Informational Site NetworkInformational Site Network
Privacy
 
Home - World War Stories - American Heros - Hero Stories - War Stories - British Navy

War Stories

Defeat Of The Spanish Fleet In The Faro Off Messina
BY JOHN CAMPBELL. Early in the year 1718 the activity of...

The Story Of The Battle Of The Nile
BY ROBERT SOUTHEY. Early in the year 1798 Sir Horatio Ne...

The Mutiny Of The Bounty
The circumstances detailed in the following narrative are a...

The Story Of Sir Francis Drake
BY JOHN CAMPBELL. Francis Drake is said to have been bor...

The Battle Of Camperdown
The mutiny at Spithead found the British ministry intent up...

The Loss Of Hms Pembroke
BY MASTER CAMBRIDGE. The melancholy fate of the Namur, w...

The Story Of The Spanish Armada
BY SIR EDWARD CREASY. On the afternoon of July 19th, A.D...

The Victory Of La Hogue
BY JOHN CAMPBELL. On the dismissal of the Earl of Torrin...

The Story Of The First Dutch War
BY JOHN CAMPBELL. The causes of this war are differently...

The Story Of Nelson's Boyhood
BY ROBERT SOUTHEY. Horatio Nelson, son of Edmund and Cat...

The Story Of The Cinque Ports
THE BATTLE OF DAMME.--THE BATTLE OF DOVER.--THE BATTLE OF ...

The Glorious First Of June
On January 21st, 1793, Louis XVI. of France was guillotined...

Off Gibraltar
It is not to be supposed that our enemies quietly accepted ...

The Voyage Made To Tripolis In Barbary
IN THE YEAR 1583, WITH A SHIP CALLED THE "JESUS," WHEREIN T...

The Story Of Captain Hornby And The French Privateer
The difficulties under which merchantmen carried on their t...

The Destruction Of The Algerine Navy
On the conclusion of the Dutch war it became necessary to r...

The Loss Of Hms Centaur
BY CAPTAIN INGLEFIELD. The storm which proved fatal to t...

The Story Of Admiral The Honourable John Byng
BY JOHN CAMPBELL. The honourable John Byng was the fourt...

In Indian Seas
1758-9. Though the great achievements of large fleets ar...

The Story Of The Revenge
A REPORT OF THE TRUTH OF THE FIGHT ABOUT THE ISLES OF AZORE...



The Mutiny Of The Bounty






The circumstances detailed in the following narrative are altogether of
so singular and romantic a character that but for the undeniable
authenticity of every particular, the whole might be considered as the
production of the ingenious brain of a Defoe. Some of the incidents
indeed surpass in impressive interest anything to be met with in the
fictitious history of Alexander Selkirk's solitary existence and
adventure.

In December 1787 the Bounty sailed from Spithead for Otaheite under
the command of Lieutenant Bligh, who had previously accompanied Captain
Cook in his exploiting voyages in the Pacific Ocean. The object of the
present expedition was to convey from Otaheite to our West Indian
colonies the plants of the bread-fruit tree which Dampier, Cook, and
other voyagers had observed to grow with the most prolific luxuriance in
the South Sea Islands, and which furnished the natives with a perpetual
and wholesome subsistence without even the trouble of cultivation.

The crew of the Bounty consisted of forty-five individuals, including
the commander and two skilful gardeners to take charge of the plants,
for the removal of which every accommodation had been provided on board,
under the superintendence of Sir Joseph Banks who had personally visited
Otaheite with Captain Wallis. After a most distressing voyage, in which,
after reaching Cape Horn, they were compelled to put the helm a-weather
and take the route by Van Diemen's Land, the voyagers anchored in
Matavia Bay, Otaheite, on October 26th, 1788, having run over, by the
log, since leaving England, a space of 27,086 miles, or an average of
one hundred and eight miles in twenty-four hours.

The simple natives, who had experienced much kindness from Captain Cook,
testified great joy on the arrival of the strangers, and loaded them
with presents of provisions of every sort. The character, condition, and
habits of the islanders, as described to us even by their early
visitors, present a most extraordinary contrast to the usual features of
savage life. They were a kind, mild-tempered, social, and affectionate
race, living in the utmost harmony amongst themselves, their whole lives
being one unvaried round of cheerful contentment, luxurious ease, and
healthful exercise and amusements.

Bligh appears to have been tempted to remain at this luxurious spot much
longer than was either proper or necessary, as the bread-fruit plants,
and provisions of hogs, fowls, fish, and vegetables of every description
were amply supplied him by the kind natives. The liberty which he gave
his crew to go on shore and enjoy all the indulgences which the place
afforded, was extremely imprudent; and this, together with the
capricious harshness and unjustifiable insult with which he occasionally
treated every one on board--officers as well as men--appears to have
been the sole cause of the unfortunate occurrence that afterwards took
place. The Bounty which, as we have mentioned, arrived October 20th,
1788, did not sail till April 4th, 1789, when she departed loaded with
presents, and amid the tears and regrets of the natives. They continued
till the 27th amongst the islands of that archipelago, touching many of
them, bartering and interchanging presents with the natives, many of
whom remembered Bligh when he accompanied Cook in the Resolution.

It was on the night of the 27th that the mutiny broke out. The affair,
as far as can ever be learned by the strictest investigation, was
entirely unpremeditated, and resulted entirely from the commander's
giving way to one of those furious and ungovernable fits of passion
which he from time to time exhibited. On the day previous (the 26th),
Bligh, having missed some of the cocoanuts that were piled up on deck,
ordered a search to be made; but none being discovered, he burst into a
paroxysm of passion, calling them all scoundrels and thieves alike,
swearing he would make the half of them jump overboard before they got
through Endeavour Straits, and ordering the villains' (officers) grog to
be stopped and gave them half a pound of yams for dinner. The officer of
the watch, a young man of respectable family, named Fletcher Christian,
who was master's mate, and had been two voyages with Bligh, incurred the
greatest share of abuse, the latter cursing him for a hound, and
accusing him of having stolen the cocoanuts for his own use. Christian,
who was a fiery-spirited young man, appears to have become exasperated
at this ignominious treatment, to much of the same kind of which he had
been subjected for some time previous; so much so, indeed, that he
declared to some of his messmates that he had been in hell for the last
fortnight, on account of Bligh's usage of him, and expressed his
determination to leave the ship in a raft on the first opportunity, and
commit himself to the waves rather than remain on board. During the
night of the 28th he accordingly began to prepare his raft; and while so
employed, one of the crew unfortunately suggested that it would be
better for him to seize the ship at once. The idea which Christian does
not seem to have thought of till that moment, was instantly caught at,
and a few whispers amongst the crew showed that the majority were quite
ready for the scheme, which was forthwith put into execution. About
sunrise on Tuesday, April 28th, Christian, with three of the crew,
entered Bligh's cabin and secured him in bed, tied his hands behind his
back, and hurried him on deck. Their companions had in the meanwhile
secured those who were suspected to be disinclined to the mutiny; among
whom was Mr. Peter Heywood (afterwards so much distinguished in the
royal navy service), and two other midshipmen, who were detained
(contrary to their express wishes) to assist the mutineers in managing
the vessel. Several other of the crew, likewise, who disclaimed all
share in the mutiny, were thus forcibly detained. A boat was then
hoisted alongside, and Bligh, with eighteen unfortunate companions, was
forced into it. Some provisions, clothes, and four cutlasses were given
them, and they were cast adrift in the open ocean. Twenty-five remained
on board, the ablest of the ship's company. As the boat put off, "Huzza
for Otaheite!" was shouted by the mutineers, thus indicating the
destination of their further proceedings.

Being near the island of Tofoa, the castaways rowed towards it for the
purpose of obtaining some bread-fruit and water, with which the natives
at first seemed very willing to supply them, until Bligh imprudently
advised his men to say, in answer to the queries put them about the
ship, that it had overset and sunk. The consequence was, that the
natives attacked them, stoned one man to death, and it was with
difficulty that the remainder escaped. Bligh's companions then entreated
him to steer for home at all risks and hazards; and on being told that
no hope of relief could be entertained till they reached Timor, off the
coast of New Holland, a distance fully twelve hundred leagues, they
readily agreed to be content with an allowance, which, on calculation,
was found would not exceed an ounce of bread and a quarter of a pint of
water per day for each man. After taking them, bound by a solemn promise
to this effect, these unfortunate men boldly bore away, on May 2nd,
across a sea where the navigation was little, in an open boat
twenty-three feet long and deep, laden with eighteen men. It is not our
purpose here to detail the particulars of this adventurous voyage.
Suffice it to say that, after enduring the most horrible distresses from
cold, thirst, famine, and running a distance by the log of more than
three hundred miles, the whole reached the island of Timor alive on June
14th, but so much spent as more to resemble spectres than men. They were
treated with great kindness by the inhabitants, but, notwithstanding
every attention, four or five of them here died; the rest proceeded to
Batavia, whence they obtained passages to England, where Bligh arrived
in March, 1790.

The intelligence of the mutiny, and the sufferings of Bligh and his
companions, naturally excited a great sensation in England. Bligh was
immediately promoted to the rank of commander, and Captain Edwards was
despatched to Otaheite in the Pandora frigate, with instructions to
search for the Bounty and her mutinous crew, and bring them to
England. The Pandora reached Matavia Bay on March 23rd, 1791; and even
before she had come to anchor, Joseph Coleman, formerly armourer of the
Bounty, pushed off from shore in a canoe, and came on board. He
frankly told who he was, and professed his readiness to give every
information that might be required of him. Scarcely had the ship
anchored, when Messrs. Heywood and Stewart, late midshipmen of the
Bounty, also came on board; and in the course of two days afterwards,
the whole of the remainder of the Bounty's crew (in number sixteen)
then on the island surrendered themselves, with the exception of two,
who fled to the mountains, where, as it afterwards appeared, they were
murdered by the natives.

From his prisoners, and the journals kept by one or two of them, Captain
Edwards learnt the proceedings of Christian and his associates after
turning Bligh and his companions adrift in the boat. It appears that
they steered in the first instance to the island of Toobouai, where they
intended to form a settlement; but the opposition of the natives, and
want of many necessary materials, determined them to return in the
meantime to Otaheite, where they arrived on May 25th, 1789. In answer to
the inquiries of Tinah, the king, about Bligh and the rest of the crew,
the mutineers stated that they had fallen in with Captain Cook, who was
forming a settlement in a neighbouring island, and had retained Bligh
and the others to assist him, while they themselves had been despatched
to Otaheite for an additional supply of hogs, goats, fowls, bread-fruit
and various other articles. Overjoyed at hearing their old friend Cook
was alive, and about to settle so near them, the humane and unsuspicious
islanders set about actively to procure the supplies wanted, that in a
few days the Bounty received on board three hundred and twelve hogs,
thirty-eight goats, eight dozen of fowls, a bull and a cow, and a large
quantity of bread-fruit, plantains, bananas, and other fruits. The
mutineers also took with them eight men, nine women, and seven boys,
with all of whom they arrived a second time at Toobouai on June 26th,
where they warped the ship up the harbour, landed the live stock, and
set about building a fort fifty yards square. Quarrels and
disappointments, however, soon broke out among them. The poor natives
were treated like slaves, and upon attempting to retaliate, were
mercilessly put to death. Christian, finding his authority almost
entirely disregarded, called a consultation as to what steps were next
to be taken, when it was agreed that Toobouai should be abandoned; that
the ship should once more be taken to Otaheite, where those who might
choose it would be put ashore, while the rest who preferred remaining in
the vessel might proceed wherever they had a mind. This was accordingly
done: sixteen of the crew went on shore at Matavia (fourteen of whom, as
already stated, were received on board the Pandora, and two were
murdered), while Christian with his eight comrades, and taking with them
seven Otaheitan men and twelve women, finally sailed from Matavia on
September 21st, 1789, from which time they had never been more heard of.

Captain Edwards instituted a strict search after the fugitives amongst
the various groups of islands in the Pacific, but finding no trace of
them, he set sail, after three months' investigation, for the east coast
of New Holland. Here, by some mismanagement, the Pandora struck upon
the singular coral reef that runs along that coast, called the Barrier
Reef, and filled so fast that scarcely were the boats got out when she
foundered and went down, thirty-four of the crew and four of the
prisoners perishing in her. It is painful to record anything to the
discredit of that service which has proved the pride and safeguard of
Great Britain, and made her the acknowledged sovereign of the sea. But
the concurring testimony of the unfortunate prisoners exhibits the
conduct of Captain Edwards towards them in colours which are shocking to
contemplate. They were confined in a small round house, built on the
after deck on purpose, which could only be entered by a scuttle in the
top, about eighteen inches square. From this narrow prison they were
never allowed to stir, and they were, over and above, heavily loaded
with irons both at the wrists and ankles. When the Pandora went down,
no attempt was made to save them, and the ten survivors escaped almost
in a state of complete nudity. After reaching a low, sandy, desert
island, or rather quay, as such are nautically termed, Captain Edwards
caused his men to form tents out of the sails they had saved, under
which he and his men reposed in comparative comfort; but he refused the
same indulgence to his miserable captives, whose only refuge, therefore,
from the scorching rays of the sun, was by burying themselves up to the
neck amongst the burning sand, so that their bodies were blistered as if
they had been scalded with boiling water. But we refrain from dwelling
on facts so disreputable to the character of a British sailor. The
Pandora's survivors reached Batavia in their boats, whence they
obtained passages to England in Dutch vessels. A court martial was soon
after held (September, 1792), when six of the ten mutineers were found
guilty and condemned to death--the other four were acquitted. Only three
of the six, however, were executed. Mr. Heywood, who was amongst the
condemned (chiefly by the perverted and prejudiced evidence of Captain
Bligh and a fellow-midshipman), was afterwards pardoned upon the strong
recommendation of the court, who, notwithstanding the vindictive
evidence against him, were perfectly convinced of his innocence. His
subsequent honourable career proved him fully deserving the favourable
opinion of his judges, as well as of the promotion he obtained.

Nearly twenty years elapsed after the period of the above occurrences,
and all recollection of the Bounty and her wretched crew had passed
away, when an accidental discovery, as interesting as unexpected, once
more recalled public attention to that event. The captain of an American
schooner having in 1808 accidentally touched at an island, up to that
time supposed to be uninhabited, called Pitcairn's Island, found a
community, speaking English, who represented themselves as the
descendants of the mutineers of the Bounty, of whom there was still
one man, of the name of Alexander Smith, alive amongst them.
Intelligence of this singular circumstance was sent by the American
captain (Folger) to Sir Sydney Smith at Valparaiso, and by him
transmitted to the Lords of the Admiralty. But the government was at
that time perhaps too much engaged in the events of the continental war
to attend to the information, nor was anything further heard of this
interesting little society until 1814. In that year two British
men-of-war cruising in the Pacific, made an island, which they could not
at first believe to be Pitcairn's Island, as it was more than three
degrees out of the longitude assigned it by Captain Carteret, who first
discovered it in 1797. They were confirmed in this opinion by observing
symptoms of cultivation, and, on nearing the shore, saw plantations
regularly and orderly laid out. Soon afterwards they observed a few
natives coming down a steep descent with their canoes on their
shoulders, and in a few minutes perceived one of these little vessels
darting through a heavy surf, and paddling off towards the ships. But
their astonishment may be imagined, when, on coming along side, they
were hailed in good English with--"Won't you heave us a rope now?" This
being done, a young man sprang up the side with extraordinary activity,
and stood on the deck before them. In answer to the question, "Who are
you?" he replied that his name was Thursday October Christian, son of
the late Fletcher Christian by an Otaheitan mother; that he was the
first born on the island, and was so named because he was born on a
Thursday in October. All this sounded singular and miraculous in the
ears of the British captains, Sir Thomas Staines and Mr. Pipon, but they
were soon satisfied of its truth. Young Christian was at this time about
twenty-four years old, a tall, handsome youth fully six feet high, with
black hair, and an open, interesting English countenance. As he wore no
clothes except a piece of cloth round his loins, and a straw hat
ornamented with black cock's feathers, his fine figure and well-shaped
muscular limbs were displayed to great advantage, and attracted general
admiration. His body was much tanned by exposure to the weather; but
although his complexion was somewhat brown, it wanted that tinge of red
peculiar to the natives of the Pacific. He spoke English correctly both
in grammar and pronunciation; and his frank and ingenuous deportment
excited in every one the liveliest feelings of compassion and interest.
His companion was a fine, handsome youth, of seventeen or eighteen years
of age, named George Young, son of one of the Bounty's midshipmen.

The youths expressed great surprise at everything they saw, especially a
cow, which they supposed to be either a huge goat or a horned sow,
having never seen any other quadruped. When questioned concerning the
Bounty, they referred the captains to an old man on shore, the only
surviving Englishman, whose name they said was John Adams, but who
proved to be the identical Alexander Smith before mentioned, having
changed his name from some caprice or other. The officers went ashore
with the youths, and were received by old Adams, as we shall now call
him, who conducted them to his house, and treated them to an elegant
repast of eggs, fowls, yams, plaintains, bread-fruit, etc. They now
learned from him an account of the fate of his companions, who, with
himself, preferred accompanying Christian in the Bounty to remaining
at Otaheite--which account agreed with that he afterwards gave at
greater length to Captain Beechey in 1825. Our limit will not permit us
to detail all the interesting particulars at length, as we could have
wished, but they are in substance as follows:--

It was Christian's object, in order to avoid the vengeance of the
British law, to proceed to some unknown and uninhabited island, and the
Marquesas Islands were first fixed upon. But Christian, on reading
Captain Carteret's account of Pitcairn's Island, thought it better
adapted for the purpose, and shaped his course thither, Having landed
and traversed it, they found it every way suitable to their wishes,
possessing water, wood, a good soil, and some fruits. The anchorage in
the offing was extremely dangerous for ships, and it was scarcely
possible for boats to get through the surf that broke on the shore. The
mountains were so difficult of access, and the passes so narrow, that
they might be maintained by a few persons against an army, and there
were several caves, to which, in case of necessity, they could retreat,
and where, as long as their provisions lasted, they might bid defiance
to all pursuit. Having ascertained all this, they returned on board, and
having landed their hogs, goats, and poultry, and gutted the ship of
everything that could be useful to them, they set fire to her, and
destroyed every vestige that might lead to the discovery of their
retreat. This was on January 23d, 1790. The island was then divided into
nine equal portions amongst them, a suitable spot of neutral ground
being reserved for a village. The poor Otaheitans now found themselves
reduced to the condition of mere slaves; but they patiently submitted,
and everything went on peaceably for two years. About that time,
Williams, one of the seamen, having the misfortune to lose his wife,
forcibly took the wife of one of the Otaheitans, which, together with
their continued ill-usage, so exasperated the latter that they formed a
plan for murdering the whole of their oppressors. The plot, however, was
discovered and revealed by the Englishmen's wives, and two of the
Otaheitans were put to death. But the surviving natives soon afterwards
matured a more successful conspiracy, and in one day murdered five of
the Englishmen, including Christian. Adams and Young were spared at the
intercession of their wives, and the remaining two, M'Koy and Quintal
(two desperate ruffians), escaped to the mountains, whence, however,
they soon rejoined their companions. But the further career of these
villains was short. M'Koy having been brought up in a Scotch distillery,
succeeded in extracting a bottle of ardent spirits from the tea root;
from which time he and Quintal were never sober, until the former became
delirious, and committed suicide by jumping over a cliff. Quintal being
likewise almost insane with drinking, made repeated attempts to murder
Adams and Young, until they were absolutely compelled, for their own
safety, to put him to death, which they did by felling him with a
hatchet.

Adams and Young were at length the only surviving males who had landed
on the island, and being both of a serious turn of mind, and having time
for reflection and repentance, they became extremely devout. Having
saved a Bible and prayer-book from the Bounty, they now performed
family worship morning and evening, and addressed themselves to training
up their own children, and those of their unfortunate companions, in
piety and virtue. Young, however, was soon carried off by an asthmatic
complaint, and Adams was thus left to continue his pious labours alone.
At the time Captain Staines and Pipon visited the island, this
interesting little colony consisted of about forty-six persons, mostly
grown-up young people, and all living in harmony and happiness together;
and not only professing, but fully understanding and practising, the
precepts and principles of the Christian religion. Adams had instituted
the ceremony of marriage, and he assured his visitors that not one
instance of debauchery or immoral conduct had occurred amongst them.

The visitors having supplied these interesting people with some tools,
kettles, and other articles, took their leave. The account which they
transmitted home of this newly-discovered colony, was, strange to say,
as little attended to by government as that of Captain Folger, and
nothing more was heard of Adams and his family for nearly twelve years,
when in 1825, Captain Beechey, in the Blossom, bound on a voyage of
discovery to Behring's Straits, touched at Pitcairn's Island. On the
approach of the Blossom a boat came off under all sail towards the
ship, containing old Adams and ten of the young men of the island. After
requesting and obtaining leave to come on board, the young men sprang up
the side, and shook every officer cordially by the hand. Adams, who was
grown very corpulent, followed more leisurely. He was now dressed in a
sailor's shirt and trousers, with a low-crowned hat, which he held in
his hand in sailor fashion, while he smoothed down his bald forehead
when addressed by the officers of the Blossom. It was the first time
he had been on board a British vessel since the destruction of the
Bounty, now thirty-five years ago; and it was evident his mind
recurred to the events of that period. Captain Beechey procured from
Adams a detailed narrative of the whole transaction of the mutiny and
subsequent events, which has since been published by that gentleman, and
of which we have already given an abstract. The little colony had now
increased to about sixty-six, including an English sailor of the name of
John Buffet, who at his own earnest desire had been left by a whaler. In
this man, the society luckily found an able and willing schoolmaster. He
instructed the children in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and
devoutly co-operated with old Adams in affording religious instruction
to the community. The officers of the Blossom went ashore, and were
entertained with a sumptuous repast at young Christian's, the table
being spread with plates, knives, and forks. Buffet said grace in an
emphatic manner, and so strict were they in this respect, that it was
not deemed proper to touch a morsel of bread without saying grace both
before and after it. The officers slept in the house all night, their
bed-clothing and sheets consisting of the native cloth made of the
native mulberry-tree. The only interruption to their repose was the
melody of the evening hymn, which was chanted together by the whole
family after the lights were put out; and they were awakened at early

dawn by the same devotional ceremony. On Sabbath the utmost decorum was
attended to, and the day was passed in regular religious observances.
All that remains to be said of these excellent people, concludes
Beechey, is, that they appear to live together in perfect harmony and
contentment; to be virtuous, religious, cheerful, and hospitable beyond
the limits of prudence; to be patterns of conjugal and parental
affection, and to have very few vices. We remained with them many days,
and their unreserved manners gave us the fullest opportunity of becoming
acquainted with any faults they might have possessed.

In consequence of a representation made by Captain Beechey, the British
government sent out Captain Waldegrave in 1830, in the Seringapatam,
with a supply of sailors' blue jackets and trousers, flannels, stockings
and shoes, women's dresses, spades, mattocks, shovels, pickaxes,
trowels, rakes, etc. He found their community increased to about
seventy-nine, all exhibiting the same unsophisticated and amiable
characteristics as we have before described. Other two Englishmen had
settled amongst them; one of them, called Nobbs, a self-constituted
missionary, who was endeavouring to supersede Buffet in his office of
religious instructor. The patriarch Adams, it was found, had died in
March, 1826, aged sixty-five. While on his death-bed he had called the
heads of families together, and urged upon them to elect a chief, which,
however, they had not yet done; but the greatest harmony still prevailed
amongst them, notwithstanding Nobb's exertions to form a party of his
own. Captain Waldegrave thought that the island, which is about four
miles square, might be able to support a thousand persons, upon reaching
which number they would naturally emigrate to other islands.

Such is the account of this most singular colony, originating in crime
and bloodshed. Of all the repentant criminals on record, the most
interesting, perhaps, is John Adams. Nor do we know where to find a more
beautiful example of the value of early instruction than in the history
of this man, who, having run a full career of most kinds of vice, was
checked by an interval of leisure and reflection, and a sense of new
duties awakened by the power of natural affection.





Next: The Story Of Lord Exmouth

Previous: The Loss Of The Royal George



Add to del.icio.us Add to Reddit Add to Digg Add to Del.icio.us Add to Google Add to Twitter Add to Stumble Upon
Add to Informational Site Network
Report
Privacy
SHAREADD TO EBOOK


Viewed 1082


Untitled Document