BY ERNEST SCOTT.
METHUEN & CO., LTD.
36 ESSEX STREET W.C.
FIRST PUBLISHED JULY 7TH, 1910.
SECOND EDITION 1911.
The main object of this book is to exhibit the facts relative to the
expedition despatched to Australia by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1800 to 1804,
and to consider certain opinions which have been for many years current
regarding its purpose.
Until about five years ago the writer accepted without doubt the
conclusions presented by leading authorities. One has to do that in
regard to the vast mass of historical material, because, obviously,
however much disposed one may be to form one's opinions on tested facts
apart from the writings of historians, several lifetimes would not be
sufficient for a man to inquire for himself as to the truth of a bare
fraction of the conclusions with which research is concerned.
But it so happened that the writer was interested, for other reasons than
those disclosed in the following pages, in ascertaining exactly what was
done by the expedition commanded by Captain Nicolas Baudin on the coasts
which were labelled Terre Napoleon. On scrutinising the facts somewhat
narrowly, he was surprised to find that opinions accepted with
unquestioning faith began to crumble away for lack of evidence to support
So much is stated by way of showing that the book has not been written to
prove a conclusion formulated a priori, but with a sincere desire that
the truth about the matter should be known. We read much in modern books
devoted to the era of the Corsican about "the Napoleonic legend." There
seems to be, just here, a little sporadic Napoleonic legend, to which
vitality has been given from quarters whence have come some heavy blows
at the larger one.
The plan adopted has been, after a preliminary sketch of the colonial
situation of Great Britain and France in the period under review, to
bring upon the scene - the Terre Napoleon coasts - the discovery ship
Investigator, despatched by the British Government at about the same time
as Napoleon's vessels were engaged upon their task, and to describe the
meeting of the two captains, Flinders and Baudin, in Encounter Bay. Next,
the coasts denominated Terre Napoleon are traversed, and an estimate is
made of the original work done by Baudin, and of the serious omissions
for which he was to blame. A second part of the subject is then entered
upon. The origin of the expedition is traced, and the ships are carefully
followed throughout their voyage, with a view to elicit whether there
was, as alleged, a political purpose apart from the scientific work for
which the enterprise was undertaken at the instance of the Institute of
The two main points which the book handles are: (1) whether Napoleon's
object was to acquire territory in Australia and to found "a second
fatherland" for the French there; and (2) whether it is true, as so often
asserted, that the French plagiarised Flinders' charts for the purpose of
constructing their own. On both these points conclusions are reached
which are at variance with those commonly presented; but the evidence is
placed before the reader with sufficient amplitude to enable him to
arrive at a fair opinion on the facts, which, the author believes, are
A third point of some importance, and which is believed to be quite new,
relates to the representation of Port Phillip on the Terre Napoleon maps.
It is a curious fact that, much as has been written on the early history
of Australia, no writer, so far as the author is aware, has observed the
marked conflict of evidence between Captain Baudin and his own officers
as to that port having been seen by their discovery ships, and as to how
the representation of it on the French maps got there. Inasmuch as Port
Phillip is the most important harbour in the territory which was called
Terre Napoleon, the matter is peculiarly interesting. Yet, although the
author has consulted more than a score of volumes in which the expedition
is mentioned, or its work dealt with at some length, not one of the
writers has pointed out this sharp contradiction in testimony, still less
attempted to account for it. It is to be feared that in the writing of
Australian, as of much other history, there has been on the part of
authors a considerable amount of "taking in each other's washing."
The table of comparative chronology is designed to enable the reader to
see at a glance the dates of the occurrences described in the book, side
by side with those of important events in the world at large. It is
always an advantage, when studying a particular piece of history, to have
in mind other happenings of real consequence pertaining to the period
under review. Such a table should remind us of what Freeman spoke of as
the "unity and indivisibility of history," if it does no more.
A continent with a record of unruffled peace.
Causes of this variation from the usual course of history.
English and French colonisation during the Napoleonic wars.
The height of the Napoleonic empire and the entire loss of the French
The British colonial situation during the same period.
The colony at Port Jackson in 1800.
The French squadron in the Indian Ocean.
The audacious exploit of Commodore Dance, and Napoleon's direction to
"take Port Jackson" in 1810.
CHAPTER 1. FLINDERS AND THE INVESTIGATOR.
The Investigator at Kangaroo Island.
Thoroughness of Flinders' work.
His aims and methods.
His explorations; the theory of a Strait through Australia.
Completion of the map of the continents.
A direct succession of great navigators: Cook, Bligh, Flinders, and
What Flinders learnt in the school of Cook: comparison between the
healthy condition of his crew and the scurvy-stricken company on the
CHAPTER 2. THE AFFAIR OF ENCOUNTER BAY.