Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/330

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257
THE FRENCH AT PORT JACKSON

ticular regard. I was received in his house, as one may say, like a son. Through him I knew all the officials of the colony. The surgeon, Mr. Thomson, honoured me with his friendship. Mr. Grimes, the surveyor-general, Mr. Palmer the commissary-general, Mr. Marsden a clergyman at Parramatta, and a cultivator as wealthy as he was discerning, were all capable of furnishing me with valuable information. My functions permitted me to hazard the asking of a number of questions which would have been indiscreet on the part of another, especially on military matters. I have, in a word, known all the principal people of the colony, in all walks of life, and all of them have furnished me with information as valuable as it is new. Finally, I made in Mr. Paterson's company long journeys into the interior of the country; I have seen the best farms, and I assure you that I have collected everywhere interesting ideas, and have stated them in as exact a form as possible."

After this illuminating dissertation as to his own value as a spy, and the clever use he had made of his functions as a naturalist to exploit unsuspecting people, Péron proceeded to describe the British establishment in detail. But he omitted to tell Decaen how kindly he and his countrymen had been treated there; not a word had he to say on that subject; no circumstance was mentioned that might tend to withhold an attack if a favourable chance for one should occur. He gave an interesting description of Sydney and its environs, spoke of the growth of its trade, the spread of cultivation, the increase of wealth. Then he gave his views on the designs of the British to extend their power in the Pacific. Their ambitions were not confined to New Holland itself, vast as it was. Their cupidity had been excited by Van Diemen's Land. They did not intend, if they could avoid it, to permit any other nation to occupy that country. They would soon extend their