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Biography

It will be necessary to devote some attention to the French expedition of discovery, commanded by Nicolas Baudin, which sailed from Havre on October 19th, 1800, nearly two months before the British Admiralty authorised the despatch of the Investigator, and nine months all but two days before Flinders was permitted to leave England.

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.

We now resume the story of Flinders' voyage along the southern coast of Australia, from the time when he made Cape Leeuwin on December 6th, 1801.

The name Australia was given to the great southern continent by Flinders. When and why he gave it that name will now be shown.

Flinders did not complete the examination of Kangaroo island. The approach of the winter season, and an apprehension that shortness of provisions might compel him to make for Port Jackson before concluding the discovery of the south coast, induced him to leave the south and west parts of the island, with the intention of making a second visit at a later time. Therefore, in the afternoon of Tuesday, April 6th, the anchor was weighed and he resumed the exploration of the mainland eastward from Cape Jervis, at the extremity of St. Vincent's Gulf.

[In a long letter of about 30,000 words, written to the French Minister of Marine from Port Jackson in 1802, Captain Baudin described his explorations in Australian waters up to that date. The manuscript is in the Archives Nationales, Paris, BB4, 995, Marine. It has never been published. In this appendix, which relates to Chapter 14 of the book, I translate the portion of the letter concerning the meeting of the Investigator and Le Geographe in Encounter Bay, with a few notes.]

Flinders' actual discovery work on the south coast was completed when he met Baudin in Encounter Bay; for the whole coast line to the east had been found a short while before he appeared upon it, though he was not aware of this fact when completing his voyage. For about a hundred and fifty miles, from the mouth of the Murray eastward to Cape Banks, the credit of discovery properly belongs to Baudin, and Flinders duly marked his name upon the chart.

[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.)

Citizen Captain-General,

The subject of this book died one hundred years ago. Within his forty years of life, he discovered a very large area of what is now an important region of the earth; he participated in stirring events which are memorable in modern history; he applied a vigorous and original mind to the advancement of knowledge, with useful results; and he was the victim of circumstances which, however stated, were peculiarly unfortunate, and must evoke the sympathy of everyone who takes the trouble to understand them.

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