This volume presents [and completes] the edition of the diary and account books of Matthew Flinders, surgeon and apothecary of Donington in south Lincolnshire. His son, also Matthew, who later won renown as the first circumnavigator of Australia, appears here as a schoolboy, choosing not to follow his father as an apothecary but pursuing instead a career at sea.
The diary records the social life of Donington - magical deceptions at the Bull and the visit of a theatre company - and the joys and sorrows of family life. Flinders's success in business led to investments in land and government securities, yet his fear of poverty was never far away and his wish to sell up and retire was never realised. The war with France is a recurring theme, both in the ever-increasing taxes imposed to pay for it, and in the local patriotism evoked by Nelson's victory at the Nile, and that of the 'Glorious First of June' in which the young Matthew took part. Other national events shown to impinge on country life and mentioned in the diary include the king's recovery from madness in 1789 [celebrated by the illumination of the whole town]. Overall, it affords a rare glimpse into everyday life at the time.