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Special Report [of the Fund Raising Committee], 1860.

Progress Reports and Final Report of the Exploration Committee of the Royal Society of Victoria.
Melbourne: Royal Society of Victoria. Mason & Firth Printers.

A public meeting was held at the Mechanics Institute, Collins-street, Melbourne for the purpose of receiving the report of the Exploration Fund Committee, the Hon John Hodgson, MLC in the chair.
23 January 1860

Your Committee has much pleasure in meeting the subscribers to the Exploration Fund on the present occasion and in offering its hearty congratulations upon the successful issue of the important undertaking for the accomplishment of which it was, appointed, and your Committee has now the honor to submit the following report:

It will be remembered that a public meeting was held in this place on the 1st September 1858, at which his Honor the Chief Justice, Sir William Foster Stawell presided. It was then announced that the munificent gift of £1,000 was offered by an unknown friend of Australian exploration, on the condition that £2,000 should be raised by private subscription within twelve months for the same object. At that meeting your Committee was appointed for the purpose of carrying out the ex­pressed wishes of the unknown donor and of securing his generous offer.

On its appointment, your Committee thought it advisable to invite the cooperation of the Exploration Committee of the Philosophical Institute, now the Royal Society of Victoria, which was cordially acceded to; and during the whole year both committees have zealously combined all their efforts to ensure the success of the proposed object.

The efforts of your Committee in raising subscriptions were in the first instance chiefly confined to Melbourne. At the same time a printed circular was forwarded to all the principal towns, and to many of the leading gentlemen and magistrates throughout the colony. The following is the circular referred to;

Melbourne, September 15th, 1858.

At a public meeting, held at the Mechanics' Institute, on the 1st inst. Sir W F. Stawell in the chair, the undermentioned gentlemen were appointed a Committee, to take the necessary steps for raising £2,000 by public subscription, to be applied to the purpose of exploring the interior of the colony; a donation of £1,000 having been made for that object, coupled with the proviso that double that sum should be subscribed by the public within twelve months from the present date. The Committee consisting of Sir W. F. Stawell, the Hon. J. Hodgson, MLC, Professor McCoy, Dr Mueller, and Mr James Smith, to which Dr Macadam has been appointed Honorary Secretary, and Dr Wilkie Treasurer, was limited in number, for the sake of securing a greater amount of individual responsibility as regards its financial administration; but as soon as it has discharged the first duty delegated to it - that of collecting the sum specified above - it is pledged to cooperate with the Exploration Committee of the Philosophical Institute, in concerting for the prudent, economical and efficient expenditure of the Exploration Fund. That fund, there is every reason to believe, will be augmented by a grant from Government; and the aggregate amount, it is confidently hoped, will suffice to prosecute the enterprise to a thoroughly successful issue. In the mean time I have to solicit, on behalf of the Committee, the exercise of your local influence (either by the formation of sub-committees, or otherwise) in procuring subscriptions to an object which is national in character, and must secure the approbation of every Australian who is anxious to promote the material prosperity of his country, to enlarge the boundaries of knowledge, to clear up the mystery which envelopes the fate of poor Leichhardt and to facilitate our intercourse with the other hemisphere. The Government have promised to place a sum of money on the estimates for the introduction of twenty or thirty camels, to be employed in traversing the sandy deserts ascertained to exist in the interior and the time, appears to have arrived when we may undertake the work of exploration under the most favourable conditions of success, and may worthily emulate the laudable example which has been set us by the adjoining colonies.

To open up a communication with the northern shores of this is an enterprise which should engage the sympathies and command the support of the merchant, the squatter and the miner, no less than those of the man of science; for such an enterprise promises to abridge the distance which separates us from the Old World; to bring us at an early date in telegraphic communication with India and Europe; to open new avenues of commerce; to indicate how we may obtain access to vast areas of pastoral land from which we are at present cut off, owing to our ignorance of the intervening country; and to solve a geographical problem, which is as important as it is interesting.

Under these circumstances, the Committee confidently appeal to you for assistance in the way of soliciting contributions in the district in which you reside, and would feel obliged by your remitting any sums you may receive on this account to the Treasurer of the Exploration Fund - Dr Wilkie, of this city - or to the account of the Exploration Fund at the Bank of Victoria, Melbourne.

I am, Sir, Your obedient servant,
John Macadam, MD, Honorary Secretary.

For many months your Committee zealously labored but with very discouraging prospects of success not from any general unwillingness to support the object. but chiefly from the commercial depression, which has extended it's influence through all classes of the community. From the many difficulties and discouragements which your Committee had to encounter, it was almost on the point of abandoning the project as hopeless. When eleven months of the stipulated period had nearly passed the amount of the subscriptions realised scarcely one half of the stipulated sum.

The bright star of Australian progress was, however in the ascendant and it was considered to be yet possible to secure success by an urgent and final appeal to the squatters, merchants, and country gentlemen in all parts of the colony. This appeal, which was prepared in the form of a lithographic letter was immediately followed by the happiest results, which amply rewarded your committee for all its labors and anxieties. Every post brought in bundles of letters containing cheques, orders and cash, and in not a few instances long letters of advice; and thus, within the stipulated period, the sum of £2,000 was raised by private subscription, and the munificent gift of the unknown donor claimed and secured through the kind office of his Honor the Chief Justice. The Exploration Committee of the Philosophical Institute having brought up its report at a recent meeting of the Institute, and that report having been adopted and printed in the daily papers, your Committee thinks it unnecessary to go over the same ground again on the present occasion. It may, however, be satisfactory to some of the subscribers now present to hear that document read if they have not already seen it viz. vide Fourth Report of Committee.

Your Committee, on its own behalf and in the name of the whole body of subscribers to the Fund most cordially adds its tribute of admiration to the deep feeling of respect and esteem which is universally entertained and expressed for the noble hearted and generous donor to know that before the stipulated time had elapsed and before it could possible be ascertained that there was any possibility of the conditions of the offer being complied with, he intimated through his Honor Sir William F Stawell that he would extend the time four months, or until the first day of the present year, so as to give ample opportunity to Your Committee to carry out all its arrangements, and thus secure with certainty the offered gift.

Your Committee cannot conclude this report without expressing its fervent hope that the name of the generous donor may yet be given to the world, that it may incite the ardour of our Australian youth in the cause of science and Australian progress, that it may add to the lustre of Australian patriotism and Australian enterprise and that it grace an honoured page in Australian history.

Your Committee has one more pleasing duty to perform, which is to congratulate the subscribers and all other friends of exploration, upon the noble liberality which has been shown by the Victorian Parliament in voting the sum of £6,000 for Australian exploration. By this patriotic act our reformed Parliament has done honor itself and the cause of science and has added fresh laurels to the frame of our adopted country.

Every Australian must now acknowledge that Victoria has at length vindicated her character among the Australian colonies, and every citizen of Victoria will feel a national pride in the reflection that, in look­ing beyond the mere selfish interests of our colony, our legislators have nobly responded to the claims of humanity and of Australian settlement.

Your Committee has the honor to submit the following financial statement;

Subscriptions not yet acknowledged
Sands & Kenny £25. 0 0
Subscriptions per do £ 4. 1 0
£ 29. 1 0
Amount of funds      
In National Bank £1,818. 15 0
In Bank of Victoria £1,210. 10 10
Unpaid Subscriptions £ 170. 0 0
£3,199. 5 10

David E Wilkie, MD MLC,
Honorary Treasurer of the Exploration Fund.

Hon. John Hodgson, Chairman,
23rd January 1860.


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