"I shall learn patience in this island, which will perhaps counteract the insolence acquired by having had unlimited command over my fellow men. You know, my dearest, that I always dreaded the effect that the possession of great authority would have upon my temper and disposition. I hope they are neither of them naturally bad; but, when we see such a vast difference between men dependent and men in power, any man who has any share of impartiality must fear for himself. My brother will tell you that I am proud, unindulgent, and hasty to take offence, but I doubt whether John Franklin will confirm it, although there is more truth in the charge than I wish there were. In this land, those malignant qualities are ostentatiously displayed. I am made to feel their sting most poignantly. My mind has been taught a lesson in philosophy, and my judgment has gained an accession of experience that will not soon be forgotten."
That is a fairly rigorous piece of self-analysis; but there are abundant facts to show that he exercised authority with a kindly and friendly disposition, and did not surpass the limits of wisdom. Men like a commander who can command; the weak inspire no confidence. Flinders had the art of attracting people to him. His servant, the faithful John Elder, willingly endured imprisonment with him, and would not leave him until his own health gave way. John Thistle, who had served under him before 1800, returned to England shortly before the Investigator sailed, and at once volunteered for service under him again. He ruled his crews by sheer force of mind and unsparing example, and though the good of the service in hand was ever his first thought, there is plenty of evidence to prove that the happiness of the men under him was constantly in his mind.
In hours of relaxation he was genial, a lively companion, a warm friend. An intimate friend records: "He possessed the social virtues and affections in an eminent degree, and in conversation he was particularly agreeable, from the extent of his general information and the lively acuteness of his observations. His integrity, uprightness of intention, and liberality of sentiment were not to be surpassed."
A scrap of dialogue written for insertion in the Voyage to Terra Australis, but cancelled with other matter, enables us to realise that he could recall an incident with some dramatic force. Bonnefoy, an interpreter in Ile-de-France, told him a story of an American skipper under examination by one of General Decaen's officers, and he wrote it down as follows:—
"I was amused with his account of a blunt American captain who, having left a part of his people to collect seal-skins upon the island Tristan d'Acuna, had come in for provisions, and to get his vessel repaired. This honest man did not wish to tell where he was collecting his cargo, nor did he understand all the ceremony he was required to go through. The dialogue that passed between the old seaman and the French officers of the port was nearly thus:
Off.: From whence do you come, Sir?
From whence do I come? Haugh! why, Monsieur, I come from the Atlantic Ocean.
Off.: But, pray, Sir, from what port?
Port? You will find that out from my papers, which I suppose you want to see?
Off.: It appears, Sir, that you have not above half your crew on board. Be so good as to inform me where are the rest?
O, my crew? Poor fellows, yes, why, Sir, we met with an island of ice on the road, and I left them there a-basket-making.
Off.: Making baskets on an island of ice? This is a very strange answer, Sir; and give me leave to tell you such will not do here; but you will accompany me to the Captain-General, and we shall then see whether you will answer or not.
Ay, we shall see indeed. Why, look ye, Monsieur: as to what I have been about, that is nothing to anybody. I am an honest man, and that's enough for you; but if you want to know why I am come here, it is to buy provisions and to lie quiet a little bit. I am not come to beg or steal, but to buy, and I fancy good bills upon M—- of Salem will suit you very well, eh, Monsieur? Convenient enough?
Off.: Very well, Sir, you will come with us to the General.
To the General? I have nothing to do with Generals! They don't understand my business. Suppose I don't go?
Off.: You will do as you please, Sir; but if you do not, you will soon..."
The sheet on which the continuation of this vigorous bit of dialogue was written* is unfortunately missing, so that we are deprived of the joy of reading the conclusion of the comedy. But as the passage stands it presents a truly dramatic picture. (* Manuscript, Mitchell Library.)
We get a glimpse of the way in which genial spirits regarded him in a jolly letter from Madras, from Lieutenant Fitzwilliam Owen, who had been a prisoner with him in Mauritius, and was on the cartel on which he sailed from that island. "You cannot doubt how much our society misses you. We toasted you, Sir, like Englishmen. We sent the heartiest good wishes of your countrymen, ay, and women too, to Heaven for your success, in three times three loud and manly cheers, dictated by that sincerity which forms the glorious characteristic of our rough-spun English. Nay, Waugh got drunk for you, and the ladies did each take an extra glass to you."* (* Flinders' Papers.)
A pleasant playful touch makes the following letter to his wife's half-sister worth quoting. He was hungry for home letters in Ile-de-France, and thus gently chid the girl: "There is indeed a report among the whales in the Indian Ocean that a scrap of a letter from you did pass by for Port Jackson, and a flying fish in the Pacific even says he saw it; but there is no believing these travellers. If you will take the trouble to give it under your own hand I will then believe that you have written to me. A certain philosopher being informed that his dear friend was dead, replied that he would not believe it without having it certified under his own hand; a very commendable prudence this, and worthy of imitation in all intricate cases. As I have a fund of justice at the bottom of my conscience, which will not permit me to exact from others more than I would perform myself, I do hereby certify that I have this day addressed a letter to my well-beloved sister Isabella Tyler, spinster, in which letter I do desire for her all manner of blessings, spiritual and temporal; that she may speedily obtain a husband six feet high, if it so pleases her, with the wishing cap of Fortunatus."
The strictness of the man's conduct, in his relations with superiors and subordinates alike, sprang from his integrity of heart. Everybody trusted him. A memoir published by a contemporary commented upon the fidelity of his friendships. "He was faithful to the utmost in the performance of a promise, whether important or trifling in its consequences."
Some of the best friends he ever made were among the French in Ile-de-France; and he became so much attached to them that, even when he secured his longed-for freedom, he could not part from them without a pang of regret. They saw in him not only a wronged man, but a singularly high-minded one. Pitot, writing to Bougainville to urge him to do his utmost to secure Flinders' release, repudiated, in these terms, the idea that he could be a spy:* "No, Monsieur Flinders is not capable of such conduct; his pure and noble character would never permit him to descend to the odious employment of a spy." (* Manuscripts, Mitchell Library; letter dated 19 Vendemiaire, an 13. October 11, 1804.) One wonders whether by any chance Bougainville had occasion to show that letter to Messieurs Peron and Freycinet!
A touching and beautiful example of his gentleness occurred in connection with a wounded French officer whom he visited at Port Louis. Lieutenant Charles Baudin des Ardennes had sailed as a junior officer on Le Geographe under Baudin (to whom he was not related) and Flinders had known him at Port Jackson. In 1807 he was serving as a lieutenant on La Semillante, in the Indian Ocean. He was badly wounded in a sharp engagement with the British ship Terpsichore in March, 1807, and was brought into Port Louis, where his shattered right arm was amputated. Flinders, full of compassion for the young man, visited him, and, as oranges were required for the sufferer, bought up the whole stock of a fruiterer, 53 of them. Upon his return to Wilhelm's Plains, he wrote Baudin a letter of sympathy and encouragement, bidding him reflect that there were other branches of useful service open to a sailor than that of warfare. He had commenced his naval career with discovery; he now knew what the horrors of war were. Which was the worthier branch of the two? Flinders continued: "No, my friend, I cannot contemplate this waste of human life to serve the cause of restless ambition without horror. Never shall my hands be voluntarily steeped in blood, but in the defence of my country. In such a cause every other sentiment vanishes. Also, my friend, if ever you have thought my actions worthy of being imitated, imitate me in this. You have, like me, had just sufficient experience to learn what the commander of a voyage of discovery ought to be, and what he ought to know. Adieu, my dear friend. May the goodness of God speedily restore you to perfect health, and turn your thoughts from war to peace." Young Baudin, it may be added, was not compelled by the loss of his arm to leave the service. He became an Admiral in 1839, and lived till 1854.
Flinders endeavoured to exert a stimulating influence upon young officers. Writing to his brother (December 6th, 1806) he said:* "Remember that youth is the time in which a store of knowledge, reputation and fortune must be laid in to make age respectable. Imitate, my dear Samuel, all that you have found commendable in my proceedings, manners, and principles, and avoid the rest. Study is necessary, as it gives theory. I need not speak to you now upon this, but active exertion is still more necessary to a good sea officer. From both united it is that perfection is attained. Neither would I have you neglect politeness, and the best society to which circumstances may permit your admission; though not the basis that constitutes a good officer or valuable member of society, the manners thereby acquired are yet of infinite service to those who possess them." (* Mr. Charles Bertie, of the Municipal Library, Sydney, has kindly supplied me with this letter, which was obtained from Professor Flinders Petrie.)
There could hardly be a sounder piece of advice to a young officer from an elder than is contained in a letter written by Flinders to John Franklin's father. It was intended for the youth's eye, beyond a doubt. It is dated May 10th, 1805:* (* Manuscripts, Mitchell Library.) "I hope John will have got into some active ship to get his time completed before I go out another voyage, and learn the discipline of the service. I have no doubt of being able to get him a lieutenant's commission if it should be agreeable to him to sail with me again. He may rest confident of my friendship, although I believe he had some fears on that head when we parted, on account of a difference between him and my brother. He has ability enough, but he must be diligent, studious, active in his duty, not over-ready to take offence at his superior officers, nor yet humbling too much to them; but in all things should make allowances for difference of disposition and ways of thinking and should judge principally from the intention. Above all things he should be strict in his honour and integrity, for a man who forfeits either cannot be independent or brave at all times; and he should not be afraid to be singular, for, if he is, the ridicule of the vicious would beat him out of his rectitude as well as out of his attention to his duty. I do not speak this from my fear of him, but from my anxiety to see him the shining character which I am sure he is capable of being."
In a similar strain is a letter to John Franklin (January 14th, 1812) regarding a lad named Wiles, the son of a Jamaica friend, who had lately been put on the Bedford as a midshipman: "I will thank you to let me know from time to time how he goes on. Pray don't let him be idle. Employ him in learning to knot and splice under a quartermaster; in working under observation, in writing his journal, and in such studies as may be useful to him. Make it a point of honour with him to be quick in relieving the deck, and strict in keeping his watch; and when there are any courts martial endeavour either to take him with you or that he may attend when it can be done. In fine, my dear John, endeavour to make a good officer and a good man of him, and be sure I shall always entertain a grateful sense of your attention to him."
Active-minded himself, he encouraged study among those who came in contact with him. It gave him pleasure to teach mathematics to Madame D'Arifat's sons at Wilhelm's Plains. He mastered French so as to speak it with grace and write with ease. He worked at Malay because he thought it would be useful on future voyages. From the early days, when he taught himself navigation amidst the swamps of his native Lincolnshire, until his last illness laid him low, he was ever an eager student. Intelligent curiosity and a desire to know the best that the best minds could teach were a basic part of his character. We find him counselling Ann Chappell, at about the time when he became engaged to her:* (* Flinders' Papers.) "Learn music, learn the French language, enlarge the subjects of thy pencil, study geography and astronomy and even metaphysics, sooner than leave thy mind unoccupied. Soar, my Annette, aspire to the heights of science. Write a great deal, work with thy needle a great deal, and read every book that comes in thy way, save trifling novels."
Flinders read widely, and always carried a good library with him on his voyages. His acquaintance with the literature of navigation was very extensive. Some of his books were lost in the Porpoise wreck; the remainder he took with him in the Cumberland, and, when he was imprisoned, his anxiety to secure his printed volumes manifested the true book-lover's hunger to have near him those companions of his intellectual life. He derived great pleasure from the French literature which he studied in Mauritius. A letter to his wife dated March, 1803, when he was upon the north coast of Australia in the Investigator, reveals him relieving his mind, amid anxieties about the condition of the ship, by reading Milton's Paradise Lost. "The elevation and, also, the fall of our first parents," he comments, "told with such majesty by him whose eyes lacked all of what he threw so masterly o'er the great subject, dark before and intricate—these with delight I perused, not knowing which to admire most, the poet's daring, the subject, or the success with which his bold attempt was crowned." He somewhat quaintly compares his wife with Eve: "But in thee I have more faith than Adam had when he, complying with Eve's request of separation in their labours, said 'Go, thou best, last gift of God, go in thy native innocence.' But how much dearer art thou here than our first mother! Our separation was not sought by thee, but thou borest it as a vine whose twining arms when turned from round the limb lie prostrate, broken, life scarcely left enough to keep the withered leaf from falling off." We should especially have welcomed notes from such a pen on a few passages in Milton which must have stirred his deepest interest, as for example the majestic comparison of Satan's flight:
"As when far off at sea a fleet descried Hangs in the clouds, by equinoctial winds Close sailing from Bengala, or the isles Of Ternate or Tidore, whence merchants bring Their spicy drugs; they on the trading flood, Through the wide Ethiopian to the Cape, Ply stemming nightly towards the pole: so seemed Far off the flying Fiend."
To these characteristics may be added a passage illustrating the view of our navigator concerning the marriage state. It must be confessed that when he wrote it (June 30th, 1807) his experience was not extensive. He left England when he had been a husband only a few weeks; but the passage is interesting as conveying to his wife what his conception of the ideal relation was: "There is a medium between petticoat government and tyranny on the part of the husband, that with thee I think to be very attainable; and which I consider to be the summit of happiness in the marriage state. Thou wilt be to me not only a beloved wife, but my most dear and most intimate friend, as I hope to be to thee. If we find failings, we will look upon them with kindness and compassion, and in each other's merits we will take pride, and delight to dwell upon them; thus we will realise, as far as may be, the happiness of heaven upon the earth. I love not greatness nor desire great riches, being confident they do not contribute to happiness, but I desire to have enough for ourselves and something to assist our friends in need. I think, my love, this is also thy way of thinking."
In the few concluding months of her husband's life, Mrs. Flinders had him beside her under circumstances that were certainly far from easy. Their somewhat straitened means, consequent upon the Admiralty's niggard construction of regulations, the prolonged severity of his employment, and the last agonised weeks of illness, must have gone far to detract from perfect felicity in domestic conditions. The six changes of residence in four and a half years point to the same conclusion. Nevertheless we find Mrs. Flinders writing to a friend in these terms, wherein her own happiness is clearly mirrored: "I am well persuaded that very few men know how to value the regard and tender attentions of a wife who loves them. Men in general cannot appreciate properly the delicate affection of a woman, and therefore they do not know how to return it. To make the married life as happy as this world will allow it to be, there are a thousand little amenities to be rendered on both sides, and as many little shades of comfort to be attended to. Many things must be overlooked, for we are all such imperfect beings; and to bear and forbear is essential to domestic peace. You will say that I find it easy to talk on this subject, and that precept is harder than practice. I allow it, my dear friend, in the practical part I have only to return kind affection and attention for uniform tenderness and regard. I have nothing unpleasant to call forth my forbearance. Day after day, month after month passes, and I neither experience an angry look nor a dissatisfied word. Our domestic life is an unvaried line of peace and comfort; and O, may Heaven continue it such, so long as it shall permit us to dwell together on this earth."
CHAPTER 29. THE NAVIGATOR.
Not only is Flinders to be regarded as a discoverer whose researches completed the world's knowledge of the last extensive region of the habitable globe remaining in his time to be revealed; not only as one whose work was marked by an unrivalled exactitude and fineness of observation; but also as one who did very much to advance the science of navigation in directions calculated to make seafaring safer, more certain, with better means and methods at disposal. Malte-Brun declared, when he died, that "the geographical and nautical sciences have lost in the person of Flinders one of their most brilliant ornaments,"* and that criticism, coming from a foreign critic than whom there was no better informed savant in Europe, was no mere piece of obituary rhetoric. (* Annales des Voyages 23 268.)
In 1805 he wrote a paper on the Marine Barometer, based upon observations made during his Australian voyages. The instrument employed was one which had been used by Cook; Flinders always kept it in his cabin. He was the first to discover, and this essay was the first attempt to show, the connection between the rise and fall of the barometer and the direction of the wind. Careful observation showed him that where his facts were collected the mercury of the barometer rose some time before a change from landbreeze to seabreeze, and fell before the change from seabreeze to landbreeze. Consequently a change of wind might generally be predicted from the barometer. The importance of these observations was at once recognised by men connected with navigation. As the Edinburgh Review wrote, dealing with Flinders' paper when presented before the Royal Society on March 27th, 1806:* "It is very easy for us, speculating in our closet upon the theory of winds and their connection with the temperature, to talk of drawing a general inference on this subject with confidence. But when the philosopher chances to be a seaman on a very dangerous coast, it will be admitted that the strength of this confidence is put to a test somewhat more severe; and we find nevertheless that Captain Flinders staked the safety of his ship and the existence of himself and his crew on the truth of the above proposition." (* Edinburgh Review, January, 1807; Flinders' Paper, "Observations on the Marine Barometer," was published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Part 2 1806.) Nowadays, indeed, the principal use of a barometer to a navigator aboard ship is to enable him to anticipate changes of wind.
Not less important were his experiments and writings upon variations of the compass aboard ship. The fact that the needle of a compass showed deviations on being moved from one part of a ship to another had been observed by navigators in the eighteenth century, but Flinders was the first to experiment systematically to ascertain the cause and to invent a remedy.* (* For the history of the matter see Alexander Smith's Introduction to W. Scoresby's Journal of a Voyage to Australia for Magnetic Research, 1859.)
He observed not only that the direction of the needle varied according to the part of the ship where it was placed, but also that a change in the direction of the ship's head made a difference. Further, he found that in northern latitudes (in the English Channel, for instance) the north end of the needle was attracted towards the bow of the ship; whilst in southern latitudes, in Bass Strait, there was an attraction towards the stern; and at the equator there was no deviation. He came to the conclusion that these results were due to the presence of iron in the ship. When he returned to England in 1810, he wrote a memorandum on the subject to the Admiralty, and requested that experiments might be made upon ships of the Navy, with the object of verifying a law which he had deduced from a long series of observations. His conclusion was that "the magnetism of the earth and the attraction forward in the ship must act upon the needle in the nature of a compound force, and that errors produced by the attraction should be proportionate to the sines of the angles between the ship's head and the magnetic meridian." Experiments were made at Sheerness, Portsmouth, and Plymouth on five vessels. He took a keen personal interest in them; and the result was his invention of the Flinders' bar, which is now used in every properly equipped ship in the world. The purpose of the bar, which is a vertical rod of soft iron, placed so that its upper end is level with or slightly above the compass needle, is to compensate for the effect of the vertical soft iron in the ship.* (* See the excellent chapter on "Compasses" in Volume 2 of the British Admiralty's Manual of Seamanship.) Flinders' work upon this technical subject was important even in the days of wooden ships. In this era of iron and steel ships it is regarded by every sailor as of the utmost value.
In Flinders' day the delicacy of the compass, its liability to error, the nature of the magnetic force to which it responds, and the necessity for care in its handling, were very little appreciated. "Among the nautical instruments taken to sea there are not any so ill-constructed, nor of which so little care is taken afterwards, as the compass," he did not hesitate to write.* (* Manuscript, "Chapter in the History of Magnetism;" Flinders' Papers; another copy was sent to the Admiralty.) Compasses were supplied to the Admiralty by contract, and were not inspected. They were stowed in storehouses without any regard to the attraction to which the needles might be exposed. They might be kept in store for a few years; and they were then sent on board ships without any re-touching, "for no magnets were kept in the dockyards, and probably no person there ever saw them used." When a compass was sent aboard a ship of the Navy, it was delivered into the charge of the boatswain and put into his store or sail-room. Perhaps it was put on a shelf with his knives and forks and a few marline-spikes. Flinders urged that spare compasses should be preserved carefully in officers' cabins. Magnets for re-touching were not kept in one ship in a hundred. Under these circumstances, he asked, "can it be a subject of surprise that the most experienced navigators are those who put the least confidence in the compass, or that ships running three or four days without an observation should be found in situations very different from what was expected, and some of them lost? The currents are easily blamed, and sometimes with reason. Ships coming home from the Baltic and finding themselves upon the shores of the Dutch coast, when they were thought to be on the English side, lay it to the currents; but the same currents, as I am informed, do not prevail when steering in the opposite direction." The last is a neat stroke of irony. Flinders strongly recommended that the Admiralty should appoint an inspector of compasses, that there should be at every dockyard an officer for re-touching compasses, and that a magnet for re-touching should be carried on each flagship. The recommendations may seem like a counsel of elementary precautions to-day, but they involved an important reform of method in 1810.
Flinders also wrote on the theory of the tides; a set of notes on the magnetism of the earth exists in manuscript; a manuscript of 106 pages, consisting of a treatise on spheric trigonometry, is illustrated by beautifully drawn diagrams, and includes an account of eight practical methods of calculating latitude and five of calculating longitude. In Mauritius he read all he could obtain about the history of the island, and wrote a set of notes on Grant's History.
He was eager to praise the work of previous navigators. Laperouse was especially a hero of his, and he wrote in French for the Societe d'Emulation of Ile-de-France an account of the probable fate of that celebrated sailor. In an eloquent passage in this essay, speaking of the wreck, he cried: "O, Laperouse, my heart speaks to me of the agony that rent yours. Ah, your eyes beheld the hapless companions of your dangers and your glory fall one after another exhausted into the sea. Ah, your eyes saw the fruit of vast and useful labours lost to the world. I think of your sorrowing family. The picture is too painful for me to dwell upon it; but at least when all human hope abandoned you, then—the last blessing that God gives to the good—a ray of consolation shone upon your eyes, and showed you that beyond those furious waves which broke upon your vessels and swept away from you your companions another refuge was opened to your virtues by the angel of pity."
Knowing the extreme difficulties attaching to navigation, even when in the public interest he had to make a correction in the work of others, he was anxious to cause no irritation. He sent to the editor of the Naval Chronicle a correction in Horsburgh's Directions for Sailing to and from the East Indies, but requested the editor to submit it first to the author of that work, and to suppress publication if Horsburg so desired. He never expressed a tinge of regret that he had chosen a field of professional employment wherein promotion and reward were not liberally bestowed. Entering the Navy under influential auspices, in a period when active service provided plentiful scope for advancement, he deliberately preferred the explorer's hard lot. The only prize money he ever won was 10 pounds after Lord Howe's victory in 1794. "I chose a branch," he said in a letter to Banks, "which though less rewarded by rank and fortune is yet little less in celebrity. If adverse fortune does not oppose me, I will succeed." He succeeded beyond all he could have hoped.
The excellence of his charts was such that to this day the Admiralty charts for those portions of the Australian coast where he did original work bear upon them the honoured name of Matthew Flinders; and amongst the seamen who habitually traverse these coasts, no name, not even that of Cook, is so deeply esteemed as his. Flinders is not a tradition; the navigators of our own time count him a companion of the watch.
CHAPTER 30. THE NAMING OF AUSTRALIA.
The name Australia was given to the great southern continent by Flinders. When and why he gave it that name will now be shown.
In the first place a common error must be set right. It is sometimes said that the Spanish navigator, Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, named one of the islands of the New Hebrides group, in 1606, Australia del Espiritu Santo. This is not the case. The narrative of his voyage described "all this region of the south as far as the Pole which from this time shall be called Austrialia del Espiritu Santo," from "His Majesty's title of Austria." The word Austrialia is a punning name. Quiros' sovereign, Philip III, was a Habsburg; and Quiros, in compliment to him, devised the name Austrialia as combining the meaning "Austrian land," as well as "southern land."* (* See Markham, Voyages of Quiros, Hakluyt Society Volume 1 page 30.)
In 1756 the word "Australasia" was coined. Charles de Brosses, in his Histoire des Navigations aux Terres Australes, wanted a word to signify a new division of the globe. The maps marked off Europe, Asia, Africa and America, but the vast region to the south of Asia required a name likewise. De Brosses simply added "Austral" to "Asia," and printed "Australasia" upon his map.
The earliest use of the word Australia that I have been able to find, occurs in the index to the Dutch Generale Beschrijvinge van Indien (General Description of the Indies) published at Batavia in 1638. The work consists mainly of accounts of voyages by Dutch vessels to the East Indies. Among them is a history of the "Australische Navigatien" of Jacob le Maire and Willem Cornelisz Schouten, made in 1615 to 1617. They sailed through the Straits of Magellan, crossed the Pacific, touched at the Solomon Islands, and thence made their way round by the north of New Guinea to Java. The word Australia does not occur anywhere in the black-letter text of the narrative, and the word Australische in the phrase "Australische Navigatien," simply means southern. There are references in the book to "Terra Australis," but Le Maire and Schouten knew not Australia. Nor does the narrative make any allusion to the continent which we know by that name. The Terra Australis of these Dutch navigators was land of the southern hemisphere in general. But, curiously, the indexer of the Generale Beschrijvinge made four entries, in which he employed the word Australia. Thus, his entry "Australia Incognita Ondeckt" (Australia Incognita Discovered) referred to passages in Le Maire and Schouten's voyage relating to the southern lands they had seen. But it did not refer to the Australia of modern geography. It is very strange that the Dutch indexer in Batavia should have hit upon the word and employed it when he did not find it in the text of the book itself.
The use of Australia in an English book of 1693 is also extremely curious. In 1676 Gabriel de Foigny, under the assumed name of Jacques Sadeur, published at Vannes a quaint little duodecimo volume, purporting to give a description of an unknown southern land. He called his book La Terre Australe connue; c'est a dire, la description de ce pays inconnu jusqu'ici. It was a "voyage imaginaire," a pure piece of fancy. In 1693 it was translated into English, and published in London, by John Dunton, under the title A New Discovery of Terra Incognita, or the Southern World, by James Sadeur, a Frenchman, who being cast there by a shipwreck, lived 35 years in that country and gives a particular description of the manners, customs, religion, laws, studies and wars of those southern people, and of some animals peculiar to that place; with several other rarities. In the original French the word Australia does not occur. But in the English translation Foigny's phrase "continent de la Terre Australe," is rendered "Australia." Foigny's ingenious piece of fiction drew its "local colour" from the South American region, not from any supposed land in the neighbourhood of the Australian continent. The instance is all the more interesting from the possibility that the book may have given a hint to Swift in the writing of Gulliver's Travels.* (* See the Cambridge History of English Literature 9 106; where, however, the English translation is erroneously cited as Journey of Jacques Sadour to Australia.)
In 1770 and 1771 Alexander Dalrymple published An Historical Collection of Voyages and Discoveries in the South Pacific Ocean. In the preface to that work he used the word Australia as "comprehending the discoveries at a distance from America to the eastward."* (* Page 15 of the 1780 edition of Dalrymple.) He did not intend it to include the present Australia at all. De Brosses had used the three names Magellanica, Polynesia and Australasia, which Dalrymple accepted; but he thought there was room for a fourth for the area east of South America. The part of the Australian continent known when Dalrymple published his book—only the west and northern coasts—was included within the division which De Brosses called Australasia.
Here we have three instances of the use of the word Australia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but without reference to the continent which now bears that name.
In 1793, G. Shaw and J.E. Smith published in London a Zoology and Botany of New Holland. Here the word Australia was used in its modern sense, as applied to the southern continent. The authors wrote of "the vast island, or rather continent, of Australia, Australasia, or New Holland, which has so lately attracted the particular attention of European navigators and naturalists."
The word was not therefore of Flinders' devising. But it may be taken to be certain that he was unacquainted with the previous employment of it by the Dutch indexer, by Foigny's English translator, or by Shaw and Smith. It is doubtful whether he had observed the previous use of it by Dalrymple. Undoubtedly he had read that author's book. He may have had the volumes in his cabin library. But he was so exact and scrupulous a man that we can say with confidence that, had he remembered the occurrence of the word in Dalrymple, he would have mentioned the fact. The point is not material, however, because, as already observed, Dalrymple did not apply "Australia" to this continent, but to a different region. The essential point is that "Australia was reinvented by Flinders."* (* Morris, Dictionary of Austral English page 10.)
Flinders felt the need of a single word that would be a good name for the island which had been demonstrated by his own researches to be one great continent. It will be remembered that he had investigated the whole extent of the southern coasts, had penetrated to the extremities of the two great gulfs found there, had proved that they did not open into a passage cutting Terra Australis in two, and had thoroughly examined the Gulf of Carpentaria, finding no inlet southward there. The country was clearly one immense whole. But what was it to be called? Terra Australis, Southern Land, was too long, was cumbrous, was Latin. That would not be a convenient name for a country that was to play any part in the world. The Dutch had named the part which they found New Holland. But they knew nothing of the east. Cook called the part which he had discovered New South Wales. But Cook knew nothing of the west. Neither the Dutch nor Cook knew anything of the south, a large part of which Flinders himself had discovered.
We find him for the first time using the word "Australia" in a letter written to his brother Samuel on August 25th, 1804.* (* Flinders' Papers.) He was then living at Wilhelm's Plains: "I call the whole island Australia, or Terra Australis. New Holland is properly that portion of it from 135 degrees of longitude westward; and eastward is New South Wales, according to the Governor's patent."
Flinders' first public use of the word was not in English, but in French. In the essay on the probable fate of Laperouse, written for the Societe d'Emulation in Ile-de-France (1807), he again stated the need for a word in terms which I translate as follows: "The examination of the eastern part was commenced in 1770 by Captain Cook, and has since been completed by English navigators.* (* By himself; but in this paper he modestly said nothing of his own researches.) The first (i.e., the west) is New Holland properly so called, and the second bears the name of New South Wales. I have considered it convenient to unite the two parts under a common designation which will do justice to the discovery rights of Holland and England, and I have with that object in view had recourse to the name Austral-land or Australia. But it remains to be seen whether the name will be adopted by European geographers."* (* "Il reste a savoir si ce nom sera adopte par des geographes europeens." The paper was printed in the Annales des Voyages by Malte-Brun (Paris, 1810). Flinders kept a copy, and his manuscript is now in the Melbourne Public Library. It is an exquisite piece of calligraphy, perhaps the most beautifully written of all his manuscripts.)
After 1804 Flinders repeatedly used the word Australia in his correspondence. Before that date he had invariably written of "New Holland." But in a letter to Banks (December 31st, 1804) he referred to "my general chart of Australia;"* (* Historical Records 5 531.) in March, 1806, he wrote of "the north-west coast of Australia;"* (* Ibid 6 50.) in July, 1806, writing to the King he underlined the word in the phrase "my discoveries in Australia;"* (* Ibid 6 107.) in July, 1807, he spoke of "the north coast of Australia;"* (* Ibid 6 274.) in February, 1809, of "the south coast of Australia;"* (* Ibid 7 52.) and the same phrase was employed in January, 1810.* (* Ibid 7 275.) It is therefore apparent that before his return to England he had determined to use the name systematically and to make its employment general as far as he could. We do not find it occurring in any other correspondence of the period.
When he reached England in 1810 and commenced to work upon his book, he wished to use the name Australia, and brought the subject forward at a meeting at Sir Joseph Banks' house. But Banks was not favourable, and Arrowsmith, the chart-publisher, "did not like the change" because his firm had always used the name New Holland in their charts. A Major Rennell was present at one of the meetings, when Flinders thought he had converted Sir Joseph. But afterwards he found Banks disinclined to sanction the name, and wrote to Major Rennell asking whether he remembered the conversation. The Major replied (August 15th, 1812):* (* Flinders' Papers.) "I certainly think that it was as you say, that Australia was the proper name for the continent in question; and for the reason you mention. I suppose I must have been of that opinion at the time, for I certainly think so now. It wants a collective name."
Two days after the receipt of Major Rennell's letter Flinders wrote to Banks, reminding him that he was the first person consulted about the name Australia, and that he had understood that it was generally approved. Bligh had not objected to it. When part of the manuscript of the Voyage was submitted to Mr. Robert Peel, Under-Secretary for the Colonies (afterwards Sir Robert Peel and Prime Minister of England), and to Lord Liverpool, the principal Secretary of State, there had been some discussion respecting the inclusion of the Gulf of Carpentaria as part of New South Wales, and it was accordingly erased. But no objection was raised to the name Australia. Flinders fought hard for his word, but did not succeed completely. Captain Burney suggested that Terra Australis was a name "more familiar to the public." Banks on August 19th withdrew his objection to "the propriety of calling New Holland and New South Wales by the collective name of Terra Australis," and accordingly as A Voyage to Terra Australis his book ultimately went forth. The work being published under the aegis of the Admiralty, he had to conform to the opinion of those who were less sensible of the need for an innovation than he was, and it was only in a modest footnote that he used the name he preferred. The passage in the book wherein he discussed the question may be quoted, together with his footnote:
"The vast regions to which this voyage was principally directed comprehend, in the western part, the early discoveries of the Dutch, under the name of New Holland; and in the east the coasts explored by British navigators, and named New South Wales. It has not, however, been unusual to apply the first appellation to both regions; but to continue this would be almost as great an injustice to the British nation, whose seamen have had so large a share in the discovery as it would be to the Dutch were New South Wales to be so extended. This appears to have been felt by a neighbouring, and even rival, nation; whose writers commonly speak of these countries under the general term of Terres Australes. In fact, the original name, used by the Dutch themselves until some time after Tasman's second voyage in 1644, was Terra Australis, or 'Great South Land;' and, when it was displaced by 'New Holland,' the new term was applied only to the parts lying westward of a meridian line passing through Arnhem's Land on the north, and near the isles of St. Francis and St. Peter on the south; all to the eastward, including the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria, still remained as Terra Australis. This appears from a chart published by Thevenot in 1663; which, he says 'was originally taken from that done in inlaid work upon the pavement of the new Stadt-House at Amsterdam.' The same thing is to be inferred from the notes of Burgomaster Witsen in 1705 of which there will be occasion to speak in the sequel.
"It is necessary, however, to geographical precision, that so soon as New Holland and New South Wales were known to form one land, there should be a general name applicable to the whole; and this essential point having been ascertained in the present voyage, with a degree of certainty sufficient to authorise the measure, I have, with the concurrence of opinions entitled to deference, ventured upon the adoption of the original Terra Australis; and of this term I shall hereafter make use when speaking of New Holland and New South Wales in a collective sense; and when using it in the most extensive signification, the adjacent isles, including that of Van Diemen, must be understood to be comprehended.
"There is no probability that any other detached body of land, of nearly equal extent, will ever be found in a more southern latitude; the name Terra Australis will, therefore, remain descriptive of the geographical importance of this country, and its situation on the globe, it has antiquity to recommend it; and, having no reference to either of the two claiming nations, appears to be less objectionable than any other which could have been selected."
Then comes the footnote in which the name Australia is suggested:
"Had I permitted myself any innovation upon the original term, it would have been to convert it into Australia; as being more agreeable to the ear, and an assimilation to the names of the other great portions of the earth."
The name came into general use after the publication of Flinders' book, though it was not always adopted in official documents. Governor Macquarie, of New South Wales, in a despatch in April, 1817, expressed the hope that the name would be authoritatively sanctioned.* (* See M. Phillips, A Colonial Autocracy, London 1909 page 2 note.) As already noted, the officials of 1849 drew a distinction between New Holland, the mainland, and Australia, which included the island of Tasmania; and so Sir Charles Fitzroy, Governor of New South Wales, was styled "Governor-General of Australia," in a commission dated 1851. The proudest of all places wherein this name is used is in the forefront of the majestic instrument cited as 63 and 64 Vict., cap. 12—"An Act to constitute the Commonwealth of Australia."
BAUDIN'S ACCOUNT OF ENCOUNTER BAY.
[In a long letter of about 30,000 words, written to the French Minister of Marine from Port Jackson in 1802, Captain Baudin described his explorations in Australian waters up to that date. The manuscript is in the Archives Nationales, Paris, BB4, 995, Marine. It has never been published. In this appendix, which relates to Chapter 14 of the book, I translate the portion of the letter concerning the meeting of the Investigator and Le Geographe in Encounter Bay, with a few notes.]
"On the 18th,* (* Note 1: That is, the 18th Germinal in the French revolutionary calendar; April 8th by the Gregorian calendar.) continuing to follow the coast and the various coves upon it, we sighted towards the north-east a long chain of high mountains, which appeared to terminate at the border of the sea. The weariness we had for a long time experienced at seeing coasts which for the most part were arid, and offered not the slightest resource, was dissipated by the expectation of coming upon a more promising country. A little later, a still more agreeable object of distraction presented itself to our view. A square-sailed ship was perceived ahead. Nobody on board had any doubt that it was Le Naturaliste. As she was tacking south and we were tacking north, we approached each other. But what was our astonishment when the other vessel hoisted a white flag on the mainmast. It was beyond doubt a signal of recognition, to which we responded. A little later, that signal was hauled down, and an English ensign and pennant were substituted.* (* Note 2: Flinders says: "Our colours being hoisted, she showed a French ensign, and afterwards an English jack forward, as we did a white flag.") We replied by hoisting our colours; and we continued to advance towards each other. The manoeuvre of the English ship indicating that she desired to speak to us, we stood towards her.* (* Note 3: Flinders' own explanation of his manoeuvring is: "We veered round as Le Geographe was passing so as to keep our broadside to her lest the flag of truce should be a deception.") When we got within hail, a voice enquired what ship we were. I replied simply that we were French. "Is that Captain Baudin?" "Yes, it is he." The English captain then saluted me graciously, saying "I am very glad to meet you." I replied to the same effect, without knowing to whom I was speaking; but, seeing that arrangements were being made for someone to come on board, I brought the ship to.
"Mr. Flinders, who commanded the English vessel, presented himself. As soon as I learnt his name, I no longer doubted that he, like ourselves, was occupied with the exploration of the south coast of New Holland; and, in spite of the reserve that he showed upon that first visit, I could easily perceive that he had already completed a part of it. Having invited him to come into my cabin, and finding ourselves alone there, the conversation became freer.* (* Note 4: "Nous trouvant seul, la conversation devint plus libre." Flinders says that Brown accompanied him, and went into the cabin with him. "No person was present at our conversations except Mr. Brown.")
"He informed me that he had left Europe about eight months after us, and that he was bound for Port Jackson, having previously refreshed at the Cape of Good Hope.
"I had no hesitation about giving him information concerning what we had been doing upon the coast until that moment. I pointed out to him defects which I had observed in the chart which he had published* of the strait separating New Holland from Van Diemen's Land, etc., etc. (* Note 5: "la carte qu'il nous a donne des detroits." From this it appears that Baudin knew Flinders as the author of the chart, even while pointing out its defects. Flinders had the impression that Baudin did not know him till he was about to leave Le Geographe at the end of the second interview.)
"Mr. Flinders observed to me that he was not unaware that the chart required to be checked, inasmuch as the sketch from which it was prepared had been drawn from uncertain information, and that the means employed when the discovery was made did not conduce to securing exact results.* (* Note 6: Flinders: "On my pointing out a note upon the chart, explaining that the north side of the strait was seen only in an open boat by Mr. Bass, who had no good means of fixing either latitude or longitude, he appeared surprised, not having before paid attention to it.") Finally, becoming less circumspect than he had hitherto been, he told me that he had commenced his work at Cape Leeuwin, and had followed the coast to the place where we were met. He suggested that our ships should pass the night near together, and that early on the following morning he should come on board again, and give me some particulars which would be useful to me. I accepted his proposition with pleasure, and we tacked about at a short distance from each other during the night. It was seven o'clock in the evening when he returned to his ship.* (* Note 7: Flinders: "I told him that some other and more particular charts of the strait and its neighbourhood had since been published; and that if he would keep company until next morning I would bring him a copy with a small memoir belonging to them. This was agreed to.")
"On the 19th* (* Note 8: April 9th.) Mr. Flinders came on board at six o'clock in the morning. We breakfasted together,* (* Note 9: Flinders does not mention this incident.) and talked about our respective work. He appeared to me to have been happier than we had been with respect to the discoveries he had made. He told me about a large island, about a dozen or fifteen leagues away, which had been visited by him. According to his account, he stayed there six weeks to prepare a chart of it;* (* Note 10: A mistake; Flinders was at Kangaroo Island only six days.) and with the aid of a corvette* (* Note 11: Peron also had the erroneous impression that the Investigator had been accompanied by a corvette, which foundered in Spencer's Gulf, and so wrote in his Voyage de Decouvertes. Baudin must have confused what Flinders told him about the drowning of Thistle and the boat's crew, with an idea of his own that this boat was a consort of the Investigator as Le Naturaliste was of Le Geographe.) had explored two deep gulfs, the direction of which he sketched for me, as well as of his Kangaroo Island, which he had so named in consequence of the great quantity of those quadrupeds found there. The island, though not far from the continent, did not appear to him to be inhabited.
"An accident like that which had unfortunately happened to us on the coast of Van Diemen's Land had overtaken Mr. Flinders.* (* Note 12: Baudin was referring to a boat party of his own, consisting of Boullanger, one of his hydrographers, a lieutenant and eight sailors. They had gone out in a boat to chart a portion of the coast which Le Geographe could not reach. They did not return, and Baudin supposed them to have been lost. But they were in fact picked up by the sealing brig Snow-Harrington from Sydney, which afterwards sighted Le Naturaliste, and handed the men over to her.) He had lost a boat and eight men. His ship was also short of stores, and he was not without uneasiness as to what would happen.
"Before we separated the Captain asked me if I had any knowledge of an island which was said to exist to the north of the Bass Strait islands. I replied that I had not, inasmuch as, having followed the coast fairly closely after leaving the Promontory as far as Westernport, I had not met with any land placed in the position which he indicated.* (* Note 13: What Flinders asked Baudin was whether he had any "knowledge concerning a large island said to lie in the western entrance of Bass Strait. But he had not seen it and seemed to doubt much of its existence." The reference was to King Island. Baudin marked on his chart, in consequence of this enquiry, an island "believed to exist," guessing at its situation and placing it wrongly; though he subsequently stayed at King Island himself.) He appeared to be well pleased with my response, doubtless in the hope of being the first to discover it. Perhaps Le Naturaliste, in searching for us in the Strait, will have discovered it.* (* Note 14: This sentence is interesting, as showing that Baudin wrote this part of his letter to the Minister at the time, not at Port Jackson weeks later. If the sentence had been written later, he would not have said that Le Naturaliste would perhaps sight the island. He by then knew that she did not.) At the moment of his departure, Mr. Flinders presented me with several new charts, published by Arrowsmith, and a printed memoir by himself, dealing with discoveries in the strait, the north coast of Van Diemen's Land, the east coast, etc., etc. He also invited me to sail, like himself, for Port Jackson, the resources of which he perhaps exalted too highly, if I had to remain long in these seas. At eight o'clock we* separated. (* Note 15: Flinders: "I returned with Mr. Brown on board the Investigator at half-past-eight in the morning, and we then separated from Le Geographe; Captain Baudin's course being directed to the north-west and ours to the southward.") He sailed south and we went to the west."
APPENDIX B. PERON'S REPORT ON PORT JACKSON.
[The following is a fairly literal translation of Peron's report on Port Jackson, furnished to General Decaen at Ile-de-France.]
Port N.-O., 20th Frimaire, Year 12.* (* Note 16: i.e., Port North-West (Port Louis), December 11, 1802.)
Fifteen years ago England transported, at great expense, a numerous population to the eastern coast of New Holland. At that time this vast continent was still almost entirely unknown. These southern lands and the numerous archipelagoes of the Pacific were invaded by the English, who had solemnly proclaimed themselves sovereign over the whole dominion extending from Cape York to the southern extremity of New Holland, that is to say, from 10 degrees 37 minutes south, to 43 degrees 39 minutes south latitude. In longitude their possessions had been fixed as reaching from 105 degrees west of Greenwich to the middle of the Pacific Ocean, including all the archipelagos with which it is strewn.* (* Note 17: This is a literal translation of Peron's statement, which is obviously confused and wrong. 105 degrees west longitude is east of Easter Island, as well as being an "exact boundary" in the Pacific, which, Peron goes on to say, did not exist. The probability is that he gives here a muddled reproduction of the boundaries actually fixed by Phillip's commission—"westward as far as the 135th degree of east longitude...including all the islands adjacent in the Pacific Ocean." [Mr. Jose's note.])
Note especially in this respect that in the formal deed of annexation no exact boundary was fixed on the Pacific Ocean side. This omission seems to have been the result of astute policy; the English Government thus prepared itself an excuse for claiming, at the right time and place, all the islands which in the future may be, or actually are, occupied by the Spaniards—who thus find themselves England's next-door neighbours.
So general a project of encroachment alarmed, as it must, all the nations of Europe. The sacrifices made by England to maintain this colony redoubled their suspicions. The Spanish expedition of Admiral Malaspina* had not fulfilled the expectations of its Government. (* Note 18: Two Spanish ships, commanded by Don Alexandro Malaspina, visited Sydney in April, 1793. They had left Cadiz on an exploring and scientific expedition in July, 1789.) Europe was still ignorant of the nature of the English settlement; its object was unknown; its rapid growth was not even suspected.
Always vigilant in regard to whatever may humiliate the eternal rival of our nation, the First Consul, soon after the revolution of the 18th Brumaire,* (* Note 19: It was on the 18th Brumaire (November 9th, 1799) that Bonaparte overthrew the Directory by a coup-d'etat, and became First Consul of the French Republic.) decided upon our expedition.* (* Note 20: Peron's statement is quite wrong. The matter of despatching an expedition to Australia had been considered and proposed to the Government by the professors of the Museum two years before the coup-d'etat of Brumaire: before therefore Bonaparte had anything to do with the Government. Their letter to the Minister, making this proposal, is dated 12th Thermidor, year 6—that is, July 31st, 1797. Bonaparte was then a young general commanding the army of Italy. The project was taken up by the Institute of France, and Bonaparte, as First Consul, sanctioned the expedition in May, 1800. There is no evidence that he ever gave a thought to the matter until it was brought before him by the Institute.) His real object was such that it was indispensable to conceal it from the Governments of Europe, and especially from the Cabinet of St. James's. We must have their unanimous consent; and that we might obtain this, it was necessary that, strangers in appearance to all political designs, we should occupy ourselves only with natural history collections. Such a large expenditure had been incurred to augment the collections of the Museum of the Republic that the object of our voyage could not but appear to all the world as a natural consequence of the previous action of our Government. It was far from being the case, however, that our true purpose had to be confined to that class of work; and if sufficient time permitted it would be very easy for me, citizen Captain-General, to demonstrate to you that all our natural history researches, extolled with so much ostentation by the Government, were merely a pretext for its enterprise, and were intended to assure for it the most general and complete success. So that our expedition, so much criticised by fault-finders, so much neglected by the former administrators of this colony, was in its principle, in its purpose, in its organization, one of those brilliant and important conceptions which ought to make our present Government for ever illustrious. Why was it that, after having done so much for the success of these designs, the execution of them was confided to a man utterly unfitted in all possible respects to conduct them to their proper issue?
You have asked me, General, to communicate to you such information as I have been able to procure upon the colony of Port Jackson. A work of that kind would be as long as it would be important; and, prepared as I conceive it ought to be, and as I hope it will be when presented to the French Government, it would fix our attention to some useful purpose upon that growing snare of a redoubtable power. Unfortunately, duty has made demands upon me until to-day, and now that I find myself a little freer our departure is about to take place. Moreover, all the information we have collected upon the regions in question is deposited in the chest which has to be forwarded, sealed, to the Government, and without access to this the notes that I should desire to furnish to you cannot be completed. Nevertheless, in order to contribute as far as possible to your enlightenment on the subject, I take the liberty of furnishing you with some particulars of the new establishment. In asking you to excuse, on account of the circumstances, faults both of style and of presentation, I venture to assure you, General, that you can rely upon my jealous exactitude in fulfilling as far as was in my power the intention of the Government of my country. I have neglected no means of procuring all the information that as far as I could foresee would be of interest. I was received in the house of the Governor with much consideration. He and his secretary spoke our language well. The commandant of the troops of New South Wales, Mr. Paterson, a member of the Royal Society of London, a very distinguished savant, always treated me with particular regard. I was received in his house, as one might say, as a son. I have through him known all the officials of the colony. The surgeon, a distinguished man, Mr. Thompson, honoured me with his friendship. Mr. Grimes, the surveyor of the colony, Mr. Palmer the commissary-general of the Government, Mr. Marsden, a clergyman of Parramatta, and a cultivator as wealthy as he is discerning, were all capable of furnishing me with valuable information. My functions on board permitted me to hazard the asking of a large number of questions which would have been indiscreet on the part of another, particularly on the part of soldiers. I have, in a word, known at Port Jackson all the principal people of the colony, in all vocations, and each of them has furnished, unsuspectingly, information as valuable as it is new. Finally, I made with Mr. Paterson very long excursions into the interior of the country. I saw most of the best farms, and I assure you that I have gathered everywhere interesting ideas upon things, which I have taken care to make exact as possible.
FIRST: PRESENT ESTABLISHMENTS OF THE ENGLISH.
Whilst in Europe they are spoken of as the colony of Botany Bay, as a matter of fact there is no establishment there. Botany Bay is a humid, marshy, rather sterile place, not healthy, and the anchorage for vessels is neither good nor sure.
Port Jackson, thirteen leagues from Botany Bay, is unquestionably one of the finest ports in the world. It was in these terms that Governor Phillip spoke of it, and certainly he did not exaggerate when he added that a thousand ships of the line could easily manoeuvre within it. The town of Sydney has been founded in the heart of this superb harbour. It is already considerable in extent, and, like its population, is growing rapidly. Here reside the Governor and all the principal Government officers. The environs of Sydney are sandy and not very fertile; in almost all of them there is a scarcity of water during the hot summer months.
Parramatta is the largest town founded by the English. It is in the interior of the country, about six leagues from Sydney, from which it can be reached by a small river called the Parramatta River. Small vessels can proceed close to the town; larger ones have to discharge some distance away. A very fine road leads overland from Sydney to Parramatta. Some very good houses have been built here and there along the road. Already people who have made considerable fortunes are to be found there. The land around Parramatta is of much better quality than that at Sydney. The country has been cleared to a considerable extent; and grazing in particular presents important advantages.
Toongabbie, further inland, three or four leagues from Parramatta, is still more fertile. Its pastures are excellent. It is there that the flocks belonging to the Government have been established.
Hawkesbury, more than 60 miles from Sydney, is in the vicinity of the Blue Mountains. It is the richest and most fruitful of the English establishments. It may be regarded as the granary of the colony, being capable by itself of supplying nearly all the wants of the settlement. The depth of soil in some parts is as much as 80 feet; and it is truly prodigious in point of fertility. These incalculable advantages are due to the alluvial deposits of the Hawkesbury River, which descends in cascades from the summits of the Blue Mountains, and precipitates itself upon the plain loaded with a thick mud of a quality eminently suitable for promoting vegetable growth. Unfortunately with benefits such as are conferred by the Nile it unites its inconveniences. It is subject to frightful floods, which overwhelm everything. Houses, crops, and flocks—everything is destroyed unless men and animals save themselves by very rapid flight. These unexpected floods are sometimes so prodigious that the water has been known to rise 60 and even 80 feet above the normal level. But what gives a great importance to the town of Hawkesbury is the facility with which large ships can reach it by the river of which I have just spoken. This part of New Holland will be a source of rapid and very large fortunes.
Castle Hill is a new establishment in the interior of New Holland, distant 21 miles from Parramatta, from which it is reached by a superb road, which traverses thick forests. Allotments of land are crowded round this place, and the clearances are so considerable that for more than a league all round the town we could see the forest grants being burnt off.
Richmond Hill, towards the Hawkesbury, is a more considerable place than the last mentioned, and is in a fertile situation.
So, General, it will be seen that this colony, which people in Europe still believe to be relegated to the muddy marshes of Botany Bay, is daily absorbing more and more of the interior of the continent. Cities are being erected, which, at present in their infancy, present evidences of future grandeur. Spacious and well-constructed roads facilitate communication with all parts, whilst important rivers render access by water still more convenient and less expensive.
But the English Government is no longer confining its operations to the eastern coast of New Holland. Westernport, on the extreme south, beyond Wilson's Promontory, is already engaging its attention. At the time of our departure a new establishment there was in contemplation. The Government is balancing the expediency of founding a new colony there or at Port Phillip, to the north.* (* Note 21: "Le Port Phillip dans le nord de ce dernier." Peron's information was correct. King had in May, 1802, made a recommendation to the British Government that a settlement should be founded at Port Phillip. The reasons, also, are stated accurately by him.) In any case, it is indubitable, from what I have heard the Governor say—it is indubitable, I say, that such a step will soon be taken. Indeed, whatever advantage Port Jackson may possess, it suffers from a grave disadvantage in the narrowness of its entry. Two frigates could by themselves blockade the most numerous fleet within. Westernport would in certain eventualities offer an advantageous position. Moreover, the navigation of Bass Strait is very dangerous. The winds there are terrible. Before negotiating the strait, ships from Europe, fatigued by a long voyage, require succour and shelter. The new establishment will be able to accommodate them. A third reason, and no doubt the most important, is that the English in spite of all their efforts, in spite of the devotion of several of their citizens, in spite of the sacrifices made by the Government, have not yet been able to traverse the redoubtable barrier of the Blue Mountains and to penetrate into the west of New Holland. An establishment on the part of the coast that I have just mentioned would guarantee them success in their efforts in that direction. At all events it is indubitable that the establishment to which I have referred will be immediately founded, if indeed such is not already the case, as appears very probable from the letter which the Governor wrote to our commandant in that regard a few days after our departure from Port Jackson.
So then, the English, already masters of the eastern coast of New Holland, now wish to occupy the immense extent of the west and south-west coasts which contain very fine harbours, namely, that which they call Westernport, Port Phillip, Port Flinders* (* Note 22: Peron probably meant the present Port Augusta in Spencer's Gulf; but the name Port Flinders was his own.) at the head of one of the great gulfs of the south-west, Port Esperance, discovered by Dentrecasteaux, King George's Sound, etc.
But still more, General, their ambition, always aspiring, is not confined to New Holland itself, vast as it may be. Van Diemen's Land, and especially the magnificent Dentrecasteaux Channel, have excited their cupidity. Another establishment has probably been founded there since our departure from Port Jackson. Take a glance at the detailed chart of that part of Van Diemen's Land. Look at the cluster of bays and harbours to be found there, and judge for yourself whether it is likely that that ambitious nation will permit any other power to occupy them. Therefore, numerous preparations had been made for the occupation of that important point. The authorities were only awaiting a frigate, the Porpoise,* (* Note 23: Peron spells the name as it sounded to him, La Poraperse.) to transport colonists and provisions. That establishment is probably in existence to-day.* (* Note 24: Again, Peron's information was correct. A settlement on the Derwent, close to Dentrecasteaux Channel, was ordered to be founded in March, 1803, and the Porpoise, with the Lady Nelson as tender, was employed to carry colonists and supplies thither.) Several reasons will have determined it; First: The indispensable necessity, for the English, of keeping away from their establishments in that part of the world rivals and neighbours as redoubtable as the French; Second: The desire of removing from occupation by any other nation those impregnable ports whence their important trade with New Zealand might be destroyed and their principal establishment itself be eventually shaken; Third: The fertility of the soil in that part of Van Diemen's Land, and above all the hope of discovering in the vast granite plateaux, which seems here to enclose the world, mines of precious metals or some new substance unknown to the stupid aboriginals of the country.
I will not refer in detail to the Furneaux and Hunter's Islands, to King Island and Maria Island. Everywhere the British flag is flown with pride. Everywhere profitable fisheries are established. Seals of various species, to be found upon these islands, open up a new source of wealth and power to the English nation.
But New Zealand is especially advantageous to them in that regard. There is the principal seat of the wealth of their new colony. Thence a large number of ships sail annually for Europe laden with whale oil. Never, as the English themselves acknowledge, was a fishery so lucrative and so easy. The number of vessels engaged in it is increasing rapidly. Four years ago there were but four or five. Last year there were seventeen.* (* Note 25: It will be remembered that Bass intended to engage in the New Zealand fishery. Cf. chapter 9.) I shall have occasion to return to this subject.
Let us sum up what has been said concerning the English establishments in this part of the world. Masters of the east coast of New Holland, we see them rapidly penetrating the interior of the country, clearing pressed forward on all sides, towns multiplying. Everywhere there is hope of abundance of great agricultural wealth. The south coast is menaced by coming encroachments, which, perhaps, are by now effected. All the ports of the south-west will be occupied successively, and much sooner than is commonly thought. Van Diemen's Land and all the neighbouring islands either are to be occupied or already are so. New Zealand offers to them, together with excellent harbours, an extraordinarily abundant and lucrative fishery. In a word, everything in these vast regions presents a picture of unequalled activity, unlimited foresight, swollen ambition, and a policy as deep as it is vigilant.
Well then—come forward now to the middle of these vast seas, so long unknown; we shall see everywhere the same picture reproduced, with the same effects. Cast a glance over that great southern ocean. Traverse all those archipelagos which, like so many stepping-stones, are scattered between New Holland and the west coast of America. It is by their means that England hopes to be able to stretch her dominion as far as Peru. Norfolk Island has for a long time been occupied. The cedar that it produces, coupled with the great fertility of the soil, render it an important possession. It contains already between 1500 and 1800 colonists. No settlement has as yet been founded in any of the other islands, but researches are being pursued in all parts. The English land upon all the islands and establish an active commerce, by means of barter, with the natives. The Sandwich Islands, Friendly Islands, Loyalty Islands,* (* Note 26: New Caledonian Group.) Navigator Islands,* (* Note 27: Samoan Group.) Marquesas and Mendore Islands all furnish excellent salt provisions. Ships, employed in trade, frequently arrive at Port Jackson; and it increases every day, proof positive of the advantage that is derived from it.
The Government is particularly occupied with endeavouring to discover upon some one of these archipelagos a strong military post, a species of arsenal, nearer to the coasts of Peru and Chili.* (* Note 28: This statement was entirely false.) It is towards these two points that the English Government appears to be especially turning its eyes. They are quite aware of the feebleness of the Spaniards in South America. They are above all aware that the unconquered Chilians are constantly making unexpected attacks, that like so many Bedouins they appear unawares with a numerous cavalry upon places where the Spaniards are most feeble, committing robberies and outrages in all directions before sufficient forces have been collected to repulse them. Then they retire with a promptitude which does not permit of their being followed to their savage fastnesses, which are unknown to the Spaniards themselves—retreats whence they very soon reappear, to commit fresh massacres. (See the Voyage of Laperouse). The English, to whom nothing that occurs in those important regions is unknown, are equally aware that it is simply a deficiency in arms and ammunition which prevents the redoubtable Chilians from pushing much farther their attacks against the Spaniards. It is to the furnishing of these means that the English Government are at the present moment confining their enterprise. A very active contraband trade is calculated to enable them to carry out their perfidious ends, whilst at the same time providing a profitable market for the produce of their manufacturers. Another manner in which they torment the Spaniards of Peru is by despatching a swarm of pirates to these seas. During the last war very rich prizes were captured by simple whaling vessels, and you can judge what attacks of this kind will be like when they are directed and sustained by the English Government itself.
Their hopes in regard to the Spanish possessions are heightened, and their projects are encouraged, by the general direction of the winds in these seas. A happy experience has at length taught the English that the prevailing wind, that which blows strongest and most constantly, is the west wind. Determined by these considerations (would you believe it, General?) the English nowadays, instead of returning to Europe from Port Jackson by traversing Bass Strait and doubling the Cape of Good Hope, turn their prows eastwards, abandon themselves to their favourite wind, traverse rapidly the great expanse of the South Seas, double Cape Horn, and so do not reach England until they have made the circuit of the globe! Consequently those voyages round the world, which were formerly considered so hazardous, and with which are associated so many illustrious names, have become quite familiar to English sailors. Even their fishing vessels accomplish the navigation of the globe just as safely as they would make a voyage from Europe to the Antilles. That circumstance is not so unimportant as may at first appear. The very idea of having circumnavigated the globe exalts the enthusiasm of English sailors. What navigation would not seem to them ordinary after voyages which carry with them great and terrible associations? Anyhow—and this is a most unfortunate circumstance for the Spaniards—it is indubitable that the fact of the constancy of the west wind must facilitate extraordinarily projects of attack and invasion on the part of the English, and everything sustains the belief that they will count for much in the general plan of the establishment in New Holland. Therefore the English Government appears day by day to take more interest in the colony. It redoubles sacrifices of all kinds. It endeavours in every way to increase the population as much as possible. Hardly a month passes but there arrives some ship freighted by it, laden with provisions, goods, and above all with men and women, some transported people, who have to serve practically as slaves, others free immigrants, cultivators, to whom concessions will be granted. Perhaps at first you will be astonished to learn that honest men voluntarily transport themselves with their families to the extremity of the world, to live in a country which is still savage, and which was originally, and is still actually, occupied by brigands who have been thrust from the breast of society. But your astonishment will cease when you learn under what conditions such individuals consent to exile themselves to these shores, and what advantages they are not slow in deriving from a sacrifice which must always be painful.
In the first place, before their departure from Europe, a sufficient sum is allowed to each individual to provide for the necessities of a long voyage. On board the vessel which transports them to Sydney a price is fixed for the sustenance of the immigrant and his family, if he has any. Upon his landing at Port Jackson concessions are granted to him in proportion to the number of individuals comprised in his family. A number of convicts (that is the name they give the transported persons), in proportion to the extent of the concessions granted, are placed at his disposal. A house is constructed for him; he is provided with all necessary furniture and household utensils, and all the clothes he needs; they grant him all the seed he needs to sow his land, all the tools he needs to till it, and one or more pairs of all domestic animals and several kinds of poultry. Besides, they feed him, his family, and his assigned servants during eighteen months. He is completely sustained during that period; and for the next twelve months half rations are allowed to him. At the end of that time the produce of his land is, with reason, expected to be sufficient for his requirements, and the Government leave him to his own resources.
During five years he remains free of all contribution, accumulating the produce of land all the more prolific because it is virgin. At the end of that time a slight repayment is required by the Government. This gradually and slightly increases as time goes on. But mark here, General, the profound wisdom of the English Government, that enlightened policy which guides all their enterprises and assures them success. If the new immigrant during these five years has shown himself to be a diligent and intelligent cultivator; if his clearings have been well extended and his stock is managed with prudence; if the produce of his land has increased rapidly—then, so far from finding himself a debtor to the Government, his holding is declared to be his own, and, as a recompense, fresh concessions are made to him, additional servants are assigned to him, his immunity from contributions is prolonged, and additional assistance of all sorts is extended to him. It is to these extensive and well-considered sacrifices that it is necessary to attribute the fine farms that daily increase in number in the midst of what was recently wild and uncultivated forest. Activity, intelligence and application conduce here more rapidly than elsewhere to fortune; and already several of the earlier immigrants have become very wealthy proprietors. Emulation of the noblest kind is stimulated everywhere. Experiments of all kinds are made and multiplied. The Government encourages them, and generously recompenses those who have succeeded.
What still further proves the particular interest which the English Government takes in the colony is the enormous expense incurred in procuring commodities for the new colonists. Nearly everything is furnished by the Government. Vast depots are filled with clothes and fabrics of all kinds and qualities, from the commonest to the finest. The simplest furniture and household goods are to be found alongside the most elegant. Thus the inhabitants are able to buy, at prices below those ruling in England,* everything necessary to not only the bare wants of life, but also its comforts and pleasures. (* Note 29: This statement is surprising, but probably true of part of the period when Peron was in Sydney. There was then a glut of goods, as Bass found to his cost. He had to sell commodities brought out in the Venus at 50 per cent below their proper values.)
Anxious to maintain the settlement on a firm and unshakeable basis, it is to agriculture, the source of the true wealth of nations, that the English Government endeavours to direct the tastes of the inhabitants of the new colony. Different kinds of cattle have been imported, and all thrive remarkably well. The better kinds, so far from losing quality, gain in size and weight. But the improvement in sheep is especially astonishing. Never was there a country so favourable to these animals as the part of New Holland now occupied by the British. Whether it be the effect of the climate or, as I think, the peculiar quality of the herbage (almost wholly aromatic), certain it is that the flocks of sheep have multiplied enormously. It is true that the finest breeds have been imported by the Government. At first, the choicest kinds of English and Irish sheep were naturalised. Then breeds from Bengal and the Cape of Good Hope were introduced. Finally, the good fortune which seems to have conspired with the enterprise of our rivals furnished them with several pairs of merinos from Spain, which the Spanish Government at great expense were sending to the Viceroy of Peru, upon a ship which was captured upon the coast of that country by an English vessel out of Port Jackson, and which were brought thither, much to the satisfaction of the Governor, who neglected nothing to derive the fullest possible advantage from a present valuable to the colony. His endeavours have not been in vain. This species, like the others, has improved much, and there is reason to believe that in a few years Port Jackson will be able to supply valuable and abundant material for the manufacturers of England. What is most astonishing is that the Indian sheep, which naturally produce short, coarse hair instead of wool, in the course of three or four generations in this country produce a wool that can hardly be distinguished from that furnished by English breeds, or even Spanish. I have seen at the Governor's house an assortment of these different kinds of wool, which were to be sent to Lord Sydney, and I assure you that it would be difficult to find finer samples. In my excursions with Mr. Paterson, Mr. Marsden and Mr. Cox, I have seen their flocks, and really one could not but admire in that regard the incalculable influence of the industry of man, so long as it is encouraged and stimulated by enlightened and just administrators.
Another source of production which appears to offer great advantages to the English is that of hemp. In this country it is as fine in quality as it is abundant, and several persons whose testimony is beyond suspicion have assured me that New Holland, before many years have passed, will herself be able to furnish to the British Navy all the hemp that it requires, thus freeing England from the considerable tribute that she pays at present in that regard to the north of Europe.
The climate also appears to be favourable to the cultivation of the vine. Its latitude, little different from that of the Cape of Good Hope, combined with its temperature, lead the Government to hope for great advantages from the introduction of this plant to the continent of New Holland. Furthermore, French vignerons have been introduced at great expense to promote this object. It is true that their first attempts have not been very happy, but the lack of success is due entirely to the obstinacy of the English Governor, who, in spite of the representations of these men, compelled them to make their first plantations upon the side of a small, pleasant terrace forming a kind of semi-circle round Government House at Parramatta. This was, unfortunately, exposed to the north-west winds, burning winds like the mistral of Italy and Provence, the khamsin of Egypt, etc. The French vignerons whom I had occasion to see at Parramatta, in company with the Lieutenant-Governor, Mr. Paterson, assured me that they had found a piece of country very favourable to their new plantations, and that they hoped for the greatest success from their fresh efforts. Choice plants had been imported from Madeira and the Cape.
In all the English establishments on these coasts traces of grand designs for the future are evident. The mass of the people, being originally composed of the unfortunate and of wrong-doers, might have propagated immorality and corruption, if the Government had not taken in good time means to prevent such a sad result. A house was founded in the early days of the settlement for the reception of young girls whose parents were too poor and too constrained in their circumstances at the commencement of their sojourn there to be able to devote much care to them; while if parents, when emancipated, so conduct themselves that their example or their course of life is likely to have an evil effect on their offspring, the children are taken from them and placed in the home to which I have referred. There they pursue regular studies; they are taught useful arts appropriate to their sex; they are instructed in reading, writing, arithmetic, sewing, etc. Their teachers are chosen with much care, and the wife of the Governor himself is charged with the supervision of that honourable establishment, a supervision in which she is assisted by the wife of the commandant of the troops. Each or both of them visit every day their young family, as they themselves call it. They neglect nothing to ensure the maintenance of good conduct, the soundness of the education and the quality of the provisions. I have several times accompanied these admirable ladies to the establishment, and have on every occasion been moved by their anxious solicitude and their touching care.
When these young girls arrive at marriageable age they are not abandoned by the Government. The following is the sagacious and commendable manner in which their establishment in life is provided for. Among the free persons who come to Port Jackson are many men who are not yet married. The same is the case with some of those who by good conduct have earned their freedom. When one of those young men wishes to take a worthy wife, he presents himself to the Governor's wife, who, after having obtained information concerning his character, permits him to visit her young flock. If he fixes his choice upon someone, he informs the Governor's wife, who, after consulting the tastes and inclinations of the young person, accords or refuses her consent. When a marriage is arranged, the Government endows the young girl by means of concessions, assigned servants, etc.; and these unions have already become the nursery of a considerable number of good and happy homes. It is undoubtedly an admirable policy, and one which has amply rewarded the English Government for the sacrifices made to support it.
The defence of the country has not up to the present been very formidable, and has not needed to be, on account of the ignorance which prevails in Europe respecting the nature of this colony. The English Government is at the present moment directing men's minds towards agriculture. It has not, however, neglected to provide what the physical condition of the land and the nature of its establishment demand. Two classes of men are much to be feared at present: first, the criminals, condemned for the most part to a long servitude, harshly treated, compelled to the roughest and most fatiguing labour. That infamous class, the vile refuse of civilised society, always ready to commit new crimes, needs to be ceaselessly restrained by force and violence. The English Government therefore maintains a strong police. It is so efficient that in the midst of that infamous canaille the most perfect security reigns everywhere, and—what may appear paradoxical to those who do not know the details of the administration of the colony—fewer robberies are committed than in a European town of equal population. As to murder, I have never heard tell of a crime of the kind being committed there, nor, indeed, did I hear of one occurring since the foundation of the colony. Nevertheless, the first consideration entails the maintenance of a very considerable force; and with equal foresight and steadiness the Government has taken precautions against the efforts of these bandits. A second class of society, more formidable still (also much more respectable, but having most to complain about, and the most interesting class for us), is composed of legions of the unfortunate Irish, whom the desire of freeing their country from the British yoke caused to arm in concert with us against the English Government. Overwhelmed by force, they were treated with pitiless rigour. Nearly all those who took up arms in our favour were mercilessly transported, and mixed with thieves and assassins. The first families of Ireland count their friends and relations upon these coasts of New Holland. Persecuted by that most implacable of all kinds of hatred, the hatred born of national animosity and differing convictions, they are cruelly treated, and all the more so because they are feared. Abandoned to themselves, it is felt, they can do nothing, and the Government gains several interesting advantages from their residence in this country. First, a population as numerous as it is valiant is fixed upon these shores. Secondly, nearly all being condemned to a servitude more or less long, they provide many strong arms for the laborious work of clearing. Thirdly, the mixing of so many brave men with criminals seems to obliterate the character of the settlement and to provide, by the retention of a crowd of honest men, some sort of a defence against the opprobrium cast upon it. Fourthly, the Government has relieved itself in Europe of a number of enraged and daring enemies. At the same time, one must admit, this policy has its defects. The Irish, ruled by a sceptre of iron, are quiet to-day. But if ever the Government of our country, alarmed by the rapidly increasing strength of this colony, should formulate the project of taking or destroying it, at the mere mention of the French name every Irish arm would be raised. We had a very striking example when we first arrived at Port Jackson. Upon the appearance of the French flag in the harbour the alarm in the country was general. We were again at war with England. They regarded our second ship,* (* Note 30: Le Naturaliste.) which had been separated from us and compelled to seek shelter at Port Jackson, as a French ship of war. At the name the Irish commenced to flock together. Everywhere they raised their bowed foreheads, bent under an iron rule; and, if their mistake had not been so rapidly dispelled, a general rising would have taken place amongst them. One or two were put to death on that occasion, and several were deported to Norfolk Island. In any case, that formidable portion of the population will always compel the English to maintain many troops upon this continent, until, at all events, time and inter-marriage shall have cicatrized the recent wounds of the poor Irish and softened their resentment.