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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would themselves have taken: - 'A boat alongside, already crowded; those
who were in her crying out she would sink; and Captain Bligh desiring no
more might go in - with a slender stock of provisions, - what hope could
there be to reach any friendly shore, or withstand the hostile attacks
of the boisterous elements? The perils those underwent who reached the
island of Timor, and whom nothing but the apparent interference of
Divine Providence could have saved, fully justify my fears, and prove
beyond a doubt that they rested on a solid foundation; for by staying in
the ship, an opportunity might offer of escaping, but by going in the
boat nothing but death appeared, either from the lingering torments of
hunger and thirst, or from the murderous weapons of cruel savages, or
being swallowed up by the deep.

'I have endeavoured,' he says, 'to recall to Mr. Hayward's remembrance a
proposal he at one time made, by words, of attacking the mutineers, and
of my encouraging him to the attempt, promising to back him. He says he
has but a faint recollection of the business - so faint indeed that he
cannot recall to his memory the particulars, but owns there was
something passed to that effect. Faint, however, as his remembrance is
(which for me is the more unfortunate), ought it not to do away all
doubt with respect to the motives by which I was then influenced?' And,
in conclusion, he says, 'I beg leave most humbly to remind the members
of this honourable Court, that I did freely, and of my own accord,
deliver myself up to Lieutenant Robert Corner, of H.M.S. _Pandora_, on
the first certain notice of her arrival.'

_William Muspratt's Defence_

Declares his innocence of any participation in the mutiny; admits he
assisted in hoisting out the boat, and in putting several articles into
her; after which he sat down on the booms, when Millward came and
mentioned to him Mr. Fryer's intention to rescue the ship, when he said
he would stand by Mr. Fryer as far as he could; and with that intention,
and for that purpose only, he took up a musket which one of the people
had laid down, and which he quitted the moment he saw Bligh's people get
into the boat. Solemnly denies the charge of Mr. Purcell against him, of
handing liquor to the ship's company. Mr. Hayward's evidence, he trusts,
must stand so impeached before the Court, as not to receive the least
attention, when the lives of so many men are to be affected by it - for,
he observes, he swears that Morrison was a mutineer, because he assisted
in hoisting out the boats; and that M'Intosh was not a mutineer,
notwithstanding he was precisely employed on the same business - that he
criminated Morrison from the appearance of his countenance - that he had
only a faint remembrance of that material and striking circumstance of
Morrison offering to join him to retake the ship - that, in answer to his
(Muspratt's) question respecting Captain Bligh's words, 'My lads, I'll
do you justice' he considered them applied to the people in the boat,
and not to those in the ship - to the same question put by the Court, he
said they applied to persons remaining in the ship. And he notices some
other instances which he thinks most materially affect Mr. Hayward's
credit; and says, that if he had been under arms when Hayward swore he
was, he humbly submits Mr. Hallet must have seen him. And he concludes
with asserting (what indeed was a very general opinion), 'that the great
misfortune attending this unhappy business is, that no one ever
attempted to rescue the ship; that it might have been done, Thompson
being the only sentinel over the arm-chest.'

_Michael Byrne's Defence_

was very short. He says, 'It has pleased the Almighty, among the events
of His unsearchable providence, nearly to deprive me of sight, which
often puts it out of my power to carry the intentions of my mind into

'I make no doubt but it appears to this honourable Court, that on the
28th of April, 1789, my intention was to quit his Majesty's ship
_Bounty_ with the officers and men who went away, and that the sorrow I
expressed at being detained was real and unfeigned.

'I do not know whether I may be able to repeat the exact words that
were spoken on the occasion, but some said, "We must not part with our
fiddler"; and Charles Churchill threatened to send me to the shades if I
attempted to quit the cutter, into which I had gone for the purpose of
attending Lieutenant Bligh': and, without further trespassing on the
time of the Court, he submits his case to its judgement and mercy.

It is not necessary to notice any parts of the defence made by Coleman,
Norman, and M'Intosh, as it is clear, from the whole evidence and from
Bligh's certificates, that those men were anxious to go in the boat, but
were kept in the ship by force.

It is equally clear, that Ellison, Millward, and Burkitt, were concerned
in every stage of the mutiny, and had little to offer in their defence
in exculpation of the crime of which they were accused.

On the sixth day, namely, on the 18th of September, 1792, the Court
met, - the prisoners were brought in, audience admitted, when the
president, having asked the prisoners if they or any of them had
anything more to offer in their defence, the Court was cleared, and
agreed, -

'That the charges had been proved against the said Peter Heywood, James
Morrison, Thomas Ellison, Thomas Burkitt, John Millward, and William
Muspratt; and did adjudge them, and each of them, to suffer death, by
being hanged by the neck, on board such of his Majesty's ship or ships
of war, and at such time or times, and at such place or places, as the
commissioners for executing the office of Lord High Admiral of Great
Britain and Ireland, etc., or any three of them, for the time being,
should, in writing, under their hands, direct; but the Court, in
consideration of various circumstances, did humbly and most earnestly
recommend the said Peter Heywood and James Morrison to his Majesty's
mercy; and the Court further agreed, that the charges had not been
proved against the said Charles Norman, Joseph Coleman, Thomas M'Intosh,
and Michael Byrne, and did adjudge them, and each of them, to be

The Court was then opened and audience admitted, and sentence passed



Well, believe this -
No ceremony that to great ones 'longs,
Not the king's crown, nor the deputed sword,
The marshal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe,
Become them with one half so good a grace,
As mercy does.

It was a very common feeling that Heywood and Morrison, the former in
particular, had been hardly dealt with by the Court in passing upon them
a sentence of death, tempered as it was with the recommendation to the
king's mercy. It should, however, have been recollected, that the Court
had no discretional power to pass any other sentence but that, or a full
acquittal. But earnestly, no doubt, as the Court was disposed towards
the latter alternative, it could not, consistently with the rules and
feelings of the service, be adopted. It is not enough in cases of mutiny
(and this case was aggravated by the piratical seizure of a king's ship)
that the officers and men in his Majesty's naval service should take no
active part; - to be neutral or passive is considered as tantamount to
aiding and abetting. Besides, in the present case, the remaining in the
ship along with the mutineers, without having recourse to such means as
offered of leaving her, presumes a voluntary adhesion to the criminal
party. The only fault of Heywood, and a pardonable one on account of his
youth and inexperience, was his not asking Christian to be allowed to go
with his captain, - his not _trying_ to go in time. M'Intosh, Norman,
Byrne, and Coleman were acquitted because they expressed a strong desire
to go, but were forced to remain. This was not only clearly proved, but
they were in possession of written testimonies from Bligh to that
effect; and so would Heywood have had, but for some prejudice Bligh had
taken against him, in the course of the boat-voyage home, for it will be
shown that he knew he was confined to his berth below.

In favour of three of the four men condemned without a recommendation,
there were unhappily no palliating circumstances. Millward, Burkitt, and
Ellison were under arms from first to last; and Ellison not only left
the helm to take up arms, but, rushing aft towards Bligh, called out,
'D - n him, I'll be sentry over him.' The fourth man, Muspratt, was
condemned on the evidence of Lieutenant Hayward, which, however, appears
to have been duly appreciated by the Lords Commissioners of the
Admiralty, and in consequence of which the poor man escaped an
ignominious death.

The family of young Heywood in the Isle of Man had been buoyed up, from
various quarters, with the almost certainty of his full acquittal. From
the 12th September, when the court-martial first sat, till the 24th of
that month, they were prevented, by the strong and contrary winds which
cut off all communication with England, from receiving any tidings
whatever. But while Mrs. Heywood and her daughters were fondly
flattering themselves with everything being most happily concluded, one
evening, as they were indulging these pleasing hopes, a little boy, the
son of one of their particular friends, ran into the room and told them,
in the most abrupt manner, that the trial was over and all the prisoners
condemned, but that Peter Heywood was recommended to mercy; he added
that a man whose name he mentioned had told him this. The man was sent
for, questioned, and replied he had seen it in a newspaper at Liverpool,
from which place he was just arrived in a small fishing-boat, but had
forgotten to bring the paper with him. In this state of doubtful
uncertainty this wretched family remained another whole week, harassed
by the most cruel agony of mind, which no language can express.[26]

The affectionate Nessy determined at once to proceed to Liverpool, and
so on to London. She urges her brother James at Liverpool to hasten to
Portsmouth: 'Don't wait for me, I can go alone; fear and even despair
will support me through the journey; think only of our poor unfortunate
and adored boy, bestow not one thought on me.' And she adds, 'yet, if I
could listen to reason (which is indeed difficult), it is not likely
that anything serious has taken place, or will do so, as we should then
certainly have had an express.' She had a tempestuous passage of
forty-nine hours, and to save two hours got into an open fishing-boat at
the mouth of the Mersey, the sea running high and washing over her every
moment; but, she observes, 'let me but be blessed with the cheering
influence of _hope_, and I have spirit to undertake anything.' From
Liverpool she set off the same night in the mail for London; and arrived
at Mr. Graham's on the 5th October, who received her with the greatest
kindness, and desired her to make his house her home.

The suspense into which the afflicted family in the Isle of Man had been
thrown, by the delay of the packet, was painfully relieved on its
arrival in the night of the 29th September, by the following letter from
Mr. Graham to the Rev. Dr. Scott, which the latter carried to Mrs.
Heywood's family the following morning.

'_Portsmouth, Tuesday, 18th September_.

'SIR, - Although a stranger, I make no apology in writing to
you. I have attended and given my assistance at Mr. Heywood's
trial, which was finished and the sentence passed about half
an hour ago. Before I tell you what that sentence is, I must
inform you that his life is safe, notwithstanding it is at
present at the mercy of the king, to which he is in the
strongest terms recommended by the Court. That any unnecessary
fears may not be productive of misery to the family, I must
add, that the king's attorney-general (who with Judge Ashurst
attended the trial) desired me to make myself perfectly easy,
for that my friend was as safe as if he had not been
condemned. I would have avoided making use of this dreadful
word, but it must have come to your knowledge, and perhaps
unaccompanied by many others of a pleasing kind. To prevent
its being improperly communicated to Mrs. or the Misses
Heywood, whose distresses first engaged me in the business,
and could not fail to call forth my best exertions upon the
occasion, I send you this by express. The mode of
communication I must leave to your discretion; and shall only
add that, although from a combination of circumstances,
ill-nature, and mistaken friendship, the sentence is in itself
terrible, yet it is incumbent on me to assure you that, from
the same combination of circumstances, everybody who attended
the trial is perfectly satisfied in his own mind that he was
_hardly guilty in appearance, in intention he was perfectly
innocent_. I shall of course write to Commodore Pasley, whose
mind, from my letter to him of yesterday, must be dreadfully
agitated, and take his advice about what is to be done when
Mr. Heywood is released. I shall stay here till then, and my
intention is afterwards to take him to my house in town, where
I think he had better stay till one of the family calls for
him: for he will require a great deal of tender management
after all his sufferings; and it would perhaps be a necessary
preparation for seeing his mother, that one or both his
sisters should be previously prepared to support her on so
trying an occasion.'

On the following day Mr. Graham again writes to Dr. Scott, and
among other things observes, 'It will be a great satisfaction
to his family to learn, that the declarations of some of the
other prisoners, since the trial, put it past all doubt that
the evidence upon which he was convicted must have been (to
say nothing worse of it) an unfortunate belief, on the part of
the witness, of circumstances which either never had
existence, or were applicable to one of the other gentlemen
who remained in the ship, and not to Mr. Heywood.'[27]

On the 20th September Mr. Heywood addresses the first letter he wrote,
after his conviction, to Dr. Scott.

'HONOURED AND DEAR SIR, - On Wednesday the 12th instant the
awful trial commenced, and on _that_ day, _when in Court_, I
had the pleasure of receiving your most kind and parental
letter,[28] in answer to which I now communicate to you the
melancholy issue of it, which, as I desired my friend Mr.
Graham to inform you of immediately, will be no dreadful news
to you. The morning lowers, and all my hope of worldly joy is
fled. On Tuesday morning the 18th the dreadful sentence of
death was pronounced upon me, to which (being the just decree
of that Divine Providence who first gave me breath) I bow my
devoted head, with that fortitude, cheerfulness, and
resignation, which is the duty of every member of the church
of our blessed Saviour and Redeemer Christ Jesus. To Him alone
I now look up for succour, in full hope that perhaps a few
days more will open to the view of my astonished and fearful
soul His kingdom of eternal and incomprehensible bliss,
prepared only for the righteous of heart.

'I have not been found guilty of the slightest act connected
with that detestable crime of mutiny, but am doomed to die for
not being active in my endeavours to suppress it. Could the
witnesses who appeared on the Court-martial be themselves
tried, _they_ would also suffer for the very same and only
crime of which I have been found guilty. But I am to be the
victim. Alas! my youthful inexperience, and not depravity of
will, is the sole cause to which I can attribute my
misfortunes. But so far from repining at my fate, I receive it
with a dreadful kind of joy, composure, and serenity of mind;
well assured that it has pleased God to point me out as a
subject through which some greatly useful (though at present
unsearchable) intention of the divine attributes may be
carried into execution for the future benefit of my country.
Then why should I repine at being made a sacrifice for the
good, perhaps, of thousands of my fellow-creatures; forbid it,
Heaven! Why should I be sorry to leave a world in which I have
met with nothing but misfortunes and all their concomitant
evils? I shall on the contrary endeavour to divest myself of
all wishes for the futile and sublunary enjoyments of it, and
prepare my soul for its reception into the bosom of its
Redeemer. For though the very strong recommendation I have had
to his Majesty's mercy by all the members of the Court may
meet with his approbation, yet that is but the balance of a
straw, a mere uncertainty, upon which no hope can be built;
the other is a certainty that must one day happen to every
mortal, and therefore the salvation of my soul requires my
most prompt and powerful exertions during the short time I may
have to remain on earth.

'As this is too tender a subject for me to inform my unhappy
and distressed mother and sisters of, I trust, dear Sir, you
will either show them this letter, or make known to them the
truly dreadful intelligence in such a manner as (assisted by
your wholesome and paternal advice) may enable them to bear it
with Christian fortitude. The only worldly feelings I am now
possessed of are for their happiness and welfare; but even
these, in my present situation, I must endeavour, with God's
assistance, to eradicate from my heart, how hard soever the
task. I must strive against cherishing any temporal
affections. But, my dear Sir, endeavour to mitigate my
distressed mother's sorrow. Give my everlasting duty to her,
and unabated love to my disconsolate brothers and sisters, and
all my other relations. Encourage them, by my example, to bear
up with fortitude and resignation to the Divine will, under
their load of misfortunes, almost too great for female nature
to support, and teach them to be fully persuaded that all
hopes of happiness on earth are vain. On my own account I
still enjoy the most easy serenity of mind; and am, dear Sir,
for ever your greatly indebted and most dutiful, but


His next letter is to his dearly beloved Nessy.

'Had I not a strong idea that, ere this mournful epistle from
your ill-fated brother can reach the trembling hand of my ever
dear and much afflicted Nessy, she must have been informed of
the final issue of my trial on Wednesday morning, by my
honoured friend Dr. Scott, I would not now add trouble to the
afflicted by a confirmation of it. Though I have indeed fallen
an early victim to the rigid rules of the service, and though
the jaws of death are once more opened upon me, yet do I not
now nor ever will bow to the tyranny of base-born fear.
Conscious of having done my duty to God and man, I feel not
one moment's anxiety on my own account, but cherish a full and
sanguine hope that perhaps a few days more will free me from
the load of misfortune which has ever been my portion in this
transient period of existence; and that I shall find an
everlasting asylum in those blessed regions of eternal bliss,
where the galling yoke of tyranny and oppression is felt no

'If earthly Majesty, to whose mercy I have been recommended by
the Court, should refuse to put forth its lenient hand and
rescue me from what is _fancifully_ called an ignominious
death, there is a heavenly King and Redeemer ready to receive
the righteous penitent, on whose gracious mercy alone I, as we
all should, depend, with that pious resignation which is the
duty of every Christian; well convinced that, without His
express permission, not even a hair of our head can fall to
the ground.

'Oh! my sister, my heart yearns when I picture to myself the
affliction, indescribable affliction, which this melancholy
intelligence must have caused in the mind of my much honoured
mother. But let it be your peculiar endeavour to watch over
her grief and mitigate her pain. I hope, indeed, this little
advice from me will be unnecessary; for I know the holy
precepts of that inspired religion, which, thank heaven! have
been implanted in the bosoms of us all, will point out to you,
and all my dear relatives, that fortitude and resignation
which are required of us in the conflicts of human nature, and
prevent you from arraigning the wisdom of that omniscient
Providence, of which we ought all to have the fullest sense.

'I have had all my dear Nessy's letters; the one of the 17th
this morning, but alas! what do they now avail? Their contents
only serve to prove the instability of all human hopes and
expectations; but, my dear sister, I begin to feel the pangs
which you must suffer from the perusal of this melancholy
paper, and will therefore desist, for I know it is more than
your nature can support. The contrast between last week's
correspondence and this is great indeed; but why? we had only
hope then; and have we not the same now? certainly. Endeavour
then, my love, to cherish that hope, and with faith rely upon
the mercy of that God who does as to Him seems best and most
conducive to the general good of His miserable creatures.

'Bear it then with Christian patience, and instil into the
mind of my dear and now sorrowful sisters, by your advice, the
same disposition; and, for heaven's sake, let not despair
touch the soul of my dear mother - for then all would be over.
Let James also employ all his efforts to cheer her spirits
under her weight of woe. I will write no more. Adieu, my
dearest love! Write but little to me, and pray for your ever
affectionate but ill-fated brother.

'P.S. - I am in perfect spirits, therefore let not your
sympathizing feelings for my sufferings hurt your own precious
health, which is dearer to me than life itself. Adieu! - '

In a letter to his mother he assures her of the perfect tranquillity of
his mind; advises her not to entertain too sanguine hopes, but at the
same time not to be uneasy; and he adds, 'A minister of the gospel, who
now attends me, has advised me not to say too much to any of my dear
relations, but now and then I cannot avoid it.' To his dearest Nessy,
who encourages him to take hope, he says, 'Alas! it is but a broken
stick which _I_ have leaned on, and it has pierced my soul in such a
manner that I will never more trust to it, but wait with a contented
mind and patience for the final accomplishment of the Divine will....
Mrs. _Hope_ is a faithless and ungrateful acquaintance, with whom I have
now broken off all connexions, and in her stead have endeavoured to
cultivate a more sure friendship with _Resignation_, in full trust of
finding her more constant.' He desires her to write through her brother
James who is with him; and says that the reason for his having desired
her not to write much was, lest she might hurt herself by it; and he
adds, 'from an idea that your exalted sentiments upon so tender a
subject ought not to be known by an inquiring world; but,' he continues,
'do just as you like best: I am conscious that your good sense will
prompt you to nothing inconsistent with our present circumstances.' To
this she replies, in the true spirit of a character like her own. 'Yes!
my ever dearest brother, I _will_ write to you, and I know I need not
add, that in _that_ employment (while thus deprived of your loved
society) consists my only happiness. But why not express my sentiments
to yourself? I have nothing to say which I should blush to have known to
all the world; - nothing to express in my letters to you but love and
affection, and shall I blush for this? Or can I have a wish to conceal
sentiments of such a nature for an object who I am so certain merits all
my regard, and in whom the admiration of surrounding friends convinces
me I am not mistaken. No, surely; 'tis my pride, my chiefest glory, to
love you; and when you think me worthy of commendation, _that_ praise,

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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 16 of 24)