Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/61

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47
THE STORY OF BURKE AND WILLS.

success upon its history." As was truly said by one of his contemporaries, "It would be well for Victoria if she had a few more such benefactors as this industrious, shrewd, yet withal free-handed son of Tipperary." From time to time prizes of £1,000 for the encouragement of agriculture and the development of the various resources of the colony, were offered through the medium of the principal metropolitan journal by "A Merchant of Melbourne." It was some time before people in general came to know that the anonymous merchant of Melbourne was Mr. Ambrose Kyte. His most memorable contribution of this kind, and the most far-reaching in its consequences, was the offer of £1,000 as the nucleus of an exploration fund for the fitting out of a Victorian band of explorers to cross the continent, and report as to what actually existed in the great unseen interior of Australia. In the words of an eminent Australian littérateur,[1] "It was the munificent, but modest act of an Irishman—Mr. Ambrose Kyte—that gave the first impulse to the movement which resulted in the crossing of this continent from end to end; and it was also an Irishman, Robert O'Hara Burke—who commanded that gallant band of explorers, and who, having commenced his heroic work, confronted death as calmly as he had conquered difficulties and disregarded dangers."

On the occasion of a complimentary address being presented to him, in the presence of more than 2,000 of his fellow-citizens, by way of recognising the philanthropy and public spirit by which he had been actuated in originating the first expedition across the Australian continent, Ambrose Kyte ably vindicated the rights and duties of Australian citizenship. He emphatically declared that every citizen

  1. Mr. James Smith.