Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

stated, however, that Christian, on the night of his departure, was heard to declare that he should seek for some uninhabited island, and having established his party, break up the ship; but all endeavours of Captain Edwards to gain intelligence either of the ship or her crew at any of the numerous islands visited by the Pandora, failed.

From this period,`no information respecting Christian or his companions reached England for twenty years; when, about the beginning of the year 1809, Sir Sidney Smith, then commander in chief on the Brazil station, transmitted to the Admiralty à paper which he had received from Lieutenant Fitzmaurice, purporting to be an "extract from the log-book of Captain Folger of the American ship Topaz," and dated

66

Valparaiso, 10th October, 1808." This we partly verified in our Review of Dentrecasteaux's Voyage, by ascertaining that the Bounty had on board a chronometer, made by Kendal, and that there was on board her a man of the name of Alexander Smith, a native of London.

of the Bounty's crew, and that after putting Captain Bligh in the boat, with half the ship's company, they returned to Otaheite, where part of their crew chose to tarry; but Mr. Christian, with eight others, including himself, preferred going to a short stay at Otaheite, where they took more remote place; and, after making a wives, and six men servants, they proceeded to Pitcairn's Island, where they destroyed the ship, after taking every thing out of her which they thought would be useful to them. About six years after they landed at this place, their servants attacked and killed all the English, excepting the informant, and he was severely wounded. The same night the Otaheitan widows arose and murdered all their countrymen, leaving Smith with their widows and children, where he had resided ever since without being resisted. I remained but a short time on the island, and on leaving it, Smith presented me a timepiece, and an azimuth compass, which he told me belonged to the Bounty. The time-keeper was taken from me by the Governor of the Island Juan Fernandez,

About the commencement of the present year, Rear Admiral Hotham, when cruising off New London, received a letter addressed to the lords of the Admiralty, of which the following is a copy, together with the azimuth compass to which it refers :

"Nantucket, 1st March, 1813. "MY LORDS, "The remarkable circumstance which took place on my last voyage to the Pacific Ocean, will, I trust, plead my apology for addressing your lordships at this time. In February, 1808, I touched at Pitcairn's Island, in latitude 25° 02′ S. longitude 1300 W. from Greenwich. My principal object was to procure seal-skins for the China market; and from the account given of the island, in Captain Carteret's voyage, I supposed it was uninhabited; but, on approaching the shore in my boat, I was met by three young men in a double canoe, with a present, consisting of some fruit and a hog: they spoke to me in the English language, and informed me that they were born on the island, and their father was an Englishman, who had sailed with Captain Bligh.

"After discoursing with them a short time, I landed with them and found an Englishman of the name of Alexander Smith, who informed me that he was one

after I had had it in my possession about
six weeks. The compass I put in repair
on board my ship, and made use of it on
my homeward passage, since which a new
card has been put to it by an instrument
maker in Boston. I now forward it to your
lordships, thinking there will be a kind of
satisfaction in receiving it, merely from
the extraordinary circumstances attending
it.

(Signed)

MAYHEW FOLGER."

Nearly about the same time a fur-
ther account of these interesting peo-
ple was received from Vice-Admiral
Dixon, in a letter addressed to him
by Sir Thomas Staines, of his Majes-
ty's ship Briton, of which the follow-
ing is a copy :

"Briton, Valparaiso, 18th Oct. 1814,
66 SIR,

"I have the honour to inform you that
on my passage from the Marquesas Is-
lands to this port, on the morning of the
17th of September, I fell in with an island
where none is laid down in the Admiralty,
or other charts, according to the several
chronometers of the Briton and Tagus. I
therefore hove to, until day-light, and then
closed to ascertain whether it was inhabited,
which I soon discoverrd it to be; and, to
my great astonishment, found that every
individual on the island (forty in number)
spoke very good English. They prove to
be the descendants of the deluded crew of
the Bounty, which from Otaheite, pro-
ceeded to the above mentioned island,
where the ship was burnt.

"Christian appeared to have been the

و

leader and sole cause of the mutiny in that ship. A venerable old man, named Johu Adams, is the only surviving Englishman of those who last quitted Otaheite in her, and whose exemplary conduct and fatherly care of the whole of the little colony, could not but command admiration. The pious manner in which all those born on the island have been reared; the correct sense of religion which has been instilled into their young minds by this old man, has given him the pre-eminence over the whole of them, to whom they look up as the father of the whole of one family.

A son of Christian's was the first born on the island, now about twenty-five years of age, (named Thursday October Christian;) the elder Christian fell a sacrifice to the jealousy of an Otaheitan man, within three or four years after their arrival on the island. They were accompanied thither by six Otaheitan men and twelve women; the former were all swept away by desperate contentious between them and the Englishmen, and five of the latter have died at different periods, leaving at present only one man and seven women of the original settlers.

“The island must undoubtedly be that called Pitcairn's, although erroneously laid down in the charts. We had the meridian snn, close to it, which gave us 25o 4'S. latitude, and 130° 25′ W. longitude, by chronometers of the Briton and Tagus.

It is abundant in yams, plantains, hogs, goats and fowls, but affords no shelter for a ship, or vessel of any description; neither could a ship water there without great difficulty.

"I cannot, however, refrain from of. fering my opinion that it is well worthy the attention of our laudable religions so cieties, particularly that for propagating the Christian religion, the whole of the inhabitants speaking the Otaheitan tongue as well as English.

"During the whole of the time they have been on the island, only one ship has ever communicated with them, which took place about six years since by an American ship called the Topaz, of Boston, Mayhew Folger, Master.

"The island is completely iron bound, with rocky shores, and landing in boats, at all times difficult, although safe to approach within a short distance in a ship. T. STAINES." We have been favoured with some

(Signed)

further particulars on this singular

There was no such name in the Bounty's crew; he must have assumed it in lieu of his real name, Alexander Smith.

society, which, we doubt not, will interest our readers as much as they have ourselves. As the real position of the island was ascertained to be so far distant from that in which it is usually laid down in the charts, and as the captains of the Briton and Tagus, seem to have still considered it as uninhabited they were not a little surprised, on approaching its shores, to behold plantations regularly laid out, and huts or houses more neatly contructed than those on the Marquesas Islands. When about two miles from the shore, some natives were observed bringing down their canoes on their shoulders, dashing through a heavy surf, and paddling off to the ships; but their astonishment was unbounded on hearing one of them, on approaching the ship, call out in the English language, "Won't you heave us a rope, now ?"

66

the Briton soon proved who they were. The first man who got on board His name, he said, was Thursday October Christian, the first born on the island. He was then about five and twenty years of age, and is described as a fine young man, about six feet high; his hair deep black; his countenance open and interesting; of a brownish cast, but free from that mixture of a reddish tint which prevails on the Pacific Islands; his only dress was a piece of cloth round his loins, and a straw hat ornamented with the black feathers of the domestic fowl. "With a great share of good humour," says Captain Pipon, we were glad to trace in his benevolent countenance all the features of an honest English face.""I must confess," he continues, "I could not survey this interesting person without feelings of tenderness and compassion." His companion was named George Young, a fine youth of seventeen or eighteen years of age. If the astonishment of the captains was great on hearing their first salutation in English, their surprise and interest were not a little increased on Sir Thomas Staine's taking the youths below and setting before them something to placing his hands together in a poseat, when one of them rose up, and ture of devotion, distinctly repeated, and in a pleasing tone and manner, "For what we are going to receive, the Lord make us truly thankful."

They expressed great surprise on seeing a cow on board the Briton, and were in doubt whether she was a great goat or a horned sow.

The two captains of his Majesty's ships accompanied these young men on shore with some difficulty and a good wetting, and with the assis tance of their conductors, they accomplished a landing through the surf, and were soon after met by John Adams, a man between fifty and sixty years of age, who conducted them to his house. His wife accompanied him, a very old lady, blind with age. He was at first alarmed lest the visit was to apprehend him; but on being told that they were perfectly ignorant of his existence, he was relieved from his anxiety. Being once assured that this visit was of a peaceable nature, it is impossible to describe the joy these poor people manifested on seeing those whom they were pleased to consider as their countrymen. Yams, cocoa-nuts, and other fruits, with fine fresh eggs, were laid before them; and the old man would have killed and dressed a hog for his visitors, but time would not allow them to partake of his intended feast.

This interesting new colony, it seemed, now consisted of about fortysix persons, mostly grown up young people, besides a number of infants. The young men all born on the island were very athletic and of the finest forms, their countenances open and pleasing, indicating much benevolence and goodness of heart: but the young women were objects of particular admiration, tall, robust, and beautifully formed, their faces beaming with smiles and unruffled good humour, but wearing a degree of modesty and bashfulness that would do honour to the most virtuous nation on earth; their teeth like ivory, were regular and beautiful, without a single exception; and all of them, both male and female, had the most marked English features. The clothing of the young females consisted of a piece of linen reaching from the waist to the kness, and generally a sort of mantle thrown loosely over the shoulders, and hanging as low as the ancles; but this covering appeared to be intended chiefly as a protection against the sun and the weather, as it was frequently laid aside, and then

the upper part of the body was entirely exposed; and it is not possible to conceive more beautiful forms than they exhibited. They sometimes wreath caps or bonnets for the head in the most tasty manner, to protect the face from the rays of the sun; and though as Captain Pipon observes, they have only had the instruction of their Otaheitan mothers, "our dressmakers in London would be delighted with the simplicity, and yet elegant taste, of these untaught females."

Their native modesty, assisted by a proper sense of religion and morality, instilled into their youthful minds by John Adams, has hitherto preserved these interesting people perfectly chaste and free from all kinds of debauchery. Adams assured the visitors, that since Christian's death there had not been a single instance of any young woman proving unchaste; nor any attempt at seduction on the part of the men. They all labour while young in the cultivation of the ground; and when possessed of a sufficient quantity of cleared land and of stock to maintain a family, they are allowed to marry, but always with the conscut of Adams, who unites them by a sort of marriage ceremony of his own.

The greatest harmony prevailed in this little society; their only quarrels, and these rarely happened, being, according to their own expression, quarrels of the mouth: they are honest in their dealings, which consist of bartering different articles for mutual accommodation.

Their habitations are extremely neat: the little village of Pitcairn forms a pretty square, the houses at the upper end of which are occupied by the patriarch John Adams, and his family, consisting of his old blind wife and three daughters, from fifteen to eighteen years of age, and a boy of eleven; a daughter of his wife by a former husband, and a son-in-law. On the opposite side is the dwelling of Thursday October Christian; and in the centre is a smooth verdant lawn on which the poultry are let loose, fenced in so as to prevent the intrusion of the domestic quadrupeds. All that was done was obviously undertaken on a settled plan, unlike to any thing to be met with on the other islands. In their houses too,

they had a good deal of decent furniture, consisting of beds laid upon bedsteads, with neat coverings; they had also tables, and large chests to contain their valuables and clothing, which is made from the bark of a certain tree, prepared chiefly by the elder Otaheitan females. Adams's house consisted of two rooms, and the windows had shutters to pull to at night. The younger part of the sex are, as before mentioned, employed with their brothers, under the direction of their common father Adams, in the culture of the ground, which produced cocoa-nuts, bananas, the bread fruit-tree, yams, sweet potatoes and turnips. They have also plenty of hogs and goats; the woods abound with a species of wild hog, and the coasts of the island with several kinds of good fish. Their agricultural implements are made by themselves from the iron supplied by the Bounty, which with great labour they beat out into spades, hatchets, crows, &c. This was not all: the good old man kept a regular journal, in which was entered the nature and quantity of work performed by each family, what each had received, and what was due on account. There was, it seems, besides private property, a sort of general stock out of which articles were issued on account to the several members of the community; and for mutual accommodation exchanges of one kind of provision for another were very frequent; as salt, for fresh provisions, vegetables and fruit, for poultry, fish, &c. Also when the stores of one family were low, or wholly expended, a fresh supply was raised from another, or out of the general stock, to be repaid when circumstances were more favourable ;-all of which was carefully noted down in John Adams's Journal,

But what was most gratifying of all to the visitors was, the simple and unaffected manner in which they returned thanks to the Almighty for the many blessings they enjoyed. They never failed to say grace before and after meals; to pray every morning at sunrise; and they frequently repeated the Lord's Prayer and the Creed. "It was truly pleasing," says Captain Pipon, "to see these poor people so well disposed, to listen so attentively to moral instruction, to believe in the

attributes of God, and to place their reliance on divine goodness." The day on which the two captains landed was Saturday, the 17th September; but by John Adams's account it was Sunday, the 18th, and they were keeping the sabbath by making it a day of rest and of prayer. This was occasioned by the Bounty having proceeded thither by the Eastern route, and our frigates having gone to the Westward; and the Topaz found them right according to his own reckoning, she having also approached the island from the Eastward. Every ship from Europe proceeding to Pitcairn's Island round the Cape of Good Hope will find them a day later as those who approach them round Cape Horn, a day in advance, as was the case with Captain Folger and the Captains Sir T. Staines and Pipon.

The visit of the Topaz is of course, as a notable circumstance, marked down in John Adams's Journal. The first ship that appeared off the island was on the 27th December, 1795; but as she did not approach the land, they could not make out to what nation she belonged. A second ap peared some time after, but did not attempt to communicate with them. A third came sufficiently near to see the natives and their habitations, but did not attempt to send a boat on shore; which is the less surprising, considering the uniform raggedness of the coast, the total want of shelter, and the almost constant and violent breaking of the sea against the cliffs. The good old man was anxious to know what was going on in the old world, and they had the means of gratifying his curiosity by supplying him with some magazines and modern publications. His library consisted of the books that belonged to Admiral Bligh, but the visitors had not time to inspect them.

They inquired particularly after Fletcher Christian: this ill-fated young man, it seems, was never happy after the rash and inconsiderate step which he had taken; he became sullen and morose, and practised the very same kind of conduct towards his companions in guilt which he and they so loudly complained against in their late commander. Disap. pointed in his expectations at Otaheite, and the Friendly Islands, and

most probably dreading a discovery, this deluded youth committed himself and his remaining confederates to the mere chance of being cast upon some desert island, and chance threw them on that of Pitcairn. Finding no anchorage near it he ran the ship upon the rocks, cleared her of the live stock and other articles which they had been supplied with at Otaheite, when he set her on fire, that no trace of inhabitants might be visible, and all hopes of escape cut off from himself and his wretched followers. He soon however disgusted both his own countrymen and the Otaheitaus, by his oppressive and tyrannical conduct; they divided into parties, and disputes and affrays and murders were the consequence. His Otaheitan wife died within a twelvemonth from their landing; after which he carried off one that belonged to an Otaheitan man, who watched for an opportunity of taking his revenge, and shot him dead while digging in his own field. Thus terminated the miserable existence of this deluded young man, who was neither deficient in talent nor energy, nor in connexions; and who might have risen in the service and become an ornament to his profession.

deemed his former crimes.

This island is about six miles long by three broad, covered with wood, and the soil of course very rich: situated under the parallel of 25°S. latitude, and in the midst of such a wide expanse of ocean, the climate must be fine, and admirably adapted for the reception of all the vegetable productions of every part of the habitable globe. Small, therefore, as Pitcairn's Island may appear, there can be little doubt that it is capable of supporting many inhabitants; and the present stock being of so good a description, we trust they will not be neglected. In the course of time the patriarch must go hence; and we think it would be exceedingly desirable that the British nation should provide for such an event by sending out, not an ignorant and idle evangelical missionary, but some zealous and intelligent instructor, together with a few persons capable of teaching the useful trades or professions. On Pitcairn's Island there are better materials to work upon than missionaries have yet been so fortunate as to meet with, and the best results may reasonably be expected. Something we are bound to do for these blameless and interesting people. The articles recommended by Captain Pipon appear to be highly proper;cooking utensils, implements of agriculture, maize or the Indian corn, the orange tree from Valparaiso, a most grateful fruit in a warm climate, and not known in the Pacific Islands; and that root of plenty, (not of pover ty, as a wretched scribbler has called it) the potatoe; Bibles, Prayer Books, and a proper selection of other books, with paper, and other implements of writing. The visitors supplied them with some tools, kettles, and other articles, such as the high surf would permit them to land, but to no great extent; many things are still wanting for their ease and comfort. The descendants of these people, by keeping up the Otaheitan language, which the present race speak fluently, might be the means of civilizing the multitudes of fine people scattered over the innumerable islands of the Great Pacific. We have only to add, that Pitcairn's Island seems to be so fortified by nature as to oppose an invincible barrier to an invading enemy; there is no

:

John Adams declared, as it was natural enough he should do, his abhorrence of the crime in which he was implicated, and said that he was sick at the time in his hammock; this, we understand, is not true, though he was not particularly active in the mutiny he expressed the utmost willingness to surrender himself and be taken to England; indeed he rather seemed to have an inclination to re-visit his native country, but the young men and women flocked round him, and with tears and intreaties begged that their father and protector might not be taken from them, for without him they must all perish. It would have been an act of the greatest inhumanity to have removed him from the island; and it is hardly necessary to add, that Sir Thomas Staines lent a willing ear to their intreaties; thinking, no doubt, as we feel strongly disposed to think, that if he were even among the most guilty, his care and success in instilling religious and moral principles into the minds of this young and interesting society, haye, in a great degree, re

« AnteriorContinua »