Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/440

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347
THE CAPTIVITY PROLONGED

directed Barois to see that the Flinders case was brought under Napoleon's notice, and he did his best.[1] He saw Decres and asked him whether Decaen's despatches had been well received. "Ah," said the Minister pleasantly, in a voice loud enough to be heard by the circle of courtiers, "everything that comes from General Decaen is well received." But there was no spirit of despatch. Finally Barois did obtain an interview with Napoleon, through the aid of the Empress Josephine. He referred to "l'affaire Flinders," of which Napoleon knew little; but "he appeared to approve the reasons invoked to justify the conduct of Decaen." The Emperor had no time just then for examining the facts, and his approval simply reflected his trust in Decaen. As he said to the General's brother Réné, at a later interview, "I have the utmost confidence in Decaen." But meanwhile no direction was given as to what was to be done. It will be seen later how it was that pressure of business delayed the despatch of an intimation to Ile-de-France of a step that was actually taken.

That at this time Decaen was simply waiting for an order from Paris to release Flinders is clear from observations which he made, and from news which came to the ears of the occupant of the Garden Prison. In March, 1804, he told Captain Bergeret of the French navy, who showed Flinders friendly attentions, to tell him to "have a little patience, as he should soon come to some determination on the affair." In August of the same year Flinders wrote to King that Decaen had stated that "I must wait until orders were received concerning me from the French Government."[2] A year later (November, 1805) he wrote: "I firmly believe that, if he had not said to the French Government,

  1. Prentout p. 392.
  2. Historical Records VI., 411.