Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/59

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CHAPTER III.


THE STORY OF BURKE AND WILLS.


AMBROSE KYTE—HOW AN IRISH LAD ATTAINED TO OPULENCE—HIS MUNIFICENT BENEFACTIONS— STARTS AN EXPLORING EXPEDITION TO CROSS THE AUSTRALIAN CONTINENT—ROBERT O'HARA BURKE APPOINTED LEADER OF THE EXPEDITION—SETTING OUT AMIDST POPULAR ENTHUSIASM—THE FEAT SUCCESSFULLY ACCOMPLISHED—BACKWARD MARCH OF THE VICTORS—A RACE FOR LIFE—SERIES OP FATAL MISTAKES—TRAGIC CLOSE OF A BRILLIANT ENTERPRISE—DEATH OF BURKE AND WILLS—KING SAVED BY THE BLACKS—IMPORTANT RESULTS OF THE EXPEDITION.


"We must regard him as one of the most striking instances of success which even Victoria affords. Of humble origin, and with but little education and few natural advantages, he, by a dexterous use of favourable circumstances, accumulated a large fortune and won his way to a leading place in the community. It is gratifying to be able to reflect that, when he had reached a position of affluence, besides performing many acts of charity known only within a limited circle, he distinguished himself by making several munificent donations to stimulate useful enterprise and advance the interests of the country in which his wealth had been won."[1]

It was in these words that the leading journal of Victoria concluded its account of the career of a remarkable Irish-Australian, whose life reads like a page from the "Arabian Nights' Entertainments." Leaving his home in Nenagh, County Tipperary, in his eighteenth year, Ambrose Kyte was

  1. The Melbourne Argus, Nov. 17, 1868.