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The Flinders papersletters and documents about the explorer Matthew Flinders (1774-1814)
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Loose pages from Flinders' private letterbook (5 of 6). To Sir Joseph Banks 1801; to Flinders' father 1801; to his wife 1801. (FLI04)

as when I left London; and it is added as the ^ probable cause, that Mr Nepean
has been ill lately. It seems also, that some doubts have arisen relative
to the Lady Nelson, but of what nature I am not informed.
    I am indeed, Sir Joseph, ashamed of adding to the repeated trouble you have
had about the Investigator, even that of reading a letter which speaks
of nothing having been done; but I could not remain at Spithead
in this way without informing you that we were so remaining.
    My meƒsmates, impatient to begin their labour, are botanizing
^ upon and examining the Isle of Wight for a day or two.
I fear that it will not now be poƒsible to come return to
the south coast of New Holland from Port Jackson, so as to save
any part of the summer, I shall therefore ^ if my orders do not forbid it I shall examine ^ the south coast more mi-
-nutely in my first run along it; and if anything material is
should present itself, as a strait, gulph, or very large river, shall
employ as much time in its examination, and as the remaining part
of the summer may then consist of; for I consider it very material
to the succeƒs of the voyage, and to its early completion, that we should
be upon the northern coasts in winter and the southern ones in
Requesting you, Sir Joseph, to accept my apology for again troubling
you, and my thanks for your repeated attentions and aƒsistance, I beg
to subscribe myself
        your much obliged and most faithful servant
          Mattw Flinders

To Mr Troughton 136 Fleet St London July 7. 1801 Spithead
            with a small Hadby to be shifted
To Mrs Flinders Battersea July 6. 8th and 9th Spithead
To Mr Flinders Donington – Lincolnshire – Spithead July 10 1801
My dear father
              In the letter of June 21. to my mother I gave
you every reason to think that we should have been at
sea long before this. I was deceived in my expectation of
receiving my final orders before leaving town, nor indeed
have I received them yet. I am much mortified at being thus
delayed, nor am I fully acquainted with the cause. Great preƒ-
-sure of more important busineƒs than ours is the external
one, but I think there must be something more; for I saw the
paƒsport, and my instructions which were signed; so that there
appears to be little else to do than to send them down to me

yet this is not done. We are completely ready for sea. Our men
of science, our stock of live cattle, every thing on board; and 12
hours after receiving orders should probably be out of sight
of Spithead.
    I wish, my dear father, to say a little upon a former letter
of yours, dated May 11. in which you seem to think that
my conduct has not been altogether that of a dutiful or
at least of an affectionate son. That you should think so,
occasioned much uneasineƒs both to me and to my dear wife,
for I find her so much superior in penetration and judgment [sic] to
the generality of women, that there are but few occurrences
upon which I do not consult her. Your succeeding letter
was an affectionate, ^and indeed acceptable ^indeed one; and for
which, my dear father, I give you my warmest thanks. It
took away much uneasineƒs, but it served also to confirm me
in a melancholy truth, that my fathers increase of years,
^ and decline of constitution withdrew from him part of that equality of temper and mild-
neƒs of disposition for which he was so justly noted. That
letter was indeed the second I had received lately, which shewed
more instability than I ever thought my father poƒseƒsed of
Sorry am I, that ^ you should allow fatigue of busineƒs, to add to it. producing decline in
constitution should have such an effect upon good and sensible
men; but more sorry that such a decline should have ta-
-ken place. Why, my dear father, continue to fatigue yourself
to the injury of your health and disposition? Your family have ^ no
right to expect it; and I think I am sure that they are very
far from wishing it. If your income is not sufficient
to live upon, why not pursue the plan mentioned in your
letter, of purchasing an annuity? Most sincerely do I wish
you would, since it appears neceƒsary to your happineƒs
    I sometimes think, my dear father, that the privilege
I have aƒsumed of explaining myself sentiments freely to you,
as one man to another, has displeased you; and that you
still expect my stile [sic] of addreƒsing you should never be any
other than that of humble duty. Now I would not only be
your son, but I would be your dearest friend, would you admit ^ me to
that station. Having arrived at years of discretion, and I trust
not wanting common sense, I put in my claim to ^ that freedom
of thought and of action which society allows to its individuals
Think not, my dearest father, I that I am preparing to declare off

from any obligation subsisting between us. I know that mine
to you are such that I can never sufficiently repay them, to
you; but surely, your liberality is too great to expect that my
mind is to be in a state of slavery on this account. The
course of nature points out, that the great load of obligation
for patern the endleƒs cares and troubles which a father takes
usually takes about his children, can only be repaid in toto
by those children performing the same kind offices to their
children ^ offspring in turn; and should it ever be my case, I trust
there will be no deficiency in this respect; but in the mean
time, my dear father, be aƒsured that whatever or whenever
it is in my power to contribute to your happineƒs ^ in any way I shall do
it, not as repaying a debt, but as the means whereby I shall
add to my own happineƒs by gratifying my filial affections,
for, oh my father, if there is a heart that warms with the
idea of affording aƒsi useful aƒsistance to his ^ parents father or fami
-ly, there is one in my bosom. If you think me selfish, as I
fear is somewhat the case, or devoid of gratitude, you do indeed
wrong me. [That I have not soothed you with the idea of
receiving pecuniary aƒsistance from me, should not I think
my dear father have caused the uneasineƒs ^ sensations at this time which it appears
to have done. I have, till lately, been in the habit of receiving
such aƒsistance from you; and it is but very lately that I
have not stood in need of it; and at this time my means
and (which indeed are temporary ones) are very little more than
^ are only adequate to my wants. Putting myself into your
situation, the opinion I should ^ form of offers of aƒsistance from a
sons whose power of affording it was so distant and precarious,
would be, that he had a design of lulling my caution asleep
in order to get something from me. This I think would be the
apparent motive for such offers, and I therefore withold them;
for I would much rather perform without promising, than promise
without being able to perform. I might however refer you to a
letter dated Nov. 28. 1800 "and I beg of you to believe, as my sincere
"sentiments, that I would much rather increase your income, and
"thus ease your labours, than add one day to them by receiving
"five shillings from you; and I hope the time will come, and
"before many years are over, that you will have better proof of
"the sincerity of what I say than words can be." Surely, my dear
father there is some meaning ^ expreƒsed in the above ^ sentence circumstance; and as
far as circumstances have gone, I think you have no reason to doubt my I have adhered strictly
intention of fulfilling it to it.. Marriage is a period at which men usually look for paren-
tal aƒsistance; but have I either by word or deed insinuated even a

wish or expectation of the kind. On the contrary, did I not gave up
the loan ^ and that of £100 ^ also which you had been was kind enough to offer ^ reserve for me, im- -mediately that I saw a poƒsibility of doing without ^it; and previous to that would that aƒsistance of £200 immediately in favour of your aƒsisting my sister to fix in busineƒs, determining that
what remained after that was done, should content me. Many
thanks are due to you, my dear father, for such kind intentions
towards me, but surely the whole circumstances do not shew
that I am unmindful either of the family in general or of
your case in particular, as has been several times hinted or
directly expreƒsed in ^ some of your letters; but the strongest proof of this is
not perhaps taken into any account, which is the taking my bro-
-ther with me as an officer in the Investigator. By his being
promoted and appointed by my request, a considerable part
of the evils which what may arise from his inattention or inexperience
will be placed to my discredit. I have had one very unpleasant
instance of this already; and was it not from it is principally from the conse-
^ inconveniency -quences which would result to him and to you, and that
I know the uneasineƒs it would occasion you, was he to be removed that I do not
I could not agree to add this to my weight of responsibility even now apply for another officer more experienced officer.
These are the principal reasons, but expectation of his improve-
ment has also some weight. You must no doubt be aware of
the great responsibility attached to my situation; and also
know that such a charge has ^ seldom if ever never yet been given to one of my
age. How neceƒsary then is it for me to have the good, experienced,
      I would not, my dearest father, talk of my own actions, but
that ^ from some of your letters I fear I have only a debtor side in your book. I fear you
It is inimical to your happineƒs to consider things and those relating to your children
consider the actions of your especially on the dark side only. Your
letters do always breathe affection, but they not unfrequently shew
this principal also, and seem to check my affection which would
constantly point towards you.
    I am particularly sorry, that you feel diƒsatisfied with
my marriage. Tis true I did not formally ask your consent to
it, but when the subject ^ Miƒs Chappelle had been previously talked of a subject considered with this view in a
of previous conversation you made not one objection to her.
From ^ seeing your letters, she feels as under your displeasure, which
adds to her ^ present uneasineƒs. The time of my marriage, you say my
dear father, is the worst part of it. It is certain I should not have
married but with the idea of taking her with me. Others had been
allowed this privilege, and I could not foresee that I should have
been denied it. Yet I am by no means sorry for having married. If
you knew her worth, you could not regret it. I am happy to add
here, that her health is so far improved at this time, that she will be

able to accompany Mr Tyler into the country in the beginning
of next week. Her letter today from Battersea says that she is
able to run upstairs.
    Regret not that I have taken the step that I have. I am satis-
fied even as things are now ordered, and reprise not. I leave
her under the pr with a kind mother and family. My circum-
-stances allow me to give her what she thinks to be fully suf-
-ficient for her occasions. I am satisfaction of her warm af-
-fection; and I go with the hope of so improving my circum-
-stances as to be independent of the admiralty for employment,
making such an addition to my half pay as to be indepen-
-dent of the admiralty for employment, on my return. I think my
prospects are fair of happineƒs is fair, and I rest satisfied with it
I have parted with my wife; that is over. We know the neceƒsity
of acting as we do, and reconcile ourselves to it. Would that
my friends would do so too.
    It is probable we shall yet be here a week or longer, if therefore
you have time to write to me again, I shall be very happy
to receive. Begging you, my dear father, and my mother
and family to accept my love and duty I remain your
        affectionate son
          M. Flinders
To Mrs Flinders Battersea – July 10 1801
Inclosing the above to be perused and sent
To Joseph Whidbey Esq. Sheerneƒs – July 11. 1801 Spithead
Transactions since leaving Sheerneƒs & request to write
To Mrs Flinders Battersea – Spithead July 12. 1801
    I have not yet got thy letter today, my dearest girl,
but I must be writing to thee. Thou thinkest of going
tomorrow or Tuesday into Lincolnshire. Although I
have so much wished for thee to be with thy mother,
I yet feel that I am sorry at the increase of our dis-
-tance, and more especially since I see no prospect of
getting my sailing orders. What thinkest thou, if I
should remain another month or two waiting as I
have been, and thou be in the country, so many miles
from thee me? and in health! I cannot bear the idea.
    Does thy eye and thy strength enable thee to travel
to Peterboro by thy self, or does Mr Tyler come for thee?

If Mr T. does come, thou wilt go down comfortably. But
if he does not, perhaps thou wouldst be as well able to
travel to Portsmouth as to Peterborough. But ^ are does the clothes
thou hast with thee sufficient for a stay of a month or
two? If thou couldst manage in this particular, and Mr
Tyler does not come up to town! What shall I say? I will
only say that I will ^ intirely leave thee intirely to take that course
that, every circumstance being considered, thou shalt judge
best; but remember, my best love, to take into the consi-
-deration, the poƒsibility or probability of a relapse to thy
former state of ill health, arising either from the fatigue
of a days travelling, or otherwise. If thou judgest from
thy present state of health that there is a probability;
then must we not risk thy constitution, and having to come
over again all the routine of misery thou hast once
undergone. I will not expreƒs a wish either way, for
thou canst not but please me. By considering thy health,
thou will consult my happineƒs, oh most closely; thou
wilt shew thy affection to extend to a periods of longer
duration than the present moments. By coming
here thou wilt oh also convince me of thy affection,
if I wanted such a proof. I can therefore only add on
this subject, that if thou goest into Lincolnshire,
which must be the case if Mr. T. comes up for thee,
that then I do not know of any thing further that re-
-mains for me to do for thee. If thou comest here, thou
wilt find the Portsmouth coaches from at the Golden Croƒs,
from the Angel at the back of St Clements, and at the
Spread Eagle or Croƒs Keys (I forget which) in Gracechurch St .
Mr Hippins will secure thee a place, and thou must ^ then write
saying when thou shalt set off, and whether thou comest
to Portsmouth or Gosport: if the former, desire to be set down
at the Crown where I will be. Shouldst thou prefer to live
on board, I will get a feather bed for thy poor joints; if on
shore, I will get a snug room, somewhere on the Gosport side,
and be with thee, and love thee, as much as I can.
    I ernestly beg of thee not even to think which of the above
plan, will please me best, but which will please and

[ends here]

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Related people
Nepean, Evan
Banks, Sir Joseph
Flinders, Matthew
Troughton, Edward
Flinders, Elizabeth
Chappelle (Flinders), Ann
Whidbey (Whidby), Joseph
Hippins family
Flinders family
Tyler, (Reverend) William

Port Jackson

Lady Nelson

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