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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 5.djvu/628

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588
[CANTO I.
THE ISLAND.

His dreams were of Old England's welcome shore,

Of toils rewarded, and of dangers o'er;20

    1754 (? 1753). He served under Cook in his second voyage in the Resolution 1772-75, as sailing-master; and, in 1782, fought under Lord Howe at Gibraltar. He married a daughter of William Betham, first collector of customs in the Isle of Man, and hence his connection with Fletcher Christian, who belonged to a Manx family, and the midshipman Peter Hayward, who was the son of a Deemster. He was appointed to the Bounty in December, 1787, and in 1791 to the Providence, which was despatched to the Society Islands to obtain a fresh cargo of bread-fruit trees in place of those which were thrown overboard by the mutineers. He commanded the Glatton at Copenhagen, May 21, 1801, and on that and other occasions served with distinction. He was made Governor of New South Wales in 1805, but was forcibly deposed in an insurrection headed by Major Johnston, January, 1808. He was kept in prison till 1810, but on his return to England his administration of his office was approved, and Johnston was cashiered. He was advanced to the rank of Vice-Admiral of the Blue in 1814, and died, December 7, 1817. In his Narrative Bligh describes the mutiny as "a close-planned act of villainy," and attributes the conspiracy not to his own harshness, or to disloyalty provoked by "real or imaginary grievances," but to the contrast of life on board ship, "in ever climbing up the climbing wave," with the unearned luxuries of Tahiti, "the allurements of dissipation ... the female connections," which the sailors had left behind. Besides his own apology, there are the sworn statements of the two midshipmen, Hayward and Hallet, and others, which Bligh published in answer to a pamphlet which Edward Christian, afterwards Chief Justice of Ely, wrote in defence of his brother Fletcher. The evidence against Bligh is contained in the MS. journal of the boatswain's mate, James Morrison, which was saved, as by a miracle, from the wreck of the Pandora, and is quoted by Sir John Barrow, Lady Belcher, and other authorities. There is, too, the testimony of John Adams (Alexander Smith), as recorded by Captain Beachey, and, as additional proof of indifference and tyrannical behavioiur, there are Bligh's own letters to Peter Hayward's mother and uncle (March 26, April 2, 1790), and W. C. Wentworth's account of his administration as Governor of New South Wales (see A Statistical Description, etc., 1819, p. 166). It cannot be gainsaid that Bligh was a man of integrity and worth, and that he was upheld and esteemed by the Admiralty. Morrison's Journal, though in parts corroborated by Bligh's MS. Journal, is not altogether convincing, and the testimony of John Adams in his old age counts for little. But according to his own supporters he "damned" his men though not the officers, and his own Narrative, as well as Morrison's Journal, proves that he was suspicious, and that he underrated and misunderstood the character and worth of his subordinates. He was responsible for the prolonged sojourn at Tahiti, and he should have remembered that time and distance are powerful solvents, and that between Portsmouth Hard and the ontracked waters of the Pacific, "all Arcadia" had intervened. He was a man of imperfect sympathies, wanting in tact and fineness, but in the hour of need he behaved like a hero, and saved himself and others by submission to duty and strenuous self-control Moreover, he "helped England" not once or twice, "in the brave days of old." (See A