Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/301

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ping "even a sea that would come over the sole of your shoe." Running her into Ramsgate in a heavy sea, Grant wrote of her in terms that, though somewhat crabbed to a non-nautical ear, were a sailor's equivalent for fine poetry: "though it blew very strong, I found the vessel stand well up under sail, and with only one reef out of the topsails, no jib set, a lee tide going, when close hauled she brought her wake right aft and went at the rate of five knots."

Grant was ambitious to make discoveries on his own account, and did not lack zeal. He was a skilful sailor, but was lacking in the scientific accomplishment required for the service in which he aspired to shine. When at length he returned from Australia, King summed him up in a sentence: "I should have been glad if your ability as a surveyor, or being able to determine the longitude of the different places you might visit, was any ways equal to your ability as an officer and a seaman."

Grant left England early in 1800, intending to sail to Australia by the usual route, making the Cape of Good Hope, and then rounding the south of Van Diemen's Land. But news of the discovery of Bass Strait was received after the Lady Nelson had put to sea; and the Admiralty (April, 1800) sent instructions to reach him at the Cape, directing him to sail through the strait from the west. This he did. Striking the Australian coast opposite Cape Banks on December 3rd, 1800, he followed it along past Cape Otway, thence in a line across to Wilson's Promontory and, penetrating the strait, was the first navigator to work through it from the far western side. He attempted no survey, and shortness of water and provisions deterred him from even pursuing the in-and-out curves of the shore; but he marked down upon a rough eye-sketch such prominent features as Mount Gambier, Cape Northumber-