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Letter from Matthew Flinders to Ann Flinders (20 of 41) (FLI25)

Mrs Flinders
      Partney near Spilsby

June 5th             1806 No 26

                                Wilhems Plains in the Isle of France Nov 20. 1805

    Thy dear letters of May 12 and June 14. 1805 I received, my best love, on Oct.
22. last, by a brig which arrived here direct from London: they were inclosed
with one from Sir Joseph Banks, one from my cousin Henny and sister Hannah
and one from my friend Mr Robertson, through whose obliging care they were
conveyed to my friend Pitot at the town of Port N.W. and from him to me.
What a relief did these letters bring to me! Since Sept. 1802 I had known
nothing of thee or any one of my relations; and my letters of that date
had told me of the death of my father dear father and of the miserable state
of thy health. I knew not what to fear. I was obliged to drive as much as
poƒsible all reflections that related to England from my mind, to avoid
being completely miserable; whereas now, I can dwell upon the domestic
scene my imagination continually raises with a solid and heartfelt
satisfaction. I know that I have still a beloved wife whose healthful frame is
agitated only by her sighs at my absence: She has no other distreƒses! Delight-
-ful flattering thought. And I now know also by these letters, that steps have
been taken to obtain my release, and that there is every prospect of their being
attended with succeƒs. I know also the situation of almost the whole of my
friends; unfortunate, indeed, some have been; but to know even that, is bet-
-ter than the tormenting suspence [sic] with which I have been racked these last
three years. Receive, my best beloved, my thanks for thy communications,
but especially for thy sweet aƒsurances of unaltered affection; and with
them receive my vows of constant unabated love: to love thee more
than I have done, and now do, I think cannot be, thou hast the sole
undivided poƒseƒsion of my heart.
    By the account of the letters thou hast received from me since
my confinement here, I see that my two first letters to Mr Tyler have
miscarried, the one dated Dec. 31. 1803 and the other April 14. 1804. They
were sent by French ships, and as I had not much hope of their arrival,
or if they should arrive, that they would be unopened, they were very
short and merely intended to let thee know where I was. There were two
other letters which had not arrived when thy last letter was written, the one
dated May 15.1805 and the other July 7. 1805, with a postscript in August.
This postscript was written from the town after I had obtained permiƒsion
to reside in this district. Two cartels had arrived from India which

carried away all the other English prisoners, and the French governor then per-
-mitted me to leave the prison and chuse [sic] a residence in the inland part of
the island, under my parole of honour not to go further than six miles
from it without permiƒsion. I had the offer of three or four different resi-
-dences, several of the inhabitants of this island, acquainted with the circum-
-stances of my imprisonment, being emulous to be foremost in their civilities
to me. I chose this, nearly in the middle of the island, as being least likely
to be objected to by the government; it was offered me by Madame D'Ari-
, an elderly widow lady, of an excellent understanding and disposition
and respectable character. Her family consists of three sons and three daugh-
-ters, four of whom, are grown up, and compose one of the most amiable fami-
-lies this island can boast; but it is with the eldest son, of about 27 years,
and the eldest daughter of about 20 that I have more particularly at-
-tached myself. Thou canst not conceive how anxious they are to see and
be acquainted with thee. Though unknown, I scarcely think thou art leƒs dear
to Mademoiselle Delphine D'Arifat than to many of thy relations. She
talks of making a voyage to England in the peace in order to see more
of our English manners and to make acquaintance with thee.
      In this retreat, my time is either employed in visiting those places
within my six miles which have any thing of curious or interesting in them, — in visiting the gentry of the neighbourhood, or in learning French. The
whole family are my instructors, and in return, I am the tutor of the
greater part of the family in the English language: one day we speak no-
-thing but French, and another all English, and we reciprocally make a
tolerable progreƒs. From ten o'clock to dinner time we are employed in
reading and writing: they correct my bad pronunciation and my mistakes
and I do the same for them. Thus we are mutually useful and I believe a-
-greeable to each other: We even talk upon religion and politics, and though
we are almost constantly of different interests and opinions, yet we never se-
-perate but upon good terms.
      This has been my course of life, generally, since the family arrived from
the town to this their country residence, which was about six weeks since,
before that time I was rather solitary; but the novelty of the situation
and my books even then found me full employment. Comparitively [sic] with
my situation in this island for the first 20 months, I am now very happy;

and yet I often retire to the little pavilion which is my study and bed-room
and with my flute in hand, and sometimes tears in my eyes, I warble over the
little, evening song of which I sent thee a copy. Ah my beloved, then my heart over-
-leaps the distance of half the world and wholly embraces thee.
      From the letter I received from Sir J.B. I expect that the first ship of war that
shall arrive here from France will bring an order for my liberty. Such an ar-
-rival, however, very seldom happens, and I have been so often disappointed that
I am almost afraid now to permit myself to expect with much anxiety. Per-
-haps six months will terminate my captivity, poƒsibly three may, and it is
even poƒsible that one month may be the termination. According to the first, I
might expect to be in England by Nov. 1806; according to the second, by Aug
1.1806 and the last by April or May 1806.
      I did not find the letter of Sir J.B. so kind as I could have wished. I
see that he is not satisfied with the conduct I have observed towards the French
government here. I have rather considered the justice of my cause than poli
    policy, and have therefore, in his estimation, treated them
    with too much haughtineƒs, and by that means have length-
-end [sic], or perhaps caused, my imprisonment. I am sorry for this opinion which
he seems to entertain, but it is very difficult for a man to treat another
with respect, from whom he is conscious of having deserved well, but by whom
he finds himself deprived of his liberty and otherwise ill-treated. Should
the same circumstance happen to me again, I fear I should follow nearly
the same steps.
      Thy account of my cousin Henny's happy situation at Spal-
, as well as her own letter, give me pleasure; but more particularly
the situation of my two young sisters under so able an instructreƒs. I propose
to write to them all by this conveyance. The bankruptcy of my cousin Wil-
-liam both surprised and grieved me. I cannot think it has arisen from
the impropriety of his own conduct: a want perhaps of calculation, or
the folly or villainy of others, has occasioned it: his re-establishment seems
to bespeak this and gives me as much pleasure as his re-establishment
itself. — What can be the distreƒses into which the Franklin family
has fallen? I am not leƒs interested for them than for my own relations.
The present situation of John F. and of young Lound did not enter into
thy list! — My poor uncle Samuel Ward has, it seems, paid the debt
of nature. From his character I have always suspected that he would
leave his property to our family, although our intimacy with him of late

years has not been very great. I fear his other relations, equally near to him,
are more in want of it. The principle of justice within me would make me
divide what may come to me amongst the most indigent nephews and
nieces of my mother, but when I reflect that even this little addition to
my fortune will be the means of shortening the time I may be obliged to
to be absent from thee, to gain a moderate competence for us, I shall hardly
be able to bring myself to do it. I doubt not but Mr Tyler will take care
of my interest in this affair, and to him I wholly leave it until my return.
I do not well understand the nature of the difference between an executor and
an executor in trust, nor why both are neceƒsary in the execution of a will?
      I thank thy sister Belle for her letter, though I have not received it.
Kiƒs her for me, and say I am am [sic] her affectionate friend and brother. I
esteem her so much that I recommended her to Samuels particular atten-
-tion, but I know not he if he thought further of my advice. In these sort of
affairs the opinion of the dearest friend has but little weight. I shall write
to Samuel also by this conveyance (though as yet I know not when it will
happen nor by what route. I am anxious for news from Standert. I have
sent him home a considerable number of bills, but have not received any
account of one of them. I desired my brother to arrange my busineƒs with
him, as well as that of the money left me by my dear father; and since
though doest not say anything upon either of these subjects, I suppose that
thy money has been regularly paid, and nothing is materially amiƒs.
This is, my love, a most interesting subject to us: on it depends the period when
we shall be able to sit down quietly without further occasion for voyages of dis-
-covery. Shouldst thou not know certainly that orders for my liberation have
been sent out, at the time thou mayst receive this letter, pray write to my
brother for an abstract of the state of my property to the best of his knowledge
, and also write to Standert for the same and inclose them to me by the
first conveyance, having reserved a copy for a future occasion.
      Remember me, my love, most affectionately and respectfully to thy
dear mother, my friend Mr Tyler and to thy aunt. Write my congratulations
to Mrs Booth on her marriage, and present my affectionate regards to
all the Franklin family. Entertain hope and repose confidently in
the unalterable affection of thy Mattw Flinders

P.S. I wish thou hadst said what regiment of cavalry it is that
James Franklin goes out to join at Bombay: if it is the 19th dragoons

P.S. — continued
      if it is the 19th dragoons I am acquainted with captain Henry
of that regiment, who I think would shew him some attention on my ac-
-count: he and his wife were prisoners in the Maison Despeaux with me. If
an opportunity for India offers itself I will write to captain H. concern-
-ing him.
      Remember me affectionately to my cousin William and Penelope
F. when thou hast an opportunity. It is very long since I have written to my
sister Susan, but pray aƒsure her that she is very dear to me. What thou say-
-est of her busineƒs not answering gives me pain. I think all my relations
are becoming unfortunate in their concerns: they are all miserably poor.
Notwithstanding my misfortunes I seem to be the luckiest in this respect
of the whole: my father was the principle support of the name, and it
seems as if I was destined to take his place.
      I have enjoyed very good health since I have been in this district.
It is much cooler here than near the town, being elevated about a
thousand feet above the level of the sea.

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Related people
Chappelle (Flinders), Ann
Banks, Sir Joseph
Flinders, Henrietta
Flinders family
Pitot, Thomas
Tyler, (Reverend) William
De Caen, Charles Mathieu Isadore
Franklin family
Franklin, John
Lound, Sherrard
Flinders, Samuel
Tyler, Isabella (Belle/Bell)
Standert, A.
Flinders, Matthew

Ile de France (Mauritius)

Words and phrases

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