The circumstances communicated in this Appendix have been collected by a person nearly related to Christian: and it is far from his intention or wish to insinuate a vindication of the crime which has been committed. Justice, as well as policy, requires that mutiny, from whatever causes produced, or with whatever circumstances accompanied, should be punished with inexorable rigour. The publication of the trial, and of these extraordinary facts, it is presumed, will in no degree impede the pursuit of justice, yet it will administer some consolation to the broken hearts, which this melancholy transaction has occasioned. And whilst the innocent families and relations of twenty-one unhappy men are deeply interested in reducing to it's just measure the infamy which this dreadful act has brought upon them; every friend to truth and strict justice must feel his attention awakened to the true causes and circumstances, which have hitherto been concealed or misrepresented, of one of the most remarkable events in the annals of the navy. It is the aim of the writer of this Appendix to state facts as they are, and to refrain, as far as possible, from invective and reproach.
It will naturally be asked from whom, and how have these facts been collected? and why have they been so long suppressed? It may be answered, That the writer of this Appendix, with the other relations of the mutineers, entertained no distrust of the narratives published to the world, or the accounts which they received in private; and as they came from those whose sufferings had unquestionably been extreme, and preservation almost miraculous; and thus carrying with them the stamp of even greater authenticity than the solemn declarations of a death-bed, they precluded all suspicion and enquiries among those who were most concerned in the horrid representation. Their lips were closed, they mourned in silence, and shuddering at the most distant allusion to this melancholy subject, they were of all persons the least likely to discover the real truth of the transaction.
All the circumstances stated here could not be produced at the trial, as the Court confined the witnesses, as much as possible, to the question, Who were actually engaged in the mutiny? for that being a crime which will admit of no legal justification, the relation or previous circumstances could not be material or legal evidence, yet what passed at the time of the mutiny was so immediately connected with what had happened previously in the ship, that in the testimony of most of the witnesses there will be found an allusion to, or confirmation of, what is here advanced.
Some time after the trial of the mutineers, the writer of this Appendix received such information as surprized him greatly, and in consequence of which, he resolved to make every possible enquiry into this unhappy affair. The following circumstances have been collected from many interviews and conversations, in the presence and hearing of several respectable gentlemen, with Mr. Fryer,1 master of the Bounty; Mr. Hayward,2 midshipman; Mr. Peckover,3 gunner; Mr. Purcell,4 carpenter; John Smith,5 cook; Lawrence Lebogue,6 sail maker; all these returned in the boat with Captain Bligh: and with Joseph Coleman,7 armourer; Thomas McIntosh,8 carpenter's mate; Michael Byrne,9 seaman; these are three of the four, who were tried and honourably acquitted, even with Captain Bligh's testimony in their favour; and with Mr. Heywood, midshipman, who has received His Majesty's pardon; and William Musprat, discharged by the opinion of the judges in his favour; upon a point of evidence: the writer of this has received letters also upon the subject from James Morrison, the boatswain's mate; who was pardoned. Mr. Heywood is now serving again as midshipman, under Lord Howe, in the Queen Charlotte, and is much respected by all who know him, and Morrison and Musprat are also employed again in the king's service; yet the writer of this Appendix thinks it necessary to assure the reader that no material fact here stated stands in need of their testimony or confirmation. The gentlemen who were present at different conversations with the persons just mentioned, are; John Farhill, Esq. No. 38, Mortimer street; Samuel Romilly, Esq. Lincoln's Inn; Mr. Gilpin, No. 432, Strand; the Rev. Dr. Fisher, Canon of Windsor; the Rev. Mr. Cookson, Canon of Windsor; Captain Wordsworth, of the Abergavenny East Indiaman; Rev. Mr. Antrobus, Chaplain to the Bishop of London; John France, Esq. Temple; James Losh, Esq. Temple; Rev. Dr. Frewen, Colchester; and John Atkinson, Esq. Somerset Herald. Each of these gentlemen has heard the declarations of one at the least of the persons before mentioned; some have had an interview with five or six of them at different times, together with the writer of this Appendix, who is confident that every one of these gentlemen will bear testimony that what he has heard is not here exaggerated or misrepresented. There is no contradiction or variance whatever, in the account given by the gentlemen and people of the Bounty, though they could not upon every occasion, be all present together, and therefore cannot all relate exactly the same circumstances.
They declare that Captain Bligh used to call his officers "scoundrels, damned rascals, hounds, hell-hounds, beasts, and infamous wretches"; that he frequently threatened them, that when the ship arrived at Endeavor Straits, "he would kill one half of the people, make the officers jump overboard, and would make them eat grass like cows"; and that Christian, and Stewart, another midshipman, were as much afraid of Endeavour Straits, as any child is of a rod.
Captain Bligh was accustomed to abuse Christian much more frequently and roughly than the rest of the officers, or as one of the persons expressed it, "whatever fault was found, Mr. Christian was sure to bear the brunt of the Captain's anger." In speaking to him in this violent manner, Captain Bligh frequently "shook his fist in Christian's face." But the immediate cause of the melancholy event is attributed to what happened on the 26th and 27th of April, the mutiny broke out on the morning of the 28th of April 1789. The Bounty had stopped at Annamooko, one of the Friendly Islands; on the 26th Christian was sent upon a watering party, with express orders from the Captain, by no means to fire upon the natives; upon their return, the Captain was informed that the natives had stolen the cooper's adze; at this Captain Bligh was in a great rage, and abused Christian much; saying to him, "G—damn your blood, why did not you fire,—you an officer!" At this island the Captain and ship's company had bought quantities of cocoa nuts, at the rate of 20 for a nail; the Captain's heap lay upon deck, and on the morning of the 27th, Captain Bligh fancied that the number was diminished, but the master, Mr. Fryer, told him he supposed they were pressed closer from being run over by the men in the night. The Captain then ordered the officer of the morning watch, Mr. Christian, to be called; when he came, the Captain accosted him thus, "Damn your blood, you have stolen my cocoa nuts"; Christian answered, "I was dry, I thought it of no consequence, I took one only, and I am sure no one touched another." Captain Bligh then replied, "You lie, you scoundrel, you have stolen one half." Christian appeared much hurt and agitated, and said, "Why do you treat me thus, Captain Bligh?" Captain Bligh then shook his hand in his face and said, "No reply"; and called him "a thief," and other abusive names. He then ordered the quarter masters to go down and bring all the cocoa nuts both from man and officer, and put them upon the quarter deck. They were brought. The Captain then called all hands upon deck, and desired "the people to look after the officers, and the officers to look after the people, for there never were such a set of damned thieving rascals under any man's command in the world before." And he told the men, "You are allowed a pound and a half of yams to-day, but to-morrow I shall reduce you to three quarters of a pound." All declare that the ship's company were before greatly discontented at their short allowance of provisions, and their discontent was increased from the consideration that they had plenty of provisions on board, and that the Captain was his own purser1. About four o'clock on the same day, Captain Bligh abused Christian again. Christian came forward from Captain Bligh, crying, "tears were running fast from his eyes in big drops." Purcell, the Carpenter, said to him, "What is the matter Mr. Christian?" He said, "Can you ask me, and hear the treatment I receive?" Purcell replied, "Do not I receive as bad as your do?" Christian said, "You have something2 to protect you, and can speak again; but if I should speak to him as you do, he would probably break me, turn me before the mast, and perhaps flog me; and if he did, it would be the death of us both, for I am sure I should take him in my arms, and jump overboard with him." Purcell said, "Never mind it, it is but for a short time longer." Christian said, "In going through Endeavor Straits, I am sure the ship will be a hell." He was heard by another person to say, when he was crying, "I would rather die ten thousand deaths, than bear this treatment; I always do my duty as an officer and as a man ought to do, yet I receive this scandalous usage." Another person heard him say, "That flesh and blood cannot bear this treatment." This was the only time he ever was seen in tears on board the ship; and one of the seamen being asked, if he had ever observed Christian in tears before, answered, "No, he was no milksop." It is now certainly known, that Christian after this had prepared to leave the ship that night upon a raft; those who came with Captain Bligh, can only know it by circumstances, which they afterwards recollected, and which were the subject of conversation in the boat. He gave away that afternoon all his Otaheite curiosities; he was seen tearing his letters and papers, and throwing them overboard; he applied to the carpenter for nails, who told him to take as many as he pleased out of the locker; and the ship intending to stop at no other island, these could have been of no use to him, but in case of his escape to land. Mr. Tinkler, a young boy, one of Christians's messmates, was hungry in the evening, and went below to get some pig which was left at dinner; this he missed, and after some search, found it packed up with a bread fruit, in a dirty cloaths bag in Christian's cot; when the launch was hoisted out, the two masts were lashed to a plank, which they were obliged to untie. This was the raft or stage upon which he intended to leave the ship. These circumstances are remembered by those who came in the boat, but his design of going off upon the raft was frequently the subject of conversation afterwards in the ship. Norman, one of the four who were honourably acquitted, said to him after the mutiny, "this is a hard case upon me, Mr. Christian, who have a wife and family in England."3 Christian replied, "It is a hard case, Norman, but it never would have happened, if I could have left the ship alone." Christian told them afterwards if the ship, "that he did not expect to reach the shore upon the raft, but he was in hopes of being seen and taken up by some of the natives in their canoes." The reason of his disappointment is said to have been owing to the people being upon deck in greater numbers than usual, looking at a volcano in the island of Tofoa.
All agree that there was no plot or intention to mutiny before Christian went upon his watch, at four in the morning. The mutiny broke out at five o'clock, and all the mutineers were in bed when it began, except those who were in Christian's watch; how soon after four o'clock the conspiracy was entered into, before it was put in execution, does not appear. That there had been some agreement previous to the breaking out of the mutiny is manifest from the evidence of Mr. Fryer, who was told by two of them, "Sir, there is no one means to hurt you; no, that was our agreement, not to commit murder." This statement cannot be reconciled with the testimony of Mr. Hayward and Mr. Hallet, who were both in Christian's watch; if the reader were not apprized of a circumstance which was not mentioned before the court-martial; viz. that these gentlemen who were very young at that time, viz. about fifteen, had both fallen asleep. The circumstance of the rest of the mutineers being in bed when the mutiny Apr 26, 1789 began, proves that it had not been preconcerted with them; and it is remarkable that Mr. Young was the only person among Christian's messmates, who was concerned in it, and he was in bed when it broke out. On the 26th, before the ship left Annamooko, Christian and some other officers threw away their beads and trifles among the natives, as articles for which they would have no further occasion.
It appears from the testimony of every witness, that the original intent was to put the Captain on shore, with three other persons only, and if the smallest boat, which was hoisted out for that purpose, had not been leakey, it is probable that this design would have been carried into execution; but by the time that the second cutter or boat was got into the water, a great number desired to leave the ship, and requested the launch. It is agreed by all, that every person who went into the launch, went voluntarily, or might have continued on board if he had wished to stay, except the four who were first ordered into the small boat; and afterwards Mr. Fryer, who was commanded to go in consequence of his design to retake the ship being overheard. It is indeed expressly proved by Mr. Hallet, that "the boatswain and carpenters told Christian, they would prefer going in the boat, to staying in the ship; and he said he did not wish them, or any other, to stay against their inclination, or to go; and that the most part went voluntarily." And Mr. Hayward in his evidence has also deposed, "I heard no one ordered to go into the boat, but Mr. Hallet, Mr. Samuel, and myself." Although Mr. Fryer himself wished to stay, from a very laudable motive, viz. that of retaking the ship; yet being obliged to go, he earnestly requested that his brother-in-law, Tinkler, then a young boy, might be permitted to follow him.1 In such a dilemma, the alternative was dreadful, yet those who went voluntarily into the launch, were sure of getting to shore, where they expected to live, until an European ship arrived, or until they could raise their boat or build a greater, as one of the mutineers said of the carpenter, "you might as well give him the ship as his tool chest." It is proved by Mr. Hallet, that they were veered astern, in order to be towed towards the land, which was so near, that it is said they might see them reach the shore from the mast head of the ship.
After the mutiny commenced, it was between three and four hours before the launch left the ship, and one reason, besides the number of persons, why she was so deeply laden, was, that almost all Captain Bligh's property in boxes and trunks was put on board. A short time after it had quitted the ship, Christian declared, that "he would readily sacrifice his own life, if the persons in the launch were all safe in the ship again."
At Annamooko, besides the cooper's adze being stolen, the natives, by diving, had cut and carried off a grapnel by which a boat was fastened. Captain Bligh, in order to compel the natives to restore it, had made them believe he would sail away with their chiefs whom he had on board; this was unattended with success, as they assured him the grapnel had been carried away in a canoe belonging to another island; but the people of the island, who crowded round the ship to entreat the deliverance of their chiefs, and the chiefs themselves, were greatly frightened and distressed, before they were set at liberty. For Captain Bligh carried them out some distance to sea, and they were followed and taken back in canoes.1 This unfortunate circumstance is supposed to have been the cause of the rough reception which the people in the launch met with at Tofoa. For Nageete, one of the chiefs, who had been thus frightened, had come upon a visit from Annamooko, though ten leagues distant, and was one of the first persons they saw at Tofoa. He appeared at the first friendly, yet it is thought that he was glad of having this opportunity of resenting the treatment he had received in the ship at Annamooko.
Those who came in the boat, though they gave vent to no open complaints, yet sometimes made allusions in the hearing of the Captain, to what had passed previous to the mutiny. Captain Bligh was one day observing, that it was surprising that this should have happened after he had been so kind to the people, by making them fine messes of wheat; upon which Mr. Hallet replied, "If it had not been for your fine messes, and fine doings, we should have had the ship for our resource1 instead of the boat."
In a misunderstanding about some oysters, between the Captain and the carpenter, Captain Bligh told him, "If I had not taken so much pains with you, you would never have been here"; the carpenter replied, "Yes, if you had not taken so much pains with us, we should never have been here."
In the evidence of Mr. Peckover and Mr. Fryer, it is proved that Mr. Nelson the botanist said, upon hearing the commencement of the mutiny, "We know whose fault this is, or who is to blame, and oh! Mr. Fryer, what have we brought upon ourselves?" In addition to this, it ought to be known that Mr. Nelson, in conversation afterwards with an officer at Timor, who was speaking of returning with Captain Bligh if he got another ship, observed, "I am surprized that you should think of going a second time with one, (using a term of abuse,) who has been the occasion of all our losses."
In Captain Bligh's Narrative no mention is made of the two little boats or cutters, the least boat would not hold more than six, and the larger more than nine persons. But after Captain Bligh relates that he was brought upon deck, he proceeds thus in the two next paragraphs:
"The boatswain was now ordered to hoist out the launch, with a threat if he did not do it instantly, to take care of himself.
"The boat being out, Mr. Heywood and Mr. Hallett, midshipmen, and Mr. Samuel, were ordered into it" P.2
Every reader must have supposed that the boat mentioned in the latter paragraph, was the same as the launch in the former, and that these four were the first of the nineteen who were ordered into it.
If the small boats had been distinctly mentioned in Captain Bligh's Narrative, it would have been manifest to all the world that the mutiny could not have been the result of a conspiracy of twenty-five of the people, to turn the other nineteen into one or both of them.
Indeed, many readers had the penetration to think that it was incredible, and almost beyond any calculation of probability, that twenty-five persons could have been seduced to have concurred in such a horrid plot, without a single one having the virtue to resist the temptation, and to disclose the design to the Captain.
In the Narrative, p.8, there is this memorable paragraph:
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."
In Mr. Purcell's evidence before the Court, this conversation is sworn to thus: "Captain Bligh attempted to speak to Christian, who said, 'Hold your tongue, and I'll not hurt you; it is too late to consider now, I have been in hell for weeks past with you.'" But all, who were upon deck and overheard the whole of this conversation, state it thus: "Captain Bligh, addressing himself to Christian, said, 'Consider Mr. Christian, I have a wife and four children in England, and you have danced my children upon your knee.'" Christian replied, "You should have thought of them sooner yourself, Captain Bligh, it is too late to consider now, I have been in hell for weeks past with you." Christian afterwards told the people in the ship, that when Bligh spoke of his wife and children, "my heart melted, and I would then have jumped overboard, if I could have saved you, but as it was too late to do that, I was obliged to proceed." One person, who heard what passed, immediately after Captain Bligh was brought upon deck, says, that Captain Bligh asked Christian, "What is meaning of all this?" And Christian answered, "Can you ask, Captain Bligh, when you know your have treated us officers, and all these poor fellows, like Turks?"
Captain Bligh in his Narrative asserts, "When we were sent away, Huzza for Otaheite, was frequently heard among the mutineers." —P.7. But every one of those who came in the boat, as well as all who staid in the ship, declare, that they neither heard nor observed any huzzaing whatever in the ship.
In Captain Bligh's Narrative, p.11, there is the following paragraph:
Had their mutiny been occasioned by any grievances, either real or imaginary, I must have discovered symptoms of their discontent, which would have put me upon my guard, but the case was far otherwise. Christian in particular I was on the most friendly terms with, that very day he was engaged to have dined with me; and the preceding night he excused himself from supping with me, on pretence of being unwell, for which I felt concerned, having no suspicions of his integrity and honour.
It is said that the Captain had his officers to dine with him in rotation, and Christian's turn might have fallen on the day of the mutiny, but in consequence of the charge of stealing the cocoa nuts, the gentlemen (or most of them) had resolved not to dine again at the Captain's table. Mr. Fryer had not dined there for a long time before. It is true that Captain Bligh had asked Christian to supper; but it now appears, he excused himself, not to meditate the destruction of his benefactor, but his own flight.
It was proved on the trial, that Christian, during the mutiny, told Mr. Fryer, "You know, Mr. Fryer, I have been in hell on board this ship for weeks past"; and that he said to the Captain, "I have been in hell for weeks past with you": but what particular period Christian referred to, or when the poignancy of his distress had begun to prey upon his mind, does not appear. But instances are mentioned of Christian's being hurt by Captain Bligh's treatment, even at the Cape of Good Hope, in their outward bound voyage. Christian had the command of the tent on shore at Otaheite, where Captain sometimes entertained the Chiefs of the island, and before all the company used to abuse Christian for some pretended fault or other, and the Chiefs would afterwards take an opportunity of observing to Christian, "Titriano, Brie worrite beha": i.e. "Christian, Bligh is perhaps angry with you." Christian would turn it off by saying, No, no. But he afterwards complained to the officers, of the Captain's cruelty in abusing him before the people of the country, observing, that he would not regard it, if he would only find fault with him in private. There is no country in the world, where the notions of aristocracy and family pride are carried higher than at Otaheite; and it is a remarkable circumstance, that the Chiefs are naturally distinguished by taller persons, and more open and intelligent countenances, than the people of inferior condition; hence these are the principal qualities by which the natives estimate the gentility of strangers; and Christian was so great a favourite with them, that according to the words of one person, "They adored the very ground he trod upon." He was Tyo, or friend, to a Chief of the first rank in the island, whose name, according to the custom of the country, he took in exchange for his own; and whose property he participated. This Chief dined one day with Captain Bligh, and was told by him, That his Tyo Christian, was only his Towtow, or servant. The Chief upbraided Christian with this, who was much mortified at being thus degraded in the opinion of his friend, and endeavored to recommend himself again to the Chief, by assuring him, that he, Captain Bligh, and all the officers, were Towtows of the King of Bretane.
These circumstances, although comparatively trifling, are such as to be distinctly remembered, but they prove that there could be little harmony, where such painful sensations were so frequently and unnecessarily excited.
A regard to truth obliges the writer of this Appendix to add, That Captain Bligh has told some of Christian's relations, that after they sailed from Otaheite, Christian, when he was upon duty, had put the ship in great danger; from which Captain Bligh supposed that it had been his intention to cripple the ship, that they might be obliged to return to Otaheite to repair. But no such circumstance is remembered by any person besides the Captain.1 Captain Bligh has also declared that the persons in the launch "were turned out to certain destruction, because the mutineers had not the courage to embrue their hands in blood." It has already been observed, that it is proved before the court-martial, that most of the persons went into the launch voluntarily. And it is certainly true, that, although the sufferings of the persons in the boat were distressful to the last degree, they were not the occasion of the death of Mr. Nelson at Timor, or of those who died at Batavia; for all recovered from the extremity to which they had been reduced by this unhappy voyage.
It is agreed that Christian was the first to propose the mutiny, and the project of turning the Captain on shore at Tofoa, to the people in his watch, but he declared afterwards in the ship, he never should have thought of it, if it had not been suggested to his mind by an expression of Mr. Stewart, who knowing of his intention of leaving the ship upon the raft, told him, "when you go, Christian, we are ripe for any thing."
The mutiny is ascribed by all who remained in the ship, by this unfortunate expression, which probably proceeded rather from a regard for Christian, than from a mutinous disposition, for all declare that Stewart was an excellent officer, and a severe disciplinarian, severe to such a degree as to be disliked by the seamen, though much respected for his abilities. Mr. Stewart was in bed when the mutiny broke out, and afterwards was neither in arms, nor active on the side of the mutineers, yet it ought not to be concealed, that during the mutiny he was dancing and clapping his hands in the Otaheite manner, and saying, "It was the happiest day of his life." He was drowned in the wreck of the Pandora. This gentleman is spoken of by all in terms of great praise and respect. He is said to have been the best practical navigator on board, even superior in that character to Captain Bligh and Christian.1 Soon after the launch had left the ship, Christian told the people that he had no right to the command, and that he would act in any station they would assign him. But they all declared that he should be their Captain, and after some persuasion from Christian, they permitted Mr. Stewart to be the second in command, though they were desirous, from Stewart's former severity, of preferring Mr. Heywood; but being told by Christian, that as the ship must be at watch and watch, he thought Mr. Heywood, who was then only sixteen, too young and inexperienced for such a charge, with some reluctance they acceded to his recommendation of Mr. Stewart. The other arrangements being settled, instead of insisting upon going back to Otaheite, they told Christian he might carry them wherever he thought proper. Christian advised them to go to an island called Tobooy, which was laid down in the charts by Captain Cook, though no European ship had ever landed there. This lies about seven degrees south of Otaheite, and it was chosen because it was out of the track of European ships.2 When they arrived there, and with difficulty had made a landing, although it was full of inhabitants, they found no quadrupeds but a species of small rats, with which the island was completely overrun. They staid there a few days, and then resolved to sail to Otaheite for a ship load of hogs, goats, dogs, cats, and fowls, to stock the island of Tobooy, which they had fixed upon for their settlement."3
When they had reached Otaheite, in order to acquire what they wanted more expeditiously, Christian told the Chiefs and people, that Captain Bligh had returned to Captain Cook, who had sent Christian back to purchase for him the different articles which they wished to obtain.
This story was the more plausible, as the people of Otaheite had been told by Captain Bligh, that Captain Cook was still living and that he had sent him for the bread-fruit. Such is still their love and veneration for the memory of Captain Cook, that the natives even contended for the honour of sending their best hogs and animals to Toote. The ship by this artifice being soon filled, they returned with some Otaheite men and women to Tobooy. It was thought that the Otaheite men would be useful in introducing them to the friendship and good offices of the natives. At Tobooy they built a fort,1 and having staid there three months, and finding the inhabitants always inhospitable and treacherous, the people of the ship grew discontented; all hands were called up, and it being put to the vote what should be done, sixteen out of the twenty-five voted that they should go back to Otaheite. Christian, thinking that this was the general wish, said, "Gentlemen, I will carry you, and land you wherever you please; I desire no one to stay with me, but I have one favour to request, that you will grant me the ship, tie the foresail, and give me a few gallons of water, and leave me to run before the wind, and I shall land upon the first island the ship drives to. I have done such an act that I cannot stay at Otaheite. I will never live where I may be carried home to be a disgrace to my family."
Sep 27, 1789 Upon this, Mr. Young, the midshipman, and seven others declared, "We shall never leave you, Mr. Christian, go where you will." It was then agreed, that the other sixteen should be landed at Otaheite, and have their share of the arms and other necessary articles; and he proposed to the rest, that they should go and seek an island, not before discovered, where they were not likely to be found, and having run the ship aground, and taken out every thing of value, and scuttled and broke up the ship, they should endeavour to make a settlement. They reached Otaheite on the 27th of September 1789, and came to anchor in Matavai Bay about eleven o'clock in the forenoon, and the sixteen were disembarked with their portions of the arms and other necessaries. Christian took leave of Mr. Stewart and Mr. Heywood, and told them he should sail that evening; and desired them, if they ever got to England, to inform his friends and country what had been the cause of his committing so desparate an act; but to guard against any obstruction, he concealed the time of his sailing from the rest.
The natives came on board in crouds[crowds] as usual, and about twelve o'clock at night he cut his cable, and sailed from the Bay. The people on board consisted of nine Englishmen, about twenty-five men, women, boys, and girls, of different ages, from Otaheite, and two men from Tobooy. It does not appear that any selection was made of the Otaheiteans, who are always eager to be carried away in an English ship. The ship was seen standing off the island the next morning, but from that day, for the nineteen months the others lived at Otaheite, they never saw nor heard any thing more of Christian; and upon the arrival of Captain Edwards in the Pandora, they could give him no further account of the Bounty than what is here stated.1
During his short stay at Otaheite, Christian was much pressed to go on shore to visit the King, but he declined it, saying, "How can I look him in the face, after the lie I told him when I was here last?" These circumstances concerning the Bounty, subsequent to the mutiny, must necessarily be collected from the seven persons who were left in the ship, and who are now, or were lately, in England. These say, that Christian was always sorrowful and dejected after the mutiny; and before he left them, had become such an altered man in his looks and appearance, as to render it probable that he would not long survive this dreadful catastrophe. Indeed, it is impossible that he should have appeared1 otherwise, if he deserved the character which all unite in giving him.
Feb 9, 1793 In the Royal Jamaica Gazette, dated February 9, 1793, which announced the arrival of Captain Bligh in the Providence, the following was one of the paragraphs, and it has been copied into all the English newspapers:
Captain Bligh could gain no intelligence of the mutineer Christian and his accomplices, who were on board the Bounty. When they returned to Otaheite, after executing their infernal project, the natives, suspecting some mischief from the non-appearance of the Commander and the gentlemen with him, laid a plan to seize the vessel and crew; but a favourite female of Christian's betrayed the design of her countrymen. He put to sea in the night, and the next morning the ship was nearly out of sight.
It is immaterial to inquire who was the author of this paragraph, yet it cannot but be remarked, that it is totally different from the account which has been given by those who staid at Otaheite, and who can have no possible interest in concealing this circumstance, if in fact it had existed; nor can it be reconciled with probability, or the treatment and protection which the Englishmen experienced from the natives when the ship had left them.
As this paragraph contains an assertion, that Christian had a favourite female at Otaheite, it is proper that it should be known, that although Christian was upon shore, and had the command of the tent all the time that Captain Bligh was at Otaheite with the Bounty, yet the officers who were with Christian upon the same duty declare, that he never had a female favourite at Otaheite, nor any attachment or particular connexion among the women. It is true that some had what they call their girls, or women with whom they constantly lived all the time they were upon the island, but this was not the case with Christian.
Until this melancholy event, no young officer was ever more affectionately beloved for his amiable qualities, or more highly respected for his abilities and brave and officer-like conduct. The world has been led to suppose, that the associates in his guilt were attached to him only by his seducing and diabolical villainy. But all those who came in the boat, whose sufferings and losses on his account have been so severe, not only speak of him without resentment and with forgiveness, but with a degree of rapture and enthusiasm. The following are, word for word, some of the unpremeditated expressions, used by the gentlemen and people of the Bounty, in speaking of this unfortunate mutineer: "His Majesty might have his equal, but he had not a superior officer in his service." This probably had a reference to his age, which was about twenty-three. "He was a gentleman, and a brave man; and every officer and seaman on board the ship would have gone through fire and water to have served him"—"He was adorned with every virtue, and beloved by all."—"He was a gentleman every inch of him, and I would still wade up to the arm-pits in blood to serve him."—"As much as I have lost and suffered by him, if he could be restored to his country, I should be the first to go without wages in search of him."—"He was as good and as generous a man as ever lived." —"Mr. Christian was always good-natured, I never heard him say Damn you, to any man on board the ship."—"Every body under his command did their duty at a look from Mr. Christian, and I would still go through fire and water for him." These are respectively the expressions of nine different persons, and it is the language of one and all. Mr. Hayward in his evidence, no doubt with a proper sentiment of the crime of mutiny, has used the words, "Christian, and his gang.": yet that gentleman has declared, that, until the desperate act, Christian deserved the character described by the strongest of the above expressions.
Christian, having staid at school longer than young men generally do who enter into the navy, and being allowed by all who knew him to possess extraordinary abilities, is an excellent scholar, and every one acquainted with him from a boy, till he went on board the Bounty, can testify, that no young man was ever more ambitious of all that is esteemed right and honourable among men, or more anxious to acquire distinction and advancement by his good conduct in his profession. He had been an acting Midshipman but a short time in the service, when Captain Courtenay, the late brave Commander of the Boston frigate, entrusted him with the charge of a watch in the Eurydice all the way home from the East Indies. This, no doubt, was extremely flattering to him, and he declared to a relation who met him at Woolwich, "he had been extremely happy under Captain Courtenay's command"; and at the same time observed, that "it was very easy to make one's self beloved and respected on board a ship; one had only to be always ready to obey one's superior officers, and to be kind to the common men, unless there was occasion for severity, and if you are severe when there is a just occasion, they will not like you the worse for it."1 This was after the conclusion of the peace, and within a few days the ship was paid off; and being out of employ, he wished to be appointed a Mate of a West-Indiaman, a situation for which he thought himself qualified. Whilst he was in treaty with a merchant in the city to go in that capacity in his ship, Captain Taubman, a relation of Christian's, came to London from the Isle of Man, and suggested to Christian, that it would be very desirable for him to serve under so experienced a navigator as Captain Bligh, who had been Sailing-Master to Captain Cook, and who was then in the merchant's service; and as Captain Taubman was acquainted with Captain Bligh, he offered to make an application to him in Christian's favour. The application was made, and Captain Bligh returned a polite answer, that he was sorry he could not take Christian, having then his complement of officers. Upon this, Christian of his own accord observed, that "wages were no object, he only wished to learn his profession, and if Captain Bligh would permit him to mess with the gentlemen, he would readily enter his ship as a Foremast-man, until there was a vacancy among the officers"; and at the same time added, "we Midshipmen are gentlemen, we never pull at a rope; I should even be glad to go one voyage in that situation, for there may be occasions, when officers may be called upon to do the duties of a common man."
To this proposal Captain Bligh had no objection, and in that character he sailed one voyage, and upon his return spoke of Captain Bligh with great respect: he said, that although he had his share of labour with the common men, the Captain had been kind to him in shewing him the use of his charts and instruments; but at the same time he observed, that Captain Bligh was very passionate; yet he seemed to pride himself in knowing how to humour him. In the next voyage, Captain Bligh took him out as his Second Mate, and before his return the Captain was chosen to Command the Bounty.1 Christian wishing to go upon a voyage where so much service would be seen, in which he would complete his time as a Midshipman, and if it had been successful, he would, no doubt, with little difficulty upon his return have been raised to the rank of Lieutenant, was recommended to the Admiralty by Captain Bligh himself, as one of his officers; and as it was understood that great interest had been made to get Midshipmen sent out in this ship, Christian's friends thought this recommendation, as they do still, a very great obligation. Captain Bligh had no Lieutenants on board, and the ship at the first was divided into two watches, the charge of which was entrusted to the Master and the Gunner: but after they had sailed about a month, the Captain divided the ship into three watches, and gave the charge of one to Christian, on whom Captain Bligh has always declared he had the greatest reliance. Such was his introduction to, and connexion with, Captain Bligh; and every one must sincerely lament, that what in its commencement had been so honourable to both, should in its event and consequences have proved to both so disastrous and fatal.
The writer of this Apppendix would think himself an accomplice in the crime which has been committed, if he designedly should give the slightest shade to any word or fact different from its true and just representation; and lest he should be supposed to be actuated by a vindictive spirit, he has studiously forborn to make more comments than were absolutely necessary upon any statement which he has been obliged to bring forward. He has felt it a duty to himself, to the connexions of all the unfortunate men, and to society, to collect and lay before the Public these extraordinary circumstances.
The sufferings of Captain Bligh and his companions in the boat, however severe they may have been, are perhaps but a small portion of the torments occasioned by this dreadful event: and whilst these prove the melancholy and extensive consequences of the crime of Mutiny, the crime itself in this instance may afford an awful lesson to the Navy, and to mankind, that there is a degree of pressure, beyond which the best formed and principled mind must either break or recoil. An though public justice and the public safety can allow no vindication of any species of Mutiny, yet reason and humanity will distinguish the sudden unpremeditated act of desperation and phrenzy, from the foul deliberate contempt of every religious duty and honourable sentiment; and will deplore the uncertainty of human prospects, when they reflect that a young man is condemned to perpetual infamy, who, if he had served on board any other ship, or had perhaps been absent from the Bounty a single day, or one ill-fated hour, might still have been an honour to his country, and a glory and comfort to his friends.