Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/274

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213
SOUTH COAST DISCOVERY

bearing the appearance of having been dashed against rocks. The loss of John Thistle was especially grievous to Flinders. The two had been companions from the very beginning of his career in Australia. Thistle had been one of Bass's crew in the whaleboat; he had been on the Norfolk when Van Diemen's Land was circumnavigated; and he had taken part in the cruise to Moreton Bay. His memory lives in the name of Thistle Island, on the west of the entrance to the gulf, and in the noble tribute which his commander paid to his admirable qualities. It would be wrong to deprive the reader of the satisfaction of reading Flinders' eulogy of his companion of strenuous years:

"The reader will pardon me the observation that Mr. Thistle was truly a valuable man, as a seaman, an officer, and a good member of society. I had known him, and we had mostly served together, from the year 1794. He had been with Mr. Bass in his perilous expedition in the whaleboat, and with me in the voyage round Van Diemen's Land, and in the succeeding expedition to Glass House and Hervey's Bays. From his merit and prudent conduct, he was promoted from before the mast to be a midshipman and afterwards a master in His Majesty's service. His zeal for discovery had induced him to join the Investigator when at Spithead and ready to sail, although he had returned to England only three weeks before, after an absence of six years.[1] Besides performing assiduously the duties of his situation, Mr. Thistle had made himself well acquainted with the practice of nautical astronomy,

  1. In a letter to Banks from Spithead on June 3rd, 1801, Flinders had written: "I am happy to inform you that the Buffalo has brought home a person formerly of the Reliance whom I wish to have as master. He volunteers, the captain of the ship agrees, and I have made application by to-day's post and expect his appointmnt by Friday." The reference was evidently to John Thistle.