Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/391

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able a comedy as the history of naval warfare contains. Their ship was one of a company of thirty-one sail, all richly laden merchantmen, under the general command of the audacious Commodore Nathaniel Dance; and he, encountering a French squadron under Rear-Admiral Linois, succeeded by sheer, impudent "bluff" in making him believe that they were convoyed by British frigates, and deterred him from capturing or even seriously attacking them.[1]

From the very commencement of the voyage the little Cumberland caused trouble and anxiety. She leaked to a greater extent than had been reported, and the pumps were so defective that a fourth part of every day had to be spent at them to keep the water down. They became worse with constant use, and by the time Timor was reached, on November 10th, one of them was nearly useless. At Kupang no means of refitting the worn-out pump or of pitching the leaky seams in the upper works of the boat were obtainable; and Flinders had to face a run across the Indian Ocean with the prospect of having to keep down the water with an impaired equipment.

When discussing the route with Governor King before leaving Sydney, Flinders had pointed out that the size of the Cumberland, and the small quantity of stores and water she could carry, would oblige him to call at every convenient port; and he mentioned that the places which he contemplated visiting were Kupang in Timor, Ile-de-France (Mauritius), the Cape of Good Hope, St. Helena, and one of the Canaries. But King took exception to a call being made at Ile-de-France, partly because he did not wish to encourage communication between Port Jackson and the French colony, and

  1. Lieutenant Fowler was presented with a sword valued at 50 guineas for his part in this action, which took place on 14th February, 1804, off Polo Aor, Malacca Strait. See the author's Terre Napoléon, p. 16.