Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/428

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Secretary of State there is mention of Spanish America, which rendered me being the bearer, criminal with respect to my passport. 'Tis pity I had not known anything of this, for on finding myself under the necessity of stopping at the Isle of France, and learning the declaration of war, I should have destroyed the despatches; but leaving Port Jackson in time of peace, and confiding in my passport, I did not think myself authorised to take such a step, even after I knew of the war, having no idea there was anything in the despatches that could invalidate my passport; neither, indeed, is it invalidated in justice, but it is said to be the under-plea against me."

These despatches of King are preserved among Decaen's papers,[1] and an examination of them reveals that they did contain material of a military character. In one of them, dated August 7th, 1803, King referred to the possibility in any future war "of the Government of the Isle of France annoying this colony, as the voyage from hence may be done in less than seven weeks; and on the same idea this colony may hereafter annoy the trade of the Spanish settlements on the opposite coast. But to defend this colony against the one, and to annoy the other, it would be necessary that some regard should be had to the military and naval defences. The defences of the port may be made as strong as in any port I know of. By the return of cannon and batteries your Lordship will observe that those we have are placed in the best situation for annoying an enemy. Still, a small establishment of artillery officers and men are wanted to work those guns effectually in case of necessity." King went on to make recommendations for the increase of the military strength in men, officers, and guns. The originals of those despatches, which could

  1. Decaen Papers Vols. 84 and 105.