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A Voyage to Terra Australis Volume 2 by Matthew Flinders

Part 10 out of 10

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admiral, making application, conformably to my instructions, for the
earliest passage to England; and requesting, if any circumstance should
place general De Caen within his power, that he would be pleased to
demand my journal from him, and cause it to be transmitted to the
Admiralty. I went on shore next morning and waited upon colonel sir
Edward Butler, the commanding officer at Simon's Town; and learning that
an India packet had put into Table Bay, on her way to England, made
preparation for going over on the following day. At noon, however, a
telegraphic signal expressed the admiral's desire to see me immediately;
and as the packet was expected to stop only a short time, I hoped it was
for the purpose of embarking in her, and hastened over with horses and a
dragoon guide furnished by the commandant; but to my mortification, the
packet was standing out of Table Bay at the time I alighted at the
admiral's door, and no other opportunity for England presented itself for
more than six weeks afterward.

During the tedious time of waiting at Cape Town for a passage, I received
much polite attention from His Excellency the earl of Caledon, and Mr.
Alexander, secretary to the colony; as also from the Hon. general Grey,
commander of the forces, commissioner Shield of the navy, and several
other civil and military officers of the Cape establishment. I made
little excursions to Constantia and in the neighbourhood of the town; but
feared to go into the interior of the country lest an opportunity, such
as that which the India packet had presented, might be lost. Towards the
latter end of August [AUGUST 1810], captain Parkinson of the army and
lieutenant Robb of the navy arrived from commodore Rowley's squadron,
with intelligence of the island Bourbon being captured; and a cutter
being ordered to convey them to England, I requested of the admiral and
obtained a passage in her.

SEPTEMBER 1810

We sailed from Simon's Bay on the 28th August, in the Olympia, commanded
by lieutenant Henry Taylor; and after a passage of fourteen days,
anchored in St. Helena road on the afternoon of September 11; and having
obtained water and a few supplies from the town, sailed again the same
night. On the 16th, passed close to the north side of Ascension, in the
hope of procuring a turtle should any vessel be lying there; but seeing
none, steered onward and crossed the Line on the 19th, in longitude 191/2 deg.
west. The trade wind shifted to the S. W. in latitude 5 deg. north, and
continued to blow until we had reached abreast of the Cape-Verde Islands,
as it had done at the same time of year in 1801. At my recommendation
lieutenant Taylor did not run so far west as ships usually do in
returning to England, but passed the Cape-Verdes not further distant than
sixty leagues; we there met the north-east trade, and on the 29th Mr.
Taylor took the brig Atalante from Mauritius.

[IN ENGLAND]

OCTOBER 1810

On reaching the latitude 223/4 deg. north and longitude 33 deg. west, the
north-east trade veered to east and south-eastward, which enabled us to
make some easting; and being succeeded by north-west winds, we passed
within the Azores, and took a fresh departure from St. Mary's on the 15th
of October. Soundings in 75 fathoms were obtained on the 21st, at the
entrance of the English Channel; but it then blew a gale of wind from the
westward, and obliged us to lie to on this, as it did on the following
night; and it was greatly feared that the cutter would be driven on the
coast of France, near the Casket rocks. In the morning of the 23rd, the
wind being more moderate, we made sail to the northward, and got sight of
the Bill of Portland; and at five in the evening came to an anchor in
Studland Bay, off the entrance of Pool Harbour, after a run from St.
Helena of six weeks; which in an indifferent sailing vessel, very leaky,
and excessively ill found, must be considered an excellent passage.

Captain Parkinson and lieutenant Robb went off the same night with their
despatches; and next morning we ran through the Needles and came to at
Spithead, where the prize brig, from which we had been long separated,
had just before dropped her anchor. I went on shore to wait upon admiral
sir Roger Curtis, and the same evening set off for London; having been
absent from England nine years and three months, and nearly four years
and a half without intelligence from any part of my connexions.

The account of the Investigator's voyage, and of the events resulting
from it is concluded; but there is one or two circumstances which the
naval reader may probably desire to see further explained.

A regulation adopted at the Admiralty forbids any officer to be promoted
whilst a prisoner, upon the principle apparently, that officers in that
situation have almost always to undergo a court martial, which cannot be
done until they are set at liberty. My case was made subject to this
regulation, although it required no court martial; and was moreover so
different to that of prisoners in general, that nothing similar perhaps
ever occurred. In consequence of my French passport, not only was the
possibility of reaping any advantage from the war done away, but the
liberation on parole or by exchange, granted to all others in Mauritius,
was refused for years, the passport removing me from the class of
prisoners of war; yet one of the greatest hardships to officers of a
state of warfare was at the same time applied to me in England, and
continued throughout this protracted detention. So soon as it was known
that I had been released, and was arrived at the Cape of Good Hope, a
commission for post rank was issued; and on my representations to the
Right Hon. Charles Yorke, first lord commissioner of the Admiralty, by
whom I had the honour to be received with the condescension and feeling
natural to his character, he was pleased to direct that it should take
date as near to that of general De Caen's permission to quit Mauritius,
as the patent which constituted the existing Board of Admiralty would
allow. A more retrospective date could be given to it only by an order of
the King in council; unhappily His Majesty was then incapable of
exercising his royal functions; and when the Regency was established, my
proposed petition did not meet with that official encouragement which was
necessary to obtain success. It was candidly acknowledged, that my
services in the Investigator would have been deemed a sufficient title to
advancement in 1804, had I then arrived in England and the Admiralty been
composed of the same members; but no representation could overcome the
reluctance to admitting an exception to the established rule; thus the
injustice of the French governor of Mauritius, besides all its other
consequences, was attended with the loss of six years post rank in His
Majesty's naval service.

One of my first cares was to seek the means of relieving some relations
of my Mauritius friends, prisoners of war in England; and in a few
months, through the indulgence of the Admiralty and of the earl of
Liverpool, secretary of state for the colonies, I had the gratification
of sending five young men back to the island, to families who had shown
kindness to English prisoners.

The Board of Admiralty was pleased to countenance the publication of the
Investigator's voyage by providing for the charts and embellishments; and
a strong representation was made by its directions to the French
government, upon the subjects of my detained journal, the schooner
Cumberland, and the parole exacted on quitting Mauritius. A release from
the parole was transmitted in April 1812, after three applications; but
upon the other points it was answered, that "the vessel of captain
Flinders was at the Isle of France at the capitulation of that colony,
and returned in consequence to the power of the English government. With
respect to the journal of that navigator, as it did not make part of the
papers brought from the Isle of France by the prefect of that colony, a
demand has been made for it to the captain-general De Caen, who is with
the army. In default of an answer he will be again written to, and so
soon as it shall be remitted, my first object will be to send it." The
Cumberland had been seized in 1803, and the capitulation was made in
1810; in the interval, both vessel and stores, if not used, would be in
great part rotten; but I saw the Cumberland employed in the French
service, and believe that the stores were also. General De Caen, it
appeared, still kept the log book in his own hands; although, if
considered to be private property, it was undoubtedly mine, and if as a
public document it ought to have been given up at the capitulation, or at
least to have been deposited in the office of the marine minister. But
the captain-general had probably his reasons for not wishing even the
minister to see it; and up to this time, the commencement of 1814, he has
so far persevered against both public and private applications, that
neither the original nor a copy has been obtained.

APPENDIX I.

ACCOUNT OF THE OBSERVATIONS BY WHICH THE LONGITUDES OF PLACES ON THE
EAST AND NORTH COASTS OF TERRA AUSTRALIS HAVE BEEN SETTLED.

In the Appendix to Vol. I. a statement was made of the circumstances
under which the observations for settling the longitudes of places on the
South Coast were taken; as also of the method used in the calculations,
and the corrections applied more than what is usual in the common
practice at sea. That statement is equally applicable to the following
tables for the East and North Coasts, and the explanation of their
different columns is the same; a reference therefore to the former
Appendix will render unnecessary any further remark on these heads.

The first observations on the East Coast were taken at Port Jackson, and
the results would naturally form the first table of this Appendix; but
these observations being so intimately connected with those on the South
Coast that the time keepers could not receive their final corrections
without them, the Port-Jackson table became an indispensable conclusion
to the former series; and it is thought unnecessary to repeat it in this
place.

The following tables, set out in the book, are not reproduced in this
text version of _A Voyage to Terra Australis_--refer to the _html_

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