Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/559

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existence to-day.[1] Several reasons will have determined it; 1st—The indispensable necessity, for the English, of keeping away from their establishments in that part of the world rivals and neighbours as redoubtable as the French; 2nd— The desire of removing from occupation by any other nation those impregnable ports whence their important trade with New Zealand might be destroyed and their principal establishment itself be eventually shaken; 3rd—The fertility of the soil in that part of Van Diemen's Land, and above all the hope of discovering in the vast granite plateaux, which seems here to enclose the world, mines of precious metals or some new substance unknown to the stupid aboriginals of the country.

I will not refer in detail to the Furneaux and Hunter's Islands, to King Island and Maria Island. Everywhere the British flag is flown with pride. Everywhere profitable fisheries are established. Seals of various species, to be found upon these islands, open up a new source of wealth and power to the English nation.

But New Zealand is especially advantageous to them in that regard. There is the principal seat of the wealth of their new colony. Thence a large number of ships sail annually for Europe laden with whale oil. Never, as the English themselves acknowledge, was a fishery so lucrative and so easy. The number of vessels engaged in it is increasing rapidly. Four years ago there were but four or five. Last year there were seventeen.[2] I shall have occasion to return to this subject.

Let us sum up what has been said concerning the English establishments in this part of the world. Masters

  1. Again, Péron's information was correct. A settlement on the Derwent, close to Dentrecasteaux Channel, was ordered to be founded in March, 1803, and the Porpoise, with the Lady Nelson as tender, was employed to carry colonists and supplies thither.
  2. It will be remembered that Bass intended to engage in the New Zealand fishery. Cf. chapter IX.