Before finally quitting the subject of slavery, I must give an account of some white men I saw in this state of degradation, and who belonged to a chief who visited us some weeks since. In the beginning of 1827, the Government of New South Wales hired the brig Wellington to convey a number of prisoners to Norfolk Island, most of whom were felons of the worst description: the greater part were under sentence of banishment for life. These desperadoes amounted to seventy-four; by far too many for the size of the brig, as those whose duty is was to guard them, and the crew of the vessel, were too few to keep them under subjection. When within a few days’ sail of their destination, they rose on the guard, and, after a desperate struggle, made themselves masters of the vessel, which was a very fine one, and was well provided with arms and stores of every kind, amounting to a sufficiency to carry them to any part of the world they chose. But the machinations of the wicked rarely prosper, and this was another proof of the truth of the observation; for, after a stormy and violent debate among themselves, they at length determined to run for the Bay of Islands, and if any vessel more eligible was there, they were to take possession of her, and leave the Wellington behind, she having no register. It is but justice to them to state that they behaved with humanity to their captives, and no lives were lost: they appointed officers amongst themselves, and, with the assistance of the deposed captain, made this port. On their arrival here, they found two English whalers, the Sisters, Captain Duke, and the Harriet. The commanders, as is usual on these occasions, went immediately on board the newcomer. Captain Duke well knew the vessel, having seen her at Sydney; but, of course, had no idea of what had happened. The pirates received them with great civility, and deceived them with a false description of their voyage—of being bound to a southern port with prisoners; and the two captains, not having the slightest suspicion of who their hosts really were, passed a very merry evening with these marauders.
Soon, however, their bad management of the vessel, their want of discipline, and the general confusion on board, roused a vague suspicion in the minds of the two captains that all was not “quite right” on board the Wellington. The real captain, too, had succeeded in conveying a note to Duke, informing him of his situation, and claiming his assistance to recapture the brig, and entreating him to release them all from captivity.
This communication produced universal alarm, as both the whalers were quite unprovided for attack or defence, and all the missionary settlements lay quite at the mercy of this band of pirates. Had the latter acted with promptness and spirit, they might easily have made themselves masters of the whole; but while they were arguing and hesitating where they would make their first attack, the whalers were actively