State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 21 April 1978


A Letter from C. J. La Trobe to Count Paul De Strzelecki

My Dear Stzelicki,
You have set me a task, for I never gave myself a character yet in my life.
In my younger days I was simply a “rambler” and my published productions partook of the character of my desultory pursuits as such. I am not particularly proud of them, but may state that they consisted of two works upon Switzerland & the Tyrol respectively — the “Alpenstock” and the “Pedestrian”:—and subsequently three upon America — viz.: 2 vols. upon the “United States and Far West” & one upon “Mexico”.
Since that time, & more particularly for the last 18 years, — my service in connection with her Majesty's Govt. has left me little time for anything beyond official duty & official writing. Of the latter sufficient has been laid before the country in one shape or other in that interval. My public service consists of an official visit to all the West India & South American British colonies in 1836–7 — and since in 14–15 years service in Australia, in charge of the Colony of Victoria (Port Phillip) from the Lieut. Governership of which I have just retired. The only break was caused by a commission which I reed, in 1846, to administer the government of Van Diemen's Land in the interval between the recall of Sir Eardley Wilmot, and the arrival of Sir W. Denison. As to the character of this long public service, I must refer you to all or sundry of the eight or nine “Secretaries of State” under which it has been performed All I will say for myself is that it has not been of a humdrum & ordinary character.
I may add that altho’ I have, as best suited my temper and scanty amount of personal acquirement, kept in the back ground I have not been indifferent to the interests of geographical and natural science, but have done what I could to promote it — gaining here and there, perhaps more credit than I really deserve. I have only to look around me to see men on every hand of far higher qualification & endowment than myself & undoubtedly higher claims, but for all that I have been so long out of the great current (tho’ not in what may be called still waters) that I feel it would be an adventure to me to become a member of the Athenaeum, where a piece of bronze like your humble servant, may chance to get a small amount of gilding, by gentle & judicious friction against his neighbours — I have said! & remain
Yours truly
C. J. La Trobe