Billeder på siden

were confined. The cells are small, but clean and light. In the first of them I found George Beavers, Nicholas Lewis, and Henry Sears. Beavers was crouching in one corner of the cell, and looking sullen, and in despair. Lewis, who was walking the scanty space of the cell, seemed to glory in the rattle of his heavy chains; while Sears was stretched apparently asleep upon a grass mat. They were all heavily ironed, and every precaution had evidently been taken to prevent escape.

The jail is small, and by no means a secure one. It was once a public house; and notwithstanding every effort to adapt it to its present purpose, it is not a safe or proper place of confinement. It is little calculated to resist any attempt to rescue the men, whose daring conduct was the subject of high encomium among their fellow-prisoners, by whom any attempt to escape is considered a meritorious act. In the other cell I found Woolfe and Barry, the latter in much agony from an old wound in the leg, the pain of which had been aggravated by the heavy irons which galled it. All the prisoners, except Barry and Woolfe, readily acknowledged their participation in the attempt to seize the brig; but most solemnly denied any knowledge of a preconcerted plan to take her; or that they, at least, had attempted to throw the soldiers overboard. They were unwilling to be interrupted, and inveighed in the bitterest manner against some of their companions who had, they seemed to think, betrayed them, or at least had led them on, and at the moment of danger had flinched.

The names of the surviving mutineers were John Jones, Nicholas Lewis, Henry Sears, George Beavers, James Woolfe, Thomas Whelan, and Patrick Barry.

The depositions against them having been taken, all the men I have mentioned, with the exception of Jones and Whelan, who were wounded, were brought to hear them read. They listened with calm attention, but none of them appeared to be much excited. Once only during the reading, Beavers passionately denied the statements made by one of the witnesses present, and was with difficulty silenced. His countenance at that moment was terribly agitated; every bad feeling seemed to mingle in its passionate expression. They were all young, powerful, and, with one or two exceptions, not at all ill-looking men.

From the jail I proceeded to the hospital, where the wounded men were lying. They had each received severe wounds in the thigh, and were in great agony. The violence of Jones was excessive. Weakened in some degree by an immense loss of blood, the bitterness of his spirit, nevertheless, exhibited itself in passionate bursts of impatience. He was occasionally convulsed with excessive pain; for the nerves of the thigh had been much lacerated, and the bone terribly shattered. His features were distorted with pain and anger, and occasionally bitter curses broke from his lips; yet there was something about his appearance which powerfully arrested my attention-an evident marking of intellect and character, repulsive in its present development, yet in many respects remarkable. His history had been a melancholy one, and, as illustrative of many thousand others, I give it as I afterward received it from his lips.

At eleven years of age he was employed in a warehouse in Liverpool as an errand boy. While following this occupation, from which by good conduct he might have risen to something better, he was met in the street one day by the lad whom he had succeeded in this employment, and was told by him how he might obtain money by robbing the warehouse, and then go with him to the theater. He accordingly took an opportunity of stealing some articles which had been pointed out, and gave them to his companion, who, in disposing of them, was detected, and, of course, criminated Jones.

After remaining

some weeks in jail, Jones was tried and acquitted; but his character being now gone, he became reckless, and commenced a regular career of depredation. In attempting another warehouse robbery, he was detected, and sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment. By the time he was released from this, he was well tutored in crime, and believed that he could now adroitly perform the same robbery in which he had previously failed. He made the attempt the very night of his release from jail, and with temporary success. Subsequently, however, he was detected, and received sentence of transportation for seven years.

He underwent this sentence, and an additional one in Van Diemen's Land, chiefly at Port Arthur, the most severe of the penal stations there. From this place he, with Lewis, Moss—who was shot on board the brig—and Woolfe, having seized a whaleboat, effected their escape.

During three months they underwent the most extreme hardships from hunger and exposure. Once they had been without food for several days, and their last hook was over the boat's side; they were anxiously watching for a fish.

A small, blue shark took the bait, and in despair one of them dashed over the boat's side to seize the fish; his leg was caught by one of the others, and they succeeded in saving both man and hook. They eventually reached Twofold Bay, on the coast of New South Wales, and were then apprehended, conveyed to Sydney, and thence sent back to Van Diemen's Land; tried, and received sentence of death; but this was subsequently commuted to transportation for life to Norfolk Island.

Jones often described to me the intense misery he had undergone during his career. He had never known what freedom was, and yet incessantly longed for it. All alike confessed the unhappiness of their career. Having made the first false step into crime, they acknowledged that their minds became polluted by the associations they formed during imprisonment. Then they were further demoralized by thinking of the glorysuch miserable glory !-attending a trial; and the hulks and the voyage out gave them a finished criminal training. The extent of punishment many of them have undergone during the period of transportation is almost incredible. I have known men whose original sentence of seven years has been extended over three times that period, and who, in addition to other punishment, have received five thousand or six thousand lashes!

After many solemn interviews with the mutineers, I found them gradually softening. They became more communicative, and extremely

« ForrigeFortsæt »