Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/325

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Gulfs, completing the chart of Kangaroo Island, and making a second voyage along the coast. On July 7th, 1803, he determined to return to France. He reached Ile-de-France on August 7th, became seriously ill there, and died on September 16th. The Casuarina was dismantled, and Le Géographe, which stayed there for three months after her commander's death, arrived in France on March 24th, 1804.

The military Governor of Ile-de-France at this time was General Charles Decaen. As a later chapter will be devoted to his career and character, it is only necessary to say here that he was a dogged, strong-willed officer, imbued with a deep-rooted hatred of British policy and power, and anxious to avail himself of any opportunity that might occur of striking a blow at the rival of his own nation. François Péron very soon found that the Governor was eager to get information that might, should a favourable chance present itself, enable him to attack the British colony in Australia, and he lost no time in ministering to the General's belligerent animosity.

On December 11th, 1804, four days before Le Géographe sailed for Europe, Péron furnished to Decaen a long report on Port Jackson, containing some very remarkable statements.[1]) He alleged that the First Consul, Bonaparte, in authorising Baudin's expedition, had given to it a scientific semblance with the object of disguising its real intent from the Governments of Europe, and especially from the cabinet of Great Britain. "If sufficient time were available to me," said Péron, "it would be very easy to demonstrate to you that all our natural history researches, extolled with so much ostentation by the Government, were merely the pretext of its enterprise." The principal

  1. MSS., Decaen Papers Volume 92. The complete document is translated in appendix B to this volume.