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DEAD MEN'S TALES.
BY BENNET COPPLESTONE.
IX. THE BOAT VOYAGE OF “BOUNTY
We are not concerned in this and the chief officer's boat for tale with the little community 24 days 20 hours. Great privaof Early Christians on Pitcairn tions were suffered, and the Island, so greatly beloved by officers and men who suffered Victorian grandmothers, which them, and throughout mainderived from some of the tained perfect self-control and mutineers of His Majesty's ship willing discipline, were deBounty and their feminine com- servedly honoured by their panions of Tahiti. The dis- King and countrymen. Their covery of this group of primi- story has been fully told, and tive communists, settled upon will always remain as a splena scrap of rock in the South did inspiration and example to Seas—of two square miles in British mariners. Yet the feat cultivated area,-received so of Captain Foster and his chief immense an advertisement that officer, with their boats the gallantry and sufferings of equipped and furnished under Captain Bligh and his loyal strict Board of Trade regulamen, roughly thrown into a tions, with food of high value small boat to starve or drown, in small bulk (such as became too insignificant an in- densed milk), and with the cidental result of the mutiny certainty of aid and comfort to be worth bothering about. as soon as land was reached, Picturesque mutineers are so pales-great voyage though it
ich more interesting than was—when set beside the wontheir victims, just as in these derful exploit of Captain Bligh days are those popular mur- of the Bounty nearly one hunderers who chop up the bodies dred and fifty years ago. With of their superfluous lady friends. his eighteen associates he was
In 1923 the world was thrilled thrust into a ship’s launch, a by the story of Captain Cecil little food and water (equivaFoster and his chief officer, lent to five days' full rations) who, after the sinking of the was permitted by grace of the steamship Trevessa in the In- mutineers, and he was left in dian Ocean, sailed two of the the stormy period of the South ship's boats to Rodriquez Sea winter to sink or swim, Island and Mauritius, distances starve or be killed by hostile of 1556 and 1747 miles respec- natives. I propose to retell the tively. The captain's boat was incredible story of how Captain at sea for 22 days 19 hours, Bligh, a young naval lieutenant
of thirty-five who had learned unspoiled Tahitan women. his sea job under Captain Cook Bligh, in his frank eighteenthwhen little more than a boy, century fashion, tells us all neither sank, nor starved, nor about it. “ The women of got himself killed. He sailed Otaheite," he writes, are that ship's launch to New handsome, mild, and cheerful Holland (Australia), and thence in their manners and conversaonwards to Timor in the Dutch tion, possessed of great sensiEast Indies, a distance of 3600 bility, and have sufficient delimiles, and he handed over cacy to make them admired seventeen ragged skeletons- and beloved. The chiefs were having lost one man only—to so much attached to our people the bounteous hospitality of that they rather encouraged the Dutch at the conclusion of their stay among them than his voyage. The mutiny, which otherwise, and even made promthrew him upon the cold mercy ises of large possessions. Under of the seas, broke out on the these and many other attendant 29th of April 1789, and Bligh circumstances, equally desirreached the Dutch settlement able, it is now perhaps not so of Coupang, Timor, on the much to be wondered at, though 14th of June, a period of forty- scarcely possible to have been six days. And, fortunately for foreseen, that a set of sailors, us and for his fame, he has left most of them void of connecan account of the voyage as full tions, should be led away ; of detail and of wise sea lore especially when, in addition to as is that modern story told by such powerful inducements, Captain Foster of s.s. Trevessa. they imagined it in their power
The sentimental interest to fix themselves in the midst taken in the snuff and butter of plenty on one of the finest community of Pitcairn Island islands in the world, where has blinded many good folk they need not labour, and to the grossness of the mutiny where the allurements of disfrom which it originated. This sipation are beyond anything was no instance of a revolt that can be conceived." of ill-used men against the In this sensual Paradise of tyranny of their superiors. For the South Seas the stout British twenty-three weeks the Bounty fibre of seamen, and of officers had been lying at Otaheite too, suffered deterioration. (Tahiti) in the Society Islands, Three men deserted to another taking in a supply of bread- island, whence they were fruit plants so that they might brought back by the natives be conveyed in pots to the under pressure from Bligh. An West Indies for acclimatisation attempt was made to wreck there. Officers and men, with the Bounty on the island reefs little of hard work to do, had by cutting her cable while she indulged themselves for months lay at anchor. Bligh, with his in amorous dalliance with the thousand pots of bread-fruit and other island plants—he permitted to take his tool-chest. turned the great cabin into a “He will have a vessel built conservatory, - collected his in a month," grumbled some men and sailed from Tahiti of the mutineers. Four cat on 4th April. Three weeks later lasses were thrown into the he was among the Friendly boat, but no firearms. In this Islands, and the mutiny broke fashion Bligh and eighteen out. It was a very bad mutiny. others were cast adrift. The ringleader, Fletcher Chris- might have been expected, tian, was a master's mate whom nearly all those of the Bligh Bligh had made a temporary party were officers or craftslieutenant, and with whom he men. Three of the midshipwas on terms of close friend- men sided with the mutineer ship. Bligh, suspecting noth- Christian, but most of his ading, and sleeping always with herents were able seamen. The his cabin door open, was trussed armourer and two carpenters, up by Christian and the other though they desired to adhere mutineers. A launch was to Bligh, were retained on hoisted out, and all those who board by Christian. The acting were deemed by Christian to surgeon, master, botanist, gunbe loyal to Bligh were forced ner, boatswain, carpenter, masto enter it. The equipment of ter's mate, two midshipmen, the boat was scanty, and two quartermasters, the sailallowed grudgingly by the maker, cooks, and the butcher mutineers, who clearly wished were all with Bligh. He had to compass the death of Bligh the pick of the ship's company, lest he should bring their crime splendid men, who, in spite of to eventual punishment. The all the allurements of dissipaboatswain, William Cole, , tion in Tahiti, stuck by him faithful man, collected cord- and suffered with him right age, canvas, lines, and twenty- through to the end. The spleneight gallons of water in two did loyalty and self-sacrifice casks. Bligh's clerk, one of these men with Bligh have Samuel, though threatened more than wiped out in the many times, managed to secure records of the Royal Navy the a quadrant and compass, to- disgusting treachery of Fletcher gether with his chief's journal Christian, and the ignorant disand a few papers. He was loyalty of those whom he deforbidden, on pain of death, to luded. All the twenty-five of touch maps, astronomical books, the mutineers, save one, came sextant, timekeeper, or Bligh’s to a bad end. That one, an gurveys or drawings. For food able seaman, Alexander Smith the castaways were allowed -who changed his name to 150 lb. of bread, together with John Adams,-shines in the a small quantity of rum and Sunday School books as the wine. The carpenter, William beneficent Moses of the PitPurcell, after opposition, was cairn Islanders.
The full horror of their posi. to say that the boat's crew tion did not for a few days were the survivors of a wrecked strike home upon Bligh and ship. Presently some natives his men. They had under them were encountered, and this story an excellent launch, twenty was told. There did not three feet long, six feet nine appear the least symptom of inches in breadth, and of two joy or sorrow in their faces, feet nine inches in depth. It although I fancied I discovered was as stout and well-built a some marks of surprise.” A sea boat as could possibly be few bread-fruit and cocoanuts constructed now, at least as were secured and a little water. sound a craft as were the regu. It was evident from what haplation lifeboats of the twentieth- pened later that the natives century Trevessa, and a good were thinking things over, and deal heavier. Bligh was among taking some time to realise the Friendly Islands, some that the imposing white men thirty miles from Tofoa, and with the big noisy guns bad it did not seem unlikely that become a feeble remnant withhe would be able to supply out even small firearms. Not himself there with plenty of one of the Englishmen would water and bread-fruit. Islands have got away with his life were also scattered along the had not this discovery taken two thousand mile route he some time to penetrate the had already decided to follow Polynesian skull. For when towards what is now called at last the natives decided upon the Cape York Peninsula of attack, two hundred strong, Northern Australia. Supplies Bligh was able to get away in should, therefore, be procur- his boat, losing only one gallant able at fairly short intervals. fellow-John Norton, the quarBut Bligh had not yet sampled termaster, who ran up the beach the change in the native mind to push the launch off. This brought about by the misfor- was at sunset on the 2nd of tunes of white men. He very May - the happy darkness quickly discovered that it is stopped the pursuit of canoes, one thing to visit a South Sea -and Bligh found
Bligh found himself island in a well-armed ship, flung back upon his own poor and quite another thing to resources, and confronted by call upon one for help in cir- a boat journey of unparalleled cumstances of unarmed adver- length. He could no more sity. He learned the difference venture to touch at any of the at once, and harshly, at Tofoa. islands on his route ; he must Thither he proceeded, and tried make New Holland or perish. in vain to discover water or This little company, now refood. For a while the natives duced to eighteen persons, held aloof.
Bligh had in- bruised and battered with stones structed his men, so that “they -“I had not an idea," writes might all agree on one story,” Bligh, that the power of a
VOL. COXVIII.-NO. MCCCXXII.
man's arm could throw stones, rationing, and to live, or starve, from two to eight pounds on one ounce of bread and a weight, with such force and quarter of a pint of water a exactness as these people did ” day. Spread to this trans—this little company lay off parent thinness, Bligh reckoned Tofoa at eight o'clock on the that his supplies would last evening of 2nd May and took eight weeks. “I was happy," stock of the situation. It says Bligh, “to see that every might well have seemed desper- one seemed better satisfied with ate. They had 150 lb. of bread, our situation than I myself.” 28 gallons of water (and 4 Still, it was with a mind more empty breakers), 20 lb. of pork, at ease than it had been for 3 bottles of wine, and 5 quarts some time past that this young of rum. A few cocoanuts and officer faced the perils of the some bread-fruit lay on the great boat adventure. Whatfloor-boards, but during the ever happened, he could depend recent struggle the bread-fruit to the uttermost on his men. had been trampled to pieces. There had been a mutiny in The food represented full rations the Bounty; there would be for no longer than five days. no mutiny, or whisper of The wind blew strongly from mutiny, in the Bounty's launch. the eastwards, and at that At daybreak on 3rd May season might be expected to began the first stretch of over be continuous and to reach 2000 miles, during which all gale force. It would bear them islands were given a clear berth, on their north-westerly course and the boat's crew struggled for New Holland, across the along on their own scanty re40° of longitude which lay be- sources. The easterly gale intween, but it made unthink- creased until it reached storm able any attempt to return to force, the sea ran very high so the friendly chiefs who had that it often broke over the shown Bligh much hospitality high stern of the boat, and the at Tahiti. It was a moment men, soaked through by day to test character, and Bligh’s and night, had to bale conmen stood the test.
tinuously. Bligh and his craftsIf the calibre of a leader is men soon rigged up weather to be judged by the quality cloths round the boat, which which he inspires in those who abated the inflow of water. follow him, and depend for The first urgent step was to their lives upon his skill and protect the bread supply (which judgment, then we must rank was in bags) and to lighten the Bligh very high among leaders. boat. All spare clothes and He exactly explained the posi- gear were jettisoned, and the tion to his men, and they in- carpenter's chest was requisistantly placed themselves in tioned as a bread-box. This his hands without complaint careful man had two sound and without reserves. They chests which were of the utmost agreed to submit to the severest value. Bligh helped out the