« FöregåendeFortsätt »
gentleman should have been so perfectly unembar. rassed as to be able to particularize the muscles of a nian's countenance, even at a considerable distance from him; and what is still more extraordinary is, that he heard the captain call to me from abaft the mizen to the platform where I was standing, which required an exertion of voice, and must have been heard and noticed by all who were present, as the captain and Christian were at that awful moment the objects of every one's peculiar attention; yet he who was standing between us, and noticing the transactions of us both, could not hear what was said.
“ To me it has ever occurred that diffidence is very becoming, and of all human attainments a knowledge of ourselves is the most difficult; and if, in the ordinary course of life, it is not an easy matter precisely to account for our own actions, how much more difficult and hazardous must it be, in new and momentous scenes, when the mind is hurried and distressed by conflicting passions, to judge of another's conduct; and yet here are two young men, who, after a lapse of near four years (in which period one of them, like myself, has grown from a boy to be a man), without hesitation, in a matter on which my life is depending, undertake to account for some of my actions, at a time, too, when some of the most experienced officers in the ship are not ashamed to acknowledge they were overcome by the confusion which the mutiny occasioned, and are in: capable of recollecting a number of their own trans. actions on that day.
“I can only oppose to such open boldness the calm suggestions of reason, and would willingly be persuaded that the impression under which this evidence has been given is not in any degree open to suspicion. I would be understood, at the same time, not to mean any thing injurious to the character of Mr. Hallet: and for Mr. Hayward, I ever loved him.
and must do him the justice to declare, that whatever cause I may have to deplore the effect of his evidence, or rather his opinion, for he has deposed no fact against me, yet I am convinced it was given conscientiously, and with a tenderness and feeling becoming a man of honour.
“But may they not both be mistaken? Let it be remembered that their long intimacy with Captain Bligh, in whose distresses they were partakers, and whose sufferings were severely felt by them, naturally begot an abhorrence towards those whom they thought the authors of their misery ;-might they not forget that the story had been told to them, and by first of all believing, then constantly thinking of it, be persuaded at last it was a fact within the compass of their own knowledge ?
“It is the more natural to believe it is so, from Mr. Hallet's forgetting what the captain said upon the occasion; which, had he been so collected as he pretends to have been, he certainly must have heard. Mr. Hayward, also, it is evident, has made a mistake in point of time as to the seeing me with Morrison and Millward upon the booms; for the boatswain and carpenter in their evidence have said, and the concurring testimony of every one supports the fact, that the mutiny had taken place, and the captain was on deck, before they came up, and it was not till after that time that the boatswain called Morrison and Millward out of their hanımocks; therefore, to have seen me at all upon the booms with those two men, it must have been long after the time that Mr. Hayward has said it was. Again, Mr. Hayward has said that he could not recollect the day nor even the month when the Pandora arrived at Otaheite. Nei. ther did Captain Edwards recollect when, on his return, he wrote to the Admiralty that Michael Byrne had surrendered himself as one of the Bounty's people, but in that letter he reported him as having been apprehended, which plainly shows
that the memory is fallible to a very great degree; and it is a fair conclusion to draw, that if when the mind is at rest, which must have been the case with Mr. Hayward in the Pandora, and things of a few months' date are difficult to be remembered, it is next to impossible, in the state which everybody was on board the Bounty, to remember their particular actions at the distance of three years and a half after they were observed.
“As to the advice he says he gave me to go into the boat, I can only say I have a faint recollection of a short conversation with somebody,- I thought it was Mr. Stewart ;-but be that as it may, I think I may take upon me to say it was on deck, and not below; for on hearing it suggested that I should be deemed guilty if I staid in the ship, I went down directly, and in passing Mr. Cole, told him, in a low tone of voice, that I would fetch a few necessaries in a bag and follow him into the boat, which at that time I meant to do, but was afterward prevented.
“Surely I shall not be deemed criminal that I hesitated at getting into a boat whose gunnel, when she left the ship, was not quite eight inches above the surface of the water. And if, in the moment of unexpected trial, fear and confusion assailed my untaught judgment, and that by remaining in the ship I appeared to deny my commander, it was in appearance only-it was the sin of my head-for I solemnly assure you before God, that it was not the vileness of my heart.
“I was surprised into my error by a mixture of ignorance, apprehension, and the prevalence of example; and, alarmed as I was from my sleep, there was little opportunity and less time for better recollection. The captain, I am persuaded, did not see me during the mutiny, for I retired, as it were, in sorrowful suspense, alternately agitated between hope and fear, not knowing what to do. The dread of being asked by him, or of being ordered by
Christian, to go into the boat,-or, which appeared to me worse than either, of being desired by the latter to join his party, induced me to keep out of the sight of both, until I was a second time confined in my berth by Thompson, when the determination I had made was too late to be useful.
“ One instance of my conduct I had nearly forotten, which, with much anxiety and great astonishment, I have heard observed upon and considered as a fault, though I had imagined it blameless, if not laudable-I mean the assistance I gave in hoisting out the launch, which, by a mode of expression of the boatswain's, who says I did it voluntarily (meaning thai I did not refuse rny assistance when he asked me co give it), the Court, I am afraid, has considered it as giving assistance to the mutineers, and not done with a view to help the captain; of which, however, I have no doubt of being able to give a satisfactory explanation in evidence.
“ Observations on matters of opinion I will en. deavour to forbear, where they appear to have been formed from the impulse of the moment; but I shall be pardoned for remembering Mr. Hayward's (given, I will allow, with great deliberation, and after long weighing the question which called for it), which cannot be reckoned of that description, for although he says he rather considered me as a friend to Christian's party, he states that his last words to me were, “ Peter, go into the boat ;" which words could not have been addressed to one who was of the party of the mutineers. And I am sure, if the countenance is at all an index to the hear:, mine must have betrayed the sorrow and distress he has so ac curately described.
“It were trespassing unnecessarily upon the patience of the Court, to be giving a tedious histoi of what happened in consequence of the mutiny, and how, through one very imprudent step, I was unavoidably led into others.
But, amid all this pilgrimage of distress, I had a conscience, thank Heaven, which lulled away the pain of personal difficulties, dangers, and distress. It was this conscious principle which determined me not to hide myself as if guilty. No-I welcomed the arrival of the Pandora at Otaheite, and embraced the earliest opportunity of freely surrendering myself to the captain of that ship.
“By his order I was chained and punished with incredible severity, though the ship was threatened with instant destruction: when fear and trembling came on every man on board, in vain, for a long time, were my earnest repeated cries, that the galling irons might not, in that moment of affrighting consternation, prevent my hands from being lifted up to Heaven for mercy.
“ But though it cannot fail deeply to interest the humanity of this Court, and kindle in the breast of every member of it compassion for my sufferings, yet as it is not relative to the point, and as I cannot for a moment believe that it proceeded from any im. proper motive on the part of Captain Edwards, whose character in the navy stands high in estimation both as an officer and a man of humanity, but rather that he was actuated in his conduct towards me by the imperious dictates of the laws of the service, I shall therefore waive it, and say no more upon the subject.
“ Believe me, again I entreat you will believe me, when in the name of the tremendous Judge of heaven and earth (before whose vindictive Majesty I may be destined soon to appear), I now assert my innocence of plotting, abetting, or assisting, either by word or deed, the mutiny for which I am tried-for, young as I am, I am still younger in the school of art and such matured infamy.
“My parents (but I have only one left, a solitary and mournful mother, who is at home weeping and trembling for the event of this day), thanks to their