Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/68

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a state of excitement; and the exploration committee, suddenly awakened out of its slumbers, began to exhibit an activity that would have prevented all the fatalities of the expedition, if it had only been exercised at the proper time. No less than five well-equipped relief parties were fitted out and despatched with all possible speed, each converging on the track of the missing explorers from different points, so as to make the search systematic and complete. The party headed by Mr. Alfred Howitt was the only one that achieved the immediate object in view, but it is worthy of note that the others, in searching for Burke and Wills, still further explored and opened up the great interior of the Australian continent. Thus, even in death, these vanished heroes advanced the cause for which in life they had worked with so much energy, enthusiasm, and self-sacrifice. Well and truly has Father Woods called this "the most glorious era in the history of Australian discovery." Howitt's party, after a diligent search of all the country around Cooper's Creek, at length discovered poor King sitting in a native hut. Howitt states in his diary that when they found this solitary survivor of Burke's party, he presented a melancholy appearance, being wasted to a shadow and hardly distinguishable as a civilised being but for the remnants of clothes upon him. The kindness and presence of friends, however, soon effected a considerable change for the better in his personal appearance, and enabled him to accompany Howitt's party back to Melbourne, where he received the warm and generous welcome that was due to the sole survivor of an expedition at once so successful and unfortunate. Parliament voted him a substantial pension, and also awarded liberal grants to the immediate relatives of Burke and Wills. A public funeral was decreed as a national expression of the