THE LIFE OF CAPTAIN MATTHEW FLINDERS
THE LIFE OF CAPTAIN MATTHEW FLINDERS
PROFESSOR OF HISTORY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE
AUTHOR OF "TERRE NAPOLEON" AND "LIFE OF LAPEROUSE"
WITH PORTRAITS MAPS AND FACSIMILES.
ANGUS & ROBERTSON LTD.
89 CASTLEREAGH STREET
The subject of this book died one hundred years ago. Within his forty
years of life he discovered a very large area of what is now an
important region of the earth; he participated in stirring events which
are memorable in modern history; he applied a vigorous and original mind
to the advancement of knowledge with useful results; and he was the
victim of circumstances which however stated were peculiarly
unfortunate and must evoke the sympathy of everyone who takes the
trouble to understand them. His career was crowded with adventures: war
perilous voyages explorations of unknown coasts encounters with
savages shipwreck and imprisonment are the elements which go to make up
his story. He was withal a downright Englishman of exceptionally high
character proud of his service and unsparing of himself in the pursuit
of his duty.
Yet up to this time his biography has not been written. There are it is
true outlines of his career in various works of reference notably that
contributed by Sir J.K. Laughton to the Dictionary of National Biography.
But there is no book to which a reader can turn for a fairly full account
of his achievements and an estimate of his personality. Of all
discoverers of leading rank Matthew Flinders is the only one about whom
there is no ample and convenient record.
This book endeavours to fill the gap.
The material upon which it is founded is set forth in the footnotes and
the bibliography. Here the author takes pleasure in acknowledging the
assistance he has received from several quarters. A previous book brought
him the acquaintance of the grand-nephew of that Comte de Fleurieu who
largely inspired three famous French voyages to Australia--those of
Laperouse Dentrecasteaux and Baudin--all of which have an important
bearing upon the subject. The Comte A. de Fleurieu had long been engaged
in collecting material relative to the work and influence of his
distinguished grand-uncle and in the most generous manner he handed over
to the author his very large collection of manuscripts and note-books to
be read noted and used at discretion. Even when a historian does not
actually quote or directly use matter bearing upon his subject it is of
immense advantage to have access to documents which throw light upon it
and which enable an in-and-out knowledge of a period and persons to be
obtained. This book owes much of whatever value it may possess to
monsieur de Fleurieu's assistance in this respect and the author thanks
him most warmly.
The Flinders papers of which free use has been made were presented to
the Melbourne Public Library by Professor W.M. Flinders Petrie. They are
described in the bibliography. The transcripts of family and personal
documents were especially valuable. Although they were not supplied for
this book Professor Flinders Petrie gave them in order that they might
be of use to some biographer of his grandfather and the author begs to
thank him and also Mr. E La Touche Armstrong the chief librarian in
whose custody they are and who has given frequent access to them.
The rich stores of manuscripts in the Mitchell Library Sydney have been
thoroughly examined with the assistance of Mr. W.H. Ifould principal
librarian Mr. Hugh Wright and the staff of that institution. Help from
this quarter was accorded with such grace that one came to think giving
trouble was almost like conferring a favour.
All copies of documents from Paris and Caen cited in this book have been
made by Madame Robert Helouis. The author was able to indicate the
whereabouts of the principal papers but Madame Helouis developing an
interest in the subject as she pursued her task was enabled owing to
her extensive knowledge of the resources of the French archives to find
and transcribe many new and valuable papers. The author also wishes to
thank Captain Francis Bayldon of Sydney who has kindly given help on
several technical points; Miss Alma Hansen University of Melbourne who
was generous enough to make a study of the Dutch Generale Beschrijvinge
van Indien--no light task--to verify a point of some importance for the
purpose of the chapter on "The Naming of Australia"; and Mr. E.A.
Petherick whose manuscript bibliography containing an immense quantity
of material the fruit of a long life's labour has always been
cheerfully made available.
Professor Flinders Petrie has been kind enough to read and make some
useful suggestions upon the personal and family passages of the book
which has consequently benefited greatly.
The whole work has been read through by Mr. A.W. Jose author of The
History of Australasia whose criticism on a multitude of points some
minute but all important has been of the utmost value. The help given
by Mr. Jose has been more than friendly; it has been informed by a keen
enthusiasm for the subject and great knowledge of the original
authorities. The author's obligations to him are gratefully acknowledged.
It is hoped that these pages will enable the reader to know Matthew
Flinders the man as well as the navigator; for the study of the
manuscript and printed material about him has convinced the author that
he was not only remarkable for what he did and endured but for his own
sake as an Englishman of the very best type.
Melbourne June 1914.
CHAPTER 1. BIRTH AND ORIGINS.
Place of Flinders among Australian navigators.
Connection with the Tennysons.
Possible relationship with Bass.
CHAPTER 2. AT SCHOOL AND AT SEA.
Aspirations for a naval career.
His father's wish.
John Flinders' advice.
Study of navigation.
Introduction to Pasley. Lieutenant's servant.
Midshipman on the Bellerophon.
Bligh and the Bounty mutiny.
CHAPTER 3. A VOYAGE UNDER BLIGH.
The second breadfruit expedition.
Flinders in the Providence.
Notes from Santa Cruz.
At the Cape.
In Torres Strait.
Encounter with Papuans.
Return to England.
CHAPTER 4. THE BATTLE OFF BREST.
The naval war with France.
The battle of June 1st 1794.
Flinders as gunner.
Flinders' journal of the engagement.
Effect of Pasley's wound on the career of Flinders.
CHAPTER 5. AUSTRALIAN GEOGRAPHY BEFORE FLINDERS.
The predecessors of Flinders.
How Australia grew on the map.
Mediaeval controversies on antipodes.
Period of vague speculation.
Sixteenth century maps.
The Dutch voyagers.
The Batavia on the Abrolhos Reef.
The Duyfhen in the Gulf.
The three periods of Australian maritime discovery.
Geographers and their views of Australia.
The theory of the dividing strait.
Cook and Furneaux.
The untraced southern coast.
CHAPTER 6. THE RELIANCE AND THE TOM THUMB.
Flinders' passion for exploring new countries.
Joins the Reliance.
Hunter on the strategic importance of the Cape.
Sailing of Reliance and Supply for New South Wales.
Arrival at Port Jackson.
The Tom Thumb.
Exploration of George's River.
A perilous cruise.
Meeting with aboriginals.
The midshipman as valet.
Patching up the Reliance.
Voyage to South Africa.
CHAPTER 7. THE DISCOVERY OF BASS STRAIT.
Bass in the Blue Mountains.
Supposed strait isolating Van Diemen's Land.
Bass's whaleboat voyage.
Discovery of Westernport.
Return to Port Jackson.
CHAPTER 8. THE VOYAGE OF THE FRANCIS.
The wreck of the Sydney Cove.
Discovery of Kent's Islands.
CHAPTER 9. CIRCUMNAVIGATION OF TASMANIA.
Flinders in command of the Norfolk.
Bass's association with him.
Discovery of Port Dalrymple.
Bass Strait demonstrated.
CHAPTER 10. THE FATE OF GEORGE BASS.
Part owner of the Venus. Voyages after pork.
A fishing concession.
South American enterprise.
A "diplomatic-looking certificate."
Bass's last voyage.
Probable fate in Peru.
His missing letters.
CHAPTER 11. ON THE QUEENSLAND COAST.
Flinders and the Isaac Nicholls case.
Exploration on the Queensland coast.
CHAPTER 12. THE INVESTIGATOR.
Return to England in the Reliance.
Sir Joseph Banks.
Marriage of Flinders.
Ann Chappell and Chappell Island.
Publication of Observations on the Coasts of Van Diemen's Land on Bass
Strait and its Islands.
Anxiety about French expedition.
The Investigator commissioned.
Equipment of ship.
The staff and crew.
East India Company's interest.
Instructions for the voyage.
The case of Mrs. Flinders.
Sailing orders delayed.
The incident at the Roar.
Life on board.
Crossing the Line.
CHAPTER 13. THE FRENCH EXPEDITION.
Origin of Baudin's expedition.
In Tasmanian waters.
CHAPTER 14. SOUTH COAST DISCOVERY.
The south coast of Australia.
Method of research.
Aboriginals at King George's Sound.
Discovery of Spencer's Gulf.
Loss of Thistle and a boat's crew.
St. Vincent's Gulf.
Speculations on the fate of Laperouse.
CHAPTER 15. FLINDERS AND BAUDIN IN ENCOUNTER BAY.
The sighting of Le Geographe.
Flinders visits Baudin.
Flinders invites Baudin to visit Port Jackson.
CHAPTER 16. FLINDERS IN PORT PHILLIP.
Murray discovers Port Phillip.
Flinders enters Port Phillip.
Ascends Arthur's Seat.
The Investigator aground.
Cruise in a boat.
Ascends Station Peak.
Flinders' impression of the port.
Arrival in Port Jackson.
Healthiness of his crew.
CHAPTER 17. THE FRENCH AT PORT JACKSON: PERON THE SPY.
Arrival of Le Geographe at Port Jackson.
State of the crew.
Hospitality of Governor King.
Rumours as to French designs.
Peron's report on Port Jackson.
Freycinet's plan of invasion.
Scientific work of the expedition.
CHAPTER 18. AUSTRALIA CIRCUMNAVIGATED.
Overhaul of the ship.
The Lady Nelson.
Flinders sails north.
Discovery of Port Curtis and Port Bowen.
Through the Barrier Reef.
Remarks on Coral Reefs.
The Gulf of Carpentaria.
Rotten condition of the ship.
Melville Bay discovered.
Sails for Timor.
The Investigator condemned.
Illness of Flinders.
News of father's death.
Letter to step-mother.
Letters to Mrs. Flinders.
Letter to Bass.
The end of the Investigator.
CHAPTER 19. WRECKED ON THE BARRIER REEF.
Flinders sails in the Porpoise.
Remarks on Sydney.
Conduct of the Bridgewater.
Plans for relief.
Voyage in the Hope to Sydney.
Franklin's description of the wreck.
CHAPTER 20. TO ILE-DE-FRANCE IN THE CUMBERLAND.
King receives news of the wreck.
Wreck Reef reached.
Voyage to Timor.
Determination to sail to Ile-de-France.
Arrival at Baye du Cap.
Arrival at Port Louis.
CHAPTER 21. GENERAL DECAEN.
Decaen's early career.
His baptism of fire.
War in the Vendee.
The Army of the Rhine.
Battle of Hohenlinden.
Moreau and Napoleon.
The peace of Amiens.
Decaen's arrival at Pondicherry.
Leaves for Ile-de-France.
His character and abilities.
CHAPTER 22. THE CAPTIVITY.
Flinders' reception by Decaen.
Imprisoned at the Cafe Marengo.
His papers and books.
Refusal of invitation to dinner.
His determination to detain Flinders.
Decaen's statement of motives.
Flinders asks to be sent to France.
CHAPTER 23. THE CAPTIVITY PROLONGED.
A delayed reply.
The sword incident.
Anniversary of the imprisonment.
The faithful Elder.
CHAPTER 24. THE CAPTIVITY MODIFIED.
Removal to Wilhelm's Plains.
Madame D'Arifat's house.
Flinders studies French and Malay.
Further exploration schemes.
The residence of Laperouse.
Work upon the charts.
King's protest and Decaen's anger.