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Captain Beechey, desirous of being correct in his statement, very properly sent his chapter on Pilcairn's Island for any observations Captain Heywood might have to make on what was said therein regarding the mutiny; observing in his note which accompanied it, that this account received from Adams differed materially from a foot-note in “ Marshall's Naval Biography;" to which Captain Heywood returned the following reply :
“ 5th April, 1830. “Dear Sir, I have perused the account you received from Adams of the mutiny in the Bounty, which does indeed differ very materially from a foot note in Marshall's Naval Biography by the editor, to whom I verbally detailed the facts, which are strictly true.
6 That Christian informed the boatswain and the carpenter, Messrs. Hayward and Stewart, of his determination to leave the ship upon a raft on the night preceding the mutiny is certain; but that any one of them (Stewart in particular) should have recommended, rather than risk his life on so hazardous an expedition, that he should try the expedient of taking the ship from the captain,' &c., is entirely at variance with the whole character and conduct of the latter, both before and after the mutiny; as well as with the assurance of Christian himself the very night he quitted Taheité, that the idea of attenipting to take the ship had never entered his distracted mind until the moment he relieved the deck, and found his mate and midshipman asleep.*
“At that last interview with Christian he also communicated to me, for the satisfaction of his relations, other circumstances connected with that unfortunate disaster, which, after their deaths, may or may not be laid before the public. And although
* Hayward and Hallet, who may thus be considered as the passive ranse of the mutiny.
they can implicate none but himself, either living or dead, they may extenuate, but will contain not a word of his in defence of the crime he committed against the laws of his country.
“ I am, &c.,
Captain Beechey stated only what he had heard from old Adams, who was not always correct in the information he gave to the visiters of his island; but this part of his statement gave great pain to Heywood, who adverted to it on his deathbed, wishing, out of regard for Stewart's memory and his surviving friends, that it should be publicly contradicted; and with this view the above reply of Captain Heywood is here inserted.
The temptations, therefore, which it was supposed Otaheite held out to the deluded men of the Bounty had no more share in the transaction than the supposed conspiracy. It does not appear, indeed, that the cry of " Huzza for Otaheite !" was ever uttered. If this island had been the object of either Christian or the crew, they would not have left it three hundred miles behind them before they perpetrated the act of piracy; but after the deed had been committed, it would be natural enough that they should turn their minds to the lovely island and its fascinating inhabitants which they had but just quitted, and that in the moment of excitement some of them should have so called out; but Bligh is the only person who has said they did so.
If, however, the recollection of the “sunny isle" and its “smiling women” had really tempted the men to mutiny, Bligh would himself not be free from blame, for having allowed them to indulge for six whole months among this voluptuous and fasci. nating people; for though he was one of the most active and anxious commanders of his time, “the service.” as is observed by a naval officer,
ried on in those days in a very different spirit from that which regulates its movements now; otherwise the Bounty would never have passed six whole months at one island stowing away the fruit,' during which time the officers and seamen had free access to the shore. Under similar circumstances nowadays, if the fruit happened not to be ready, the ship would have been off, after ten days' relaxation, to survey other islands, or speculate on coral-reefs, or make astronomical observations; in short, to do something or other to keep the devil out of the heads of the crew. Bligh would appear to have been sensible of this on his next expedition in the Providence; for on that occasion he collected more bread-fruit plants than on the former, and spent only half the time in doing so.
Be that as it may, Bligh might naturally enough conclude that the seamen were casting “a lingering look behind" towards Otaheite. “If,” says Forster, who accompanied Cook, “we fairly consider the different situations of a common sailor on board the Resolution, and of a Taheitan on his island, we cannot blame the former if he attempt to rid himself of the numberless discomforts of a voyage round the world, and prefer an easy life, free from cares, in the happiest climate of the world, to the frequent vicissitudes which are entailed upon the mariner. The most favourable prospects of future success in England, which he might form in idea, could never be so flattering to his senses as the lowly hope of living like the meanest Taheitan. And supposing him to escape the misfortunes incident to seamen, still he must earn his subsistence in England at the expense of labour and in the sweat of his brow,' when this oldest curse on mankind is scarcely felt at Taheité. Two or three bread-fruit trees, which Prow almost without any culture, and which flourish as long as he himself can expect to live, supply him with abundant food during three-fourths of the year. The cloth-trees and eddo-roots are cultivated with much less trouble than our cabbages and kitchenherbs. The banana, the royal palm, the golden apple, all thrive with such luxuriance, and require so little trouble, that I may venture to call them spontaneous. Most of their days are therefore spent in a round of various enjoyments, where Nature has lavished many a pleasing landscape; where the tem. perature of the air is warm, but continually refreshed by a wholesome breeze from the sea; and where the sky is almost constantly serene. A kind of happy uniformity runs through the whole life of the Taheitans. They rise with the sun, and hasten to rivers and fountains to perform an ablution equally reviving and cleanly. They pass the morning at work, or walk about till the heat of the day increases, when they retreat to their dwellings, or repose under some tufted tree. There they amuse themselves with smoothing their hair, and anoint it with fragrant oils; or they blow the flute, and sing to it, or listen to the songs of the birds. At the hour of noon, or a little later, they go to dinner. After their meals they resume their domestic amusements, during which the flame of mutual affection spreads in every heart, and unites the rising generation with new and tender ties. The lively jest without any ill-nature, the artless tale, the jocund dance, and frugal supper bring on the evening, and another visit to the river concludes the actions of the day. Thus contented with their simple way of life, and placed in a delightful country, they are free from cares and happy in their ignorance."
* Quarterly Review, No 89
Such is the picture drawn of the happy people of Otaheite by a cold, philosophica! German doctor; and such, with very little change, Bligh found them. As far, however, as the mutiny of his people was concerned, we must wholly discard the idea throws out by him, that the seductions of Otaheite iad any share in producing it. It could not have escapeda person of Christian's sagacity, that certain interrogatories would unquestionably be pup by the watives of Otaheite on finding the ship return so soon without her commander, without the bread-fruit plants, and with only about half her crew ; questions, he knew, to which no satisfactory answer could be made; and though at subsequent periods he twice visited that island, it was some time afterward, and not from choice, but necessity. His object was to find a place of concealment, where he might pass the remainder of his days unheard of and unknowr., and where it is to be hoped he had time for sincere repentance, the only atonement he could make for the commission of a crime which involved so many human beings in misery, and brought others to an untimely and But of this hereafter.