The unexplored interior has given a happy hunting-ground to satisfy the British spirit of adventure and research; but large waterless tracts, that baffle man’s ingenuity, have put man’s powers of endurance to sore trial.
The mountains of Australia are all of the oldest rocks, in which there are either no fossil traces of past life, or the traces are of life in the most ancient forms. Resemblance of the Australian cordilleras to the Ural range, which he had especially been studying, caused Sir Roderick Murchison, in 1844, to predict that gold would be found in Australia. The first finding of gold—the beginning of the history of the Australian gold-fields—was in February, 1851, near Bathurst and Wellington, and to-day looks back to the morning of yesterday in the name of Ophir, given to the Bathurst gold-diggings.
Gold, wool, mutton, wine, fruits, and what more Australia can now add to the commonwealth of the English-speaking people, Englishmen at home have been learning this year in the great Indian and Colonial Exhibition, which is to stand always as evidence of the numerous resources of the Empire, as aid to the full knowledge of them, and through that to their wide diffusion. We are a long way now from the wrecked ship of Captain Francis Pelsart, with which the histories in this volume begin.
John Pinkerton was born at Edinburgh in February, 1758, and died in Paris in March, 1826, aged sixty-eight. He was the best classical scholar at the Lanark grammar school; but his father, refusing to send him to a university, bound him to Scottish law. He had a strong will, fortified in some respects by a weak judgment. He wrote clever verse; at the age of twenty-two he went to London to support himself by literature, began by publishing “Rimes” of his own, and then Scottish Ballads, all issued as ancient, but of which he afterwards admitted that fourteen out of the seventy-three were wholly written by himself. John Pinkerton, whom Sir Walter Scott described as “a man of considerable learning, and some severity as well as acuteness of disposition,” made clear conscience on the matter in 1786, when he published two volumes of genuine old Scottish Poems from the Ms. collections of Sir Richard Maitland. He had added to his credit as an antiquary by an Essay on Medals, and then applied his studies to ancient Scottish History, producing learned books, in which he bitterly abused the Celts. It was in 1802 that Pinkerton left England for Paris, where he supported