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and botanist, at the same time ; and I delighted in this life.” Several letters, written by him from various stations to his friend Mr. Lynd, are published by Dr. Lang, and, without any pretension to fine writing, prove their author to be a man of sense and an enthusiast in science. 6. One of the finest sights,” he says, “ I had was that of a Glycine, a climbing shrub, which is now [19th of October] in full blossom. The flower is a pale violet, the inflorescence long grapes, which form the most elegant festoons from tree to tree along some creeks. I was so struck with the beauty of the sight, that I almost forgot, in gazing, to take specimens.”
We are told that he passed unharmed among the wildest of the aborigines, aided doubtless by his medical knowledge, and even employed them frequently in his service. An intimate acquaintance with their habits seems to have insp him with less disgust than the ordinary accounts of these races would have led us to expect.
“ The black-fellow, in his natural state, and not yet contaminated or irritated by the white man, is hospitable and not at all devoid of kind feelings. We had a striking instance of the honesty of these men. A native dog, which they had tamed, came during our absence and took our meat provisions. When we returned, one of the black-fellows came and brought back a piece of bacon and the cloth in which it was. The ham had been devoured by the dog, but the black brought even the bones which still remained. For about three figs of tobacco they provided us two days with oysters and crabs. They are a fine race of men, tall and well made, and their bodies, individually, as well as the groups which they formed, would have delighted the eye of an artist. ... Their resources for obtaining food are extremely various. They seem to have tasted every thing, from the highest top of the Bunya tree and the Seaforthia and cabbage palm, to the grub which lies in the rotten tree of the brush, or feeds on the lower stem or root of the Xanthorrhæa. By the bye, I tasted this grub, and it tastes very well, particularly in chewing the skin, which contains much fat. It has a very nutty taste, which is impaired, however, by that of the rotten wood upon which the animal lives. They are well aware that this grub changes into a beetle resembling the cockchafer, and that another transforms into a moth. Particularly agreeable to them is the honey with which the little stingless native bee provides them amply. You have no idea of the number of bees' nests which exist in this country. My black-fellow, who accompanies me at
present, finds generally three or four of them daily, and would find many more, if I gave him full time to look for them. They do not find these nests as the black-fellows in Liverpool Plains ; they do not attach a down to the legs of the little animal ; but their sharp eye discovers the little aniinals flying in and out the opening even sixty and more feet high. Me millmill bull' (I see a bee's nest), he exclaims, and, so saying, he puts off his shirt, takes the tomahawk, and up he goes. If in a branch, he cuts off the tree and enjoys the honey on the ground. Is it in the body of the tree, he taps at first with the tomahawk to know the real position, and then he opens the nest. The honey is sweet, but a little pungent. There is, besides the honey, a kind of dry bee-bread, like gingerbread, which is very nourishing. The part in which the grub lives is very acid. The black-fellow destroys every swarm of which he takes the honey. It is impossible for him to save the young brood.”. Cooksland, p. 375.
Dr. Leichhardt brought with him, on his return, an exceedingly curious and valuable collection of specimens of every kind; and in botany alone is said to have discovered upwards of one hundred new plants. This journey appears to have terminated in the spring of 1844. In the mean while, being disappointed in his hope of accompanying Sir T. Mitchell on the proposed expedition to Port Essington, he determined to get up a party to proceed, under his own guidance, by the Moreton Bay route. His own very moderate resources were insufficient for the outfit, and were but scantily eked out by private contributions ; the enterprise being generally regarded as desperate. But he was not to be deterred by such difficulties. In April, 1844, he thus writes :
“ It is probable, my dear friend, that I shall not stay long in Sydney, when I come down. I have found young men willing and able to undergo the fatigues of a private expedition, and if I can muster sufficient resources to pay the expenses of provisions for six men, I shall immediately set out for Port Essington. . I know that if I start with these men, whom I know to be excellent bushmen, excellent shots, and without fear, I am sure to succeed. Every one of us has the necessary horses, and all that is required besides would be six mules with harness for carriage of four 100 pounds per head tea and sugar and ammunition. Every one of us has lived weeks and weeks together in the bush, frequently surrounded by hostile blacks, whose character we know, and intercourse with whom we shall always try to avoid. Believe me, that one experienced and cou us
bushman is worth more than the eight soldiers Sir Thomas intends to take with him. They will be an immense burden, and of no use.” – Cooksland, p. 92.
He closes a letter to Professor Owen, under date of July 10th, when his preparations were nearly completed, with these words : — "When you
hear next of me, it will be either that I am lost and dead, or that I have succeeded to penetrate through the interior to Port Essington.'
In the month of August, 1844, the expedition left Sydney, and after passing some time at Brisbane, the chief town in Moreton Bay district, to recruit, set out in September upon their perilous march. The party consisted of ten persons ; two of them, Harry Brown and Charley, being aboriginal natives; and one, William Phillips, “a prisoner of the Crown." Their live stock amounted to seventeen horses and sixteen head of cattle ; and they were furnished with a supply of flour, sugar, tea, chocolaie, gelatine, and ammunition, for seven months, which was supposed to be a reasonable estimate of the duration of their journey.
At last, on the first of October, after a preliminary conflict with their refractory draught-bullocks, who kicked against being degraded into beasts of burden, they left Jimba, the last station of civilized man, and plunged into the wilderness. “Many a man's heart,” says the traveller, “ would have thrilled like our own, had he seen us winding our way round the first rise beyond the station, with a full chorus of God save the Queen,' which has inspired many a British soldier ay, and many a Prussian too with courage in the time of danger.” For several days our travellers pushed on as rapidly as the undutiful carriage of their bullocks, and the troublesome" scrub ” (a dense thicket), which continually obstructed their progress, would allow. No serious accident occurred, except the loss of a large part of their flour in the scrub, and the disappearance of two of the party, who were tracked seventy miles by Charley before they could be found. The travellers were singularly fortunate in meeting with lagoons and creeks, which, not yet exhausted by the heat of the summer (for November is a summer month in Australia), or occasionally replenished by passing thunder-storms, supplied them with water; so that through the first ten months of their journey they encamped only once without it, and even then were refreshed by a thunder-storm at night ; though
straggling parties sometimes suffered severely. But during the first weeks of their progress, they found much less game than they had anticipated, and it became doubtful whether they could go on. That some of the party must return was clear, and unless bullock's meat could be dried in the sun, there was an end of the matter for all. The experiment was tried with success; and two of the party with as many horses returned to the colony.
As the travellers advanced, they fell in with game of various kinds; emus and cockatoos, with occasional teal and duck, served very well for supper, and dried kangaroo was almost as savory as dried beef; and their "black-fellows" were good honey-gatherers. An intractable bullock having torn another flour-bag and spilled its contents on the ground, our adventurers, who had at length fairly acquired the accomplishment of an “overcoming stomach," after scraping up with gum-leaf spoons what they could, made a porridge of the remainder, “ well mixed with dried leaves and dust,” which, by the aid of a little gelatine, they all “ enjoyed highly.” Even horse-flesh did not come amiss ; and they learned in time to do without salt, though it cost a severe struggle. Their flour, notwithstanding the especial spite of the bullocks against it, held out, by dint of good husbandry, for a long time; but their best friend was tea, which the worthy doctor is antiquated enough to pronounce a better quencher of thirst and assuager of fatigue than the only natural drink of man, cold water. The most convincing proof of “ man's superiority to his accidents ” which this volume affords is in the record of a supper of wallaby-broth, seasoned with a piece of green-hide, which had already served an apprenticeship of five months as the wrapper of a botanical collection. " It required, however,” he adds, “a little longer stewing than a fresh hide, and was rather tasteless."
The “ black-fellows” too, whose sagacity and keen sight were invaluable to the travellers, gave them much trouble. Charley had once or twice a fit of the sulks, and on one occasion fulfilled a threat of stopping the doctor's jaw, by a blow which loosened two of his teeth. For some time, they kept away from the camp, but the doctor, whose thorough experience of the native character had taught him how to manage them, soon brought them to terms; and a quarrel which afterwards broke out between them was of great service to the company. The doctor's life was in one instance probably saved by the ready recollection of his aboriginal attendant. We
quote his own account of the adventure. “ We rode the whole day through a Bricklow thicket, which, in only three or four places, was interrupted by narrow strips of open country, along creeks on which fine flooded-gums were growing. The density of the scrub, which covered an almost entirely level country, prevented our seeing farther than a few yards before us, so that we passed our landmark, and, when night approached, and the country became more open, we found ourselves in a part of the country totally unknown to us. At the outside of the scrub, however, we were cheered by the sight of some large lagoons, on whose muddy banks there were numer. ous tracks of emus and kangaroos. In a recently deserted camp of the aborigines, we found an eatable root, like the large tu. bers of Dahlia, which we greedily devoured, our appetite being wonderfully quickened by long abstinence and exercise. Brown fortunately shot two pigeons; and, whilst we were discussing our welcome repast, an emu, probably on its way to drink, approached the lagoon, but halted when it got sight of us, then walked slowly about, scrutinizing us with suspicious looks, and, when Brown attempted to get near it, trotted off to a short distance, and stopped again, and continued to play this tantalizing trick until we were tired; when, mounting our horses, we proceeded on our way.
Supposing, from the direction of the waters, that we had left our former tracks to the left, I turned to the northeast to recover them; but it soon became very dark, and a tremendous thunder-storm came down upon us. We were then on a high box-tree ridge, in view of a thick scrub; we hobbled our horses, and covered ourselves with our blankets; but the storm was so violent, that we were thoroughly drenched. As no water-holes were near us, we caught the water that ran from our blankets; and, as we were unable to rekindle our fire, which had been extinguished by the rain, we stretched our blankets over some sticks to form a tent, and notwithstanding our wet and hungry condition, our heads sank wearily on the saddles our usual bush pillow — and we slept soundly till morning dawned. We now succeeded in making a fire, so that we had a pot of tea and a pigeon between us. After this scanty breakfast, we continued our course to the northeast. Brown thought himself lost, got disheartened, grumbled and became exceedingly annoying to me; but I could not help feeling for him, as he complained of severe pain in his legs. We now entered extensive İronbark flats, which probably belong to the valley of