« FöregåendeFortsätt »
It is not here intended to follow Mr. Heywood through his honourable career of service, during the long and arduous contest with France, and in the several commands with which he was intrusted. In a note of his own writing it is stated, that on paying off the Montagu, in July, 1816, he came on shore, after having been actively employed at sea twenty-seven years, six months, one week, and five days, out of a servitude in the navy of twenty-nine years, seven months, and one day. Having reached nearly the top of the list of captains, he died in the year 1831, leaving behind him a high and unblemished character in that service of which he was a most honourable, intelligent, and distinguished member.
THE LAST OF THE MUTINEERS.
Who by repentance is not satisfied,
TWENTY years had passed away, and the Bounty, and Fletcher Christian, and the piratical crew that he had carried off with him in that ship, had long ceased to occupy a thought in the public mind, Throughout the whole of that eventful period, the attention of all Europe had been absorbed in the contemplation of " enterprises of great pith and moment," -of the revolutions of empires-the bustle and business of warlike preparations—the move. ments of hostile armies--battles by sea and land, and of all “ the pomp and circumstance of glorious war.” If the subject of the Bounty was accidentally mentioned, it was merely to express an opinion
that this vessel and those within her had gone down to the bottom, or that some savage islanders had inflicted on the mutineers that measure of retribution so justly due to their crime. It happened however, some years before the conclusion of this war of unexampled duration, that an accidental discovery, as interesting as it was wholly unexpected, was brought to light in consequence of an American trading vessel having, by mere chance, approached one of those numerous islands in the Pacific again whose steep and iron-bound shore the surf almost everlastingly rolls with such tremendous violence as to bid defiance to any attempt of boats to land, except at particular times and in very few places.
The first intimation of this extraordinary discov. ery was transmitted by Sir Sydney Smith from Rio de Janeiro, and received at the Admiralty 14th May, 1809. It was conveyed to him from Valparaiso by Lieutenant Fitzmaurice, and was as follows:
“ Captain Folger, of the American ship Topaz, of Boston, relates, that upon landing on Pitcairn's Island, in lat. 25° 2 S., long. 130° W., he found there an Englishman, of the name of Alexander Smith, the only person remaining of nine that escaped in his majesty's late ship Bounty, Captain W. Bligh. Smith relates that, after putting Captain Bligh in the boat, Christian, the leader of the mutiny, took command of the ship and went to Otaheite, where great part of the crew left her, except Christian, Smith, and seven others, who each took wives, and six Otaheitan men-servants, and shortly after arrived at the said island (Pitcairn), where they ran the ship on shore, and broke her up; this event took place in the
“ About four years after their arrival (a great jealousy existing), the Otaheitans secretly revolted, and killed every Englishman except himself, whom they severely wounded in the neck with a pistol ball. The same night, the widows of the de
ceased Englishmen arose and put to death the whole of the Otaheitans, leaving Smith the only man alive upon the island, with eight or nine women and sev. eral small children. On his recovery, he applied himself to tilling the ground, so that it now produces plenty of yams, cocoanuts, bananas, and plantains; hogs and poultry in abundance. There are now some grown-up men and women, children of the mutineers, on the island, the whole population amounting to about thirty-five, who acknowledge Smith as father and commander of them all; they all speak English, and have been educated by him (as Captain Folger represents) in a religious and
“ The second mate of the Topaz asserts that Christian, the ringleader, became insane shortly after their arrival on the island, and threw himself off the rocks into the sea; another died of a fever before the massacre of the remaining six took place. The island is badly supplied with water, sufficient only for the present inhabitants, and no anchorage.
“Smith gave to Captain Folger a chronometer made by Kendall, which was taken from him by the Governor of Juan Fernandez.
“ Extracted from the log-book of the Topaz, 29th Sept. 1808.
(Signed) “ Wm. FITZMAURICE, Lieut. “Valparaiso, Oct. 10th, 1808."
This narrative stated two facts that established its general authenticity-the name of Alexander Smith, who was one of the mutineers, and the name of the maker of the chronometer with which the Bounty was actually supplied. Interesting as this discovery was considered to be, it does not appear that any steps were taken in consequence of this authenticated information, the government being at that time probably too much engaged in the events of the war; nor was any thing further heard of this
interesting little society until the latter part of 1814, when a letter was transmitted by Rear Admiral Hotham, then cruising off the coast of America, from Mr. Folger himself, to the same effect as the preceding extract from his log, but dated March, 1813.
In the first-mentioned year (1814) we had two frigates cruising in the Pacific,-the Briton, commanded by Sir Thomas Staines, and the Tagus, by Captain Pipon. The following letter from the former of these officers was received at the Admiralty early in the year 1815.
“ Briton, Valparaiso, 18th Oct. 1814. “ I have 'the honour to inform you, that on my passage from the Marquesas Islands to this port, on The niorning of the 17th September, I fell in with an island where none is laid down in the Admiralty or other charts, according to the several chronometers of the Briton and Tagus. I therefore hoveto, until daylight, and then closed to ascertain whether it was inhabited, which I soon discovered it to be, and, to my great astonishment, found that every individual on the island (forty in number) spoke very good English. They proved to be the descendants of the deluded crew of the Bounty, who, from Otaheite, proceeded to the above-mentioned island, where the ship was burned.
“ Christian appeared to have been the leader and sole cause of the mutiny in that ship. A venerable old man, named John Adams, is the only surviving Englishman of those who last quitted Otaheite in her, and whose exemplary conduct and fatherly care of the whole of the little colony could not but command admiration. The pious manner in which all those born on the island have been reared, the correct sense of religion which has been instilled into their young minds by this old man, has given him the pre-eminence over the whole of them, to whom they look up as the father of one and the whole family.
“ A son of Christian was the first born on the island, now about twenty-five years of age, named Thursday October Christian; the elder Christian fell a sacrifice to the jealousy of an Otaheitan man, within three or four years after their arrival on the island. The mutineers were accompanied thither by six Otaheitan men and twelve women; the former were all swept away by desperate contentions between them and the Englishmen, and five of the latter died at different periods, leaving at present only one man (Adams) and seven women of the original settlers.
" The island must undoubtedly be that called Pitcairn, although erroneously laid down in the charts. We had the altitude of the meridian sun close to it, which gave us 25° 4' S. latitude, and 130° 25' W. longitude, by the chronometers of the Briton and Tagus.
“ It produces in abundance yams, plantains, hogs, goats, and fowls; but the coast affords no shelter for a ship or vessel of any description; neither could á ship water there without great difficulty.
“I cannot, however, refrain from offering my opinion, that it is well worthy the attention of our laudable religious societies, particularly that for propagating the Christian religion, the whole of the inhabitants speaking the Otaheitan tongue as well as the English.
· During the whole of the time they have been on the island, only one ship has ever communicated with them, which took place about six years since, and this was the American ship Topaz, of Boston, Mayhew Folger, master.
“The island is completely iron-bound with rocky shores, and the landing in boats must be at all times difficult, although the island may be safely approached within a short distance by a ship. (Signed)
66 T. STAINES."