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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stood up in their boat, and gave us three hearty cheers, which were as
heartily returned. As the weather became foggy, the barge towed them
towards the shore, and we took a final leave of them, unconscious, until
the moment of separation, of the warm interest their situation and good
conduct had created in us.'

Happy, thrice happy people! May no improper intruders thrust themselves
into your peaceful and contented society! May that Providence which has
hitherto protected you, still continue to pour down those blessings upon
you, of which you appear to be so truly sensible, and for which you are
justly thankful! May it throw round the shores of your enviable little
Eden, 'cherubim and a flaming sword,' to guard its approaches from those
who would endanger your peace; and above all, shield you from those, who
would perplex and confuse your unsophisticated minds, by mysterious
doctrines which they do not themselves comprehend! Remain steadfast to
the faith, which your late father and benefactor has instilled into your
minds, culled from the precepts of your Bible, and be content for the
present to observe those simple rules for your religious and moral
conduct, which he has taught you, and which he drew pure and undefiled
from that sacred source; and be assured that, so long as you shall
adhere to the line of conduct you have hitherto pursued, and be
contented with your present lot, your happiness is secure; but once
admit ignorant or false teachers among you, and from that period you may
date the commencement of misfortunes and misery!


Many useful and salutary lessons of conduct may be drawn from this
eventful history, more especially by officers of the navy, both old and
young, as well as by those subordinate to them. In the first place, it
most strongly points out the dreadful consequences that are almost
certain to ensue from a state of insubordination and mutiny on board a
ship of war; and the equally certain fate that, at one time or other,
awaits all those who have the misfortune to be concerned in a
transaction of this revolting nature. In the present instance, the
dreadful retribution which overtook them, and which was evinced in a
most extraordinary manner, affords an awful and instructive lesson to
seamen, by which they may learn, that although the guilty may be secured
for a time in evading the punishment due to the offended laws of
society, yet they must not hope to escape the pursuit of Divine
vengeance. It will be recollected that the number of persons who
remained in the _Bounty_, after her piratical seizure, and of course
charged with the crime of mutiny, was twenty-five; that these
subsequently separated into two parties, sixteen having landed at
Otaheite, and afterwards taken from thence in the _Pandora_, as
prisoners, and nine having gone with the _Bounty_ to Pitcairn's Island.

Of the sixteen taken in the _Pandora_: -

1. Mr PETER HEYWOOD, midshipman, } sentenced to death,
but pardoned.
2. JAMES MORBISON, boatswain's mate, } do.
3. WILLIAM MUSPRATT, commander's steward,} do.
4. THOS. BURKITT, seaman } condemned and executed.
5. JOHN MILLWARD, do. } do.
6. THOS. ELLISON, do. } do.
7. JOSEPH COLEMAN, armourer } do.
8. CHARLES NORMAN, carpenter's mate } tried and acquitted.
9. THOS. M'INTOSH, carpenter's crew } do.
10. MICHAEL BYRNE, seaman } do
11. Mr. GEORGE STEWART, midshipman } drowned in irons
12. JOHN SUMNER, seaman } when the
13. RICHARD SKINNER, seaman } _Pandora_
14. HENRY HILLBRANT, cooper } was wrecked.
15. CHAS. CHURCHILL, master-at-arms, murdered by Matthew
16. MATTHEW THOMPSON, seaman, murdered by Churchill's
friends in Otaheite.

Of the nine who landed on Pitcairn's Island:

1. Mr. FLETCHER CHRISTIAN, acting-lieut. } murdered by the
2. JOHN WILLIAMS, seaman } do.
3. ISAAC MARTIN, do. } do.
4. JOHN MILLS, gunner's mate } do.
5. WILLM. BROWN, botanist's assistant } do.
6. MATTHEW QUINTAL, seaman, put to death by Young
and Adams in self-defence.
7. WILLIAM M'KOY, seaman, became insane, and killed
by throwing himself from
a rock.
8. Mr. EDWAKD YOUNG, midshipman, died of asthma.
9. ALEX. SMITH, _alias_ John Adams, seaman, died in 1829.

Young officers of the navy, as well as the common seamen, may also
derive some useful lessons from the events of this history. They will
see the melancholy results of affording the least encouragement for
seamen to depart from their strict line of duty, and to relax in that
obedience to the orders of superiors, by which alone the discipline of
the service can be preserved; they will learn how dangerous it is to
show themselves careless and indifferent in executing those orders, by
thus setting a bad example to the men. It ought also to enforce on their
minds, how necessary it is to avoid even the appearance of acting in any
way that can be considered as repugnant to, or subversive of, the rules
and regulations of the service; and most particularly to guard against
any conduct that may have the appearance of lowering the authority of
their superiors, either by their words or actions.

No doubt can remain on the minds of unprejudiced persons, or such as are
capable of weighing evidence, that the two young midshipmen, Stewart and
Hey wood, were perfectly innocent of any share in the transaction in
question; and yet, because they happened to be left in the ship, not
only contrary to their wish and intention, but kept down below by force,
the one lost his life, by being drowned in chains, and the other was
condemned to die, and only escaped from suffering the last penalty of
the law by a recommendation to the royal mercy. The only point in which
these two officers failed, was, that they did not at once demand
permission to accompany their commander, while they were allowed to
remain on deck and had the opportunity of doing so. The manly conduct
of young Heywood, throughout his long and unmerited sufferings, affords
an example of firmness, fortitude, and resignation to the Divine will,
that is above all praise; in fact, nothing short of conscious innocence
could have supported him in the severe trials he had to undergo.

The melancholy effects which tyrannical conduct, harsh and opprobrious
language, ungovernable passion, and a worrying and harassing temper, on
the part of naval commanders, seldom fail to produce on the minds of
those who are subject to their capricious and arbitrary command, are
strongly exemplified in the cause and consequences of the mutiny in the
_Bounty_, as described in the course of this history. Conduct of this
kind, by making the inferior officers of a ship discontented and
unhappy, has the dangerous tendency, as in the case of Christian, to
incite the crew to partake in their discontent, and be ready to assist
in any plan to get rid of the tyrant. We may see in it, also, how very
little credit a commander is likely to gain, either with the service or
the public at large, when the duties of a ship are carried on, as they
would appear to have been in the _Pandora_, in a cold, phlegmatic, and
unfeeling manner, and with an indifference to the comfort of all around
him, - subjecting offenders of whatever description to unnecessary
restraint, and a severity of punishment, which, though strictly within
the letter of the law, contributes in no way to the ends of discipline
or of justice.

The conduct of Bligh, however mistaken he may have been in his mode of
carrying on the duties of the ship, was most exemplary throughout the
long and perilous voyage he performed in an open boat, on the wide
ocean, with the most scanty supply of provisions and water, and in the
worst weather. The result of such meritorious conduct holds out every
encouragement to both officers and men, by showing them that, by
firmness and perseverance, and the adoption of well-digested measures,
steadily ursued in spite of opposition, the most hopeless undertaking,
to all appearance, may be successfully accomplished.

And lastly - The fate that has attended almost every one of those
concerned in the mutiny and piracy of his Majesty's ship _Bounty_ ought
to operate as a warning to, and make a deep impression on the minds of,
our brave seamen, not to suffer themselves to be led astray from the
straightforward line of their duty, either by order or persuasion of
some hot-brained, thoughtless, or designing person, whether their
superior or equal, but to remain faithful, under all circumstances, to
their commanding officer, as any mutinous proceedings or disobedience of
his orders are sure to be visited upon them in the long run, either by
loss of life, or by a forfeiture of that liberal provision which the
British government has bestowed on its seamen for long and faithful

P.S. - Just as this last sheet came from the press, the editor has
noticed, with a feeling of deep and sincere regret, a paragraph in the
newspapers, said to be extracted from an American paper, stating that a
vessel sent to Pitcairn's Island by the missionaries of Otaheite has
carried off the whole of the settlers to the latter island. If this be
true - and the mention of the name of Nott gives a colour to the
transaction - the 'cherubim' must have slept, the 'flaming sword' have
been sheathed, and another Eden has been lost: and, what is worse than
all, that native simplicity of manners, that purity of morals, and that
singleness of heart, which so peculiarly distinguished this little
interesting society, are all lost. They will now be dispersed among the
missionary stations as humble dependents, where Kitty Quintal and the
rest of them may get 'food for their souls,' such as it is, in exchange
for the substantial blessings they enjoyed on Pitcairn's Island.


In reference to the subject of extraordinary passages made in open boats
on the wide ocean, and the note thereon at page 127, the following may
be added as another instance, the most painfully interesting, and the
most calamitous, perhaps, ever recorded. It was related to Mr. Bennet, a
gentleman deputed by the Missionary Society of London, together with the
Rev. Daniel Tyerman, to visit their several stations in the South Sea
Islands, by Captain George Pollard, the unfortunate sufferer, whom these
gentlemen met with at Raiatea, then a passenger in an American vessel,
having a second time lost his ship near the Sandwich Islands. The
narrative is extracted from _The Journal of Voyages and Travels_, just
published, of the two gentlemen above-mentioned, and is as follows: -

'My first shipwreck was in open sea, on the 20th of November, 1820, near
the equator, about 118 degrees W. long. The vessel, a South Sea whaler,
was called the _Essex_. On that day, as we were on the look-out for
sperm whales, and had actually struck two, which the boats' crews were
following to secure, I perceived a very large one - it might be eighty
or ninety feet long - rushing with great swiftness through the water,
right towards the ship. We hoped that she would turn aside, and dive
under, when she perceived such a baulk in her way. But no! the animal
came full force against our stern-post: had any quarter less firm been
struck, the vessel must have been burst; as it was, every plank and
timber trembled, throughout her whole bulk.

'The whale, as though hurt by a severe and unexpected concussion, shook
its enormous head, and sheered off to so considerable a distance that
for some time we had lost sight of her from the starboard quarter; of
which we were very glad, hoping that the worst was over. Nearly an hour
afterwards, we saw the same fish - we had no doubt of this, from her
size, and the direction in which she came - making again towards us. We
were at once aware of our danger, but escape was impossible. She dashed
her head this time against the ship's side, and so broke it in that the
vessel filled rapidly, and soon became water-logged. At the second
shock, expecting her to go down, we lowered our three boats with the
utmost expedition, and all hands, twenty in the whole, got into
them - seven, and seven, and six. In a little while, as she did not sink,
we ventured on board again, and, by scuttling the deck, were enabled to
get out some biscuit, beef, water, rum, two sextants, a quadrant, and
three compasses. These, together with some rigging, a few muskets,
powder, etc., we brought away; and, dividing the stores among our three
small crews, rigged the boats as well as we could; there being a
compass for each, and a sextant for two, and a quadrant for one, but
neither sextant nor quadrant for the third.[42] Then, instead of pushing
away for some port, so amazed and bewildered were we that we continued
sitting in our places gazing upon the ship, as though she had been an
object of the tenderest affection. Our eyes could not leave her, till,
at the end of many hours, she gave a slight reel, then down she sank. No
words can tell our feelings. We looked at each other - we looked at the
place where she had so lately been afloat - and we did not cease to look,
till the terrible conviction of our abandoned and perilous situation
roused us to exertion, if deliverance were yet possible.

'We now consulted about the course which it might be best to
take - westward to India, eastward to South America, or south-westward to
the Society Isles. We knew that we were at no great distance from
Tahiti, but were so ignorant of the state and temper of the inhabitants,
that we feared we should be devoured by cannibals, if we cast ourselves
on their mercy. It was determined, therefore, to make for South America,
which we computed to be more than two thousand miles distant.
Accordingly we steered eastward, and though for several days harassed
with squalls, we contrived to keep together. It was not long before we
found that one of the boats had started a plank, which was no wonder,
for whale-boats are all clinker-built, and very slight, being made of
half-inch plank only, before planing. To remedy this alarming defect we
all turned to, and having emptied the damaged boat into the two others,
we raised her side as well as we could, and succeeded in restoring the
plank at the bottom. Through this accident, some of our biscuit had
become injured by the salt-water. This was equally divided among the
several boats' crews. Food and water, meanwhile, with our utmost
economy, rapidly failed. Our strength was exhausted, not by abstinence
only, but by the labours which we were obliged to employ to keep our
little vessels afloat amidst the storms which repeatedly assailed us.
One night we were parted in rough weather; but though the next day we
fell in with one of our companion-boats, we never saw or heard any more
of the other, which probably perished at sea, being without either
sextant or quadrant.[43]

'When we were reduced to the last pinch, and out of everything, having
been more than three weeks abroad, we were cheered with the sight of a
low, uninhabited island, which we reached in hope, but were bitterly
disappointed. There were some barren bushes and many rocks on this
forlorn spot. The only provision that we could procure were a few birds
and their eggs: this supply was soon reduced; the sea-fowls appeared to
have been frightened away, and their nests were left empty after we had
once or twice plundered them. What distressed us most was the utter want
of fresh water; we could not find a drop anywhere, till, at the extreme
verge of ebb tide, a small spring was discovered in the sand; but even
that was too scanty to afford us sufficient to quench our thirst before
it was covered by the waves at their turn.

'There being no prospect but that of starvation here, we determined to
put to sea again. Three of our comrades, however, chose to remain, and
we pledged ourselves to send a vessel to bring them off, if we ourselves
should ever escape to a Christian port. With a very small morsel of
biscuit for each, and a little water, we again ventured out on the wide
ocean. In the course of a few days our provisions were consumed. Two men
died; we had no other alternative than to live upon their remains. These
we roasted to dryness by means of fires kindled on the ballast-sand at
the bottom of the boats.[44] When this supply was spent, what could we
do? We looked at each other with horrid thoughts in our minds, but we
held our tongues. I am sure that we loved one another as brothers all
the time; and yet our looks told plainly what must be done. We cast
lots, and the fatal one fell on my poor cabin-boy. I started forward
instantly, and cried out, "My lad, my lad, _if you don't like your lot_,
I'll shoot the first man that touches you." The poor emaciated boy
hesitated a moment or two; then, quietly laying his head down upon the
gunnel of the boat, he said, "_I like it as well as any other."_ He was
soon despatched, and nothing of him left. I think, then, another man
died of himself, and him, too, we ate. But I can tell you no more - my
head is on fire at the recollection; I hardly know what I say. I forgot
to say that we had parted company with the second boat before now. After
some more days of horror and despair, when some were lying down at the
bottom of the boat not able to rise, and scarcely one of us could move a
limb, a vessel hove in sight. We were taken on board, and treated with
extreme kindness. The second last boat was also picked up at sea, and
the survivors saved. A ship afterwards sailed in search of our
companions on the desolate island, and brought them away.'

Captain Pollard closed his dreary narrative with saying, in a tone of
despondency never to be forgotten by him who heard it, 'After a time I
found my way to the United States, to which I belonged, and got another
ship. That, too, I have lost by a second wreck off the Sandwich Islands,
and now I am utterly ruined. No owner will ever trust me with a whaler
again, for all will say I am an _unlucky_ man.'

The following account respecting the three men that were left on the
uninhabited island, is given in a note of the same work, and said to be
extracted from a religious tract, No. 579, issued by the Society in
Paternoster Row.

'On the 26th of December the boats left the island: this was, indeed, a
trying moment to all: they separated with mutual prayers and good
wishes, seventeen[45] venturing to sea with almost certain death before
them, while three remained on a rocky isle, destitute of water, and
affording hardly anything to support life. The prospects of these three
poor men were gloomy: they again tried to dig a well, but without
success, and all hope seemed at an end, when providentially they were
relieved by a shower of rain. They were thus delivered from the
immediate apprehension of perishing by thirst. Their next care was to
procure food, and their difficulties herein were also very great; their
principal resource was small birds, about the size of a blackbird, which
they caught while at roost. Every night they climbed the trees in search
of them, and obtained, by severe exertions, a scanty supply, hardly
enough to support life. Some of the trees bore a small berry which gave
them a little relief, but these they found only in small quantities.
Shell-fish they searched for in vain; and although from the rocks they
saw at times a number of sharks, and also other sorts of fish, they were
unable to catch any, as they had no fishing tackle. Once they saw
several turtles, and succeeded in taking five, but they were then
without water: at those times they had little inclination to eat, and
before one of them was quite finished the others were become unfit for

'Their sufferings from want of water were the most severe, their only
supply being from what remained in holes among the rocks after the
showers which fell at intervals; and sometimes they were five or six
days without any; on these occasions they were compelled to suck the
blood of the birds they caught, which allayed their thirst in some
degree; but they did so very unwillingly, as they found themselves much
disordered thereby.

'Among the rocks were several caves formed by nature, which afforded
shelter from the wind and rain. In one of these caves they found eight
human skeletons, in all probability the remains of some poor mariners
who had been shipwrecked on the isle, and perished for want of food and
water. They were side by side, as if they had laid down and died
together! This sight deeply affected the mate and his companions; their
case was similar, and they had every reason to expect ere long the same
end: for many times they lay down at night, with their tongues swollen
and their lips parched with thirst, scarcely hoping to see the morning
sun; and it is impossible to form an idea of their feelings when the
morning dawned, and they found their prayers had been heard and answered
by a providential supply of rain.

'In this state they continued till the 5th of April following. On the
morning of that day they were in the woods as usual, searching for food
and water, as well as their weakness permitted, when their attention was
aroused by a sound which they thought was distant thunder; but looking
towards the sea, they saw a ship in the offing, which had just fired a
gun. Their joy at this sight may be more easily imagined than described;
they immediately fell on their knees, and thanked God for His goodness,
in thus sending deliverance when least expected; then, hastening to the
shore, they saw a boat coming towards them. As the boat could not
approach the shore without great danger, the mate, being a good swimmer,
and stronger than his companions, plunged into the sea, and
providentially escaped a watery grave at the moment when deliverance was
at hand. His companions crawled out further on the rocks, and, by the
great exertions of the crew, were taken into the boat, and soon found
themselves on board the _Surrey_, commanded by Captain Raine, by whom
they were treated in the kindest manner, and their health and strength
were speedily restored.'

Mr. Montgomery, the editor, observes, 'there is some incongruity in
these two narratives, which more minute particulars might reconcile.' We
have noticed them. Mr. Bennet received the account verbally, and may be
mistaken in some points, but there is little doubt of its being
substantially correct.

This melancholy history supplies an additional and complete answer to
Bligh's doubts of men feeding on each other to preserve existence.


[1] The discovery of this island is owing to Fernandez de Quiros in
1606, which he named _La Sagittaria_, Some doubts were at first
entertained of its identity with Otaheite, but the small difference of a
few miles in latitude, and about two degrees of longitude, the
description as to size, the low isthmus, the distance from it of any
other island at all similar, and above all, the geographical
position - all prove its identity - although Quiros calls it, what it
certainly is not, a low island.

[2] _A Missionary Voyage to the Southern Pacific Ocean_, Appendix, pp.
336, 342.

[3] Cook appears not to have exercised his usual judgement in estimating
the population of this island. After stating the number of war-canoes at
seventeen hundred and twenty, and able men to man them, at sixty-eight
thousand eight hundred, he comes to the conclusion that the population
must consist of two hundred and four thousand souls; and reflecting on
the vast swarms which everywhere appeared, 'I was convinced,' he says,
'that this estimate was not much, if at all, too great.'

[4] The words within brackets are in the original despatch.

[5] He was born in the Isle of Man, his father being Deemster of Man,
and Seneschal to the Duke of Athol.

[6] _United Service Journal_, April, 1831.

[7] Hayward and Hallet, who may thus be considered as the _passive_

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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 22 of 24)