Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/62

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

owed a heavy debt of gratitude to the country which had enriched him, and that he was called upon, instead of spending his fortune in distant lands, and purchasing with it the means of indolent self-indulgence, to apply some portion of it to promote the welfare and accelerate the progress of the community, among whom he had risen to opulence. As to the gift of £1,000 for exploration purposes, he looked upon that sum as nought in itself, but it derived its value from the fact that it was the donation of a working man, who out of the proceeds of his hard earnings and years of toil, had made a sacrifice as soon as he was able to do so. Out of that sacrifice had arisen a monument which would never be obliterated.

Mr. Kyte's patriotic offer elicited a response of £3,210 from the Victorian public, and the exploration fund was further supplemented by a parliamentary grant of several thousands. The work of organising the most ambitious effort of exploration that had, up to that time, been attempted by any of the colonies, was intrusted to a committee of the Royal Society. General satisfaction was felt at the appointment of Robert O'Hara Burke to the leadership of the expedition, for he was a man who had given signal proofs of courage, commanding ability, and the possession of many qualities that peculiarly fitted him to head the daring enterprise of crossing an unknown continent from sea to sea. A member of an old Galway family, he served in the Austrian army for some years, and retired with the rank of captain. After a brief stay in his native land, he decided on emigrating to the colonies. His reputation had preceded him, and the Government of Victoria secured his services in the capacity of inspector of police, the position he occupied when his ardent temperament and love of adventure prompted him to volunteer