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Art. I. A Voyage to Terra Australis, undertaken for the
Purpose of completing the Discovery of that vast Country, und prosecuted in the Years 1801, 1802, and 1803, in his Majesty's Ship Investigator, and subsequently in the Armed Vessel Porpoise and Cumberland Schooner. With an Account of the Shipwreck of the Porpoise, Arrival of the Cumberland at Marritius, and Imprisonment of the Commander during six Years and a half in that Island. By Mathew Flinders, Commander of the Investigator. In Two Volumes, with an Atlas. Lon
don. 1814. THE very same day, we believe, that ushered into the world the
volumes before us, released from its cares and vexations their unfortunate and injured author. He may indeed be considered as singularly unfortunate, in so far as, without any fault of his own, the latter, and what might have been the best, years of his life, were passed in bitterness of heart, in cruel disappointment, in sickness, and in prison. A brief sketch of the transactions which brought upon him those evil days will not be misplaced, as they arose immediately out of those professional duties, on which he was employed, not so much for his own benefit, nor for that of his country alone, as for the general interests of science, and the good of mankind. We confess too that we indulge a feeling of gratification in holding up to the scorn and detestation of mankind the author of his unmerited sufferings; a gratification that is not diminished by the circumstance of that author being one of those willing and active instruments of a base and malignant tyrant, whose crimes, instead of meeting that exemplary punishment which they so justly deserved, have, unhappily for the world's repose, been rewarded with wealth and honours.
Mr. Flinders, when employed as a lieutenant of one of his Majesty's ships on the New South Wales station in 1798, had various opportunities of gratifying an ardent desire of, as well as evincing great skill in, exploring unknown coasts and harbours, and of affording proof how well qualified he was to conduct a voyage of nautical discovery. The existence of a strait dividing New HolVOL. XII. NO, XXIII,
land from Van Dieman's land had been suggested as a probable fact by Mr. Bass, the surgeon of the Reliance, deduced from an observation which he had made, while running down the coast in a whale boat, that the heavy swell, which rolled in from the westward, could proceed only from the great southern ocean. deemed of considerable importance to the new settlement on the eastern coast, to ascertain this fact; and Mr. Flinders, together with Mr. Bass, was sent on this service in the Norfolk, a small decked boat of twenty-five tons burthen, built of the fir of the island from which she was named; and in three months he returned to Port Jackson with an interesting account of the survey of the coasts of Van Dieman's land, and the circumnavigation of that island, which confirmed the conjecture of Mr. Bass; and the strait now bears his name.
In the following year, he was again sent in the same vessel to explore the coast to the northward of Port Jackson, of which nothing more was then known than the imperfect notices given by Captain Cook. Having visited and minutely examined all the creeks and bays as far to the northward as the 25th degree of latitude, and more particularly Glass-house and Harvey's bays, he returned to Port Jackson with a very satisfactory account of his discoveries. Such indeed was his ardour for nautical discovery that, four years before the period of which we are speaking, he launched a little boat eight feet long, significantly named Tom Thumb, the crew of which consisted of himself, his friend Bass, and a boy; in this he entered Botany Bay, and explored George's river, twenty miles beyond the termination of Governor Hunter's survey. Again, in 1796, the Tom Thumb put to sea with her stout crew to explore the coast to the southward of Botany Bay; they made several discoveries, encountered many dangers, and were, almost miraculously, saved from being swallowed up, by gaining the shelter of a projecting point, which they called Providential Cove.
The naval administration at home began, as it would seem, to be somewhat ashamed, that, after an unmolested possession of ten years, so very litile should be known, and so much remain to be discovered, of the sea coasts of New South Wales.
• It was not without some reason,' says Captain Flinders, ' attributed to England as a reproach, that an imaginary line of more than 250 leagues in extent, in the vicinity of one of her colonies, should have been so long suffered to remain traced upon the charts, under the title of UNKNOWN COAST.'
This reproach it was therefore determined to wipe away by completing what Nuyts and Tasman, Dampier, Cook, and Vancouver had left unfinished; and Lieutenant, now Captain Flinders, was
pointed out as the most proper and capable person to be employed on such a service.
On the 18th of July, 1801, he sailed from Spithead in the Investigator, a north-country-built ship of 334 tons, with a complement of 88 persons, including an astronomer, a naturalist, a natural history painter, a landscape painter, with their four servants, a gardener and a miner. Having touched at Madeira and the Cape of Good Hope for refreshments, the Investigator proceeded across the southern ocean, and on the 6th of December approached Cape Leuwen, on the south coast of New Holland, when Captain Flinders immediately commenced his operations by examining and verifying the points on the coast, islands, and inlets of that great extent of land called Nuyts land; and more minutely exploring the unknown portion of that coast which extends from the point where Nuyts and Vancouver terminated their discoveries to the place where the Investigator met the Géographe, commanded by Monsieur Baudin, near the eastern extremity of Bass's strait, which Captain Flinders calls Encounter Bay. Here he gives to the French Captain an account of his discoveries, proceeds to Port Jackson to.refit, which he entered on the 9th of May, 1802.
On the 22d of July Captain Flinders again departed from Port Jackson, steered northerly along the east coast, and explored Northumberland and Cumberland islands, and the Great Barrier reefs of coral rock, through the intricate and dangerous passages of which he conducted the Investigator for fourteen days. Continuing, after this, his course to the northward, and passing Torres straits, he entered the great gulph of Carpentaria, every part of the eastern side of which, with its projecting capes, creeks, bays, and islands, he examined with minute attention. Here, however, it became necessary to caulk the ship, when, to his great mortification, the officers reported her to be in such a rotten state as to be wholly unfit to encounter bad weather; they added, that if she should get on shore under any unfavourable circumstances, she must inimediately go to pieces; that she was too far gone to bear heaving down on any account; but that in fine weather, and barring accident, she might run six months longer. With such a vessel it would have been little short of madness to continue, as he had hitherto done, to follow the land so closely, that the washing of the surf upon it should be visible, and no opening, nor any thing of interest escape notice. To attempt a passage to Port Jackson at this
season, by the west, would be to encounter the unfavourable monsoon; by the east, stormy weather and multiplied dangers in Torres strait. On these considerations he proceeded to complete the survey of the gulph of Carpentaria, which occupied three of the six months which was the reported probable duration of the A 2
ship. Captain Flinders's health, and that of his ship’s company, began now to feel the effects of fatigue, and the want of nourishing food, in a debilitating climate, and an atmosphere abounding with heat and moisture. It was therefore deemed expedient to make for Titor, and accordingly the Investigator anchored in Coepang bay on the 31st of March, 1903.
Leaving Coepang bay on the 8th of April, he stood towards Cape Leeuwen, having searched in vain for the Trial Rocks, the existence of which had been doubted by many, and which, if they exist at all, have a situation very different from that assigned to them in the charts. Passing to the southward along the western coast, he anchored in Goose island bay in the archipelago of the Recherche, passed Bass's strait a second time, and on the 9th of June entered Port Jackson, having lost many of his best men by the dysentery, together with Mr. Good, the botanical gardener, a zealous worthy man, who was regretted by all.'
Here the Investigator, by a regular survey, was found so excessively rotten, that she was reported not worth repairing in any country, and impossible, in this country, to be put in a state fit for going to sea. She was therefore condemned and sold. It was with great reluctance that Captain Flinders, on finding it impossible to continue the survey, embarked as a passenger in the Por- . poise storeship,' in order to lay his charts and journals before the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, and obtain, if such should be their pleasure, another ship to complete the examination of Terra Australis.' Lieutenant Fowler, who commanded her, was directed by the Governor to take especial care to lose no time in getting to England by the route Captain Flinders might indicate.' The route he chose to pursue was that of Torres' strait, not only with the view of making the speediest passage, but of obtaining at the same time some additional knowledge of its navigation. The commanders of two ships bound for Batavia being desirous of accompanying him obtained permission to do so. These ships were the Bridgewater, commanded by Captain Palmer, and the Cato, of London, commanded by Captain Park. In pursuing their coarse to the northward, on the night of the 17th of August, the Porpoise suddenly found herself among breakers, and momentarily afterwards, striking upon a coral reef, took a fearful heel over her larboard beam ends. Her foremast was carried away at the second or third shock, and her bottom was presently reported to be stove in, and the hold full of water. The Cato and the Bridgewater were not more than a cable's length from the Porpoise, and they appeared to approach so closely that their running aboard each other seemed inevitable.. This was an aweful moment; the utmost silence prevailed ; and