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The Flinders papersletters and documents about the explorer Matthew Flinders (1774-1814)
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FLI/11 Matthew Flinders' biographical tribute to his cat Trim 1809 (FLI11) Page 3

with the friction overcame the impelling power, he would give the ball a fresh impetus, but generally to turn its direction into an elliptic curve; at other times the form of the earth appeared to be the object of his experiments, and his ball was made to describe an oblate spheroid. The seamen took advantage of this his propensity to making experiments with globular bodies, and two of them would often place themselves, one at each end of the forecastle, and trundling a ball backwards and forwards from one to the other, would keep Trim in constant action running after it; his admiration of the planetary system having induced an habitual passion for every thing round that was in motion. Could Trim have had the benefit of an Orrery, [or even been present at Mr. (Walkers?) experiments in natural philosophy,] there can be no doubt as to the progress he would have made in the sublimest [sic] of sciences.Ω

His desire to gain a competent knowledge in practical seamanship, was not less than he showed for experimental philosophy. The replacing a top-mast carried away, or taking a reef in the sails were what most attracted his attention at sea; and at all times when there was more bustle on deck than usual, he never failed to be present and in the midst of it; for as I have before hinted, he was endowed with an unusual degree of confidence and courage, and having never received anything good from men, he believed all to be his friends, and he was the friend of all. When the nature of the bustle upon the deck was not understood by him, he would mew and rub his back up against the legs of one and another, frequently at the risk of being trampled underfoot, until he obtained the attention of someone to satisfy him. He knew what good discipline required, and on taking in a reef, never presumed to go aloft until the order was issued; but go as soon as the officer had issued the word – 'Away up aloft!'

Up he jumped along with the seamen, and so active and zealous was he, that none could reach the top before, or so soon as he did. His zeal, however, never carried him beyond a sense of his dignity; he did not lay out on the yard like a common seaman, but always remained seated upon the cap, to inspect like an officer. This assumption of authority to which, it must be confessed, his rank, though great as a quadraped, did not entitle him amongst men, created no jealousy; for he always found some good friends to caress him after the business was done, and to take him down in his arms.

ΩThe greatest discoveries are sometimes due to accident. It must now be evident, that some celebrated cat of antiquity, perhaps one of those which entered with Noah into the ark and from which Trim was probably a descendent, gave rise, by the great profundity of his meditations, to the personification of wisdom adopted in the hyeroglyphic [sic] paintings and sculptures of the first ages. When afterwards Minerva was made the emblem of wisdom, she was long accompanied by a cat, to mark the attribute she represented; and with all deference to the E A Ses, I presume to conjecture, that it was not until about the time of Pericles, when all the divine attributes were made to take a human form, that this Grecian divinity could disperse with the presence of her companion. It was not the presence of Minerva which shewed the cat to be the personification of the wisdom of the great [illegible] or Jupiter, but that of the cat which explained what Minerva was intended to represent. I could go still further, and shew, that by a simple trans- [continued at bottom of next page]

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De Caen, Charles Mathieu Isadore
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