Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/327

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with whom he was on bad terms throughout the voyage, and his hatred for whom continued relentlessly after the unfortunate captain's death. On the point in question, therefore, Péron is by no means a trustworthy witness. The very terms in which Baudin wrote of Sydney, in his confidential letter to the Minister of Marine, indicate that he was innocent of any knowledge of a secret purpose. If he had known he would have referred to it here; and if he did not know of one, Péron certainly did not. "I believe it to be my duty," wrote Baudin, "to warn you that the colony of Port Jackson ought to engage the attention of the Government and indeed of other European power also. People in France or elsewhere are very far from imagining that the English, in the space of fourteen years, have been able to build up their colony to such a degree of prosperity, which will be augmented every year by the dispositions of their Government. It seems to me that policy demands (il me semble que la politique exige) that by some means the preparations they are making for the future, which foreshadow great projects, ought to be balanced." That was simply Baudin's personal opinion: "it seemed to him." But the statement Péron made to Decaen, as to what he could demonstrate "if he had time," together with his other assertions, may have had an influence on the general's mind, and may have affected the later treatment of Flinders; and that constitutes its importance for our purpose.

Péron went on to allege that while he was at Port Jackson, "I neglected no opportunity of procuring all the information that I foresaw would be of interest. I was received in the house of the Governor with much consideration; he himself and his secretary spoke our language well. Mr. Paterson, the commandant of the New South Wales troops, always treated me with par-