It came somewhat as a surprise to me to discover that Matthew Flinders, as well as being a brilliant navigator, cartographer and explorer, was also a writer of considerable ability. His delightful 18th century prose reminds me somewhat of Jane Austin - of whom he was a contemporary.
A description of his person will not be misplaced here. From the care that was taken of him, and the force of his own constitution, Trim grew to be one of the finest animals I ever saw; his size emulated that of his friends of Angora: his weight being from ten to twelve pounds according as our fresh-meatometer stood high or low. His tail was long, large, and bushy; and when he was animated by the presence of a stranger of the anti-catean race, it bristled out to a fearful size, whilst vivid flashes darted from his fiery eyes, though at other times he was candour and good nature itself. His head was small and round- his physiognomy bespoke intelligence and confidence - whiskers long and graceful, and his ears were cropped in a beautiful curve. Trim's robe was a clear jet black, with the exception of his four feet, which seemed to have been dipped in snow, and his under lip, which rivalled them in whiteness. He had also a white star on his breast, and it seemed as if nature had designed him for the prince and model of his race: I doubt whether Whittington's cat, of which so much has been said and written, was to be compared to him.
Let him, on the contrary, linger pleasantly over the history of a single man, a short period, until he thinks the thoughts of that man, is at home in the ways of that period. Though he is reading and thinking of the lifetime of a single man, he is really getting intimately acquainted with the history of a whole nation for a whole age. Charlotte Mason, Home Education pp 279
Epitaph for Trim
To the memory of Trim
the best and most illustrious of his Race,
the most affectionate of friends,
faithful of servants,
and best of creatures.
He made the Tour of the Globe,
and a voyage to Australia,
which he circumnavigated, and was ever the
delight and pleasure of his fellow voyagers.
Returning to Europe in 1803, he was shipwrecked
in the Great Equinoxial Ocean;
This danger escaped, he sought refuge and assistance
at the Isle of France, where he was made prisoner, contrary to the laws of
Justice, of Humanity, and of French National Faith;
and where, alas! he terminated his useful
career, by an untimely death,
being devoured by the Catophagi of
Many a time have I beheld his little merriments
and his superior intelligence with surprise:
Never will his like be seen again!
Trim was born in the Southern Indian Ocean,
in the Year 1799, and
perished as above at the Isle of France
Peace be to his shade, and
Honour to his memory