On the 23rd Mar. 1791, just eighteen months after the Bounty's last departure from Matavia Bay, the Pandora arrived there in search of that ill-fated ship. Scarcely had she anchored, when Messrs. Heywood and Stewart paddled off in a canoe, and made themselves known to her commander, the late Admiral Edward Edwards, who instantly ordered them to be put both legs in irons, and ever afterwards treated them as though they had been "piratical villains," as he then thought proper to designate them—a convincing proof that Lieutenant Bligh, when reporting the loss of his ship, had made no discrimination between the innocent and the guilty.
The other survivors of the Bounty, twelve in number, who were then at Otaheite, being shortly after collected from different parts of the island, handcuffs were made and fitted to the wrists of the whole party; and a sort of prison, appropriately stiled Pandora's box, being only eleven feet in length, was built upon the after part of the quarter-deck, in order that they might be kept separate from the crew, and the more effectually prevented from having any communication with the natives. Such of those friendly creatures as ventured to look pitifully towards them were instantly turned out of the ship, and never again allowed to come on board. Two centinels were kept constantly upon the roof of the prison, with orders to shoot the first of its inmates who should attempt to address another in the Otaheitean dialect. A Midshipinan was stationed in front of the bulk-head, through which the only air admitted, found its way by means of two iron gratings, each about nine inches square. The master at arms received directions not to converse with the prisoners on any other subject than that of their provisions. Spare hammocks supplied the place of beds until they became crowded with vermin, after which the sufferers were obliged to sleep on the bare deck. The heat of the prison, during calm weather, was so intense, that the perspiration ran in streams from their bodies; and to add to their misery, they were incessantly assailed by the effluvia proceeding from two tubs placed near them for necessary purposes. In short, nothing was wanting to render their situation truly pitiable.
From Otaheite the Pandora proceeded to the westward, cruising amongst the different islands in her route, but without gaining any intelligence of the Bounty. During this search she lost a Midshipman and several men, who were blown out to sea when returning from Palmerston's Isles, in the jolly-boat, and thereby exposed to a lingering death through hunger. The schooner which had been built by the Bounty's people, and commissioned as a tender by Captain Edwards, also parted company in a gale of wind; but after encountering many dangers, succeeded in reaching the island of Java, from whence she was sent as a present to the Governor of Timor, as a return for his hospitality towards the Pandora's officers when they arrived with their prisoners at Coupang, after being shipwrecked on the reef between New Holland and New Guinea, a disaster which we feel the more pain in relating, as it is impossible to do so without again reflecting upon their commander's inhuman conduct.*
* The schooner's dimensions were as follows: length of the keel, 30 feet; length on deck, 35 feet; extreme breadth, 9 feet 6 inches; depth of the hold, 5 feet. She sailed remarkably well; and, being afterwards employed in the seaotter trade, made the quickest passage ever known from China to the Sandwich Islands. This memorable little vessel, also, being purchased at Canton by the late Captain Broughton, to assist him in surveying the coast of Tartary, became the means of preserving the crew of H. M. S. Providence, 112 in number, when wrecked to the eastward of Formosa, on the 17th May, 1797.†
The Pandora got sight of the reef in question on the 28th Aug. 1791, and her second Lieutenant* was immediately sent to ascertain if any opening existed through which she could pass. At 5 P. M. he made a signal in the affirmative; but Captain Edwards, wishing to be well informed on the subject, continued lying-to until seven o'clock, by which time the current had set the ship so near to the reef that soundings were obtained with fifty fathoms of line, although no bottom could be previously found with more than double that quantity. The mainyard was then braced up, in order to stand off; but, before the courses could be set, she struck with great violence upon a patch of coral, and almost instantly bilged. The sails were scarcely furled, and boats hoisted out, when the carpenter reported that she had nine feet water in the hold.
Three of the Bounty's people (Coleman, Norman, and M'Intosh) were now let out of irons, and sent to work at the pumps. The others offered their assistance, and begged to be allowed a chance of saving their lives; instead of which two additional centinels were placed over them, with orders to shoot any who should attempt to get rid of their fetters. Seeing no prospect of escape, they betook themselves to prayer, and prepared to meet their fate, every one expecting that the ship would soon go to pieces, her rudder, and part of the stern-post being already beat away. About ten o'clock, however, she beat over the reef, and was brought to an anchor in fifteen fathoms water.
At this dreadful crisis, the wind blowing very strong, and the ship being surrounded by rocks and shoals, all the people who could be spared from the pumps were employed thrumbing a sail to fodder her bottom; but this scheme was soon abandoned, in consequence of one of the chainpumps giving way, and the water gaining rapidly upon the other, which rendered it necessary for every person to bale at the hatchways, in order that she might be kept afloat till daylight. Whilst thus engaged, one man was crushed to death by a gun breaking loose, and another killed by a spar falling from the skids into the waist. All the boats, excepting one, were in the mean time kept at a distance from the ship, on account of the broken water, and the high surf that was running near her.
About half an hour before day-break a consultation was held amongst the officers, who were unanimously of opinion that nothing more could be done to save the ship, and that every effort should be directed towards the preservation of the crew. Spars, hen-coops, and every thing buoyant, were accordingly thrown overboard to afford them support until the boats could come to their aid; but no notice was taken of the prisoners, as is falsely stated by the author of the "Pandora's Voyage," although Captain Edwards was entreated by Mr. Heywood to have mercy upon them, when he passed over their prison to make his own escape, the ship then lying on her broadside, with the larboard bow completely under water. Fortunately the master-at-arms, either by accident or design, when slipping from the roof of Pandora's Box into the sea, let the keys of the irons fall through the scuttle, or entrance, which he had just before opened, and thus enabled them to commence their own liberation, in which they were generously assisted, at the imminent risk of his own life, by William Moulter, a boatswain's mate, who clung to the coamings, and pulled the long bars through the shackles, saying he would set them free, or go to the bottom with them*.
* The entrance to the prison was through a scuttle in the roof, about eighteen inches square, secured by an iron bolt passed through the coamings. William Moulter was subsequently made a warrant-officer through Captain Heywood's influence.
Scarcely was this effected, when the ship went down, leaving nothing visible below the top-mast cross-trees. The master at arms, and all the sentinels, sunk to rise no more. The cries of them, and the other drowning men, were awful in the extreme; and more than half an hour had elapsed before the survivors could be taken up by the boats. Among the former were Mr. Stewart, John Sumner, Richard Skinner, and Henry Hillbrant, the whole of whom perished with their hands still in manacles*.
* Mr. Stewart was a native of the Orkneys; and Lieutenant Bligh acknowledges having received so many civilities from his family, when he touched at those islands on his return from the South Seas, with Captain Gore, in 1780, that he would gladly have received him on board the Bounty on that account only, "but independent of this recommendation, he was a seaman, and had always borne a good character."
An affecting account of the young female with whom Mr. Stewart co-habited whilst at Otaheite, will be found in the Appendix to "The Duff's Missionary Voyage," at page 346*.
* "The history of Peggy Stewart marks a tenderness of heart that never will be heard without emotion: she was daughter of a chief, and taken for his wife by Mr. Stewart, one of the unhappy mutineers. They had lived with the old chief in the most tender state of endearment; a beautiful little girl had been the fruit of their union, and was at the breast when the Pandora arrived, siezed the criminals, and secured them in irons on board the ship. Frantic with grief, the unhappy Peggy (for so he had named her) flew with her infant in a canoe to the arms of her husband. The interview was so affecting and afflicting, that the officers on board were overwhelmed with anguish, and Stewart himself, unable to bear the heart-rending scene, begged she might not be admitted again on board. She was separated from him by violence, and conveyed on shore in a state of despair and grief too big for utterance. Withheld from him, and forbidden to come any more on board, she sunk into the deepest dejection; it preyed on her vitals; she lost all relish for food and life; rejoiced no more; pined under a rapid decay of two months, and fell a victim to her feelings, dying literally of a broken heart. Her child is yet alive, and the tender object of our care, having been brought up by a sister, who nursed it as her own and has discharged all the duties of an affectionate mother to the orphan infant."
from A Missionary Voyage, London, 1799.
On this melancholy occasion, Mr. Heywood was the last person but three who escaped from the prison into which the water had already found its way through the bulkhead scuttles. Jumping overboard, he seized a plank, and was swimming towards a small sandy quay, about three miles distant, when a boat picked him up, and conveyed him thither in a state of nudity. It is worthy of remark, that James Morrison, whose name we have so frequently had occasion to mention, endeavoured to follow his young companion's example, and, although handcuffed, managed to keep afloat until a boat also came to his assistance.
The survivors being all assembled on a quay, only ninety yards long and sixty wide, it was found that thirtynine men, including the above, had met with a watery grave. The only articles of provisions saved from the wreck were three bags of biscuit, a small keg of wine, and several barracoes of water; the number of persons to subsist thereon was ninety-nine; and the distance they had to proceed in four open boats, before a fresh supply could be hoped for, at least 1100 miles. Thus circumstanced, the strictest economy became necessary; and orders were accordingly given, that only two ounces of bread, and one gill of wine, or the same quantity of water should be served to each man once in twenty-four hours.
The boats' sails were now converted into tents for the Pandora's crew, most of whom had landed in a very exhausted state, and required a little rest previous to their departure. The prisoners, however, were kept at a distance from them, without the least covering to protect their naked bodies from the scorching rays of a vertical sun by day, and the chilling effect of heavy dews at night. A spare sail, which was lying useless on the quay, being refused them by Captain Edwards, they tried the experiment of burying themselves neck-deep in the sand, which caused the skin to blister and peel off from head to foot, as though they had been immersed in scalding water. The excruciating torture which they suffered from thirst, aggravated as it had been by involuntarily swallowing salt water, whilst swimming from the wreck, was, if possible, increased by the sight of rain, and their total inability to catch any of it. Exposed in this manner to alternate heat and cold, in the latitude of 11° S. some conception may be formed of their sufferings, but words will be found wanting to describe them.
The damages sustained by one of the boats having been repaired, and such other preparations made for their voyage as circumstances would admit, the whole party embarked at noon on the 31st Aug. and proceeded towards Coupang, where they arrived in a miserable condition at 5 P. M. on the 16th of the following month. Whilst there, Mr. Heywood and the other prisoners were closely confined in the castle; but, although for several days treated with great rigour by their Dutch goalers, they do not at any time appear to have suffered so many privations at once, as when in the sole custody of a British Captain!
The mutuability of human greatness was excellently pourtrayed whilst the Pandora's officers remained at Coupang, —a captive King in chains being compelled to blow the bellows for the English armourer, whilst he was employed forging bolts and fetters for his own countrymen. See Hamilton's Account of the Pandora's Voyage, p. 146.
From Coupang they were conveyed in the Rembang, a badly found and worse managed Dutch Indiaman, to Samarang, and Batavia, at which latter place they anchored on the 7th Nov., after a very dangerous passage of 33 days, the ship being twice nearly driven on shore, and proving so leaky as to render it necessary for every person on board to work at the pumps—a species of liberty which the prisoners were allowed to enjoy until their strength entirely failed them, when they were again placed in irons and suffered to rest their weary limbs on an old sail, alternately soaked with rain, salt water, and the drainings of a pig-sty under which it was spread.
At Batavia Captain Edwards distributed the purchase money of the schooner among his people, in order that they might furnish themselves with nankeen apparel; and the prisoners, having their hands at liberty, availed themselves of this opportunity to obtain some article of clothing, by making straw hats for sale, and acting as tailors to those who had thus become comparatively rich by the produce of their labour as shipwrights. It was in a suit thus purchased that Mr. Heywood arrived at Spithead, after an absence of four year and a half all but four days. The patience, fortitude, and manly resignation evinced by him at that early period of life, were such as excited the admiration of his family and friends; and may be inferred from the following passages contained in letters written by him at a period when charged by his persecutor, Lieutenant Bligh, with the crimes of ingratitude, mutiny and desertion-charges sufficient to shake the strongest nerves.
"I am afraid to say a hundreth part of what I have got in store, for this is written by stealth, as the use of pens, ink, and paper, is denied me. * * * * 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 endeavour to qualify my affliction with these three considerations, first, my innocence, not deserving them; secondly, that they cannot last long; and third, 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. 1st, the villainy and censoriousness of mankind; 2d, the futility of all human hopes; and, third, 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 could have done.
"As they will not 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 would 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 fortitude of a man, conscious that misfortune, not any misconduct, 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.
"Though I have been nearly eight months in close confinement, in a hot climate, I have preserved my health in a most surprising manner, without the least indisposition, and am still perfectly well, in head as well as body; but without any clothing except one shirt and a pair of trowsers. I have, thank God, a contented mind, and am entirely resigned to his divine will, which enables me to soar above the reach of unhappiness. You will, most probably, hear of my arrival in England before I can again write to you, which I most earnestly long for an opportunity of doing at length, that I may explain things which it is not now in my power to mention. Yet I hope this will be sufficient to undeceive those who have been so ungenerous, as to declare me criminal, as well as those who have been credulous enough to believe their undeserved aspersions. I send this by one of the Pandora's men, who is to sail from hence shortly in the first ship; we shall follow in about a week after, and I expect to see England in about seven months."
The Pandora and Bounty's people were conveyed from Batavia to the Cape of Good Hope in three Dutch ships, each division under the charge of a Lieutenant. During that voyage the prisoners slept on bare planks, and were ordered to be victualled in the following manner, viz. three pounds of execrable meat; one pound and a half of stock fish; the same weight of tamarinds and sugar; gee, and rancid oil, of each half a pint; and one pint of vinegar, per man, every fortnight:—two drams of arrack, equal to one-third of a pint per day:—and an equally scanty proportion of the very worst rice, instead of bread. Miserable as this allowance was, the Dutch pursers contrived to distribute it in such a manner as to make fourteen rations last for sixteen days!
Mr. Heywood was removed into the Gorgon, of 44 guns, lying in Table Bay, March 19, 1792; and from that period till his arrival in England he appears to have been allowed the inestimable indulgence of walking upon deck for six or eight hours every day, whilst at other times he was only confined with one leg in irons. On the 21st of June, two days after his return to Spithead, he was transferred to the Hector 74, commanded by Captain (now Sir George) Montagu, who treated him with the greatest humanity both before and after his trial, which took place in September following, when we find him delivering the following address in vindication of his character: