Sir John Barrow.

The Eventful History of the Mutiny and Piratical Seizure of H.M.S. Bounty: Its Cause and Consequences online

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with me in thinking there could not be a stronger proof of his
innocence and worth, and that it must prejudice every person
who reads it most powerfully in his favour. Such a letter in
less distressful circumstances than those in which he writes,
would, I am persuaded, reflect honour on the pen of a person
much older than my poor brother. But when we consider his
extreme youth (only sixteen at the time of the mutiny, and now
but nineteen), his fortitude, patience, and manly resignation
under the pressure of sufferings and misfortunes almost
unheard of, and scarcely to be supported at any age, without
the assistance of that which seems to be my dear brother's
greatest comfort - - a quiet conscience, and a thorough
conviction of his own innocence - when I add, at the same time,
with real pleasure and satisfaction, that his relation
corresponds in many particulars with the accounts we have
hitherto heard of the fatal mutiny, and when I also add, with
inconceivable pride and delight, that my beloved Peter never
was known to breathe a syllable inconsistent with truth and
honour; - when these circumstances, my dear uncle, are all
united, what man on earth can doubt of the innocence which
could dictate such a letter? In short, let it speak for him:
the perusal of his artless and pathetic story will, I am
persuaded, be a stronger recommendation in his favour than any
thing I can urge.[13]

'I need not tire your patience, my ever loved uncle, by
dwelling longer on this subject (the dearest and most
interesting on earth to my heart); let me conjure you only, my
kind friend, to read it, and consider the innocence and
defenceless situation of its unfortunate author, which calls
for, and I am sure deserves, all the pity and assistance his
friends can afford him, and which, I am sure also, the
goodness and benevolence of your heart will prompt you to
exert in his behalf. It is perfectly unnecessary for me to
add, after the anxiety I feel, and cannot but express, that no
benefit conferred upon myself will be acknowledged with half
the gratitude I must ever feel for the smallest instance of
kindness shown to my beloved Peter. Farewell, my dearest
uncle. With the firmest reliance on your kind and generous
promises, I am, ever with the truest gratitude and
sincerity, - Your most affectionate niece,




- O! I have suffer'd
With those that I saw suffer! a brave vessel,
Who had, no doubt, some noble creatures in her,
Dash'd all to pieces. O, the cry did knock
Against my very heart! Poor souls! they perish'd
Had I been any god of power, I would
Have sunk the sea within the earth, or e'er
It should the good ship so have swallow'd, and
The freighting souls within her.

The tide of public applause set as strongly in favour of Bligh, on
account of his sufferings and the successful issue of his daring
enterprise, as its indignation was launched against Christian and his
associates, for the audacious and criminal deed they had committed.
Bligh was promoted by the Admiralty to the rank of Commander, and
speedily sent out a second time to transport the bread-fruit to the West
Indies, which he without the least obstruction successfully
accomplished; and his Majesty's government were no sooner made
acquainted with the atrocious act of piracy and mutiny, than it
determined to adopt every possible means to apprehend and bring to
condign punishment the perpetrators of so foul a deed. For this
purpose, the _Pandora_ frigate, of twenty-four guns and one hundred and
sixty men, was despatched under the command of Captain Edward Edwards,
with orders to proceed, in the first instance, to Otaheite, and not
finding the mutineers there, to visit the different groups of the
Society and Friendly Islands, and others in the neighbouring parts of
the Pacific, using his best endeavours to seize and bring home in
confinement the whole or such part of the delinquents as he might be
able to discover.

This voyage was in the sequel almost as disastrous as that of the
_Bounty_, but from a different cause. The waste of human life was much
greater, occasioned by the wreck of the ship, and the distress
experienced by the crew not much less, owing to the famine and thirst
they had to suffer in a navigation of eleven hundred miles in open
boats; but the Captain succeeded in fulfilling a part of his
instructions, by taking fourteen of the mutineers, of whom ten were
brought safe to England, the other four being drowned when the ship was

The only published account of this voyage is contained in a small volume
by Mr. George Hamilton, the surgeon, who appears to have been a coarse,
vulgar, and illiterate man, more disposed to relate licentious scenes
and adventures, in which he and his companions were engaged, than to
give any information of proceedings and occurrences connected with the
main object of the voyage. From this book, therefore, much information
is not to be looked for. In a more modern publication, many abusive
epithets have been bestowed on Captain Edwards, and observations made on
the conduct of this officer highly injurious to his reputation, in
regard to his inhuman treatment of, and disgraceful acts of cruelty
towards, his prisoners, which it is to be feared have but too much
foundation in fact.

The account of his proceedings, rendered by himself to the Admiralty, is
vague and unsatisfactory; and had it not been for the journal of
Morrison, and a circumstantial letter of young Heywood to his mother, no
record would have remained of the unfeeling conduct of this officer
towards his unfortunate prisoners, who were treated with a rigour which
could not be justified on any ground of necessity or prudence.

The _Pandora_ anchored in Matavai Bay on the 23rd March 1791. Captain
Edwards, in his narrative, states that Joseph Coleman, the armourer of
the _Bounty_, attempted to come on board before the _Pandora_ had
anchored; that on reaching the ship, he began to make inquiries of him
after the _Bounty_ and her people, and that he seemed to be ready to
give him any information that was required; that the next who came on
board, just after the ship had anchored, were Mr. Peter Heywood and Mr.
Stewart, before any boat had been sent on shore; that they were brought
down to his cabin, when, after some conversation, Heywood asked if Mr.
Hayward (midshipman of the _Bounty_, but now lieutenant of the
_Pandora_) was on board, as he had heard that he was; that Lieutenant
Hayward, whom he sent for, treated Heywood. with a sort of contemptuous
look, and began to enter into conversation with him respecting the
_Bounty_; but Edwards ordered him to desist, and called in the sentinel
to take the prisoners into safe custody, and to put them in irons; that
four other mutineers soon made their appearance; and that, from them and
some of the natives, he learned that the rest of the _Bounty's_ people
had built a schooner, with which they had sailed the day before from
Matavai Bay to the north-west part of the island.

He goes on to say that, on this intelligence, he despatched the two
lieutenants, Corner and Hayward, with the pinnace and launch, to
endeavour to intercept her. They soon got sight of her and chased her
out to sea, but the schooner gained so much upon them, and night coming
on, they were compelled to give up the pursuit and return to the ship.
It was soon made known, however, that she had returned to Paparré, on
which they were again despatched in search of her. Lieutenant Corner had
taken three of the mutineers, and Hayward, on arriving at Paparré, found
the schooner there, but the mutineers had abandoned her and fled to the
mountains. He carried off the schooner, and returned next day, when he
learned they were not far off; and the following morning, on hearing
they were coming down, he drew up his party in order to receive them,
and when within hearing, called to them to lay down their arms and to go
on one side, which they did, when they were confined and brought as
prisoners to the ship.

The following were the persons received on Board the _Pandora_:

JAMES MORRISON Boatswain's mate.
CHARLES NORMAN Carpenter's mate.
THOMAS M'INTOSH Carpenter's crew.

In all fourteen. The other two, which made up the sixteen that had been
left on the island, were murdered, as will appear presently.

Captain Edwards will himself explain how he disposed of his prisoners.
'I put the pirates,' he says, 'into a round-house which I built on the
after part of the quarter-deck, for their more effectual security in
this airy and healthy situation, and to separate them from, and to
prevent their having communication with, or to crowd and incommode, the
ship's company.' Dr. Hamilton calls it the most desirable place in the
ship, and adds, that 'orders were given that the prisoners should be
victualled, in every respect, the same as the ship's company, both in
meat, liquor, and all the extra indulgences with which they were so
liberally supplied, notwithstanding the established laws of the service,
which restrict prisoners to two-thirds allowance; but Captain Edwards
very humanely commiserated their unhappy and inevitable length of
confinement.' Mr. Morrison, one of the prisoners, gives a very different
account of their treatment from that of Edwards or Hamilton. He says
that Captain Edwards put both legs of the two midshipmen in irons, and
that he branded them with the opprobrious epithet of 'piratical
villains': that they, with the rest, being strongly handcuffed, were put
into a kind of round-house only eleven feet long, built as a prison, and
aptly named '_Pandora's_ Box,' which was entered by a scuttle in the
roof, about eighteen inches square. This was done in order that they
might be kept separate from the crew, and also the more effectually to
prevent them from having any communication with the natives; that such
of those friendly creatures as ventured to look pitifully towards them
were instantly turned out of the ship, and never again allowed to come
on board. But two sentinels were kept constantly upon the roof of the
prison, with orders to shoot the first of its inmates who should attempt
to address another in the Otaheitan dialect.

That Captain Edwards took every precaution to keep his prisoners in safe
custody, and place them in confinement, as by his instructions he was
directed to do, may be well imagined,[14] but Mr. Morrison will
probably be thought to go somewhat beyond credibility in stating that
orders were given 'to _shoot_ any of the prisoners,' when confined in
irons. Captain Edwards must have known that such an act would have cost
him his commission or something more. The fact is, that information was
given to Edwards, at least he so asserts, by the brother of the King of
Otaheite, an intelligent chief, that a conspiracy was formed among the
natives to cut the ship's cables the first strong wind that should blow
on the shore, which was considered to be the more probable, as many of
the prisoners were said to be married to the most respectable chiefs'
daughters in the district opposite to the anchorage; that the midshipman
Stewart, in particular, had married the daughter of a man of great
landed property near Matavai Bay. This intelligence, no doubt, weighed
with the Captain in giving his orders for the close confinement of the
prisoners; and particularly in restricting the visits of the natives;
but so far is it from being true that all communication between the
mutineers and the natives was cut off, that we are distinctly told by
Mr. Hamilton, that 'the prisoners' wives visited the ship daily, and
brought their children, who were permitted to be carried to their
unhappy fathers. To see the poor captives in irons,' he says, 'weeping
over their tender offspring, was too moving a scene for any feeling
heart, Their wives brought them ample supplies of every delicacy that
the country afforded, while we lay there, and behaved with the greatest
fidelity and affection to them.'[15]

Of the fidelity and attachment of these simple-minded creatures an
instance is afforded in the affecting story which is told, in the first
_Missionary Voyage of the Duff_, of the unfortunate wife of the reputed
mutineer Mr. Stewart. It would seem also to exonerate Edwards from some
part of the charges which have been brought against him.

'The history of Peggy Stewart marks a tenderness of heart that never
will be heard without emotion: she was the daughter of a chief, and
taken for his wife by Mr. Stewart, one of the unhappy mutineers. They
had lived with the old chief in the most tender state of endearment; a
beautiful little girl had been the fruit of their union, and was at the
breast when the _Pandora_ arrived, seized the criminals, and secured
them in irons on board the ship. Frantic with grief, the unhappy Peggy
(for so he had named her) flew with her infant in a canoe to the arms of
her husband. The interview was so affecting and afflicting, that the
officers on board were overwhelmed with anguish, and Stewart himself,
unable to bear the heartrending scene, begged she might not be admitted
again on board. She was separated from him by violence, and conveyed on
shore in a state of despair and grief too big for utterance. Withheld
from him, and forbidden to come any more on board, she sunk into the
deepest dejection; it preyed on her vitals; she lost all relish for food
and life, rejoiced no more, pined under a rapid decay of two months, and
fell a victim to her feelings, dying literally of a broken heart. Her
child is yet alive, and the tender object of our care, having been
brought up by a sister, who nursed it as her own, and has discharged all
the duties of an affectionate mother to the orphan infant.'[16]

It does not appear that young Heywood formed any matrimonial engagement
during his abode in Otaheite. He was not, however, insensible to the
amiable and good qualities of these people. In some laudatory verses
which he wrote while on the island, their numerous good qualities are
spoken of in terms of the highest commendation.

All the mutineers that were left on the island being received on board
the _Pandora_, that ship proceeded in search of those who had gone away
in the _Bounty_. It may be mentioned, however, that two of the most
active in the mutiny, Churchill and Thompson, had perished on the island
before her arrival, by violent deaths. These two men had accompanied a
chief, who was the _tayo_, or sworn friend, of Churchill, and having
died without children, this mutineer succeeded to his property and
dignity, according to the custom of the country. Thompson, for some real
or fancied insult, took an opportunity of shooting his companion. The
natives assembled, and came to a resolution to avenge the murder, and
literally stoned Thompson to death, and his skull was brought on board
the _Pandora_. This horrible wretch had some time before slain a man and
a child through mere wantonness, but escaped punishment by a mistake
that had nearly proved fatal to young Heywood. It seems that the
description of a person in Otaheite is usually given by some
distinguishing figure of the _tattoo_, and Heywood, having the same
marks as Thompson, was taken for him; and just as the club was raised to
dash out his brains, the interposition of an old chief, with whom he was
travelling round the island, was just in time to avert the blow.

Captain Edwards had no clue to guide him as to the route taken by the
_Bounty_, but he learnt from different people and from journals kept on
board that ship, which were found in the chests of the mutineers at
Otaheite, the proceedings of Christian and his associates after
Lieutenant Bligh and his companions had been turned adrift in the
launch. From these it appears that the pirates proceeded in the first
instance to the island of Toobouai, in lat. 20° 13' S., long. 149° 35'
W., where they anchored on the 25th May, 1789. They had thrown overboard
the greater part of the bread-fruit plants, and divided among themselves
the property of the officers and men who had been so inhumanly turned
adrift. At this island they intended to form a settlement, but the
opposition of the natives, the want of many necessary materials, and
quarrels among themselves, determined them to go to Otaheite to procure
what might be required to effect their purpose, provided they should
agree to prosecute their original intention. They accordingly sailed
from Toobouai about the latter end of the month, and arrived at Otaheite
on the 6th June. The Otoo, or reigning sovereign, and other principal
natives, were very inquisitive and anxious to know what had become of
Lieutenant Bligh and the rest of the crew, and also what had been done
with the bread-fruit plants? They were told they had most unexpectedly
fallen in with Captain Cook at an island he had just discovered, called
Whytootakee, where he intended to form a settlement, and where the
plants had been landed; and that Lieutenant Bligh and the others were
stopping there to assist Captain Cook in the business he had in hand,
and that he had appointed Mr. Christian commander of the _Bounty_; and
that he was now come by his orders for an additional supply of hogs,
goats, fowls, bread-fruit, and various other articles which Otaheite
could supply.

This artful story was quite sufficient to impose on the credulity of
these humane and simple-minded islanders; and so overcome with joy were
they to hear that their old friend Captain Cook was alive, and about to
settle so near them, that every possible means were forthwith made use
of to procure the things that were wanted; so that in the course of a
very few days the _Bounty_ received on board three hundred and twelve
hogs, thirty-eight goats, eight dozen of fowls, a bull and a cow, and a
large quantity of bread-fruit, plantains, bananas, and other fruits.
They also took with them eight men, nine women, and seven boys. With
these supplies they left Otaheite on the 19th June, and arrived a second
time at Toobouai on the 26th. They warped the ship up the harbour,
landed the live stock, and set about building a fort of fifty yards

While this work was carrying on, quarrels and disagreements were daily
happening among them, and continual disputes and skirmishes were taking
place with the natives, generally brought on by the violent conduct of
the invaders, and by depredations committed on their property.
Retaliations were attempted by the natives without success, numbers of
whom being pursued with fire-arms were put to death. Still the situation
of the mutineers became so disagreeable and unsafe, the work went on so
slowly and reluctantly, that the building of the fort was agreed to be
discontinued. Christian, in fact, had very soon perceived that his
authority was on the wane, and that no peaceful establishment was likely
to be accomplished at Toobouai; he therefore held a consultation as to
what would be the most advisable step to take. After much angry
discussion, it was at length determined that Toobouai should be
abandoned; that the ship should once more be taken to Otaheite; and that
those who might choose to go on shore there might do so, and those who
preferred to remain in the ship might proceed in her to whatever place
they should agree upon among themselves.

In consequence of this determination they sailed from Toobouai on the
15th, and arrived at Matavai Bay on the 20th September, 1789. Here
sixteen of the mutineers were put on shore, at their own request,
fourteen of whom were received on board the _Pandora_, and two of them,
as before mentioned, were murdered on the island. The remaining nine
agreed to continue in the _Bounty_. The small arms, powder, canvas, and
the small stores belonging to the ship, were equally divided among the
whole crew. The _Bounty_ sailed finally from Otaheite on the night of
the 21st September, and was last seen the following morning to the
north-west of Point Venus. They took with them seven Otaheitan men and
twelve women. It was not even conjectured whither they meant to go; but
Christian had frequently been heard to say, that his object was to
discover some unknown or uninhabited island, in which there was no
harbour for shipping; that he would run the _Bounty_ on shore, and make
use of her materials to form a settlement; but this was the only
account, vague as it was, that could be procured to direct Captain
Edwards in his intended search.

It appears that when the schooner, of which we have spoken, had been
finished, six of the fourteen mutineers that were left on Otaheite
embarked in her, with the intention of proceeding to the East Indies,
and actually put to sea; but meeting with bad weather, and suspecting
the nautical abilities of Morrison, whom they had elected as commanding
officer, to conduct her in safety, they resolved on returning to
Otaheite. Morrison, it seems, first undertook the construction of this
schooner, being himself a tolerable mechanic, in which he was assisted
by the two carpenters, the cooper, and some others. To this little band
of architects, we are told, Morrison acted both as director and
chaplain, distinguishing the Sabbath day by reading to them the Church
Liturgy, and hoisting the British colours on a flagstaff erected near
the scene of their operations. Conscious of his innocence, his object is
stated to have been that of reaching Batavia in time to secure a passage
home in the next fleet bound to Holland; but that their return was
occasioned, not by any distrust of Morrison's talents, but by a refusal,
on the part of the natives, to give them a sufficient quantity of
matting and other necessaries for so long a voyage, being, in fact,
desirous of retaining them on the island. Stewart and young Heywood took
no part in this transaction, having made up their minds to remain at
Otaheite, and there to await the arrival of a king's ship, it being
morally certain that ere long one would be sent out thither to search
for them, whatever might have been the fate of Bligh and his companions;
and that this was really their intention is evident by the alacrity they
displayed in getting on board the _Pandora_, the moment of her arrival.

On the 8th of May, this frigate left Otaheite, accompanied by the little
schooner which the mutineers had built, and the history of which is
somewhat remarkable. In point of size she was not a great deal larger
than Lieutenant Bligh's launch, her dimensions being thirty feet length
of keel; thirty-five feet length on deck; nine feet and a half extreme
breadth; five feet depth of the hold. She parted from the _Pandora_ near
the Palmerston Islands, when searching for the _Bounty_, and was not
heard of till the arrival of the _Pandora's_ crew at Samarang, in Java,
where they found her lying at anchor, the crew having suffered so
dreadfully from famine and the want of water, that one of the young
gentlemen belonging to her became delirious. She was a remarkably swift
sailer, and, being afterwards employed in the sea-otter trade, is stated
to have made one of the quickest passages ever known from China to the
Sandwich Islands. This memorable little vessel was purchased at Canton
by the late Captain Broughton, to assist him in surveying the coast of
Tartary, and became the means of preserving the crew of his Majesty's
ship _Providence_, amounting to one hundred and twelve men, when wrecked
to the eastward of Formosa, in the year 1797.

The _Pandora_ called at numerous islands without success, but on
Lieutenant Corner having landed on one of the Palmerston's group, he
found a yard and some spars with the broad arrow upon them, and marked
_Bounty_. This induced the captain to cause a very minute search to be
made in all these islands, in the course of which the _Pandora_, being
driven out to sea by blowing weather, and very thick and hazy, lost
sight of the little tender and a jolly boat, the latter of which was
never more heard of. This gives occasion to a little splenetic effusion

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Online LibrarySir John BarrowThe Eventful History of the Mutiny and Piratical Seizure of H.M.S. Bounty: Its Cause and Consequences → online text (page 10 of 24)