Narrative of an expedition into Central Australia, by Charles Sturt

Preface.

The prominent part I have taken in the furtherance of Geographical Discovery on the Australian continent, and the attention, it will naturally be supposed, I have paid to the subject generally, will lead the reader perhaps to expect that I should, at the commencement of a work such as this, put him in possession of all the facts, with which I myself am acquainted, as to the character of those portions of it, which had been explored, before I commenced my recent labours. This may reasonably be expected from me by my readers, not only to enable them to follow me into the heartless desert from which, it may still be said, I have so lately returned, with that distinctness which can alone secure interest to my narrative; but, also, to judge whether the conclusions at which I arrived, and upon which I acted, were such as past experience ought to have led me to adopt.

It has struck me forcibly that such information would undoubtedly be desirable, not only to render my own details clearer, but to explain my views, since I should exceedingly regret that any imputation of rashness or inconsistency were laid to my charge; or if it was thought, I had volunteered hazardous and important undertakings, for the love of adventure alone.

The field of Ambition, professionally speaking, is closed upon the soldier during the period of his service in New South Wales. Had it been otherwise, however, no more honourable a one could have been open to me, when I landed on its shores in 1826, than the field of Discovery. I sought and entered upon it, not without a feeling of ambition I am ready to admit, for that feeling should ever pervade the breast of a soldier, but also with an earnest desire to promote the public good, and certainly without the hope of any other reward than the credit due to successful enterprise. I pretend not to science, but I am a lover of it; and to my own exertions, during past years of military repose, I owe the little knowledge I possess of those branches of it, which have since been so useful to me.

It will not be deemed presumptuous in me, I trust, to express a belief that the majority of my readers will find much to interest them in the perusal of this work; which I publish for several reasons — firstly, in the hope, that a knowledge of the extremities to which I was driven, and of the unusual expedients to which I was obliged to resort, in order to save myself and my companions from perishing, may benefit those who shall hereafter follow my example; secondly, that as I published an account of my former services, my failing to do so in the present instance might be taken as evidence that I lacked the moral firmness which enables men to meet both success and defeat with equal self-possession; and thirdly, because, I think the public has a right to demand information from those, who, like myself, have been employed in the advancement of geographical knowledge. I propose, therefore, to devote my preliminary chapter to a short review of previous Expeditions of Discovery on the Australian continent, and so to lay down its internal features, that my friends shall not lose their way.

I propose, also, to give an account of the state of South Australia when I left it in May last, for, as the expedition whose proceedings form the subject matter of these volumes, departed from and returned to that Province, such an account appears to me a fitting sequel to my narrative.

† This is published separately as "An account of the sea coast and interior of South Australia with observations on various subjects connected with its interests".

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/sturt/charles/s93n/preface.html

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