1951-02-01, English, Article, Journal or magazine article edition: Rose de Freycinet. First White Woman to Land in Western Australia. (?) (1 February 1951) Royal Australian Historical Society.

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Rose de Freycinet. First White Woman to Land in Western Australia. (?) (1 February 1951)
 
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  • xna, The Society, 1951-02-01
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Title
  • Rose de Freycinet. First White Woman to Land in Western Australia. (?) (1 February 1951)
Appears In
  • Journal and proceedings, no.Vol 37 Part 1, 1951-02-01, p.60 (ISSN: 1325-9261)
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  • Royal Australian Historical Society.
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  • By FRANK H. GOLDSMITH.
Published
  • xna, The Society, 1951-02-01
Physical Description
  • 7228 words
  • article
  • illustration
  • Journals
  • Magazines
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  • Journal and proceedings
  • Vol. 37 Part. 1 (1951)
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  • Rose de Freycinet. First White Woman to Land in Western Australia. (?) By FRANK H. GOLDSMITH. {Read before the Society, June 27, 1950.) I propose to-night to tell you a story. It is a true but very unusual story; and though most of you may have heard parts of it before, a considerable portion of it vill be new enough, I hope, to warrant your compassionate tolerance for my rehearsal of those parts which are not altogether new. It is difficult in these modern days of historical and literary research to stumble over incidents which give a new trend to history. The best we can hope for is that some forgotten facts, some overlooked diary, some misplaced placed letters of long ago, may turn up, presenting in some different light the unfilled-in blanks of history, many of which we have been so apt to take for granted. If I achieve some progress in that direction to-night, my purpose pose will have been fulfilled. The parts which women have played in the history of our modern world have been largely overshadowed, numerically at least, by mere men, although here and there, like mileposts along the road to progress, we have out Cleopatras, our Joans of Arc, our Madame Curies all “adorning a tale” and “pointing a moral,” as Samuel Johnson would have it. Therefore, it may seem more fitting and not less chivalrous were I to tell you of a woman who made history —so far as Australia is concerned—and in so doing unfolded a romance; a romance showing a deep wifely devotion—an affection which ran to great heights, and which persisted in the face of all adversity. Before dealing in full with the subject of my discussion, may I be permitted—still drawing on your benevolence—to provide a background to the period in which Rose de Freycinet lived. The Battle of Trafalgar and the death of Lord Nelson were to her eight years past; Robert Fulton had created a sensation with his steamboat; the 1812 war between Great Britain and the United States was mellowing into history; Waterloo had been fought; Napoleon had been deposed and Louis XVIII. was on the throne of France; France was in a state of political confusion and readjustment, adjustment, while England was going ahead with her colonial acquisitions, particularly in Ceylon and the Cape of Good Hope. Such was the brief and hurried picture of the time when the French Government commissioned Captain Louis Claude de Freycinet, a naval captain, to conduct a voyage of exploration to the South Seas. Fifteen years earlier he had served under Commodore Nicolas Baudin. Baudin, it may be remembered, sailed the Geographe as the flagship of the squadron, with Captain Hamelin in the Naturaliste, and Ensign de Freycinet in the Casuarina, a vessel of 300 tons only. This new expedition, however, was to be no renewed search for La Perouse, but a scientific and general investigation gation of southern lands; and it was to be carried out by one ship alone, the corvette I’Uranie. Autumn was tinting the countryside of France, the harvests had been reaped and were being stowed away in barns against the coming winter, as I’Uranie rode at anchor in Toulon Harbour on the night of September 16, 1817. The little ship had been overhauled from masthead head to keelson; she was filled with food for a long trip; her crew had been carefully selected for an arduous journey; and the news had been circulated that she would sail with the first breeze early next morning. The sailors still had their last farewells to make, their final jollifications, before wending their unsteady way back to the ship. The night was dark, with clouds obscuring the sky. The hour was approaching midnight. Up the gangway of the French naval corvette quietly walked three people. An onlooker would have said they desired to disturb no one as they virtually sneaked on board. One was Captain Louis de Freycinet himself, who, of course, had every right to be on his ship. Both the others were in civilian attire. One was a man about the same age as the captain, while the third was a slight boyish figure 'wearing the uniform of a cabin-boy. The trio timidly climbed towards the bridge of the vessel. They had not proceeded far when, out of the dark, came the officer’s challenge. “Who are they, and where were they going ? ” was the text of the inquiry. The answer came from the civilian. Meanwhile, the youth, showing some agitation, did not reply. The civilian said he was a friend of the captain; he was on board to bid him ‘ ‘ bon voyage, ’ ’ and the youth with him was his son. In the darkness, illumined only with a few ship's lights, the challenging officer allowed his eyes to run up and down the graceful figure in blue smock and blue pantalons—the traditional garb of the French cabin-boy. An incredulous smile crept over the officer’s face, no doubt, as the light footsteps and neat ankles moved off towards Captain de Freycinet's cabin, behind the man who had claimed the youth as his son. “Your son, monsieur !” A querulous inflection of the voice, a gentle shrug of the shoulders. Who was he, to criticize the captain’s visitors ! Anyhow, it was a cabin-boy. The officer was not to know—not then at least—that but a few brief hours before, a Toulon barber, sworn to secrecy, had with scissors and comb clipped a luxurious head of hair which had once been a woman’s pride. Later, climbing into her pantalons—her “levite bleue et pantalons de la meme couleur”—she had studied herself in her mirror. Yes, the figure was none other than the twenty-threeyear-old year-old bride of the Captain. Little wonder, then, that she was grateful to the moon for hiding behind the dark clouds and conniving at her decision. Had her plan been known to the Minister of Marine, there would have been a peremptory order for her to be placed ashore immediately, for it was strictly against regulations in the French Navy for women to be among a ship’s complement. Writing later of the momentous decision she had made, Rose de Freycinet said that not for a moment did she entertain the idea of being separated from her husband, but was determined to remain by his side at all times, prepared to share the risks of a perilous expedition to unknown places, some of which were reputed to be the worst in the world. Neither the pressing exhortation of the family, nor the discouragement of her close friends in high places (occasioned by the fear that her presence on board might detract from the success of the expedition), could shake her conviction that she would make a useful companion for her cherished husband. Indeed, in August, 1828—eight years after her return —commenting on this period of her life, Rose wrote : I had to choose between my great love, and the prejudice which would necessarily be raised against me by a large part of the world. .... I did the thing which seemed to me to be best both for my husband and for myself. Life is so short, that one should enjoy it to the full, and I have never regretted the part that I played, because I was often a great help to my husband. Often I was obliged to undergo considerable privations during those three years, but these were offset by the thought that I was sometimes of help. I look back on the period with real satisfaction and althought 1 have perhaps some regrets, they are few. Little did the young wife know what was before her on that morning of September 17, 1817, as I’Uranie left Toulon, and she found time to write a farewell letter to her brother-in-law, Henri de Freycinet, of whom she was fond, and to whom she had gone with her confidences. Regrettably little is known of Madame de Freycinet’s early life. Born on September 29, 1794, at St Juliendu-Sault, du-Sault, Department of Yonne, Rose-Marie Pinon was married in Paris on June 6, 1814, to Louis Claude de Saulces de Freycinet, then a captain of frigate. When she had made her decision to undertake the hazardous journey, she promised to keep a diary for the benefit of a near relative, Madame Caroline de Nanteuil (nee Barillon). Notes in the diary which were made available for publication by Baron de Freycinet, a nephew of Louis de Freycinet, suggest that Caroline was a cousin. Rose wrote : It is for you only, my sweet and dear friend, that I am going to write this journal. I find great pleasure in doing it, as it is a thing which you have requested, and which I hope you will find pleasing. I shall include everything that happens to me, whether it be happy or sad, in the hope of capturing your attention, and the interests of the person so dear to me. Rose de Freycinet made excuses for her literary style, which she said was often inappropriate, and pointed out that she was merely setting down the events as they happened. It is fortunate that she did, for they provide those little womanly observations which help to give historians a deeper appreciation of some of those items which represent a prosaic ship’s log. One of the little womanly touches which she reveals in her diary is that last letter to brother-in-law Henri, informing him personally of her departure, as the corvette was putting to sea. Henri, incidentally, died in 1840. That her departure caused some perturbation in the family is shown in the exchange of some letters between Henri and his brother Casimer, who, my researches lead me to believe, was the pastor of an old-established church district. These letters would appear to have been written after her departure had been revealed to the world, even though Roce-Marie had taken the considerate course of advising her brother-in-law of her action at the earliest possible moment. Word of the embarkation of Madame de Freycinet reached the ears of the Minister of Marine at Paris very soon after VTlranie ’s departure from Toulon. Unable to reach the ship in French waters, instructions were hurriedly sent to the French Consul at Gibraltar to demand explanations.” The run to “The Rock” was only a matter of a few days for the corvette, but by the time the Consul had received his instruction to intercept the ship it was well out to sea again, and Rose-Marie was able to carefully pack away for future use, if needed, her “levite bleue et pantalons de la meme couleur. ” Indeed, she confessed herself very glad to get into skirts again, because “le costume masculin m’embarrassait. ” So it is that we may envisage her accompanying her husband to the bridge of the ship in the warmth of the tropical sun, wearing the sashed, high-waisted costume of the lady of the period. After the departure of the corvette from Gibraltar, the Parisian newspapers came to learn of the escapade, and the official Moniteur published an account of the incident. After pointing to the fact that the conduct of Madame de Freycinet had contravened the regulations “which forbid the embarkation of women in vessels of State without special authorisation,” this official journal came as near to removing the sting of any criticism there might have been by adding : “This act of conjugal devotion votion deserves to be known.” Tongues apparently were wagging at this spicy bit of naval scandal, for Casimer write to Henri concerning the newspaper criticism of Rose-Marie’s departure, saying : You have read in the newspapers of Rose’s departure, and I am sure that all this publicity will trouble her, as she wanted to keep her leaving so secret What will the Department of Marine think of such a thing ? Actually, as indicated earlier, the Minister had acted, but too late. Even when King Louis XVIII. was informed of this serious infraction of the naval rules, he commented that he considered it should be judged with indulgence, especially as “the example does not appear to be contagious’’—which, tagious’’—which, in less kingly but the more modern Australian slang, might be interpreted as : “Oh, forget Meanwhile, Captain de Freycinet had his hands full with the worries of settling down the crew and cargo for the long expedition. Sailing in southern seas was to be no new experience for Captain de Freycinet, because fifteen years earlier he had followed the routes of some of the earliest French navigators. Omitting the claims made for the Frenchman, Binot Paulmier de Gonneville, of Harfleur, that he discovered Terre Australe in 1503—0 n the grounds that all evidence seems to point to the fact that it was Madagascar he reached—the French were inactive until early in the eighteenth century. Fourteen years before Captain James Cook sighted Eastern Australia, Charles de Brosses, the b rench philosopher, directed his Government’s attention to the need for exploring the oceans that washed the unknown known lands in the south. In his Histoire des Navigations aux Terres Australes, he indicated the advantages that might accrue to France from such a voyage. The voyages of Carteret (1766-9), Bougainville (1768), Marion du Fresne (1771-2), and Laperouse (1785-8) flit quickly through the mind. We recall, too, that between 1772 and 1829 five French expeditions had visited the coast of Western Australia. These in turn were led by Captains Saint Allouarn, D’Entrecasteaux, Baudin, de Freycinet, and Dumont d’Urville. I do not propose to refer further to these, except to ask indulgence to make one observation concerning ing St Allouarn’s expedition in his 300-ton ship Gros \ entre. To this observation I wish to make a pertinent comment at the conclusion. St Allouarn, in his journal of March 30, 1772, records a landing at “latitude observed South 29 degrees 29 minutes; estimated 29 degrees 30 minutes, longitude east 109.9 degrees.” Please remember Greenwich was not the international zero of longitude in those days, and French navigators based their zero on Paris. This would appear to correct the astronomical “fix” for a landing on the Western Australian coast about mid-way between where now stand Perth and Geraldton. St Allouarn’s diary continues to relate how he (St Allouarn) sent a yawl under an officer to take note of the country, assisted by the crew of the yawl and nine soldiers. They landed in a small bay .... and covered about three leagues in the country without finding a living soul. Let me here quote from the actual record : On his return to the coast M. de Mings took possession of the land to N.W.N. of the ship, by hoisting a flag; the formal document of possession being couched in the terms usual in such cases, placed in a bottle and buried at the foot of a small shrub, near to which were placed two six-franc coins. A similar bottle had been left behind at Kerguelen Islands by St Allouarn, and was found by Captain Cook in 1776. The Western Australian incident is further confirmed by the diary of Midshipman Rosily, who, writing at the time, says : “M. Saint Allouarn sent Mengault to take possession of this part of the land. ’ ’ For the alert-minded, who may have noticed that the records show it was de Mings in one journal and Mengault in another, who was commanded to take possession of the land, might I point out that Mingot’s name is spelt variously ously as Mingot, Maingaud, Mings, or Mengault. Skipping the expedition in 1792 of Bruni D ’Entrecasteaux teaux in his search for Laperouse, there followed the expedition led by Captain Nicolas Baudin of 1800-4. As I have said, Baudin was in the Geographe, Hamelin in the Naturaliste, whilst Lieutenant de Freycinet commanded the Casuarina. This expedition gave de Freycinet some knowledge of the Western Australian coast. When returning southward from Timor they anchored off the mouth of the Swan River (Riviere des Cygnes). Between June 17-22, 1801, they explored this river, probably to a short distance beyond the junction of the Helena River, intending to trace the source of the main stream. The leader, M. Heirisson, was reluctantly obliged to abandon this purpose, due to provisions running short. The name of one of their party, Moreau, was given to Moreau Inlet (identified later as the Canning River), and that of their leader to Ileirisson Islands, on which the present Perth Causeway was constructed. A new causeway—the third in the State’s history—is now being built, and its slow progress is already the butt of vaudeville comedians. It was here the party caught sight for the first time of the black swans. They appear, too, to have climbed what is now known as Mount Eliza in King’s Park, where they described the view obtained as being particularly striking and beautiful. It is apparent, therefore, that de Freycinet was anxious to renew his explorations in his own way as commander mander of the expedition, instead of as the most junior officer, as was the case when he was with Baudin. It must have been with no little trepidation, too, that he finally acceded to the pressure on the part of his young wife to allow her to accompany him. Captain de Freycinet cinet knew only too well what the penalties would be should the Department of Marine learn of his infraction of the regulations. While I have been rounding out the background of the young couple, and making reference to contemporary exploration, I appear to have been most unchivalrous towards Madame Rose-Marie, who, I believe, I left “standing on the bridge of the ship in the warmth of the equatorial sun, dressed in her high-waisted costume of the period.” Her peace of mind was shortly to be rudely shocked. After leaving Gibraltar for the open seas of the Atlantic on September 18, 1817, a cry went up from the lookout as a ship to be identified as a Barbary pirate was observed bearing down upon the French ship. Rose- Marie had read in the French papers and elsewhere of the horrid Mohammedans of Algiers and Morocco, who preyed upon merchant ships and frequently carried off the crews into slavery. What if they should overpower this small vessel and drag her off to the harem, to be separated from her husband ! She hurriedly changed into her recently discarded blue cabin-boy’s clothes again and hid her feminine garments. In retrospect, this would appear to be almost the ultimate in hope and faith, for if her blue pantalons did not disguise her from busy ship’s officers in France how could they be expected to protect her from the eyes of the Prophet’s followers, who, by popular belief at least had a nimble eye for lush femininity. The two ships drew closer together. The French flag was fluttering from the masthead, and, as the corsair bore down towards VUranie, Captain de Freycinet ordered the ship’s guns to be manned. This hostile gesture would have been clearly visible to the pirate ship. It had its effect; the pirate ship did not risk a closer acquaintance, but drew away and soon disappeared below the horizon. It was all over in an hour, but Rose-Marie records how, even in the years that were to come, she trembled at the thought of those anxious sixty minutes. Sailing through tropic seas, time passed all too quickly. Writing in her diary, Rose-Marie says : I had bought a guitar at Toulon which which I spent manyhappy happy hours. Although I had not taken lessons in France, apart from the correct position of my hands, I worked hard to master it. I studied for an hour each day, and wrote in my diary for an hour daily, without fail. I also devoted an hour each day to the improvement provement of my English, and an hour at needlework. In this manner the end of the day arrived without finding me bored. At Capetown and Mauritius there were dinners, balls and fetes in honour of the solitary lady of the expedition. The name of Mauritius reminds me, too, that Rose-Marie had another occupation to those mentioned above, which she also refers to in her diary. She writes : A friend of Louis’ who was forced to leave Mauritius had with him a young child born him by a colored woman. Louis, who was greatly attached to this friend, thought it wise to bring the child on board as well, and charged me with his education. Normally these half-caste children are very intelligent and earn quickly, but this one unfortunately was a peculiar case. He was seven years old when we left Mauritius, and could neither read nor write. He caused me much trouble not only at his lessons, but also because he never became accustomed to obey me; and this took my mind off the fact that Louis sees very little of me, owing to the multitudinous demands on his time. And so the little VUranie sailed on, at first experiencing cing contrary winds, until they were six days out from St Paul, when good winds carried them towards the coast of New Holland (Australia), when Rose-Marie began to notice the cold. There is another little wifely touch to an incident which is worthy of mention. It occurred as the ship was expecting to make a landfall. Let me give it in her words, allowing perhaps for a somewhat ragged translation. She says : As we did not expect to find fresh water at the Bay of “Cliiens marins,” Louis constructed a condenser which was in working order when we came into sight of the low-lying arid coast of New Holland. The fire was lighted in the furnace and everything seemed to be going well. There was a copious flow of water; tasting assured us that it was drinkable, when something happened which grieved us all and brought mortal fear to some. The fire had caught the stove-pipe of the condenser and the bridge began to burn. Prompt measures removed our fears, but my poor Louis in his zeal to extinguish tinguish the fire, had caught hold of a bar of red-hot iron, and burned the whole of his hand. The event caused me some anguished moments, as I was unable to lavish my care upon him. He would not leave the plant until everything was safe, and it was impossible for me to mix in the scuffle. Luckily, the alert and skilful attention tion of the doctor diminished his suffering and the burn had no serious consequences. At 5 o’clock on Sept 12, 1818 we anchored at the entry of the bay of “Chiens-marins” near the Dirk Hartog Island. The same evening the condenser which still gave plenty of water was lighted, but my fears of fire continued all the more because the bridge heated most alarmingly at the spot nearest the furnace. They had to wet it continually. It seems that the furnace is rather too large for the capacity of the plant. Louis has all his notes and data on the subject. Otherwise, the experiment was a great success and the water always flows abundantly. Thus, almost a year to the day after VUranie had left Toulon, the ship was standing off the coast of Western Australia, at the spot known as Shark Bay, with a lone Frenchwoman looking over the side of the ship at a sandy, barren strip of coast. Here is Rose-Marie’s own story of her approach to, and landing on, the Western Australian coast : On the 13th Louis sent a boat ashore to Dirk Hartog Island to take possession of an inscription left by the Dutch who landed there about 1600. It is a precious thing for us to take back to Paris. As soon as the boat was despatched, we set sail for a further advance up the bay. At 6 p.m. we anchored in Dampier Bay in six fathoms and the following morning they sent the longboat boat to establish an Observatory. Louis was somewhat astonished that there was no sign of the return of the party sent to the island, for those who landed had only victuals to last them till the evening of the 14th, and it would be impossible for them to find in this wretched country, any nourishment, ment, or even a drop of water. On the 15th M. Duperrey set out in a boat to survey the coastline; the observatory had been set up in another place. Louis and I landed on the 16th. This trip was not too pleasant, for the bottom is so level that at half a league from land, the boats could no longer find enough water to float them. Two sailors had to carry me to the shore, and all the men had to wade. At length we found a footing at the spot that my husband thought most suitable for a camp. As soon as we arrived, we saw on the crest of the sandhills which flank the sea, several people whom we took at first to be some of the crew who had gone hunting- but on nearer approach, we recognised them as a band of savages, entirely naked, armed with javelins and spears. They were threatening us and indicating to us to return to the ship. Louis had only one officer with him and the two men who had carried me ashore; the others had scattered. He wished to advance to meet them, but not knowing how many he had to deal with, he decided to summon those who were at the camp about a league away, then to go in force towards them, to greet them in a friendly spirit, and to do no harm to them unless they showed fight. It was then that I remembered what you said to me in one of your letters to Toulon; that I should hide behind Louis at the first sight of savages. In truth, I confess I was afraid, and would gladly have hidden myself. Returning to the spot where we disembarked, we found our lunch ready, and after stretching a sail as a shelter from the heat of the sun, we made a good meal, not only of the ship’s provisions but of excellent oysters which we found on the rocks. They were decidedly better than those I had eaten in Paris under more comfortable fortable circumstances. We went on board in the evening, and fully expected that the other bout would have returned, but they told us with great anxiety that there was no news of it. Louis had just decided to send out a search party the following morning, when about- 2 o’clock it appeared on the horizon. On the 18th I went ashore with Louis, and we spent several days camping in a tent. This stay on terra firma was not very NATIVES AT SHARK BAY. (From Duplomb’s edition of Madame de Freycinet’s “Journal,” by courtesy of the Mitchell Library, Sydney.) pleasant to me, the country being treeless and without vegetation. One cannot enjoy walking on burning sand. Let me break in here to record what Jacques Arago, the draftsman to the expedition, had to say about the spot at Shark Bay (Western Australia), where Rose-Marie landed. In his journal he writes : There is first an expanse 40 to 60 feet wide beyond the reach of the high tides. Then a cliff, partly white as the whitest chalk, partly slashed horizontally with red bands like the brightest bloodstone, stone, and at the summit of these plateaux 15 to 20 fathoms high, are seen stunted tree-trunks, sunbaked, shrubs without leaves or verdure, thornbrakes, roots parasitic and murderous, and all this cast upon sand and powdered shells. Not a bird in the air, not a wild beast cry or harmless four-footed thing, or murmur of the least water-spring to gladden the earth. Desert everywhere with its cold heart-freezing solitude; with its vast echoless horizon. The soul is appeased by this sad and silent spectacle of a nerveless lifeless nature, evidently issued but a few centuries from the depths of the ocean. How wrong he was geologically, botanieally and in many other ways, we know to-day. Meanwhile, what of Madame de Freycinet ? '‘When the heat of the day had diminished a little, C plain and Madame de Freycinet received by the Governor at Koepang, Timor. (From Duplomb’s edition of Madame de Freycinet’s "Journal," by courtesy of the Mitchell Library, Sydney.) I gathered shells of which I have made a fine collection,” she says in the simplicity of her diary. She continues : On the 21st M. Duperrey brought us some enormous turtles which pleased us much as they make excellent soup, and the flesh stewed is quite tasty. The savages, frightened probably at the number of persons who landed, had retired the same day that we saw them. The day before, they had very timidly accosted the men at the first camp and had exchanged some native weapons with them for articles of tin, bead necklaces, etc. Several of the ship’s company, impatient to see the savages, decided to make an excursion inland, and, which was very thoughtless, took no provisions. The party separated; two of the wiser ones, seeing tracks and thinking of returning, made in the direction of the camp, but owing to the sameness of the country and its sandhills looking all alike, they only found their way at last after a march made painful by the heat and lack of water. The others all returned the following evening after two days without food, and with nothing to drink but the blood of a bird. With all our observations made, and water supply provided, we set sail at 11 o’clock on September 26, making for Timor with a favourable breeze. At six o’clock that evening, as they were continually taking soundings the depth diminished suddenly and a few minutes later, though we were far from land, w T e grounded on a sandbank. I leave you to imagine the situation in which 1 found mysielf at that moment, cast upon so horrible a coast without any hope or assistance. My courage forsook me utterly, and I could see nothing but horror about me. I supposed that, if the wind freshened, our poor VTJranie would be driven against rocks and broken to pieces. My husband came running to pacify me, assuring me that there was no danger, and that we should soon be on our way again. As he was needed on the bridge, I remained a prey to my fears. The ship’s medical officer (M. Quoy) realising my despair, was obliging enough to come to reassure me and keep me company. I confess I appreciated ciated this delicate attention very much. He restored my peace of mind somewhat by proving to me that there was no danger. In fact they dropped the anchors and the ship being lightened, the rising tide refloated us. All that night though, we had only an inch or two of water under the ship. On the morrow at daybreak, Louis sent men to take soundings, and having found a channel, we set sail again, after having touched bottom once or twice lightly. Then we set a course well out to sea and made for Timor, where we intend to stay some time. There ends Madame de Freycinet's references to the Western Australian coast, and I expect you all know of the subsequent course of the ship in Australian waters, especially with reference to the social festivities held in Sydney in her honour. Madame de Freycinet, however, was not to be spared further fears and apprehensions, for on February 7, 1820, when in the Bay of Success at Terra del Fuego a * 1 furious hurricane” blew up, which caused them to cut the ship’s cables and run under bare poles for two successive days. The corvette finally ran aground and became wrecked at French Bay on February 13. They made a rendezvous at Malouine Island (Falklands), which they quitted on April 17, 1820, on board an American vessel which accidentaally dentaally visited the place, and which Captain de Freycinet cinet later purchased. In this vessel, which he renamed the Physicienne, they put into Monte Video. After the stay of a month at the River Plate, they sailed for Rio de Janeiro, finally returning to France on November 12, 1820, the ship being laid up at Havre. The name of Madame de Freycinet very rightly has a place on our Western Australian coast, for a projection to the east of the Peron Peninsula in Shark Bay was named Cape Rose by her husband, and continues to be so known to this day. A small island in the Navigator Group in the Pacific was also named Rose Island after her, and the botanist of Wranie called two plants after her maiden name of Pinon. One is Hibiscus pinoneanus, and the other a fern, Pinonia. Upon their return to France, the still much-attached couple settled down to a quiet life—he to write the work which records the story of his voyage, while she lived for twelve years without ever going to sea again. Louis, even during the voyage, had been in poor health, and continued to suffer upon his return. In 1832 he went down, a victim to cholera, which at that time was ravaging Paris. Although she herself was far from well, Madame de Freycinet cinet would permit nobody else to attend her husband. The great strain of carrying out this self-imposed task proved too much for her, and Louis lost his adored and adoring wife on May 7, 1832, also a victim of cholera, at the early age of thirty-eight. Louis recovered, to survive his cultured wife by ten years. Such was the story of a brave, educated and faithful wife. In what I may be permitted to term a “concluding summary,” I would like to put accent on a number of points, some of which may have escaped notice as my paper proceeded. (1) Confusion concerning date of Captain de Freycinet’s cinet’s second visit to Western Australia : There appears to be some uncertainty among historians as to the year of the visit of Captain Louis de Freycinet in I’TJranie to the coast of Western Australia. At least two prominent writers have indicated that the visit took place during the year 1817. Another suggests that the ship did not leave France until 1818. The best references which I can find show that the visit to Western Australia was made during the year 1818. The late Mr Malcolm Fraser, one-time Western Australian tralian Government Statistician and a keen historical writer on Western Australia, in quoting from both the geographical survey of Shark Bay made by M. Duperrey, and the botanical notes given by M. Gaudichaud, the botanist, in his Voyage Botanique autour du monde, fixes the date of the visit to the Western Australian coast as 1818. W. B. Kimberly, in his History of West Australia , published in 1897 by F. W. Niven &​ Co., of Melbourne, is careful to note that de Freycinet anchored in Dampier Bay in 1818. Perhaps the most authentic of all is the journal of Captain de Freycinet himself and the diary kept by his very attached wife, which, without doubt, places the departure parture of rUranie from Toulon as September 17, 1817; Madame de Freycinet’s landing on the'Western Australian coast as September 16, 1818; the arrival of the ship at Port Jackson as November 17, 1819, and its loss in the Falkland Islands as February 13, 1820. (2) Debt which Australia owes to early French exploration ploration : Without disparaging in any way what the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English have done in the matter of exploration in these Australian waters, it does appear that insufficient recognition is given to the work of equally intrepid Frenchmen. Earlier this evening 1 lightly touched upon the names of many Frenchmen who have all played some part in discovering or exploring our continent. It would seem to me that in the histories and the school-books of to-day, the part the French played is likely to be obscured, if not obliterated, by undue accent on the efforts of others. The Western Australian coast is plentifully fully besprinkled with names bestowed on it by French navigators. de Freycinet himself gave his name to a cape about twenty miles north of Cape Leeuwin, and not far south of the well-known Yallingup Caves country in Western Australia. Freycinet Estuary, the most westerly of the two indentations comprising Shark Bay, is another, while Mount Casuarina (named after Freycinet’s first ship) marks a spot in the extreme north of the State to the north-north-west of the present meat-export town of Wyndham. The other States can lay similar claim to French names, so that all in all it must be admitted that the French explorers did a good job, and should be recognized nized for it. (3) French Annexation Plans : A number of writers on French exploration in Australia have been at pains to stress that the French at no time had any ideas of annexation tion or colonization of Australia, and many school-books, either by direct statement or inference, give support to the belief that the ships merely sailed for the purpose of scientific and general exploration. A closer examination shows that the English at this time were anxious to expand the Empire, and that there was no little rivalry, even jealousy, to prompt them to expend money on expeditions. Certainly Captain Flinders at the end of 1801 rounded Cape Leeuwin and entered King George’s Sound—where Albany now stands. (Incidentally, his lieutenant was John Franklin, whose fame through later exploits in the Arctic can never be dimmed.) Lieutenant Phillip Parker King in 1817 made an Admiralty survey of the North- West coast, but it was the later visit of the French explorers plorers which spurred the British to make a settlement at Western Port in 1826 and at Albany, in Western Australia, in 1829. A well-known book of reference published in Australia says : ‘ ‘ There is no historical evidence to justify the belief that France at any time formulated plans for occupying any portion of Australia.” In regard to that, it is fitting to recall my earlier reference to the visit to the Western Australian shores of M. St Allouarn in 1772, when he “ annexed the country by hoisting the flag; the formal document of possession being couched in the terms usual in such cases, placed in a bottle and buried at the foot of a small shrub, near to which were placed two six-franc coins.” In this connexion it is interesting to record that the latitudinal and longitudinal “fixes” which St Allouarn gave in his log were some time ago referred to by the then Surveyor-General of Western Australia. His observations tions are worthy of note. lie wrote : There seems no doubt from the extract from the journal of Captain St Allouarn that possession was taken of Western Australia in 1772, the latitude as observed being approximately that of the town of Three Springs, but the longitude of 109 degrees 9 minutes indicated —if referred to Greenwich —would place the position nearly 400 miles out in the Indian Ocean. I think however, at the time the observation was taken, there was no international agreement as to the use of Greenwich as the standard of longitude, and the longitude shown was probably deduced from that of Paris. This would be equivalent to approximately 111 degrees 29 minutes east from Greenwich. The approximate longitude of the coast at latitude 29 degrees 9 minutes south, is 114 degrees 50 minutes, showing an error of about 3 degrees 21 minutes—equivalent to 13 minutes 25 seconds in time. Allowing for the error in the chronometer, which probably had not been checked for many months and also the error in the local time observation, the difference of 13 minutes 25 seconds can easily be accounted for. Ido not think that the observed latitude could be guaranteed correct to one minute north or south, so that any search made for the bottle buried at the foot of a young tree, would have to extend over a distance of two miles along the coastline. line. At the first convenient opportunity, I will have a search made to see if it would be possible to locate the tree and whatever is buried near it. Some years have passed since that was written, but still the bottle with its document of annexation has not been found. During World War 11., coastguards patrolled that particular area without giving thought to 200-yearolcl olcl history. Apparently the document which would give final proof to France’s plan of annexation awaits discovery by lucky chance. (4) Madame de Freycinet was first Frenchwoman to circumnavigate the world : The claim to this would appear to be beyond dispute. Shortly after Rose-Marie de Freycinet's cinet's return to France the claim apparently was made and was unchallenged. The late Professor Ernest Scott also supported the claim in his historical writings. Time has given ample opportunity for any corrections to be made, if proof there be. Therefore I think we can accept Madame de Freycinet into the ranks of the immortals in performing one of the world’s “firsts.'’ (5) First European woman to set foot on the mainland land of Western Australia : Finally, I make the claim that twenty-four-year-old Rose-Marie de Freycinet was the first woman to set foot on the mainland of Western Australia. When I was preparing matter for my book, Treasure Lies Buried Here, and in particular in referring to Captain Pelsart's loss of his ship, the Batavia, at Houtman’s Abrolhos Archipelago, I exhausted every avenue open to me to ascertain whether any of the womenfolk who were castaway on those inhospitable islets ever set foot on the mainland, which is about forty statute miles distant to the east. I failed to find any suggestion to support such a belief, and none of the other expeditions before, or up to 1818, appear to have carried a member of the fair sex in their complement, and to have landed on the mainland of Western Australia. Of course, this would be about thirty years after the first convict women landed with the First Fleet in New South Wales. Quoting from the journal of A. Bowes on February 5, 1788 : “Five of the women who had the best characters were this day landed on the left side of the Cove near the Governor’s House.” Archbishop Eris O’Brien, in his Foundation of Australia, tralia, dealing with the first settlement in New South Wales, indicates that the women other than the convicts comprised prised twenty-seven wives of marines and the wife of the chaplain. Therefore, reverting to Madame de Freycinet, in the Australian-ese of the late C. J. Dennis, I “dips me lid” to the memory of a brave-hearted stowaway, a loving, charming and faithful wife, and to a woman who has earned a place for herself in the history of Australia, as the first white woman to land in Western Australia. If I have convinced you that you also should do homage to the memory of a gallant little woman, my purpose will have been achieved. ACKNOWLEDGMENT. I acknowledge gratefully the assistance in compiling this article given me by Miss Mollie Lukis, Western Australian State Archivist, and Miss Phyllis Mander Jones, 8.A., Mitchell Librarian, Sydney.
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