Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/445

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352
LIFE OF MATTHEW FLINDERS

tributing to your being set at liberty." Captain Halgan, of Le Berceau, who had been in England during the short peace, and had heard much of Flinders' discoveries, visited him several times and offered pecuniary assistance if it were required. Flinders wrote to the French Minister of the Treasury, Barbé-Marbois, urging him to intercede, and to the Comte de Fleurieu, one of the most influential men in French scientific circles, who was particularly well informed concerning Australian exploration.

The flat roof of the Maison Despeaux commanded a view of Port Louis harbour; and, as Flinders was in the habit of sitting upon the roof in the cool evenings, enjoying the sight of the blue waters, and meditating upon his work and upon what he hoped still to do, Decaen thought he was getting to know too much. In June, 1804, therefore, the door to the roof was ordered to be nailed up, and telescopes were taken away from the imprisoned officers. At this time also occurred an incident which shows that Flinders' proud spirit was by no means broken by captivity. The sergeant of the guard demanded the swords of all the prisoners, that of Flinders among the rest. It was an affront to him as an officer that his sword should be demanded by a sergeant, and he promptly refused. He despatched the following letter to the Governor:—[1]

"To His Excellency Captain-General Decaen, 
"Governor-in-Chief, etc., etc., etc.

"Sir,—The sergeant of the guard over the prisoners in this house has demanded of me, by the order of Captain Neuville, my sword, and all other arms in my possession.

"Upon this subject I beg leave to represent to Your

  1. Decaen Papers Volume 84.