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 | Back to Index

Letter from Matthew Flinders to Ann Flinders (17 of 41) (FLI25)

      the Revd William Tyler
            Partney near Spilsby
For Mrs Flinders       Lincolnshire

Annotation on envelope: Decr 16th 1804             No 21

                                          Port Jackson – June 25 1803

    Grateful for thy recovered health my dearest love, and grateful to thee for thy many
long and most dear remembrances of me, which I have received on our arrival here
some days since, how shall I expreƒs the anguish of my heart at the dreadful ha-
-vock that death is making all around. How dear is the name of father to an af-
-fectionate son, and how sweet the idea of being soon able to console and aƒsist him
in his every want and wish. When parting with the hope of soon shewing that my
actions should prove better than my words how much I loved him, how dreadful is
this blow. Tis too painful to be dwelt upon, although, alas, I have lately had too
much experience of deaths power, for my eyes can scarcely be turned where some
victim does not lie. Douglas — the boatswain, is gone, — the sergeant, two quarter
masters and another followed before we got into this port; and since, the gardener and
three others are laid in earth. Deaths hand is now staid, and his envious eye
which had been cast upon more of us seems to be turning away.
    But little indeed can be boasted of our state and condition, but thou shalt
have some brief account of us; and first of the ship: — a survey has been held up-
-on her which proves her to be so very much decayed as to be totally irrepairable. [sic] It
was the unanimous opinion of the surveying officers that had we met a severe gale
of wind in the paƒsage from Timor, that she must have been crushed like an egg and
gone down. I was partly aware of her bad state and returned sooner to Port Jack-
-son on that account, before the worst weather came. For me, whom this obstruc-
-tion in the voyage and the melancholy state of my poor people have much distreƒsed,
I have been lame about four months and was much debilitated in health, and
I fear in constitution, but am now recovering and shall soon be altogether well.
Mr Fowler is tolerably well and my brother is also well; he is becoming more steady, and
more friendly and affectionate with me since his knowledge of our mutual loƒs. Mr Brown
is recovered from ill health and lameneƒs. Mr Bauer, your favourite, is still polite
and gentle. Mr Westall wants prudence or rather experience, but is good-natured.
The two last are well and have always remained upon good terms with me. Mr Bell
is misanthropic and pleases nobody. Elder continues to be faithful and attentive
as before; I like him and apparently he likes me. Whitewood I have made a masters
mate and he behaves well. Charrington is become boatswain and Jack Wood is now
my coxswain. Trim, like his master is becoming grey: he is at present fat and
frisky, and takes meat from our forks with his former dexterity: he is commonly
my bedfellow. The master we have in poor Thistles place, is an easy good-natured
man. — As I shall be better able in a few weeks to say how the voyage will
be prosecuted, and how soon we may probably return, I will leave Port Jackson
and return to thy dear and kind letters. I have now before me the following
– two dated in December 1801 — one in January 1802 — and others in Feb. June
and September 1802. All these I find on our arrival, and for which I am most
grateful to thee, and also to thy father and mother for their inclosures. Thou
hast shewn me how very ill I have requited thy tender love in several in-
-stances. I cannot excuse myself, but plead for respite until my return

when in thy dear arms I will beg for pardon, and if thou canst forgive me all,
will have it sealed — oh with ten-thousand kiƒses. If I could laugh at the
effusions of thy tenderneƒs it would be to see the idolatrous language thou
frequently usest to me. Thou makest an idol and then worshipest it; and like
some of the inhabitants of the east thou also bestowest a little castigation
occasionally, just to let the ugly deity know the value of thy devotion.
Thinkest thou not, my dearest love, that I shall be spoiled by thy endearing
flatteries? — I fear it, and yet can hardly part with one, so dear to me is thy
affection in whatever way expreƒsed. I am indeed far behind thee in expreƒsions
of tenderneƒs, yet I cannot allow that my love is far behind thine. Measure me not by
the abundance of profeƒsion, but believe, my dearest and only love, that very very often
my thoughts which are never expreƒsed are devoted to thee. In torture at the great
distance from me, I lay musing upon thee, whilst sighs of fervent love, compaƒsion
for thy suffering health, and admiration of thy excellencies in turn get utterance.
    I would not my dear Ann, have thee ambitious, for was that the case, and in-
-stead of restraining me thou wast to add fuel to the fire, I know not what might
be aimed, ^ at even to sovereign power; but my heart is with thee, and so soon as I can
insure for us a moderate portion of the comforts of life, thou wilt see whether
love or ambition have the greatest power over me. Before thou wast mine, I was
engaged in this voyage; — without it we could not live. Thou knowest not the
struggle in my bosom, before I consented to the neceƒsity. There was no prospect
of a permanent subsistence but in pursuing what I had undertaken, and I
doubt not but that it will answer its end.

            Isle of France July 13. 1804
    Various have been the turns of fortune, my dearest life, since the former
part of this letter was addreƒsed to thee; but since my brother will, I trust,
have arrived before this can reach thee, my paper shall not be occupied by
these. I will turn to what he cannot tell thee, though alas the review is not
leƒs darkened by misfortune than the former part. Unacquainted with the
circumstances thou wilt with much justice complain, that since March 1803
no letter has been addreƒsed to thee, but in this confinement, watched and sus-
-pected, my sighs must be smothered, and the effusions of my love must here be
given to the winds in some secret corner. I have, however, ventured three ^ short letters
since my arrival in this island, which though addreƒsed to Mr Tyler were meant
for thee; they bear date Dec. 31. 1803 — April 26 and May 20 1804.
    It is scarcely poƒsible but that the very unjust treatment I have met with
from the French must be known by this time in England. How it will end is yet un-
-certain, for I am still kept closely confined as before, although in seven months
nothing has been found against me to confirm their villainous suspicions. It is
now in agitation to send me out into the country away from the port; and then I am
to have the liberty of walking and perhaps riding within certain limits. This alte-
-ration has been brought about at the same time with the return of most of my
books and charts, which just now haveing been given to me, and for which I am

indebted to captain Bergeret, who when commanding the frigate La Virginie was taken
by Sir Edward Pellew and detained a long time in England: his good heart sym-
-pathises with me in spite of the malevolent rigour of the brutal governor De
. For four months the master of the Investigator and me, with Elder to at-
-tend us, were shut up in a house and not suffered to go out even to walk for our
health, though a French surgeon made a representation of its being absolutely ne-
-ceƒsary, neither was any person permitted to speak to meus but such as had leave
from the governor. At length I applied through the medium of my friend Bergeret
to be removed to a large house where the prisoners of war were confined, and where
a piece of ground inclosed by stone walls was allowed us to walk in. Here we have
since had a little society with some officers, our fellow prisoners, and with that and ex-
-ercise have now got restored to tolerable health. I have now applied for a further
remove and am in expectation of its being complied with. The French pretend to
treat me with respect in the midst of their injustice. They have abstained from
taking away my sword, and they send officers to me of some consequence when they
have any communication to make, and they allow 105 dollars per month for the
subsistence of Mr Aken, myself and servant.
    [illegible] told to me, that my peculiar case is made known to the Fre
    French government, and that until an answer is received
we must remain prisoners here. This answer cannot be expected in leƒs than three
months and may probably be five, and then if the governor should be ordered to set me
at liberty, as I expect, in 4 or 5 months after that I may be able to reach England; but
since it is uncertain what accounts of my being a spy may be sent to France, it is
also very ^ un certain what orders may come out. I place more reliance upon the demand to the
French government which I expect the Admiralty will make for me to be given up with
my book and charts by virtue of my paƒsport, than upon any justice or philanthro-
-py from the French.
    What would I not now give to know the state of thy health and the situations
of our friends and affairs. Comfort thyself, my dearest Ann; a few months more af-
-ter thou shalt have received this will restore me to thy arms, and in our happineƒs the
memory of this misery shall be buried, as a frightful dream.
    Be good enough to write to my mother, or if thou canst, visit her and give her
comfort. In me she may firmly depend upon finding a most sincere and affectionate friend:
I will be to her indeed as a son. To my young sisters give a kiƒs and my best love. To
thy good father and mother I am much indebted, and much bound in love, as I will
be to all those whom I shall find to have treated thee with kindneƒs; for in thee I live
and move and have my being, and whosoever loveth thee, him will I love.
    If my brother shall not have got into a ship in employment, tell him that
I think he should get into a ship in the channel fleet or into a cruizing frigate
until such time as I can come home to see what can be done. To my dear Belle, to
Thomas Franklin and the charming family, and to my cousin Henny and her family,
pray my dear, give my best love and remembrance; and my respects to my uncle
at Bolingbroke. This is the first opportunity that has occurred for writing to thee here,
and I write no other letter than this or my sister Susan and my mother should not
have been neglected. How much do I want to see every body, but above all, thee,
thou beloved of my heart. Thy most affectionate Mattw Flinders

    P.S. If my friend Wiles should have come to England pray present him
with my best esteem and regard; and say that I still hold him as one of the

dearest of my friends.
    The enclosed certificates are for John Franklin and young Lound.

[Also on this letter but written in a different pen and possibly by a different hand; a love poem from Ann to Matthew?]

Hail thou kind Meƒsenger of faith & love,
    Ardent I preƒs thee to my aching breast,
Oh may thou soothing pow'rs, thy influence prove
    A charm to lull these torturing cases to rest —


Welcome dear stranger from a foreign shore,
    Here rest thee on my bosom, gentle Friend;
More valued for than India's golden ore,
    For thou canst Joy, & Peace & Comfort lend —


Yes thou canst cheer the sorrows of my heart
And give hopes Sunbeam to my darken'd mind,
Thy tender lines, soft raptures, can impart
Visions of bliƒs & extacies [sic] refined —


Then rest thee gentle Wander'r on my breast
Thou balmy cordial of a heart distreƒsed —

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

Related people
Fowler, Robert
Flinders, Samuel
Brown, Robert
Bauer (Bawer), Ferdinand
Westall, William
Elder, John
Thistle, John
Bergeret, (Captain)
Pellew, (Admiral) Edward, Viscount Exmouth
De Caen, Charles Mathieu Isadore
Aken (Aiken), John
Flinders, Elizabeth
Franklin family
Tyler, Isabella (Belle/Bell)
Flinders, Henrietta
Flinders, Matthew
Wiles, James
Franklin, John
Lound, Sherrard
Tyler, (Reverend) William
Chappelle (Flinders), Ann
Douglas, Charles
Franklin, Thomas
Flinders family

Port Jackson
Ile de France (Mauritius)

La Virginie

Related Documents

Single sentence from Flinders' letter to his wife dated 25th June 1803

Other documents written by Flinders, Matthew

Other documents received by Chappelle (Flinders), Ann

Other documents written in 1803