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Jean Francois Galaup LAPÉROUSE,
(1741-1788)

Read the ebook Laperouse, by Sir Ernest Scott

All Sydney people, and most of those who have visited the city, have seen the tall monument to Lapérouse overlooking Botany Bay. Many have perhaps read a little about him, and know the story of his surprising appearance in this harbour six days after the arrival of Governor Phillip with the First Fleet. One can hardly look at the obelisk, and at the tomb of Père Receveur near by, without picturing the departure of the French ships after bidding farewell to the English officers and colonists. Sitting at the edge of the cliff, one can follow Lapérouse out to sea, with the eye of imagination, until sails, poops and hulls diminish to the view and disappear below the hazy-blue horizon. We may be sure that some of Governor Phillip's people watched the sailing, and the lessening, and the melting away of the vessels, from just about the same place, one hundred and twenty four years ago. What they saw, and what we can imagine, was really the end of a romantic career, and the beginning of a mystery of the sea which even yet has not lost its fascination.

The story of that life is surely worth telling, and, we trust, worth reading; for it is that of a good, brave and high-minded man, a great sailor, and a true gentleman. The author has put into these few pages what he has gleaned from many volumes, some of them stout, heavy and dingy tomes, though delightful enough to "those who like that sort of thing". He hopes that the book may for many readers touch with new meaning those old weatherworn stones at Botany Bay, and make the personality of Lapérouse live again for such as nourish an interest in Australian history.

—From the Foreword to Laperouse, by Sir Ernest Scott, published in 1913.