Sidor som bilder

plexity the respect and regard of all who were assoiated with him up to the hour of his death; and that even at the present moment Adams, in speaking of him, never omits to say Mr. Christian. Why indeed should he? Christian was a gentleman by birth, and an officer in his majesty's service, and was of course always so addressed. But why was he murdered within two years (one account says nine months) after the party reached the island? Captain Beechey has answered the question-for oppression and ill treatment of the Otaheitans.*

That Christian, so far from being cheerful, was, on the contrary, always uneasy in his mind about his own safety, is proved by his having selected a

* As the manner of Christian's death has been differently reported to each different visiter by Adams, the only evidence in existence, with the exception of three or four Otaheitan women and a few infants, some singular circumstances may here be mentioned that happened at home, just at the time of Folger's visit, and which might render his death on Pit cairn's Island almost a matter of doubt.

About the years 1808 and 1809 a very general opinion was prevalent in the neighbourhood of the lakes of Cumberland and Westmoreland, that Christian was in that part of the country, and made frequent private visits to an aunt who was living there. Being the near relative of Mr. Christian Curwen, long member of parliament for Carlisle, and himself a native, he was well known in the neighbourhood. This, however, might be passed over as mere gossip, had not another circumstance happened just about the same time, for the truth of which the editor does not hesitate to avouch.

In Fore-street, Plymouth Dock, Captain Heywood found himself one day walking behind a man whose shape had so much the appearance of Christian's that he involuntarily quickened his pace. Both were walk ing very fast, and the rapid steps behind him having roused the stran ger's attention, he suddenly turned his face, looked at Heywood, and immediately ran off. But the face was as much like Christian's as the back, and Heywood, exceedingly excited, ran also. Both ran as fast as they were able, but the stranger had the advantage, and after making several short turns disappeared.

That Christian should be in England Heywood considered as highly improbable, though not out of the scope of possibility; for at this time no account of him whatsoever had been received since chey parted at Otaheite; at any rate the resemblance, the agitation, and the efforts of the stranger to elude him were circumstances too strong not to make a deep impression on his mind. At the moment his first thought was to set about making some further inquiries, but on recollection of the pain and trouble such a discovery must occasion him, he considered i imore prudent to let the matter drop; but the circumstance was fre quently called to his memory for the remainder of his life

cave at the extremity of the high ridge of craggy hills that runs across the island, as his intended place of refuge in the event of any ship of war discovering the retreat of the mutineers, in which cave he resolved to sell his life as dearly as he could. In this recess he always kept a store of provisions, and near it erected a small hut, well concealed by trees, which served the purpose of a watch-house. "So difficult." says Captain Beechey, "was the approach to this cave, that even if a party were successful in crossing the ridge, he might have bid defiance, as long as his ammunition lasted, to any force." The reflection alone of his having sent adrift, to perish on the wide ocean, for he could entertain no other idea, no less than nineteen persons, all of whom, one only excepted, were innocent of any offence towards him, must have constantly haunted his mind, and left him little disposed to be happy and cheerful.

The truth is, as appears in Morrison's journal, that during the short time they remained at Tabouai, and till the separation of the mutineers at Otaheite, when sixteen forsook him, and eight only of the very worst accompanied him in quest of some retreat, he acted the part of a tyrant to a much greater extent than the man who, he says, drove him to the act of mutiny. After giving an account of the manner of his death, Captain Beechey says, "Thus fell a man who from being the reputed ringleader of the mutiny has obtained an unenviable celebrity, and whose crime may perhaps be considered as in some degree palliated by the tyranny which led to its commission." It is to be hoped, such an act as he was guilty of will never be so considered.

If mutiny could be supposed to admit of palliation, a fatal blow would be struck, not only at the discipline, but at the very existence of the navy; any relaxation in bringing to condign punishment per sons guilty of mutiny would weaken and ultimately destroy the efficiency of this great and powerful me

chine. Nor, indeed, is it at all necessary that the puni¬nment for mutiny should admit of any pallia. tion. Whenever an act of tyranny, or an unnecessary degree of severity, is exercised by a commanding officer, let the fact only be proved, and he is certain to be visited with all the rigour that the degree of his oppressive conduct will warrant. Had Christian but waited patiently the arrival of the Bounty in England, and the alleged conduct of Bligh towards his officers and crew had been proved, he would, unquestionably, have been dismissed from his majesty's service.

With regard to Adams, though his subsequent conduct was highly meritorious, and to him alone it might be said is owing the present happy state of the little community on Pitcairn's Island, his crime, like that of Christian's, can never be considered as wiped away. Sir Thomas Staines, the first British officer who called at the island, it may well be supposed, had to struggle on this trying occasion between duty and feeling. It was his imperative duty to have seized and brought him a prisoner to England, where he must have been tried, and would no doubt have been convicted of a crime for which several of his less active accomplices had suffered the penalty of death; though he might, and probably would, from length of time and circumstances in his favour, have received the king's pardon. Perhaps, however, on the whole, it was fortunate that in balancing, as it is known this gallant officer did, hetween the sense of duty and the sense of feeling the latter prevailed, and justice yielded to mercy. Had a Bligh or an Edwards been placed in his situation, it is to be feared that, judging from their former conduct, passion in the one, and frigidity in the other would most likely have consigned the criminal to captivity in irons, and the innocent and helpless family solely dependent on him to misery and destruction; and yet in so doing they would not have


deviated from their strict line of duty,-Dîs aliter


The Blossom was the first ship of war that John Adams had been on board of since the mutiny; and, as Captain Beechey observes, his mind would naturally revert to scenes that could not fail to produce a temporary embarrassment, but no apprehension for his safety appeared to form any part of his thoughts; and as every person endeavoured to set his mind at rest, he soon found himself at ease and at home. It was several hours before the ship approached the shore, and the boats put off before she came to an anchor.

On account of the rocks and formidable breakers, the party who went on shore were landed by the young men, two at a time, in their whale-boat.

The difficulty of landing," says Captain Beechey, "was more than repaid by the friendly reception we met with on the beach from Hannah Young, a very interesting young woman, the daughter of Adams. In her eagerness to greet her father, she had outrun her female companions, for whose delay she thought it necessary in the first place to apologize, by saying they had all been over the hill in company with John Buffet, to look at the ship, and were not yet returned. It appeared that John Buffet, who was a seafaring man, had ascertained that the ship was a man-of-war, and, without knowing exactly why, became so alarmed for the safety of Adams, that he either could not or would not answer any of the interrogatories which were put to him. This mysterious silence set all the party in tears, as they feared he had discovered something adverse to their patriarch. At length his obduracy yielded to their entreaties; but before he explained the cause of his conduct, the boats were seen to put off from the ship, and Hannah immediately hurried to the beach to kiss the old man's cheek, which she did with a fervency demon. strative of the warmest affection. Her apology for

her companions was rendered unnecessary by their appearance on the steep and circuitous path down the mountain, who, as they arrived on the beach, successively welcomed us to their island, with a simplicity and sincerity which left no doubt of the truth of their professions."

The whole group simultaneously expressed a wish that the visiters would stay with them several days; and on their signifying a desire to get to the village before dark, and to pitch the observatory, every article and instrument found a bearer, along a steep path which led to the village, concealed by groups of cocoanut-trees; the females bearing their burthens over the most difficult parts without inconvenience. The village consisted of five houses, on a cleared piece of ground sloping towards the sea. While the men assisted in pitching the tent, the women employed themselves in preparing the supper. The mode of cooking was precisely that of Otaheite, by heated stones n a hole made in the ground. At young Christian's the table was spread with plates, knives, and forks. John Buffet said grace in an emphatic manner, and this is repeated every time a fresh guest sits down while the meal is going on. strict are they in this respect, that it is not deemed proper to touch a bit of bread without saying grace before and after it. "On one occasion," says Captain Beechey, "I had engaged Adams in conversation, and he incautiously took the first mouthful without having said grace; but before he had swallowed it he recollected himself, and feeling as if he had committed a crime, immediately put away what he had in his mouth, and commenced his prayer." Their rooms and table are lighted up by torches made of doodoe nuts (aleurites triloba), strung upon the fibres of a palm-leaf, which form a good substitute for candles.


It is remarkable enough, that although the female part of the society is highly respected, yet in one

« FöregåendeFortsätt »