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The Flinders papersletters and documents about the explorer Matthew Flinders (1774-1814)
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Letter from William Owen to Matthew Flinders (1 of 3) (FLI01)

{Emmou} 1 August 1810

With a Man of your Science and precision My Dear Captain Flinders, I may perhaps
risk my credit a little by writing to you in my common negligent style, which has on other
occasions excited you to Mild Reproofs in the Rennel Manner. Our short Acquaintance
has, however, inspired me with all the confidence neceƒsary to aƒsure me that,
by an union of Talent and Friendly indulgence, I shall be read with far other
sentiment and feeling than thoughts on Criticism, but a trice with nonsense.
      When we parted we had little time to say much to each other. Events paƒsed
too rapidly, we had both too much to do in the time, and both had too long been out of
the habit of such rapid changes. But, that I felt almost as much Interest for you
as for myself is certain, and, that my fate did also interest you. I imagined
to be also evident, perhaps it was not neceƒsary that more shou'd be known on either
side to secure that Sympathy which is soon to bear to the heavens heart; nor can mine
forget your injunction, or its own bias, to cultivate the friendship it values and esteems
by means of literal correspondence and permit to aƒsure you that altho' I have not
dedicated my first moments to you, this is one of the very few I have had initialy [sic] to myself
      You cannot doubt how much our little Society miƒsed you – We toasted
you, Sir, like Englishmen. We sent the Heartiest wishes of your Countrymen (aye
and women too) to heaven for your Succeƒs in these times three loud & Manly Cheers
dictated by that sincerity which forms the glorious character [illegible] of our rough & poor
English. Nay, Waugh got drunk for you, and the ladies did each take an
Extra Glaƒs to you. Few Men know better how to appreciate Sentiment than yourself
I will therefore offer you no reflections of mine on the Satisfaction you must derive
from the unanimous concurrence of Esteem.
      After a Short paƒsage of twenty four days, we arrived at Madras on the 7th
last, We had much bad weather and our ladies were a little Sickly; On the whole,
however, we had a very agreeable voyage. You may gueƒs that the charms of one
Young lady rendered it particularly so to me – I cou'd have worshipped the
little witch for life, but Fate, or in your Philosophic language, The General laws by
which the universe is governed, seem to have denied me this indulgence.
      We had no Adventures on the paƒsage, but such as was natural
to such an heterogeneous lot. –– Hope as you know, one of the most Gentlemanly
Young men in the World, rendered all right and proper, tied all together by the
influence of superior Manners. Whilst poor little Ramsden by the errors which a

lack of that quality occasioned got himself into several scrapes; Hunter and his sister
concluded by the most beastly and [illegible] conduct towards him. and I by endeavouring
to soften the Asperities [sic] on all sides, obtained a little of that importance which is so
agreeable in Society when it can be useful. The Conduct of our Young Women to
the last was Admirable, was I only speaking of one of them, you wou'd believe me
partial, but I speak of all, and all four have therefore obtained my most sincere
friendship and Esteem, tho' this Sentiment may never be useful to them, or either
of them, they are not the leƒs worthy of it.
    Agreeable to my promise to you, Mr Tymon made me his honorable
Amends a few days before our Arrival here, & thereby avoided the disagreeable consequences
which must have ensued from his Extravagant folly –– And the poor Man, Learmouth,
who, whilst I was encaged and Motionleƒs, spared no pains to calumniate me, now
courted me; he employed poor little Ramsden, whom he had originally prejudiced
seriously against me, desiring at all times to act openly & having no reasons for not
arousing my Sentiment openly. I explained the circumstances to him, & left
the other poor Man Learmouth to himself – Undoubtedly, his Aƒsurance wou'd
have led him to charge you with his Cousin also, had you been with us. Ramsden
concluded by saying that he did not see how I cou'd act in any way differently; nor cou'd
he so much esteem me, if I now deserted the principle I had laid down; he was highly flatter'd
by my Condescending to explain any views Sentiments and Creed to him. Not that
this was neceƒsary to me, his opinion wou'd neither have changed my principles, conscience
or action, tis only for those who neither fit their principles,or listen to conscience, to endeavour
to forestall the opinions of them by turbulent Clamour and influence a party in behalf of
an untried question for, he who squares his actions on a sense of the duty he owes
to God, his neighbor and himself will generally but oppose to such Clamour, the Silent
approbation of conscious rectitude. – Such was my case with Meƒsrs Learmouth and Tymon
who, immediately on the dispersion of the partisans they had obtained, court the Pardon
and Friendship of him they had before Villified & calumniated to the last degree, and all this
change without my taking any [illegible] whatever, but Silent Indignation in opposition to

^but no sooner am I loose, my hands free of Shackles, and I at liberty. I have the lore they like
{Shimen} declare their persistence & attribute their errors to the pains taken by others to mislead
them – Can a Man have faith in any such? but what in the Cause of them thus having

to ever have induced me to pardon them, Yet their remembrance is always aƒsociated with
disgust, indignation and Abhorrence. with which we will leave them to follow their Career in
a world large enough for us all.
      On my Arrival here, Adml Drury was glad to see me, offered me a place in his
House, and proposed to turn me to Account against the Isle of France, where I yet hope to
Justify both you & me.

The Baracouta is at the Moluccas & will not probably soon be here, in the mean
time I mean to stick to the Admiral. My Court Martial is not yet over, but his
Captains more are hourly expected, when we shall have enough; Hope gave me
my Certificate immediately, so that nothing but this said Court Martial is now
between me and Active Service.
        I am at this moment about Ten Miles from Madras
in a little Retreat where, I enjoy more time and air than in the Butterfly Society of
this Gay Settlement, where we hear naught but nonsense, where there is an
Established Warfare between the Sexes, the Weapons, Scandal and Quizzical Rudeneƒs, or
Rude Quizzing. –– The Girls landed here for two days. I have written hence both
to Hope and Ramsden, & given both your addreƒs. All the World in India had taken so
much Interest in your fate, that your liberation caused general Satisfaction.
      My present Admiral is a most boisterous fellow, but Clever, Zealous
and honest as the Sun –––-Young Franklin I have had interest to get into the
Phæton as Master, and the Remainder of our Crew are dispersed I know not where.
      I have had the honor of being much questioned Relative to the Isle of france
and have not failed to Endeavour to let [sic] them in the right way. I have written for them
a Memorandum adverting to the Politics which shou'd govern us in an Attack,
and giving Military such Military and local hints as I considered neceƒsary to
securing the Conquest. We are now preparing for the Expedition tho' tis not yet ordered.
      Your old Shipmate Briggs is in the Station, when we meet, we shall not fail to
speak of you. –
      Here are some Hare brained fellows coming acroƒs the water to annoy me
so that I must conclude by desiring you will not fail to give me an ample Account
of yourself. How the Noble Baronet President received you. How the Admiralty have
shewn disposition towards you. If you have seen my brother, and all else relating to
yourself , your views, &c &c. I am now teazed [sic] by a Jolly good boy, young Drury.
You know the impoƒsibility of saying much in such case, and the neceƒsity
of sending this to Calcutta in the way to England will prevent my resuming
the pen to you 'till something else turns up. In the mean time My Dear Sir
believe me that very few, and those only circumstances of Natural Attachment
can give me greater pleasure than an Occasion which shall again offer
the pleasure of your Society to your faithful and Sincere
                    W F W Owen

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Related people
Flinders, Matthew
Hope, Hugh
Tymon, (Mr)
Franklin, Thomas
Owen, (Captain) William Fitzwillam
Drury, (Admiral) William O'Brien

Ile de France (Mauritius)


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