Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/423

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

with the story of the many adventures of his active, useful life. He would have been able to demonstrate his bona fides completely. It is a common experience that the humane feelings of men of Decaen's type are easily touched; and his conduct regarding the Napoleon-Moreau quarrel has been related above with some fulness for the purpose of showing that there was milk as well as gunpowder in his composition. But Flinders was angry; justifiably angry no doubt, but unfortunately angry nevertheless, since thereby he lost his chance.

He learnt afterwards that "some who pretended to have information from near the fountain-head hinted that, if his invitation to dinner had been accepted, a few days would have been the whole" of his detention.[1] That seems probable. He had no better friend than Sir Joseph Banks; and he learnt to his regret that Banks "was not quite satisfied with his conduct to the Government of Mauritius, thinking he had treated them perhaps with too much haughtiness." His comment upon this was, "should the same circumstances happen to me again I fear I should follow nearly the same steps."[2] That is the sort of thing that strong-willed men say; but a knowledge of the good sense and good feeling that were native to the character of Matthew Flinders enables one to assert with some confidence that if, after this experience, the choice had been presented to him, on the one hand of conquering his irritation and going to enjoy a pleasant dinner in interesting company with the prospect of speedy liberation; on the other of scornfully disdaining the olive branch, with the consequence of six-and-a-half years of heart-breaking captivity; he would have chosen the former alternative without much reluctance. There is a sentence in one of his own

  1. Flinders Voyage II., 398.
  2. Flinders' Papers.