Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/434

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341
THE CAPTIVITY

to European constitutions; they say, further, that the people with whom they are placed are much affected with that disagreeable and contagious disorder the itch; and that the provisions with which they are fed are too scanty, except in the article of meat, the proportion of which is large but of bad quality. Your Excellency will no doubt make such an amendment in their condition as circumstances will permit.

"A compliance with the above requests will not only furnish me with a better amusement in this solitude than writing letters to your Excellency, but will be attended with advantages in which the French nation may some time share. This application respecting the charts is not altogether made upon a firm persuasion that you will return everything to me, for if I could believe that they were never to be given to me or my Government I should make the same request.

"Your prisoner,
"Matthew Flinders."

On the day when the letter was despatched, Colonel Monistrol called, and promised that the books and papers requested should be supplied; and, in fact, the trunk containing them was without delay brought to the inn. The Colonel courteously expressed his regret that Flinders had adopted such a tone in his letters to the General, thinking "that they might tend to protract rather than terminate" his confinement. The complaint respecting the seamen was attended to forthwith, and they were treated exactly on the same footing as were French sailors on service.[1]

The first thing Flinders did, when he received the trunk, was to take out his naval signal-book and tear it to pieces. Next day he was conducted to Government

  1. St. Eleme le Duc's MS. History.