Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

no means take any step) for permission to go to him. If it is absolutely impossible for me to see him (though in the presence of witnesses), yet even that prohibition, cruel as it is, I could bear with patience, provided I might be near him, to see the ship in which he at present exists-to behold those objects which, perhaps, at the same moment attract his notice to breathe the same air which he breathes. -Ah! my dearest madam, these are inestimable gratifications, and would convey sensations of rapture and delight to the fond bosom of a sister, which it is far, very far beyond my power to describe. Besides, the anxiety and impatience produced by the immense distance which now separates us from him, and the uncertainty attending the packet, render it difficult and sometimes impossible to hear of him so often as we would wish; and, may I not add (though Heaven in its mercy forbid it-for, alas! the bare idea is too dreadful, yet it is in the scale of possibility), that some accident might happen to deprive us of my dearest brother: how insupportably bitter would then be our reflections, for having omitted the opportunity when it was in our power of administering comfort and consolation to him in person. For these reasons I earnestly hope Mr. Heywood will not judge it improper to comply with my request, and shall wait with eager impatience the arrival of his next letter. Think not, my dear madam, that it is want of confidence in your care and attention which makes me solicitous to be with my beloved brother. Be assured we are all as perfectly easy in that respect as if we were on the spot; but I am convinced you will pardon the dictates of an affection which an absence of five years, rendered still more painful by his sufferings, has heightened almost to a degree of adoration. I shall with your permission take the liberty of enclosing a letter to my brother, which I leave open for perusal, and at the same time request your pardon for mentioning you to him

in such terms as I am apprehensive will wound the delicacy which ever accompanies generosity like yours; but indeed, my dearest madam, I cannot, must not suffer my beloved boy to remain in ignorance of that worth and excellence which has prompted you to become his kind protectress.

"I have the honour to be, with every sentiment of gratitude, &c. &c. &c.,

"NESSY HEYWOOD."

Among the numerous friends that interested themselves in the fate of this unhappy youth was his uncle Colonel Holwell. The testimony he bears to his excellent character is corroborated by all who knew him while a boy at home. About a fortnight before the trial he writes to him thus:

"21st August, 1792.

66

My very dear Peter,

"I have this day received yours of the 18th, and am happy to find by its contents, that notwithstanding your long and cruel confinement you still preserve your health, and write in good spirits. Preserve it, my dear boy, awful as the approaching period must be even to the most innocent, but from which all who know you have not a doubt of your rising as immaculate as a new-born infant. I have known you from your cradle, and have often marked with pleasure and surprise the many assiduous instances (far beyond your years) you have given of filial duty and paternal affection to the best of parents, and to brothers and sisters who doted on you. Your education has been the best; and from these considerations alone, without the very clear evidence of your own testimony, I would as soon believe the Archbishop of Canterbury would set fire to the city of London as suppose you could, directly or indirectly, join in such a d-d absurd piece of business. Truly sorry am I that my state of health will not

permit me to go down to Portsmouth, to give this testimony publicly before that respectable tribunal where your country's laws have justly ordained you must appear; but consider this as the touchstone, my dear boy, by which your worth must be known. Six years in the navy myself and twenty-eight years a soldier, I flatter myself my judgment will not prove erroneous. That Power, my dear Peter, of whose grace and mercy you seem to have so just a sense, will not now forsake you. Your dear aunt is as must be expected in such a trying situation, but more from your present sufferings than any apprehension of what is to follow," &c.

With similar testimonies and most favourable auguries from Commodore Pasley, the Rev. Dr. Scott of the Isle of Man, and others, young Heywood went to his long and anxiously expected trial, which took place on the 12th September, and continued to the 18th of that month. Mrs. Heywood had been anxious that Erskine and Mingay should be employed as counsel, but Mr. Graham, whom Commodore Pasley had so highly recommended, gave his best assistance; as did also Mr. Const, who had been retained, for which the commodore expresses his sorrow, as sea officers, he says, have a great aversion to lawyers. Mr. Peter Heywood assigns a better reason; in a letter to his sister Mary he says, that "Counsel to a naval prisoner is of no effect, and as they are not allowed to speak, their eloquence is not of the least efficacy; I request, therefore, you will desire my dear mother to revoke the letter she has been so good to write to retain Mr. Erskine and Mr. Mingay, and to forbear putting herself to so great and needless an expense from which no good can accrue. No, no! Mary, it is not the same as a trial on shore; it would then be highly requisite; but in this case I alone must fight my own battle; and I think my telling the truth undisguised, in a plain,

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

At this anxious moment many painfully interesting 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.

"If any 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 here given.

Q

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

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 M'Intosh, 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,

« FöregåendeFortsätt »