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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you of the eternal gratitude and esteem with which I am,' etc.

To which Mr. Const, after congratulations and thanks for her polite
attention, observes, 'Give me leave, my dear Miss Heywood, to assure you
that the intelligence has given me a degree of pleasure which I have not
terms to express, and it is even increased by knowing what you must
experience on the event. Nor is it an immaterial reflection, that
although your brother was unfortunately involved in the general calamity
which gave birth to the charge, he is uncontaminated by the crime, for
there was not a credible testimony of the slightest fact against him
that can make the strictest friend deplore anything that has passed,
except his sufferings; and his uniform conduct under them only proved
how little he deserved them.'

Mr. Graham's impatience and generous anxiety to give the finishing
stroke to this joyful event would not permit him to delay one moment in
setting out for Portsmouth, and bringing up to his house in town the
innocent sufferer, where they arrived on the morning of the 29th
October. Miss Heywood can best speak of her own feelings.

'_Great Russell Street, Monday Morning, 29th October,
half-past ten o'clock - the brightest moment of my existence_!

'MY DEAREST MAMMA, - I have seen him, clasped him to my bosom,
and my felicity is beyond expression! In person he is almost
even now as I could wish; in mind you know him an angel. I
can write no more, but to tell you, that the three happiest
beings at this moment on earth, are your most dutiful and
affectionate children,


'Love to and from all ten thousand times.'

The worthy Mr. Graham adds,

'If, my dearest Madam, it were ever given for mortals to be
supremely blest on earth, mine to be sure must be the happy
family. Heavens! with what unbounded extravagance have we been
forming our wishes! and yet how far beyond our most unbounded
wishes we are blest! Nessy, Maria,[34] Peter, and James, I
see, have all been endeavouring to express their feelings. I
will not fail in any such attempt, for I will not attempt
anything beyond an assurance that the scene I have been
witness of, and in which I am happily so great a sharer,
beggars all description. Permit me however to offer my most
sincere congratulations upon the joyful occasion.'

This amiable young lady, some of whose letters have been introduced into
this narrative, did not long survive her brother's liberty. This
impassioned and most affectionate of sisters, with an excess of
sensibility, which acted too powerfully on her bodily frame, sunk, as is
often the case with such susceptible minds, on the first attack of
consumption. She died within the year of her brother's liberation. On
this occasion the following note from her afflicted mother appears
among the papers from which the letters and poetry are taken.

'My dearest Nessy was seized, while on a visit at Major
Yorke's, at Bishop's Grove near Tonbridge Wells, with a
violent cold, and not taking proper care of herself, it soon
turned to inflammation on her lungs, which carried her off at
Hastings, to which place she was taken on the 5th September,
to try if the change of air, and being near the sea, would
recover her; but alas! it was too late for her to receive the
wished for benefit, and she died there on the 25th of the same
month 1793, and has left her only surviving parent a
disconsolate mother, to lament, while ever she lives, with the
most sincere and deep affliction, the irreparable loss of her
most valuable, affectionate, and darling daughter.'[35]

But to return to Mr. Heywood. When the king's full and free pardon had
been read to this young officer by Captain Montagu, with a suitable
admonition and congratulation, he addressed that officer in the
following terms, - so suitably characteristic of his noble and manly
conduct throughout the whole of the distressing business in which he was
innocently involved: -

SIR, - When the sentence of the law was passed upon me, I
received it, I trust, as became a man; and if it had been
carried into execution, I should have met my fate, I hope, in a
manner becoming a Christian. Your admonition cannot fail to
make a lasting impression on my mind. I receive with gratitude
my sovereign's mercy, for which my future life shall be
faithfully devoted to his service.'[36]

And well did his future conduct fulfil that promise. Notwithstanding
the inauspicious manner in which the first five years of his servitude
in the navy had been passed, two of which were spent among mutineers and
savages, and eighteen months as a close prisoner in irons, in
which condition he was shipwrecked, and within an ace of
perishing, - notwithstanding this unpromising commencement, he re-entered
the naval service under the auspices of his uncle, Commodore Pasley, and
Lord Hood, who presided at his trial, and who earnestly recommended him
to embark again as a midshipman without delay, offering to take him into
the _Victory_, under his own immediate patronage. In the course of his
service, to qualify for the commission of lieutenant, he was under the
respective commands of three or four distinguished officers, who had sat
on his trial, from all of whom he received the most flattering proofs of
esteem and approbation. To the application of Sir Thomas Pasley to Lord
Spencer for his promotion, that nobleman, with that due regard he was
always known to pay to the honour and interests of the navy, while
individual claims were never overlooked, gave the following reply, which
must have been highly gratifying to the feelings of Mr. Heywood and his

_Admiralty, Jan. 13th_, 1797.

'Sir, - I should have returned an earlier answer to your letter
of the 6th instant, if I had not been desirous, before I
answered it, to look over, with as much attention as was in my
power, the proceedings on the Court-Martial held in the year
1792, by which Court Mr. Peter Heywood was condemned for being
concerned in the mutiny on board the _Bounty_. I felt this to
be necessary, from having entertained a very strong opinion
that it might be detrimental to the interests of his Majesty's
service, if a person under such a predicament should be
afterwards advanced to the higher and more conspicuous
situations of the navy; but having, with great attention,
perused the minutes of that Court-Martial, as far as they
relate to Mr. Peter Heywood, I have now the satisfaction of
being able to inform you, that I think his case was such an
one, as, under all its circumstances (though I do not mean to
say that the Court were not justified in their sentence),
ought not to be considered as a bar to his further progress in
his profession; more especially when the gallantry and
propriety of his conduct, in his subsequent service, are taken
into consideration. I shall, therefore, have no difficulty in
mentioning him to the commander-in-chief on the station to
which he belongs, as a person from whose promotion, on a
proper opportunity, I shall derive much satisfaction, more
particularly from his being so nearly connected with you. - I
have the honour to be, etc.

(Signed) SPENCER.'

It is not here intended to follow Mr. Heywood through his honourable
career of service, during the long and arduous contest with France, and
in the several commands with which he was entrusted. In a note of his
own writing it is stated, that on paying off the _Montague_, in July,
1816, he came on shore, after having been actively employed _at sea_
twenty-seven years, six months, one week, and five days, out of a
servitude in the navy of twenty-nine years, seven months, and one day.
Having reached nearly the top of the list of captains, he died in this
present year, leaving behind him a high and unblemished character in
that service, of which he was a most honourable, intelligent, and
distinguished member.



Who by repentance is not satisfied,
Is nor of heaven nor earth; for these are pleased;
By penitence th' Eternal's wrath's appeased.

Twenty years had passed away, and the _Bounty_, and Fletcher Christian,
and the piratical crew that he had carried off with him in that ship,
had long ceased to occupy a thought in the public mind. Throughout the
whole of that eventful period, the attention of all Europe had been
absorbed in the contemplation of 'enterprises of great pith and
moment,' - of the revolutions of empires - the bustle and business of
warlike preparations - the movements of hostile armies - battles by sea
and land, and of all 'the pomp and circumstance of glorious war.' If the
subject of the _Bounty_ was accidentally mentioned, it was merely to
express an opinion that this vessel, and those within her, had gone down
to the bottom, or that some savage islanders had inflicted on the
mutineers that measure of retribution so justly due to their crime. It
happened, however, some years before the conclusion of this war of
unexampled duration, that an accidental discovery, as interesting as it
was wholly unexpected, was brought to light, in consequence of an
American trading vessel having by mere chance approached one of those
numerous islands in the Pacific, against whose steep and iron-bound
shores the surf almost everlastingly rolls with such tremendous
violence, as to bid defiance to any attempt of boats to land, except at
particular times and in very few places.

The first intimation of this extraordinary discovery was transmitted by
Sir Sydney Smith from Rio de Janeiro, and received at the Admiralty,
14th May, 1809. It was conveyed to him from Valparaiso by Lieutenant
Fitzmaurice, and was as follows: -

'Captain Folger, of the American ship _Topaz_, of Boston,
relates that, upon landing on Pitcairn's Island, in lat. 25°
2' S., long. 130° W., he found there an Englishman of the name
of Alexander Smith, the only person remaining of nine that
escaped in his Majesty's late ship _Bounty_, Captain W. Bligh.
Smith relates that, after putting Captain Bligh in the boat,
Christian, the leader of the mutiny, took command of the ship
and went to Otaheite, where the great part of the crew left
her, except Christian, Smith, and seven others, who each took
wives and six Otaheitan men-servants, and shortly after
arrived at the said island (Pitcairn), where they ran the ship
on shore, and broke her up; this event took place in the year

'About four years after their arrival (a great jealousy
existing), the Otaheitans secretly revolted, and killed every
Englishman except himself whom they severely wounded in the
neck with a pistol ball. The same night, the widows of the
deceased Englishmen arose and put to death the whole of the
Otaheitans, leaving Smith, the only man alive upon the island,
with eight or nine women and several small children. On his
recovery, he applied himself to tilling the ground, so that it
now produces plenty of yams, cocoa-nuts, bananas, and
plantains; hogs and poultry in abundance. There are now some
grown-up men and women, children of the mutineers, on the
island, the whole population amounting to about thirty-five,
who acknowledge Smith as father and commander of them all;
they all speak English, and have been educated by him (as
Captain Folger represents) in a religious and moral way.

'The second mate of the _Topaz_ asserts that Christian, the
ringleader, became insane shortly after their arrival on the
island, and threw himself off the rocks into the sea; another
died of a fever before the massacre of the remaining six took
place. The island is badly supplied with water, sufficient
only for the present inhabitants, and no anchorage.

'Smith gave to Captain Folger a chronometer made by Kendall,
which was taken from him by the Governor of Juan Fernandez.

'Extracted from the log-book of the _Topaz_, 29th Sept. 1808.

(Signed) 'WM. FITZMAURICE, Lieut. '_Valparaiso, Oct. 10th,

This narrative stated two facts that established its general
authenticity - the name of Alexander Smith, who was one of the mutineers,
and the name of the maker of the chronometer, with which the _Bounty_
was actually supplied. Interesting as this discovery was considered to
be, it does not appear that any steps were taken in consequence of this
authenticated information, the government being at that time probably
too much engaged in the events of the war; nor was anything further
heard of this interesting little society, until the latter part of 1814,
when a letter was transmitted by Rear Admiral Hotham, then cruising off
the coast of America, from Mr. Folger himself, to the same effect as the
preceding extract from his log, but dated March, 1813.

In the first-mentioned year (1814) we had two frigates cruising in the
Pacific, - the _Briton_, commanded by Sir Thomas Staines, and the
_Tagus_, by Captain Pipon. The following letter from the former of these
officers was received at the Admiralty early in the year 1815.

_Briton, Valparaiso, 18th Oct., 1814._

'I have the honour to inform you that on my passage from the
Marquesas islands to this port, on the morning of the 17th
September, I fell in with an island where none is laid down in
the Admiralty or other charts, according to the several
chronometers of the _Briton_ and _Tagus_. I therefore hove to,
until daylight, and then closed to ascertain whether it was
inhabited, which I soon discovered it to be, and, to my great
astonishment, found that every individual on the island (forty
in number), spoke very good English. They proved to be the
descendants of the deluded crew of the _Bounty_, who, from
Otaheite, proceeded to the above-mentioned island, where the
ship was burnt.

'Christian appeared to have been the leader and sole cause of
the mutiny in that ship. A venerable old man, named John
Adams, is the only surviving Englishman of those who last
quitted Otaheite in her, and whose exemplary conduct, and
fatherly care of the whole of the little colony, could not but
command admiration. The pious manner in which all those born
on the island have been reared, the correct sense of religion
which has been instilled into their young minds by this old
man, has given him the pre-eminence over the whole of them, to
whom they look up as the father of one and the whole family.

'A son of Christian was the first born on the island, now
about twenty-five years of age, named Thursday October
Christian; the elder Christian fell a sacrifice to the
jealousy of an Otaheitan man, within three or four years after
their arrival on the island. The mutineers were accompanied
thither by six Otaheitan men and twelve women; the former were
all swept away by desperate contentions between them and the
Englishmen, and five of the latter died at different periods,
leaving at present only one man (Adams) and seven women of the
original settlers.

'The island must undoubtedly be that called Pitcairn, although
erroneously laid down in the charts. We had the altitude of
the meridian sun close to it, which gave us 25° 4' S.
latitude, and 130° 25' W. longitude, by the chronometers of
the _Briton_ and _Tagus_.

'It produces in abundance yams, plantains, hogs, goats, and
fowls; but the coast affords no shelter for a ship or vessel
of any description; neither could a ship water there without
great difficulty.

'I cannot, however, refrain from offering my opinion, that it
is well worthy the attention of our laudable religious
societies, particularly that for propagating the Christian
religion, the whole of the inhabitants speaking the Otaheitan
tongue as well as the English.

'During the whole of the time they have been on the island,
only one ship has ever communicated with them, which took
place about six years since, and this was the American ship
_Topaz_, of Boston, Mayhew Folger, master.

'The island is completely iron-bound with rocky shores, and
the landing in boats must be at all times difficult, although
the island may be safely approached within a short distance by
a ship. (Signed) T. STAINES.'

Such was the first official account received of this little colony. As
some further particulars of a society so singular, in all respects, were
highly desirable, Captain Pipon, on being applied to, had the kindness
to draw up the following narrative, which has all the freshness and
attraction of a first communication with a new people.

Captain Pipon takes a more extended view, in his private letter,[37] of
the condition of this little society. He observes, that when they first
saw the island, the latitude, made by the _Tagus_, was 24° 40' S. and
longitude 130° 24' W., the ships being then distant from it five or six
leagues; and, as in none of the charts in their possession was any land
laid down in or near this meridian, they were extremely puzzled to make
out what island it could possibly be; for Pitcairn's Island, being the
only one known in the neighbourhood, was represented to be in longitude
133° 24' W.[38] If this new discovery as they supposed it to be,
awakened their curiosity, it was still more excited when they ran in for
the land the next morning, on perceiving a few huts, neatly built,
amidst plantations laid out apparently with something like order and
regularity; and these appearances confirmed them more than ever that it
could not be Pitcairn's Island, because that was described by
navigators to be uninhabited. Presently they observed a few natives
coming down a steep descent with their canoes on their shoulders; and in
a few minutes perceived one of those little vessels darting through a
heavy surf, and paddling off towards the ships; but their astonishment
was extreme when, on coming alongside, they were hailed in the English
language with 'Won't you heave us a rope now?'

The first young man that sprang, with extraordinary alacrity, up the
side, and stood before them on the deck, said, in reply to the question,
'Who are you?' - that his name was Thursday October Christian, son of the
late Fletcher Christian, by an Otaheitan mother; that he was the first
born on the island, and that he was so called because he was brought
into the world on a Thursday in October. Singularly strange as all this
was to Sir Thomas Staines and Captain Pipon, this youth soon satisfied
them that he was no other than the person he represented himself to be,
and that he was fully acquainted with the whole history of the _Bounty_;
and, in short, that the island before them was the retreat of the
mutineers of that ship. Young Christian was, at this time, about
twenty-four years of age, a fine tall youth, full six feet high, with
dark, almost black, hair, and a countenance open and extremely
interesting. As he wore no clothes except a piece of cloth round his
loins, and a straw hat, ornamented with black cocks'-feathers, his fine
figure and well-shaped muscular limbs were displayed to great
advantage, and attracted general admiration. His body was much tanned by
exposure to the weather, and his countenance had a brownish cast,
unmixed however with that tinge of red so common among the natives of
the Pacific islands.

'Added to a great share of good humour, we were glad to trace,' says
Captain Pipon, 'in his benevolent countenance, all the features of an
honest English face.' He told them he was married to a woman much older
than himself, one of those that accompanied his father from Otaheite.
The ingenuous manner in which he answered all questions put to him, and
his whole deportment, created a lively interest among the officers of
the ship, who, while they admired, could not but regard him with
feelings of tenderness and compassion; his manner, too, of speaking
English was exceedingly pleasing, and correct both in grammar and
pronunciation. His companion was a fine handsome youth of seventeen or
eighteen years of age, of the name of George Young, son of Young the

If the astonishment of the two captains was great on making, as they
thought, this first and extraordinary discovery of a people who had been
so long forgotten, and in hearing the offspring of these offenders
speaking their language correctly, their surprise and interest were
still more highly excited when, on Sir Thomas Staines taking the two
youths below, and setting before them something to eat, they both rose
up, and one of them, placing his hands together in a posture of
devotion, pronounced, distinctly and with emphasis, in a pleasing tone
of voice, the words, 'For what we are going to receive the Lord make us
truly thankful.'

The youths were themselves greatly surprised at the sight of so many
novel objects - the size of the ship - of the guns, and everything around
them. Observing a cow, they were at first somewhat alarmed, and
expressed a doubt whether it was a huge goat or a horned hog, these
being the only two species of quadrupeds they had ever seen. A little
dog amused them much. 'Oh! what a pretty little thing it is!' exclaimed
Young, 'I know it is a dog, for I have heard of such an animal.'

These young men informed the two captains of many singular events that
had taken place among the first settlers, but referred them for further
particulars to an old man on shore, whose name, they said, was John
Adams, the only surviving Englishman that came away in the _Bounty_, at
which time he was called Alexander Smith.

This information induced the two captains to go on shore, desirous of
learning correctly from this old man the fate, not only of Christian,
but of the rest of his deluded accomplices, who had adhered to his
fortunes. The landing they found to be difficult, and not wholly free
from danger; but, with the assistance of their two able conductors, they
passed the surf among many rocks, and reached the shore without any
other inconvenience than a complete wetting. Old Adams, having
ascertained that the two officers alone had landed, and without arms,
concluded they had no intention to take him prisoner, and ventured to
come down to the beach, from whence he conducted them to his house. He
was accompanied by his wife, a very old woman, and nearly blind. It
seems they were both at first considerably alarmed; the sight of the
king's uniform, after so many years, having no doubt brought fresh to
the recollection of Adams the scene that occurred in the _Bounty_, in
which he bore so conspicuous a part. Sir Thomas Staines, however, to set
his mind at ease, assured him, that so far from having come to the
island with any intention to take him away, they were not even aware
that such a person as himself existed. Captain Pipon observes, 'that
although in the eye of the law they could only consider him in the light
of a criminal of the deepest dye, yet that it would have been an act of
the greatest cruelty and inhumanity to have taken him away from his
little family, who, in such a case, would have been left to experience
the greatest misery and distress, and ultimately, in all probability,
would have perished of want.'

Adams, however, pretended that he had no great share in the mutiny: said
that he was sick in bed when it broke out, and was afterwards compelled
to take a musket in his hand; and expressed his readiness to go in one
of the ships to England, and seemed rather desirous to do so. On this
being made known to the members of the little society, a scene of
considerable distress was witnessed; his daughter, a fine young woman,
threw her arms about his neck, entreating him not to think of leaving
them and all his little children to perish. All the women burst into
tears, and the young men stood motionless and absorbed in grief; but on
their being assured that he should, on no account, be molested, 'it is
impossible,' says Captain Pipon, 'to describe the universal joy that
these poor people manifested, and the gratitude they expressed for the

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