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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 5.djvu/623

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583
THE ISLAND.

other islands of the South Seas, could be acclimatized in the West Indies. A petition was addressed to the king, with the result that a vessel, with a burden of 215 tons, which Banks christened the Bounty, sailed from Spithead December 23, 1787. Lieutenant William Bligh, who had sailed with Cook in the Resolution, acted as commanding officer, and under him were five midshipmen, a master, two master's mates, etc.—forty-four persons all told. The Bounty arrived at Tahiti October 26, 1788, and there for six delightful months the ship's company tarried, "fleeting the time carelessly, as in the elder world." But "Scripture saith an ending to all fine things must be," and on April 4, 1789, the Bounty, with a cargo of over a thousand bread-fruit trees, planted in pots, tubs, and boxes (see for plate of the pots, etc., A Voyage, etc., 1792, p. 1), sailed away westward for the Cape of Good Hope, and the West Indies. All went well at first, but "just before sun-rising" on Tuesday, April 28, 1789, "the north-westernmost of the Friendly Islands, called Tofoa, bearing north-east," Fletcher Christian, who was mate of the watch, assisted by Charles Churchill, master-at-arms, Alexander Smith (the John Adams of Pitcairn Island), and Thomas Burkitt, able seamen, seized the captain, tied his hands behind his back, hauled him out of his berth, and forced him on deck. The boatswain, William Cole, was ordered to hoist out the ship's launch, which measured twenty-three feet from stem to stern, and into this open boat Bligh, together with eighteen of the crew, who were or were supposed to be on his side, were thrust, on pain of instant death. When they were in the boat they were "veered round with a rope, and finally cast adrift." Bligh and his eighteen innocent companions sailed westward, and, after a voyage of "twelve hundred leagues," during which they were preserved from death and destruction by the wise ordering and patient heroism of the commander, safely anchored in Kœpang Bay, on the north-west coast of the Isle of Timor, June 14, 1789. (See Bligh's Narrative, etc., 1790, pp. 11-88; and The Island, Canto I. section ix. lines 169-201.)

The Bounty, with the remainder of the crew, twenty-five in number, "the most able of the ship's company," sailed eastward, first to Toobooai, or Tubuai, an island to the south of the Society Islands, thence to Tahiti (June 6), back to Tubuai (June 26), and yet again, to Tahiti (September 20), where sixteen of the mutineers, including the midshipman George Stewart (the "Torquil" of The Island), were put on shore. Finally, September 21, 1789, Fletcher Christian, with the Bounty and eight of her crew, six Tahitian men, and twelve women, sailed away still further east to unknown