Browse the documents Browse the documents Search
Advanced search
The Flinders papersletters and documents about the explorer Matthew Flinders (1774-1814)
You are here: Flinders > Browse the Documents > Documents > Documents
All pages | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | Back to Index

Letter from Matthew Flinders to Ann Flinders (21 of 41) (FLI25)

Mrs Flinders
      Partney near Spilsby

August 16th         No 27

                        Wilhems Plains in the Isle of France
                                        March 19. 1806

My best love
      The hopes I had entertained of liberty when I last wrote
thee (on Nov. 20. 1805) seem now almost diƒsipated. In continual ex-
-pectation of arrivals from France, I delayed writing from week to week
and at last came an officer with dispatches; soon after arrived a frigate
with other dispatches, and I waited in the utmost anxiety for some orders
or intelligence from general De Caen. At length I learned, that my name
was not mentioned in the letters he had received from the government.
I wrote then to the general, again requesting him to send me to France,
seeing that there was no probability of my situation being remembered
by the French ministers in the midst of the great interests with which
they were occupied. His answer was, "that he could not make any change
"in my situation before he should receive the orders of the marine minister
"; that by every occasion he had requested to receive these orders, and
"that he would again preƒs him upon the subject." It appears that
the minister himself does not chuse [sic] to make the decision, but waits
the opinion of the council of state, which it seems to be too much occupi-
-ed with great events to think of a poor prisoner so far distant.
      At this moment, my hopes are indeed very feeble, I know not upon what
point to fix them. Of themselves, it is most probable, the French government
will do nothing. My letter to M. Fleurieu, and those of my friend to
other considerable men in France, seem to have had no effect; and the
efforts of Sir Joseph Banks, even, seem to have failed; it is, however, poƒ-
-sible, that the Institute wait only for a more convenient time to make
their application, than in the midst of the a war in which the Emperor
is engaged in person. The idea of being kept here until the
peace, is terrible, since that period is so very uncertain. I have once
thought of thy coming out here, shouldst thou find that no orders have
been given for my return to Europe, and shouldst thou a good conveyance
present itself. But the delicacy of thy health, the danger and inconvenience

that might attend thee on the voyage, the difficulty of finding a proper person
and confidential person to accompany and protect thee, are too great to be
overcome, buried, as thou art, in the country, and unacquainted with sea af-
-fairs. Of all things in the world, I most desire thy presence here, since I can-
-not come to thee; but of all things in the world I should most dread thy
undertaking such a voyage, without being protected and accomodated [sic] in a
manner, which it is scarcely poƒsible any opportunity should place in thy
reach. Let the conduct of a woman on board a ship, without her husband,
be ever so prudent and circumspect, the tongue of slander will almost
certainly find occasion, or it will create one, to embitter the future peace
of her husband and family. Thou wouldst have first to go to America,
most probably, and afterwards embark on board another ship for the
Isle of France; but what a route for thee! I dare not think of it.
      Only with all these concurring circumstances is it poƒsible; — that thy
health was good, — that thou shouldst be accompanied by a father, an un-
-cle, or a brother, or that thou wast acquainted with the captain of a ship,
or with some respectable man coming here, who had his wife with
him, and would undertake to protect and befriend thee: — that thou
shouldst have learned, that no orders had been given, or were likely to be
soon given, concerning me; and that thou couldst procure bills of ex-
-change from Mr Standert, for £200, £300, or £400 upon some respecta-
-ble merchant in the Isle of France, India, or America for our use here;
and which, on such an immergency [sic], I hereby request him to procure for
thee on my account. On the concurrence of these circumstances, I would
then, my love, leave it to thee, and to thy friends, to decide, and I should
receive thee with transport; but even with all these concurring circum-
-stances, I could not ask thee to undertake such a voyage, so much do I
dread the effects of the fatigue on thy health, and of ten-thousand circum-
-stances that might occur to a person whom I so entirely and so tenderly
love. My friend Thomas Pitot has offered to receive thee into his family
on thy first arrival, and to give me letters of recommendation for thee to
several persons in different ports of France, in case any accident might
conduct thee there on the paƒsage; and as it is always best to be provided
against all circumstances, I will ask him for one or two, though without

any idea of their being used: letters of recommendation to some persons in America
would be more likely to be useful, and these, in case of the voyage being actually
undertaken, might be procured in England, for the port to which the veƒsel
might be bound.
      We should indeed be very happy here with this excellent family where
I am placed; but what difficulty, fatigue, and risk, thou wouldst have to
arrive at this happineƒs. No, my dearest love, it cannot be. I ask thee
not to undertake it. As I said before, in the case of all circumstances a-
-bove-mentioned concurring to thy wish, I then leave thee and thy family
and friends to decide; but if they do not concur, or circumstances equi-
-valent to them, my extreme concern and anxiety for thee oblige me to
act the master, and deny my consent.
      In thy letters of May 12 and June 14. 1805 which were received to-
-gether on Oct. 22 (as I informed thee in my last of Nov. 20) thou hast
made mention of another packet of letters which had been forwarded to
me; and my friend Robertson did the same; but none written either before
or since have arrived. I was a long time uneasy about Mr Aken but I
      have learnt, that the ship James was taken by one of
      our frigates, and therefore suppose he was prevented
from writing to me from America, and ^ that went immediately to England. Should
it have happened, that my letters written in November have miscarried, I
beg of thee to write to Mr Aken and tell him of my present situation. It is
now ten months since he left me, and in two months more I shall expect some
account of him dated in England. My faithful servant Elder still con-
-tinues with me, and I do not think will leave me before we obtain our
liberty together, though I have offered to demand permiƒsion for him to de-
-part, and which would doubtleƒs be granted. He is indeed a very valua-
-ble and faithful servant. Did I really suppose thou wouldst undertake
the voyage, I should send ^ him to England to return with thee.
      March 20. The eldest Mademoiselle D'Arifat desires me to present
thee with her compliments, and to aƒsure thee, that if thou shouldst make
a voyage here, thou wilt find in her a friend. The three young ladies have
wove a necklace of their hair, which I am desired to present to thee by the
first occasion.               This moment I learn that a good occasion of
sending letters presents itself, but it only leaves me a few hours to complete

[back page one side]

this letter, therefore, and one to Sir J.B. is all that I can have ready. There is not time
to get the letters of recommendation from my friend Pitot. But in a few days I will
write to thee again, and inclose them, and take that occasion to remember some others
of my friends — I beg Mr Tyler, thy mother, and every one of thy family to accept my
best wishes, and thanks for all the kindneƒses they have conferred on me through thee.
Though thou must count upon thy letters being often lost, do not neglect to write
to me by every occasion. Mr Hippins or Thomas Franklin could probably inclose
thy letters to some merchant in New York, or some other part of America, with
a request to have them forwarded to the Isle of France. Direct them under cover
to me

[back page other side]

as on the back of the inclosed paper; my friend Pitot will then get them, and from him
they will come to me. Pray write to my mother, my brother, my sister Susan, and to
my young sisters and cousin Henny, and say every thing that is affectionate to them
as well as to Mrs T.for me. Adieu my best love. I am in good health, and
equally comfortable in my situation as when I last wrote to thee.
Thine, most affectionately and for ever — Mattw Flinders

[in cross writing on the front page]

Postscript. I have requested Sir Joseph Banks to give thee all the information he can from France, and his
opinion upon the propriety of undertaking the voyage here. If he writes thee nothing in two or three
weeks after the receival [sic] of this thou canst write to him on these subjects.
I have written to captain Henry of the nineteenth dragoons concerning James Franklin.
                  My best beloved adieu, for a short time.

All pages | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | Back to Index
View Print Friendly Version

Related people
Chappelle (Flinders), Ann
De Caen, Charles Mathieu Isadore
Fleurieu, Charles Pierre Claret, Comte de
Banks, Sir Joseph
Bonaparte (Buonaparte), Napoléon.
Standert, A.
Pitot, Thomas
Aken (Aiken), John
Elder, John
Tyler, (Reverend) William
Hippins family
Franklin, Thomas
Flinders, Elizabeth
Flinders, Samuel
Flinders family
Flinders, Henrietta
Flinders, Matthew
Franklin family
Riviere, Viscount de

Ile de France (Mauritius)

Words and phrases

Related Documents
Other documents written by Flinders, Matthew

Other documents received by Chappelle (Flinders), Ann

Other documents written in 1806