Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/501

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an hour that would otherwise pass most wearily away, but life has lost its chief charm, and the world appears a dreary wilderness to me.

An unpleasant feature of the subject, which cannot be overlooked, relates to the Admiralty's ungenerous treatment of Flinders and his widow. When he returned from Mauritius, the First Lord was Mr. C.P. Yorke after whom Flinders named Yorke's Peninsula, who was inclined to recognise that the special circumstances of the case demanded special treatment. He at once promoted Flinders to the rank of Post-Captain. But in consequence of his long detention Flinders had lost the opportunity for earlier promotion. It was admitted that if he had returned to England in 1804 he would at once have been rewarded for his services by promotion to post-captain's rank. Indeed, Lord Spencer had definitely promised him a step in rank. It was therefore urged in his behalf that, as he had not been a prisoner of war in the ordinary sense, his commission should be ante-dated to 1804. Yorke appeared to think the claim reasonable. The Admiralty conceded that he had not been a prisoner of war, and he was not brought before a court-martial, although the Cumberland, left to rot in Port Louis, had been lost to the service. The First Lord directed that the commission should be ante-dated to the time of the release, but it was not considered that more could be done without an Order in Council. This could not be obtained at the moment, because King George III. was mentally incapacitated. When the Regency was established (1811) an application did not meet with a sympathetic response. "The hinge upon which my case depends," said Flinders in a letter, "is whether my having suffered so long and unjustly in the Isle of France is a sufficient reason that I should now suffer in England the loss of six years' rank." The response of the Admiralty