APPENDIX B. PERON'S REPORT ON PORT JACKSON.
[The following is a fairly literal translation of Peron's report on Port Jackson, furnished to General Decaen at Ile-de-France.]
Port N.-O., 20th Frimaire, Year 12.* (* Note 16: i.e., Port North-West (Port Louis), December 11, 1802.)
Fifteen years ago England transported, at great expense, a numerous population to the eastern coast of New Holland. At that time this vast continent was still almost entirely unknown. These southern lands and the numerous archipelagoes of the Pacific were invaded by the English, who had solemnly proclaimed themselves sovereign over the whole dominion extending from Cape York to the southern extremity of New Holland, that is to say, from 10 degrees 37 minutes south, to 43 degrees 39 minutes south latitude. In longitude their possessions had been fixed as reaching from 105 degrees west of Greenwich to the middle of the Pacific Ocean, including all the archipelagos with which it is strewn.* (* Note 17: This is a literal translation of Peron's statement, which is obviously confused and wrong. 105 degrees west longitude is east of Easter Island, as well as being an "exact boundary" in the Pacific, which, Peron goes on to say, did not exist. The probability is that he gives here a muddled reproduction of the boundaries actually fixed by Phillip's commission - "westward as far as the 135th degree of east longitude...including all the islands adjacent in the Pacific Ocean." [Mr. Jose's note.])
Note especially in this respect that in the formal deed of annexation no exact boundary was fixed on the Pacific Ocean side. This omission seems to have been the result of astute policy; the English Government thus prepared itself an excuse for claiming, at the right time and place, all the islands which in the future may be, or actually are, occupied by the Spaniards - who thus find themselves England's next-door neighbours.
So general a project of encroachment alarmed, as it must, all the nations of Europe. The sacrifices made by England to maintain this colony redoubled their suspicions. The Spanish expedition of Admiral Malaspina* had not fulfilled the expectations of its Government. (* Note 18: Two Spanish ships, commanded by Don Alexandro Malaspina, visited Sydney in April, 1793. They had left Cadiz on an exploring and scientific expedition in July, 1789.) Europe was still ignorant of the nature of the English settlement; its object was unknown; its rapid growth was not even suspected.
Always vigilant in regard to whatever may humiliate the eternal rival of our nation, the First Consul, soon after the revolution of the 18th Brumaire,* (* Note 19: It was on the 18th Brumaire (November 9th, 1799) that Bonaparte overthrew the Directory by a coup-d'etat, and became First Consul of the French Republic.) decided upon our expedition.* (* Note 20: Peron's statement is quite wrong. The matter of despatching an expedition to Australia had been considered and proposed to the Government by the professors of the Museum two years before the coup-d'etat of Brumaire: before therefore Bonaparte had anything to do with the Government. Their letter to the Minister, making this proposal, is dated 12th Thermidor, year 6 - that is, July 31st, 1797. Bonaparte was then a young general commanding the army of Italy. The project was taken up by the Institute of France, and Bonaparte, as First Consul, sanctioned the expedition in May, 1800. There is no evidence that he ever gave a thought to the matter until it was brought before him by the Institute.) His real object was such that it was indispensable to conceal it from the Governments of Europe, and especially from the Cabinet of St. James's. We must have their unanimous consent; and that we might obtain this, it was necessary that, strangers in appearance to all political designs, we should occupy ourselves only with natural history collections. Such a large expenditure had been incurred to augment the collections of the Museum of the Republic that the object of our voyage could not but appear to all the world as a natural consequence of the previous action of our Government. It was far from being the case, however, that our true purpose had to be confined to that class of work; and if sufficient time permitted it would be very easy for me, citizen Captain-General, to demonstrate to you that all our natural history researches, extolled with so much ostentation by the Government, were merely a pretext for its enterprise, and were intended to assure for it the most general and complete success. So that our expedition, so much criticised by fault-finders, so much neglected by the former administrators of this colony, was in its principle, in its purpose, in its organization, one of those brilliant and important conceptions which ought to make our present Government for ever illustrious. Why was it that, after having done so much for the success of these designs, the execution of them was confided to a man utterly unfitted in all possible respects to conduct them to their proper issue?