« FöregåendeFortsätt »
The same writer further says, “We know that the officers fared in every way worse than the men, and that even young Heywood was kept at the masthead no less than eight hours at one spell, in the worst weather which they encountered off Cape Horn.”
Perhaps Heywood may himself be brought forward as authority, if not to disprove, at least to render highly improbable, his experiencing any such treatment on the part of his captain. This young officer, in his defence, says, “ Captain Bligh in his narrative acknowledges that he had left some friends on board the Bounty, and no part of my conduct could have induced him to believe that I ought not to be reckoned of the number. Indeed, from his attention to, and very kind treatment of me personally, I should have been a monster of depravity to have betrayed him. The idea alone is sufficient to disturb a mind where humanity and gratitude have, I hope, ever been noticed as its characteristic features.” Bligh, too, has declared in a letter to Heywood's uncle, Holwell, after accusing him of ingratitude, that “he never once had an angry word from me during the whole course of the voyage, as his conduct always gave me much pleasure and satisfaction."
In looking over a manuscript journal kept by Morrison, the boatswain's mate, who was tried and convicted as one of the mutineers, but received the king's pardon, the conduct of Bligh appears in a very unfavourable point of view. This Morrison was a person from talent and education far above the situation he held in the Bounty; he had previously served in the navy as midshipman, and after his pardon was appointed gunner of the Blenheim, in which he perished with Sir Thomas Trowbridge. In comparing this journal with other documents, the dates and transactions appear to be correctly stated, though the latter may occasionally be somewhat too highly coloured. How he contrived to preserve this journal' in the wreck of the Pandora does not appear; but there can be no doubt of its authenticity, having been kept among the late Captain Heywood's papers; various passages in it have been corrected either by this officer or some other person, but without altering their sense.
It would appear from this important document that the seeds of discord in the unfortunate ship Bounty were sown at a very early period of the voyage. It happened, as was the case in all small vessels, that the duties of commander and purser were united in the person of Lieutenant Bligh; and it would seem that this proved the cause of very serious discontent among the officers and crew; of the mischief arising out of this union the following statement of Mr. Morrison may serve as a specimen. At Teneriffe, Lieutenant Bligh ordered the cheese to be hoisted up and exposed to the air; which was no sooner done than he pretended to miss a certain quantity, and declared that it had been stolen. The cooper, Henry Hillbrant, informed him that the cask in question had been opened by the orders of Mr. Samuel, his clerk, who acted also as steward, and the cheese sent on shore to his own house, previous to the Bounty leaving the river on her way to Portsmouth. Lieutenant Bligh, without making any further inquiry, immediately ordered the allowance of that article to be stopped, both from officers and men, until the deficiency should be made good, and told the cooper he should give him a d- -d good flogging if he said another word on the subject. It can hardly be supposed that a man of Bligh's shrewdness, if disposed to play the rogue, would have placed himself so completely in the hands of the cooper, in a transaction which, if revealed, must have cost him his commission.
Again, on approaching the equator, some decayed pumpkins, purchased at 'Teneriffe, were ordered to be issued to the crew, at the rate of one pound of pumpkin for two pounds of biscuit. The reluctance of the men to accept this proposed substitute on such terms being reported to Lieutenant Bligh, he flew upon deck in a violent rage, turned the hands up, and ordered the first man on the list of each mess to be called by name; at the same time saying, “ I'll see who will dare to refuse the pumpkin, or any thing else I may order to be served out;" to which he added, “ You d- d infernal scoundrels, I'll make you eat grass, or any thing you can catch, before I have done with you.” This speech had the desired effect, every one receiving the pumpkins, even the officers.
Next comes a complaint respecting the mode of issuing beef and pork; but when a representation was made to Lieutenant Bligh in the quiet and orderly manner prescribed by the twenty-first article of war, he called the crew aft, told them that every thing relative to the provisions was transacted by his orders; that it was therefore needless for them to complain, as they would get no redress, he being the fittest judge of what was right or wrong, and that he would flog the first man who should dare attempt to make any complaint in future. To this imperious menace they bowed in silence, and not another murmur was heard from them during the remainder of the voyage to Otaheite, it being their determina- · tion to seek legal redress on the Bounty's return to England. Happy would it have been had they kept their resolution. By so doing, if the story be true, they would amply have been avenged, a vast number of human lives spared, and a world of misery avoided.
According to this journalist, “ the seeds of eternal discord were sown between Lieutenant Bligh and some of his officers" while in Adventure Bay, Van Dieman's Land; and on arriving at Matavai Bay, in Otaheite, he is accused of taking the officers' hogs and bread-fruit, and serving them to the ship's company; and when the master remonstrated with
him on the subject, he replied, that “he would convince him that every thing became his as soon as it was brought on board; that he would take ninetenths of every man's property, and let him see who dared to say any thing to the contrary.” The sailors' pigs were seized without ceremony, and it became a favour for a man to obtain an extra pound of his own meat.
The writer then says, “ the object of our visit to the Society Islands being at length accomplished, we weighed on the 4th April, 1789. Every one seemed in high spirits, and began to talk of home, as though they had just left Jamaica instead of Otaheite, so far onward did their flattering fancies waft them.
On the 23d we anchored off Annamooka, the inhabitants of which island were very rude, and attempted to take the casks and axes from the parties sent to fill water and cut wood. A musket pointed at them produced no other effect than a return of the compliment, by poising their clubs or spears with menacing looks; and as it was Lieutenant Bligh's orders that no person should affront them on any occasion, they were imboldened by meeting with no check to their insolence. They at length became so troublesome, that Mr. Christian, who commanded the watering party, found it difficult to carry on his duty ; but on acquainting Lieutenant Bligh with their behaviour, he received a volley of abuse, was dd as a cowardly rascal, and asked if he were afraid of naked savages while he had weapons in his hand ? To this he replied in a respectful manner, arms are of no effect, sir, while your orders prohibit their use.
This happened but three days before the mutiny, and the same circumstance is noticed, but somewhat differently, in Bligh's MS. journal, where he says, " the men cleared themselves, and they therefore merit no punishment. As to the officers I have no resource, nor do I ever feel myself safe in the few
instances I trust to them.” A perusal of all the documents certainly leads to the conclusion that all his officers were of a very inferior description; they had no proper feeling of their own situation; and this, together with the contempt in which they were held by Bligh, and which he could not disguise, may account for that perfect indifference with regard both to the captain and the ship which was manifested on the day of the mutiny.
That sad catastrophe, if the writer of the journal be correct, was hastened, if not brought about, by the following circumstance, of which Bligh takes no notice. “In the afternoon of the 27th Lieutenant Bligh came upon deck, and missing some of the cocoanuts which had been piled up between the guns, said they had been stolen, and could not have been tak n away without the knowledge of the officers, a'. ? whom were sent for and questioned on the subject. On their declaring that they had not seen any of the people touch them, he exclaimed, Then
you must have taken them yourselves;' and proceeded to inquire of them separately how many they had purchased. On coming to Mr. Christian, that gentleman answered, “I do not know, sir; but I hope you do not think me so mean as to be guilty of stealing yours.' Mr. Bligh replied, 'Yes, you d- -d hound, I do-you must have stolen them from me, or you would be able to give a better account of them;' then turning to the other officers, he said, God d-n you, you scoundrels, you are all thieves alike, and combine with the men to rob me: I suppose you will steal my yams next; but I'll sweat you for it, you rascals-I'll make half of you jump overboard before you get through Endeavour Straits.' This threat was followed by an order to the clerk 'to stop the villains' grog, and give them but half a pound of yams to-morrow; if they steal them, I'll reduce them to a quarter.'”
It is difficult to believe that an officer in his