Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/429

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furnish the French Government with valuable information concerning Port Jackson and the Flinders affair, are endorsed, "letters translated and sent to France;" and Decaen commented upon them that in his opinion the despatches alone afforded a sufficient pretext for detaining Flinders. "Ought a navigator engaged in discovery, and no longer possessing a passport for his ship, to be in time of war in command of a despatch-boat,[1] especially when, having regard to the distance between the period of the declaration of war and his departure from Port Jackson he could have obtained there the news that war had broken out?"

In reporting to his Government Decaen related the story of the Cumberland's arrival from his point of view at considerable length. He expressed himself as satisfied that her commander really was Captain Flinders of the Investigator, to whom the French Government had issued a passport; detailed the circumstances of the examination; and complained of Flinders' "impertinence" and "arrogance." Then he proceeded to describe "several motives which have caused me to judge it to be indispensable to detain Captain Flinders."

The first motive alleged was "the conduct of the English Government in Europe, where she has violated all treaties, her behaviour before surrendering the Cape of Good Hope, and her treatment of our ships at Pondicherry." In no way could it be pretended that Flinders was connected with these events.

The second motive was "the seizing of Le Naturaliste, as announced by the newspapers." Decaen was here referring to the fact that, when Le Naturaliste was on her homeward voyage from Port Jackson, conveying the natural history collections, she was stopped by the British frigate Minerva and taken into Ports-

  1. "Devait-il en temps de guerre conduire un paquebot?"