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.
Dedicated by permission, to His Grace, The Duke of Newcastle,
KG., etc, etc, etc.
By His Grace's faithful servant, William Wills.
A life terminating before it had reached its meridian, can scarcely be expected to furnish materials for an extended biography. But the important position held by my late son, as second in command in what is now so well-known as the Burke and Wills Exploring Expedition across the Island Continent of Australia; the complicated duties he undertook as Astronomer, Topographer, Journalist, and Surveyor; the persevering skill with which he discharged them, suggesting and regulating the march of the party through a waste of eighteen hundred miles, previously untrodden by European feet; his courage, patience, and heroic death; his self-denial in desiring to be left alone in the desert with scarcely a hope of rescue, that his companions might find a chance for themselves;--these claims on public attention demand that his name should be handed down to posterity in something more than a mere obituary record, or an official acknowledgment of services.
A truthful, though brief, memoir of my son's short career, may furnish a stimulating example, by showing how much can be accomplished in a few years, when habits of prudence and industry have been acquired in early youth. He fell a victim to errors not originating with himself; but he resigned his life without a murmur, having devoted it to science and his country. His death, with the circumstances attending it, furnishes an application of the lines of a favourite poet, which he often quoted with admiration:
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And departing leave behind us
Footsteps on the sands of time;
Footprints that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er Life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwreck'd brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
The following pages are the only tribute a fond and mourning
father can offer to the memory of one who, while living, merited
and reciprocated his warmest affections.
William Wills. London, January, 1863.