Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/527

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Chapter XXIX.

THE NAVIGATOR

Not only is Flinders to be regarded as a discoverer whose researches completed the world's knowledge of the last extensive region of the habitable globe remaining in his time to be revealed; not only as one whose work was marked by an unrivalled exactitude and fineness of observation; but also as one who did very much to advance the science of navigation in directions calculated to make seafaring safer, more certain, with better means and methods at disposal. Malte-Brun declared, when he died, that "the geographical and nautical sciences have lost in the person of Flinders one of their most brilliant ornaments,"[1] and that criticism, coming from a foreign critic than whom there was no better informed savant in Europe, was no mere piece of obituary rhetoric.

In 1805 he wrote a paper on the Marine Barometer, based upon observations made during his Australian voyages. The instrument employed was one which had been used by Cook; Flinders always kept it in his cabin. He was the first to discover, and this essay was the first attempt to show, the connection between the rise and fall of the barometer and the direction of the wind. Careful observation showed him that where his facts were collected the mercury of the barometer rose some time before a change from landbreeze to seabreeze, and fell before the change from seabreeze to landbreeze. Consequently a change of wind might generally be predicted

  1. Annales des Voyages XXIII., 268.