Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

THE

EVENTFUL HISTORY

OF THE

MUTINY OF THE BOUNTY.

CHAPTER I.

OTAHEITE.

"The gentle Island, and the genial soil,
The friendly hearts, the feasts without a toil,
The courteous manners, but from nature caught,
The wealth unhoarded, and the love unbought,

*

The bread-tree, which, without the ploughshare, yields
The unreap'd harvest of unfurrow'd fields,
And bakes its unadulterated loaves
Without a furnace in unpurchas'd groves,
And flings off famine from its fertile breast,
A priceless market for the gathering guest ;-
These," &c.

BYRON.

The reign of George III. will be distinguished in history by the great extension and improvement which geographical knowledge received under the immediate auspices of this sovereign. At a very early period after his accession to the throne of these realms, expeditions of discovery were undertaken, “ not,” as Dr. Hawkesworth observes,“ with a view to the acquisition of treasure, or the extent of dominion, but for the improvement of commerce, and the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” This excellent monarch was himself no mean proficient in the science of geography; and it may be doubted if any one of his subjects, at the period alluded to,

B

Men without country, who, too long estranged,
Had found no native home, or found it changed,
And, half uncivilized, preferred the cave

Of some soft savage to the uncertain wave.” It may be proper, therefore, as introductory to the present narrative, to give a general description of the rich and spontaneous gifts which Nature has lavished on this once “happy island;"-of the simple and ingenuous manners of its natives,-and of those allurements which were supposed, erroneously however, to have occasioned the unfortunate catastrophe alluded to ;-to glance at

“The nymphs' seducements and the magic bower," as they existed at the period of the first intercourse between the Otaheitans and the crews of those ships which carried to their shores, in succession, Wallis, Bougainville, and Cook.

The first communication which Wallis had with these people was unfortunately of a hostile nature. Having approached with his ship close to the shore, the usual symbol of peace and friendship, a branch of the plantain-tree, was held up by a native in one of the numerous canoes that surrounded the ship: Great numbers, on being invited, crowded on board the stranger ship, but one of them, being butted on the haunches by a goat, and turning hastily round, perceived it rearing on its hind legs, ready to repeat the blow, was so terrified at the appearance of this strange animal, so different from any he had ever seen, that, in the moment of terror, he jumped overboard, and all the rest followed his example with the utmost precipitation.

This little incident, however, produced no misa chief; but as the boats were sounding in the bay, and several canoes crowding round them, Wallis suspected the islanders had a design to attack them, and, on this mere suspicion, ordered the boats by signal to come on board," and at the same time,” he says, “to intimidate the Indians, I fired a ninepounder over their heads.” This, as might have been imagined, startled the islanders, but did not prevent them from attempting immediately to cut off the cutter, as she was standing towards the ship. Several stones were thrown into this boat, on which the commanding officer fired a musket, loaded with buckshot, at the man who threw the first stone, and wounded him in the shoulder.

Finding no good anchorage at this place, the ship proceeded to another part of the island, where, on one of the boats being assailed by the Indians in two or three canoes, with their clubs and paddles in their hands, “ Our people,” says the commander, “ being much pressed, were obliged to fire, by which one of the assailants was killed, and another much wounded." This unlucky rencounter did not, however, prevent, as soon as the ship was moored, a great number of canoes from coming off the next morning, with hogs, fowls, and fruit. A brisk traffic soon commenced, our people exchanging knives, nails, and trinkets for more substantial articles of food, of which they were in want. Among the canoes that came out last were some double ones of very large size, with twelve or fifteen stout men in each, and it was observed that they had little on board except a quantity of round pebble stones. Other canoes came off along with them, having only women on board ; and while these females were assiduously practising their allurements, by attitudes that could not be misunderstood, with the view, as it would seem, to distract the attention of the crew, the large double canoes closed round the ship; and as these advanced, some of the men began singing, some blowing conchs, and others playing on flutes. One of them, with a person sitting under a canopy, approached the ship so close, as to allow this person to hand up a bunch of red and yellow feathers, making signs it was for the captain. He then put off to a little dis

tance, and, on holding up the branch of a cocoanut.
tree, there was a universal shout from all the
canoes, which at the same moment moved towards
the ship, and a shower of stones was poured into
her on every side. The guard was now ordered to
fire, and two of the quarter-deck guns, loaded with
small shot, were fired among them at the same time,
which created great terror and confusion, and caused
them to retreat to a short distance. In a few min-
utes, however, they renewed the attack. The great
guns were now ordered to be discharged among
them, and also into a mass of canoes that were put-
ting off from the shore. It is stated, that at this
time there could not be less than three hundred
canoes about the ship, having on board at least two
thousand men. Again they dispersed, but having
soon collected into something like order, they hoisted
white streamers, and pulled towards the ship's stern,
when they again began to throw stones with great
force and dexterity, by the help of slings, each of
the stones weighing about two pounds, and many
of them wounded the people on board. At length
a shot hit the canoe that apparently had the chief
on board, and cut it asunder. This was no sooner
observed by the rest than they all dispersed, in such
haste that in half an hour there was not a single
canoe to be seen; and all the people who had
crowded the shore fled over the hills with the ut-
most precipitation. What was to happen on the
following day was matter of conjecture, but this
point was soon decided.

“ The white man landed ;-need the rest be told?
The new world stretch'd its dusk hand to the old.*

Lieutenant Furneaux, on the next morning, landed without opposition close to a fine river that fell into the bay,--stuck up a staff on which was hoisted a pendant,-turned a turf,_and by this process took possession of the island in the name of his majesty,

« FöregåendeFortsätt »