Elaine Forrestal

Louis de Freycinet’s reflections on New South Wales

This week something very exciting arrived for me in the mail. It’s a weighty tome, as many old and rare books are, bound in green cloth and titled Reflections on New South Wales 1788 – 1839, by Louis de Freycinet. There is an explanation on the title page which reads:

Freycinet’s examination of the history and progress of the colony of New South Wales during the first fifty two years based on his visit to Port Jackson as Commander of the Uranie in 1819, his earlier visit with the Baudin voyage in 1802, his interviews and subsequent correspondence with the colonists themselves, and his close analysis of the published literature to 1839.

Wow!

Reflections on New South Wales 1788 – 1839, by Louis de Freycinet

I had already read Louis official report to the Minister for the Navy in the Archive Nationale in Paris. But the text of this book was written between 1824, four years after his return to France, and 1844, the year in which he died. This is the ‘work’ that Rose refers to in her letters as ‘taking up so much of Louis’ time’ in the years after they returned from their voyage around the world. In France this book was published under the title Voyage autour du monde. The version I have, released in 2001, has been edited and translated into English by Thomas Cullity, of Margaret River fame.

Although the Young Adult version of Rose’s voyage around the world with her husband will be released in April, I am still planning to write the full story, for an adult audience, later in the year as part of my PhD. Naturally Louis’ account focuses on different things from Rose’s. HIs writing is very readable and provides a contrast to both Rose’s journal and his own formal report to his superiors in the Navy – but he still never mentions that Rose was present on the Uranie. There are times when he uses ‘we’ and it is likely that Rose in the other person he is referring to, but he leaves the collective pronoun for his readers to interpret for themselves. I am halfway through my first reading of this amazing birthday/Christmas present and already I know that I will be revisiting it many times.

Thank you, Peter.