[From The Eventful History of the Mutiny and Piratical Seizure of H.M.S. Bounty, by John Barrow, at Project Gutenberg.]
"There is a passage in Captain Beechey's account of Pitcairn Island, which, if correct, would cast a stain on the memory of the unfortunate Stewart—who, if there was one innocent man in the ship, was that man. Captain Beechey says (speaking of Christian), 'His plan, strange as it must appear for a young officer to adopt, who was fairly advanced in an honourable profession, was to set himself adrift upon a raft, and make his way to the island (Tofoa) then in sight. As quick in the execution as in the design, the raft was soon constructed, various useful articles were got together, and he was on the point of launching it, when a young officer, who afterwards perished in the Pandora, to whom Christian communicated his intention, recommended him, rather than risk his life on so hazardous an expedition, to endeavour to take possession of the ship, which he thought would not be very difficult, as many of the ship's company were not well disposed towards the commander, and would all be very glad to return to Otaheite, and reside among their friends in that island. This daring proposition is even more extraordinary than the premeditated scheme of his companion, and, if true, certainly relieves Christian from part of the odium which has hitherto attached to him as the sole instigator of the mutiny.' Relieve him?—not a jot—but on the best authority it may boldly be stated, that it is not true—the authority of Stewart's friend and messmate, the late Captain Heywood.
"Captain Beechey, desirous of being correct in his statement, very properly sent his chapter on Pitcairn's Island for any observations Captain Heywood might have to make on what was said therein regarding the mutiny; observing in his note which accompanied it, that this account, received from Adams, differed materially from a footnote in Marshall's Naval Biography; to which Captain Heywood returned the following reply.
'DEAR SIR, —I have perused the account you received from Adams of the mutiny in the Bounty, which does indeed differ very materially from a footnote in Marshall's Naval Biography, by the editor, to whom I verbally detailed the facts, which are strictly true.
'That Christian informed the boatswain and the carpenter, Messrs. Hayward and Stewart, of his determination to leave the ship upon a raft, on the night preceding the mutiny, is certain; but that any one of them (Stewart in particular) should have "recommended, rather than risk his life on so hazardous an expedition, that he should try the expedient of taking the ship from the captain, etc.," is entirely at variance with the whole character and conduct of the latter, both before and after the mutiny; as well as with the assurance of Christian himself, the very night he quitted Taheite, that the idea of attempting to take the ship had never entered his distracted mind, until the moment he relieved the deck, and found his mate and midshipman asleep.[*]
'At that last interview with Christian he also communicated to me, for the satisfaction of his relations, other circumstances connected with that unfortunate disaster, which, after their deaths, may or may not be laid before the public. And although they can implicate none but himself, either living or dead, they may extenuate but will contain not a word of his in defence of the crime he committed against the laws of his country.—I am, etc.,
"Captain Beechey stated only what he had heard from old Adams, who was not always correct in the information he gave to the visitors of his island; but this part of his statement gave great pain to Heywood, who adverted to it on his death-bed, wishing, out of regard for Stewart's memory and his surviving friends, that it should be publicly contradicted; and with this view the above reply of Captain Heywood is here inserted."