[Editor: This untitled article, written in response to some rumours about the Burke and Wills expedition, was published in The Gipsland Times (Sale, Vic.), 25 May 1875.]
[Burke and Wills]
We are not sorry that Mr A. W. Howitt, of Bairnsdale, has given the finishing stroke to the contradictions that had previously appeared in print of the absurd and malicious stories in reference to the unreliability of John King, the survivor of the Burke and Wills exploration expedition.
Mr Weston Phillips had already exhausted the subject, for having been one of Mr Howitt’s relief party, and having accompanied King from Cooper’s Creek to Melbourne, he learnt from him all that he was able to tell of the tragical occurrences in which he had been a party.
Mr Howitt now puts an end to the controversy by establishing the truthfulness of King. Having found the bodies of Burke and Wills, Mr Howitt conversed with the natives for several days, and comparing King’s statement with the surroundings of the case, had no hesitation in reducing to writing what is now known as King’s narrative.
It would be quite unnecessary to revive this painful subject if all men were acquainted with the laws of evidence, and capable of reasoning accurately from the facts before them. There are men in the world who will believe statements because they are absurd and impossible, and unprincipled persons, who to create a momentary sensation, will circulate statements which they do not believe themselves, but which they know will mystify and mislead the half-witted portion of their fellow-creatures.
There is reason to know that King’s mind never recovered from the crushing influences exerted on it by the fearful disasters through which he had passed, and which gave a tinge of deep melancholy to his subsequent existence.
Hundreds of living persons listened with the utmost avidity to his recital of the adventures of the exploration party, but no person ever heard him speak unfavourably of Burke and Wills, whose dying declarations are even stronger proof of King’s integrity than the testimony based on the personal enquiries of Mr Howitt.
The Gipsland Times (Sale, Vic.), 25 May 1875, p. 2 (column 5)
Also published in:
The Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic.), 1 June 1875, p. 4 (entitled “Burke and Wills”)
A. W. Howitt = Alfred William Howitt (1830-1908), explorer and natural scientist; the leader of a rescue party in search of the Burke and Wills expedition; he was born in 1830 in Nottingham (England) in 1830, and died in Bairnsdale (Vic.) in 1908
See: 1) W. E. H. Stanner, “Howitt, Alfred William (1830–1908)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography
2) “Alfred William Howitt”, Wikipedia
Weston Phillips = (1835?-1883) a chemist, and an explorer; he was part of the 1862 expedition led by Alfred Howitt (1830-1908) in search of the Burke and Wills expedition; he was born in England in 1835(?), migrated to Australia with his family in 1856, and died in New South Wales in 1883, at the age of 48
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]