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

 -  After Baudin had
made those investigations which his means permitted in the region of the
two large gulfs, the winter - Page 190
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After Baudin Had Made Those Investigations Which His Means Permitted In The Region Of The Two Large Gulfs, The Winter Season Was Again Approaching, When High Winds And Tempestuous Seas Might Be Anticipated.

It was therefore hoped by all on board that when the commandant decided to steer for the shelter and succour of Port Jackson, he would, as it was only sensible that he should, take the short route through Bass Strait.

In view of the distressed state of his company, it was positively cruel to think of doing otherwise. But there was, it seems, a peculiar vein of perversity in Baudin's character, which made him prone to do that which everybody wished him not to do. We may disregard many of the disparaging sentences in which Peron refers to "notre commandant" - never by name - because Peron so evidently detested Baudin that he is a doubtful witness in matters of conduct and character. We must also give due weight to the fact that we have no statement of Baudin's point of view on any matter for which he was blamed by colleagues who were at enmity with him. But even so, we have his unquestionable actions upon which to form a judgment; and it is difficult to characterise by any milder term than stupidity his determination to sail to Port Jackson from Kangaroo Island round by the south of Tasmania, a route at least six hundred miles out of his straight path. That he came to this decision after having himself sailed through Bass Strait from east to west, and thus learnt that the navigation was free from difficulty; when he had in his possession the charts of Bass and Flinders showing a clear course; during a period of storms when he would be quite certain to encounter worse weather by sailing farther south; when his crew were positively rotting with the scorbutic pestilence that made life all but intolerable to them, and attendance upon them almost too loathsome for endurance by the ship's surgeon; and when his supplies were at starvation limit in point of quantity and vermin-riddled in respect of quality that he resolved to take the long, stormy, southern route in face of these considerations, seems hardly to admit of explanation or excuse.

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