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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and _that_ only, can make me vain. I shall not therefore write to you,
my dearest brother, in a private manner, for it is unnecessary, and I
abhor all deceit; in which I know you agree with me.'

To her sister Mary in the Isle of Man she says, 'With respect to that
little wretch Hallet, his intrepidity in court was astonishing; and
after every evidence had spoken highly in Peter's favour, and given
testimony of his innocence, so strong that not a doubt was entertained
of his acquittal, _he_ declared, unasked, that while Bligh was upon
deck, he (Hallet) saw him look at and speak to Peter. What he said to
him Hallet could not hear, (being at the distance of twenty feet from
Bligh, and Peter was twenty feet farther off, consequently a distance of
forty feet separated Mr. Bligh and my brother); but he added that Peter,
on _hearing_ what Mr. Bligh said to him, _laughed_ and turned
contemptuously away. No other witness saw Peter laugh but Hallet; on the
contrary, all agreed he wore a countenance on that day remarkably
sorrowful; yet the effect of this cruel evidence was wonderful upon the
minds of the Court, and they concluded by pronouncing the dreadful
sentence, though at the same time accompanied by the strongest
recommendation to mercy. Assure yourselves (I have it from Mr. Graham's
own mouth), that Peter's honour is and will be as secure as his own;
that every professional man, as well as every man of sense, of whatever
denomination, does and will esteem him highly; that my dear uncle Pasley
(who was in town the night before my arrival) is delighted with his
worth; and that, in short, we shall at length be happy.'

From this time a daily correspondence passed between Peter Heywood and
his sister Nessy, the latter indulging hope, even to a certainty, that
she will not be deceived, - the other preaching up patience and
resignation, with a full reliance on his innocence and integrity. 'Cheer
up then,' says he, 'my dear Nessy; cherish _your hope_, and I will
exercise _my patience_.' Indeed so perfectly calm was this young man
under his dreadful calamity, that in a very few days after condemnation
his brother says, 'While I write this, Peter is sitting by me making an
Otaheitan vocabulary, and so happy and intent upon it, that I have
scarcely an opportunity of saying a word to him; he is in excellent
spirits, and I am convinced they are better and better every day.'

This vocabulary is a very extraordinary performance; it consists of one
hundred full-written folio pages, the words alphabetically arranged, and
all the syllables accented. It appears, from a passage in the _Voyage of
the Duff_, that a copy of this vocabulary was of great use to the
missionaries who were first sent to Otaheite in this ship.

During the delay which took place in carrying the sentence into
execution, Commodore Pasley, Mr. Graham, and others, were indefatigable
in their inquiries and exertions to ascertain what progress had been
made in bringing to a happy issue the recommendation to the fountain of
mercy: not less so was Nessy Heywood: from Mr. Graham she learnt what
this excellent man considered to be the principal parts of the evidence
that led to the conviction of her unhappy brother, which, having
understood to be the following, she transmitted to her brother: -

_First_. That he assisted in hoisting out the launch.

_Second_. That he was seen by the carpenter resting his hand upon a

_Third_. That on being called to by Lieutenant Bligh, he laughed.

_Fourth_. That he remained in the _Bounty_ instead of accompanying
Bligh in the launch.

On these points of the evidence, Mr. Heywood made the following
comments, which he sent from Portsmouth to his sister in town.

'Peter Heywood's Remarks upon material points of the evidence
which was given at his trial, on board the _Duke_, in
Portsmouth Harbour.

'_First. That I assisted in hoisting out the launch._ - This
boat was asked for by the captain and his officers, and
whoever assisted in hoisting her out were their friends; for
if the captain had been sent away in the cutter (which was
Christian's first intention), he could not have taken with him
more than nine or ten men, whereas the launch carried
nineteen. The boatswain, the master, the gunner, and the
carpenter say, in their evidence, that they considered me as
helping the captain on this occasion.

'_Second. That I was seen by the carpenter resting my hand on
a cutlass_. - I was seen in this position by no other person
than the carpenter - no other person therefore could be
intimidated by my appearance. Was the carpenter intimidated by
it? - No. So far from being afraid of me, he did not even look
upon me in the light of a person armed, but pointed out to me
the danger there was of my being thought so, and I immediately
took away my hand from the cutlass, upon which I had very
innocently put it when I was in a state of stupor. The Court
was particularly pointed in its inquiries into this
circumstance; and the carpenter was pressed to declare, on the
oath he had taken, and after maturely considering the matter,
whether he did, at the time he saw me so situated, or had
since been inclined to believe, that, under all the
circumstances of the case, I could be considered as an _armed
man_, to which he unequivocally answered, No; and he gave some
good reasons (which will be found in his evidence) for
thinking that I had not a wish to be armed during the mutiny.
The master, the boatswain, the gunner, Mr. Hayward, Mr.
Hallet, and John Smith (who, with the carpenter, were all the
witnesses belonging to the _Bounty_), say, in their evidence,
that they did not, _any of them,_ see me armed; and the
boatswain and the carpenter further say, in the most pointed
terms, that they considered me to be one of the captain's
party, and _by no means_ as belonging to the mutineers: and
the master, the boatswain, the carpenter, the gunner, all
declare that, from what they observed on my conduct during the
mutiny, and from a recollection of my behaviour previous
thereto, they were convinced I would have afforded them all
the assistance in my power, if an opportunity had offered to
retake the ship.

'_Third. That, upon being called to by the captain, I
laughed_. - If this was believed by the Court, it must have
had, I am afraid, a very great effect upon its judgement; for,
if viewed in too serious a light, it would seem to bring
together and combine a number of trifling circumstances, which
by themselves could only be treated merely as matters of
suspicion. It was no doubt, therefore, received with caution,
and considered with the utmost candour. The countenance, I
grant, on some other occasions, may warrant an opinion of good
or evil existing in the mind; but on the momentous events of
life and death, it is surely by much too indefinite and
hazardous even to listen to for a moment. The different ways
of expressing our various passions are, with many, as variable
as the features they wear. Tears have often been, nay
generally are, the relief of excessive joy, while misery and
dejection have, many a time, disguised themselves in a smile;
and convulsive laughs have betrayed the anguish of an almost
broken heart. To judge, therefore, the principles of the
heart, by the barometer of the face, is as erroneous as it
would be absurd and unjust. This matter may likewise be
considered in another point of view. Mr. Hallet says I laughed
in consequence of being called to by the captain, who was
abaft the mizen-mast, while I was upon the platform near the
fore hatchway, a distance of more than thirty feet: if the
captain intended I should hear him, and there can be no doubt
that he wished it - if he really called to me, he must have
exerted his voice, and very considerably too, upon such an
occasion and in such a situation; and yet Mr. Hallet himself,
who, by being on the quarter-deck, could not have been half
the distance from the captain that I was, even he, I say,
could not hear what was said to me: how then, in the name of
God, was it possible that I should have heard the captain at
all, situated, as I must have been, in the midst of noisy
confusion? And if I did not hear him, which I most solemnly
aver to be the truth, even granting that I laughed (which,
however, in my present awful situation I declare I believe I
did not), it could not have been at what the captain said.
Upon this ground, then, I hope I shall stand acquitted of this
charge, for if the crime derives its guilt from the knowledge
I had of the captain's speaking to me, it follows, of course,
that if I did not hear him speak, there could be no crime in
my laughing. It may, however, very fairly be asked, why Mr.
Hallet did not make known that the captain was calling to me?
His duty to the captain, if not his friendship for me, should
have prompted him to it; and the peculiarity of our situation
required this act of kindness at his hands.[29] I shall only
observe further upon this head, that the boatswain, the
carpenter, and Mr. Hayward, who saw more of me than any other
of the witnesses, did say in their evidence, that I had rather
a sorrowful countenance on the day of the mutiny.

'_Fourth. That I remained on board the ship, instead of going
in the boat with the captain_. - That I was at first alarmed
and afraid of going into the boat I will not pretend to deny;
but that afterwards I wished to accompany the captain, and
should have done it, if I had not been prevented by Thompson,
who confined me below by the order of Churchill, is clearly
proved by the evidence of several of the witnesses. The
boatswain says, that just before he left the ship I went
below, and in passing him said something about a bag - (it was,
that I would put a few things into a bag and follow him); the
carpenter says he saw me go below at this time; and both those
witnesses say that they heard the master-at-arms call to
Thompson "_to keep them below_." The point, therefore, will be
to prove to whom this order, "_keep them below_," would apply.
The boatswain and carpenter say they have no doubt of its
meaning me as one; and that it must have been so, I shall have
very little difficulty in showing, by the following
statement: -

'There remained on board the ship after the boat put off,
twenty-five men. Messrs. Hayward and Hallet have proved that
the following were under arms: - Christian, Hillbrant,
Millward, Burkitt, Muspratt, Ellison, Sumner, Smith, Young,
Skinner, Churchill, M'Koy, Quintal, Morrison, Williams,
Thompson, Mills, and Brown, in all eighteen. The master (and
upon this occasion I may be allowed to quote from the
captain's printed narrative) mentions Martin as one, which
makes the number of armed men nineteen, none of whom, we may
reasonably suppose, were ordered to be kept below. Indeed, Mr.
Hayward says, that there were at the least eighteen of them
upon deck, when he went into the boat; and if Thompson, the
sentinel over the arm-chest, be added to them, it exactly
agrees with the number above-named; there remains then six, to
whom Churchill's order, "_keep them below,"_ might apply,
namely, Heywood, Stewart, Coleman, Norman, M'Intosh, and

'Could Byrne have been one of them? _No_, for he was in the
cutter alongside. Could Coleman have been one of them? _No_,
for he was at the gangway when the captain and officers went
into the launch, and aft upon the taffrail when the boat was
veered astern. Could Norman have been one of them? _No_, for
he was speaking to the officers. Could M'Intosh have been one
of them? _No_, for he was with Coleman and Norman, desiring
the captain and officers to take notice that they were not
concerned in the mutiny. It could then have applied to nobody
but to Mr. Stewart and myself; and by this order of Churchill,
therefore, was I prevented from going with the captain in the

'The foregoing appear to me the most material points of
evidence on the part of the prosecution. My defence being very
full, and the body of evidence in my favour too great to admit
of observation in this concise manner, I shall refer for an
opinion thereon to the minutes of the court-martial.

(Signed) 'P. HEYWOOD.'

There is a note in Marshall's _Naval Biography_,[30] furnished by
Captain Heywood, which shows one motive for keeping him and Stewart in
the ship. It is as follows: - 'Mr. Stewart was no sooner released than he
demanded of Christian the reason of his detention; upon which the latter
denied having given any directions to that effect; and his assertion was
corroborated by Churchill, who declared that he had kept both him and
Mr. Heywood below, knowing it was their intention to go away with Bligh;
"in which case," added he, "what would become of us, if any thing should
happen to you; who is there but yourself and them to depend upon in
navigating the ship?"' It may be suspected, however, that neither
Christian nor Churchill told the exact truth, and that Mr. Heywood's
case is, in point of fact, much stronger than he ever could have
imagined; and that if Bligh had not acted the part of a prejudiced and
unfair man towards him, he would have been acquitted by the Court on the
same ground that Coleman, Norman, M'Intosh, and Byrne were, - namely,
that they were detained in the ship against their will, as stated by
Bligh in the narrative on which they were tried, and also in his
printed report. It has before been observed, that many things are set
down in Bligh's original manuscript journal, that have not appeared in
any published document; and on this part of the subject there is, in the
former, the following very important admission. 'As for the officers,
whose cabins were in the cockpit, there was no relief for them; _they
endeavoured to come to my assistance, but were not allowed to put their
heads above the hatchway_.' To say, therefore, that in the suppression
of this passage Bligh acted with prejudice and unfairness, is to make
use of mild terms; it has more the appearance of a deliberate act of
malice, by which two innocent men might have been condemned to suffer an
ignominious death, one of whom was actually brought into this
predicament; - the other only escaped it by a premature death. It may be
asked, how did Bligh know that Stewart and Heywood endeavoured, but were
not allowed, to come to his assistance? Confined as he was on the
quarter-deck, how could he know what was going on below? The answer is,
he must have known it from Christian himself; Churchill, no doubt, acted
entirely by his leader's orders, and the latter could give no orders
that were not heard by Bligh, whom he never left, but held the cord by
which his hands were fettered, till he was forced into the boat.
Churchill was quite right as to the motive of keeping these young
officers; but Christian had no doubt another and a stronger motive: he
knew how necessary it was to interpose a sort of barrier between
himself and his mutinous gang; he was too good an adept not to know that
seamen will always pay a more ready and cheerful obedience to officers
who are _gentlemen_, than to those who may have risen to command from
among themselves. It is indeed a common observation in the service, that
officers who have risen from _before the mast_ are generally the
greatest tyrants.[31] It was Bligh's misfortune not to have been
educated in the cockpit of a man of war, among young gentlemen, which is
to the navy what a public school is to those who are to move in civil
society. What painful sufferings to the individual, and how much misery
to an affectionate family might have been spared, had Bligh, instead of
suppressing, only suffered the passage to stand as originally written in
his journal!

The _remarks_ of young Heywood above recited, were received and
transmitted by his sister Nessy in a letter to the Earl of Chatham, then
first Lord of the Admiralty, of which the following is a copy.

'_Great Russell Street, 11th Oct_. 1792.

'MY LORD, - To a nobleman of your lordship's known humanity and
excellence of heart, I dare hope that the unfortunate cannot
plead in vain. Deeply impressed as I therefore am, with
sentiments of the most profound respect for a character which
I have been ever taught to revere, and alas I nearly
interested as I must be in the subject of these lines, may I
request your lordship will generously pardon a sorrowful and
mourning sister, for presuming to offer the enclosed [remarks]
for your candid perusal. It contains a few observations made
by my most unfortunate and tenderly beloved brother, Peter
Heywood, endeavouring to elucidate some parts of the evidence
given at the court-martial lately held at Portsmouth upon
himself and other prisoners of his Majesty's ship _Bounty_.
When I assure you, my lord, that he is dearer and more
precious to me than any object on earth - nay, infinitely more
valuable than life itself - that, deprived of him, the word
misery would but ill express my complicated wretchedness - and
that, on his fate, my own, and (shall I not add?) that of a
tender, fond, and alas! widowed mother, depends, I am
persuaded you will not wonder, nor be offended, that I am thus
bold in conjuring your lordship will consider, with your usual
candour and benevolence, the "Observations" I now offer you,
as well as the painful situation of my dear and unhappy
brother. - I have the honour, etc.


Whether this letter and its enclosure produced any effect on the mind of
Lord Chatham does not appear; but no immediate steps were taken, nor was
any answer given; and this amiable young lady and her friends were
suffered to remain in the most painful state of suspense for another
fortnight. A day or two before the warrant was despatched, that
excellent man, Mr. Graham, writes thus to Mrs. Heywood.

'MY DEAR MADAM, - If feeling for the distresses and rejoicing
in the happiness of others denote a heart which entitles the
owner of it to the confidence of the good and virtuous, I
would fain be persuaded that mine has been so far interested
in your misfortunes, and is now so pleased with the prospect
of your being made happy, as cannot fail to procure me the
friendship of your family, which, as it is my ambition, it
cannot cease to be my desire to cultivate.

'Unused to the common rewards which are sought after in this
world, I will profess to anticipate more real pleasure and
satisfaction from the simple declaration of you and yours,
that "we accept of your services, and we thank you for them,"
than it is in common minds to conceive; but, fearful lest a
too grateful sense should be entertained of the friendly
offices I have been engaged in (which, however, I ought to
confess, I was prompted to, in the first place, by a
remembrance of the many obligations I owed to Commodore
Pasley), I must beg you will recollect that, by sending to me
your charming Nessy (and if strong affection may plead such a
privilege, I may be allowed to call her _my_ daughter also),
you would have over-paid me if my trouble had been ten times,
and my uneasiness ten thousand times greater than they were,
upon what I once thought the melancholy, but now deem the
fortunate, occasion which has given me the happiness of her
acquaintance. Thus far, my dear Madam, I have written to
please myself. Now, for what must please you - and in which,
too, I have my share of satisfaction.

'The business, though not publicly known, is most certainly
finished, and what I had my doubts about yesterday, I am
satisfied of to-day. Happy, happy, happy family! accept of my
congratulations - not for what it is in the power of words to
express - but for what I know you will feel, upon being told
that your beloved Peter will soon be restored to your bosom,
with every virtue that can adorn a man, and ensure to him an
affectionate, a tender, and truly welcome reception.'

At the foot of this letter Nessy writes thus: -

'Now, my dearest mamma, did you ever in all your life read so
charming a letter? Be assured it is exactly characteristic of
the benevolent writer. What would I give to be transported
(though only for a moment) to your elbow, that I might see you
read it? What will you feel, when you know assuredly that you
may with certainty believe its contents? Well may Mr. Graham
call us happy! for never felicity could equal ours! Don't
expect connected sentences from me at present, for this joy
makes me almost delirious. Adieu! love to all - I need not say
be happy and blessed as I am at this dear hour, my beloved
mother. - Your most affectionate,

N. H.'

On the 24th October, the king's warrant was despatched from the
Admiralty, granting a full and free pardon to Heywood and Morrison, a
respite for Muspratt, which was followed by a pardon; and for carrying
the sentence of Ellison, Burkitt, and Millward into execution, which was
done on the 29th, on board his Majesty's ship _Brunswick_, in Portsmouth
harbour. On this melancholy occasion, Captain Hamond reports that 'the
criminals behaved with great penitence and decorum, acknowledged the
justice of their sentence for the crime of which they had been found
guilty, and exhorted their fellow-sailors to take warning by their
untimely fate, and whatever might be their hardships, never to forget
their obedience to their officers, as a duty they owed to their king and
country.' The captain adds, 'A party from each ship in the harbour, and
at Spithead, attended the execution, and from the reports I have
received, the example seems to have made a great impression upon the
minds of all the ships' companies present.'

The same warrant that carried with it affliction to the friends of these
unfortunate men, was the harbinger of joy to the family and friends of
young Heywood. The happy intelligence was communicated to his
affectionate Nessy on the 26th, who instantly despatched the joyful
tidings to her anxious mother in the following characteristic note: -

_Friday, 26th October, four o'clock._

'Oh, blessed hour! - little did I think, my beloved friends,
when I closed my letter this morning, that before night I
should be out of my senses with joy! - this moment, this
ecstatic moment, brought the enclosed.[32] I cannot speak my
happiness; let it be sufficient to say, that in a very few
hours our angel Peter will be FREE! Mr. Graham goes this night
to Portsmouth, and to-morrow, or next day at farthest, I shall
be - oh, heavens! what shall I be? I am already transported,
even to pain; then how shall I bear to clasp him to the bosom
of your happy, ah! how very happy, and affectionate


'I am too _mad_ to write sense, but 'tis a pleasure I would
not forgo to be the most reasonable being on earth. I asked
Mr. Graham, who is at my elbow, if he would say anything to
you, "Lord!" said he, "I can't say anything"; he is almost as
mad as myself.'[33]

Mr. Graham writes, 'I have however my senses sufficiently about me not
to suffer this to go without begging leave to congratulate you upon, and
to assure you that I most sincerely sympathize and participate in the
happiness which I am sure the enclosed will convey to the mother and
sisters of my charming and beloved Nessy.'

This 'charming' girl next writes to Mr. Const, who attended as counsel
for her brother, to acquaint him with the joyful intelligence, and thus
concludes. 'I flatter myself you will partake in the joy which,
notwithstanding it is so excessive at this moment, as almost to deprive
me of my faculties, leaves me however sufficiently collected to assure

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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 17 of 24)