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and delivered them to the Baron Hyde de Neuville ; who on taking charge of them informed me that they were to be placed in a cenotaph to be erected in a new inuseum, dedicated to the Dauphin, with an inscription describing their loss and recovery.
On the 22d of February I received a letter from his Excellency the Minister of Marine, informing me that his most Christian Majesty Charles the Tenth, as a mark of his royal approval of my services, was pleased to confer on me the order of knighthood, in the grade of Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, with a sufficient sum in cash to defray the expenses
my voyage to Europe, also an annuity of 4,000 francs
my own life, and half that amount to my family in case they should survive me. I returned my most grateful thanks to this illus trious prince, for his generous condescension in thus noticing and approving of my services.
On Monday the 2d of March following I was taken to the French court by his Excellency the Minister of Marine, and had the honour of being presented to the King: who received me very graciously, and conversed with me in the English language, which he speaks fluently, on the subject of my voyage. He appeared to be perfectly well acquainted with the history of la Pérouse's expedition, and addressed several very judicious questions, to me regarding the
per annum for
circumstances attending the loss of that celebrated navigator. With an anxiety creditable to his feelings, he inquired what was my opinion as to the probability of any of the crew being yet alive on the Solomon Islands ? After an interview of half an hour I was allowed to retire, at which time this most amiable monarch made use of the following obliging expression, “Good bye, Captain Dillon ; I thank you.” I expressed my gratitude for his Majesty's consideration for myself and family, and withdrew.
While at Paris, I met several times with the Viscount Lesseps, who is the only person of the Count de la Pérouse's expedition now known to be alive. He was attached to the expedition for twenty-six months, and was landed at Kamschatka by the commander, for the purpose of conveying to France the charts, and accounts of the voyage, up to that period. This gentleman was between twenty-three and twenty-four years old when he joined the expedition : he is now sixtyfour, and appears active, strong, and in good health. He has been for some years past honourably employed as consul-general for France to Portugal.
I was happy to find the Viscount still alive and in good health, after the innumerable difficulties he experienced, in performing one of the longest land journeys ever accomplished.
I acompanied this nobleman one day to the
Admiralty for the purpose of viewing the relics procured by me at Mannicolo, which he examined minutely. The piece of board with the fleur de lis on it, he observed, had most probably once formed a part of the ornamental work of the Boussole's stern, on which the national arms of France were represented, as she was the only one of the ships bearing such an ornament. The silver sword-handle and silver spoon he also examined, and said that sạch swords were worn by the officers of the expedition, and that it was not unlikely the guard and spoon belonged to him, as he had left such articles on board the expedition, considering them burthensome on his long journey over snows, deserts, mountains, and through the wilds of Siberia. With regard to the brass guns, having looked at them atten, tively, he observed that the four largest were such as stood on the quarter-deck of both ships, and that the smallest gun was such as they had mounted in the long-boats when going on shore among the savages. On noticing the small mill-stone, he turned round suddenly and expressed his surprise, observing, “ This is the best thing you have got: we had some of them mounted on the quarter-deck to grind our grain.” It may be recollected by those who have read the account of la Pérouse's voyage, that it is said, “The mill-stones, when wrought by hand, were found not to answer well. Captain
de Langle, of the Astrolabe, improved on them, and got them to work by sails on board his ship, somewhat similarly equipped to windmills on shore.”
On my return from France to England, I received letters from Mr. Russell, the officer who sailed from New Zealand in charge of Martin Bushart and the other interpreters, informing me that he had landed them safely at their places of destination, and had himself arrived at Calcutta in August 1828, where he met with the welcome reception he justly merited, as the reward of his faithful services. It also afforded me much pleasure to find from the Literary Gazette of the 12th of April 1828, that by the learning and research of Sir William Betham, Ulster king at arms for Ireland, the armorial bearings on the bottom of the silver candlestick found at Mannicolo, as formerly described, were traced to the noble French family of Collignon, and that consequently the article so marked most probably belonged to a scientific gentleman of that name who was attached to the Boussole in the botanical department.
Extract from the Literary Gazette, for April 12th 1828.
At length information has been received of the fate of the unfortunate navigator, which has so long been involved in doubt and obscurity.
Captain Dillon having heard that two large vessels had been wrecked on one of the islands of the group called the
Friendly or Navigator's Islands, the Indian Government fitted out and dispatched a vessel called the Research, for the purpose of making every possible inquiry and investigation.
Mr. John Russell, an officer on board the Research, wrote to his uncle, Sir W. Betham, of Dublin, a letter, dated Nov. 7, 1827, which was received in Dublin on the 9th March 1828, of which the following is an extract :
“ New Zealand, Nov. 7, 1827. “ We have just arrived here after a voyage in search of la Pérouse, and I think we have been successful. Both his shipe vere wrecked the same night on a reef off the Mannicolo Island, which is situated in latitude 11 deg. 40 min. south, longitude 170 deg. east. One ship sunk in deep water immediately after striking, and all on board perished; the other was thrown on the reef, and some of the crew escaped, who saved sufficient materials from the wreck to build a small vessel, in which, with the exception of two men who continued on the island, and those who were killed by the natives, they left the place about five months after their shipwreck; their ultimate fate is still unknown. Of the two men who remained, one quitted the island in a canoe, the other died about three years since. We have obtained clear proof that the ships wrecked were French, having found and secured many pieces of silver and copper stamped with the fleur-de-lis. We have also two bells, one having on it an inscription-BAZIN M'A FAIT; on the other are the royal arms of France, We have also found a part of a plated candlestick, on which is engraved a shield with the following arms :-Azure a saltire; in chief a mullet, and in base a crescent or. Supporters two lions rampant regardant. The shield is surmounted with a viscount's coronet, We
* It ought to have been stated" the Solomon Isles.”
+ The latitude of our anchorage at Mannicolo was 11° 41' S., and the longitude 167° 5 E.