Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/553

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438
LIFE OF MATTHEW FLINDERS

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 Govern-