Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/468

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Chapter XXV.

THE ORDER OF RELEASE

The several representations concerning the case of Flinders that were made in France, the attention drawn to it in English newspapers, and the lively interest of learned men of both nations, produced a moving effect upon Napoleon's Government. Distinguished Frenchmen did not hesitate to speak plainly. Fleurieu, whose voice was attentively heard on all matters touching geography and discovery, declared publicly that "the indignities imposed upon Captain Flinders were without example in the nautical history of civilised nations. Malte-Brun, a savant of the first rank, expressed himself so boldly as to incur the displeasure of the authorities. Bougainville, himself a famous navigator, made personal appeals to the Government. Sir Joseph Banks, whose friendly relations with French men of science were not broken by the war, used all the influence he could command. He had already, "from the gracious condescension of the Emperor," obtained the release of five persons who had been imprisoned in France,[1] and had no doubt that if he could get Napoleon's ear he could bring about the liberation of his protégé.

At last, in March, 1806, the affair came before the Council of State in Paris, mainly through the instrumentality of Bougainville. Banks wrote to Mrs. Flinders:[2] "After many refusals on the part of Bonaparte to applications made to him from different quarters, he

  1. Banks to Flinders, Historical Records V. 646.
  2. Flinders' Papers.

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