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Minutes of Evidence: Sir William Stawell

Report of the commissioners appointed to enquire into and report upon the circumstances connected with the sufferings and death of Robert O'Hara Burke and William John Wills.
Melbourne: John Ferres, Government Printer.
Parliamentary papers, No 97, 1861-2. 1862.

Thursday 12th December 1861.

His Honor Sir William Foster Stawell, Knight, Chief Justice of the Colony, examined.

1579. You were the chairman of that portion of the Royal Society which formed this Exploration Committee ?-I was the chairman of the Exploration Committee.

1580. And chairman or head of the sub-committee ?-No sub-committee was appointed. At the request of Mr Burke, and by consent of the committee, some of the members assisted him in selecting- and inspecting the stores. I assisted him in selecting the dried meat. Some difficulty was experienced in drying meat at that particular period of the year, so much so that it was a matter of debate whether it should be taken from Melbourne or procured at Menindie, on the Darling. Beyond this no persons acted as members of sub-committee.

1581. Possibly your Honor would be kind enough to make a statement with regard to the general management of the expedition, the instructions that were issued, and the intentions of the committee. What were the objects of the expedition originally ?-The object of the expedition was to cross the continent, if it were possible, and if not possible, to explore as much as could be done with safety. The committee represented, to a certain extent, a committee which was originally formed apart from the Royal Society; and by resolutions then passed it was agreed that Cooper's Creek should be the depot. That committee so formed co-operated with the Royal Society committee, and both were incorporated into one, the Exploration Committee being the result. They considered themselves bound by the previous resolutions, as money had been received on the faith of the understanding then existing, and they never felt at liberty, even had they wished, to depart from the intention of Cooper's Creek being made the depot.

1582. That was the base of the operations ?-Yes, that was to form the base of operations. The committee, from the information derived from the explorations of Sturt and Gregory, considered Cooper's Creek the most advanced point at which it was known there was permanent water; and they believed that taking it as a base of operations exploration might be carried on with perfect safety into the interior of the country. They wished to proceed tentatively, and run no risk. A proposition was made to start from Blunder Bay, but that was objected to on the ground, that in the event of any accident befalling the expedition there would be no place of security to fall back upon; and ultimately it was decided that the expedition should start with instructions to form a depot at Cooper's Creek, and if possible reach Carpentaria from it. But it was decided that the leader was not to be interfered with-that he was to be regarded as in the position of a general in the field. He was to receive his instructions beyond that one point of forming the depot, the instructions which he regarded merely as expressing the wishes of the committee, but to which the leader was not bound to adhere if he saw reason to depart from them. The leader attended all the meetings, and heard the deliberations, and the giving any instructions was almost superfluous, as he was thoroughly acquainted with the views and wishes of the committee. If Carpentaria could not be reached it was considered advisable to attempt the exploration in a more north-westerly direction, so as to reach the Victoria. This however, the committee did not deem it expedient to press, as it was supposed that Stuart had then, or would shortly have discovered the route to the Victoria. If this was not practicable the next best thing would be to explore westwards, in the direction of Western Australia, and thus in one or other of those different ways cross the continent.

1583. The object was then to cross the continent and also to survey the country ?-Yes; the survey of the country was a most important consideration, in the opinion of the committee. It was at one time suggested that the expedition should start from Port Augusta, but it was thought that as the people of Victoria had contributed so liberally towards the expedition it was due to those who had so contributed that the expedition should be connected with this colony, and that the country between Victoria and Cooper's Creek should not only be explored, but roughly surveyed, so as to mark a practicable route from the Murray to any newly discovered country, and thus connect it directly with Victoria. The leader was requested, over and over again, and it was repeated in the instructions, that in going from the Darling to Cooper's Creek diversions should be made on either side, so as to ascertain the nature of the country and the best route, as well as to see whether the country was available for stock.

1584. Then Cooper's Creek was to be the depot ?-That was to be the depot. In addition to other considerations which acted upon the committee, it was anticipated that from this permanent depot at Cooper's Creek communication could, with tolerable regularity, be kept up with Melbourne. It was expected that the committee would have to appeal to the public for more funds, and the necessity of the public being kept thoroughly au fait to all proceedings was fully felt. If the public were kept acquainted with what was going on, the committee had no doubt of a liberal subscription from them and of a supplementation from the public funds. But, unless a sufficient interest was enlisted, further operations must have been stopped. The committee looked forward to the expedition being in the field for several months, and even years. It was thought that if successful in reaching Carpentaria, the expedition might fall back to recruit, and afterwards prosecute their researches in other directions. In fact, the discovery of a route to Carpentaria was only intended to be the first part of the operations the expedition were to be employed upon.

1585. It was intended (excepting the depot party) that the whole party should go across ?-Certainly.

1586. Leaving open sufficient communication in the rear ?-Yes. The proposition to form the depot at Menindie, on the Darling, did not emanate from the committee. It was not mentioned, until long after the expedition had started. The committee intended that all the stores should be taken to Cooper's Creek. Wagons were hired for the purpose of conveying them first to Swan Hill and afterwards to the Darling, whence it was supposed the camels and horses could transport them to Cooper's Creek.

1587. Mr Burke was not hurried in his movements from Melbourne ?-No, on the contrary, although the committee were desirous that the expedition should have started earlier than it did in order that the leader might avail himself of the winter rains to reach Cooper's Creek, yet, as much interest had been manifested in the experiment of the camels being fairly tried, the committee did not feel at liberty to send the expedition without them, and it was necessary to wait for some time until they had recovered their condition after their voyage from India.

1588. Mr Burke had ample opportunity to make every arrangement before he left ?-Yes; he appeared perfectly satisfied. I have heard him say, more than once : "I have had a glorious start."

1589. As to his second in command, Mr Burke had the choice of him ?-Yes he himself wished Mr Landells to be appointed at the time; all the other appointments were made with his full approbation, and at meetings when he was present.

1590. He had full choice ?-Yes.

1591. Was it part of the original project of the committee to send a vessel round to the Gulf of Carpentaria, to render assistance in that way ?-Never; it was once mentioned and that was all. It was explained at the time that sending a vessel to Carpentaria would be useless, it not positively injurious; because if the expedition started, as it ought, with sufficient stores to go and return, the leader on reaching Carpentaria would naturally prefer coming back the way he had come as he could improve on his discoveries; whereas if he set out with insufficient stores to enable him to return, his chance of meeting a vessel on that coast, considering the nature and extent of it, appeared so small, and the probability that he might not be able to reach the point where a vessel would be appointed to meet him, so great, that we thought he might find himself on the northern shore of the continent without any stores at all.

1592. He had no reason from anything that passed in the committee to consider that a vessel would meet him there ?-No; on the contrary, he expressed his concurrence in the objections so raised. The only view Mr Burke ever took, at any time, in which all the committee did not concur with him, was with respect to the starting from Blunder Bay He did at first appear to approve of that course; I was not present at the original meeting, but afterwards he seemed perfectly satisfied, and on the whole he considered it better that the expedition should start from Cooper's Creek because, in addition to other reasons, the journey from Melbourne to the Darling and Cooper's Creek would afford him better opportunities of becoming acquainted with his men than he could be merely on board a vessel; he would thus be enabled to select the best men at Cooper's Greek, where, as was supposed, the difficulties of exploration would be first encountered. I should state that a large number of men were originally hired on the supposition that he would have opportunities of ascertaining before he left the settled districts who were the most efficient.

1593. He had the entire arrangement as to stores and provisions; that is to say they were provided with his concurrence and knowledge ?-They were all selected by himself, except the meat biscuit, and that was a suggestion of Dr Mueller's, and I regret to say the expedition did not avail themselves of it; there are now five hundred weight of the meat biscuit, described by Mr Howitt as the best food he could wish for, although it has been lying in store at Menindie.

1594. There was ample provision of everything besides that ?- Ample; I always thought too much.

1595. At the same time Mr Burke was left entirely to his own discretion after he started from town ? -Completely, except as to his going to Cooper's Creek; in every other respect, he was at liberty to pursue any course he deemed advisable.

1596. Who had the management of the details in Melbourne after Mr Burke started; the whole committee did not manage the details as to the correspondence and so on. Was any particular person appointed for that purpose ?-No, the whole committee met; they were summoned by the honorary secretary on the receipt of despatches, and all who could attend did so. No doubt, from the committee being so large, some persons attended at one meeting who could not attend at another, and there might be a certain want of unanimity in consequence. Precisely the same number of members did not attend three consecutive meetings, but after Mr Burke started there was very great interest taken in the matter, and the attendance at the meetings of the committee then were, I think, better than before.

1597. Were the correspondence and despatches that came down from Mr Burke always laid before the committee and attended to ?-Yes; they were always read, commented on, and discussed.

1598. And generally they were published in the newspapers the next day ?-They were invariably published, and generally the next day.

1599. Directing your attention to the first despatch which arrived from Mr Burke after he left Menindie, the despatch which he wrote at Torowoto and sent back by Mr Wright to Menindie. That was forwarded by post, and it appears from the documents of the committee that that arrived here upon the 3rd of December ?-Yes, early in December.

1600. In looking over the newspapers at, the reports of the proceedings of the committee it does not appear that anything was done with respect to that despatch. There seems to have been no notice taken of it ?-The despatch was read and considered. I have a distinct recollection of that despatch being laid before the committee soon after its receipt, and that so far as my memory serves me, was as soon as it could be. A meeting was called the despatch was read, and the committee discussed it. There was no formal resolution proposed or passed, simply because, in the opinion of the committee, any answer whatever to it, would be too late.

1601. That was what it was wished to ask you ?-The reason why that fact is so very clearly impressed on my memory is this : The committee were a short time before made aware of Stuart's success, and of its having been published generally in the newspapers. I was myself apprehensive of the effect of that report upon Mr Burke's mind. I knew what it would have produced on my own, and I wrote a private letter to Mr Burke, requesting him no to throw any chance away in his anxiety to cross the continent first. That letter was forwarded by Lyons and McPherson with despatches. I felt uncertain about it reaching its destination; and on and on the receipt of this despatch from Torowoto, if I had thought that there was a prospect of a letter reaching him I should only have been too anxious to write again and repeat what had said, hut I thought it was hopeless. The committee arrived at the same conclusion. No despatch had been received from Mr Wright himself, and considering the time of year, it was judged that it would be useless to send a despatch, and none was sent.

1602. That question is asked because, from the report in the newspapers, it would appear that nothing was done by the committee in the matter. The report in the newspapers merely says : "The following despatches were received and laid before the Exploration Committee." It does not appear that any proceedings took place upon them, the committee by that time having been made aware that Mr Burke had divided his party and left a large portion at Menindie, with the view of being followed up by them immediately. He says in his letter "I shall proceed on from here to Cooper's Creek. I may or may not be able to send back from there until we are followed up. Perhaps it would not be prudent to divide the party. The natives here have told Mr Wright that we shall meet with opposition on our way there. Perhaps I might find it advisable to leave a depot at Cooper's Creek, and go on with a small party to examine the country beyond it. Under any circumstances it is desirable that we should be soon followed up. I consider myself very fortunate in having Mr Wills as my second in command," and so on. There is a very strong expression there about being soon followed up, but it does not appear that any letter was forwarded from the committee to Mr Wright or the party at Menindie on the receipt of this letter. The committee were aware that Mr Burke had gone on, but it does not appear that any despatch was forwarded to Mr Wright or the party at Menindie with respect to Mr Burke being followed up ?-The omission to do so, it omission it was, arose from the construction the committee put upon the letter received from Mr Burke, and from Mr Wright's silence : no communication was received from him. They considered too that Mr Burke had full authority to engage Mr Wright or any one else who was necessary. Mr Wright was, in fact, appointed vice Wills, who had been promoted to the position occupied by Mr Landells. They saw no grounds for supposing that any question could arise about Mr Wright's appointment. Every inducement the committee thought should have led Mr Wright to set out at once.

1603. They considered that it would be idle to attempt to communicate with Mr Wright that in fact he would have started long before ?-Mr Burke's letter might appear to bear two constructions. By one portion it would appear that he had directed Mr Wright to follow him up at once, as soon as he, Mr Wright, had prepared the jerked meat; and by another that he was to wait. The committee had received no communication to apprise them that Mr Wright wished to have his appointment confirmed or receive further instructions. Had he wished for either the committee naturally supposed that he would have sent or written for them.

1604. By the same post a letter was received from Dr Beckler, dated on the 13th of November, Mr Burke's letter being dated October the 29th from Torowoto. Dr Beckler's letter is in relation to his explorations in the neighborhood of Menindie, and it does not seem that any communication resulted from that. The committee also had, on the 10th of December another letter which was received from Dr Becker, dated Menindie, November the 27th; so that the committee must have been aware of the delay taking place at the Darling at this time but nothing was done in fact until the 30th December, when Mr Wright's despatch of December the 19th was brought down by Mr Hodgkinson ?-That was the first information the committee had of the depot party, or of a portion of the expedition having been detained at the Darling. Either from the want of instructions or confirmation of the committee of an appointment then the greatest promptness that the committee could manifest was exhibited; they met at once there was a very full meeting, and it was determined to send Mr Hodgkinson back and to authorise Mr Wright to draw for a much larger amount of money than he had requested. Mr Wright suggested, I believe, but I am not certain whether this appeared in his despatch, at all events Mr Hodgkinson repeated a suggestion which appeared to us to be a very excellent one that Mr Wright should be allowed to draw against us not only for the purchase of horses, but for the purchase of sheep, and taking into consideration the statement then for the first time made to us by Mr Hodgkinson, that some of the stores had not turned out so well as was expected, we thought it was a matter not to hesitate about. Mr Wright had asked for £200 or £250 I forget which, and we authorised him to draw for £400.

1605. Still the Commission wish to ascertain this point-the committee were aware that the party were remaining at Menindie up to the date of Dr Beckler's letter of November 27th ?-According to my recollection they were not aware of it.

1606. The committee were not aware of it ?-No.

1607. On the 10th of December it appears despatches were received from Dr Becker nor Dr Beckler ?-I have no recollection of any despatch from Dr Becker except one enclosing notes and sketches.

1608. That is all; it was not a formal matter, but still it was received, and is alluded to in the report of the proceedings of the Royal Society. "The Exploration Expedition - Dr Macadam acknowledged the receipt of some further notes and three plates from Dr Becker; there was nothing of importance in the notes, inasmuch as everything contained had already been published in the public papers." "The Honorary Secretary read the following communication from Dr. Becker," dated Menindie, November 27th, so that up to that date the committee were aware that the party were delayed at Menindie, but it does not appear that any observations were made with regard to that?- What is the date of the letter from Dr Becker ?

1609. November 27th, Menindie, that was just a month after Mr Burke had started from Torowoto., or very nearly so. He started on October the 29th from Torowoto. ?-If you will allow me to see that despatch it may refresh my memory; as far as I recollect it was merely enclosing some sketches.

1610. Notes on the road and sketches : from that it would seem that the committee must have been aware that on the 27th November the party were then at Menindie. The committee must have been aware of that, inasmuch as it was received on the 10th December, and noted on the 11th December, yet it appears that nothing took place by the committee by way of despatches, nor even of discussion as to the remark in Mr Burke's letters with regard to his being immediately followed up ?-There was, most unquestionably, discussion, for I recollect now that despatch being read and commented on, but nothing was done for the reasons I have already stated, and it being considered that nothing could be done. The formality of passing a resolution that nothing should be done was not deemed necessary.

1611. Then until in fact the 30th of December, when the despatch of Mr Wright was received, announcing the failure of Lyons and McPherson, nothing was done with regard to that paragraph in Mr Burke's letter, as far as the committee was concerned, in reference to ascertaining whether Mr Wright was going up or not ?-No despatch was written until Mr Hodgkinson returned, but Mr Burke's despatches were read and considered. The committee were of opinion that they had started the expedition, and supplied it liberally with all means and appliances, and that unless they were asked to do anything, or the necessity for doing anything was brought before them, their hands were relieved. If there had been any doubt about the matter, on the consideration of this despatch from Mr Burke, they would have at once adopted the same measures that were afterwards adopted when Mr Hodgkinson arrived.

1612. In the discussion which took place at the society's meeting when Mr Hodgkinson arrived in Melbourne, it was stated that a letter confirming Mr Wright's appointment had gone on to Mr Burke; was there any truth in that?-I never heard of it.

1613. Was there any intimation from Mr Burke of the necessity of confirming the appointment of Mr Wright by the Royal Society ?-Nothing, except that supposed to be contained in the letter received on the 9th of December.

1614. In Mr Burke's despatch, he said he hoped the committee would confirm that appointment ?-Yes, but the committee construed that letter in this way : that he referred to having appointed Mr Wright more as a thing that was done by him than as a thing that he asked power from the committee to do; he had full authority to make the appointment; and directly after stating that he had made the appointment, he expressed his intention that Mr Wright should at once proceed from Menindie. The expression, "he hoped the committee would approve of the appointment," was considered as - being merely another mode of expressing the hope that the committee would approve of what had been done. The committee knew nothing of Mr Wright's qualifications, but relying on the leader's statements, the appointment would in the next despatch, as a matter pro forma, have, no doubt, been confirmed.

1615. Did you come to any resolution upon the subject ?-No. Had the question gone so far as the necessity of passing a resolution, a despatch would, I am certain, have been sent. No doubt was entertained about the matter.

1616. In the discussion to which reference has been made in Mr Hodgkinson's presence it is stated, "Mr Hodgkinson observed there were a few small accounts, amounting to about, £30, which were incurred at the Menindie station, but which Mr Wright did not like to discharge, as the ratification by the committee of his appointment as third officer never reached him, the letter containing it having gone on to Mr Burke ;" you do not know anything about that ?-Nothing of the kind was ever brought before the committee while I was present. I have no recollection of anything of the kind ever having passed.

1617. Do you remember the nature of the despatch sent to Mr Burke by Lyons, the trooper ?-It was substantially to inform him of Stuart's having reached so far as he had then gone across the continent.

1618. That could not have had any influence on Mr Burke in urging him forward ?-On the contrary.

1619. You, in your private letter, had particularly cautioned him against it ?-Yes; there was nothing in the official despatch that would urge him on. The committee's object was, throughout the whole affair, to insure no risk being incurred. They were only afraid that an anxiety to get on might produce disaster. I have no distinct recollection of all the passages in the letter, but I know what the purport of it was. So far from anything calculated to urge on the expedition emanating from the committee, they always took the opposite view.

1620. The committee and yourself did not conceive the difficulties of reaching Cooper's Creek were so great as they ultimately turned out to be ?-No.

1621. And Mr Burke's original despatch having spoken so well of the easy manner in which he had got to Torowoto., might have misled the committee ?-It was known there was a small tract of country to the west of the Darling in which there was not water, but it was supposed from the general information the committee then possessed that when once the expedition reached water next after they left the Darling, that they were comparatively safe till they got to Cooper's Creek.

1622. Mr Hodgkinson, in his statement to the Exploration Committee when he came down, calculated on reaching Cooper's Creek in a month afterwards ?-Yes, he spoke with very great confidence; but the misfortunes that befel Lyons and McPherson made me, to a certain extent, question that.

1623. There was no doubt in the minds of the committee that Mr Wright would be able to get up easily, even if he had started early in January ?-No; but it might take more than a month. Afterwards, when so long an interval elapsed without hearing from Mr Wright, added to the difficulties which befell Lyons and McPherson, the committee, when they sent forward Mr Howitt's contingent party, were as anxious about Mr Wright as about Mr Burke. Of course, having sent Mr Howitt into the field, it was right to instruct him to go on and follow on Mr Burke's track. That was before Mr Brahe returned, and before the committee were aware of Mr Burke having left Cooper's Creek. When so long a time elapsed without hearing from Mr Wright we became anxious about him, and we thought it was the duty of the committee to take measures and forward stores, and Mr Howitt was sent accordingly.
1624. Mr Burke never communicated to you in any way what his particular plans were ?-Never.

1625. It is to be presumed he had no very particular plans ?-I do not think he could have any plan as to his precise route, and the committee always took that view, and suggested to him that although he might have formed definite plans in his own mind, he should not adhere too much to those plans, so as to prevent his availing himself of any circumstances that might arise. Until he got actually into the field, and saw the appearance of the country generally, that he should not hesitate to depart from any plan he may have formed, if he thought it advisable to do so on seeing the features of the country.

1626. He never said anything to you about trying to reach Queensland ?-He did not; but I strongly recommended him to do so, if he succeeded in reaching Carpentaria and had any doubts about returning again. I told him he had a safe country under his lee on the east; and I pointed out to him Gregory's and Leichhardt's route; that the settlers were extending their stations to the west from Queensland; and that in all probability that would be the shortest way to get into the settled districts.

1627. Do you know what information he had about the nearness of the cattle stations to Cooper's Creek ?-The committee were told, I think, by Captain Cadell, that there were tracks leading to cattle stations lying about one hundred miles south-west or south and by west from Cooper's Creek, but that there was an interval of about eighty miles without water. The committee had Gregory's track, which showed the general features, and Mr Burke was aware of all the information the committee possessed; he had a tracing of Gregory's chart.

1628. Is there anything else that occurs to your Honor to state ?-There is one circumstance I wish to refer to. I have seen some allusion to the drafts drawn by Mr Burke having been dishonored. That was a point in which the committee took special care. The party started fully equipped with everything. It was supposed that some contingent expenses might be incurred, and Mr Burke himself seemed (although I need not go into that now) nervously apprehensive that some attempt would be made to injure his credit on his route through the settled districts; the committee considered the matter, and the better way appeared to be to give him a letter of authority to draw on the treasurer. On his expressing a doubt whether those drafts would be honored, readily accepted out of Victoria, a sum of £150 was placed to his credit, and he was told, if that was exceeded, to apprise the committee and we would place a farther sum to his credit. We saw in his progress (for the drafts were always submitted to the committee meetings) that his expenses rose to a larger amount than we had anticipated; in short, although some of the settlers and some of the gentlemen who were resident along the route behaved most liberally and hospitably, others pursued the opposite course and exacted every farthing they could. They seemed to look upon it as a Government expedition, and to think that they were justified in exacting as much out of it as they legitimately could. The treasurer mentioned this to the committee, and it was arranged that he should request the bank that if there were any further drafts on them they should not dishonor them, but advise the committee. A communication was made to the bank, but (whether before or after this I do not know) it appeared that unintentionally some very trifling drafts were dishonored or rather were sent back and afterwards paid. The committee were quite impressed with the necessity of having sufficient funds at command and supporting the credit of the expedition.

1629. As far as the explanation already given goes, it is that that was in the transition state between the apprising of the treasurer and the drafts being presented ?-I believe so. Moreover, I am satisfied myself that the return of those small drafts had not the effect of injuring the credit of the expedition, because there was no difficulty whatever in Mr Wright afterwards purchasing horses, nor did Mr Howitt nor Mr Burke himself experience any difficulty.

1630. The whole of those drafts were the most perfect trifles ?-The veriest trifles. The facility with which Mr Wright's drafts were accepted at once as payment, and the absence of all difficulty so far as Mr Howitt was concerned satisfied me there was no ground for the assertion I heard was made.

1631. The bank had not sent to the treasurer to give notice that the drafts had been presented; they were dishonored there ?-Just so.

1632. In the beginning of the year, after Mr Hodgkinson brought down this despatch, the society confirmed Mr Wright's appointment; do you think that it was necessary then ?-Mr Hodgkinson stated that Mr Wright hesitated to act till his appointment was confirmed, and then, for the first time, were the committee made aware of any necessity for confirming the appointment.

1633. That does not appear in his despatch to the committee ?-It was stated by Mr Hodgkinson directly to the committee.

1634 Verbally: it does not appear in this despatch ?-No; in fact the committee acted in many respects on Mr Hodgkinson's statements, more particularly in respect of the purchase of sheep.

1635. Do you remember the nature of that statement as to the confirmation of the appointment ?-Mr Hodgkinson said that Mr Wright hesitated to act, and that his powers were questioned until his appointment had been confirmed by the committee; and, as I understood, some of the members of the expedition then staying behind at Menindie questioned Mr Wright's authority until the committee had ratified Mr Burke's appointment of Mr Wright.

1636. So far as the despatch is concerned, it merely says "I have delayed starting ?"-The despatch led the committee to the opposite conclusion from that stated by Mr Wright. It led the committee to suppose that was the first despatch ever written to them by Mr Wright, and it assigns a totally opposite reason for the delay. I thought on hearing Mr Brahe, if I may be allowed to say so, that Mr Wright would have gone on at once, and not have waited for the confirmation of his appointment had not his authority been questioned by some of the members of the party.

1637. Mr Wright has denied that ?-That may be ; I only refer to the evidence before me. The conclusion I arrive at may be an erroneous one.

1638. Even Mr Wright's own letter says he was not delayed for that, but he subsequently stated that if he had received the confirmation he could not have gone on till Lyons returned ?-This question of confirmation always seemed a mere after thought; that was the conclusion I believe the committee arrived at. I do not know whether I judge him harshly or not.

1639. His waiting for the confirmation of his appointment is entirely at variance with Mr Burke's idea that he would be followed up by Mr Wright in a few days ?-The committee thought that as Mr Wright was described by Mr Burke in the most glowing terms as a thorough bushman, a thorough bushman would not have waited on a question of confirmation of appointment. It was an official objection that we thought would never have occurred to such a man as Mr Wright was described.

1640. "I have the honor to inform you," he says, "that pursuant to a previous understanding with Mr Burke it was my intention to rejoin that gentleman." It does not appear that it was considered by him at all, because he says distinctly " pursuant to a previous understanding with Mr Burke it was my intention to rejoin that gentleman ?"-Just so.

1641. In fact, if you had not seen Mr Hodgkinson you would not have thought it necessary to send up the confirmation of Mr Wright's appointment at all ?-Certainly not. I despaired of our ever hearing again. I do not know that I should say I despaired, but I abandoned all prospect of communicating with Mr Burke again until he had sent back: a report to us. I do not know that I have anything else to add. A knowledge of the subsequent events is dependent upon the evidence of other persons.
The Chairman.-The commission are much obliged to you, Sir William.

His Honor withdrew.

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