APPENDIX B. PERON'S REPORT ON PORT JACKSON.
(16) I will not discuss with you some substances indigenous to the country which are already in use, whether in medicine, or in the arts - of eucalyptus gum, for example, which is at once astringent and tonic to a very high degree, and is likely soon to become one of our most energetic drugs. Nor will I say much about the resin furnished by the tree which the English mis-name gourmier,* (* Note 35: Peron's word.) a resin which by reason of its hardness may become of very great value in the arts. It will be sufficient to say, General, that I possess a native axe obtained from the aboriginals of King George's Sound. It is nothing better than a chip of very hard granite fastened to the end of a piece of wood, which serves as a handle, by means of the resin to which I have referred. I have shown it to several persons. It will rapidly split a wooden plank and one can strike with all one's force, without in the least degree injuring the resin. Though the edge of the stone has several times been chipped, the resin always remained intact. I will say little of the fine and abundant timber furnished by what is called the casuarina tree, and by what the English improperly call the pear. This pear is what the botanists term Xylomelum, and by reason of its extremely beautiful and deep grain, and the fine polish which it is susceptible of receiving, it appears to be superior to some of the best known woods. I will not refer at length to the famous flax of New Zealand, which may become the subject of a large trade when its preparation is made easier; nor to cotton, which is being naturalised; nor to coffee, of which I myself have seen the first plantations, etc., etc. All these commodities are secondary in importance in comparison with others to which I have referred; yet, considered together, they will add greatly to the importance of this new colony. Similarly, I will pass over the diverse products which are sure to be furnished by the prolific archipelagos, and of which several are likely to become of great value and to fetch high prices for use in the arts and in medicine. For example, the cargo of the last vessel that arrived in Port Jackson from the Navigator Islands, during our stay, consisted partly of cordage of different degrees of thickness, made from a plant peculiar to those islands, the nature of which is such that, we were assured, it is almost indestructible by water and the humidity of the atmosphere; whilst its toughness makes it superior to ordinary cordage.
(17) The English hope for much from mineral discoveries. Those parts of the country lying nearest to the sea, which are of a sandstone or slaty formation, appear to contain only deposits of excellent coal; but the entire range of the Blue Mountains has not yet been explored for minerals. The colony had not up to the time of our visit a mineralogist in its service, but the Governor hoped soon to obtain the services of one, to commence making investigations; and the nature of the country, combined with its extent, affords ground for strong hope in that regard.
(18) There are, finally, other advantages, apparently less interesting, but which do not fail to exert an influence upon the character and prestige of a nation. I refer to the conspicuous glory which geographical discoveries necessarily following upon such an establishment as this bring upon a nation's name; to all that which accrues to a people from the discovery and collection of so many new and valuable things; to the distinguished services which new countries call forth and which confer so much distinction upon those who watch over their birth.
Time does not permit me to pursue the enquiry. I wish only to add here one fresh proof of the importance which England attaches to this new colony. When we left Port Jackson, the authorities were awaiting the arrival of five or six large vessels laden with the goods of English persons formerly domiciled at the Cape of Good Hope, whom the surrender of that possession to the Dutch had compelled to leave.* (* Note 36: The Cape was surrendered to Holland in 1803, but British rule was restored there in 1806.) That very great accession of population ought sufficiently to indicate to you how great are the projects of the British Ministry in that region.
Before concluding I should have liked to point out the impossibility, for France, of retarding the rapid progress of the establishment at Port Jackson, or of entering into competition with its settlers in the trade in sealskins, the whale fishery, etc. But it would take rather too long to discuss that matter. I think I ought to confine myself to telling you that my opinion, and that of all those among us who have more particularly occupied themselves with enquiring into the organization of that colony, is that it should be destroyed as soon as possible.* (* Note 37: Mon sentiment et celui de tous ceux d'entre nous qui se sont plus particulierement occupes de l'organisation de cette colonie seroit de la detruire le plus tot possible.") To-day we could destroy it easily; we shall not be able to do so in 25 years' time.
I have the honour to be, with respectful devotion,
Your very humble servant,
P.S. M. Freycinet, the young officer, has especially concerned himself with examining all the points upon the coast of the environs of Port Jackson which are favourable to the landing of troops. He has collected particular information concerning the entrance to the port; and, if ever the Government should think of putting into execution the project of destroying this freshly-set trap of a great Power,* that distinguished officer would be of valuable assistance in such an operation. (* Note 38: "Le projet de detruire ce piege naissant d'une grande puissance." )