Fourth Report, 1860.
|Progress Reports and Final Report of the Exploration Committee of the Royal Society of Victoria.|
Melbourne: Royal Society of Victoria. Mason & Firth Printers.
At this, the close of the present session of the Institute, the Exploration Committee feels it to be its duty to lay before you its report of its past labors and progress. Hitherto its efforts have been mainly directed to financial considerations.
It will be recollected that, in September of 1858, the munificent offer of £1,000 was made by an unknown friend of exploration, on condition that £2,000 should be raised by private subscriptions within twelve months.
This offer having been made through his Honor the Chief Justice, Sir William Stawell, a public meeting was called by him, to invite the cooperation of the public in raising the required amount, in order to secure the £1,000 thus generously offered.
His Honor the Chief Justice presided at this meeting, and a Committee was appointed, of which he was Chairman, to carry out the proposed object.
This Committee, although appointed without reference to the Exploration Committee of the Philosophical Institute, contained the names of some of the members of that Committee, and it was soon found that the combined strength of both Committees would be necessary to ensure success in an undertaking of so much importance. Accordingly, both Committees harmoniously worked together in promoting their common object, and eventually their labors have been crowned with complete success.
Many commercial and other circumstances combined to enhance the difficulty of procuring subscriptions in Melbourne.
A limited number of otherwise very intelligent persons expressed their fears that the discovery of new country would injure this colony, and for this reason they withheld their subscriptions.
Many declined to subscribe because they regarded exploration as a matter of national rather than of private obligation, and were of opinion that any private effort would be useless and unsuccessful. A very general feeling was, however, everywhere expressed as to the importance of exploration, and the duty of Victoria as the wealthiest of the Australian colonies, to take her share in the work.
When eleven months had nearly elapsed, the total amount subscribed scarcely reached £900 and at this time very great fears were entertained that our efforts would be unavailing. It was then resolved to make a renewed appeal to the colonists in general and the squatters more particularly, in the hope that the contributions, from more distant, localities might make up the deficiency. This hope was not disappointed.
The following letter was prepared, and kindly lithographed by the Surveyor-General in his office, and through the favour of Messrs Vaughan and Wild, it was at once despatched to all the resident squatters throughout the colony, and to many even beyond the river Murray, as also to many of the citizens of Melbourne and proprietors of freeholds in the country;
Within one week our prospects began to brighten and within the specified period of twelve months the subscription list amounted to £2,199, exclusive of the handsome offer of Messrs. Turnbull and Cadell to subscribe £500 in carriage of goods on the Murray and Darling rivers for the exploring party.
Among the names of the subscribers, your Committee has much pleasure in referring to the liberal donation of £50 by His Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, K.C.B., who has always evinced the warmest interest in Australian exploration.
Among the earlier subscribers should also be honorably be mentioned the name of Henry Hopwood, Esq, of Echuca, who, in the kindest manner and under a strong sense of the importance of the object, at once forwarded the handsome subscription of £100.
Honorable mention should also be made of the names of J.V.A. Bruce Esq, of Messrs. Cornish and Bruce, who very liberally subscribed £100; of Samuel W. McGowan Esq, General Superintendent of Electric Telegraphs; who at no inconsiderable personal sacrifice, collected the sum £79.6s, of Messrs Winter Brothers, who subscribed £55, of P.A.C. O'Farrell Esq. who subscribed £52.10s; and of Angus McMillan Esq, M.L.A., who subscribed £50.
There is another name to which your Committee would refer with pleasure - that of Rev Joseph Docker, of Wangaratta, whose letter enclosing a cheque for £100, is deemed worthy of a place in this report;
There is still one other name which your Committee feels that it would not be justified in omitting in this report. It is, however, with unmingled feelings of sorrow that the Committee ventures to introduce it on the present occasion. The gentleman, whose name as a donor of £100 has hitherto been withheld, is now no more. Not many days after making this generous contribution he taken away from his sorrowing family and friends by a sudden and awful death. In reply to the circular, he enclosed his subscription, stipulating that his initials alone should appeal. in the published list. This was, of course complied with; but as death has severed all his earthly ties, your Committee considers itself relieved from any further obligation to conceal the donor's name, and it is only due to the surviving members of his family to read his letter to the Institute, and to publish his noble generosity to the world;
Having thus succeeded in raising the amount of £2,000 within the stipulated period of twelve months, it devolved upon the united committees to make application, through Sir William F. Stawell, to the unknown donor for the £1,000 he had promised. Accordingly, the following letter was addressed to Sir William Stawell, for presentation to the unknown donor;
In reply, the following communication was received from Sir William F Stawell;
The Committee cannot suppress its admiration for the disinterestedness of the donor, to continue even now to withhold his name.
On receipt of the £1,000 an immediate and successful application was made to the late Government to place the sum of £6,000 on the Estimates for 1860, to supplement the £3,000 raised by private subscription.
It was also the desire of the United Committees to call an early meeting of the subscribers, in order to adopt suitable measures for carrying out the proposed object.
Since all the arrangements for organising the party and providing for its outfit must necessarily depend on the extent of means available for the purpose, and as the camels and dromedaries ordered from. India cannot be expected to arrive before March next, the Committee deemed it desirable to suspend further action until [the] means to be devoted for exploration should be fixed. In the meantime, however, an application has been made to the present Government to confirm the promise made by its predecessor to place the sum of £6,000 on the Estimates for Exploration, and this has been very kindly conceded.
In the meantime, also, most of the unpaid subscriptions have been got in, and it has been resolved to call a public meeting of the subscribers for Monday, the 23rd January, to receive our report (vide Special Report of the Exploration Fund Committee), and it is hoped that measures will be then adopted for securing the successful issue of our past labors with as little delay as possible. For this purpose it has been thought desirable that there should be in future only one Exploration Committee, and that this would be best accomplished by the subscribers intrusting the whole management of the funds to the Exploration Committee of the Philosophical Institute, and it is contemplated to move a resolution to that effect at the meeting of the subscribers on the 23rd inst.
There, is every reason to hope that the Legislative Assembly will pass the vote of £6,000, but there is a possibility that it may be voted conditionally on united action being taken on the subject of exploration by the other Australian colonies.
Your Committee does not think that such a union, under existing circumstances would be likely to lead to beneficial results, in as much as it must necessarily much more complicate future arrangements and unavoidably delay the departure of the expedition.
Your Committee moreover, is of opinion that greater success is likely to be achieved by the exploration of the country from various directions by smaller parties, than by concentrating a very extensive party on one line of discovery. But they sincerely trust that this recommendation may not tend to annihilate the exertions for such a patriotic object in the neighbouring colonies, but that our neighbours will also continue in future the noble zeal evinced in the example they have given us.
Your Committee has every confidence that it will be in a position to take all the preliminary steps, and to make all the necessary preparations for the immediate equipment of an exploring party on the arrival of the camels.
In conclusion your Committee beg to submit the following financial statement;
David E. Wilkie, M.D., M.L.C.