Melbourne, Slater, Williams, and Hodgson, 1855.
Duodecimo (160 × 105 mm), [i] (front pastedown advertisements), viii, 118,  (first blank, followed by advertisements, including those on the rear pastedown) pages; the front flyleaf, described in Ferguson as '[ii] (advertisement, verso blank') has been removed.
Dark green textured cloth with the paper title-label on the front cover; cloth a little marked and stained, and worn at the extremities; title-label discoloured, with the bottom right-hand portion torn away, with some loss of the short sub-title text; edges discoloured; mild signs of age and use; a decent copy of a book rarely seen, in any condition. Ferguson 8079.
Provenance: Robert O'Hara Burke, with his full initials (ROHB) written in pencil at the head of the title page. (Early pencilling on the five pages of advertisements and two blank pages, comprising a short list of farm-related items, a few sketch plans, and some arithmetical calculations, are in another hand, presumably that of a subsequent owner of the book.) Burke's place in history needs no lengthy introduction. The Burke and Wills Expedition 'was significant because it was the first to cross the continent from south to north. It was also notorious because it resulted in the greatest loss of life [seven men] of any expedition to the Australian interior. The Expedition set out on 20 August 1860 to travel from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria and return.... Four men, including Burke and Wills, made it as far as the mangrove area close to the Gulf (Flinders River). One man (John King) survived the return journey. Burke and Wills starved to death in tragic circumstances on the banks of Cooper's Creek [at the end of June 1861].... It is generally agreed that the many wrong decisions taken by Burke as leader of the expedition contributed to its tragic ending. A police officer by training, he was impatient, a poor leader, had little knowledge of bushcraft and no experience of how to live off the land' (National Library of Australia: Guide to the Papers of Burke and Wills). Robert O'Hara Burke (1821-1861) was an Irishman who had served as lieutenant in an Austrian cavalry regiment, before taking up a command in the Irish Mounted Constabulary. He emigrated to Australia in 1853, and joined the Victoria police. 'In January 1854 he was appointed senior inspector at Beechworth; soon afterwards he took leave to go to Europe in the hope of serving in the Crimean war but was too late. He returned to Beechworth [in December 1856] and in 1858 became superintendent of police in the Castlemaine district' ('Australian Dictionary of Biography'). In early 1860 he was given leave to take command of the fateful expedition. At some stage during the years 1857 to 1859, this book came into his possession. Its subsequent history is unknown to us, but it scarcely matters. Its recent serendipitous discovery, to say nothing of the exquisite nature of its contents in the context of the life and times of Robert O'Hara Burke, merely adds to his extraordinary story. [Examples of Burke's signature are readily accessible on Trove in digitised versions of the last notes made by him on 26 and 28 June 1861. The original manuscript is in the State Library of Victoria, call number 1636517]. Later provenance: Edward Edgar Pescott (1872-1954), horticulturalist, naturalist, author and book-collector.