Page:Voyage in search of La Perouse, volume 1 (Stockdale).djvu/19

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( xiii )

INTRODUCTION.




NO intelligence had been received for three years respecting the ships Boussole and Astrolabe, commanded by M. de la PĂ©rouse, when, early in the year 1791, the Parisian Society of Natural History called the attention of the Constituent Assembly to the fate of that navigator, and his unfortunate companions.

The hope of recovering at least some wreck of an expedition undertaken to promote the sciences, induced the Assembly to send two other ships to steer the same course which those navigators must have pursued, after their departure from Botany Bay. Some of them, it was thought, might have escaped from the wreck, and might be confined in a desert island, or thrown upon some coast inhabited by savages. Perhaps they might be dragging out life in a distant clime, with their longing eyes continually fixed upon the sea, anxiously looking for that relief which they had a right to expect from their country.

On the 9th of February 1791, the following decree was passed upon this subject:

"The National Assembly having heard the

report