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account, when I assure you, before the face of God, of my innocence of what is laid to my charge.
“All, my dearest mother, was owing to my youth and unadvised inexperience, but has been interpreted into villainy and disregard of my country's laws, the ill effects of which I at present suffer, and am to labor under for some months longer. And now, after what I have asserted, I may still once more retrieve my injured reputation, be again reinstated in the affection and favor of the most tender of mothers, and be still considered as her dutiful, son.
“My sufferings I have not power to describe ; but though they are great, yet I thank God for enabling me to bear them without repining. I endeavor to qualify my affliction with these three considerations : first, my innocence not deserving them; secondly, that they can not last long; and thirdly, that the change may be for the better. The first improves my hopes, the second my patience, and the third my courage. I am young in years, but old in what the world calls adversity; and it has had such an effect as to make me consider it the most beneficial incident that could have occurred at my age. It has made me acquainted with three things which are little known, and as little believed by any but those who have felt their effects : first, the villainy and censoriousness of mankind ; secondly, the futility of all human hopes; and thirdly, the happiness of being content in whatever station it may please Providence to place me. In short, it has made me more of a philosopher than many years of a life spent in ease and pleasure would have done.
“As they will, no doubt, proceed to the greatest lengths against me, I being the only surviving officer, and they most inclined to believe a prior story, all that can be said to confute it will probably be looked upon as mere falsity and invention. Should that be my unhappy case, and they resolved upon my destruction as an example to futurity, may God enable me to bear my fate with the fortitade of a man, conscious that misfortune, not any miscon
duct, is the cause, and that the Almighty can attest my innocence. Yet, why should I despond? I have, I hope, still a friend in that Providence which hath preserved me amidst
many greater dangers, and upon whom alone I now depend for safety. God will always protect those who deserve it. These are the sole considerations which have enabled me to make myself easy and content under my past misfortunes. Your most dutiful and ever obedient son,
Three Dutch ships were hired to convey the Pandora's ship’s company and the prisoners to the Cape of Good Hope. The latter were confined between decks, and were again compelled to sleep on bare planks; and the Dutch purser contriving that rations even insufficient for fourteen days should last sixteen, they were half-starved. The deck being very leaky, they were alternately drenched with rain or salt-water, as the vessel rolled terribly.
On the 15th of January, 1792, they reached the Cape of Good Hope, and the prisoners were transferred to H.M.S. Gorgon. In the absence of Captain Parker, who commanded her, the first lieutenant, Mr. Gardner, received them with much kindness. They were only chained by one leg, and Morrison remarks, “Mr. Gardner very humanely gave us a sail to lie upon, a luxury we had not enjoyed for twelve months.” They were also allowed to sit on deck for six or eight hours a day, to enjoy the fresh air.
They continued at the Cape until the 5th of April, when the Gorgon was ordered to England, and Captain Edwards took his passage in her, with a few of the Pandora's crew and the prisoners. On this voyage they were received with due consideration, as persons who were awaiting their trial. Captain Edwards, on the contrary, neglecting the rules prescribed by law, had treated them
as condemned criminals; and, even granting they were so, his conduct was not only a disgrace to the service, but to common humanity.
On the 19th of June, 1792, the Gorgon anchored at Spithead. A few days afterwards an order was sent down to transfer the prisoners on board the Hector, commanded by Captain (afterwards Sir George) Montague, who was a gallant officer and gentleman. By himself and his officers they were treated in the most courteous and considerate manner, every indulgence being allowed them compatible with their position and safe custody.
Four years and four months had thus elapsed since these people left England in the Bounty, with happy prospects and expectations. Fifteen months of that time they had been principally in irons, and enduring many privations and much needless suffering; yet the health of several continued good throughout, and none died from sickness, while of the Pandora's people many suffered from fever, and several died.
In a letter from Peter Heywood to his mother he says: “During nearly eighteen months of my imprisonment, my health has been excellent, thank God ! notwithstanding my anxieties and sufferings, and I have grown two inches.” At this period he was barely nineteen. In another letter he mentions that the suit of clothes in which he appeared on board the Hector was made by his companions in misfortune, and paid for with the money he received for manufacturing straw hats.
There was a very general feeling that Captain Edwards had treated the prisoners with unnecessary severity. When he was appointed to the Pandora his orders were to go to the South Seas, in search of the Bounty, and the remainder of her officers and crew, and to bring them in safe custody to England, but he was not commanded to
treat them with cruelty and ignominy. Captain Edwards, like Lieutenant Bligh, was of a harsh, unfeeling nature, but it is one of the happy marks of progress in this latter half of the nineteenth century, that the service of the Royal Navy can not now be carried on as it was seventy years since. No captain of a ship of war can place a seaman in irons, or punish him from mere caprice or ill-humor. A warrant must be drawn up previous to punishment; twenty-four hours must elapse between the committal of an offense and the infliction of punishment, and all the particulars, with the amount of punishment, must be stated in writing, signed by the captain, and transmitted with other returns to the Admiralty. Scenes which were disgraceful to common humanity, and in which our seamen were subjected to the most cruel sufferings, are now happily unknown, and placed beyond the possibility of recurrence. Barbarity and ill-usage have thus given place to kindliness and good-will, and service in the Royal Navy is sought for in these days, instead of being shunned and detested as in former times. But there is no doubt that the farther we look back into the practices of former years, the greater are the cruelties we find sanctioned by severe and barbarous laws.
CHAPTER VI. Consequences of the Mutiny.--Correspondence previous to the Court
The consequences of the mutiny were as unhappy as its design was criminal. The sufferings of Lieutenant Bligh and his companions on the boat-voyage have been already narrated. The accomplishment of such an unprecedented passage
of three thousand miles across an open sea must have been both severe and perilous.
Then followed the search for the officers and crew of the Bounty who had remained in her, the miseries of those incarcerated on board the Pandora, and finally the total wreck of that ship, in which thirty of her crew and four of the prisoners perished. Sad as were these events in themselves, they appear more so when we reflect on the amount of affliction which they must have caused in the homes of bereaved relatives and friends. wife and mother was destined to regard the Bounty as a source of sorrow too deep for utterance! But still the Nemesis of this daring crime was not yet appeased, and perhaps one of the saddest results was that it confounded the innocent with the guilty, and caused those who were powerless to resist to be viewed as sympathizing with its perpetrators.
Peter Heywood was among those who suffered from this false suspicion, and we shall commence this painful subject with a letter from Mr. Hallett (who had been midshipman on board the Bounty), in reply to one from Miss Nessy Heywood,* sister of Peter.
How many a
* See chap. i., p. 21.