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The Flinders papersletters and documents about the explorer Matthew Flinders (1774-1814)
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Letter from James Wiles to Matthew Flinders (1 of 2) (FLI01)

Address: Capn Mattw Flinders

Annotation: April 18. 1811

                Botanic Gardens, Liguanea, Jamaica
                20th Febry 1811

My dear and most valued friend,

      The newspapers informed me of your return
from captivity from the Isle of Bourbon , but I was much
alarmed lest the account should prove incorrect, knowing
you was confined in the Mauritius; your letter, however, which
I have had the happineƒs to receive, has set me perfectly at
ease. I am extremely anxious to know every thing that has
befallen you; your detention by De Caen was contrary to the
law of nations, of humanity, of hospitality, and the progreƒs
of science; but law and justice are now quite out of the
question with the french; indeed I was afraid the tyrant
would never have allowed you to return to England, I feared
the fate of the late Capt Wright awaited you. — I hope the
account of your voyage in the Investigator, will be chiefly done
by yourself, and this, I should suppose, to be the public wish.
I please myself with the idea that you have now nothing
but prosperity and happineƒs before you. I am well aware
your voyage when published will do you infinite credit
not only as a navigator, but as a man of generall [sic] knowledge
and science. Time and absence, my dear Flinders, have
made no impreƒsion upon my friendship and your letter
convinces me, that you also remain unchanged. I am very sorry
to hear of our friend Smith's death, he was an honest fellow.

Your friend Franklin, I was shocked to hear, died of a broken
heart, in consequence of disappointment in busineƒs. The Mer-
-chant to whom I introduced him, met a similar fate, and died
at least 2000£ worse than nothing. As I partly hold myself
responsible for the amount of the Goods Franklin sent hither,
I shall be a considerable sufferer in this unfortunate transaction.
I intend to ship 5 to 6 wt of fine coffee to old Mr F in the
ship William, to sail in the next month. —
      I have been stationary here near 18 years, during
which time I have acquired some little property: two small
coffee plantations and 70 or 80 slaves. The public botanic
garden is now about to be given up; a large party in our
Aƒsembly have ever been decidedly against the Institution,
and they have at length prevailed — Indeed, it has been hitherto
kept alive merely by the weight and influence of my per-
-sonal friends. Had the times continued favourably, I should
have visited my native country this summer, - but you know the
despot of Europe has intirely shut colonial produce out of
the Continent, and our coffee lays in the warehouse unsale-
-able, unasked for. — Many planters must be inevitably ruined
unleƒs a speedy change of politicks take place . —
      I have by no means given up the idea of placing my son
in the navy under your patronage; he is now between 14 and 15
years of age, has hitherto been kept at school. Mr Brown, an
intimate friend of mine, under whose care the boy is, gives him
an excellent character; and Mr B is a gentleman of great work
and abilities, and I can rely on the correctneƒs of his statement. —

I shall leave the whole management of this momentous affair
to you, you must get him into a ship, and my friend Brown will
fit him out with all neceƒsary things. — but the moment you are
employed, the boy goes with you. — Moreover, should you be ap-
-pointed to the command of any future voyage of discovery, I have
no objection to return to England and accompany you as botanist.
    I saw the Master, Mr Aiken, of the Investigator, and he told
me some particulars relative to you — Your Draughtsman also
W____ (I forget his name) has been in Jamaica, and spent a day
or two with me, - [illegible] was also here, made post into
the Alexander, a french 74 taken by Adml Duckworth off
St {Domingo}. I went to see him, but found him destitute
[illegible] head or heart, however, he just inquired after
you —— The meeting between you and Mrs Flinders must
have been very effecting, do make my most friendly re-
-spects to her. — Mr Brown has long known my intention
with regard to Henry — I write to him by this conveyance,
you can also drop him a few lines —— James Brown Esqr
No 6 George Street, Edinburgh I shall now have the felicity
to hear very frequently from you and when we do meet we
shall not be diƒsapointed [sic] I am certain. — There has not been
much variety in my life, I have made a few acquaintances, and
one or two valuable friends.       That you may now enjoy felicity
uninterrupted, the esteem of all good men, and the respect
of every man, is the sincere wish of, my dear Flinders,
              Your old and affectionate friend
                        James Wiles

For your next, let me know how I am to direct to you, - I send
this under cover to Sir Joseph. — What has become of Capt Bligh?

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Related people
De Caen, Charles Mathieu Isadore
Smith, Christopher
Franklin, Thomas
Aken (Aiken), John
Chappelle (Flinders), Ann
Wiles, James
Flinders, Matthew

Ile de Bourbon


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