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Letter from Matthew Flinders to Ann Chappelle (1 of 41) (FLI25)

                                    H.M.S. Reliance March 16th 1799

Short as may be the probable time before we sail; and uncertain as it is
that any conveyance may present itself, for this little meƒsenger to call the
remembrance of my dearest friend to this verge of the enlightened world. And
perhaps the author of its existence may himself enjoy that too often anticipated
pleasure before its arrival; yet impelled by my feelings at this moment,
I cannot resist. It is like opening my bosom to thee, — to a friend who can feel,
and whose sensibility can inhale the rising the rising thought.
    My reading this morning, has called up a train of recollections; which, in
my present situation at least, ought to be suppreƒsed. I read the first vo-
-lume of Mrs Radcliffs {Adolphs}, which I had not seen before. Thou,
I think, hast; for from the specimens of poetry in this, it will surprise me
not to find thy beautiful lines on Autumn in a future volume.
    The parting description at the end, recalled to my remembrance what my
feelings were, on something like a similar situation. Fatal, enervating,
moment! I have never since been satisfied with my profeƒsion; and,
strange as it may appear, when mature deliberation was called, to de-
-cide upon the question; it aided the sentiment and condemned the
sea. Let those cases be excepted, where it can be made use of as a stepping
stone to fortunes favours; and thence, to the more perfect complete enjoyment of rational
life, and a more perfect obedience to the dictates of nature and reason. But
to be cooped up in a wooden box; year after year; one decade after another;
and the ultimate object not a bit more forward! Thus to sink down hill,
— not a new friend raised up to smooth the path, and the old dead; or what
is worse, forgotten by them! Is this right? Say — ye whose hearts
can feel the delights of love and friendship? — you will answer, that the
bosom which is alive to those, ought not to be so situated. No, my
friends! it is for that where apathy resides, — for those, whose senses ad-
-mit not the beauties of nature, or the finer arts; — who feel not the extacy [sic]
arising from the contemplation of such. But such, I trust, is not my case.
Sea; I am thy servant; but thy wages must afford me more than a bare sub-
-sistence; I do not mean to be always insulated. Thou art but a rough mas-
-ter; hast little mercy upon the lives and limbs of thy followers; but some-
-times thou bestowest favours. Half my life I would dedicate to thee, but the
whole I cannot. If thou keepest me in penury all the morning and noon
of life —
    March 19th I meant to have expreƒsed my feelings to thee, on something like a

similar occasion to that, which has so pathetically called forth the powers of
the Authoreƒses pen, at the end of the first volume; but had somehow wandered
away from it.
    How comes it that I selected thee, of all people in the world, for such a reci-
-tal? Why not my sister, or my friend Thomas, or my father; or why not Mary?
No — thine was the only image that presented itself to my confidence. Marys
once benign face, is too much embittered to hear my tale with patience; and for
Thomas, however great my esteem and friendship might be; yet I should feel a
repugnance in such a communication, even to a brother; so much do I fancy
female sensibility to be superior to that of man. Well, but to a sister —? yes,
I could communicate with a sister; but then — she is married! And somehow,
my affection for her has, since that, run into a different channel. She wants
not my protection now, — another has a just claim to even a superior share of
her affection! I still love her, much; but differently. Can you fancy the
alteration that would take place, on receiving offers of service and aƒsistance,
mingled with the memorials of affection from a sister whom I had always
considered as under my protection, next to that of her father; and for whose
fair reputation and happineƒs I was continually in anxiety. But now —
it is unneceƒsary; — she is independent of me. I could have quarreled with
her husband for thus taking her from my arms. — There said I, 'tis by this
and such like means, that I shall be deprived of all my friends. They will
have others, whose superior claim upon their hearts I must not dispute.
But — have I not another sister? my Susan! I melted into tenderneƒs,
and would have taken her into the very skin with me. I sat down to write
to her with a redoubled ardor of affection. Alas, in a few years, she also
will be taken from me. And thou too, my Annette, and Mary: I shall lose
you all. I feel, that the moment it takes place, the warmth, or rather
that delightful energy of friendship which raises one almost above mor-
-tality, will subside into mere esteem. — I fancy this, my friend; think you
it will be so? Can you understand these distinctions of fraternal love,
Annette? You have no brother, — but oh how you have wished for one!
Tis from that want, that you have sometimes honoured me with the appel-
-lation; and I will believe, (don't be offended) with some part of the af-
-fection that seems of right to appertain to it.
    I have strayed again widely from my intention — , it is no matter
now. However, every word which drops from the pen, directed by a heart
altogether unveiled, as I believe mine now is; will pourtray [sic] something
characteristic of the writer. Hence what has been said will not be useleƒs,
for I wish you to know mine in its receƒses; but it is a strange heart,
Annette. I fear you are some years from a perfect knowledge of it. It is not a
very insensible one, I think; but it may have acquired some degree of morbid

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Franklin, Thomas
Flinders family
Chappelle (Flinders), Ann
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