Изображения страниц

ship the first opportunity, having prepared with that view a stout plank and staves for a raft, determined at all risks to commit himself to the waves. When he came on deck to take the command of the watch, he found the two midshipmen, who were mates of the watch, Hayward and Hallet, asleep. Relying on the disaffection of many of the crew, he instantly changed his purpose of quitting, into the far more daring one of seizing the ship. Under pretence of wanting to shoot a shark, he obtained the keys of the arm chest from the gunner, and, placing arms in the hands of those whom he could trust, he effected his purpose without resistance and without delay. Lieutenant Bligh and eighteen innocent companions were cast adrift in the launch, a boat scarcely large enough to sustain the burthen with such scanty provisions as the compassion of the more tender-hearted part of the crew supplied, and opportunity enabled them to throw into the boat. To the astonishment of all concerned, and of those, too, who read the interesting account of their sufferings in one of the most extraordinary voyages ever made, twelve out of the nineteen lived to reach their country and their homes.

Young Heywood, now in his sixteenth year, awoke from his sleep in the midst of these transactions. To his surprise, his eye was caught by the unusual sight of a seaman sitting on an arm-chest, with a drawn cutlass in his hand. In reply to his inquiries respecting the cause of it, he heard that the


ship had been taken from the captain, who was already confined, and was to be sent home a pri

Heywood then ran on deck, and in a stupor of amazement beheld the proceedings. For some minutes he stood uncertain whether to commit himself to what appeared to be certain death, by going with his lieutenant in the boat, or to remain in the ship ; but, as was natural, he inclined to the latter. Upon the representation of a companion of the probable danger of remaining, he ran down to his berth to fetch some clothes, with a final resolution of accompanying the launch, when his companion, Mr. Stewart, and himself were forcibly kept below by one of the crew named Churchill, who presented a pistol at the breast of the first that attempted to mount. Thus Mr. P. Heywood, who had not yet completed his sixteenth year, and of whom Lieutenant Bligh declares, that previous to this time, “his conduct had always given him much pleasure and satisfaction," and upon whom it really appears, that his greatest hopes of suppressing the mutiny rested, was numbered with the guilty mutineers, “ compelled, by circumstances over which he had no controul, to associate for a time with the misguided men who so grossly offended against the laws of their country.

Lieutenant Bligh, singularly preserved from a complication of dangers, landed at the Isle of Wight on the 14th of March, 1790. Soon after his arrival he published a Narrative of the Voyage and Mutiny,

in which every thing is naturally represented in the light most favourable to himself; and great allowance must surely be made for the colouring of a mind exasperated, by the remembrance of suffering, against the authors of his losses and disappointments, and of all the miseries which he and his companions endured. But, as the author of the History of the Mutiny justly observes, no excuse can be found for one who deeply and unfeelingly, without provocation and in cold blood, inflicts a wound on the heart of a widowed mother, already torn with anguish and tortured by suspense for a beloved son, whose life was in imminent jeopardy.

About the end of March, 1790, two months subsequent to the death of a most beloved and lamented husband, Mrs. Heywood received the afflicting information, but by report only, of a mutiny having taken place on board the Bounty. In that ship Mrs. Heywood's son had been serving as midshipman, who, when he left his home in August, 1787, was under fifteen years of age, a boy deservedly admired and beloved by all who knew him, and to his own family almost an object of adoration, for his superior understanding and the amiable qualities of his disposition. In a state of mind little short of distraction, on hearing this fatal intelligence, which was at the same time aggravated by every circumstance of guilt that calumny or malice could invent with respect to this unfortunate youth, who was said to be one of the ringleaders, and to have gone armed into the captain's cabin, his mother addressed a letter to Captain Bligh, dictated by a mother's tenderness, and strongly expressive of the míseries she must necessarily feel on such an occasion. The following is Bligh’s reply:

* London, April 2, 1790.


'I received your letter this day, and feel for you very much, being perfectly sensible of the extreme distress your must suffer from the conduct of your son Peter. His baseness is beyond all description, but I hope you will endeavour to prevent the loss of him, heavy as the misfortune is, from afflicting you too severely. I imagine he is, with the rest of the mutineers, returned to Otaheite.

· I am, Madam, (Signed)

- Wm. Bligh.'

Colonel Holwell, the uncle of young Heywood, had previously addressed Bligh on the same melancholy subject, to whom he returned the following


March 26, 1790. SIR, • I have just this instant received your letter. With much concern I inform you that your nephew, Peter Heywood, is among the mutineers. His ingratitude to me is of the blackest dye, for I was a father to him in every respect, and he never once

regret that

had an angry word from me through the whole course of the voyage, as his conduct always gave me much pleasure and satisfaction. I


much so much baseness formed the character of a young man I had a real regard for, and it will give me much pleasure to hear that his friends can bear the loss of him without much concern.

I am, Sir, &c. (Signed)

-WM. Bligh.

• The only way of accounting for this ferocity of sentiment towards a youth, who had in point of fact no concern in the mutiny, is by a reference to certain points of evidence given by Hayward, Hallat, and Purcell on the court-martial, each point wholly unsupported. Those in the boat would no doubt, during their long passage, often discuss the conduct of their messmates left in the Bounty, and the unsupported evidence given by these three was well calculated to create in Bligh's mind a prejudice against young Heywood ; yet, if so, it affords but a poor excuse for harrowing up the feelings of near and dear relatives.'

The following letters exhibit a very different spirit, but shew how dark was the view which even those most interested in young Heywood's favour took of his conduct and situation.

• Mutiny of the Bounty.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »