I have just read about Trim, a ship’s cat. A book was written about him by his human companion, Matthew Flinders, who was a navigator, catographer, scientist and the commander of ships including the Investigator, a worn-out ship in which he circumnavigated Australia to map it.
Flinders is one of the great figures of Australian history but little recognised in the UK. He is buried beneath Euston Station. Hardly a distinguished resting place. Commander Flinders is responsible for the name “Australia”. I don’t think he came up with the name but picked it and promoted it. He is therefore considered to be responsible for the name. As a consequence, and because of his mapping of the coast of Australia, he is better recognised in Australia.
Matthew Finders loved cats. He wrote a 51 page book about his beloved cat Trim: Trim: The Story of a Brave, Seafaring Cat. His better known book is called “A Voyage to Terra Australis” in which he charts his voyages. Flinders was an exceptional man.
I quote verbatim what I believe is his introduction to his book about Trim. I believe I am allowed to do this on the basis that copyright has expired due to the passage of time. His words describe well Trim’s life and how devoted Flinders was to his beloved cat.
The story of a brave, seafaring cat who, in the company of Matthew Flinders, circumnavigated the globe in the years 1799-1804. 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 a 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 Catophago of that island. Many a time have I beheld his little merriment′s with delight, and his superior intelligence with surprise: Never will his life be seen again! Trim was born in the Southern Indian Ocean, in the Year 1799, and perished as above at the Isle of France in 1804. Peace be to his shade, and Honour to his memory.
Notes on the text: “Isle of France” or “Isle de France” is Mauritius, which is east of Madagascar which in turn is east of Africa:
Flinders stopped off in Mauritius on his way home to England. As I understand it, he stopped for repairs to his ship. Flinders was taken prisoner because France and England were at war. He remained on the Island for 6 years as a consequence. Flinders died young at 40. When he got home he suffered constant ill-health. Immediately before he set sail for Australia he married Ann but Ann stayed behind because one of Flinders’s sponsors was angry about not being told that Ann was to accompany him. He did not see her for 9 years.
“Catophago” — I have no idea what this is. It is probably a large lizard or something. The internet does not help me. Update (see comments): I think it refers to the local people who ate Trim. God, life sucks.
Associated page: Simon a ship’s cat.