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LITTELL'S LIVING AGE. - NO. 1124.-16 DECEMBER, 1865.

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BY HENRY KINGSLEY.

From Macmillan's Magazine. again with a failing band. Conceive digEYRE, THE SOUTH-AUSTRALIAN EX- ging through a three-foot crust of pleiocene

formation, filled with crude, almost imbecile, PLORER.

forms of the lowest animal life, millions of ages later than Eozoon Canadense, yet

hardly higher; and then finding shifting The colony of South Australia, now the sea-sand below! Horrible, most horrible 1 largest of the five colonies, was, about the This, the most awful part of the earth's year 1841, practically the smallest. The area crust, a thousand miles in length, has been available, either for cultivation or pastur-crossed once, and once only. Not by a age, seemed at that time to be extremely well-appointed expedition with camels, with limited. Northward of the colony lay, or horse-drays, preserved meats, and a fiddler ; seemed to lie, the hideous, hopeless basin of but by a solitary man on foot. A man irLake Torrens — a land of salt mud and ritated by disappointment; nigh worn-out shifting sand, from the description of Sturt by six months' dread battle with nature in and Eyre, in which human life was impos- her cruelest form: a man who, having been sible, and the external aspects of which commissioned to do something in the way of were so horrible that the eye wearied with exploration, would not return home withlooking on them, and the sickened soul soon out results: a man in whose path lurked brooded itself into madness. North-west- murder, foul, treacherous, unexpected ward had as yet been discovered but grass- the murder of a well-tried friend. To such less deserts, while westward no human foot a man has hitherto been reserved the task had penetrated beyond Eyre's peninsula. of walking a thousand miles round the But the coast line to the west, between Port Australian Bight. Was there ever such a Lincoln, in South Australia, and King walk yet? I have never heard of such anGeorge's Sound, in West Australia, a dis- other. tance of thirteen hundred miles, had been Of this Mr. Eyre, who made this unparalsurveyed by Flinders from the sea, and leled journey, I know but little, save this: pronounced by him to be what it is. He knew more about the aboriginal tribes,

That main part of the South-Australian their habits, language, and so on, than any coast called the Australian Bight is a man before or since. . He was appointedi hideous anomaly, a blot on the face of na. Black Protector for the Lower Murray, and ture, the sort of place one gets into in bad did his work well. He seems to have been dreams. For seven hundred miles there is (teste Charles Sturt, from whom there is no harbour fit to shelter a mere boat from no appeal) a man eminently kind, generous, the furious south wind, which rushes up and just. No man concealed less than Eyre from the Antarctic ice to supply the va- the vices of the natives, but no man stood cuum caused by the burning, heated, water- more steadfastly in the breach between less continent. But there is worse than them and the squatters (the great pastoral this. For eleven hundred miles no rill of aristocracy) at a time when to do so was: water, no, not the thickness of a baby's little social ostracism. . The almost unexampled finger, trickles over the cruel cliffs into the valour which led him safely through the hidesail-less, deserted sea. I cast my eye over ous desert into which we have follow him, the map of the world, and see that it is served him well in a fight more wearing without parallel anywhere. A land which and more dangerous to his rules of right seems to have been formed not by the and wrong. He pleaded for the black, and 'prentice hand of nature, but by nature in tried to stop the war of extermination which her dotage. A work badly conceived at was, is, and I suppose will be carried on by first, and left crude and unfinished by the the colonists against the natives in the unthead of the artist. Old thoughts, old con- settled districts beyond reach of the public ceptions wbich produced good work, and eye. His task was hopeless. It was easier made the earth glad cycles agone, attempted for him to find water in the desert than to THIRD SERIES. LIVING AGE. VOL. XXXI. 1431.

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kindly look at his Keith Johnston, plate 19, It is interesting to remember also, that enlarged plate of Australia in the corner, this band of country of which we have been or at any available map of Australia) by speaking practically divides the penal set. Lakes Torrens, Gregory, and Blanchetlement of Western Australia from the crossing the quasi-embouchure of Lake civilized republics of the eastern coast, and Torrens into the sea, and crossing that must be crossed by any convict who should great peninsula which now bears his name, make his escape. The terror of the colon- * Eyria ;” and, after various difficulties and ists which showed itself in such extreme aggravations, he formed a depôt of his party irritation the other day, when it was pro- at Streaky Bay, just a thousand miles on posed to send more criminals to Perth, was the eastern or wrong side of King George's not without foundation, however. There Sound, the object of his journey.

little doubt that a practicable route Here weary months were past, in desperexists from the east to the west, in the cen- ate fruitless efforts to find a better country tre of the continent, about a thousand miles to the westward or northward. No water to the north of the southern coast prob- was to be had except by digging, and that ably, I have thought for a long time, by the was generally brackish, sometimes salt. The Valley of the Murchison.

country was treeless and desolate, of limeIt was originally proposed to send out stone and sand, the great oolite cliffs, which an expedition under the command of Mr. wall the ocean for so many hundred miles, Eyre, to cross the bight to the westward ; just beginning to rise towards the surface. but bis opinion was that although a light The heat was so fearful that, on one of the party might force their way, yet their suc- expeditions which Mr. Eyre made westward, cess would be in the main useless, as it a strong courageous man lay down, as unwould be impossible ever to follow with educated men will do when things get to a s!ock in consequence of the badness of the certain stage of desperation. But Eyre country, and thus the main object of the ex- got him up again, and got him down to the pedition would be missed, and the expense shore, where they found the shadow of a incurred without adequate commercial re- great rock in that weary land, and saved sults. The committee, therefore,. yielding themselves by bathing the whole afternoon. to his representations, commissioned him to This was the sort of country they had to go north, and attempt to explore the in- contend with. terior.

Eyre succeeded in rounding the head of In this he was unsuccessful. Four hun- the bight by taking a dray full of water dred miles to the north of Adelaide he got with him, making a distance of 138 miles. into the miserable country, known then

as The country, however, did not improve, and the basin of Lake Torrens now known as after seven months, he was back at his deLakes Gregory, Torrens and Blanche - a pôt at Fowler's Bay (lat. 32° S. long. 132° flat depressed region of the interior, not far E.) with no better results than these. from equal to the basin of Lake Superior, of The expedition had hitherto consisted of alternate mud, brackish water, and sand; Mr. Eyre, Mr. Scott, Mr. Eyre's overseer, after very wet seasons probably quite cov- two Englishmen, à corporal of engineers, ered with water, but in more moderate ones and two natives. Moreover, a small ship intersected with bands of dry land varying had been at his command, and had more in size. It is certain that in 1841 Éyre than once communicated with Adelaide. lound a ring of water round him five hun- It had been Mr. Eyre's later plan to take dred miles in extent, and that in 1860 Mac- part of his party over-land, and keep this Kinlay crossed it, finding nothing but a vessel to co-operate with him; but the andesert fifty miles broad, without water visi- swer from Adelaide was inexorable, though ble on either hand, - came imınediately in- polite : the vessel must not leave the limits to good country abounding with water, and of the colony - must not, that is to say, go crossed the continent from south to north. farther west than long. 130° E.; no farther,

Such an achievement was not for Eyre. indeed, than Eyre had been himself. This To MacKinlay and others was left the task was a great disappointment and perplexity. of showing the capabilities of Australia: to What to do? – But home save by one Eyre that of showing her deficiencies. route - never! After very little cogitaBeaten back from the north at all points, tion he came to the following desperate he determined to follow out the first plan of resolution, — to dismiss the whole of the exthe expedition, and try the coast line west- pedition except one man, and with three ward. He forced his way out of this horrid natives to face the thing out himself.

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Taking his young companion, Mr. Scott, so, and that not ten educated persons living to walk with him upon the shore, he un

ever heard of his name. folded his plan to him, and gently but firm- The six weeks passed ; the horses and .ly dismissed him. Scott pleaded hard to men got into good condition, as well fit for share the danger, but Eyre was immova- their hopeless journey as horses and men ble. He had selected another, a trusty, were ever likely to be. It became time to tried servant and comrade for years past, start, and they prepared to start; and here the man hitherto mentioned as his over- occurs one of those curious coincidences of

time which do not startle us in a novel like This man Mr. Eyre took on one side, and “ Aurora Floyd,” because we know that the spoke to most earnestly. He pointed the author has command of time and space, and almost hopelessness of their task — the hor- uses them with ability for our amusement, ror of the country before them, the perils of but which do startle us, and become highly thirst, the perils of savages, the awful dis- dramatic, when we find them in a commontance, nine hundred miles. Then he told place journal, like that of Eyre. Eyre and him that he was free to return to Adelaide Baxter were engaged in burying such stores and civilization, and leave him alone; and as they could not take with them, when they then he asked him, Would he go now? heard a shot from the bay. Thinking some And the answer was, “ Yes, by heaven, to whalers had come in, they hurriedly conthe very end !"

cealed their work, and went towards the His name is worth recording – John shore. It was no whaler. It was their Baxter. A good sound, solid English own cutter, the Hero, which had been to

The man himself, too, seems to Adelaide, and had returned. The two men have been nobly worthy of his name, and they met on the shore were the captain of to have possessed no small portion of the the Hero and young Scott, who brought a patient and steadfast temper of his great message, and innumerable letters. Shropshire namesake.

The message verbally delivered, nay, enBaxter remaining firm, his plan required forced by Scott, and the gist of the innuno more maturing. Although the Adelaide merable letters, was all the same. Government had refused to allow the have failed in your plans of invading our schooner to co-operate with him, they had hopeless interior country. So did Sturt generously sent him everything else he had and others. But don't take it to heart. asked. With a view to his westward jour- Come back to us. You have done and sufney, he had asked them to send him farge fered enough to make the colony love and quantities of bran and oats, to put his respect you. Come back to us, and we will horses — in sad, low condition in this almost give you a welcome, with three times three. grassless desert — into such strength as But for God's sake give up this hopeless would enable them to start with some wild suicidal solitary expedition to the West. hope of success. They had done so, and You yourself first pointed out the hopelessnow Eyre, dismissing all his companions ex- ness of such an expedition, and we see from cept Baxter and three natives, determin- your reports how utterly hopeless it is ; ed to remain encamped where he was, you were right. Come back, and make a until the bran and oats were consumed, fresh start. Don't in your noble obstinacy and then set out.

commit suicide.” So in camp he remained for six weeks, Not a word said, if you will please to his horses improving day by day. Baxter, remark it (though he does not, never the self devoted hero, was a somewhat dili- thought of it), of sending the cutter along gent and unromantic hero, and all this time the shore to co-operate with him. Rather worked like a galley-slave. A strange fel- singular, and rather, I think, disgraceful. low this quiet Baxter. He could make “ My dear fellow," said the Irish gentleman, shoes among other things, could shoe the “ I'd share my last meal with you. If I had horses, make pack-saddles, do a hundred and only a potato left, I'd give you the skin.". fifty things; all of which he did with steady, The answer to these letters was quietly, quiet diligence this lonely six weeks, as if a and possibly foolishly, decisive. little voice was ever singing in his ear, money raised for this expedition was raised “ The night cometh in which no man can for exploring the West coast. I diverted work.” I confess that I should have liked these funds, and persuaded the committee to know that man Baxter, but that is im- to let me undertake a Northern expedition. possible; one can only say that once there I have failed in that. I decline to return was a very noble person whom men called home without result, and so — and so — will

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go westward, thank you, to such fate as and with these resources, Eyre formed a God shall send. Will not at all events re- Aying column, cut himself off from his turn an unsuccessful man; will leave my base of operations, and entered on a march bones in the desert sooner than that. And of eight hundred and fifty miles through a so good-by, young Scott; Baxter and I will hopelessly hostile country. Hostile, not so pull through it somehow or won't. Love much because the natives he might meet on to Adelaide friends, and many thanks for his march outnumbered him as fifty to one, kind wishes (not a word about the two but because Nature herself was in her cruel penny-halfpenny business of refusing him thirsty sleep of summer, and was saying to the ship), and so we will start if you please. him, in every high floating yellow cloud As for going home again, save by King, which passed over his head southward, George's Sound, once for all, No." * Fool, desist; I am not to be troubled yet."

A most obstinate and wrongheaded man. Murder too was looking at him out of two Baxter, it seems, equally wrongheaded. pairs of shifting eyes; but he did not see Scott went back with his message, and her, and went on. Eyre and Baxter started, with three sav- On the 26th of February, 1841, they ages, on their journey.

made a place called by the few scattered One of these savages requires notice from natives Yeercumban Kowee, the farthest

his name was Wylie. A frizzly-haired, point they had hitherto reached in any of slab-sided, grinning, good-natured young their excursions from the camp. It is so rascal; with infinite powers of giggling on much less abominable than the country a full belly, and plaintively weeping on an around that the natives have thought it empty one — at least so I should guess. worthy of a name. It is in fact a few hills But withal some feeling of a faithful dog- of driving, sand, where, by digging, one like devotion in the darkened soul of him, may obtain water; but, for all that, the as events proved something more in the best place in seven hundred miles of coast. inside of the man than any marmoset or It is the sort of place in which an untravelother monkey ever had got, or ever would led reader would suppose a man would lie get after any number of cycles, one can-down and die in despair, merely from findnot help thinking. This fellow Wylie was ing himself there: would suppose so until a man after all; as were, indeed, the other he found out how very little man can live two natives, though bad enough specimens with, and how very, very dear life gets in

great solitude. Or, to correct myself once Having now brought my reader on to the more, how very, very strong in such situareal starting point of the great adventure, tions becomes the desire of seeing a loved we may as well sum up the forces by which face again ; or, failing that, of seeing a this campaign against nature, in her very face which will connect one, however disworst mood, was to be accomplished. The tantly, with the civilization which is so far party which accompanied Mr. Eyre when off

, with the face of a man who will at all he took a final farewell of Mr. Scott, on events tell those for whose applause we the morning of the 25th of February, 1841, strive how we strove and how we died. consisted of — John Baxter, the useful Here the terrible part of his adventure hero; the black boy, Wylie, before spoken begins. From this he was 128 miles withof; two other black boys; nine horses; a out water, toiling over the summit of those Timor pony (a small kind of fiend or devil, great unbroken cliffs which form the southwho has been allowed, for purposes, to as- ern buttress of Australia. I must say halfsume the form of a diminutive horse, and a-dozen words about these cliffs, once and in comparison with which Cruiser, or Mr. for all. Gurney's gray colt, would show like Cots- These cliffs make two great stretches; wold lambs who have joined the Band of first from the 131st to the 129th parallel, Hope); a foal (the best part of one of your east of Greenwich, 120 miles, and then again highbred weedy Australian colts is a cer- from the east of the 126th parallel to east tain cut out of the flank; if you are lucky of the 124th, a distance of 120 miles more. enough to happen upon a Clydesdale foal, The range from 300 to 600 feet high - the try a steak out of the shoulder- but this is height, let us say, of the ghastly chalk wall mere cannibalism); and six sheep- me- at Alum Bay, or the cliffs between Folkerinos (ten pounds to the quarter, at the out- stone and Dover - and are unbroken alside). Along the shore Eyre had, in a pre- most by a single ravine leading to the sea ; vious expedition, buried flour enough to and, where such ravines do occur, they are last the party, at the rate of six pounds a only waterless sandy valleys. Their geoloweek, for nine weeks. With this army, Igical formation is very fantastic. The strata

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, showing a gradual upheaval from whether he should go back or not. He a vastly distant centre. The upper half saw, however, miles ahead, that the cliff consists of a limestone -- corresponding in had receded from the sea, and that there some way, I guess, to the Maestricht beds was more promise of some drain of underof Europe, but infinitely harder, the ground water ahead. He decided to go on, lower part of chalk, very soft and friable, and, at the 135th mile, came upon sandwith horizontal beds of flint. The lower hills, with a few holes which the natives had half has succumbed to the sea and to the dug for water. weather at a far quicker rate than the Try to realize this for yourselves. Fancy upper, leaving it overhanging. In many being alone in London, with the depopulatplaces, the upper strata have come crashing ed ruins of it all around, and having to down, a million tons at a time, producing, lead a horse to the nearest available water in that land of hopeless horror, a specimen at Gloucester, in burning weather, through of coast scenery more weird and wild than deep sand. Who would do it for a bet ? one has ever seen, or, to tell the truth, And this with a knowledge that there was wishes to see. One would rather read about worse to come. But why enlarge on it ? such places among the rustling leaves of This Eyre expedition is entirely without this English October.

parallel; and so comfortably forgotten too! Eyre judged that his first spell towards They scraped away five feet of sand that water would be a long one. He started night, and watered the horses, now five days first with two horses, a black young man, without drink, and unable to feed on such and the sheep, leaving Baxter and the two miserable grass as there was for sheer chokother blacks to follow with the rest of the ing drought. Please to notice this fact, you horses. The black he took with him was, I readers who are interested about horses. think Wylie, the good one, but I am not It strikes one as being curious, and somesure. It does not much matter. His royal what new. There is no such insatiable laziness behaved much as they always do : drunkard as your horse, but see what he insisted on riding the saddle horse, and can do if he is pushed. making_Eyre walk and lead the pack Eyre had nothing with which to dig out borse ; Eyre also doing what civilized men this five feet of sand, but shells left by the always do on such occasions, submitting. natives who rambled down here, at the risk And in this way they went for four days, of their lives, to get fish, a certain red berwith just enough water to keep them alive, ry which grew hereabouts, and which

canbut none for the horses or the poor creep- not identify, sea anemones, winkles, and ing sheep. On the fourth day, rain threat- other along-shore rubbish, which however ened, but none fell; the sheep could get no were luxuries to them (the country behind further; so they made a yard of boughs, must have been a bad one). These said and left them for Baxter to pick up, and shells I take it were the Australian type of hurried on to find water, and if possible those great Venus' Ears which one sees in save the lives of the whole party, which the shell shops here, and which come from even at this early stage seemed doomed. the Channel Islands. Their Latin name I

At the 120th weary mile the cliffs broke have forgotten, and I have neither Turton for the first time, and there was a ravine to nor Da Silva handy. A Civil Service ex

The blacks had told them of wa- aminer will tell you in a moment. Howevter hereabouts, to be got by digging, but er, he got the sand dug out with them and their ideas of distance were as vague as went to sleep: which makes pause the first. those of Melville's South Sea islander. He had now to go back, with water slung “ How ole I is? Berry ole. Thousand) in kegs, to fetch up Baxter and the two nayear. More.". The question was, “Was tives, who were toiling along upon him, in that the place ?”. It is as useless to specu- that weary, waterless tract of 135 miles late what would have become of the expedi- along which he had come. He had just tion had there not happened a lucky acci- got back to the dry ravine first mentioned, dent, as it was for Mrs. Wilfer to calculate when he saw Baxter and party winding on what would have happened to her daugh- down the opposite side towards him. He ter Lavinia, if she, Mrs. Wilfer, had never had got over that first weary spell as well got married. “With all due respect, Ma, I as Eyre himself. don't think you know either.” A lucky The sheep, which Eyre had left behind accident did occur, however. Eyre passed for Baxter to pick up and bring on, had this, the wrong valley, in the dark, and at been now six days without water, and the daybreak found himself so far beyond it horses five. Baxter had left part of the that he halted in an agony of doubt as tol luggage and of the packhorses behind some

the sea.

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