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Christian, the chief of them, was of a respectable family in the north of England. This was the third voyage he had made with me. Notwithstanding the roughness with which I was treated, the remembrance of past kindnesses produced some remorse in him. While they were forcing me out of the ship, I asked him whether this was a proper return for the many instances he had experienced of my friendship? He appeared disturbed at the question, and answered, with much emotion, « That-Captain Bligh—that is the thing I am in hell-I am in hell. » His abilities to take charge of the third watch, as I had so divided the ship's company, were fully equal to the task.
Haywood was also of a respectable family in the north of England, and a young man of abilities, as well as Christian. These two had been objects of my particular regard and attention, and I had taken great pains to instruct them, having entertained hopes that, as professional men, they would have become a credit to their country. Young was well recommended; and Stewart of creditable parents in the Orkneys, at which place, on the return of the Resolution from the South Seas in 1780, we received so many civilities, that in consideration of these alone I should gladly have taken him with me. But he had always borne a good character.
When I had time to reflect, an inward satisfaction prevented the depression of my spirits. Yet, a few hours before, my situation had been peculiarly flattering; I had a ship in the most perfect order, stored with every necessary, both for health and service; the object of the voyage was attained, and two-thirds of it now
completed. The remaining part had every prospect of
It will naturally be asked, what could be the cause of such a revolt? In answer, I can only conjecture that the mutineers had flattered themselves with the hope of a happier life among the Otaheitans than they could possibly enjoy in England; which, joined to some female connexions, most probably occasioned the whole transaction.
The women of Otaheite are handsome, mild, and cheerful in manners and conversation; possessed of great sensibility, and have sufficient delicacy to make them be admired and beloved. The chiefs were so much attached to our people, that they rather encouraged their stay among them than otherwise, and even made them promises of large possessions. Under these, and many other concomitant circumstances, it ought hardly to be the subject of surprise that a set of sailors, most of them void of connexions, should be let away, where they had the power of fixing themselves in the midst of plenty, in one of the finest islands in the world, where there was no necessity to labour, and where the allurements of dissipation are beyond any conception that can be formed of it. The utmost, however, that a Commander could have expected was desertions, such as have already happened more or less in the South Seas, and not an act of open mutiny.
But the secrecy of this mutiny, surpasses belief. Thirteen of the party who were now with me had always lived forward among the seamen; yet neither they, nor the messmates of Christian, Stewart,
Heywood, and Young, had ever observed any circumstance to excite suspicion of what was plotting; and it is not wonderful if I fell a sacrifice to it, my mind being entirely free from suspicion. Perhaps, had marines been on board, a sentinel at my cabin-door might have prevented it; for I constantly slept with the door open, that the officer of the watch might have access to me on all occasions. If the mutiny had been occasioned by any grievances, either real or imaginary, I must have discovered symptoms of discontent, which would have put me on my guard; but it was far otherwise. With Christian, in particular, I was on the most friendly terms; 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 indisposition, for which I felt concerned, having no suspicions of his honour or integrity.