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Minutes of Evidence: Day 6

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.

All members of the Commission were present:
* The Honorable Sir T. S. Pratt, K.C.B., in the Chair.
* The Honorable the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly [Sir Frances Murphy MP].
* The Honorable the Acting President of the Legislative Council [Matthew Hervey MLC].
* The Honorable J. F. Sullivan, Esq, MP.
* Evelyn P. S. Sturt, Esq.

Mr Wm. Wright further examined.

1565. There is evidently some discrepancy between the statement you wrote yourself on the 5th, when you came back, and the statement of Dr Macadam that no such letter was ever received. This letter of yours of the 19th of December, is it written by yourself ?-The one I sent myself ?

1566. The one of the l9th of December, is it in your own handwriting ?-The one that is missing ?

1567. No; this one [Handing a paper to the witness] ?-No it is not, Hodgkinson did all the writing.

1568. Did he write the one that is stated to be missing ?-No he did not.

1569. You wrote that one ?-I wrote that with my own hand. I just wrote a few words.

1570. Could your memory serve you sufficiently to write the purport of that letter that is missing ?-It would not.

1571. Nothing approaching to it ?-I never thought for a moment of keeping a copy of it, or giving it to Hodgkinson to keep a copy.

1572. Have you no recollection of the general purport of it ?-I just mentioned that Mr Burke had appointed me to take the party out and take the command; that is about the heads of it.

1573. Have you any objection to write a letter similar to that one, as nearly as you can remember it ?-No. I write a very indifferent hand.

1574. Which was the reason, it is to be presumed, why you got some one to write the letter of the 19th ?-Yes.

1575. The question was asked with this view, that if you had employed some other person, the Commission might have got his testimony to add, to show that the letter had been written ?-Just so. I believe the letters were not posted, I am not sure,-I think they did not go away till the 13th.

1576. The second post, in fact, in the month ?-Yes.

1577. If they had gone down in the first post of the month, they would have been here in the middle of November ?-It was not in time for the first post, the mail was on its way up.

1578. The letter you brought down from Mr Burke did not go till the second mail in the month, and therefore did not reach Melbourne until the end of the month or the beginning of December ?-Yes.

The witness withdrew

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 forma1 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 befell 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.

Mr George James Landells examined.

1642. You started with Mr Burke from Melbourne originally ?-Yes.

1643. How far did you go on the journey ?-I may mention that I should be very happy to give any information that lies in my power if the members originally composing the expedition were present here, and until I do so I cannot exonerate myself.

1644. You know it is impossible to have the members of the expedition here. It is not a question of exoneration or otherwise, but we wish to obtain any information we can, to supply any missing link ?-Details would come in, and I consider I have been extremely ill-used, and I require to have evidence to disprove the statements that have been brought against me by different members, but which can be cleared up, I feel confident, as my character has been traduced.

1645. This Commission is not appointed to enquire into that ?-I would be very happy to give any information in my power; at the same time, unless the members originally composing the expedition were present I could not do it.

1646. Then you will be good enough to retire ?-I am to understand that justice is not to be had. The doors of the Royal Society have been shut against me and I have not been able to get justice from them.

1647. How could they all be here; we could not send all round the country for those who are alive ?-Mr Wright is summoned here.

1648. He was asked to give evidence as you are. The object of the Commission is to ascertain from what cause the death of these two men arose; if you can throw any light upon that subject the Commission are ready to hear you; further than that we should not feel disposed to go ?-Then in that case I cannot say anything more.

The witness withdrew.

Mr Thomas Dick examined.

1649. What are you ?-I have been a publican at Swan Hill, and I simply come here for a certain purpose.

1650. In connection with this inquiry ?-Yes.

1651. Then you wish to volunteer some statement ?-Exactly.

1652. Would you be kind enough to go on with it ?-It is in relation to Charles Gray. Very few people perhaps knew much about him; but I knew more about him than anyone else, except his previous employer, and as I am in Melbourne I take the opportunity of trying to clear up his character, because it seems to be a general impression that Gray was a man not altogether right, that there was not something clear about him-about his character. I wish to state this : he was in my employ about fifteen months, and I had him at one time as a general servant, at another time as a cook, at another as an ostler, and another as puntman for the punt over the River Murray. In fact, when I was short handed, or any of the servants got the worse for drink, I generally made a point of sacking them at once; Gray was the only man that I had to fall back upon in every respect.

1653. Was he a sober man ?-A sober man. He has been repeatedly the worse for drink when he got his wages once a month, as I settled with him once a month. He might take a spree for an afternoon or something like that, but as a general tippler I wish to state that he was not. The fact of his being in a public house may have led Mr King to make a remark that being in a public house he might be habitually on the drink, but such was not the case.

1654. Mr King said he was a man of bad constitution in consequence of taking " sprees," as you call them ?-In eighteen months his sprees were about six or seven.

1655. That is tolerably good, is it not ?-That was about the amount of it.

1656. Was he a stout hearty man ?-A stout hearty man, and a better bushman was not to be found. There are gentlemen here who know what the Mallee Scrub is, behind Swan Hill, and I have sent him fifteen miles back into the scrub and he was the man to find the cattle; no man at Swan Hill was equal to him, and he was thorough honest, and I leave it to the people of Swan Hill to confirm it.

1657. You are here merely to clear up Mr King's statement, that Gray's constitution had been injured in consequence of intoxication ?-Yes. His previous employer, with whom he was quite as long if not longer, is at Swan Hill now; he is the mail contractor, and the whole time he was employed he was scarcely once under the influence of drink.

1658. Have you anything more to say ?-No nothing more. I simply wished to give my statement.

The witness withdrew.

Mr William Wright further examined.

1659. Mr Hodgkinson returned to Menindie on the 9th of the month of January ?-Yes, believe so.

1660. And you started on the 26th ?-Yes.

166l. What, were you doing in the meantime, from the 9th to the 26th?-As soon as I got my appointment confirmed I had to do what I should have done all the time we were at Menindie. I had to purchase horses, I had four bullocks killed, and of course I had to train those horses and get them ready to start out; and another thing, I had to go around to purchase the horses from one place to another, you cannot go to any place on the Darling and pick up as many horses as you choose. A lot of horses were offered to me by Mr Walker of Messrs. Watson and Hewitt's, and I told him as soon as I had got my answer from Melbourne, as soon as Mr Hodgkinson returned with despatches, I would go and see those horses; in fact, I said I would go and see the horses even before he came back if he would let me know the price of them. He said "we will not stand to price, you shall have the horses at a very reasonable figure and we will not stand at all to price." I said I would rather know what the price of the horses was to be, "because," I said "if I get the horses and no price is mentioned you may charge some extraordinary price for them hereafter, and as it is a matter of business I had better know the price of the horses before I agree to take them." He said he would go up to the station and see the overseer there, and send me down a note and let me know. But I never got it, for two or three days after he came down himself with the overseer and told me "there are so many horses that I could get the pick out of some thirty or forty," or something of that kind, and I think there were eight or ten to be picked by the people on the station first. I said "that may be all very well, some may suit me. What are you going to charge a head for these cattle." He said £35 a head.

1662. Was it the difficulty of getting horses and making arrangements that caused the delay ?-Yes.

1663. When Mr Burke sent you back to the Darling, were you not aware what his object was-that you might follow him up as soon as possible ?-Mr Burke told me repeatedly-which I mentioned when I came in-that he was not very sure when his despatches would be down. When he found that Mr Landells had resigned, he was not very sure whether there would be another person appointed before I was ready to start.

1664. A party appointed to supersede you ?-He was not sure whether there would be a person appointed by the committee, and I mentioned it to Mr Haverfield when I came in. Mr Haverfield can state what conversation I had with him when I came in.

1665. All the time you were at Menindie till you received this information, you did not do anything preparatory to the journey; in fact, you made no preparation whatever ?-Things were kept in order; in fact, there was nothing to be done but get the horses and cattle, everything else was ready; the stores, as far as flour, and tea, and sugar and so on were concerned, were there; the only thing was the camels required looking after.

1666. You say Mr Burke stated to you that there was a possibility of your being superseded by the committee ?-In fact, he said it was likely; he did not know till he heard ; and that I mentioned to Mr Haverfield when I came in, and I believe Mr Haverfield can state that himself.

1667. What induced you to think at any time, or to express doubts, that Mr Burke would not be likely to return to Cooper's Creek-that he would not be able to get back; what induced you to come to the conclusion that it was very doubtful whether Mr Burke would ever get back to Cooper's Creek ?-I never thought of such a thing until after I heard from Mr Brahe, when he came in from Cooper's Creek, and of Mr Burke telling him to stay twelve weeks, and he had staid so long over that time I supposed he had gone across to Queensland-gone along the east coast to Queensland.

1668. You came to the supposition that that would be his course ?-Yes; I thought that would be his course; and knowing he had only taken twelve weeks' provisions with him, and at this time it was seventeen or eighteen weeks; it was over eighteen weeks at the time I saw Mr Brahe from the time that Mr Burke had left Cooper's Creek.

1669. If you had waited till Lyons came back at Menindie, three months must have elapsed from the time that Lyons started. How long did you calculate he would take; at what time did you suppose he would return ?-I did not expect him back much sooner than three months. I thought it was likely he would stop out there and spell the horses and things he had taken out. I thought they would spell themselves for a few days before they came back with the horses and camels that I expected to see back. In fact, until I got my appointment confirmed, I did not consider myself a servant of the expedition at all.

1670. Did you not consider that Mr Burke had sufficient authority to appoint you ?-Not from the way I was appointed; he told me he was not sure that a person would not be sent from Melbourne.

1671. I presume you are fully aware that he was the leader of the expedition. I suppose from what Mr Burke stated to you, that he had ample power to deal with everything ?-No, I was not; in fact, his letter does not show he had ample power; he stated in his despatch he hoped the committee would confirm my appointment-he hoped they would do so; I recollect that part of it.

1672. But he says in the despatch immediately afterwards :-"In the meantime I have instructed Mr Wright to follow me up with the remainder of the camels to Cooper's Creek." Supposing Mr Burke had taken you on with him instead of your returning to Menindie, would you not think he had sufficient power to employ you; he employed you to go on with him ?-When I first went out ?

1673. Yes ?-No, he did not employ me; I went as a volunteer.

1674. But you did submit to an engagement; you agreed with Mr Burke to form one of the expedition ?-Yes.

1675. Did you not consider then that he had sufficient authority to employ you ?-In the conversation I had with him he seemed to be doubtful about it, whether my appointment would be confirmed or not; and of course, until I was certain of that, I did not think I had power to act.

1676. On the 19th December you were fully impressed with the necessity of following Mr Burke, as you say [See Wright's Diary]:-"As I have every reason to believe that Mr Burke has pushed on for Cooper's Creek, relying upon finding the depot stores at that watercourse upon his return, there is room for the most serious apprehensions as to the safety of himself and party, should he find that he has miscalculated :" that was the case, was it not; this is your own despatch now being read from ?-Yes.

1677. On the 19th of December, in the first paragraph of your despatch, you say, in accordance with a previous understanding with Mr Burke, it was your intention to rejoin that gentleman at once; you did not do so ?-No.

1678. And the reason you give the committee for not having done so, is, "that I delayed starting merely because the camels (nine) left behind by Mr Burke, were too few in number and too inferior in carrying powers;" do you remember that at the last day's sitting of the Commission you stated that your principal reason was not that, but you were awaiting the confirmation by the committee of your appointment as third in command. You were asked on that occasion how you reconciled those two statements, namely, the statement in your despatch and the statement you made to the Commission on the last day. That question is still unanswered, and we should like you to answer it. Can you now reconcile your having stated to the committee of the Royal Society that your only reason for delay was, because " the camels (nine) left behind by Mr Burke were too few in number and too inferior in carrying powers," with the other statement you made the other day, that you did not start because you did not feel you were an employee of the committee at all ?-That would have been one reason; in fact, there were two or three reasons. There was not sufficient carrying power for one reason ; and another thing was....

1679. You are simply asked now, can you reconcile the statements you made here with this written statement made to the committee of the Royal Society. You made no allusion in that statement to the Royal Society to your awaiting the confirmation of your appointment as third in command ?-I think in another part of the letter I do advise the committee, if I am not sent, to send some party.

1680. Will you be good enough to find that-it does not appear to be in the letter-[The letter was referred to, but the statement did not appear to be contained in it] ?-I am almost certain from what I gave him to copy that I stated it.

1681. There is no mention of it ?-I thought I mentioned it distinctly, but it is not worded as I intended at all.

1682. How can you reconcile the two statements ?-The only answer I can give to it is the answer I have already given.

1683. But there has been no answer given to the question neither the last day of our meeting nor this; you perfectly understand the question ?-That despatch was written by Mr Hodgkinson, and he has worded the despatch in a very different way from what I intended it-very differently.

1684. It was read over to you, was it not-it is signed by you ?-That is my signature to it.

1685. You must have been a party to the despatch-you must have known the whole contents of the despatch ?-It was read over to me certainly.

1686. Will you answer this question with regard to Mr Burke's appointment of you as the virtual leader of all that he left behind at Menindie-was that appointment made because he was satisfied with you in your being able to take him so far as you accompanied him-was not that the origin of the appointment; you having done your duty by him as his guide, he therefore thought you were highly competent to bring up the remainder of the party ?-I believe he did think so, but whether that is the reason he gave me the appointment is a question : I could not say.

1687. It is the reason he gives the committee ; he compliments you very highly, and hopes they will give you the appointment. That being the case, and Mr Burke giving that as the reason, do you suppose he would anticipate for a moment the detention of the party you were sent back to accompany, for two months, at the Darling-had such an idea ever passed through Mr Burke's mind ?-Certainly it had; because he questioned me about the mail, and how long it would be before there would be despatches to the Darling-in fact, I mentioned a good deal of the conversation to Mr Haverfield, he being up at Menindie at the time I came in.

1688. But you do not refer to it in your despatch ?-No; there are a great many things I did not refer to in the despatch or diary either.

1689. You observe that the delay which had occurred had occasioned anxiety in your mind; from the first paragraph in the despatch which has just been read to you, you evidently had not intended, when you accepted the appointment from Mr Burke, to lose a moment ?-I intended to stop at Menindie until my appointment was confirmed.

1690. We have not the slightest evidence of that ?-Another reason was. my waiting for Lyons and McPherson.

1691. You adhere strictly to that statement, that you would under any circumstances have staid at Menindie until your appointment was confirmed ?-Yes.

1692. You state distinctly you would not have started ?-I would not have started.

1693. Therefore if you had had fifty horses and fifty camels you would not have started until your appointment was confirmed ?-I should not; if there had not been despatches up in a very short time I should have certainly sent down to Melbourne. I should have sent in before Lyons and McPherson came back had they not been up there and me waiting for their return; I should have sent down for despatches.

1694. So that under any circumstances--?-There were despatches going down every mail from the camp-letters by every mail and none of them answered. They were going from Mr Becker and Dr Beckler, and it has been mentioned by Mr Becker to Mr Haverfield

1695. When you accepted this appointment had you any intention of following immediately ?-I could not follow immediately; in the first instance, I could not start until I sent my wife and family down; that Mr Burke knew, and I said I did not know how long it might be before there was a steamer.

1696. How do you reconcile that with Mr Burke's own statement, that he expected you in two or three days ?-I do not see how he could expect that.

1697. He does say so ?-He only staid for two or three weeks. I left him at Torowoto and had to go back for a few days and I could not possibly be out there to overtake him in two days-I could not possibly do it. There were 200 miles that I had to go back, and the time I was going those 200 miles Mr Burke was travelling at the rate some days of 20 and some days 25 miles, but I believe nothing under 20 miles, in fact the average was 20 miles a day from Torowoto to Cooper's Creek. I had to go those 200 miles back, and how could I be there in that time, even if I had started a day or two after I reached Menindie ?

1698. But still, according to this despatch, it occasioned you very great apprehension as to the safety of Mr Burke ?-As to the safety of Mr Burke ?

1699. Yes-the fact of the delay ?-I thought it was such a time from the time he started that the party did go out and it was quite necessary that there should be a start made.

1700. From the statement you have made just now Mr Burke was aware of all your plans-that you would not leave when he expected you would leave ?-He must have been aware of it because I mentioned it to him-in fact we talked the thing over and he said also there might be a person from Melbourne.

1701. Was he apprehensive of his safety; do you know whether from the delay that must have been occasioned from your waiting at Menindie he felt or did he express to you any apprehension as to his probable safety ?-No; he mentioned to me about sending part of the horses and camels back from Cooper's Creek, so that he could not have had much apprehension about his safety. I know that Mr Brahe told me several times that he was one that Mr Burke had selected out to send back or intended to send back.

1702. Then it is to be presumed that the Commission may consider that you have no answer to make to reconcile the statement in this despatch with your garbled statement made to the committee ?-I have no particular answer to make to that question.

1703. It should be pointed out to you that unless you can answer that question satisfactorily, you stand in an awkward position before this Commission ?- (No answer.)

The witness withdrew.

Mr John King further examined.

1704. The Commission understand that you forgot to mention that when you returned to Cooper's Creek, before you finally left it, you left something there ?-Yes; I was the person who broke the bottle to take the note out. I put the pieces of the bottle on the top of the stockade; we also left a bag of horseshoe nails scattered about, and cut a large square out of the hide that formed the door of the stockade.

1705. The stockade was quite close to where the things were buried ?-Quite close.

1706. How far ?-To the best of my knowledge it may be ten yards; I believe not that.

1707. And you put those pieces of the broken bottle on the top of the stockade ?-Yes.

1708. How on the stockade; on the top of one of the planks ?-On the top of one of the planks.

1709. That was to show as a record that you had been there ?-That is what I meant; and hung on some nails that were in the planks rags and pieces of leather.

1710. Did Mr Burke change his boots ?-Yes; he took his old pair and the pair that was there also.

1711. He took them ?-Yes. We also left an old billy at the depot.

1712. He did not leave any ?-No.

1713. Have you anything further to-say ?-There is a remark that Mr Wright has made, stating that Mr Burke intended to send Mr Brahe back from Torowoto When Mr Burke fell the party in Mr Wright was there, and he told us he might have occasion to send some men back within a few days-perhaps not until we got to Cooper's Creek, or perhaps not at all, or, perhaps at Eyre's Creek. Mr Wright heard these words, yet he says he was waiting for the return of the camels.

1714. Mr Burke, in his own despatch, which he sent down by Mr Wright, does not hold out any certainty of being able to do that; he says he might, and he says further that he might not : it is quite uncertain ?

Mr Wright. -What Mr Burke told me was-he did not say he would do so, that was more than he could say, but that possibly he would do so.

Mr King -I wish also to state, that there is no sign of religion recorded in any part of the diary. We each had our bible and prayer-book, and we occasionally read them going and coming back; and also the evening before the death of Mr Burke, I am happy to say, he prayed to God for forgiveness for the past, and died happy, a sincere Christian.

1715. Mr Brahe-Did you know that Mr Burke told me, after leaving Torowoto, Mr Wright was coming up with me when I was coming up again from the Darling, or did you be believe that I was to be sent back from Cooper's Creek after reaching it ?-No; I do not believe it. It could not be. I never heard Mr Burke or any other officer say so.

1716. Were not all the members of the party under the impression that I was to go back ?-That you might be sent back if any person was to be sent.
Mr Brahe. - I was told by Mr Burke, that Wright was coming up with me. - That was after Mr Wright had left Torowoto I was told so.

1717. By the Commission (to Mr King) -Have you any reason to know that was so ?-The reason I know is that Mr Burke in expressing himself before the party said-That party may have occasion to be sent back; but he did not give any information positively on that to any party.

1718. Were you present at the time when the cache was first opened at Cooper's Creek; that is on your return from Carpentaria when you came to the cache, did you see the state it was in ?-Yes; Mr Wills and myself were the persons that opened it and took out the contents.

1719. Can you recollect whether you restored it afterwards to a state similar to that which you found it in ?-As far as we possibly could, though we could not lay the same amount of dung on it, but I scattered a portion about.

1720. You think it quite possible that within a fortnight after that two persons could return and not notice that the cache had been opened ?-If I myself had been the person who made the plant I think I should have been able to detect whether it had been opened or not, especially when the relief party passed it, it was then ten inches sunk beneath the surface.

1721. There was no cut in a tree-no fresh cut, or fresh mark made so as to leave unquestionable evidence of your having been there ?-No, but many marks about that might indicate our visit; there were our fires there that any person might have .known that Europeans had been there. There is a great difference in. that respect between Europeans and natives.

1722. How was a European to know whether it was a European or native fire-there was not a stick of wood to show; could you yourself tell the difference ?-We left wood there; he states there was no wood there.

1723. Was there plenty of wood about ?-The wood was scarce; we had to burn some of the small stools which the depot party left there, and we left some partly burned; from the position of our fires the difference might be might be distinguished.

1724. Was it near this cache where the gunyah was burnt ?-It was some thirty-five miles down the creek.

1725. Did it not occur to you whilst you were there on your return to Cooper's Creek, to leave some mark on some trees, or some other mark behind you more than putting the bottle on the stockade ?-We had no implements.

1726. No tomahawk ?-No, nor axe-all we had was a blade of a knife and two lancets; and Mr Burke never expected the party to return so soon, judging from the note left. That was mentioned amongst us that we should make a mark on a tree somewhere, but Mr Burke said-he did not see the use of it, the word "dig" would answer our purpose if a it party came up in a few months time as we had then every hope and prospect of getting down to Mount Hopeless.

1727. And in all your conversations with Mr Burke and Mr Wills, you were under the impression that you would have found the depot party at Cooper's Creek when you returned ?-We always entertained that expectation.

1728. You were under the impression, so much so that you ate rather profusely of your provisions the day before you arrived there ?-Yes, from the certainty we had of finding relief there; also Mr Burke was cooeying to the men within twenty to thirty yards of the place-he saw no lights; he cooeyed and called to the men by name whom he had left there. I have nothing else to state except that if Mr Landells is to be examined then I shall have to defend Mr Burke's character as I am happy to say it is in my power to do so.

The witness withdrew.

Mr William Brahe further examined.

1729. By Dr Wills (through the Chairman).-I wish to, know whether a portmanteau was left with you belonging to Mr Wills, my son ?-A bag; a calico bag, containing clothes.

1730. You were aware it was his own property ?-I was.

1731. What made you take those clothes back to Menindie, and not leave them in the cache ?-Mr Wills was as well supplied with clothes as any other member of that party, and I did certainly not think they would be in want of clothes.

1732. Are you not aware that those clothes might have saved his life ?-I know a great many things now, that I could not know then. If I had known they would have returned the night they did, I should have remained there certainly. If I had had any reason for expecting them back at all, I would have perished rather than have left.

1733. In regard to the statement made by McDonough with regard to the loss of the camels when Mr Wills and he went out that time, was that statement in accordance with what you know of the matter ?-I remember but little of Mr McDonough's statement. Mr King, who is in the room, I dare say, knows as much about it as I do. I understood while at tea at the farthest out camp, the camels escaped; it was dusk when they went out and they could not find them; they traced them that night a distance of some miles and they were compelled then to return to the camp; they walked back.

1734. Did you happen to know, or not being present, did you happen to hear, or understand, that the camels were lost when they were in charge of McDonough during the time that young Mr Wills was taking observation ?-I know that McDonough was in charge of the camels; Mr Wills was not supposed to look after them.

1735. Were they lost at that time when Mr Wills was taking his observations ?-I understood that Mr Wills was employed writing in the camp at the time the camels got away.

The witness withdrew.

Mr John King further examined.

1736. Can you confirm that statement at all in any way, or do you know anything about it ?-Mr Wills told me just as the father of the gentleman states, that the camels were lost through Mr McDonough's neglect during the time he was writing and taking observations.

1737. McDonough never disputed that, did he ?-McDonough told me that it was while they were at supper in the evening, but I do not see how that could be, because they generally took supper, and ourselves, about six o'clock in the evening; and it was so dark that they could not see the camels, so that it would be most likely when Mr Wills was taking observations.

The witness withdrew.

Dr Macadam, M.P., farther examined.

1738. Do you wish to make any statement to the Commission ?-I merely wish to make observation upon a remark which I understand was made by Mr Wright when I was out of the room, to the effect that the inferior officers of the party very frequently forwarded despatches to the committee, that were unanswered. I may state, lest there should be any misapprehension about this, that in the original instructions given to the scientific observers, the following paragraph appeared : "All specimens, journals, sketches, maps or other documents, to be exclusively the property of the Royal Society on behalf of the Government of Victoria, and on no pretence whatever are either specimens or copies of the said documents to be given away or forwarded privately to any person, or even officially, except through the leader, although it is intended that each observer should, on publication of the results of the expedition, receive the credit due to him for his observations. All scientific or other document, journals, &c., relating to the expedition, to be at all times accessible to the leader." Several instances occurred, and I believe it is to them Mr Wright refers, wherein the second and third officers began to send in those, not despatches in the true sense of the term, but merely their diaries : and it was thought proper, on the 18th of October, in a despatch that, unfortunately never reached Mr Burke, through Lyons, to inform the leader that the committee had arrived at the following resolution : "That the leader be informed that the committee desires that all reports from the scientific officers should be forwarded through the leader only and also in accordance with the instructions, to the portion of which referring to special reports it is desired he will call their attention," I think it is right to state that those diaries were not acknowledged by the committee as coming from the inferior officers to them, but only through the leader.

1739. That does not affect the question of the statement made by Mr Wright. His object was to show the fact that the committee were in possession of the fact that they were at Menindie ?

Mr Wright. - That was the only reason.

Adjourned sine die.

The Commission reconvened on Monday, 30th December 1861.

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