On some of Flinders' charts there are dotted
lines to indicate coasts which he had not been able to explore fully.
would not set down as a statement of fact what he had not verified.
History, too, has its dotted lines, where supposition fills up gaps for
which we have no certain information. There is no harm in them; there is
some advantage. But we had better take care that they remain dotted lines
until we can ink them over with certainty, and not mistake a possibly
wrong guess for a fact.
It is also necessary to distinguish between the exalted motives of which
we may think the First Consul capable in 1800, and for a year or two
after, and the use he would have made five, eight, or ten years later of
any opportunities of damaging the possessions and the prestige of Great
Britain. In the full tide of his passionate hatred against the nation
that mocked and blocked and defied him at every turn of his foreign
policy, he would unquestionably have been delighted to seize any
opportunity of striking a blow at British power anywhere. He kept Decaen
at Mauritius in the hope that events might favour an attempt on India. He
would have used discoveries made in Australasia, as he would have used
Fulton's steamboat in 1807, to injure his enemy, could he have done so
effectually. But to do that involved the possession of great naval
strength, and the services of an admiral fit to meet upon the high seas
that slim, one-armed, one-eyed man whose energy and genius were equal to
a fleet of frigates to the dogged nation whose hero he was; and in both
these requirements the Emperor was deficient.
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