Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

short, and concise manner, is as likely to be de. serving the victory as the most elaborate eloquence of a Cicero upon the same subject.”.

At this anxious moment many painfully interest. ing letters passed to and from the family in the Isle of Man: the last letter from his beloved Nessy previous to the awful event thus concludes :-"May that : Almighty Providence whose tender care has hitherto preserved you be still your powerful protector! may he instil into the hearts of your judges every sentiment of justice, generosity, and compassion! may hope, innocence, and integrity be your firm support! and liberty, glory, and honour your just reward! may all good angels guard you from even the appearance of danger! and may you at length be restored to us, the delight, the pride of your adoring friends, and the sole happiness and felicity of that fond heart which animates the bosom of my dear Peter's most faithful and truly affectionate sister,

“ N. H."

CHAPTER VI.

THE COURT-MARTIAL.

"Irany person in or belonging to the fleet shall make, or endeavour to make,

any mutinous assembly upon any pretence whatsoever, every person offending herein, and being convicted thereof by the sentence of the court-martial, shall suffer Death."--Naval Articles of War, Art. 19.

The court assembled to try the prisoners on board his majesty's ship Duke, on the 12th September, 1792, and continued by adjournment from day to day (Sunday excepted) until the 18th of the same month:*

* The minutes being very long, a brief abstract only, containing the principal points of evidence, is bere given.

Q

[merged small][ocr errors]

The charges set forth, that Fletcher Christian, who was mate of the Bounty, assisted by others of the inferior officers and men, armed with muskets and bayonets, had violently and forcibly taken that ship from her commander, Lieutenant Bligh; and that he, together with the master, boatswain, gunner, and carpenter, and other persons (being nineteen in number), were forced into the launch and cast adrift ;-that Captain Edwards in the Pandora was directed to proceed to Otaheite and other islands in the South Seas, and to use his best endeavours to recover the said vessel, and to bring in confinement to England the said Fletcher Christian and his associates, or as many of them as he might be able to apprehend, in order that they might be brought to condign punishment, &c. ;—that Peter Heywood, James Morrison, Charles Norman, Joseph Coleman, Thomas Ellison, Thomas MʻIntosh, Thomas Burkitt, John Millward, William Muspratt, and Michael Byrne, had been brought to England, &c., and were now put on their trial.

Mr. Fryer, the master of the Bounty, being first sworn, deposed

That he had the first watch; that between ten and eleven o'clock Mr. Bligh came on deck according to custom, and after a short conversation, and having given his orders for the night, left the deck; that at twelve he was relieved by the gunner, and retired, leaving all quiet; that at dawn of day he was greatly alarmed by an unusual noise; and that, on attempting to jump up, John Sumner and Matthew Quintal laid their hands upon his breast and desired him to lie still, saying he was their prisoner; that on expostulating with them, he was told, “Hold your tongue, or you are a dead man; but if you remain quiet there is none on board will hurt a hair of your head :" he further deposes, that on raising himself on the locker, he saw on the ladder, going upon deck, Mr. Bligh in his shirt, with his hands tied behind him, and Christian holding him by the cord; that the master-at-arms, Churchill, then came to his cabin and took a brace of pistols and a hanger, saying, “ I will take care of these, Mr. Fryer;" that he asked, on seeing Mr. Bligh bound, what they were going to do with the captain; that Sumner replied, “D-n his eyes, put him into the boat, and let the

see if he can live upon three-fourths of a pound of yams a day;" that he remonstrated with such conduct, but in vain. They said he must go in the small cutter. “The small cutter !" Mr. Fryer exclaimed; “why her bottom is almost out, and very much eaten by the worms !” to which Sumner and Quintal both said, “ D-n his eyes, the boat is too good for him ;" that after much entreaty he prevailed on them to ask Christian if he might be allowed to go on deck, which after some hesitation was granted. When I came on deck, says Mr. Fryer, Mr. Bligh was standing by the mizen-mast with his hands tied behind him, and Christian holding the cord with one hand and a bayonet in the other. I said, “ Christian, consider what you are about.” “Hold your tongue, sir,” he said; “I have been in hell for weeks past; Captain Bligh has brought all this on himself.” Í told him that Mr. Bligh and he not agreeing was no reason for taking the ship. “Hold your tongue, sir," he said. I said, “Mr. Christian, you and I have been on friendly terms during the voyage, therefore

give me leave to speak,-let Mr. Bligh go down to his cabin, and I make no doubt we shall all be friends again :" he then repeated, “Hold your tongue, sir; it is too late;" and threatening me if I said any thing more. Mr. Fryer then asked him to give a better boat than the cutter; he said, “ No, that boat is good enough.” Bligh now said to the master, that the man behind the hencoops (Isaac Martin) was his friend, and desired him (the master) to knock Christian down, which Christian must have heard, but took no notice; that Fryer then attempted to get past Christian to speak to Martin, but he put his bayonet to his breast, saying, “Sir, if you advance an inch farther I will run you through," and ordered two armed men to take him down to his cabin. Shortly afterward he was desired to go on deck, when Christian ordered him into the boat: he said, “I will stay with you, if you will give me leave."

No, sir,” he replied, “ go directly into the boat.” Bligh, then on the gangway, said," Mr. Fryer, stay in the ship.” “No, by G-d, sir,” Christian said,

go into the boat, or I will run you through.”. Mr. Fryer states, that during this time very bad language was used by the people towards Mr. Bligh; that with great difficulty they prevailed on Christian to suffer a few articles to be put into the boat; that after the persons were ordered into the boat to the number of nineteen, such opprobrious language continued to be used," several of the men calling out, “ Shoot the that Cole, the boatswain, advised they should cast off and take their chance, as the mutineers would certainly do them a mischief if they staid much longer. Mr. Fryer then states the . names of those who were under arms; and that Joseph Coleman, Thomas M'Intosh Charles Norman, and Michael Byrne (prisoners) wished to come into the boat, declaring they had 'nothing to do in the business; that he did not perceive Mr. Peter Heywood on deck at the seizure of the ship.

On being asked what he supposed Christian meant when he said he had been in hell for a fortnight? he said, from the frequent quarrels that they had, and the abuse he had received from Mr. Bligh, and that the day before the mutiny Mr. Bligh had challenged all the young gentlemen and people with stealing his cocoanuts.

Mr. Cole, the boatswain, deposes,-that he had the middle watch ; was awakened out of his sleep in the morning, and heard a man calling out to the carpenter, that they had mutinied and taken the ship; that Christian had the command, and that the captain was a prisoner on the quarter-deck; that he went up the hatchway, having seen Mr. Heywood and Mr. Young in the opposite berth; that coming on deck, he saw the captain with his hands tied behind him, and four gentinels standing over him, two of which were Ellison and Burkitt, the prisoners ; that he asked Mr. Christian what he meant to do, and was answered by his ordering him to hoist the boat out, and shook the bayonet, threatening him and damning him if he did not take care; that when he found the captain was to be sent out of the ship, he again went aft with the carpenter to ask for the long-boat; that they asked three or four times before he granted it ; that he saw Mr. Peter Heywood, one of the prisoners, lending a hand to get the fore-stayfall along, and when the boat was hooked on, spoke something to him, but what it was does not know, as Christian was threatening him at the time; that Heywood then went below, and does not remember seeing him afterward; that after the few things were got into the boat, and most of the people in her, they were trying for the carpenter's toolchest, when Quintal said, “ D-n them, if we let them have these things they will build a vessel in a month ;” but when all were in the boat she was veered astern, when Coleman, Norman and MʻIntosh, prisoners, were crying at the gangway, wishing to

« FöregåendeFortsätt »