Page:The Exploration of Australia - Calvert - 1896.djvu/21

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CHAPTER I.

Leichardt's First Expedition.


UP till 1844, the task of unravelling the mysteries of the great Australian Continent was committed to men of the British race, as recorded in my first volume. It is now my duty to chronicle the exploits of the first explorer of foreign birth who entered the field. Dr. Ludwig Leichardt was a German by birth, although he had become—through his associations—an Englishman by adoption. He was a distinguished botanist, geologist, and astronomer, and had already shown his capabilities as an explorer, by making a journey overland to Moreton Bay, besides many excursions throughout the districts lying beyond the Darling. He was born in Baskow, near Berlin, and, having made his escape from the three years' compulsory military service, he was condemned as a deserter in contumaciam. His services to science, however, having been represented to the King of Prussia by Von Humboldt, he was pardoned for the offence; but his untimely death prevented his availing himself of his Sovereign's clemency. The command of the expedition now to be described naturally devolved upon him as being the best man available. The project was formed owing to the following circumstances:—Australia's northern coast had been pronounced uninhabitable, settlements on Melville Island and Raffles Bay having