No. 14 Mr. P. Heywood to Mrs. Heywood
My ever hon'd. & dearest Mother.
At length the Time has arrived when you are once more to hear from your ill-fated Son whose Conduct at the Capture of that Ship in which it was my Fortune to embark has I fear (from what has since happened to me) been grossly misrepresented to you by Lieut. Bligh, who by not knowing the real Cause of my remaining on board, naturally suspected me (unhappy for me) to be a Coadjutor in the Mutiny: – but I never to my Knowledge whilst under his Command, behaved myself in a Manner unbecoming the Station I occupied, nor so much as ever entertained a Thought derogating to his Honor, so as to give him the least Grounds for entertaining an Opinion of me so ungenerous & undeserved, for I flatter myself he cannot give a Character of my Conduct whilst I was under his Tuition that cou'd merit the slightest Scrutiny. — Oh! my dearest Mother, I hope you have not so easily credited such an Account of me; do but let me vindicate my Conduct, & declare to you the true Cause of my remaining in the ship, & you will then see how little I deserve Censure & how I have been injured by so gross an Aspersion! I shall then give you a short & cursory Account of what has happened to me since – but I am afraid to say an hundredth part of what I have got in store; (for I am not allowed the Use of these Articles if known, so that this is done by Stealth) yet there may be a Time hereafter; but if it shou'd come to your Hands it will I hope have the desired effect of removing your Uneasiness on my Account when I assure you (before the Face of God) of my Innocence of what is laid to my Charge. — How I came to remain on board was thus —
The Morning the ship was taken, it being my Watch below, happening to awake just after day-light, & looking out of my Hammock, I saw a Man sitting upon the Arms Chest in the main Hatchway with a drawn Cutlass in his Hand which I cou'd not divine the reason of, so got out of Bed, & having asked him the reason, he told me, that Mr. Christian (assisted by some of the Ship's Company) had taken & put the Captain in Confinement, & had taken the Command of the ship upon himself & was going to take him Home a prisoner to have him tried by a Court Martial for his long tyrannical & oppressive Behaviour to his people! — I was quite thunderstruck — & turning into my Birth again told one of my Messmates who was asleep of what had happened, then dressing myself, went up the fore Hatchway & saw what he had told me to be but too true, & again I asked some of the people who were under Arms, what was going to be done with the Captain (who was then on the larboard side of the quarter Deck, with his Hands tied behind his Back & Mr. Christian along-side him, with a pistol & drawn Bayonet) most of whom told me quite a different story from what I had heard below, which was, that he was to be sent ashore to Tofoa in the Launch & those who wou'd not join Mr. Christian, might either accompany him, or be taken in Irons as prisoners to 'Taheite & be left there. The relation of two so different stories made me unable to judge which cou'd be the true one; but seeing them hoisting the Boats off, it seemed to prove the latter: — In this trying situation, young & inexperienced as I was, & without an Adviser (every person being as it were infatuated, & not knowing what to do) I remained for a While a silent spectator of what was going on; & after revolving the Matter clearly within my Mind, I was determined to chuse the lesser of two Evils, because I knew that those who went on shore wou'd in all probability be put to death by the savage Natives, whereas the 'Taheiteans being a humane & generous race one might have some Hopes of being kindly received & remain there till the Arrival of another ship, which seemed to silly me, the most consistent with reason & rectitude — while this resolution possessed my Mind, at the same Time lending my Assistance to hoist out the Boats, the Hurry & Confusion Affairs were in & thinking my Intention just, I never thought of going to Mr. Bligh for Advice; besides, what confirmed me in it was, seeing two experienced Officers when ordered into the Boat by Mr. Christian, desire his permission to remain in the ship. — one of whom my own Messmate, Mr. Hayward, and I, being assisting to clear the Launch of yams; he asked me what I intended to do; I told him, to remain in the ship — now this Answer I imagine he has told Mr. Bligh I made to him; from which, together with my not speaking to him that Morning, his suspicions of me have arose, construing my Conduct into what is foreign to my Nature. — Thus my dearest Mother 'twas all owing to my youth & unadvised Inexperience but has been interpreted into Villainy & disregard to my Country's Laws, the ill Effects of which I at present & still am to labour 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 & Favor of the most tender of Mothers & be still considered as her ever dutiful Son.
How it grieves me to think I must be so implicit when I have got such a Burden to unfold, but Necessity obliges me! however I must continue on my relation — I was not undeceived in my erroneous Intention till too late which was, after the Captain was in the Launch, for while I was talking to the Master at Arms (one of the ringleaders of the Affair) upon the starboard Boom aft, my other Messmate whom I had left in his Hammock in the Birth, came up to me & asked me if I was not going in the Launch? & I told him No! upon which he told me not to think of such a Thing as staying behind, but take his Advice & go down below with him & get a few necessary Things & make Haste to go with him into the Launch, and said that by remaining in the Ship I shou'd incur an equal share of Guilt with the Malcontents themselves, – upon which, he and the Master at Arms had some Altercation about my Messmate's Intention of going in the Boat: – I reluctantly took his Advice — reluctantly I say, because I knew no better & was foolish & the Boat swimming very deep in the Water — the Land being far distant — the Thoughts of being sacrificed by the Natives on, or soon after landing — & the self-consciousness of my own Intention being just — all these Considerations corroborating each other, almost staggered my resolution: yet I preferred his Judgement before my own, & we both jumped down the main Hatchway for that purpose; – but as soon as we were in the Birth, the Master at Arms ordered the Centry who I before mentioned to keep us both in the Birth; till he shou'd receive Orders for our releasement & wou'd not suffer my Messmate to go out tho' he made an Attempt that he then desired the Master at Arms to acquaint Mr. Bligh of our detention, which I fear he omitted, & we ourselves did not come upon Deck till the Launch was a long Way astern — I now saw my Error in Belief. — At the latter End of May we got to an Island to the southward of 'Taheite called Toobouai, where they intended to make a settlement; but finding no Stock there of any Kind they agreed to go to 'Taheite, & after procuring Hogs, Fowls, &c, Jun 6, 1789 to return to Toobouai & remain — so on June 6th. we arrived at 'Taheite, where I was in hopes I might find an Opportunity of running away, & remaining on Shore; but I cou'd not effect it, as there was always too good a look-out kept to prevent any such steps being taken; & besides they had all sworn, that shou'd any one make his Escape, they wou'd force the Natives to restore him, & wou'd then shoot him, as an Example to the rest; well knowing that any one remaining there, might (shou'd a ship arrive) be the Means of discovering the place of their Abode: — therefore, finding it impracticable, I saw no other Alternative but to rest as content as possible & return to Toobouai, & there wait till the Masts shou'd be taken out, & then take the Boat, which might carry me to 'Taheite, & disable those remaining from pursuit.
But providence so ordered it, that we had no Occasion to try our Fortune at such an Hazard —
for after returning there & remaining till the latter End of August, in which Time a Fort was
almost built, but nothing cou'd be effected, as the Natives cou'd not be brought to friendly Terms
& with whom we had many skirmishes & narrow Escapes from being cut off by them, & what
was still worse internal Broils & Discontent. — this determined part of the People
to leave the Island & go to 'Taheite,
which was carried by a Majority of Votes,
Sep 22, 1789 & being put in Execution,
& on the 22d of Sep'br. having anchored,
the next Morning my Messmate & I went on Shore
to the House of an old landed Man, our former Friend, and being now freed from a L— C—w,
determined to remain as much so as possible, & wait patiently for the Arrival of a ship. Fourteen
more of the People came likewise on Shore (two of whom, the Master at Arms & Centry I before
mentioned have been killed
by the Natives)
& Mr. Christian & eight Men went away
in the ship, but God knows whither.
Whilst we remained there we were used by our Friends (the Natives) with a Friendship, Generosity, & Humanity almost unparallelled, being such as never was equalled by the People of any civilized Nations, to the Disgrace of all Christians. — We had some few Battles with the Enemies of the People we resided with, but I was always protected by a never failing Providence. — To be Mar 26, 1791 brief — living there till the latter end of March 1791, on the 26th. H. M. S. Pandora arrived, & had scarce come to an Anchor when my Messmate & I went aboard & made ourselves known & the Manner of our being upon the Island known to Captain Edwards the Commander; and knowing from one of the Natives who had been off in a Canoe that our former Messmate Mr. Hayward (now promoted to the rank of Lieut.) was on board. we asked for him, supposing he might prove our assertions; – but he [(]like all Worldlings when raised a little in Life) received us very coolly, & pretended Ignorance of our Affairs; yet formerly he & I were bound in brotherly Friendship — But! – so that Appearances being so much against us, we were ordered in Irons & looked upon — infernal Words! – as piratical Villains! & treated in the most indignant Manner. — Such a severe rebuff as this, to a Person unused to Troubles, would perhaps have been insupportable; but by me who had now been long inured to the Frowns of Fortune, & being supported by an inward Consciousness of not deserving it, it was received with the greatest Composure, & a full Determination to bear it with patience; ascribing it to the corrective Hand of an all gracious Providence, & fully convinced that Adversity is the Lot of Man, sent to wean him from these transient Scenes here below, & fix his Hopes on Joys more permanent; lest by a too long & uninterrupted round of good Fortune he shou'd forget the frailty of his Nature & almost doubt the Existence of a supreme & omnipotent Being. — Had my Confinement alone been my only Misfortune, I cou'd patiently have resigned myself to it; but one Evil seldom comes unaccompanied — Alas! I was informed of the greatest Misfortune that cou'd have befallen me, which was the Death of the most indulgent of Fathers, which I naturally supposed to have been hastened by Mr. Bligh's ungenerous Account of my Conduct — this Thought made me truly wretched — I had certainly been overpowered by my Grief, had not Mr. Hayward again assured me that he had paid the Debt of Nature before the arrival of the Bounty's Fate in England, & that he had the News by Letter from my ever dearest & much beloved Sister Nessy, which made me somewhat easier; so I endeavoured to bear it, as a Man ought, so heavy a Misfortune. — Yet I have still my Fears on my dear Mother's Account lest such an Account of me, when added to the recent Affliction you must then labour under from so severe a Loss, might (shou'd you be credulous enough to believe so hardly of me) overpower your Spirits & Constitution, & make your Grief too poignant & burdensome for Life — But may God of his infinite Mercy have ordered otherwise! & that this may find you & all my Brothers & Sisters as well as I cou'd wish, & have the desired Effect of rooting in you & all a Belief of my injured Innocence, & eradicate your Displeasure (if it ever subsisted) at my suspected Behaviour, the Thoughts of which make me most unhappy!
What I have suffered I have not Power to describe — but, tho' 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 — second, that they cannot last long — & third, that the Change may be for the better. — The first improves my Hopes — the second my Patience — & the third my Courage, & makes me thankful to God for them. — I am young in years, but old in what the World calls Adversity; & it has had such an Effect upon me to make me consider it as the most beneficial Incident that cou'd have occurred to my at my Years. — It has made me acquainted with three Things which are little known, & as little believed by any but those who have felt their Effects — first, the Villainy & Censoriousness of Mankind — second, the Futility of all Human Hopes, — & third, the Enjoyment of being content in whatever Station it pleases Providence to place me in. — in short it has made me more of a Philosopher than many Years of a Life spent in Ease & Pleasure cou'd have done
Shou'd you receive this, do assure my ever honored & much respected Friend Mr. Betham of my Innocence of the Crime which I imagine has been laid to my Charge — his disinterested Kindness to me is deeply rooted in my Mind — make him acquainted with the reason for my remaining in the Ship — perhaps his Assistance in interceding with his Son in Law Mr. Bligh in my Behalf, might undeceive him in his groundless ill Opinion of me, & prevent his proceeding to great Lengths against me at my approaching Trial. If you shou'd likewise apply to my Uncle Pasley & Mr. Heywood of Plymouth, their timely Aid & friendly Advice might be the Means of rescuing me from an ignominious Lot, as they will no Doubt proceed to the greatest Lengths against me (being the only surviving Officer) & being most inclined to believe a prior Story, all that can be said to confute it, will be looked upon as a mere falsity & Invention; which shou'd it by my unhappy Case, & they shou'd be resolved upon my Destruction as an Example to Futurity, my God enable me to bear my Fate with the Fortitude of a Man, conscious that Misfortune, not any Misconduct of mine, can have brought it upon me, & assured that my God & my Conscience can attest my Innocence. — Yet — why shou'd I despond — I have I hope still a Friend in that Providence which has preserved me in many greater Dangers, & will always protect those who are deserving of it, & on whom alone I now depend for safety. — These are the sole Considerations which have enabled me to make myself easy & content under my past Misfortunes, the relation of which I shall now continue up to the present Time.
Twelve more of the People who were at 'Taheite having delivered themselves up, there was a sort of Prison built upon the after Part of the quarter Deck, into which we were all put in close Confinement with both Legs & both Hands in Irons & were treated with great rigour, not being allowed ever to get out of this Place; & being obliged to eat, drink, sleep, & obey the Calls of Nature here, you may form some Idea of the disagreeable Situation I must have been in, (unable to help myself, being deprived of the Use of both my Legs & Hands) but by no Means adequate to the reality — such as I am unable to represent.
On May 9th. we left 'Taheite & proceeded to the friendly Isles & cruized about six Weeks to the Northward & in the Neighbourhood of these Islands in search of the Bounty but without success — in which Time we were so unfortunate as to lose a small Cutter & five Hands; — & having discovered several Islands, at one of these, parted Company with the Schooner which was built by our (the Bounty's) people at 'Taheite (& taken as a Tender by Captain Edwards) in which was an Officer & eight or nine Hands, she was given up for lost.
From the friendly Islands we steered to the Westward, & about the Beginning of August got in among the reefs of New Holland to endeavour at the Discovery of a Passage through; but it was not effected, for the Pandora, ever unlucky, Aug 29, 1791 & as it were devoted by Heaven to Destruction, on the 29th. of August at ½ past 7 oClock in the Morning was driven by a Current upon a Patch of a reef, upon which; as there was a heavy Surf — she was soon almost bulged to Pieces; but having thrown all the Guns on one side over board, & the Tide flowing at the same Time, she beat over the reef into a Bason [sic] encircled by the reef, & brought up in 14 or 15 Fathom — but was so much damaged while she was on the reef, that imagining she wou'd go to Pieces every Moment, we had wrenched ourselves out of Irons, & applied to the Captain to have Mercy on us & suffer us to have a Chance for our Lives; — but it was all in Vain, & he was even so inhuman as to order us all to be put in Irons again, tho' the Ship was expected to go down every Moment, being scarce able to keep her under with all the Pumps at Work: — In this miserable Situation, with an expected Death before our Eyes, without the least Hope of relief & in the most trying State of Suspense we spent the Night, the Ship being be the Hand of Providence kept up till Morning, in which Time the Boats had all been prepared — & as the Captain & Officers were coming upon the Poop or Roof of the Prison to abandon ship, the Water being then up to the Coamings of the Hatchways, we again implored his Mercy, upon which he sent the Corporal & an Armourer down to let some of us out of Irons, when three only were suffered to go up, & the Scuttle being then clapped on & the Master at Arms upon it, the Armourer had only Time to let two People out of Irons (the rest letting themselves out except three, two of whom went down with them on their Hands & the third was picked up) when she began to heel over to Port so much that the Master at Arms sliding over board & leaving the Scuttle vacant, every one tried to get up, & I was the last out but three; — the Water was then pouring in at the Bulk-head Scuttles; — yet I got out & was scarce in the Water when I saw nothing above it but the Crosstrees & nothing around me but a scene of the greatest Distress. — I took a Plank (being stark naked) & swam towards an Island about three Miles off! – but was picked up on my Passage by one of the Boats.
When we got ashore to the small sandy Key, we found there were thirty four Men drowned four being prisoners (one of whom was my Messmate) & ten of us & eighty nine of the Pandora's saved. — When a Survey was made of what Provisions had been saved, it was two or three Bags of Bread & two or three Breakers of Water & a little Wine, so we subsisted three Days upon two Wine Glasses of Water and two Ounces of Bread per Day.
On September the 1st. we left the Island & on the 16th. arrived at Coupang in the Island Timor; – having been on short Allowance eighteen Days. — We were put in Confinement in the Castle, & remained till October; & on the 5th. went on board a Dutch Ship bound for Batavia — At Night weighed & set Sail, & after a very tedious & dangerous Passage, the Ship being twice near drove ashore & so very leaky as scarce to be kept above Water with both Pumps constantly going, on the 30th. anchored at Samorong on the Isle of Java where we unexpectedly found the Schooner I mentioned parting Company with.
On Monday 7th. anchored here at Batavia. — I send this by the first ship which is to sail in about a Week by one of the Pandora's Men. — We are to follow in a Week after & expect to be in England in seven Months. — Tho' I have been eight Months in close Confinement in a hot Climate, I have kept my Health in a most surprising Manner, without the least Indisposition, & am still perfectly well in every respect, Mind as well as Body; but without a Friend & only a shirt & pair of Trowsers to put on & carry me Home. — Yet with all this, I have a contented Mind, entirely resigned to the Will of Providence, which Conduct alone enables me to soar above the reach of Unhappiness.
You will most probably hear of my Arrival in England (shou'd it ever happen) before I can write to you, which I most earnestly long for, that I may explain Things which I now cannot mention–yet, I hope it will be sufficient to undeceive those who have been so ungenerous as to express, & others who have been so credulous as to believe, so undeserved a Character of me. — I can say no more, but remember me to my dearest Sisters Brothers &c &c &c — & believe me still to be.
your most dutiful
& ever obedient Son.