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for hasty expressions uttered in a moment of irritation, when passion gets the better of reason; but no excuse can be found for one who deeply and unfeelingly, without provocation, and in cold blood, inflicts a wound on the heart of a widowed mother, already torn with anguish and tortured with suspense for a beloved son whose life was in imminent jeopardy: such a man was William Bligh. This charge is not loosely asserted; it is founded on documentary evidence under his own hand. Since the death of the late Captain Heywood, some papers have been brought to light that throw a still more unfavourable stigma on the character of the two commanders, Bligh and Edwards, than any censure that has hitherto appeared in print, though the conduct of neither of them has been spared, whenever an occasion has presented itself for bringing their names before the public.
Bligh, it may be recollected, mentions young Heywood only as one of those left in the ship; he does not charge him with taking any active part in the mutiny; there is every reason, indeed, to believe that Bligh did not, and indeed could not, see him on the deck on that occasion: in point of fact, he never was within thirty feet of Captain Bligh, and the booms were between them. About the end of March, 1790, two months subsequent to the death of a most beloved and lamented husband, Mrs. Heywood received the afflicting information, but by report only, of a mutiny having taken place on board the Bounty. In that ship Mrs. Heywood's son had been serving as midshipman, who, when he left his home, in August, 1787, was under fifteen years of age, a boy deservedly admired and beloved by all who knew him, and to his own family almost an object of adoration, for his superior understanding and the amiable qualities of his disposition. In a state of mind little short of distraction, on hearing this fatal intelligence, which was at the same time
aggravated by every circumstance of guilt that calumny or malice could invent with respect to this unfortunate youth, who was said to be one of the ringleaders, and to have gone armed into the captain's cabin, his mother addressed a letter to Captain Bligh, dictated by a mother's tenderness, and strongly expressive of the misery she must necessarily feel on such an occasion. The following is Bligh's reply:
“ London, April 2d, 1790. “MADAM, “I received your letter this day, and feel for you very much, being perfectly sensible of the extreme distress you must suffer from the conduct of your son Peter. His baseness is beyond all description ; but I hope you will endeavour to prevent the loss of him, heavy as the misfortune is, from afflicting you too severely. I imagine he is, with the rest of the mu. tine returned to Otaheite. I am, madam, (Signed)
66 WM. BLIGH." Colonel Holwell, the uncle of young Heywood, had previously addressed Bligh on the same melancholy subject, to whom he returned the following
“ 26th March, 1790.
“I have just this instant received your letter. With much concern I inform you that your nephew, Peter Heywood, is among the mutineers. His in gratitude to me is of the blackest die, for I was a father to him in every respect, and he never once had an angry word from me through the whole course of the voyage, as his conduct always gave me much pleasure and satisfaction. I very much regret that so much baseness formed the character of a young man I had a real regard for, and it will give me much pleasure
to hear that his friends can bear the loss of him without much concern. I
am, sir, &c. (Signed)
“ Wm. Bligh.”
The only way of accounting for this ferocity of sentiment towards a youth who had in point of fact no concern in the mutiny, is by a reference to certain points of evidence given by Hayward, Hallet, and Purcell on the court-martial, each point wholly unsupported. Those in the boat would no doubt during their long passage, often discuss the conduct of their messmates left in the Bounty, and the unsupported evidence given by these three was well cal. culated to create in Bligh's mind a prejudice against young Heywood; yet, if so, it affords but a poor excuse for harrowing up the feelings of near and dear relatives.
As a contrast to these ungracious letters, it is a great relief to peruse the correspondence that took place, on this melancholy occasion, between this unfortunate young officer and his amiable but dreadfully afflicted family. The letters of his sister Nessy Heywood (of which a few will be inserted in the course of this narrative) exhibit so lively and ardent an affection for her beloved brother, are couched in so high a tone of feeling for his honour and confi. dence in his innocence, and are so nobly answered by the suffering youth, that no apology seems to be required for their introduction, more especially as their contents are strictly connected with the story of the ill-fated crew of the Bounty. After a state of long suspense, this amiable and accomplished young lady thus addresses her brother:
“ Isle of Man, 2d June, 1792. “ In a situation of mind only rendered supportable by the long and painful state of misery and suspense we have suffered on his account, how shall I address my dear, my fondly beloved brother !-how describe the anguish we have felt at the idea of this long and painful separation, rendered still more distressing by the terrible circumstances attending it! Oh! my ever dearest boy, when I look back to that dreadful moment which brought us the fatal intelligence that you had remained in the Bounty after Mr. Bligh had quitted her, and were looked upon by him as a mutineer !—when I contrast that day of horror with my present hopes of again beholding you, such as my most sanguine wishes could expect, I know not which is the most predominant sensation,-pity, compassion, and terror for your sufferings, or joy and satisfaction at the prospect of their being near a termination, and of once more embracing the dearest object of our affections.
“ I will not ask you, my beloved brother, whether you are innocent of the dreadful crime of mutiny; if the transactions of that day were as Mr. Bligh has represented them, such is my conviction of your worth and honour that I will, without hesitation, stake my life on your innocence. If, on the contrary, you were concerned in such a conspiracy against your commander, I shall be as firmly persuaded his conduct was the occasion of it; but, alas! could any occasion justify so atrocious an attempt to destroy a number of our fellow-creatures? No, my ever dearest brother, nothing but conviction from your own mouth can possibly persuade me that you would commit an action in the smallest degree inconsistent with honour and duty; and the circumstance of your havir swam off to the Pandora on her arrival at Otaheite (which filled us with joy to which no words can do justice), is sufficient to convince all who know you, that you certainly staid behind either by force or from views of preservation.
“ How strange does it seem to me that I am now engaged in the delightful task of writing to you. Alas! my beloved brother, two years ago I never expected again to enjoy such a felicity, and even yet I am in the most painful uncertainty whether you are alive. Gracious God, grant that we may be at length blessed by your return! but, alas! the Pandora's people have been long expected, and are not even yet arrived. Should any accident have happened, after all the miseries you have already suffered, the poor gleam of hope with which we have been lately indulged will render our situation ten thousand times more insupportable than if time had inured us to your loss. I send this to the care of Mr. Hayward, of Hackney, father to the young gentleman you so often mention in your letters while you were on board the Bounty, and who went out as third lieutenant of the Pandora-a circumstance which gave us infinite satisfaction, as you would, on entering the Pandora, meet your old friend. On discovering old Mr. Hayward's residence, I wrote to him, as I hoped he could give me some information respecting the time of your arrival, and in return he sent me a most friendly letter, and has promised this shall be given to you when you reach England, as I well know how great must be your anxiety to hear of us, and how much satisfaction it will give you to have a letter immediately on your return. Let me conjure you, my dearest Peter, to write to us the very first moment-do not lose a post—'tis of no consequence how short your letter may be, if it only informs us you are well
. I need not tell you that you are the first and dearest object of our affections. Think, then, my adored boy, of the anxiety we must feel on your account; for my own part, I can know no real joy or happiness independent of you, and if any misfortune should now deprive us of you, my hopes of felicity are fled for ever.
“We are at present making all possible interest with every friend and connexion we have, to ensure you a sufficient support and protection at your approaching trial; for a trial you must unavoidably