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Farewell Speech, 18 August 1860.

On Saturday 18th August 1860, The Royal Society of Victoria held a special meeting at Royal Society Hall, when the officers and men of the Victorian Exploring Expedition signed the Memorandum of Agreement.

Sir William Stawell, (1815-1889) President of the Royal Society of Victoria, Chairman of the Exploration Committee and Chief Justice of Victoria, made this farewell speech ...


Sir William Stawell:

I have been requested by this committee to say a few words to you in reference to your undertaking - a task which will be attended by a great deal of danger, but which, if you successful, will redound very much to the credit of every one of you. That success will redound to the credit of each of you, as it will to a great extent depend on your all being united and cheerfully assisting in carrying out the object of your leader, to whom you will be required to give the most implicit and absolute obedience. That obedience must be given at once, cheerfully and unhesitatingly.

Your leader will have a great deal to do; all the responsibility of the undertaking will rest on him. If you cheerfully assist him in all his objects, you will very materially aid him, whereas, if you merely give an eye-service - an unwilling assent - and don't cheerfully cooperate with him, you will embarrass him very much indeed, and even your own lives may pay the forfeit. You must all act as one man; a long pull, a strong pull, and a pull altogether; and you will pull through every difficulty; but to insure that, the most absolute obedience must be given to your leader. In order to insure that obedience, unrestricted power must be given to your leader, to whom, for the time being, you pledge yourselves unreservedly. You may be several months away, and it is possible your leader may die, or some accident befalls him.

Under such circumstances, provision has been made for the second and third in command to take his position. Should such an event occur, you will have to give to them the same obedience you gave your leader. In my opinion you are singularly fortunate in your present leader. He has been taught in a very severe but useful school, the difficult lesson of how to obey - the best way of knowing how to command. He, I am sure, will exact no more obedience from you than is absolutely necessary. In addition to placing yourselves under his command, special duties are allotted to you, but you have generally to support his wishes. In the event of you not comporting yourselves according to his orders, you may, on his recommendation, forfeit your salaries. Provision has been made that half your salaries be paid by monthly instalments to any one you may authorize, on presentation of a certificate from your leader that you discharged your duties up to that time.

Before you sign this agreement, I wish, on behalf of the committee to request that no man shall sign it or go on the undertaking who cannot do so with all his heart. (Cheers)

If any of you do not go into the expedition with all your heart, it is not yet too late; and it would be much more open and manly and honest that you should now say you don't like to go; and any man who has that lurking feeling in his heart had much better say so now, or if not, for ever after hold his peace. (Cheers)

If you go with that feeling, I have no doubt you will be successful; and now, speaking for myself, I say that every man who comes home successful from this expedition ought to be the special interest of the country itself. (Hear, hear).

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