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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 5.djvu/634

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594
[CANTO I.
THE ISLAND.

Then forward stepped the bold and froward boy
His Chief had cherished only to destroy,
And, pointing to the helpless prow beneath,
Exclaimed, "Depart at once! delay is death!"
Yet then, even then, his feelings ceased not all:
In that last moment could a word recall
Remorse for the black deed as yet half done,
And what he hid from many showed to one:
When Bligh in stern reproach demanded where
Was now his grateful sense of former care?160
Where all his hopes to see his name aspire,
And blazon Britain's thousand glories higher?
His feverish lips thus broke their gloomy spell,
"'Tis that! 'tis that! I am in hell! in hell!"[1]
No more he said; but urging to the bark
His Chief, commits him to his fragile ark;
These the sole accents from his tongue that fell,
But volumes lurked below his fierce farewell.


  1. ["Christian ... then ... said, 'Come, Captain Bligh, your officers and men are now in the boat; and you must go with them; if you attempt to make the least resistance you will instantly be put to death;' and without any farther ceremony, holding me by the cord that tied my hands, with a tribe of armed ruffians about me, I was forced over the side, where they untied my hands. Being in the boat, we were veered astern by a rope. A few pieces of pork were thrown to me and some clothes.... After having undergone a great deal of ridicule, and being kept for some time to make sport for these unfeeling wretches, we were at length cast adrift in the open ocean.... When they were forcing me out of the ship, I asked him [Christian] if this treatment was a proper return for the many instances be had received 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.'"—A Narrative, etc., 1790, pp. 4-8.

    Bligh's testimony on this point does not correspond with Morrison's journal, or with the evidence of the master, John Fryer, given at the court-martial, September 12, 1792. According to Morrison, when the boatswain tried to pacify Christian, he replied, "It is too late. I have been in hell for this fortnight past, and am determined to bear it no longer." The master's version is that he appealed to Christian, and that Christian exclaimed, "Hold your tongue, sir, I have been in hell for weeks past; Captain Bligh has brought all this on himself." Bligh seems to have flattered himself that in the act of mutiny Christian was seized with remorse, but it is clear that the wish was father to the thought. Moreover, on being questioned, Fryer, who was a supporter of the captain, explained that Christian referred to quarrels, to abuse in general, and more particularly to a recent accusation of stealing cocoa-nuts. (See The Eventful History, etc., 1831, pp. 84, 208, 209.)]