Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/447

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354
LIFE OF MATTHEW FLINDERS

December, 1804, arrived, and still no order of release came. On the anniversary of his arrest, Flinders wrote the following letter to Decaen:[1]

"Maison Despeaux, December 16, 1804. 

"General,

"Permit me to remind you that I am yet a prisoner in this place, and that it is now one year since my arrestation. This is the anniversary of that day on which you transferred me from liberty and my peaceful occupations to the misery of a close confinement.

"Be pleased, sir, to consider that the great occupations of the French Government may leave neither time nor inclination to attend to the situation of an Englishman in a distant colony, and that the chance of war may render abortive for a considerable time at least any attempts to send out despatches to this island. The lapse of one year shows that one or other of these circumstances has already taken place, and the consequence of my detainer until orders are received from France will most probably be, that a second year will be cut out of my life and devoted to the same listless inaction as the last, to the destruction of my health and happiness, and the probable ruin of all my further prospects. I cannot expect, however, that my private misfortunes should have any influence upon Your Excellency's public conduct. It is from being engaged in a service calculated for the benefit of all maritime nations; from my passport; the inoffensiveness of my conduct; and the probable delay of orders from France. Upon these considerations it is that my present hope of receiving liberty must be founded.

"But should a complete liberation be so far incompatible with Your Excellency's plan of conduct concern-

  1. Decaen Papers.