Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/495

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In naval and scientific circles Flinders was the object of much honour and interest. He was received "with flattering attention" at the Admiralty. We find him visiting Lord Spencer, who, having authorised the Investigator voyage, was naturally concerned to hear of its eventful history. Banks took him to the Royal Society and gave a dinner in his honour. The Duke of Clarence, afterwards William IV, himself a sailor, wished to meet him and inspect his charts, and he was taken to see the Prince by Bligh. In 1812 he gave evidence before a Committee of the House of Commons on the penal transportation system.[1] What he had to say related principally to the nature of the country he had examined in the course of his explorations. "Were you acquainted with Port Dalrymple?" the chairman asked him. "I discovered Port Dalrymple." "Were you ever at the Derwent?" "I was, and from my report, I believe, it was that the first settlement was made there." He was one of the few early explorers of Australia whose vision was hopeful; and experience has in every instance justified his foreseeing optimism.

But save for a few social events, and for some valuable experiments with the magnetic needle, to be referred to in the final chapter, his time and energies were absorbed by work upon his charts. He laboured incessantly. "I am at my voyage," he said in a letter, "but it does by no means advance according to my wishes. Morning, noon and night I sit close at writing, and at my charts, and can hardly find time for anything else." He was a merciless critic when the proofs came from the engravers. One half-sheet contains 92 corrections and improving marks in his handwriting. Such directions as "make the dot distinct,"

  1. House of Commons Papers, 1812; the evidence was given on March 25th.