BURKE, WELLS, Chairman.

Progress Report of the Exploration Committee of the Royal Society of Victoria for 1861.

Melbourne: printed by Mason and Firth for the Royal Society of Victoria, 1862.

Foolscap folio, tinted paper, 8pp. (last blank), with related blank envelope loosely inserted.

Who is responsible for the Burke and Wills tragedy?

A curious mix of remorse and self-preservation - an account of the Burke and Wills disaster and subsequent relief expeditions from the Exploration Committee of the Royal Society of Victoria.

A curious mix of remorse and self-preservation - an account of the Burke and Wills disaster and subsequent relief expeditions from the Exploration Committee of the Royal Society of Victoria.
Public hysteria had peaked by the time of publication in April 1862, and the allocation of blame fell increasingly on the Exploration Committee who here admit to an embarrassing series of bungled decisions that culminated in the death of Burke and Wills. The conclusion of this report acknowledges public rage while denying culpability:
'They will ever recur with painful memory to the saddening incidents which surrounded the death-scenes of Burke and Wills; and worst of all, to the imputation that these brave explorers sank under the mortifying conviction that your Committee had faithlessly withdrawn from them that succour and support upon which, in the hour of their need and in the moment of victory, they had confidently relied; but conscious that they have acted throughout with calm deliberation, and with the most anxious desire to secure the safety as well as the success of the Victorian expedition, your Committee cannot admit that the disasters of the Expedition are to be traced to any oversight on their part.'
This report is accompanied by a perfectly preserved blank envelope lettered "Exploration Committee. Royal Society of Victoria. Hon. John Macadam, M.D., M.P. Hon. Secretary". The Australian Dictionary of Biography notes that Macadam 'as secretary of the Exploration Committee of the Burke and Wills expedition he insisted on adequate provisions for their safety'.

Price (AUD): $600.00  other currencies     Ref: #4106181

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