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Letter from Matthew Flinders to Ann Flinders (31 of 41) (FLI25)

Mrs Ann Flinders
      Partney near Spilsby

Annotation: No 39           June 7th 1810

                    Isle of France August 3. 1809

It is still thy letter of July 15 and 18. 1806, my best love, and still from this place
that I have to answer. It is one effect of the fatality that seems to be attached to all my efforts to
procure liberation, that it is now our own countrymen, probably at least, who prevent the arrival
of a second order from the French government; by which I hoped to be either set at liberty, or
sent to France. Two copies of my memorial to the marine minister arrived ^ there in the beginning
of this year; but particularly the last, which was accompanied by letters from me to Messieurs
de Fleurieu, de Bougainville, and Bergeret, and by others from my friends here to other consi-
derable persons in or near the government. These were carried by a young officer of the navy,
who had shewn a zeal, an enthusiasm in my cause, and an attachment for me, that nothing
could exceed. His name is Charles Baudin, and he made part of the expedition commanded
by his name sake. He is son of a deceased member of the National Institute, who was instru-
mental in placing Bonaparte at the head of government. He is patronised by this chief, who
gave him a pension from his private purse, until he was promoted to be Enseigne de vaisseau. He had
the misfortune to lose an arm, and to be otherwise dangerously wounded in an action between la Se-
and the Terpsichore; and on this account he returned to France, a passenger on board la
Semillante, which had been disabled and sold to the merchants: On his arrival, he was promoted, &
made a member of the legion of honour. On receiving this intelligence, I conceived much hopes that
my memorial, supported by its accompanying letters, and by this and other friends, would procure
for me at least an order so positive for my transmission to France, that general de Caen would
no longer be able to resist; and that this order would arrive by the first ship. But for these last
three months, the island has been so closely blocked by our squadron from the Cape, that not one
of the many ships expected from France has been able to get in; so that I am totally in the dark
as to whether an order has, or has not been given. Probably several of these ships have been taken,
we know indeed positively of one, for it was by a female passenger landed from it, that we learned
the arrival of La Semillante; but all the public despatches would doubtless have been thrown
overboard, and my liberty with them; so that my sole hope now is, that a duplicate of the order,
if issued, may have been sent by the French government to our Admiralty, who may have for-
warded it by a flag of truce, as was done by the first order. Some flags of truce have indeed
come in from the cruizing squadron some time since; and I know that several offers have
been made to obtain my liberty; amongst others, the captain of La Piémontaise, though of superior
rank, has been offered in exchange. There is a possibility, that the last flag of truce, which
came in about six weeks ago, might have brought some order to general De Caen concerning me:

that he has told me nothing, is no proof that nothing has been received. Should this hope not
prove, like all those which I have hitherto entertained, to be a mere phantom, I may depart in
the French cartel for the Cape, by which this is sent; and which is to sail on the 8th of this month:
all the prisoners have received orders to be ready to embark on the 5th . This interval of three days
without any apparent reason for it, has excited my suspicion, that it may be intended to call me
to the port town, so soon as they shall have quitted it, and to give me the three days to arrange
my affairs. But alas! I fear to indulge so pleasing a hope, having been cruelly deceived so
often before, when appearances were much more promising. The arrival of this letter will be
information to thee, that the cartel has sailed without me.
      A French frigate, la Canonniàre, let to the merchants, is to sail for France
armée en flute, in the month of October; but if no order should arrive before that time, and it
is not the season for arrivals, I cannot hope to be sent in her. Every thing continues to demon-
strate the captain-general's intention to keep me here so long as he can, by any possible means or
pretexts. It is an animosity, which is extraordinary both from its cause and its long duration.
Unfortunately, history furnishes some examples which shew it to be a principle in human nature
to forgive injuries done to us, much sooner than those we have done to others; and the greater have been
the injuries, the greater and more durable is the animosity.
      Thou wilt conceive, that on receiving information that a cartel was to go to the
Cape, and the Canonniàre to France, how desirous I must have been to know, whether there was
any intention of suffering me to quit the island by one or the other opportunity. I knew that no re-
quest or representation of mine could obtain for me this information, and I tried other means:
I wrote a letter, of which the inclosed is a copy. If the subject of it was granted, I should know that
no order had been received, and that there was no intention of letting me go: Was it refused, the
reasons that might be given for the refusal would be some, perhaps much information to me: Were
no reasons given, I should judge that it was intended to send me by one or the other occasion, if no-
thing in the wording of the letter contradicted it. What I most feared was, that no answer whatever
would be given, and this has taken place. One small hope, however, remains: If I am to go in the
cartel, I may have an answer on the fifth, when the other prisoners shall be embarked. I should
much wish to tell thee the result of this affair; but on the 5th it will be too late, most probably,
to write to thee by the cartel.
      I enjoy tolerably good health, my love, in the midst of all the agitations,
vexations, and disappointments which I have so long had to bear; but which I hope will not
continue many months longer. A project, of which I have before given some hints, approaches
its term of execution; but as it does not depend wholly upon me, it is doubtful. I continue
to remain in the same friendly family and estimable family of Madame D'Arifat, where

I am treated as a son, except that I receive greater attention. How often have I ardently wished
that thou, my dearest friend and best love, wast here with me in the midst of these worthy
persons. Like me thou wouldst find in them a mother, brothers, and sisters; but I dare not
request thee to come out, for many reasons: amongst others, the fear of thy arrival after I
should be gone. The sole cause of my writing the inclosed letter was for the purpose of feeling
the pulse of the general. Preserve then for me, my only love, thy heart, thy kind affection,
thy health, for the happy, happy day when Providence shall please to suffer our reunion;
and be fully assured, that nothing can change the constant love and tender friendship,
with which I am thine own         Mattw Flinders

      P.S. I shall request captain Henry Lynne, one of the prisoners with whom I have had
a correspondence, to write to thee from the Cape what he may then know of any prospect of
liberty for me. Kindest remembrances to all friends at Partney and Spilsby; and pray write
to my sister Susan, that I long to see the day when I shall have the happiness to embrace
her and my little name sake.

[Enclosure: ]

      Copy of a letter addressed to Colonel Monistrol, Chef d'etat-major-général
                                  Isle of France

                                                            Tamarinds July 25. 1809

      The various offers I have at different times made of subscribing to
any conditions which His Excellency the captain-general might think proper to
impose, and which should not be dishonourable to me, in order to obtain my
liberation or even my transmission to France as a prisoner, having been con-
stantly refused, and to all appearance will ever be refused; the despair of being
able to resume my voyage of discovery, or of seeing my family for many years
to come, or perhaps never, induces me to make the following request. I beg of
you then, Sir, to inform me whether His Excellency will permit my wife to
land and rejoin me, should she present herself before Port Napoleon? I re-
quest also, that you will be pleased to move His Excellency to grant her a safe
conduct for the voyage, as also for my brother or such other relation as may be
her conductor. It is years since I received a proposition from her to this
effect; but the delusive hope, that I should either be set at liberty in conse-
quence of an order from the French government, or from the justice and
humanity of the captain-general, have hitherto prevented me from agreeing
to it. But now, after six years imprisonment I am desirous it should
be put into execution; if His Excellency will be pleased to grant the neces-
sary sureties. — I beg you to be assured of the high consideration
with which I have the honour to be, Sir, your very obedient humble servant
      Mattw Flinders

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Related people
Chappelle (Flinders), Ann
Fleurieu, Charles Pierre Claret, Comte de
Bougainville, Louis Antoine, Comte de
Bergeret, (Captain)
Baudin, Charles
Baudin, Nicolas
Bonaparte (Buonaparte), Napoléon.
De Caen, Charles Mathieu Isadore
Flinders, Matthew
Flinders family
Monistrol, (Colonel)
Riviere, Viscount de

Ile de France (Mauritius)
Cape of Good Hope

La Semillante
Piedmontaise (Piémontaise)

Words and phrases

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