The Eventful History Of The Mutiny And Piratical Seizure - Of H.M.S. Bounty: Its Cause And Consequences
by Sir John Barrow
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[By Sir John Barrow]





The Editor of this little volume (for he presumes not to write Author) has been induced to bring into one connected view what has hitherto appeared only as detached fragments (and some of these not generally accessible)—the historical narrative of an event which deeply interested the public at the time of its occurrence, and from which the naval service in particular, in all its ranks, may still draw instructive and useful lessons.

The story in itself is replete with interest. We are taught by The Book of sacred history that the disobedience of our first parents entailed on our globe of earth a sinful and a suffering race: in our time there has sprung up from the most abandoned of this sinful family—from pirates, mutineers, and murderers—a little society which, under the precepts of that sacred volume, is characterized by religion, morality, and innocence. The discovery of this happy people, as unexpected as it was accidental, and all that regards their condition and history, partake so much of the romantic as to render the story not ill adapted for an epic poem. Lord Byron, indeed, has partially treated the subject; but by blending two incongruous stories, and leaving both of them imperfect, and by mixing up fact with fiction, has been less felicitous than usual; for, beautiful as many passages in his Island are, in a region where every tree, and flower, and fountain breathe poetry, yet as a whole the poem is feeble and deficient in dramatic effect.

There still remains to us at least one poet, who, if he could be prevailed on to undertake it, would do justice to the story. To his suggestion the publication of the present narrative owes its appearance. But a higher object at present is engaging his attention, which, when completed, judging from that portion already before the public, will have raised a splendid and lasting monument to the name of William Sotheby, in his translation of the Iliad and the Odyssey.

To the kindness of Mrs. Heywood, the relict of the late Captain Peter Heywood, the Editor is indebted for those beautiful and affectionate letters, written by a beloved sister to her unfortunate brother, while a prisoner and under sentence of death; as well as for some occasional poetry, which displays an intensity of feeling, a tenderness of expression, and a high tone of sentiment that do honour to the head and heart of this amiable and accomplished lady. Those letters also from the brother to his deeply afflicted family will be read with peculiar interest.



The gentle island, and the genial soil, The friendly hearts, the feasts without a toil, The courteous manners but from nature caught, The wealth unhoarded, and the love unbougnt,

* * * * *

The bread-tree, which, without the ploughshare, yields The unreap'd harvest of unfurrow'd fields, And bakes its unadulterated loaves Without a furnace in unpurchased groves, And flings off famine from its fertile breast, A priceless market for the gathering guest;— These, etc.— BYRON.

The reign of George III will be distinguished in history by the great extension and improvement which geographical knowledge received under the immediate auspices of this sovereign. At a very early period, after his accession to the throne of these realms, expeditions of discovery were undertaken, 'not (as Dr. Hawkesworth observes) with a view to the acquisition of treasure, or the extent of dominion, but for the improvement of commerce, and the increase and diffusion of knowledge.' This excellent monarch was himself no mean proficient in the science of geography; and it may be doubted if any one of his subjects, at the period alluded to, was in possession of so extensive or so well-arranged a cabinet of maps and charts as his was, or who understood their merits or their defects so well as he did.

The first expeditions that were sent forth, after the conclusion of the war, were those of Byron, Wallis, and Carteret. In the instructions to the first of these commanders it is said, 'there is reason to believe that lands and islands of great extent, hitherto unvisited by any European power, may be found in the Atlantic Ocean, between the Cape of Good Hope and the Magellanic Strait, within the latitudes convenient for navigation, and in climates adapted to the produce of commodities useful in commerce.' It could not require much knowledge or consideration to be assured that, between the Cape and the Strait, climates producing commodities useful in commerce, with the exception of whales and seals, were likely to be found. The fact was that, among the real objects of this and other subsequent voyages, there was one which had engaged the attention of certain philosophers, from the time of the Spanish navigator, Quiros: this able navigator had maintained that a Terra Australis incognita must necessarily exist, somewhere in the high latitudes of the southern hemisphere, to counterbalance the great masses of land in those of the northern one, and thus maintain a just equipoise of the globe.

While these expeditions were in progress, the Royal Society, in 1768, addressed an application to the king, praying him to appoint a ship of war to convey to the South Seas Mr. Alexander Dalrymple (who had adopted the opinion of Quiros), and certain others, for the main purpose, however, of observing the transit of Venus over the sun's disc, which was to happen in the year 1769. By the king's command, a bark of three hundred and seventy tons was taken up by the Admiralty to perform this service, but, as Mr. Dalrymple was a civilian, he could not be entrusted with the command of the ship, and on that account declined going in her.

The command was therefore conferred on Lieutenant James Cook, an officer of undoubted ability, and well versed in astronomy and the theory and practice of navigation, with whom the Royal Society associated Mr. Charles Green, who had long been assistant to Dr. Bradley, the astronomer royal, to aid him in the observation of the transit. Mr. Banks, a private gentleman of good fortune, who afterwards became the valuable and distinguished President of the Royal Society, and Dr. Solander, a Swedish gentleman of great acquirements, particularly in natural history, accompanied Lieutenant Cook on this interesting voyage. The islands of Marquesas de Mendoza, or those of Rotterdam or Amsterdam, were proposed by the Royal Society as proper places for making the observation. While fitting out, however, Captain Wallis returned from his expedition, and strongly recommended as most suitable for the purpose, Port Royal Harbour, on an island he had discovered, to which he had given the name of 'King George's Island,' and which has since been known by its native name, Otaheite or Tahite.[1]

This lovely island is most intimately connected with the mutiny which took place on board the Bounty, and with the fate of the mutineers and their innocent offspring. Its many seducing temptations have been urged as one, if not the main, cause of the mutiny, which was supposed, at least by the commander of that ship, to have been excited by—

Young hearts which languish'd for some sunny isle, Where summer years, and summer women smile, Men without country, who, too long estranged, Had found no native home, or found it changed, And, half uncivilized, preferr'd the cave Of some soft savage to the uncertain wave.

It may be proper, therefore, as introductory to the present narrative, to give a general description of the rich and spontaneous gifts which Nature has lavished on this once 'happy island;'—of the simple and ingenuous manners of its natives,—and of those allurements which were supposed, erroneously however, to have occasioned the unfortunate catastrophe alluded to;—to glance at

The nymphs' seducements and the magic bower,

as they existed at the period of the first intercourse between the Otaheitans and the crews of those ships, which carried to their shores, in succession, Wallis, Bougainville, and Cook.

The first communication which Wallis had with these people was unfortunately of a hostile nature. Having approached with his ship close to the shore, the usual symbol of peace and friendship, a branch of the plantain tree, was held up by a native in one of the numerous canoes that surrounded the ship. Great numbers, on being invited, crowded on board the stranger ship, but one of them, being butted on the haunches by a goat, and turning hastily round, perceived it rearing on its hind legs, ready to repeat the blow, was so terrified at the appearance of this strange animal, so different from any he had ever seen, that, in the moment of terror, he jumped overboard, and all the rest followed his example with the utmost precipitation.

This little incident, however, produced no mischief; but as the boats were sounding in the bay, and several canoes crowding round them, Wallis suspected the islanders had a design to attack them, and, on this mere suspicion, ordered the boats by signal to come on board, 'and at the same time,' he says, 'to intimidate the Indians, I fired a nine-pounder over their heads.' This, as might have been imagined, startled the islanders, but did not prevent them from attempting immediately to cut off the cutter, as she was standing towards the ship. Several stones were thrown into this boat, on which the commanding officer fired a musket, loaded with buck-shot, at the man who threw the first stone, and wounded him in the shoulder.

Finding no good anchorage at this place, the ship proceeded to another part of the island, where, on one of the boats being assailed by the Indians in two or three canoes, with their clubs and paddles in their hands, 'Our people,' says the commander, 'being much pressed, were obliged to fire, by which one of the assailants was killed, and another much wounded.' This unlucky rencontre did not, however, prevent, as soon as the ship was moored, a great number of canoes from coming off the next morning, with hogs, fowls, and fruit. A brisk traffic soon commenced, our people exchanging knives, nails, and trinkets, for more substantial articles of food, of which they were in want. Among the canoes that came out last were some double ones of very large size, with twelve or fifteen stout men in each, and it was observed that they had little on board except a quantity of round pebble stones. Other canoes came off along with them, having only women on board; and while these females were assiduously practising their allurements, by attitudes that could not be misunderstood, with the view, as it would seem, to distract the attention of the crew, the large double canoes closed round the ship; and as these advanced, some of the men began singing, some blowing conchs, and others playing on flutes. One of them, with a person sitting under a canopy, approached the ship so close, as to allow this person to hand up a bunch of red and yellow feathers, making signs it was for the captain. He then put off to a little distance, and, on holding up the branch of a cocoa-nut tree, there was an universal shout from all the canoes, which at the same moment moved towards the ship, and a shower of stones was poured into her on every side. The guard was now ordered to fire, and two of the quarter-deck guns, loaded with small shot, were fired among them at the same time, which created great terror and confusion, and caused them to retreat to a short distance. In a few minutes, however, they renewed the attack. The great guns were now ordered to be discharged among them, and also into a mass of canoes that were putting off from the shore. It is stated that, at this time, there could not be less than three hundred canoes about the ship, having on board at least two thousand men. Again they dispersed, but having soon collected into something like order, they hoisted white streamers, and pulled towards the ship's stern, when they again began to throw stones with great force and dexterity, by the help of slings, each of the stones weighing about two pounds, and many of them wounded the people on board. At length a shot hit the canoe that apparently had the chief on board, and cut it asunder. This was no sooner observed by the rest, than they all dispersed in such haste, that in half an hour there was not a single canoe to be seen; and all the people who had crowded the shore fled over the hills with the utmost precipitation. What was to happen on the following day was matter of conjecture, but this point was soon decided.

The white man landed;—need the rest be told? The new world stretch'd its dusk hand to the old.

Lieutenant Furneaux, on the next morning, landed, without opposition, close to a fine river that fell into the bay—stuck up a staff on which was hoisted a pendant,—turned a turf,—and by this process took possession of the island in the name of his Majesty, and called it King George the Third's Island. Just as he was embarking, an old man, to whom the Lieutenant had given a few trifles, brought some green boughs, which he threw down at the foot of the staff, then retiring, brought about a dozen of his countrymen, who approached the staff in a supplicating posture, then retired and brought two live hogs, which they laid down at the foot of the staff, and then began to dance. After this ceremony the hogs were put into a canoe and the old man carried them on board, handing up several green plantain leaves, and uttering a sentence on the delivery of each. Some presents were offered him in return, but he would accept of none.

Concluding that peace was now established, and that no further attack would be made, the boats were sent on shore the following day to get water. While the casks were filling, several natives were perceived coming from behind the hills and through the woods, and at the same time a multitude of canoes from behind a projecting point of the bay. As these were discovered to be laden with stones, and were making towards the ship, it was concluded their intention was to try their fortune in a second grand attack. 'As to shorten the contest would certainly lessen the mischief, I determined,' says Captain Wallis, 'to make this action decisive, and put an end to hostilities at once.' Accordingly a tremendous fire was opened at once on all the groups of canoes, which had the effect of immediately dispersing them. The fire was then directed into the wood, to drive out the islanders, who had assembled in large numbers, on which they all fled to the hill, where the women and children had seated themselves. Here they collected to the amount of several thousands, imagining themselves at that distance to be perfectly safe. The captain, however, ordered four shot to be fired over them, but two of the balls, having fallen close to a tree where a number of them were sitting, they were so struck with terror and consternation, that, in less than two minutes, not a creature was to be seen. The coast being cleared, the boats were manned and armed, and all the carpenters with their axes were sent on shore, with directions to destroy every canoe they could find; and we are told this service was effectually performed, and that more than fifty canoes, many of which were sixty feet long, and three broad, and lashed together, were cut to pieces.

This act of severity must have been cruelly felt by these poor people, who, without iron or any kind of tools, but such as stones, shells, teeth, and bones supplied them with, must have spent months and probably years in the construction of one of these extraordinary double boats.

Such was the inauspicious commencement of our acquaintance with the natives of Otaheite. Their determined hostility and perseverance in an unequal combat could only have arisen from one of two motives—either from an opinion that a ship of such magnitude, as they had never before beheld, could only be come to their coast to take their country from them; or an irresistible temptation to endeavour, at all hazards, to possess themselves of so valuable a prize. Be that as it may, the dread inspired by the effects of the cannon, and perhaps a conviction of the truth of what had been explained to them, that the 'strangers wanted only provisions and water,' had the effect of allaying all jealousy; for from the day of the last action, the most friendly and uninterrupted intercourse was established, and continued to the day of the Dolphin's departure; and provisions of all kinds, hogs, dogs, fruit, and vegetables, were supplied in the greatest abundance, in exchange for pieces of iron, nails, and trinkets.

As a proof of the readiness of these simple people to forgive injuries, a poor woman, accompanied by a young man bearing a branch of the plantain tree, and another man with two hogs, approached the gunner, whom Captain Wallis had appointed to regulate the market, and looking round on the strangers with great attention, fixing her eyes sometimes on one and sometimes on another, at length burst into tears. It appeared that her husband and three of her sons had been killed in the attack on the ship. While this was under explanation, the poor creature was so affected as to require the support of the two young men, who from their weeping were probably two more of her sons. When somewhat composed, she ordered the two hogs to be delivered to the gunner, and gave him her hand in token of friendship, but would accept nothing in return.

Captain Wallis was now so well satisfied that there was nothing further to apprehend from the hostility of the natives, that he sent a party up the country to cut wood, who were treated with great kindness and hospitality by all they met, and the ship was visited by persons of both sexes, who by their dress and behaviour appeared to be of a superior rank. Among others was a tall lady about five and forty years of age, of a pleasing countenance and majestic deportment. She was under no restraint, either from diffidence or fear, and conducted herself with that easy freedom which generally distinguishes conscious superiority and habitual command. She accepted some small present which the captain gave her, with a good grace and much pleasure; and having observed that he was weak and suffering from ill health, she pointed to the shore, which he understood to be an invitation, and made signs that he would go thither the next morning. His visit to this lady displays so much character and good feeling, that it will best be described in the captain's own words.

'The next morning I went on shore for the first time, and my princess or rather queen, for such by her authority she appeared to be, soon after came to me, followed by many of her attendants. As she perceived that my disorder had left me very weak, she ordered her people to take me in their arms, and carry me not only over the river, but all the way to her house; and observing that some of the people who were with me, particularly the first lieutenant and purser, had also been sick, she caused them also to be carried in the same manner, and a guard, which I had ordered out upon the occasion, followed. In our way, a vast multitude crowded about us, but upon her waving her hand, without speaking a word, they withdrew, and left us a free passage. When we approached near her house, a great number of both sexes came out to meet her; these she presented to me, after having intimated by signs that they were her relations, and taking hold of my hand she made them kiss it.

'We then entered the house, which covered a piece of ground three hundred and twenty-seven feet long, and forty-two feet broad. It consisted of a roof thatched with palm leaves, and raised upon thirty-nine pillars on each side, and fourteen in the middle. The ridge of the thatch, on the inside, was thirty feet high, and the sides of the house, to the edge of the roof, were twelve feet high; all below the roof being open. As soon as we entered the house, she made us sit down, and then calling four young girls, she assisted them to take off my shoes, draw down my stockings, and pull off my coat, and then directed them to smooth down the skin, and gently chafe it with their hands. The same operation was also performed on the first lieutenant and the purser, but upon none of those who appeared to be in health. While this was doing, our surgeon, who had walked till he was very warm, took off his wig to cool and refresh himself: a sudden exclamation of one of the Indians, who saw it, drew the attention of the rest, and in a moment every eye was fixed upon the prodigy, and every operation was suspended. The whole assembly stood some time motionless, in silent astonishment, which could not have been more strongly expressed, if they had discovered that our friend's limbs had been screwed on to the trunk. In a short time, however, the young women who were chafing us, resumed their employment, and having continued for about half an hour, they dressed us again, but in this they were, as may easily be imagined, very awkward; I found great benefit, however, from the chafing, and so did the lieutenant and the purser.

'After a little time our generous benefactress ordered some bales of Indian cloth to be brought out, with which she clothed me, and all that were with me, according to the fashion of the country. At first I declined the acceptance of this favour, but being unwilling not to seem pleased with what was intended to please me, I acquiesced. When we went away, she ordered a very large sow, big with young, to be taken down to the boat, and accompanied us thither herself. She had given directions to her people to carry me, as they had done when I came, but as I chose rather to walk, she took me by the arm, and whenever we came to a plash of water or dirt, she lifted me over with as little trouble as it would have cost me to have lifted over a child, if I had been well.'

The following morning Captain Wallis sent her a present by the gunner, who found her in the midst of an entertainment given to at least a thousand people. The messes were put into shells of cocoa-nuts, and the shells into wooden trays, like those used by our butchers, and she distributed them with her own hands to the guests, who were seated in rows in the open air, round the great house. When this was done, she sat down herself upon a place somewhat elevated above the rest, and two women, placing themselves, one on each side of her, fed her, she opening her mouth as they brought their hands up with the food. From this time, provisions were sent to market in the greatest abundance. The queen frequently visited the captain on board, and always with a present, but she never condescended to barter, nor would she accept of any return.

One day, after visiting her at her house, the captain at parting made her comprehend by signs, that he intended to quit the island in seven days: she immediately understood his meaning, and by similar signs, expressed her wish that he should stay twenty days; that he should go with her a couple of days' journey into the country, stay there a few days, return with plenty of hogs and poultry, and then go away; but on persisting in his first intention, she burst into tears, and it was not without great difficulty that she could be pacified. The next time that she went on board, Captain Wallis ordered a good dinner for her entertainment and those chiefs who were of her party; but the queen would neither eat nor drink. As she was going over the ship's side, she asked, by signs, whether he still persisted in leaving the island at the time he had fixed, and on receiving an answer in the affirmative, she expressed her regret by a flood of tears; and as soon as her passion subsided, she told the captain that she would come on board again the following day.

Accordingly, the next day she again visited the ship twice, bringing each time large presents of hogs, fowls, and fruits. The captain, after expressing his sense of her kindness and bounty, announced his intention of sailing the following morning. This, as usual, threw her into tears, and after recovering herself, she made anxious inquiry when he should return; he said in fifty days, with which she seemed to be satisfied. 'She stayed on board,' says Captain Wallis, 'till night, and it was then with the greatest difficulty that she could be prevailed upon to go on shore. When she was told that the boat was ready, she threw herself down upon the arm-chest, and wept a long time, with an excess of passion that could not be pacified; at last, however, with the greatest reluctance, she was prevailed upon to go into the boat, and was followed by her attendants.'

The next day, while the ship was unmooring, the whole beach was covered with the inhabitants. The queen came down, and having ordered a double canoe to be launched, was rowed off by her own people, followed by fifteen or sixteen other canoes. She soon made her appearance on board, but, not being able to speak, she sat down and gave vent to her passion by weeping. Shortly after a breeze springing up, the ship made sail; and finding it now necessary to return into her canoe, 'she embraced us all,' says Captain Wallis, 'in the most affectionate manner, and with many tears; all her attendants also expressed great sorrow at our departure. In a few minutes she came into the bow of her canoe, where she sat weeping with inconsolable sorrow. I gave her many things which I thought would be of great use to her, and some for ornament; she silently accepted of all, but took little notice of any thing. About ten o'clock we had got without the reef, and a fresh breeze springing up, our Indian friends, and particularly the queen, once more bade us farewell, with such tenderness of affection and grief, as filled both my heart and my eyes.'

The tender passion had certainly caught hold of one or both of these worthies; and if her Majesty's language had been as well understood by Captain Wallis, as that of Dido was to AEneas, when pressing him to stay with her, there is no doubt it would have been found not less pathetic—

Nec te noster amor, nec te data dextera quondam, Nec moritura tenet crudeli funere Dido?

This lady, however, did not sink, like the 'miserrima Dido,' under her griefs; on the contrary, we find her in full activity and animation, and equally generous, to Lieut. Cook and his party, under the name of Oberea, who, it now appeared, was no queen, but whose husband they discovered was uncle to the young king, then a minor, but from whom she was separated. She soon evinced a partiality for Mr. Banks, though not quite so strong as that for Wallis, but it appears to have been mutual, until an unlucky discovery took place, that she had, at her command, a stout strong-boned cavaliere servente; added to which, a theft, rather of an amusing nature, contributed for a time to create a coolness, and somewhat to disturb the good understanding that had subsisted between them. It happened that a party, consisting of Cook, Banks, Solander, and three or four others, were benighted at a distance from the anchorage. Mr. Banks, says Lieut. Cook, thought himself fortunate in being offered a place by Oberea, in her own canoe, and wishing his friends a good night, took his leave. He went to rest early, according to the custom of the country; and taking off his clothes, as was his constant practice, the nights being hot, Oberea kindly insisted upon taking them into her own custody, for otherwise, she said, they would certainly be stolen. Mr. Banks having, as he thought, so good a safeguard, resigned himself to sleep with all imaginable tranquillity; but awakening about eleven o'clock, and wanting to get up, he searched for his clothes where he had seen them carefully deposited by Oberea, when he lay down to sleep, and perceived to his sorrow and surprise, that they were missing. He immediately awakened Oberea, who, starting up and hearing his complaint, ordered lights, and prepared in great haste to recover what had been lost. Tootahah (the regent) slept in the next canoe, and being soon alarmed, he came to them and set out with Oberea in search of the thief. Mr. Banks was not in a condition to go with them, as of his apparel scarcely any thing was left him but his breeches. In about half an hour his two noble friends returned, but without having obtained any intelligence of his clothes or of the thief. Where Cook and Solander had disposed of themselves he did not know; but hearing music, which was sure to bring a crowd together, in which there was a chance of his associates being among them, he rose, and made the best of his way towards it, and joined his party, as Cook says, 'more than half naked, and told us his melancholy story.'

It was some consolation to find that his friends were fellow-sufferers, Cook having lost his stockings, that had been stolen from under his head, though he had never been asleep, and his associates their jackets. At day-break Oberea brought to Mr. Banks some of her country clothes; 'so that when he came to us,' says Cook, 'he made a most motley appearance, half Indian and half English.' Such an adventure must have been highly amusing to him who was the object of it, when the inconvenience had been removed, as every one will admit who knew the late venerable President of the Royal Society. He never doubted, however, that Oberea was privy to the theft, and there was strong suspicion of her having some of the articles in her custody. Being aware that this feeling existed, she absented herself for some time, and when she again appeared, she said a favourite of hers had taken them away, whom she had beaten and dismissed; 'but she seemed conscious,' says Cook, 'that she had no right to be believed; she discovered the strongest signs of fear, yet she surmounted it with astonishing resolution, and was very pressing to be allowed to sleep with her attendants in Mr. Banks's tent; in this, however, she was not gratified.' Sir Joseph might have thought that, if he complied with her request, his breeches might be in danger of following the other articles of his dress.

The Otaheitans cannot resist pilfering. 'I must bear my testimony,' says Cook, 'that the people of this country, of all ranks, men and women, are the arrantest thieves upon the face of the earth; but,' he adds, 'we must not hastily conclude that theft is a testimony of the same depravity in them that it is in us, in the instances in which our people were sufferers by their dishonesty; for their temptation was such, as to surmount what would be considered as a proof of uncommon integrity among those who have more knowledge, better principles, and stronger motives to resist the temptations of illicit advantage; an Indian among penny knives and beads, and even nails and broken glass, is in the same state of mind with the meanest servant in Europe among unlocked coffers of jewels and gold.' Captain Wallis has illustrated the truth of this position by an experiment he made on some persons, whose dress and behaviour indicated that they were of a superior cast. 'To discover what present,' he says, 'would most gratify them, I laid down before them a Johannes, a guinea, a crown piece, a Spanish dollar, a few shillings, some new halfpence, and two large nails, making signs that they should take what they liked best. The nails were first seized with great eagerness, and then a few of the halfpence, but the silver and gold lay neglected.' Here then it might with truth be said was discovered

The goldless age, where gold disturbs no dreams.

But their thirst after iron was irresistible; Wallis's ship was stripped of all the nails in her by the seamen to purchase the good graces of the women, who assembled in crowds on the shore. The men even drew out of different parts of the ship those nails that fastened the cleats to her side. This commerce established with the women rendered the men, as might readily be expected, less obedient to command, and made it necessary to punish some of them by flogging. The Otaheitans regarded this punishment with horror. One of Cook's men having insulted a chief's wife, he was ordered to be flogged in their presence. The Indians saw him stripped and tied up to the rigging with a fixed attention, waiting in silent suspense for the event; but as soon as the first stroke was given, they interfered with great agitation, earnestly entreating that the rest of the punishment might be remitted; and when they found they were unable to prevail, they gave vent to their pity by tears. 'But their tears,' as Cook observes, 'like those of children, were always ready to express any passion that was strongly excited, and like those of children, they also appeared to be forgotten as soon as shed.' And he instances this by the following incident:—Mr. Banks seeing a young woman in great affliction, the tears streaming from her eyes, inquired earnestly the cause; but instead of answering, she took from under her garment a shark's tooth, and struck it six or seven times into her head with great force; a profusion of blood followed, and disregarding his inquiries, she continued to talk loud in a melancholy tone, while those around were laughing and talking without taking the least notice of her distress. The bleeding having ceased, she looked up with a smile, and collecting the pieces of cloth which she had used to stanch the blood, threw them into the sea; then plunging into the river, and washing her whole body, she returned to the tents with the same gaiety and cheerfulness as if nothing had happened. The same thing occurred in the case of a chief, who had given great offence to Mr. Banks, when he and all his followers were overwhelmed with grief and dejection; but one of his women, having struck a shark's tooth into her head several times, till it was covered with blood, the scene was immediately changed, and laughing and good humour took place. Wallis witnessed the same kind of conduct. This, therefore, and the tears, are probably considered a sort of expiation or doing penance for a fault.

But the sorrows of these simple and artless people are transient. Cook justly observes, that what they feel they have never been taught either to disguise or suppress; and having no habits of thinking, which perpetually recall the past and anticipate the future, they are affected by all the changes of the passing hour, and reflect the colour of the time, however frequently it may vary. They grieve for the death of a relation, and place the body on a stage erected on piles and covered with a roof of thatch, for they never bury the dead, and never approach one of these morais without great solemnity; but theirs is no lasting grief.

An old woman having died, Mr. Banks, whose pursuit was knowledge of every kind, and to gain it made himself one of the people, requested he might attend the ceremony and witness all the mysteries of the solemnity of depositing the body in the morai. The request was complied with, but on no other condition than his taking a part in it. This was just what he wished. In the evening he repaired to the house of mourning, where he was received by the daughter of the deceased and several others, among whom was a boy about fourteen years old. One of the chiefs of the district was the principal mourner, wearing a fantastical dress. Mr. Banks was stripped entirely of his European clothes, and a small piece of cloth was tied round his middle. His face and body were then smeared with charcoal and water, as low as the shoulders, till they were as black as those of a negro: the same operation was performed on the rest, among whom were some women, who were reduced to a state as near to nakedness as himself; the boy was blacked all over, after which the procession set forward, the chief mourner having mumbled something like a prayer over the body. It is the custom of the Indians to fly from these processions with the utmost precipitation. On the present occasion several large bodies of the natives were put to flight, all the houses were deserted, and not an Otaheitan was to be seen. The body being deposited on the stage, the mourners were dismissed to wash themselves in the river, and to resume their customary dresses and their usual gaiety.

They are, however, so jealous of any one approaching these abodes of the dead, that one of Cook's party, happening one day to pull a flower from a tree which grew in one of these sepulchral inclosures, was struck by a native who saw it, and came suddenly behind him. The morai of Oberea was a pile of stone-work raised pyramidically, two hundred and sixty-seven feet long, eighty-seven feet wide, and forty-four feet high, terminating in a ridge like the roof of a house, and ascended by steps of white coral stone neatly squared and polished, some of them not less than three feet and a half by two feet and a half. Such a structure, observes Cook, raised without the assistance of iron tools, or mortar to join them, struck us with astonishment, as a work of considerable skill and incredible labour.

On the same principle of making himself acquainted with every novelty that presented itself, Captain Cook states that 'Mr. Banks saw the operation of tattooing performed upon the back of a girl about thirteen years old. The instrument used upon this occasion had thirty teeth, and every stroke, of which at least a hundred were made in a minute, drew an ichor or serum a little tinged with blood. The girl bore it with most stoical resolution for about a quarter of an hour; but the pain of so many hundred punctures as she had received in that time then became intolerable: she first complained in murmurs, then wept, and at last burst into loud lamentations, earnestly imploring the operator to desist. He was however inexorable; and when she began to struggle, she was held down by two women, who sometimes soothed and sometimes chid her, and now and then, when she was most unruly, gave her a smart blow. Mr. Banks stayed in the neighbouring house an hour, and the operation was not over when he went away.'

The sufferings of this young lady did not however deter the late President of the Royal Society from undergoing the operation on his own person.

The skill and labour which the Otaheitans bestow on their large double boats is not less wonderful than their stone morais, from the felling of the tree and splitting it into plank, to the minutest carved ornaments that decorate the head and the stern. The whole operation is performed without the use of any metallic instrument. 'To fabricate one of their principal vessels with their tools is,' says Cook, 'as great a work as to build a British man of war with ours.' The fighting boats are sometimes more than seventy feet long, but not above three broad; but they are fastened in pairs, side by side, at the distance of about three feet; the head and stern rise in a semi-circular form, the latter to the height of seventeen or eighteen feet. To build these boats, and the smaller kinds of canoes;—to build their houses, and finish the slight furniture they contain;—to fell, cleave, carve, and polish timber for various purposes;—and, in short, for every conversion of wood—the tools they make use of are the following: an adze of stone; a chisel or gouge of bone, generally that of a man's arm between the wrist and elbow; a rasp of coral; and the skin of a sting-ray, with coral sand as a file or polisher.

The persons of the Otaheitan men are in general tall, strong, well-limbed and finely shaped; equal in size to the largest of Europeans. The women of superior rank are also above the middle stature of Europeans, but the inferior class are rather below it. The complexion of the former class is that which we call a brunette, and the skin is most delicately smooth and soft. The shape of the face is comely, the cheek bones are not high, neither are the eyes hollow, nor the brow prominent; the nose is a little, but not much, flattened; but their eyes, and more particularly those of the women, are full of expression, sometimes sparkling with fire, and sometimes melting with softness; their teeth also are, almost without exception, most beautifully even and white, and their breath perfectly without taint. In their motions there is at once vigour as well as ease; their walk is graceful, their deportment liberal, and their behaviour to strangers and to each other, affable and courteous. In their dispositions they appear to be brave, open, and candid, without suspicion or treachery, cruelty or revenge. Mr. Banks had such confidence in them, as to sleep frequently in their houses in the woods, without a companion, and consequently wholly in their power. They are delicate and cleanly, almost wholly without example.

'The natives of Otaheite,' says Cook, 'both men and women, constantly wash their whole bodies in running water three times every day; once as soon as they rise in the morning, once at noon, and again before they sleep at night, whether the sea or river be near them or at a distance. They wash not only the mouth, but the hands at their meals, almost between every morsel; and their clothes, as well as their persons, are kept without spot or stain.'

If any one should think this picture somewhat overcharged, he will find it fully confirmed in an account of them made by a description of men who are not much disposed to represent worldly objects in the most favourable light. In the first missionary voyage, in the year 1797, the natives of Otaheite are thus described:

'Natural colour olive, inclining to copper; the women, who carefully clothe themselves, and avoid the sun-beams, are but a shade or two darker than an European brunette; their eyes are black and sparkling; their teeth white and even; their skin soft and delicate; their limbs finely turned; their hair jetty, perfumed and ornamented with flowers; they are in general large and wide over the shoulders; we were therefore disappointed in the judgement we had formed from the report of preceding visitors; and though here and there was to be seen a young person who might be esteemed comely, we saw few who, in fact, could be called beauties; yet they possess eminent feminine graces: their faces are never darkened with a scowl, or covered with a cloud of sullenness or suspicion. Their manners are affable and engaging; their step easy, firm, and graceful; their behaviour free and unguarded; always boundless in generosity to each other, and to strangers; their tempers mild, gentle, and unaffected; slow to take offence, easily pacified, and seldom retaining resentment or revenge, whatever provocation they may have received. Their arms and hands are very delicately formed; and though they go barefoot, their feet are not coarse and spreading.

'As wives in private life, they are affectionate, tender and obedient to their husbands, and uncommonly fond of their children: they nurse them with the utmost care, and are particularly attentive to keep the infant's limbs supple and straight. A cripple is hardly ever seen among them in early life. A rickety child is never known; anything resembling it would reflect the highest disgrace on the mother.

'The Otaheitans have no partitions in their houses; but, it may be affirmed, they have in many instances more refined ideas of decency than ourselves; and one, long a resident, scruples not to declare, that he never saw any appetite, hunger and thirst excepted, gratified in public. It is too true that, for the sake of gaining our extraordinary curiosities, and to please our brutes, they have appeared immodest in the extreme. Yet they lay this charge wholly at our door, and say that Englishmen are ashamed of nothing, and that we have led them to public acts of indecency never before practised among themselves. Iron here, more precious than gold, bears down every barrier of restraint; honesty and modesty yield to the force of temptation.'[2]

Such are the females and the mothers here described, whose interesting offspring are now peopling Pitcairn's Island, and who, while they inherit their mothers' virtues, have hitherto kept themselves free from their vices.

The greater part of the food of Otaheitans is vegetable. Hogs, dogs, and poultry are their only animals, and all of them serve for food. 'We all agreed,' says Cook, 'that a South-Sea dog was little inferior to an English lamb,' which he ascribes to its being kept up and fed wholly on vegetables. Broiling and baking are the only two modes of applying fire to their cookery. Captain Wallis observes, that having no vessel in which water could be subjected to the action of fire, they had no more idea that it could be made hot, than that it could be made solid; and he mentions that one of the attendants of the supposed queen, having observed the surgeon fill the tea-pot from an urn, turned the cock himself, and received the water in his hand; and that as soon as he felt himself scalded, he roared out and began to dance about the cabin with the most extravagant and ridiculous expressions of pain and astonishment; his companions, unable to conceive what was the matter, staring at him in amaze, and not without some mixture of terror.

One of Oberea's peace-offerings to Mr. Banks, for the robbery of his clothes committed in her boat, was a fine fat dog, and the way in which it was prepared and baked was as follows. Tupei, the high priest, undertook to perform the double office of butcher and cook. He first killed him by holding his hands close over his mouth and nose for the space of a quarter of an hour. A hole was then made in the ground about a foot deep, in which a fire was kindled, and some small stones placed in layers, alternately with the wood, to be heated. The dog was then singed, scraped with a shell, and the hair taken off as clean as if he had been scalded in hot water. He was then cut up with the same instrument, and his entrails carefully washed. When the hole was sufficiently heated, the fire was taken out, and some of the stones, being placed at the bottom, were covered with green leaves. The dog, with the entrails, was then placed upon the leaves, and other leaves being laid upon them, the whole was covered with the rest of the hot stones, and the mouth of the hole close stopped with mould. In somewhat less than four hours, it was again opened, and the dog taken out excellently baked, and the party all agreed that he made a very good dish. These dogs it seems are bred to be eaten, and live wholly on bread-fruit, cocoa-nuts, yams, and other vegetables of the like kind.

The food of the natives, being chiefly vegetable, consists of the various preparations of the bread-fruit, of cocoa-nuts, bananas, plantains, and a great variety of other fruit, the spontaneous products of a rich soil and genial climate. The bread-fruit, when baked in the same manner as the dog was, is rendered soft, and not unlike a boiled potato; not quite so farinaceous as a good one, but more so than those of the middling sort. Much of this fruit is gathered before it is ripe, and by a certain process is made to undergo the two states of fermentation, the saccharine and acetous, in the latter of which it is moulded into balls, and called Mahie. The natives seldom make a meal without this sour paste. Salt water is the universal sauce, without which no meal is eaten. Their drink in general consists of water, or the juice of the cocoa-nut; the art of producing liquors that intoxicate by fermentation being at this time happily unknown among them; neither did they make use of any narcotic, as the natives of some other countries do opium, beetel-nut, and tobacco. One day the wife of one of the chiefs came running to Mr. Banks, who was always applied to in every emergency and distress, and with a mixture of grief and terror in her countenance, made him understand that her husband was dying, in consequence of something the strangers had given him to eat. Mr. Banks found his friend leaning his head against a post, in an attitude of the utmost languor and despondency. His attendants brought out a leaf folded up with great care, containing part of the poison of the effects of which their master was now dying. On opening the leaf Mr. Banks found in it a chew of tobacco, which the chief had asked from some of the seamen, and imitating them, as he thought, he had rolled it about in his mouth, grinding it to powder with his teeth, and ultimately swallowing it. During the examination of the leaf he looked up at Mr. Banks with the most piteous countenance, and intimated that he had but a very short time to live. A copious draught of cocoa-nut milk, however, set all to rights, and the chief and his attendants were at once restored to that flow of cheerfulness and good-humour, which is the characteristic of these single-minded people.

There is, however, one plant from the root of which they extract a juice of an intoxicating quality, called Ava, but Cook's party saw nothing of its effects, probably owing to their considering drunkenness as a disgrace. This vice of drinking ava is said to be peculiar almost to the chiefs, who vie with each other in drinking the greatest number of draughts, each draught being about a pint. They keep this intoxicating juice with great care from the women.

As eating is one of the most important concerns of life, here as well as elsewhere, Captain Cook's description of a meal made by one of the chiefs of the island cannot be considered as uninteresting, and is here given in his own words.

'He sits down under the shade of the next tree, or on the shady side of his house, and a large quantity of leaves, either of the bread-fruit or bananas, are neatly spread before him upon the ground as a table-cloth; a basket is then set by him that contains his provision, which, if fish or flesh, is ready dressed, and wrapped up in leaves, and two cocoa-nut shells, one full of salt water and one of fresh. His attendants, which are not few, seat themselves round him, and when all is ready, he begins by washing his hands and his mouth thoroughly with the fresh water, and this he repeats almost continually throughout the whole meal. He then takes part of his provision out of the basket, which generally consists of a small fish or two, two or three bread-fruits, fourteen or fifteen ripe bananas, or six or seven apples. He first takes half a bread-fruit, peels off the rind, and takes out the core with his nails; of this he puts as much into his mouth as it can hold, and while he chews it, takes the fish out of the leaves and breaks one of them into the salt water, placing the other, and what remains of the bread-fruit, upon the leaves that have been spread before him. When this is done, he takes up a small piece of the fish that has been broken into the salt-water, with all the fingers of one hand, and sucks it into his mouth, so as to get with it as much of the salt-water as possible. In the same manner he takes the rest by different morsels, and between each, at least very frequently, takes a small sup of the salt-water, either out of the cocoa-nut shell, or the palm of his hand. In the meantime one of his attendants has prepared a young cocoa-nut, by peeling off the outer rind with his teeth, an operation which to an European appears very surprising; but it depends so much upon sleight, that many of us were able to do it before we left the island, and some that could scarcely crack a filbert. The master when he chooses to drink takes the cocoa-nut thus prepared, and boring a hole through the shell with his fingers, or breaking it with a stone, he sucks out the liquor. When he has eaten his bread-fruit and fish, he begins with his plantains, one of which makes but a mouthful, though it be as big as a black-pudding; if instead of plantains he has apples, he never tastes them till they have been pared; to do this a shell is picked up from the ground, where they are always in plenty, and tossed to him by an attendant. He immediately begins to cut or scrape off the rind, but so awkwardly that great part of the fruit is wasted. If, instead of fish, he has flesh, he must have some succedaneum for a knife to divide it; and for this purpose a piece of bamboo is tossed to him, of which he makes the necessary implement by splitting it transversely with his nail. While all this has been doing, some of his attendants have been employed in beating bread-fruit with a stone pestle upon a block of wood; by being beaten in this manner, and sprinkled from time to time with water, it is reduced to the consistence of a soft paste, and is then put into a vessel somewhat like a butcher's tray, and either made up alone, or mixed with banana or mahie, according to the taste of the master, by pouring water upon it by degrees and squeezing it often through the hand. Under this operation it acquires the consistence of a thick custard, and a large cocoa-nut shell full of it being set before him, he sips it as we should do a jelly if we had no spoon to take it from the glass. The meal is then finished by again washing his hands and his mouth. After which the cocoa-nut shells are cleaned, and everything that is left is replaced in the basket.'

Captain Cook adds, 'the quantity of food which these people eat at a meal is prodigious. I have seen one man devour two or three fishes as big as a perch; three bread-fruits, each bigger than two fists; fourteen or fifteen plantains or bananas, each of them six or seven inches long, and four or five round; and near a quart of the pounded bread-fruit, which is as substantial as the thickest unbaked custard. This is so extraordinary that I scarcely expect to be believed; and I would not have related it upon my own single testimony, but Mr. Banks, Dr. Solander, and most of the other gentlemen have had ocular demonstration of its truth, and know that I mention them on the occasion.'

The women, who, on other occasions, always mix in the amusements of the men, who are particularly fond of their society, are wholly excluded from their meals; nor could the latter be prevailed on to partake of anything when dining in company on board ship; they said it was not right: even brothers and sisters have each their separate baskets, and their provisions are separately prepared; but the English officers and men, when visiting the young ones at their own houses, frequently ate out of the same basket and drank out of the same cup, to the horror and dismay of the older ladies, who were always offended at this liberty; and if by chance any of the victuals were touched, or even the basket that contained them, they would throw them away.

In this fine climate houses are almost unnecessary. The minimum range of the thermometer is about 63 deg., the maximum 85 deg., giving an average of 74 deg.. Their sheds or houses consist generally of a thatched roof raised on posts, the eaves reaching to within three or four feet of the ground; the floor is covered with soft hay, over which are laid mats, so that the whole is one cushion, on which they sit by day and sleep by night. They eat in the open air, under the shade of the nearest tree. In each district there is a house erected for general use, much larger than common, some of them exceeding two hundred feet in length, thirty broad, and twenty high. The dwelling-houses all stand in the woody belt which surrounds the island, between the feet of the central mountains and the sea, each having a very small piece of ground cleared, just enough to keep the dropping of the trees from the thatch. An Otaheitan wood consists chiefly of groves of bread-fruit and cocoa-nuts, without underwood, and intersected in all directions by the paths that lead from one house to another. 'Nothing,' says Cook, 'can be more grateful than this shade, in so warm a climate, nor anything more beautiful than these walks,'

With all the activity they are capable of displaying, and the sprightliness of their disposition, they are fond of indulging in ease and indolence. The trees that produce their food are mostly of spontaneous growth—the bread-fruit, cocoa-nut, bananas of thirteen sorts, besides plantains; a fruit not unlike an apple, which, when ripe, is very pleasant; sweet potatoes, yams, and a species of arum; the pandanus, the jambu and the sugar-cane; a variety of plants whose roots are esculent—these, with many others, are produced with so little culture, that, as Cook observes, they seem to be exempted from the first general curse that 'man should eat his bread in the sweat of his brow.' Then for clothing they have the bark of three different trees, the paper mulberry, the bread-fruit tree, and a tree which resembles the wild fig-tree of the West Indies; of these the mulberry only requires to be cultivated.

In preparing the cloth they display a very considerable degree of ingenuity. Red and yellow are the two colours most in use for dyeing their cloth; the red is stated to be exceedingly brilliant and beautiful, approaching nearest to our full scarlet; it is produced by the mixture of the juices of two vegetables, neither of which separately has the least tendency to that hue: one is the Cordia Sebestina, the other a species of Ficus; of the former the leaves, of the latter the fruits yield the juices. The yellow dye is extracted from the bark of the root of the Morinda citrifolia, by scraping and infusing it in water.

Their matting is exceedingly beautiful, particularly that which is made from the bark of the Hibiscus tiliaceus, and of a species of Pandanus. Others are made of rushes and grass with amazing facility and dispatch. In the same manner their basket and wicker work are most ingeniously made; the former in patterns of a thousand different kinds. Their nets and fishing-lines are strong and neatly made, so are their fish-hooks of pearl-shell; and their clubs are admirable specimens of wood-carving.

A people so lively, sprightly, and good-humoured as the Otaheitans are, must necessarily have their amusements. They are fond of music, such as is derived from a rude flute and a drum; of dancing, wrestling, shooting with the bow, and throwing the lance. They exhibit frequent trials of skill and strength in wrestling; and Cook says it is scarcely possible for those who are acquainted with the athletic sports of very remote antiquity, not to remark a rude resemblance of them in a wrestling-match (which he describes) among the natives of a little island in the midst of the Pacific Ocean.

But these simple-minded people have their vices, and great ones too. Chastity is almost unknown among a certain description of women: there is a detestable society called Arreoy, composed, it would seem, of a particular class, who are supposed to be the chief warriors of the island. In this society the men and women live in common; and on the birth of a child it is immediately smothered, that its bringing up may not interfere with the brutal pleasures of either father or mother. Another savage practice is that of immolating human beings at the Morais, which serve as temples as well as sepulchres, and yet, by the report of the missionaries, they entertain a due sense and reverential awe of the Deity. 'With regard to their worship,' Captain Cook does the Otaheitans but justice in saying, 'they reproach many who bear the name of Christians. You see no instances of an Otaheitan drawing near the Eatooa with carelessness and inattention; he is all devotion; he approaches the place of worship with reverential awe; uncovers when he treads on sacred ground; and prays with a fervour that would do honour to a better profession. He firmly credits the traditions of his ancestors. None dares dispute the existence of the Deity.' Thieving may also be reckoned as one of their vices; this, however, is common to all uncivilized nations, and, it may be added, civilized too. But to judge them fairly in this respect, we should compare their situation with that of a more civilized people. A native of Otaheite goes on board a ship and finds himself in the midst of iron bolts, nails, knives, scattered about, and is tempted to carry off a few of them. If we could suppose a ship from El Dorado to arrive in the Thames, and that the custom-house officers, on boarding her, found themselves in the midst of bolts, hatchets, chisels, all of solid gold, scattered about the deck, one need scarcely say what would be likely to happen. If the former found the temptation irresistible to supply himself with what was essentially useful—the latter would be as little able to resist that which would contribute to the indulgence of his avarice or the gratification of his pleasures, or of both.

Such was the state of this beautiful island and its interesting and fascinating natives at the time when Captain Wallis first discovered and Lieutenant Cook shortly afterwards visited it. What they now are, as described by Captain Beechey, it is lamentable to reflect. All their usual and innocent amusements have been denounced by the missionaries, and, in lieu of them, these poor people have been driven to seek for resources in habits of indolence and apathy: that simplicity of character, which atoned for many of their faults, has been converted into cunning and hypocrisy; and drunkenness, poverty, and disease have thinned the island of its former population to a frightful degree. By a survey of the first missionaries, and a census of the inhabitants, taken in 1797, the population was estimated at 16,050 souls; Captain Waldegrave, in 1830, states it, on the authority of a census also taken by the missionaries, to amount only to 5000—and there is but too much reason to ascribe this diminution to praying, psalm-singing, and dram-drinking.[3]

The island of Otaheite is in shape two circles united by a low and narrow isthmus. The larger circle is named Otaheite Mooe, and is about thirty miles in diameter; the lesser, named Tiaraboo, about ten miles in diameter. A belt of low land, terminating in numerous valleys, ascending by gentle slopes to the central mountain, which is about seven thousand feet high, surrounds the larger circle, and the same is the case with the smaller circle on a proportionate scale. Down these valleys flow streams and rivulets of clear water, and the most luxuriant and verdant foliage fills their sides and the hilly ridges that separate them, among which were once scattered the smiling cottages and little plantations of the natives. All these are now destroyed, and the remnant of the population has crept down to the flats and swampy ground on the sea shore, completely subservient to the seven establishments of missionaries, who have taken from them what little trade they used to carry on, to possess themselves of it; who have their warehouses, act as agents, and monopolize all the cattle on the island—but, in return, they have given them a new religion and a parliament (risum teneatis?) and reduced them to a state of complete pauperism—and all, as they say, and probably have so persuaded themselves, for the honour of God, and the salvation of their souls! How much is such a change brought about by such conduct to be deprecated! how lamentable is it to reflect, that an island on which Nature has lavished so many of her bounteous gifts, with which neither Cyprus nor Cythera, nor the fanciful island of Calypso, can compete in splendid and luxuriant beauties, should be doomed to such a fate,—in an enlightened age, and by a people that call themselves civilized!



—The happy shores without a law,

* * * * *

Where all partake the earth without dispute, And bread itself is gather'd as a fruit; Where none contest the fields, the woods, the streams:— The goldless age, where gold disturbs no dreams, Inhabits or inhabited the shore, Till Europe taught them better than before, Bestow'd her customs, and amended theirs, But left her vices also to their heirs. BYRON.

In the year 1787, being seventeen years after Cook's return from his first voyage, the merchants and planters resident in London, and interested in the West India possessions, having represented to his Majesty, that the introduction of the bread-fruit tree into the islands of those seas, to constitute an article of food, would be of very essential benefit to the inhabitants, the king was graciously pleased to comply with their request; and a vessel was accordingly purchased, and fitted at Deptford with the necessary fixtures and preparations, for carrying into effect the benevolent object of the voyage. The arrangements for disposing the plants were undertaken, and completed in a most ingenious and effective manner, by Sir Joseph Banks, who superintended the whole equipment of the ship with the greatest attention and assiduity till she was in all respects ready for sea. He named the ship the Bounty, and recommended Lieutenant Bligh, who had been with Captain Cook, to command her. Her burden was about two hundred and fifteen tons; and her establishment consisted of one lieutenant, who was commanding officer, one master, three warrant officers, one surgeon, two master's mates, two midshipmen, and thirty-four petty officers and seamen, making in all forty-four; to which were added two skilful and careful men, recommended by Sir Joseph Banks, to have the management of the plants intended to be carried to the West Indies, and others to be brought home for his Majesty's garden at Kew: one was David Nelson, who had served in a similar situation in Captain Cook's last voyage; the other William Brown, as an assistant to him.

The object of all the former voyages to the South Seas, undertaken by command of his Majesty George III, was the increase of knowledge by new discoveries, and the advancement of science, more particularly of natural history and geography: the intention of the present voyage was to derive some practical benefit from the distant discoveries that had already been made; and no object was deemed more likely to realise the expectation of benefit than the bread-fruit, which afforded to the natives of Otaheite so very considerable a portion of their food, and which it was hoped it might also do for the black population of the West India Islands. The bread-fruit plant was no new discovery of either Wallis or Cook. So early as the year 1688, that excellent old navigator, Dampier, thus describes it:—'The bread-fruit, as we call it, grows on a large tree, as big and high as our largest apple-trees; it hath a spreading head, full of branches and dark leaves. The fruit grows on the boughs like apples; it is as big as a penny-loaf, when wheat is at five shillings the bushel; it is of a round shape, and hath a thick tough rind; when the fruit is ripe it is yellow and soft, and the taste is sweet and pleasant. The natives of Guam use it for bread. They gather it, when full grown, while it is green and hard; then they bake it in an oven, which scorcheth the rind and makes it black, but they scrape off the outside black crust, and there remains a tender thin crust; and the inside is soft, tender, and white, like the crumb of a penny-loaf. There is neither seed nor stone in the inside, but all is of a pure substance like bread. It must be eaten new; for if it is kept above twenty-four hours, it grows harsh and choaky; but it is very pleasant before it is too stale. This fruit lasts in season eight months in the year, during which the natives eat no other sort of food of bread kind. I did never see of this fruit anywhere but here. The natives told us that there is plenty of this fruit growing on the rest of the Ladrone Islands; and I did never hear of it anywhere else.'

Lord Anson corroborates this account of the bread-fruit, and says that, while at Tinian, it was constantly eaten by his officers and ship's company during their two months' stay, instead of bread; and so universally preferred, that no ship's bread was expended in that whole interval. The only essential difference between Dampier's and Cook's description is, where the latter says, which is true, that this fruit has a core, and that the eatable part lies between the skin and the core. Cook says also that its taste is insipid, with a slight sweetness, somewhat resembling that of the crumb of wheaten bread mixed with a Jerusalem artichoke. From such a description, it is not surprising that the West India planters should have felt desirous of introducing it into those islands; and accordingly the introduction of it was subsequently accomplished, notwithstanding the failure of the present voyage; it has not, however, been found to answer the expectation that had reasonably been entertained. The climate, as to latitude, ought to be the same, or nearly so, as that of Otaheite, but there would appear to be some difference in the situation or nature of the soil, that prevents it from thriving in the West India Islands. At Otaheite and on several of the Pacific Islands,

The bread-tree, which, without the ploughshare yields, The unreap'd harvest of unfurrow'd fields, And bakes its unadulterated loaves Without a furnace in unpurchased groves, And flings off famine from its fertile breast, A priceless market for the gathering guest—

is to the natives of those islands a most invaluable gift, but it has not been found to yield similar benefits to the West India Islands.

On the 23rd December, 1787, the Bounty sailed from Spithead, and on the 26th it blew a severe storm of wind from the eastward, which continued to the 29th, in the course of which the ship suffered greatly. One sea broke away the spare-yards and spars out of the starboard main-chains. Another heavy sea broke into the ship and stove all the boats. Several casks of beer that had been lashed upon deck, were broke loose and washed overboard; and it was not without great difficulty and risk that they were able to secure the boats from being washed away entirely. Besides other mischief done to them in this storm, a large quantity of bread was damaged and rendered useless, for the sea had stove in the stern and filled the cabin with water.

This made it desirable to touch at Teneriffe to put the ship to rights, where they arrived on the 5th January, 1788, and having refitted and refreshed, they sailed again on the 10th.

'I now,' says Bligh, 'divided the people into three watches, and gave the charge of the third watch to Mr. Fletcher Christian, one of the mates. I have always considered this a desirable regulation when circumstances will admit of it, and I am persuaded that unbroken rest not only contributes much towards the health of the ship's company, but enables them more readily to exert themselves in cases of sudden emergency.'

Wishing to proceed to Otaheite without stopping, and the late storm having diminished their supply of provisions, it was deemed expedient to put all hands on an allowance of two-thirds of bread. It was also decided that water for drinking should be passed through filtering stones that had been procured at Teneriffe. 'I now,' says Bligh, 'made the ship's company acquainted with the object of the voyage, and gave assurances of the certainty of promotion to every one whose endeavours should merit it.' Nothing, indeed, seemed to be neglected on the part of the commander to make his officers and men comfortable and happy. He was himself a thorough-bred sailor, and availed himself of every possible means of preserving the health of his crew. Continued rain and a close atmosphere had covered everything in the ship with mildew. She was therefore aired below with fires, and frequently sprinkled with vinegar, and every interval of dry weather was taken advantage of to open all the hatchways, and clean the ship, and to have all the people's wet things washed and dried. With these precautions to secure health, they passed the hazy and sultry atmosphere of the low latitudes without a single complaint.

On Sunday, the 2nd of March, Lieutenant Bligh observes, 'after seeing that every person was clean, Divine service was performed, according to my usual custom. On this day I gave to Mr. Fletcher Christian, whom I had before desired to take charge of the third watch, a written order to act as lieutenant.'

Having reached as far as the latitude of 36 degrees south, on the 9th March, 'the change of temperature,' he observes, 'began now to be sensibly felt, there being a variation in the thermometer, since yesterday, of eight degrees. That the people might not suffer by their own negligence, I gave orders for their light tropical clothing to be put by, and made them dress in a manner more suited to a cold climate. I had provided for this before I left England, by giving directions for such clothes to be purchased as would be found necessary. On this day, on a complaint of the master, I found it necessary to punish Matthew Quintal, one of the seamen, with two dozen lashes, for insolence and mutinous behaviour. Before this I had not had occasion to punish any person on board.'

The sight of New Year's Harbour, in Staaten Land, almost tempted him, he says, to put in; but the lateness of the season, and the people being in good health, determined him to lay aside all thoughts of refreshment until they should reach Otaheite. Indeed the extraordinary care he had taken to preserve the health of the ship's company rendered any delay in this cold and inhospitable region unnecessary.

They soon after this had to encounter tremendous weather off Cape Horn, storms of wind, with hail and sleet, which made it necessary to keep a constant fire night and day; and one of the watch always attended to dry the people's wet clothes. This stormy weather continued for nine days; the ship began to complain, and required pumping every hour; the decks became so leaky that the commander was obliged to allot the great cabin to those who had wet berths, to hang their hammocks in. Finding they were losing ground every day, and that it was hopeless to persist in attempting a passage by this route, at this season of the year, to the Society Islands, and after struggling for thirty days in this tempestuous ocean, it was determined to bear away for the Cape of Good Hope. The helm was accordingly put a-weather, to the great joy of every person on board.

They arrived at the Cape on the 23rd of May, and having remained there thirty-eight days to refit the ship, replenish provisions, and refresh the crew, they sailed again on the 1st July, and anchored in Adventure Bay, in Van Diemen's Land, on the 20th August. Here they remained taking in wood and water till the 4th September, and on the evening of the 25th October they saw Otaheite; and the next day came to anchor in Matavai Bay, after a distance which the ship had run over, by the log, since leaving England, of twenty-seven thousand and eighty-six miles, being on an average one hundred and eight miles each twenty-four hours. Of their proceedings in Otaheite a short abstract from Bligh's Journal will suffice.

Many inquiries were made by the natives after Captain Cook, Sir Joseph Banks, and others of their former friends. 'One of my first questions,' says Bligh, 'was after our friend Omai; and it was a sensible mortification and disappointment to me to hear, that not only Omai, but both the New Zealand boys who had been left with him, were dead. There appeared among the natives in general great good-will towards us, and they seemed to be much rejoiced at our arrival. The whole day we experienced no instance of dishonesty; and we were so much crowded, that I could not undertake to remove to a more proper station, without danger of disobliging our visitors, by desiring them to leave the ship.'

Otoo, the chief of the district, on hearing of the arrival of the Bounty, sent a small pig and a young plantain tree, as a token of friendship. The ship was now plentifully supplied with provisions; every man on board having as much as he could consume.

As soon as the ship was secured, Lieutenant Bligh went on shore with the chief, Poeeno, passing through a walk delightfully shaded with bread-fruit trees, to his own house, where his wife and her sister were busily employed staining a piece of cloth red. They desired him to sit down on a mat, and with great kindness offered him refreshments. Several strangers were now introduced, who came to offer their congratulations, and behaved with great decorum and attention. On taking leave, he says, 'the ladies, for they deserve to be called such from their natural and unaffected manners, and elegance of deportment, got up, and taking some of their finest cloth and a mat, clothed me in the Otaheitan fashion, and then said, "We will go with you to your boat;" and each taking me by the hand, amidst a great crowd, led me to the water side, and then took their leave.' In this day's walk, Bligh had the satisfaction to see that the island had received some benefit from the former visits of Captain Cook. Two shaddocks were brought to him, a fruit which they had not till Cook introduced it; and among the articles which they brought off to the ship, and offered for sale, were capsicums, pumpkins, and two young goats. In the course of two or three days,' says he, 'an intimacy between the natives and the ship's company was become so general, that there was scarcely a man in the ship who had not already his tayo or friend.'

Nelson, the gardener, and his assistant, being sent out to look for young plants, it was no small degree of pleasure to find them report on their return, that, according to appearances, the object of the voyage would probably be accomplished with ease; the plants were plentiful, and no apparent objection on the part of the natives to collect as many as might be wanted. Nelson had the gratification to meet with two fine shaddock trees which he had planted in 1777, and which were now full of fruit, but not ripe.

Presents were now given to Otoo, the Chief of Matavai, who had changed his name to Tinah. He was told that, on account of the kindness of his people to Captain Cook, and from a desire to serve him and his country; King George had sent out those valuable presents to him; and 'will you not, Tinah,' said Bligh, 'send something to King George in return?' 'Yes,' he said, 'I will send him anything I have;' and then began to enumerate the different articles in his power, among which he mentioned the bread-fruit. This was the exact point to which Bligh was endeavouring to lead him, and he was immediately told that the bread-fruit trees were what King George would like very much, on which he promised that a great many should be put on board.

Hitherto no thefts had been committed, and Bligh was congratulating himself on the improvement of the Otaheitans in this respect, as the same facilities and the same temptations were open to them as before. The ship, as on former occasions, was constantly crowded with visitors. One day, however, the gudgeon of the rudder belonging to the large cutter was drawn out and stolen, without being perceived by the man who was stationed to take care of her; and as this and some other petty thefts, mostly owing to the negligence of the men, were commencing, and would have a tendency to interrupt the good terms on which they were with the chiefs, 'I thought,' says Bligh, 'it would have a good effect to punish the boat-keeper in their presence, and accordingly I ordered him a dozen lashes. All who attended the punishment interceded very earnestly to get it mitigated: the women shewed great sympathy, and that degree of feeling which characterizes the amiable part of their sex.'

The longer they remained on the island, the more they had occasion to be pleased with the conduct of the islanders, and the less incommoded either on board or when on shore, by the natives following them as at first. Into every house they wished to enter, they always experienced a kind reception. The Otaheitans, we are told, have the most perfect easiness of manner, equally free from forwardness and formality; and that 'there is a candour and sincerity about them that is quite delightful.' When they offer refreshments, for instance, if they are not accepted, they do not think of offering them a second time; for they have not the least idea of that ceremonious kind of refusal which expects a second invitation. 'Having one day,' says Bligh, 'exposed myself too much in the sun, I was taken ill, on which all the powerful people, both men and women, collected round me, offering their assistance. For this short illness I was made ample amends by the pleasure I received from the attention and appearance of affection in these kind people.'

On one occasion the Bounty had nearly gone ashore in a tremendous gale of wind, and on another did actually get aground; on both which accidents, these kind-hearted people came in crowds to congratulate the captain on her escape; and many of them are stated to have been affected in the most lively manner, shedding tears while the danger in which the ship was placed continued.

On the 9th December, the surgeon of the Bounty died from the effects of intemperance and indolence. This unfortunate man is represented to have been in a constant state of intoxication, and was so averse from any kind of exercise, that he never could be prevailed on to take half a dozen hours upon deck at a time in the whole course of the voyage. Lieutenant Bligh had obtained permission to bury him on shore; and on going with the chief Tinah to the spot intended for his burial place, 'I found,' says he, 'the natives had already begun to dig his grave.' Tinah asked if they were doing it right? 'There,' says he, 'the sun rises, and there it sets.' Whether the idea of making the grave east and west is their own, or whether they learnt it from the Spaniards, who buried the captain of their ship on the island in 1774, there were no means of ascertaining; but it was certain they had no intimation of that kind from anybody belonging to the Bounty. When the funeral took place, the chiefs and many of the natives attended the ceremony, and shewed great attention during the service. Many of the principal natives attended divine service on Sundays, and behaved with great decency. Some of the women at one time betrayed an inclination to laugh at the general responses; but, the captain says, on looking at them they appeared much ashamed.

The border of low land, which is of the breadth of about three miles, between the sea-coast and the foot of the hills, consists of a very delightful country, well covered with bread-fruit and cocoa-trees, and strewed with houses in which are swarms of children playing about. 'It is delightful,' Bligh observes, 'to see the swarms of little children that are every where to be seen employed at their several amusements; some flying kites, some swinging in ropes suspended from the boughs of trees, others walking on stilts, some wrestling, and others playing all manner of antic tricks such as are common to boys in England. The little girls have also their amusements, consisting generally of heivahs or dances. On an evening, just before sunset the whole beach abreast the ship is described as being like a parade, crowded with men, women, and children, who go on with their sports and amusements till nearly dark, when every one peaceably returns to his home. At such times, we are told, from three to four hundred people are assembled together, and all happily diverted, good humoured, and affectionate to one another, without a single quarrel having ever happened to disturb the harmony that existed among these amiable people. Both boys and girls are said to be handsome and very sprightly.

It did not appear that much pains were taken in their plantations, except those of the ava and the cloth-plant; many of the latter are fenced with stone, and surrounded with a ditch. In fact, Nature has done so much for them, that they have no great occasion to use exertion in obtaining a sufficient supply of either food or raiment. Yet when Bligh commenced taking up the bread-fruit plants, he derived much assistance from the natives in collecting and pruning them, which they understood perfectly well.

The behaviour of these people on all occasions was highly deserving of praise. One morning, at the relief of the watch, the small cutter was missing. The ship's company were immediately mustered, when it appeared that three men were absent. They had taken with them eight stand of arms and ammunition; but what their plan was, or which way they had gone, no one on board seemed to have the least knowledge. Information being given of the route they had taken, the master was dispatched to search for the cutter, and one of the chiefs went with him; but before they had got half way, they met the boat with five of the natives, who were bringing her back to the ship. For this service they were handsomely rewarded. The chiefs promised to use every possible means to detect and bring back the deserters, which, in a few days, some of the islanders had so far accomplished as to seize and bind them, but let them loose again on a promise that they would return to their ship, which they did not exactly fulfil, but gave themselves up soon after on a search being made for them.

A few days after this, a much more serious occurrence happened, that was calculated to give to the commander great concern. The wind had blown fresh in the night, and at daylight it was discovered that the cable, by which the ship rode, had been cut near the water's edge, in such a manner, that only one strand remained whole. While they were securing the ship, Tinah came on board; and though there was no reason whatever to suppose otherwise than that he was perfectly innocent of the transaction, nevertheless, says the commander, 'I spoke to him in a very peremptory manner, and insisted upon his discovering and bringing to me the offender. He promised to use his utmost endeavours to discover the guilty person. The next morning he and his wife came to me, and assured me that they had made the strictest inquiries without success. This was not at all satisfactory, and I behaved towards them with great coolness, at which they were much distressed; and the lady at length gave vent to her sorrow by tears. I could no longer keep up the appearance of mistrusting them, but I earnestly recommended to them, as they valued the King of England's friendship, that they would exert their utmost endeavours to find out the offenders, which they faithfully promised to do.'

Here Bligh observes, it had since occurred to him, that this attempt to cut the ship adrift was most probably the act of some of his own people; whose purpose of remaining at Otaheite might have been effectually answered without danger, if the ship had been driven on shore. At the time it occurred, he says, he entertained not the least thought of this kind, nor did the possibility of it enter into his ideas, having no suspicion that so general an indication, or so strong an attachment to these islands, could prevail among his people, as to induce them to abandon every prospect of returning to their native country.

This after-thought of Bligh will appear in the sequel to be wholly gratuitous, and yet he might naturally enough have concluded that so long and unrestrained an intercourse with a people among whom every man had his tayo or friend; among whom every man was free to indulge every wish of his heart; where, from the moment he set his foot on shore, he found himself surrounded by female allurements in the midst of ease and indolence, and living in a state of luxury without submitting to any kind of labour—such enticements to a common sailor might naturally enough be supposed to create a desire for a longer residence in such a country; but this supposition is not borne out by subsequent events. The damage done to the cable was, in all probability, owing to its chafing over the rocky bottom.

The Bounty arrived on the 26th October, 1788, and remained till the 4th April, 1789. On the 31st March, the Commander says, 'To-day, all the plants were on board, being in seven hundred and seventy-four pots, thirty-nine tubs, and twenty-four boxes. The number of bread-fruit plants were one thousand and fifteen; besides which, we had collected a number of other plants: the avee, which is one of the finest flavoured fruits in the world; the ayyah, which is a fruit not so rich, but of a fine flavour and very refreshing; the rattah, not much unlike a chestnut, which grows on a large tree in great quantities; they are singly in large pods, from one to two inches broad, and may be eaten raw, or boiled in the same manner as Windsor beans, and so dressed are equally good; the orai-ab, which is a very superior kind of plantain. All these I was particularly recommended to collect, by my worthy friend Sir Joseph Banks.'

While these active preparations for departure were going on, the good chief Tinah, on bringing a present for King George, could not refrain from shedding tears. During the remainder of their stay, there appeared among the natives an evident degree of sorrow that they were so soon to leave them, which they showed by a more than usual degree of kindness and attention. The above-mentioned excellent chief, with his wife, brothers, and sister, requested permission to remain on board for the night previous to the sailing of the Bounty. The ship was crowded the whole day with the natives, and she was loaded with presents of cocoa-nuts, plantains, bread-fruits, hogs, and goats. Contrary to what had been the usual practice, there was this evening no dancing or mirth on the beach, such as they had long been accustomed to, but all was silent.

At sunset, the boat returned from landing Tinah and his wife, and the ship made sail, bidding farewell to Otaheite, where, Bligh observes, 'for twenty-three weeks we had been treated with the utmost affection and regard, and which seemed to increase in proportion to our stay. That we were not insensible to their kindness, the events which followed more than sufficiently prove; for to the friendly and endearing behaviour of these people, may be ascribed the motives for that event which effected the ruin of an expedition, that there was every reason to hope would have been completed in the most fortunate manner.'

The morning after their departure, they got sight of Huaheine; and a double canoe soon coming alongside, containing ten natives, among them was a young man who recollected Captain Bligh, and called him by name; having known him when here in the year 1780, with Captain Cook in the Resolution. Several other canoes arrived with hogs, yams, and other provisions, which they purchased. This person confirmed, the account that had already been received of Omai, and said that, of all the animals which had been left with Omai, the mare only remained alive; that the seeds and plants had been all destroyed, except one tree: but of what kind that was, he could not satisfactorily explain. A few days after sailing from this island, the weather became squally, and a thick body of black clouds collected in the east. A water-spout was in a short time seen at no great distance from the ship, which appeared to great advantage from the darkness of the clouds behind it. The upper part is described as being about two feet in diameter; and the lower about eight inches. It advanced rapidly towards the ship, when it was deemed expedient to alter the course, and to take in all the sails, except the foresail; soon after which it passed within ten yards of the stern, making a rustling noise, but without their feeling the least effect from its being so near. The rate at which it travelled was judged to be about ten miles per hour, going towards the west, in the direction of the wind; and in a quarter of an hour after passing the ship, it dispersed. As they passed several low islands, the natives of one of them came out in their canoes, and it was observed that they all spoke the language of Otaheite. Presents of iron, beads, and a looking-glass were given to them; but it was observed that the chief, on leaving the ship, took possession of everything that had been distributed. One of them showed some signs of dissatisfaction; but after a little altercation they joined noses and were reconciled.

The Bounty anchored at Anamooka on the 23rd April; and an old lame man, named Tepa, whom Bligh had known here in 1777, and immediately recollected, came on board along with others from different islands in the vicinity. This man having formerly been accustomed to the English manner of speaking their language, the Commander found he could converse with him tolerably well. He told him that the cattle which had been left at Tongataboo had all bred, and that the old ones were yet living. Being desirous of seeing the ship, he and his companions were taken below, and the bread-fruit and other plants were shown to them, on seeing which they were greatly surprised.

'I landed,' says Bligh, 'in order to procure some bread-fruit plants to supply the place of one that was dead, and two or three others that were a little sickly. I walked to the west part of the bay, where some plants and seeds had been sown by Captain Cook; and had the satisfaction to see, in a plantation close by, about twenty fine pineapple plants, but no fruit, this not being the proper season. They told me that they had eaten many of them, that they were very fine and large, and that at Tongataboo there were great numbers.'

Numerous were the marks of mourning with which these people disfigure themselves, such as bloody temples, their heads deprived of most of the hair, and, which was worse, almost all of them with the loss of some of their fingers. Several fine boys, not above six years of age, had lost both their little fingers; and some of the men had parted with the middle finger of the right hand.

A brisk trade soon began to be carried on for yams; some plantains and bread-fruit were likewise brought on board, but no hogs. Some of the sailing canoes, which arrived in the course of the day, were large enough to contain not less than ninety passengers. From these the officers and crew purchased hogs, dogs, fowls, and shaddocks; yams, very fine and large; one of them actually weighed above forty-five pounds. The crowd of natives had become so great the next day, Sunday 26th, that it became impossible to do anything. The watering party were therefore ordered to go on board, and it was determined to sail; the ship was accordingly unmoored and got under weigh. A grapnel, however, had been stolen, and Bligh informed the chiefs that were still on board, that unless it was returned, they must remain in the ship, at which they were surprised and not a little alarmed. 'I detained them,' he says, 'till sunset, when their uneasiness and impatience increased to such a degree, that they began to beat themselves about the face and eyes, and some of them cried bitterly. As this distress was more than the grapnel was worth, I could not think of detaining them longer, and called their canoes alongside. I told them they were at liberty to go, and made each of them a present of a hatchet, a saw, with some knives, gimlets, and nails. This unexpected present, and the sudden change in their situation, affected them not less with joy than they had before been with apprehension. They were unbounded in their acknowledgements; and I have little doubt but that we parted better friends than if the affair had never happened.'

From this island the ship stood to the northward all night, with light winds; and on the next day, the 27th, at noon, they were between the islands Tofoa and Kotoo.

'Thus far,' says Bligh, 'the voyage had advanced in a course of uninterrupted prosperity, and had been attended with many circumstances equally pleasing and satisfactory. A very different scene was now to be experienced. A conspiracy had been formed, which was to render all our past labour productive only of extreme misery and distress. The means had been concerted and prepared with so much secrecy and circumspection, that no one circumstance appeared to occasion the smallest suspicion of the impending calamity, the result of an act of piracy the most consummate and atrocious that was probably ever committed.'

How far Bligh was justified in ascribing the calamity to a conspiracy will be seen hereafter. The following chapter will detail the facts of the mutinous proceedings as stated by the Lieutenant, in his own words.



That,—Captain Bligh,—that is the thing;—I am in hell!—I am in hell!—FLETCHER CHRISTIAN.

—Horror and doubt distract His troubled thoughts, and from the bottom stir The hell within him; for within him hell He brings, and round about him, nor from hell One step no more than from himself can fly By change of place; now conscience wakes despair That slumber'd, wakes the bitter memory Of what he was, what is, and what must be Worse; of worse deeds worse sufferings must ensue.

'In the morning of the 28th April, the north-westernmost of the Friendly Islands, called Tofoa, bearing north-east, I was steering to the westward with a ship in most perfect order, all my plants in a most flourishing condition, all my men and officers in good health, and in short, everything to flatter and insure my most sanguine expectations. On leaving the deck I gave directions for the course to be steered during the night. The master had the first watch; the gunner, the middle watch; and Mr. Christian, the morning watch. This was the turn of duty for the night.

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