Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/360

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277
AUSTRALIA CIRCUMNAVIGATED

tion in the voyage and the melancholy state of my poor people have much distressed, I have been lame about four months, and much debilitated in health and I fear in constitution; but am now recovering, and shall soon be altogether well." In another letter he describes the ship as "worn out—she is decayed both in skin and bone."

Of the nine convicts who were permitted to make this voyage, one died; the conduct of a second did not warrant Flinders in recommending him for a pardon; the remaining seven were fully emancipated. Four sailed with Flinders on his next voyage; but two of them, no longer having to gain their liberty by good behaviour, conducted themselves ill, and a third was convicted again after he reached England.

Upon his arrival in port after this voyage Flinders learnt of the death of his father. The occasion called forth a letter to his step-mother, which is especially valuable from the light it throws upon his character.[1] The manly tenderness of his sorrow and sympathy throbs through every sentence of it. In danger, in adversity, in disappointment, in difficulty, under tests of endurance and throughout perilous cruises, we always find Flinders solicitous for the good of others and unsparing of himself; and perhaps there is no more moving revelation of his quality as a man than that made in this letter:

"Investigator, Port Jackson,
"June 10th, 1803. 

"My dearest Mother,
"We arrived here yesterday from having circumnavigated New Holland, and I received numerous and valuable marks of the friendship of all those whose affection is so dear to me; but the joy which some letters


  1. Flinders' Papers.