Terre Napoleon. A History Of French Explorations And Projects In Australia By Ernest Scott


The Admiralty was in later years severely blamed for compliance.
Circumstances that have been narrated in previous pages generated the - Page 170
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The Admiralty Was In Later Years Severely Blamed For Compliance. Circumstances That Have Been Narrated In Previous Pages Generated The

Suspicion that the real purpose of the expedition was "to ascertain the real state of New Holland, to discover what

Our colonists were doing, and what was left for the French to do, on this great continent in the event of a peace, to find some port in the neighbourhood of our settlements which should be to them what Pondicherry was to Hindustan, to rear the standard of Bonaparte on the first convenient spot."* (* Quarterly Review 4 43. There can be no doubt that this Quarterly article had a great influence in formulating the idea which has been current for nearly a century regarding Napoleon's deep designs. Paterson's History of New South Wales (1811) repeated portions of the article almost verbally, but without quotation marks (see Preface page 5), and many later writers have fed upon its leading themes, without submitting them to examination.) The fact that this sweeping condemnation was made in a powerful organ of opinion bitterly hostile to the administration which it meant to attack, would minimise its importance for us, a century later, were it not that more recent writers have adopted the same assumption. To accept it, we have not merely to disregard the total absence of evidence, but to believe that Spencer was befooled and that Otto deceived him. The application was, it was urged, "grounded on false pretences," and the passports were "fraudulently obtained." It would have been a piece of audacity of quite superb coolness for the French diplomatist to ask for British protection for ships on ostensible grounds of research, had their secret purpose been exactly opposite to the profession; and the British Minister would have been guilty of grave dereliction of duty had he not assured himself that Otto's representations were reliable.

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