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The Flinders papersletters and documents about the explorer Matthew Flinders (1774-1814)
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Letter from Matthew Flinders to Ann Flinders 27 of 41 (FLI25)

Mrs Flinders
        Partney near Spilsby

Annotation: No 35         July 19th 1808

                            Wilhems Plains in the I. of France

                                          Jan. 20. 1808

      I am sorry, my dearest love, for having given thee in Augt
last, too sanguine hopes of seeing me so soon in England; that
period, alas, remains still uncertain. The British cartel by which
I had hopes of passing to India was detained here until October,
and on receiving orders to sail, the commissary of prisoners made
an earnest application for me to be permitted to embark on board,
but without success: he was answered, "that so soon as circum-
"stances would permit I should be set at liberty, and to that ef-
"fect sent to London"; an answer as inexplicable to me as to every
other person, since no ship is ever likely to sail from hence for Eng-
land unless sent express.
      In September, the books, papers, and letters taken from me were
returned, with the exception of one journal of which I was the most
in want; and I was told, that the value of my little vessel would
be paid me at the time I should be set at liberty, but when, or by
what means I was to receive that liberty I could not learn. These
proceedings announced at least, that the captain-general con-
sidered [illegible] the order he had received to be sufficient
authority for setting me at liberty; and I hoped, that it could
not be long before the execution would take place, and this hope
continually prolonged, prevented me from writing again to thee 'till
this time. By the British cartel I sent to India all the letters com-
mitted to my charge at Port Jackson, as also several essential
papers for my agent, which I hope will make my accounts pass.
These I had fortunately put on board the cartel some time previous
to her sailing, for she was sent away so suddenly that I could
not have had time to do this otherwise, or to write to Sir Ed. Pellew.
      A friend of mine, by whom I had written to James Frank-
and several others, was to have gone to India in the cartel, but

at the moment of embarking was forbidden his passage by the govern-
ment. He took a passage on board a Danish vessel a few weeks after-
wards, but the evening before sailing, officers of the police were sent on
board to search his trunks, and seven or eight of my letters with
some others were taken away; in the hope no doubt, of finding some-
thing in them by which my liberty would be compromised; but I
know too well the nature of my situation to have committed such
an imprudence: the captain-general will have found an exposition
of his base conduct towards me, but nothing that could injure the
French nation or its allies. Three months are since passed, and no
mention of these letters has been made to me by the government, which
proves that the general has not found what he sought for.
      A French cartel has since sailed to India with all the
English prisoners of war, but I still remain in the dark as to the time
when I may hope to profit by a similar advantage; except that the
general has been heard to signify his intention of setting me at
liberty very soon. My only hope of being publickly [sic] set liberated
is from a frigate now in port, which being old and in need of great
reparation, may perhaps be sent to Europe in a few weeks; in
which case it is possible she may be charged with my conveyance.
This mode of returning would be to me the most agreeable, since I
am intimately acquainted with one of the officers on board, and
the captain is reported to be both a good man and a good officer,
and has testified a considerable interest in my painful situation.
I acknowledge, however, that my hopes in this affair are far from
being extreme.
      I have more than once told thee of my intention to re-
nounce my parole, let what would be the consequence; and this
I should certainly have put in execution on the departure of the Bri-
tish cartel without me, had not the earnest remonstrances [sic] and persua-
sions of my friends here prevented it. This intention I had imparted
to Sir Edward Pellew in the letters that were seized, and consequently
it is known to the general, but I hope a vessel will arrive soon, with
the captain of which I am acquainted, and with whom I shall be able

to make a better arrangement, should my hopes by the Semillante
frigate undergo the same fate as all my former prospects have done;
add to this, the hopes of an approaching peace. How glorious would
it be to me to obtain my liberty by such an event! Without the
shadow of an obligation, and in spite of the tyrant who has so long
oppressed me.
      For the rest, my dear love, I enjoy tolerably good health,
and more tranquillity of mind than I did a year past; the marks
of interest which I receive from the inhabitants of this island be-
come daily more extensive, and I receive them even from people
who are in intimacy with the general. Any news which seems to
announce an approaching peace is communicated to me, directly
or indirectly, by several different hands; and I believe that when
the epoch of my liberation shall arrive, it will excite as much plea-
      sure as many events of much more importance. The
      excellent family where I continue to reside, and
that of Mr Pitot are, as always, my most attached and most sin-
cere friends.
      I am afraid, and indeed incapable to assign any period
when I may be expected in England; but I think either from a peace, —
by the Semillante, — by the latest project, — by the repetition of the
order from the government of France, or by some other means which I do
not at present foresee, it cannot be delayed beyond some time near
the end of the year.
      Neglect not, my love, to have a letter at Mr Bon-
ner's for me, by which I may know exactly where thou art on my
arrival. Recal [sic] me most affectionately to the recollection of thy
family and relations, and place the fullest confidence in the love
and esteem of thy             Mattw Flinders

    I have seen with pleasure in a Steele's List for Jan. 1807, that Samu-
commands a gun-brig in the Channel: I hope he will find an oc-
casion to distinguish himself. I do not write to him now, I there-
fore pray thee to inform him of the principal contents of this letter.

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Related people
Chappelle (Flinders), Ann
De Caen, Charles Mathieu Isadore
Pellew, (Admiral) Edward, Viscount Exmouth
Franklin family
Pitot, Thomas
Flinders, Matthew
Flinders, Samuel

Ile de France (Mauritius)
Port Jackson

La Semillante

Words and phrases

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