was yet unknown, was ‘Personal Recollections of Three Conventions’, i.e. the Melbourne Conference of 1890, and the Federal Conventions of 1891 and 1897–8. This was altered later to ‘The Inner History of the Federal Cause, 1880–1900’, which was used as the sub-title by Mr Brookes when he published the narrative as The Federal Story. The present edition retains a title which has become familiar.

The manuscript was never revised by Deakin. There is indeed no indication in any of his later writings that he ever looked at it again. In 1923 Walter Murdoch, who had access to the manuscripts in the care of Deakin's eldest daughter Ivy and her husband Herbert Brookes, quoted some of the pen-portraits, and used the narrative in other ways in his Alfred Deakin—A Sketch. Edited by Mr Brookes, Deakin's work was published by Messrs Robertson and Mullens of Melbourne in 1944. His edition omitted many words, phrases and sentences, and several lengthy passages, and in places substituted words or phrases for those in the original. There were also cases of incorrect transcription, explained by Deakin's sometimes difficult handwriting. In this edition the text has been restored in full. The lengthier additions occur in chapters X and XVII, but the reader who compares the two texts will notice small changes, some important, on almost every page. Students of Australian history, however, owe a debt of gratitude to Mr Brookes for publishing the narrative in the first place.

Some editorial rules have had to be adopted in the reproduction of an unrevised manuscript written fluently and at high speed. Punctuation of Deakin's often lengthy sentences has mostly to be supplied; in his published writing he punctuated rather elaborately, in his manuscripts hardly at all. Abbreviations, including those for Christian names, have been spelt out. The division and numbering of the chapters are Deakin's, but titles have been supplied.


  ― 12 ―
Some of the longer passages have been cut up into paragraphs. Deakin's varying capitalization for the same word has been made uniform (for example, he rings all possible changes in this respect on a word like ‘anti-Federal’). In a few cases tenses that have gone astray have been corrected. Otherwise, the text is reproduced as it stands in the manuscript, at the risk of some pain to the editorial staff of the Melbourne University Press who have a proper regard for ‘house rules’. My thanks are due to Miss M. Donald and Miss G. Williams for their help in its preparation.

J. A. L.

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