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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such clothes to be purchased as would be found necessary. On this day,
on a complaint of the master, I found it necessary to punish Matthew
Quintal, one of the seamen, with two dozen lashes, for insolence and
mutinous behaviour. Before this I had not had occasion to punish any
person on board.'

The sight of New Year's Harbour, in Staaten Land, almost tempted him, he
says, to put in; but the lateness of the season, and the people being in
good health, determined him to lay aside all thoughts of refreshment
until they should reach Otaheite. Indeed the extraordinary care he had
taken to preserve the health of the ship's company rendered any delay in
this cold and inhospitable region unnecessary.

They soon after this had to encounter tremendous weather off Cape Horn,
storms of wind, with hail and sleet, which made it necessary to keep a
constant fire night and day; and one of the watch always attended to
dry the people's wet clothes. This stormy weather continued for nine
days; the ship began to complain, and required pumping every hour; the
decks became so leaky that the commander was obliged to allot the great
cabin to those who had wet berths, to hang their hammocks in. Finding
they were losing ground every day, and that it was hopeless to persist
in attempting a passage by this route, at this season of the year, to
the Society Islands, and after struggling for thirty days in this
tempestuous ocean, it was determined to bear away for the Cape of Good
Hope. The helm was accordingly put a-weather, to the great joy of every
person on board.

They arrived at the Cape on the 23rd of May, and having remained there
thirty-eight days to refit the ship, replenish provisions, and refresh
the crew, they sailed again on the 1st July, and anchored in Adventure
Bay, in Van Diemen's Land, on the 20th August. Here they remained taking
in wood and water till the 4th September, and on the evening of the 25th
October they saw Otaheite; and the next day came to anchor in Matavai
Bay, after a distance which the ship had run over, by the log, since
leaving England, of twenty-seven thousand and eighty-six miles, being on
an average one hundred and eight miles each twenty-four hours. Of their
proceedings in Otaheite a short abstract from Bligh's Journal will

Many inquiries were made by the natives after Captain Cook, Sir Joseph
Banks, and others of their former friends. 'One of my first questions,'
says Bligh, 'was after our friend Omai; and it was a sensible
mortification and disappointment to me to hear, that not only Omai, but
both the New Zealand boys who had been left with him, were dead. There
appeared among the natives in general great good-will towards us, and
they seemed to be much rejoiced at our arrival. The whole day we
experienced no instance of dishonesty; and we were so much crowded, that
I could not undertake to remove to a more proper station, without danger
of disobliging our visitors, by desiring them to leave the ship.'

Otoo, the chief of the district, on hearing of the arrival of the
_Bounty_, sent a small pig and a young plantain tree, as a token of
friendship. The ship was now plentifully supplied with provisions; every
man on board having as much as he could consume.

As soon as the ship was secured, Lieutenant Bligh went on shore with the
chief, Poeeno, passing through a walk delightfully shaded with
bread-fruit trees, to his own house, where his wife and her sister were
busily employed staining a piece of cloth red. They desired him to sit
down on a mat, and with great kindness offered him refreshments. Several
strangers were now introduced, who came to offer their congratulations,
and behaved with great decorum and attention. On taking leave, he says,
'the ladies, for they deserve to be called such from their natural and
unaffected manners, and elegance of deportment, got up, and taking some
of their finest cloth and a mat, clothed me in the Otaheitan fashion,
and then said, "We will go with you to your boat;" and each taking me by
the hand, amidst a great crowd, led me to the water side, and then took
their leave.' In this day's walk, Bligh had the satisfaction to see that
the island had received some benefit from the former visits of Captain
Cook. Two shaddocks were brought to him, a fruit which they had not till
Cook introduced it; and among the articles which they brought off to the
ship, and offered for sale, were capsicums, pumpkins, and two young
goats. In the course of two or three days,' says he, 'an intimacy
between the natives and the ship's company was become so general, that
there was scarcely a man in the ship who had not already his _tayo_ or

Nelson, the gardener, and his assistant, being sent out to look for
young plants, it was no small degree of pleasure to find them report on
their return, that, according to appearances, the object of the voyage
would probably be accomplished with ease; the plants were plentiful, and
no apparent objection on the part of the natives to collect as many as
might be wanted. Nelson had the gratification to meet with two fine
shaddock trees which he had planted in 1777, and which were now full of
fruit, but not ripe.

Presents were now given to Otoo, the Chief of Matavai, who had changed
his name to Tinah. He was told that, on account of the kindness of his
people to Captain Cook, and from a desire to serve him and his country;
King George had sent out those valuable presents to him; and 'will you
not, Tinah,' said Bligh, 'send something to King George in return?'
'Yes,' he said, 'I will send him anything I have;' and then began to
enumerate the different articles in his power, among which he mentioned
the bread-fruit. This was the exact point to which Bligh was
endeavouring to lead him, and he was immediately told that the
bread-fruit trees were what King George would like very much, on which
he promised that a great many should be put on board.

Hitherto no thefts had been committed, and Bligh was congratulating
himself on the improvement of the Otaheitans in this respect, as the
same facilities and the same temptations were open to them as before.
The ship, as on former occasions, was constantly crowded with visitors.
One day, however, the gudgeon of the rudder belonging to the large
cutter was drawn out and stolen, without being perceived by the man who
was stationed to take care of her; and as this and some other petty
thefts, mostly owing to the negligence of the men, were commencing, and
would have a tendency to interrupt the good terms on which they were
with the chiefs, 'I thought,' says Bligh, 'it would have a good effect
to punish the boat-keeper in their presence, and accordingly I ordered
him a dozen lashes. All who attended the punishment interceded very
earnestly to get it mitigated: the women shewed great sympathy, and that
degree of feeling which characterizes the amiable part of their sex.'

The longer they remained on the island, the more they had occasion to
be pleased with the conduct of the islanders, and the less incommoded
either on board or when on shore, by the natives following them as at
first. Into every house they wished to enter, they always experienced a
kind reception. The Otaheitans, we are told, have the most perfect
easiness of manner, equally free from forwardness and formality; and
that 'there is a candour and sincerity about them that is quite
delightful.' When they offer refreshments, for instance, if they are not
accepted, they do not think of offering them a second time; for they
have not the least idea of that ceremonious kind of refusal which
expects a second invitation. 'Having one day,' says Bligh, 'exposed
myself too much in the sun, I was taken ill, on which all the powerful
people, both men and women, collected round me, offering their
assistance. For this short illness I was made ample amends by the
pleasure I received from the attention and appearance of affection in
these kind people.'

On one occasion the _Bounty_ had nearly gone ashore in a tremendous gale
of wind, and on another did actually get aground; on both which
accidents, these kind-hearted people came in crowds to congratulate the
captain on her escape; and many of them are stated to have been affected
in the most lively manner, shedding tears while the danger in which the
ship was placed continued.

On the 9th December, the surgeon of the _Bounty_ died from the effects
of intemperance and indolence. This unfortunate man is represented to
have been in a constant state of intoxication, and was so averse from
any kind of exercise, that he never could be prevailed on to take half a
dozen hours upon deck at a time in the whole course of the voyage.
Lieutenant Bligh had obtained permission to bury him on shore; and on
going with the chief Tinah to the spot intended for his burial place, 'I
found,' says he, 'the natives had already begun to dig his grave.' Tinah
asked if they were doing it right? 'There,' says he, 'the sun rises, and
there it sets.' Whether the idea of making the grave east and west is
their own, or whether they learnt it from the Spaniards, who buried the
captain of their ship on the island in 1774, there were no means of
ascertaining; but it was certain they had no intimation of that kind
from anybody belonging to the _Bounty._ When the funeral took place, the
chiefs and many of the natives attended the ceremony, and shewed great
attention during the service. Many of the principal natives attended
divine service on Sundays, and behaved with great decency. Some of the
women at one time betrayed an inclination to laugh at the general
responses; but, the captain says, on looking at them they appeared much

The border of low land, which is of the breadth of about three miles,
between the sea-coast and the foot of the hills, consists of a very
delightful country, well covered with bread-fruit and cocoa-trees, and
strewed with houses in which are swarms of children playing about. 'It
is delightful,' Bligh observes, 'to see the swarms of little children
that are every where to be seen employed at their several amusements;
some flying kites, some swinging in ropes suspended from the boughs of
trees, others walking on stilts, some wrestling, and others playing all
manner of antic tricks such as are common to boys in England. The little
girls have also their amusements, consisting generally of heivahs or
dances. On an evening, just before sunset the whole beach abreast the
ship is described as being like a parade, crowded with men, women, and
children, who go on with their sports and amusements till nearly dark,
when every one peaceably returns to his home. At such times, we are
told, from three to four hundred people are assembled together, and all
happily diverted, good humoured, and affectionate to one another,
without a single quarrel having ever happened to disturb the harmony
that existed among these amiable people. Both boys and girls are said to
be handsome and very sprightly.

It did not appear that much pains were taken in their plantations,
except those of the ava and the cloth-plant; many of the latter are
fenced with stone, and surrounded with a ditch. In fact, Nature has done
so much for them, that they have no great occasion to use exertion in
obtaining a sufficient supply of either food or raiment. Yet when Bligh
commenced taking up the bread-fruit plants, he derived much assistance
from the natives in collecting and pruning them, which they understood
perfectly well.

The behaviour of these people on all occasions was highly deserving of
praise. One morning, at the relief of the watch, the small cutter was
missing. The ship's company were immediately mustered, when it appeared
that three men were absent. They had taken with them eight stand of arms
and ammunition; but what their plan was, or which way they had gone, no
one on board seemed to have the least knowledge. Information being given
of the route they had taken, the master was dispatched to search for the
cutter, and one of the chiefs went with him; but before they had got
half way, they met the boat with five of the natives, who were bringing
her back to the ship. For this service they were handsomely rewarded.
The chiefs promised to use every possible means to detect and bring back
the deserters, which, in a few days, some of the islanders had so far
accomplished as to seize and bind them, but let them loose again on a
promise that they would return to their ship, which they did not exactly
fulfil, but gave themselves up soon after on a search being made for

A few days after this, a much more serious occurrence happened, that was
calculated to give to the commander great concern. The wind had blown
fresh in the night, and at daylight it was discovered that the cable, by
which the ship rode, had been cut near the water's edge, in such a
manner, that only one strand remained whole. While they were securing
the ship, Tinah came on board; and though there was no reason whatever
to suppose otherwise than that he was perfectly innocent of the
transaction, nevertheless, says the commander, 'I spoke to him in a very
peremptory manner, and insisted upon his discovering and bringing to me
the offender. He promised to use his utmost endeavours to discover the
guilty person. The next morning he and his wife came to me, and assured
me that they had made the strictest inquiries without success. This was
not at all satisfactory, and I behaved towards them with great coolness,
at which they were much distressed; and the lady at length gave vent to
her sorrow by tears. I could no longer keep up the appearance of
mistrusting them, but I earnestly recommended to them, as they valued
the King of England's friendship, that they would exert their utmost
endeavours to find out the offenders, which they faithfully promised to

Here Bligh observes, it had since occurred to him, that this attempt to
cut the ship adrift was most probably the act of some of his own people;
whose purpose of remaining at Otaheite might have been effectually
answered without danger, if the ship had been driven on shore. At the
time it occurred, he says, he entertained not the least thought of this
kind, nor did the possibility of it enter into his ideas, having no
suspicion that so general an indication, or so strong an attachment to
these islands, could prevail among his people, as to induce them to
abandon every prospect of returning to their native country.

This after-thought of Bligh will appear in the sequel to be wholly
gratuitous, and yet he might naturally enough have concluded that so
long and unrestrained an intercourse with a people among whom every man
had his _tayo_ or friend; among whom every man was free to indulge every
wish of his heart; where, from the moment he set his foot on shore, he
found himself surrounded by female allurements in the midst of ease and
indolence, and living in a state of luxury without submitting to any
kind of labour - such enticements to a common sailor might naturally
enough be supposed to create a desire for a longer residence in such a
country; but this supposition is not borne out by subsequent events. The
damage done to the cable was, in all probability, owing to its chafing
over the rocky bottom.

The _Bounty_ arrived on the 26th October, 1788, and remained till the
4th April, 1789. On the 31st March, the Commander says, 'To-day, all the
plants were on board, being in seven hundred and seventy-four pots,
thirty-nine tubs, and twenty-four boxes. The number of bread-fruit
plants were one thousand and fifteen; besides which, we had collected a
number of other plants: the _avee_, which is one of the finest flavoured
fruits in the world; the _ayyah_, which is a fruit not so rich, but of a
fine flavour and very refreshing; the _rattah_, not much unlike a
chestnut, which grows on a large tree in great quantities; they are
singly in large pods, from one to two inches broad, and may be eaten
raw, or boiled in the same manner as Windsor beans, and so dressed are
equally good; the _orai-ab_, which is a very superior kind of plantain.
All these I was particularly recommended to collect, by my worthy friend
Sir Joseph Banks.'

While these active preparations for departure were going on, the good
chief Tinah, on bringing a present for King George, could not refrain
from shedding tears. During the remainder of their stay, there appeared
among the natives an evident degree of sorrow that they were so soon to
leave them, which they showed by a more than usual degree of kindness
and attention. The above-mentioned excellent chief, with his wife,
brothers, and sister, requested permission to remain on board for the
night previous to the sailing of the _Bounty_. The ship was crowded the
whole day with the natives, and she was loaded with presents of
cocoa-nuts, plantains, bread-fruits, hogs, and goats. Contrary to what
had been the usual practice, there was this evening no dancing or mirth
on the beach, such as they had long been accustomed to, but all was

At sunset, the boat returned from landing Tinah and his wife, and the
ship made sail, bidding farewell to Otaheite, where, Bligh observes,
'for twenty-three weeks we had been treated with the utmost affection
and regard, and which seemed to increase in proportion to our stay. That
we were not insensible to their kindness, the events which followed more
than sufficiently prove; for to the friendly and endearing behaviour of
these people, may be ascribed the motives for that event which effected
the ruin of an expedition, that there was every reason to hope would
have been completed in the most fortunate manner.'

The morning after their departure, they got sight of Huaheine; and a
double canoe soon coming alongside, containing ten natives, among them
was a young man who recollected Captain Bligh, and called him by name;
having known him when here in the year 1780, with Captain Cook in the
_Resolution_. Several other canoes arrived with hogs, yams, and other
provisions, which they purchased. This person confirmed, the account
that had already been received of Omai, and said that, of all the
animals which had been left with Omai, the mare only remained alive;
that the seeds and plants had been all destroyed, except one tree: but
of what kind that was, he could not satisfactorily explain. A few days
after sailing from this island, the weather became squally, and a thick
body of black clouds collected in the east. A water-spout was in a short
time seen at no great distance from the ship, which appeared to great
advantage from the darkness of the clouds behind it. The upper part is
described as being about two feet in diameter; and the lower about eight
inches. It advanced rapidly towards the ship, when it was deemed
expedient to alter the course, and to take in all the sails, except the
foresail; soon after which it passed within ten yards of the stern,
making a rustling noise, but without their feeling the least effect from
its being so near. The rate at which it travelled was judged to be about
ten miles per hour, going towards the west, in the direction of the
wind; and in a quarter of an hour after passing the ship, it dispersed.
As they passed several low islands, the natives of one of them came out
in their canoes, and it was observed that they all spoke the language of
Otaheite. Presents of iron, beads, and a looking-glass were given to
them; but it was observed that the chief, on leaving the ship, took
possession of everything that had been distributed. One of them showed
some signs of dissatisfaction; but after a little altercation they
joined noses and were reconciled.

The _Bounty_ anchored at Anamooka on the 23rd April; and an old lame
man, named Tepa, whom Bligh had known here in 1777, and immediately
recollected, came on board along with others from different islands in
the vicinity. This man having formerly been accustomed to the English
manner of speaking their language, the Commander found he could converse
with him tolerably well. He told him that the cattle which had been left
at Tongataboo had all bred, and that the old ones were yet living. Being
desirous of seeing the ship, he and his companions were taken below, and
the bread-fruit and other plants were shown to them, on seeing which
they were greatly surprised.

'I landed,' says Bligh, 'in order to procure some bread-fruit plants to
supply the place of one that was dead, and two or three others that were
a little sickly. I walked to the west part of the bay, where some plants
and seeds had been sown by Captain Cook; and had the satisfaction to
see, in a plantation close by, about twenty fine pineapple plants, but
no fruit, this not being the proper season. They told me that they had
eaten many of them, that they were very fine and large, and that at
Tongataboo there were great numbers.'

Numerous were the marks of mourning with which these people disfigure
themselves, such as bloody temples, their heads deprived of most of the
hair, and, which was worse, almost all of them with the loss of some of
their fingers. Several fine boys, not above six years of age, had lost
both their little fingers; and some of the men had parted with the
middle finger of the right hand.

A brisk trade soon began to be carried on for yams; some plantains and
bread-fruit were likewise brought on board, but no hogs. Some of the
sailing canoes, which arrived in the course of the day, were large
enough to contain not less than ninety passengers. From these the
officers and crew purchased hogs, dogs, fowls, and shaddocks; yams, very
fine and large; one of them actually weighed above forty-five pounds.
The crowd of natives had become so great the next day, Sunday 26th, that
it became impossible to do anything. The watering party were therefore
ordered to go on board, and it was determined to sail; the ship was
accordingly unmoored and got under weigh. A grapnel, however, had been
stolen, and Bligh informed the chiefs that were still on board, that
unless it was returned, they must remain in the ship, at which they were
surprised and not a little alarmed. 'I detained them,' he says, 'till
sunset, when their uneasiness and impatience increased to such a
degree, that they began to beat themselves about the face and eyes, and
some of them cried bitterly. As this distress was more than the grapnel
was worth, I could not think of detaining them longer, and called their
canoes alongside. I told them they were at liberty to go, and made each
of them a present of a hatchet, a saw, with some knives, gimlets, and
nails. This unexpected present, and the sudden change in their
situation, affected them not less with joy than they had before been
with apprehension. They were unbounded in their acknowledgements; and I
have little doubt but that we parted better friends than if the affair
had never happened.'

From this island the ship stood to the northward all night, with light
winds; and on the next day, the 27th, at noon, they were between the
islands Tofoa and Kotoo.

'Thus far,' says Bligh, 'the voyage had advanced in a course of
uninterrupted prosperity, and had been attended with many circumstances
equally pleasing and satisfactory. A very different scene was now to be
experienced. A conspiracy had been formed, which was to render all our
past labour productive only of extreme misery and distress. The means
had been concerted and prepared with so much secrecy and circumspection,
that no one circumstance appeared to occasion the smallest suspicion of
the impending calamity, the result of an act of piracy the most
consummate and atrocious that was probably ever committed.'

How far Bligh was justified in ascribing the calamity to a conspiracy
will be seen hereafter. The following chapter will detail the facts of
the mutinous proceedings as stated by the Lieutenant, in his own words.



That, - Captain Bligh, - that is the thing; - I am in hell! - I am

- Horror and doubt distract
His troubled thoughts, and from the bottom stir
The hell within him; for within him hell
He brings, and round about him, nor from hell
One step no more than from himself can fly
By change of place; now conscience wakes despair
That slumber'd, wakes the bitter memory
Of what he was, what is, and what must be
Worse; of worse deeds worse sufferings must ensue.

'In the morning of the 28th April, the north-westernmost of the Friendly
Islands, called Tofoa, bearing north-east, I was steering to the

Online LibrarySir John BarrowThe Eventful History of the Mutiny and Piratical Seizure of H.M.S. Bounty: Its Cause and Consequences → online text (page 4 of 24)