In finding a place to stay in Rio de Janeiro, Rose and Louis de Freycinet were indebted to a “M. Taunay,, the son of a painter and a member of the Institute’s Academy of Fine Arts, whose name and works are well known in Europe”. But who was this friend in need?
When, on the 13th of June 1820, Rose de Freycinet stepped ashore for the second time in Rio de Janeiro, she became just the second women to make a complete circuit of the globe. The Australian author Suzanne Falkiner has recognised the need for a biography and has filled it with a handsome volume simply entitled Rose.
The Internet is a treasure trove for the early publications on the Uranie voyage but, like all good hidden treasures, there are many obstacles to their retrieval. Digital images of the volumes of the ‘Voyage autour du Monde’ can be found, but quality is very variable and not all volumes are easy to find. There are, moreover, some issues surrounding the contents of the various volumes and their the dates of publication.
Rose de Freycinet sent letters to her mother on every occasion when there was some prospect of their reaching France, up to and including the stay in Sydney. She continued to write after that, but we know this only because she mentioned sending a letter from the Falklands in her diary. A copy of a letter from her to her parennts-in-law sent at the same time has survived.
Despite the distances involved, there was clearly much coming and going between the islands of the central Carolines in the early 1800s, and their languages, or dialects, would be expected to be very similar also. Gaimard, however, provided two vocabularies for these islands and where they overlap they have major differences, even in such basic matters as the names of the numerals.
It being close to Christmas as I write, I began to think about how that was celebrated on board the Uranie. The fact is – hardly at all.