Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

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 mutineers, returned to Otaheite. I am, madam, (Signed)

“ Wm. BLIGH." Colonel Holwell, the uncle of young Heywood, had previously addressed Bligh on the same melancholy subject, to whom he returned the following

answer:

“ 26th March, 1790. “SIR, 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. Blich."

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 calculated 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 confidence 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 pere suaded 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 having 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 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 undergo, in order to convince the world of that innocence which those who know you will not for a mo ment doubt; but, alas! while circumstances are against you, the generality of mankind will judge severely. Bligh's representations to the Admiralty are, I am told, very unfavourable; and hitherto the tide of public opinion has been greatly in his favour. My mamma is at present well, considering the distress she has suffered since you left us; for, my dearest brother, we have experienced a complicated scene of misery from a variety of causes, which, however, when compared with the sorrow we felt on your account, was trifling and insignificant; that misfortune made all others light, and to see you once more returned and safely restored to us will be the summit of all earthly happiness.

“Farewell, my most beloved brother! God grant this may soon be put into your hands! Perhaps at this moment you are arrived in England, and I may soon have the dear delight of again beholding you. My mamma, brothers, and sisters join with me in every sentiment of love and tenderness. Write to us immediately, my ever-loved Peter, and may the Almighty preserve you until you bless with your presence your fondly affectionate family, and particularly your unalterably faithful friend and sister, (Signed)

“ NESSY HEYWOOD."

97*

* Previous to the writing of this letter, the following copy of verses shows how anxiously this young lady's mind was engaged on the unhappy circumstances under which her brother was placed. “ On the tedious and mournful absence of a most beloved BROTHER,

who was in the Bounty with Captain BLIGH at the time of the FATAL MUTINY which happened April 28th, 1789, in the South Seas, and who, instead of returning with the boat when she left the ship, staid behind.

“Tell me, thou busy flatt'ring telltale, why-
Why flow these tears-why heaves this deep-felt sigh,
Why is all joy from my sad bosom flown,
Why lost that cheerfulness I thought my own;
Why seek I now in solitude for ease,
Which once was centred in a wish to please,

« FöregåendeFortsätt »