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"That, Captain Bligh, that is the thing; I am in hell!-I am in bell!" FLETCHER CHRISTIAN.
-"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
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 northwesternmost of the Friendly Islands, called Tofoa, bearing north-east, I was steering to the westward, with a ship in most perfect order, all my plants in a most flourishing condition, all my men and officers in good health, and, in short, every thing to flatter and ensure my most sanguine expectations. On leaving the deck I gave directions for the course to be steered during the night. The master had the first watch, the gunner the middle watch, and Mr. Christian the morning watch. This was the turn of duty for the night.
"Just before sun-rising on Tuesday the 28th, while I was yet asleep, Mr. Christian, officer of the watch, Charles Churchill, ship's corporal, John Mills, gunner's mate, and Thomas Burkitt, seaman, came into my cabin, and seizing me, tied my hands with a cord behind my back, threatening me with instant death if I spoke or made the least noise. I called, however, as loud as I could, in hopes of assistance; but they had already secured the officers who were not of their party, by placing sentinels at their doors.
There were three men at my cabin-door, besides the four within; Christian had only a cutlass in his hand, the others had muskets and bayonets. I was hauled out of bed, and forced on deck in my shirt, suffering great pain from the tightness with which they had tied my hands* [behind my back, held by Fletcher Christian, and Charles Churchill, with a bayonet at my breast, and two men, Alexander Smith and Thomas Burkitt, behind me, with loaded muskets cocked and bayonets fixed.] I demanded the reason of such violence, but received no other answer than abuse for not holding my tongue. The master, the gunner, Mr. Elphinstone the master's mate, and Nelson were kept confined below; and the fore-hatchway was guarded by sentinels. The boatswain and carpenter, and also Mr. Samuel the clerk, were allowed to come upon deck, where they saw me standing abaft the mizenmast, with my hands tied behind my back, under a guard, with Christian at their head. The boatswain was ordered to hoist the launch out, with a threat, if he did not do it instantly, to take care of himself.
"When the boat was out, Mr. Hayward and Mr. Hallet, two of the midshipmen, and Mr. Samuel, were ordered into it. I demanded what their intention was in giving this order, and endeavoured to persuade the people near me not to persist in such acts of violence; but it was to no effect-' Hold your tongue, sir, or you are dead this instant,' was constantly repeated to me.
"The master by this time had sent to request that he might come on deck, which was permitted; but he was soon ordered back again to his cabin.
"[When I exerted myself in speaking loud, to try if I could rally any with a sense of duty in them, I was saluted with-D-n his eyes, the, blow his brains out; while Christian was threatening me with instant death, if I did not hold my tongue.]
The words within brackets are in the original despatch.
"I continued my endeavours to turn the tide of affairs, when Christian changed the cutlass which he had in his hand for a bayonet that was brought to him, and holding me with a strong gripe by the cord that tied my hands, he threatened, with many oaths, to kill me immediately, if I would not be quiet; the villains round me had their pieces cocked and bayonets fixed. Particular persons were called on to go into the boat, and were hurried over the side; whence I concluded that with these people I was to be set adrift. I therefore made another effort to bring about a change, but with no other effect than to be threatened with having my brains blown
"The boatswain and seamen who were to go in the boat were allowed to collect twine, canvass, lines, sails, cordage, an eight-and-twenty gallon cask of water; and Mr. Samuel got one hundred and fifty pounds of bread, with a small quantity of rum and wine, also a quadrant and compass; but he was forbidden, on pain of death, to touch either map, ephemeris, book of astronomical observations, sextant, timekeeper, or any of my surveys or drawings.
"The mutineers having forced those of the seamen whom they meant to get rid of into the boat, Christian directed a dram to be served to each of his own crew. I then unhappily saw that nothing could be done to effect the recovery of the ship: there was no one to assist me, and every endeavour on my part was answered with threats of death.
"The officers were next called upon deck, and forced over the side into the boat, while I was kept apart from every one, abaft the mizenmast; Christian, armed with a bayonet, holding me by the bandage that secured my hands. The guard round me had their pieces cocked, but on my daring the ungrateful wretches to fire, they uncocked them.
"Isaac Martin, one of the guard over me, I saw had an inclination to assist me, and as he fed me
with shaddock (my lips being quite parched) we explained our wishes to each other by our looks; but this being observed, Martin was removed from me. He then attempted to leave the ship, for which purpose he got into the boat; but with many threats they obliged him to return.
"The armourer, Joseph Coleman, and two of the carpenters, M'Intosh and Norman, were also kept contrary to their inclination; and they begged of me, after I was astern in the boat, to remember that they declared they had no hand in the transaction. Michael Byrne, I am told, likewise wanted to leave the ship.
"It is of no moment for me to recount my endeavours to bring back the offenders to a sense of their duty; all I could do was by speaking to them in general; but it was to no purpose, for I was kept securely bound, and no one except the guard suffered to come near me.
"To Mr. Samuel (clerk) I am indebted for securing my journals and commission, with some material ship papers. Without these I had nothing to certify what I had done, and my honour and character might have been suspected, without my possessing a proper document to have defended them. All this he did with great resolution, though guarded and strictly watched. He attempted to save the timekeeper, and a box with my surveys, drawings, and remarks, for fifteen years past, which were numerous; when he was hurried away with 'D—n your eyes, you are well off to get what you have.'
"It appeared to me that Christian was some time in doubt whether he should keep the carpenter or his mates; at length he determined on the latter, and the carpenter was ordered into the boat. He was permitted, but not without some opposition, to take his tool-chest.
"Much altercation took place among the mutinous crew during the whole business; some swore
'I'll be d-d if he does not find his way home, if he gets any thing with him;' and when the carpenter's chest was carrying away, 'D-n my eyes, he will have a vessel built in a month;' while others laughed at the helpless situation of the boat, being very deep, and so little room for those who were in her. As for Christian, he seemed as if meditating destruction on himself and every one else.
"I asked for arms, but they laughed at me, and said I was well acquainted with the people among whom I was going, and therefore did not want them, four cutlasses, however, were thrown into the boat after we were veered astern.
"The officers and men being in the boat, they only waited for me, of which the master-at-arms informed Christian; who then said, 'Come, Captain Bligh, your officers and men are now in the boat, and you must go with them; if you attempt to make the least resistance, you will instantly be put to death;' and without further ceremony, with a tribe of armed ruffians about me, I was forced over the side, when they untied my hands. Being in the boat, we were veered astern by a rope. A few pieces of pork were thrown to us, and some clothes, also the cutlasses I have already mentioned; and it was then that the armourer and carpenters called out to me to remember that they had no hand in the transaction. After having undergone a great deal of ridicule, and been kept for some time to make sport for these unfeeling wretches, we were at length cast adrift in the open ocean.
"I had with me in the boat the following persons: