Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

BLIGH'S VOYAGE

IN THE

SOUTH SEAS.

THIS interesting narrative is written by Mr. Bligh, whose

arrest and deposition from the government of New South Wales, was mentioned in the preceding article, and whose crew mutinied, and sent him adrift in an open boat in the South Seas.

“In August, 1787,' says Mr. Bligh, 'I was appointed to command the Bounty, a ship of 215 tous burthen, carrying four six-pounders, four swivels, and forty-six men, including myself and every person on board. We sailed from England in December, 1787, and arrived at Otaheite the 26th of October, 1788. On the 4th of April, 1789, we left Otaheite, with every favourable appearance of completing the object of the voyage, in a manner equal to my most sanguine expectations. We had on board 1015 fine bread-fruit plants, besides many other valuable fruits of that country, which, with unremitting attention, we had been collecting for three and twenty weeks, and which were now in the highest state of perfection.

! On the 11th of April, I discovered an island in latitude 18 deg. and 52 min. S. and longitude 200 deg. 19 min. E., by the patives called Whytootackee. On the 24th we anchored at Annamooka, one of the Friendly islands; from which, after completing our wood and water, I sailed on the 27th, having every reason to expect, from the fine condition of the plants, that they would continue healthy.

"On the evening of the 28th, owing to light winds, we were not clear of the islands, and at night I directed my course towards Tofoa. The master had the first watch; the gunner the middle watch; and Mr. Christian, one of the mates, the morning watch. This was the turn of duty for the night.

Just before sun-rising, Mr. Christian, with the master at arms, gunner's mate, and Thomas Burket, seaman, came into my cabin while I was asleep, and seizing me, tied my hands with a cord behind my back, and threatened me with instant death, if I spoke or made the least noise: I, however, called so loud as to alarm every one; but they had already secured the officers who were not of their party, by placing centinels at their doors. There were three men at my cabin door, besides the four within ; Christian had only a cutlass in his hand, the others had muskets and bayonets. I was hauled out of bed, and forced on deck in my shirt, suffering great pains from the tightness with which they had tied my hands. I demanded the reason of such violence, but received no other answer than threats of instant death, if I did not hold my tongue. Mr. Elphinston, the master's mate, was kept in bis birth; Mr. Nelson, botanist, Mr. Peckover, gunner, Mr. Ledward, surgeon, and the master, were confined to their cabins; and also the clerk, Mr. Samuel, but he soon obtained leave to come on deck. The fore hatchway was guarded by centinels; the boatswain and carpenter were, however, allowed to come on deck, where they saw me standing abaft the mizen-mast, with my hands tied behind my back, under a guard, with Christian at their head.

• The boatswain was now ordered to hoist the launch out, with a threat, if he did not do it instantly, to take care of himself.

• The boat being out, Mr. Hayward and Mr. Hallet, midshipmen, and Mr. Samuel, were ordered into it; upon which I demanded the cause of such an order, and endeavoured to persuade some one to a sense of duty; but it was to no effect: “Hold your tongue, sir, or you are dead this instant," was constantly repeated to me.

• The master, by this time, had sent to be allowed to come

on deck, which was permitted; but he was soon ordered back again to his cabin.

* I continued my endeavours to turn the tide of affairs, when Christian changed the cutlass he had in his hand for a bayonet that was brought to bim, and holding me with a strong gripe by the cord that tied my hands, he with many oaths threatened to kill me immediately if I would not be quiet: the villains round me had their pieces cocked and bayonets fixed. Particular people were now called on to go into the boat, and were hurried over the side: whence I concluded that with these people I was to be set adrift. I therefore made another effort to bring about a change, but with no other effect than to be threatened with having my brains blown out. The boatswain and seamen, who were to go in the boat, were allowed to collect twine, canvas, lines, sails, cordage, an eight and twenty gallon cask of water, and the carpenter to take his tool chest. Mr. Samuel got 150 pounds of bread, with a small quantity of rum and wine. He also got a quadrant and compass into the boat; but was forbidden, on pain of death, to touch either map, ephemeris, book of astronomical ohservations, sextant, time-keeper, or any of my surveys or drawings.

• The mutineers now hurried those they meant to get rid of into the boat. When most of them were in, Christian directed a dram to be served to each of his own crew. I now unhappily saw that nothing could be done to effect the recovery of the ship: there was no one to assist me, and every endeavour on my part was answered with threats of death. The officers were called, and forced over the side into the boat, while I was kept apart from every one, abaft the mizen-mast; Christian, armed with a bayonet, holding me by the bandage that secured my hands. The guard round me had their pieces cocked ; but, on my daring the ungrateful wretches to fire, they uncocked them.

• It is of no moment for me to recount my endeavours to bring back the offenders to a sense of their duty: all I could do was by speaking to them in general; but my endeavours were of no avail, for I was kept securely bound, and no one but the guard suffered

To Mr. Samuel I Vol. IV.

3 E

come near me,

am indebted for securing my journals and commission, with some material ship papers. Without these I had nothing to certify what I had done, and my honour and character might have been suspected, without my possessing a proper document to have defended them. All this he did with great resolution, though guarded and strictly watched. He attempted to save the time-keeper, and a box with all my surveys, drawings, and remarks for fifteen years past, which were numerous; when he was hurried away, with “ Damn your eyes, you are well off to get what you have.” Much altercation took place among the mutinous crew during the whole business: some swore “I'll be damned if he does not find his way home, if he gets any thing with him,” (meaning me :) others, when the carpenter's chest was carrying away, “ Damn my eyes, he will have a vessel built in a month.” While others laughed at the helpless situation of the boat, being very deep, and so little room for those who were in her. As for Christian, he seemed meditating instant destruction on himself and every one. I asked for arms, but they laughed at me, and said, I was well acquainted with the people where I was going, and therefore did not want them; four cutlasses, however, were thrown into the boat, after we were veered astern.

• When the officers and men, with whom I was suffered to have no communication, were put into the boat, they only waited for me, and the master at arms informed Christian of it; who then said “Come, captain Bligh, your officers and men are now in the boat, and you must go with them; if you attempt to make the least resistance you will certainly be put to death ;" and, without any farther ceremony, holding me by the cord that tied my hands, with a tribe of armed ruffians about me, I was forced over the side, where they untied my hands. Being in the boat, we were veered astern by a rope. A few pieces of pork were then thrown to us, and some clothes, also the cutlasses I have already mentioned ; and it was now that the armourer and carpenters called out to me that they had no hand in the transaction. After having undergone a great deal of ridicule, and been kept some time to make sport for these unfeeling wretches, we were at length cast adrift in the open

ocean. Having little or no wind, we rowed pretty fast towards Tofoa, which bore N. E. about ten leagues from us. While the ship was in sight she steered to the W. N. W., but I considered this only as a feint; for when we were sent away“ Huzza for Otaheite,” was frequently heard among the mutineers.

* Christian, the captain of the gang, is of a respectable family in the north of England. This was the third voyage he had made with me; and, as I found it necessary to keep my ship's company at three watches, I gave him an order to take charge of the third, his abilities being thoroughly equal to the task ; and by this means my master and gunner were not at watch and watch. Notwithstanding the roughness with which I was treated, the remembrance of past kindnesses produced some signs of remorse in Christian. When they were forcing me out of the ship, I asked him, if this treatment was a proper return for the many instances he had received of my friendship ? he appeared disturbed at my question, and answered, with much emotion, " That,-captain Bligh,--that is the thing ;---I am in hell—I am in hell.”

• It will very naturally be asked, what could be the reason for such a revolt? in answer to which, I can only conjecture, that the mutineers had assured themselves of a more happy life among the Otaheiteans, than they could possibly have in England ; which, joined to some female connections, have most probably been the principal cause of the whole transaction. The women at Otaheite are handsome, mild, and cheerful in their manners and conversation, possessed of great sensibility, and have sufficient delicacy to make them admired and beloved. The chiefs were so much attached to our people, that they rather encouraged their stay among them than otherwise, and even made them promises of large possessions. Under these, and many other attendant circumstances, equally desirable, it is now perhaps not so much to be wondered at, though scarcely possible to have been foreseen, that a set of sailors, most of them void of connections, should be led away ; especially when, in addition to such powerful inducements, they imagined it in their power to fix themselves in the midst

« ForrigeFortsæt »