through the Interior of Australia from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria.
|From the Journals and Letters of William John Wills, edited by his father, William Wills.|
London: Richard Bentley, New Burlington Street.
- Return from Carpentaria to Cooper's Creek
- Mr Wills's Journals from February 19th to April 21st, 1861
- Illness and Death of Gray
- The Survivors arrive at Cooper's Creek Depôt and find it deserted
- A Small Stock of Provisions left
- Conduct of Brahe
- Report of the Royal Commission
Mr Burke and Mr Wills having accomplished the grand object of the Expedition by reaching the Gulf of Carpentaria, rejoined Gray and King at Camp 119, where they had left them with the camels. On the 13th of February the party turned their faces to the south, and commenced their long and toilsome march in return. The entries in my son's journals were transcribed as follows:
Tuesday, 19th February, 1861.--Boocha's
Wednesday, 20th February, 1861.--Pleasant Camp; 5R.
Thursday, 21st February, 1861.--Recovery Camp; 6R. Between four and five o'clock a heavy thunderstorm broke over us, having given very little warning of its approach. There had been lightning and thunder towards south-east and south ever since noon yesterday. The rain was incessant and very heavy for an hour and a half, which made the ground so boggy that the animals could scarcely walk over it; we nevertheless started at ten minutes to seven A.M., and after floundering along for half an hour halted for breakfast. We then moved on again, but soon found that the travelling was too heavy for the camels, so camped for the remainder of the day. In the afternoon the sky cleared a little, and the sun soon dried the ground, considering. Shot a pheasant, and much disappointed at finding him all feathers and claws. This bird nearly resembles a cock pheasant in plumage, but in other respects it bears more the character of the magpie or crow; the feathers are remarkably wiry and coarse.
Friday, 22nd February, 1861.--Camp 7R. A fearful thunderstorm in the evening, about eight P.M., from east-south-east, moving gradually round to south. The flashes of lightning were so vivid and incessant as to keep up a continual light for short intervals, overpowering the moonlight. Heavy rain and strong squalls continued for more than an hour, when the storm moved off west-north-west. The sky remained more or less overcast for the rest of the night, and the following morning was both sultry and oppressive, with the ground so boggy as to be almost impassable.
Saturday, 23rd February, 1861.--Camp 8R. In spite of the difficulties thrown in our way by last night's storm, we crossed the creek, but were shortly afterwards compelled to halt for the day on a small patch of comparatively dry ground, near the river. The day turned out very fine, so that the soil dried rapidly, and we started in the evening to try a trip by moonlight. We were very fortunate in finding sound ground along a billibong, which permitted of our travelling for about five miles up the creek, when we camped for the night. The evening was most oppressively hot and sultry, so much so that the slightest exertion made one feel as if he were in a state of suffocation. The dampness of the atmosphere prevented any evaporation, and gave one a helpless feeling of lassitude that I have never before experienced to such an extent. All the party complained of the same symptoms, and the horses showed distinctly the effect of the evening trip, short as it was. We had scarcely turned in half an hour when it began to rain, some heavy clouds having come up from the eastward in place of the layer of small cirrocumulus that before ornamented the greater portion of the sky. These clouds soon moved on, and we were relieved from the dread of additional mud. After the sky cleared, the atmosphere became rather cooler and less sultry, so that, with the assistance of a little smoke to keep the mosquitoes off, we managed to pass a tolerable night.
Sunday, 24th February, 1861.--Camp 9R. Comparatively little rain has fallen above the branch creek with the running water. The vegetation, although tolerably fresh, is not so rank as that we have left; the water in the creek is muddy, but good, and has been derived merely from the surface drainage of the adjoining plains. The Melaleneus continues on this branch creek, which creeps along at the foot of the ranges.
Monday, 25th February, 1861.--Camp 10R. There has been very little rain on this portion of the creek since we passed down; there was, however, no water at all then at the pans. At the Tea-tree spring, a short distance up the creek, we found plenty of water in the sand, but it had a disagreeable taste, from the decomposition of leaves and the presence of mineral matter, probably iron. There seems to have been a fair share of rain along here, everything is so very fresh and green, and there is water in many of the channels we have crossed.
Tuesday, 26th February, 1861.--Apple-tree Camp; 11R.
Thursday, 28th February, 1861.--Reedy Gully Camp; 12R. Came into the Reedy Gully Camp about midnight on Tuesday, the 26th; remained there throughout the day on Wednesday; starting at two A.M. on Thursday.
Friday, 1st March, 1861.--Camp of the Three Crows; 13R.
Saturday, 2nd March, 1861.--Salt-bush Camp; 14R. Found Golah. He looks thin and miserable; seems to have fretted a great deal, probably at finding himself left behind, and he has been walking up and down our tracks till he has made a regular pathway; could find no sign of his having been far off, although there is a splendid feed to which he could have gone. He began to eat as soon as he saw the other camels.
Sunday, 3rd March, 1861.--Eureka Camp; 15R. In crossing a creek by moonlight, Charley rode over a large snake; he did not touch him, and we thought that it was a log until he struck it with the stirrup iron; we then saw that it was an immense snake, larger than any I have ever before seen in a wild state. It measured eight feet four inches in length and seven inches in girth round the belly; it was nearly the same thickness from the head to within twenty inches of the tail; it then tapered rapidly. The weight was 11½ pounds. From the tip of the nose to five inches back, the neck was black, both above and below; throughout the rest of the body, the under part was yellow, and the sides and back had irregular brown transverse bars on a yellowish brown ground. I could detect no poisonous fangs, but there were two distinct rows of teeth in each jaw, and two small claws of nails, about three-eighths of an inch long, one on each side of the vent.
Monday, 4th March, 1861.--Feasting Camp; 16R. Shortly after arriving at Camp 16 we could frequently hear distant thunder towards the east, from which quarter the wind was blowing. During the afternoon there were frequent heavy showers, and towards evening it set in to rain steadily but lightly; this lasted till about eight P.M., when the rain ceased and the wind got round to west; the sky, however, remained overcast until late in the night, and then cleared for a short time; the clouds were soon succeeded by a dense fog or mist, which continued until morning. The vapour having then risen, occupied the upper air in the form of light cirrostratus and cumulus clouds.
Tuesday, 5th March, 1861.--Camp 17R. Started at two A.M. on a south-south-westerly course, but had soon to turn in on the creek, as Mr Burke felt very unwell, having been attacked by dysentery since eating the snake; he now felt giddy and unable to keep his seat. At six A.M., Mr Burke feeling better, we started again, following along the creek, in which there was considerably more water than when we passed down. We camped, at 2.15 P.M., at a part of the creek where the date trees [Footnote: Probably Livistonas.] were very numerous, and found the fruit nearly ripe and very much improved on what it was when we were here before.
Wednesday, 6th March, 1861.--Camp 18R. Arrived at our former camp, and found the feed richer than ever, and the ants just as troublesome. Mr Burke is a little better, and Charley looks comparatively well. The dryness of the atmosphere seems to have a beneficial effect on all. We found yesterday, that it was a hopeless matter about Golah, and we were obliged to leave him behind, as he seemed to be completely done up and could not come on, even when the pack and saddle were taken off.
Thursday, 7th March, 1861.--Fig-tree Camp; 19R; Palm-tree Camp, 104, and 20 degrees Latitude, by observation, coming down, 20 degrees 21 minutes 40 seconds. There is less water here than there was when we passed down, although there is evidence of the creek having been visited by considerable floods during the interval. Feed is abundant, and the vegetation more fresh than before. Mr Burke almost recovered, but Charley is again very unwell and unfit to do anything; he caught cold last night through carelessness in covering himself.
Friday, 8th March, 1861.--Camp 20R. Followed the creek more closely coming up than going down. Found more water in it generally.
Saturday, 9th March, 1861.--Camp 21R. Reached our former camp at 1. 30 P.M. Found the herbage much dried up, but still plenty of feed for the camels.
Sunday, 10th March, 1861.--Camp 22R. Camped at the junction of a small creek from the westward, a short distance below our former camp, there being plenty of good water here, whereas the supply at Specimen Camp is very doubtful.
Monday, 11th March, 1861.--Camp 23R. Halted for breakfast at the Specimen Camp at 7.15 A.M., found more water and feed there than before; then proceeded up the creek and got safely over the most dangerous part of our journey. Camped near the head of the Gap in a flat, about two miles below our former camp at the Gap.
Tuesday, 12th March, 1861.--Camp 24R.
Wednesday, 13th March, 1861.--Camp 25R. Rain all day, so heavily that I was obliged to put my watch and field book in the pack to keep them dry. In the afternoon the rain increased, and all the creeks became flooded. We took shelter under some fallen rocks, near which was some feed for the camels; but the latter was of no value, for we had soon to remove them up amongst the rocks, out of the way of the flood, which fortunately did not rise high enough to drive us out of the cave; but we were obliged to shift our packs to the upper part. In the evening the water fell as rapidly as it had risen, leaving everything in a very boggy state. There were frequent light showers during the night.
Thursday, 14th March, 1861.--Camp 26R; Sandstone cave. The water in the creek having fallen sufficiently low, we crossed over from the cave and proceeded down the creek. Our progress was slow, as it was necessary to keep on the stony ridge instead of following the flats, the latter being very boggy after the rain. Thinking that this creek must join Scratchley's, near our old camp, we followed it a long way, until finding it trend altogether too much eastward, we tried to shape across for the other creek, but were unable to do so, from the boggy nature of the intervening plain.
Friday, 15th March, 1861.--Camp 27R.
Saturday, 16th March, 1861.--Camp 28R. Scratchley's Creek.
Sunday, 17th March, 1861.--Camp 29R.
Monday, 18th March, 1861.--Camp 30R.
Tuesday, 19th March, 1861.--Camp 31R.
Wednesday, 20th March, 1861.--Camp 32R. Feasting Camp. Last evening the sky was clouded about nine P.M., and a shower came down from the north. At ten o'clock it became so dark that we camped on the bank of the creek, in which was a nice current of clear water. To-day we halted, intending to try a night journey. The packs we overhauled and left nearly 60 pounds weight of things behind. They were all suspended in a pack from the branches of a shrub close to the creek. We started at a quarter to six, but were continually pulled up by billibongs and branch creeks, and soon had to camp for the night. At the junction of the two creeks just above are the three cones, which are three remarkably small hills to the eastward.
Thursday, 21st March, 1861.--Humid Camp, 33R.--Unable to proceed on account of the slippery and boggy state of the ground. The rain has fallen very heavily here to-day, and every little depression in the ground is either full of water or covered with slimy mud. Another heavy storm passed over during the night, almost extinguishing the miserable fire we were able to get up with our very limited quantity of waterlogged and green wood. Having been so unfortunate last night, we took an early breakfast this morning at Camp 33, which I had named the Humid Camp, from the state of dampness in which we found everything there; and crossing to the east bank of the main creek, proceeded in a southerly direction nearly parallel with the creek. Some of the flats near the creek contain the richest alluvial soil, and are clothed with luxuriant vegetation. There is an immense extent of plain, back, of the finest character for pastoral purposes, and the country bears every appearance of being permanently well watered. We halted on a large billibong at noon, and were favoured during dinner by a thunderstorm, the heavier portion of which missed us, some passing north and some south, which was fortunate, as it would otherwise have spoiled our baking process, a matter of some importance just now. We started again at seven o'clock, but the effects of the heavy rain prevented our making a good journey.
Friday, 22nd March, 1861.--Muddy Camp, 34R.--Had an early breakfast this morning, and started before sunrise. Found that the wet swampy ground that checked our progress last night was only a narrow strip, and that had we gone a little further we might have made a fine journey. The country consisted of open, well-grassed, pebbly plains, intersected by numerous small channels, all containing water. Abundance of fine rich portulac was just bursting into flower along all these channels, as well as on the greater portion of the plain. The creek that we camped on last night ran nearly parallel with us throughout this stage. We should have crossed it, to avoid the stony plains, but were prevented by the flood from so doing.
Saturday, 23rd March, 1861.--Mosquito Camp, 35R.--Started at a quarter to six and followed down the creek, which has much of the characteristic appearance of the River Burke, where we crossed it on our up journey. The land in the vicinity greatly improves as one goes down, becoming less stony and better grassed. At eleven o'clock we crossed a small tributary from the eastward, and there was a distant range of considerable extent visible in that direction. Halted for the afternoon in a bend where there was tolerable feed, but the banks are everywhere more or less scrubby.
Sunday, 24th March, 1861.--Three-hour Camp, 36R.
Monday, 25th March, 1861.--Native-Dog Camp, 37R.--Started at half-past five, looking for a good place to halt for the day. This we found at a short distance down the creek, and immediately discovered that it was close to Camp 89 of our up journey. Had not expected that we were so much to the westward. After breakfast, took some time-altitudes, and was about to go back to last camp for some things that had been left, when I found Gray behind a tree eating skilligolee. He explained that he was suffering from dysentery, and had taken the flour without leave. Sent him to report himself to Mr Burke, and went on. He, having got King to tell Mr Burke for him, was called up, and received a good thrashing. There is no knowing to what extent he has been robbing us. Many things have been found to run unaccountably short. Started at seven o'clock, the camels in first-rate spirits. We followed our old course back (south). The first portion of the plains had much the same appearance as when we came up, but that near Camp 88, which then looked so fresh and green, is now very much dried up; and we saw no signs of water anywhere. In fact, there seems to have been little or no rain about here since we passed. Soon after three o'clock we struck the first of several small creeks or billibongs, which must be portions of the creek with the deep channel that we crossed on going up, we being now rather to the westward of our former course. From here, after traversing about two miles of the barest clay plain, devoid of all vegetation, we reached a small watercourse, most of the holes in which contained some water of a milky or creamy description. Fine salt bush and portulac being abundant in the vicinity, we camped here at 4.30 A.M. When we started in the evening, a strong breeze had already sprung up in the south, which conveyed much of the characteristic feeling of a hot wind. It increased gradually to a force of five and six, but by eleven o'clock had become decidedly cool, and was so chilly towards morning that we found it necessary to throw on our ponchos. A few cirrocumulus clouds were coming up from the east when we started, but we left them behind, and nothing was visible during the night but a thin hazy veil. The gale continued throughout the 26th, becoming warmer as the day advanced. In the afternoon it blew furiously, raising a good deal of dust. The temperature of air at four P.M. was 84 degrees in the shade. Wind trees all day.
This last entry contains an unpleasant record
of poor Gray's delinquency. He appears to have been hitherto
rather a favourite with my son.
King, on his examination before the Royal Commission, finding that Mr Burke was censured for chastising Gray, at first denied it strongly. My son only relates in his diary what Mr Burke had told him; "I have given Gray a good thrashing, and well he deserved it." King blamed my son for mentioning this, but admitted that Mr Burke gave Gray several slaps on the head; afterwards, seeing that Mr Burke was found fault with for not keeping a journal, King was made to appear to say that Mr. Wills's journal was written in conjunction with and under the supervision of Mr Burke; and thus accounted for the absence of one by Mr Burke. I was present at King's examination, and can bear witness that he said nothing of the kind. His answers, as given in the Royal Commission Report, were framed to suit the questions of the interrogator, which appeared to astonish King, and he made no reply. King's statements, as far as he understood what he was asked, I believe to have been generally very truthful, and honestly given.
After March 25th, an interval of three days occurs, in which nothing is noted. Gray's illness, attending to the maps, with extra labour, may account for this omission.
March 29.--Camels' last feast; fine green feed
at this camp: plenty of vines and young polygonums on the small
March 30.--Boocha's rest.--Poor Boocha was killed; employed all day in cutting up and jerking him: the day turned out as favourable for us as we could have wished, and a considerable portion of the meat was completely jerked before sunset.
March 31.--Mia Mia Camp.--Plenty of good dry feed; various shrubs; salt bushes, including cotton bush and some coarse kangaroo grass; water in the hollows on the stony pavement. The neighbouring country chiefly composed of stony rises and sand ridges.
April 5--Oil Camp.--Earthy and clayey plains, generally sound and tolerably grassed, but in other places bare salt bush, and withered.
April 6 and 7.--Earthy flats, cut into innumerable water courses, succeeded by fine open plains, generally very bare, but having in some places patches of fine salt bush. The dead stalks of portulac and mallows show that those plants are very plentiful in some seasons. Towards noon came upon earthy plains and numerous billibongs. The next day the water and feed much dried up, and nearly all the water has a slightly brackish taste of a peculiar kind, somewhat resembling in flavour potassio-tartrate of soda (cream of tartar).
On the 8th, poor Gray, suffering under the bad odour of his peculations, was thought to be pretending illness, because he could not walk, and my son, when he was himself ill, much regretted their suspicions on this point; but it appears from King's evidence, that Gray's excuse for using the provisions surreptitiously, that he was attacked by dysentery, was without foundation.
Monday, April 8.--Camp 50R.--Camped a short distance above Camp 75. The creek here contains more water, and there is a considerable quantity of green grass in its bed, but it is much dried up since we passed before. Halted fifteen minutes to send back for Gray, who pretended that he could not walk. Some good showers must have fallen lately, as we have passed surface water on the plains every day. In the latter portion of to-day's journey, the young grass and portulac are springing freshly in the flats, and on the sides of the sand ridges.
Tuesday, April 9.--Camp 51R.--Camped on the bank of the creek, where there is a regular field of salt bush, as well as some grass in its bed, very acceptable to the horse, who has not had a proper feed for the last week until last night, and is, consequently, nearly knocked up.
Wednesday, April 10.--Camp 52R.--Remained at Camp 52 R all day, to cut up and jerk the meat of the horse Billy, who was so reduced and knocked up for want of food that there appeared little chance of his reaching the other side of the desert; and as we were running hort of food of every description ourselves, we thought it best to secure his flesh at once. We found it healthy and tender, but without the slightest trace of fat in any portion of the body.
In the journal to the Fifteenth, there is nothing worthy of note; there were watercourses daily, the character of the country the same; the plants chiefly chrysanthemums and salt bush. On the latter day it rained heavily, commenced at five in the morning, and continued pretty steadily throughout the day. The camel, Linda, got knocked up owing to the wet, and having to cross numerous sand ridges; and at four o'clock they had to halt at a clay-pan among the sandhills.
On Wednesday, the 17th, my son notes the death of poor Gray: "He had not spoken a word distinctly since his first attack, which was just about as we were going to start." Here King mentions that they remained one day to bury Gray. They were so weak, he said, that it was with difficulty they could dig a grave sufficiently deep to inter him in. This is not in the journal, but in King's narrative.
On the 19th, camped again without water, on the sandy bed of the creek, having been followed by a lot of natives who were desirous of our company; but as we preferred camping alone, we were compelled to move on until rather late, in order to get away from them. The night was very cold. A strong breeze was blowing from the south, which made the fire so irregular that, as on the two previous nights, it was impossible to keep up a fair temperature. Our general course throughout the day had been south-south-east.
On Sunday, April 21, the survivors, Mr Burke, my son, King, and two camels, reached Cooper's Creek at the exact place where the Depôt party had been left under Brahe. THERE WAS NO ONE THERE! During the last few days every exertion had been made, every nerve strained to reach the goal of their arduous labours--the spot where they expected to find rest, clothing, and provisions in abundance. King describes in vivid language the exertions of that last ride of thirty miles; and Burke's delight when he thought he saw the Depôt camp; "There they are!" he exclaimed; "I see them!" The wish was "father to the thought." Lost and bewildered in amazement, he appeared like one stupefied when the appalling truth burst on him. King has often described to me the scene. "Mr Wills looked about him in all directions. Presently he said, 'King, they are gone;' pointing a short way off to a spot, 'there are the things they have left.' Then he and I set to work to dig them up, which we did in a short time. Mr. Burke at first was quite overwhelmed, and flung himself on the ground." But soon recovering, they all three set to work to cook some victuals. When thus refreshed, my son made the following entry in his journal:
Sunday, April 21.--Arrived at the Depôt this evening, just in time to find it deserted. A note left in the plant by Brahe communicates the pleasing information that they have started today for the Darling; their camels and horses all well and in good condition. We and our camels being just done up, and scarcely able to reach the Depôt, have very little chance of overtaking them. Brahe has fortunately left us ample provisions to take us to the bounds of civilization namely:--Flour, 50 pounds; rice, 20 pounds; oatmeal, 60 pounds; sugar, 60 pounds; and dried meat, 15 pounds. These provisions, together with a few horse-shoes and nails, and some odds and ends, constitute all the articles left, and place us in a very awkward position in respect to clothing. Our disappointment at finding the Depôt deserted may easily be imagined;--returning in an exhausted state, after four months of the severest travelling and privation, our legs almost paralyzed, so that each of us found it a most trying task only to walk a few yards. Such a leg-bound feeling I never before experienced, and hope I never shall again. The exertion required to get up a slight piece of rising ground, even without any load, induces an indescribable sensation of pain and helplessness, and the general lassitude makes one unfit for anything. Poor Gray must have suffered very much many times when we thought him shamming. It is most fortunate for us that these symptoms, which so early affected him, did not come on us until we were reduced to an exclusively animal diet of such an inferior description as that offered by the flesh of a worn-out and exhausted horse. We were not long in getting out the grub that Brahe had left, and we made a good supper off some oatmeal porridge and sugar. This, together with the excitement of finding ourselves in such a peculiar and most unexpected position, had a wonderful effect in removing the stiffness from our legs. Whether it is possible that the vegetables can have so affected us, I know not; but both Mr Burke and I remarked a most decided relief and a strength in the legs greater than we had had for several days. I am inclined to think that but for the abundance of portulac that we obtained on the journey, we should scarcely have returned to Cooper's Creek at all.
I asked King how my son behaved. His answer was, that he never once showed the slightest anger or loss of self-command. From under a tree on which had been marked,
21st April, 1861
a box was extracted containing the provisions, and a bottle with the following note:
Depôt, Cooper's Creek, April 21, 1861.
The Depôt party of the V.E.E. leaves this camp to-day to return to the Darling. I intend to go south-east from Camp 60 to get into our old track near Bulloo. Two of my companions and myself are quite well; the third, Patten, has been unable to walk for the last eighteen days, as his leg has been severely hurt when thrown by one of the horses. No one has been up here from the Darling. We have six camels and twelve horses in good working condition.
Brahe has been blamed for not having left a true statement of his condition, and that of those with him; but it was truth when he wrote it. He believed Patten's to have been a sprain. It was afterwards that he contradicted himself, in his journal WRITTEN IN MELBOURNE, and in his evidence before the Royal Commission. Brahe had no journal when he came down the first time with a message from Wright, and was requested, or ordered, by the committee to produce one, which he subsequently did. In this journal, Brahe enters, on the 15th April, "Patten is getting worse. I and McDonough begin to feel ALARMING SYMPTOMS of the same disease" (namely, a sprain).
April 18.--There is no probability of Mr.
Burke returning this way. Patten is in a deplorable state, and
desirous of returning to the Darling to obtain medical
assistance; and our provisions will soon be reduced to a quantity
insufficient to take us back to the Darling if the trip should
turn out difficult and tedious. Being also sure that I and
McDonough would not much longer escape scurvy, I, after most
seriously considering all circumstances, made up my
mind to start for the Darling on Sunday next, the 21st.
That day he abandoned the Depôt at ten A.M. leaving 50 pounds of flour, taking with him 150 pounds; leaving 50 pounds of oatmeal, taking ABOUT 70 pounds; leaving 50 pounds of sugar, taking 75 pounds; leaving rice 30 pounds, taking one bag. He left neither tea nor biscuits, and took all the clothes, being the property of Mr Wills. The latter, he said before the Royal Commissioners, were only shirts, omitting the word flannel, and added that they were badly off themselves. He was asked:
Question 323: Had you any clothes of any description at Cooper's Creek that might have been left?--Yes, I had a parcel of clothes that were left with me by Mr Wills; these were all that I know of, and we ourselves were very badly off.
Question 1729. By Dr Wills (through the chairman)--I wish to know whether a portmanteau was left with you, belonging to Mr. Wills, my son? Yes, 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 better supplied than any other member of the party, and I certainly did not think he would be in want of clothes.
With a somewhat unaccountable disposition to sympathize with Brahe, on the part of the Committee and the Royal Commission, the latter summed up their impression of his conduct thus:
The conduct of Mr Brahe in retiring from his position at the Depôt before he was rejoined by his commander, or relieved from the Darling, may be deserving of considerable censure; but we are of opinion that a responsibility far beyond his expectations devolved upon him; and it must be borne in mind that, with the assurance of his leader, and his own conviction that he might each day expect to be relieved by Mr Wright, he still held his post for four months and five days; and that only when pressed by the appeals of a comrade sickening even to death, as was subsequently proved, his powers of endurance gave way, and he retired from the position which could alone afford succour to the weary explorers should they return by that route. His decision was most unfortunate; but we believe he acted from a conscientious desire to discharge his duty, and we are confident that the painful reflection that twenty-four hours' further perseverance would have made him the rescuer of the explorers, and gained for himself the praise and approbation of all, must be of itself an agonizing thought, without the addition of censure he might feel himself undeserving of.