- Category: Edward John Eyre - Vol 1 - Ch 15
- Written by Edward John Eyre
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February 24. — THIS being the day I had appointed to enter upon the arduous task before me, I had the party up at a very early hour. Our loads were all arranged for each of the horses; our blankets and coats were all packed up, and we were in the act of burying in a hole under ground the few stores we could not take with us, when to our surprise a shot was heard in the direction of Fowler’s Bay, and shortly after a second; we then observed two people in the distance following up the dray tracks leading to the depot. Imagining that some whaler had anchored in the bay, and being anxious to prevent our underground store from being noticed, we hastily spread the tarpaulins over the hole, so that what we were about could not be observed, and then fired shots in reply.
As the parties we had seen gradually approached nearer I recognised one of them with the telescope as being Mr. Germain, the master of the Hero ; the other I could not make out at first from his being enveloped in heavy pilot clothes; a little time however enabled me to distinguish under this guise my young friend Mr. Scott, and I went anxiously to meet him, and learn what had brought him back. Our greeting over, he informed me that the Governor had sent him back with letters to me, and desired me to return in the Hero to Adelaide. As Mr. Scott had not brought the letters up, I walked down with him after luncheon, and went on board the cutter, where I received many friendly letters, all urging me to return and give up the attempt I meditated to the westward, and which every one appeared to consider as little less than madness. From the Governor I received a kind letter to the same effect, offering to assist me in any further attempts I might wish to make round Lake Torrens, or to explore the Northern Interior, and placing absolutely at my disposal, within the colony, the services of the Hero , to enable me either to take my party back overland, or to follow out any examinations I might wish to make from the coast northerly. As a further inducement, and with a view to lessen the feelings of disappointment I might experience at the unsuccessful termination of an expedition from which such great results had been expected, the assistant commissioner had been instructed to write to me officially, communicating the approbation of His Excellency and of the Colonists of the way in which I had discharged the trust confided to me, and directing me to relinquish all further attempts to the westward, and to return in the Hero to Adelaide.
Added to the numerous letters I received, were many friendly messages to the same effect, sent to me through Mr. Scott. I felt deeply sensible of the lively interest expressed in my welfare, and most grateful for the kind feeling manifested towards me on the part of the Governor and the Colonists; it was with much pain and regret, therefore, that I found myself unable to comply with their requests, and felt compelled by duty to adopt a course at variance with their wishes. When I first broke up my party and sent Mr. Scott back to Adelaide, on the 31st January, 1841, I had well and maturely considered the step I felt myself called upon to adopt; after giving my best and serious attention to the arguments of my friends, and carefully reconsidering the subject now, I saw nothing to induce me to change the opinion I had then arrived at.
It will be remembered, that in stating the origin and commencement of the Northern expedition, it was remarked, that a previously contemplated expedition to the Westward, was made to give way to it, and that I had myself been principally instrumental in changing the direction of public attention from the one to the other; it will be remembered also, what publicity had been given to our departure, how great was the interest felt in the progress of our labours, and how sanguine were the expectations formed as to the results; alas, how signally had these hopes been dashed to the ground, after the toils, anxieties, and privations of eight months, neither useful nor valuable discoveries had been made; hemmed in by an impracticable desert, or the bed of an impassable lake, I had been baffled and defeated in every direction, and to have returned now, would have been, to have rendered of no avail the great expenses that had been incurred in the outfit of the expedition, to have thrown away the only opportunity presented to me of making some amends for past failure, and of endeavouring to justify the confidence that had been reposed in me, by carrying through the exploration which had been originally contemplated to the westward, now it was no longer possible to accomplish that to the north, for which it had given place; I considered myself in duty and in honour bound, not to turn back from this attempt, as long as there was the remotest possibility of success, without any regard to considerations of a personal or private nature. Under these feelings, therefore, I resolved to remain only another day in depot, to reply to the letters I had received, and return my best thanks to the many friends who had expressed such kind interest on my behalf.