Bligh, in his version of the Bounty mutiny, says that there was absolutely no cause of discontent on board the ship until the mutineers became demoralized by their long stay at Tahiti, and that he was on the best of terms with everyone on board. In proof of this, says Bligh, Christian, when the boat was drifting astern, was asked by Bligh if this treatment was a proper return for his commander’s kindness, to which the mutineer answered, “That, Captain Bligh, that is the thing. I am in hell; I am in hell.” Bligh on being asked by the friends of young Heywood if he thought it possible that this boy of fifteen, who had been detained against his will, could have a guilty knowledge of the mutiny, replied in writing that the lad’s “baseness was beyond all description. It would give me great pleasure to hear that his friends can bear the loss of him without much concern.”
Bligh’s story is contradicted by all of the mutineers—that, of course, goes without saying—but here is the point: the evidence of the mutineers is practically confirmed in every particular, and Bligh’s version is contradicted by the people who were with him in the boat, and these people, Bligh himself says, were loyal. One man only, Hallett, had anything to say in confirmation of Bligh’s allegations regarding Heywood, and Hallett afterwards recanted and expressed his sorrow at what he had alleged against Heywood—his statements, he admitted, were made when he was not fully responsible for what he said.
Labillardiere, in his Voyage in Search of La Perouse, says that one of the officers of the Pandora assured some of the people of the La Perouse expedition, whom they had met at the Cape, that Bligh’s ill-treatment of the Bounty’s people was the cause of the mutiny. Fryer, the master of the Bounty, who, it was shown during the court-martial, had more than anyone else supported Bligh, confirmed the statement that what Christian did say when the boat was cut adrift was, in answer to the boatswain, “No. It is too late, Mr. Cole; I have been in hell this fortnight, and will bear it no longer. You know that during the whole voyage I have been treated like a dog.” Further than this, the evidence given by the mutineers, and supported in all essentials by the people cut adrift in the boat, was to the effect that there had been repeated floggings; that Bligh had continually used violent and abusive language to officers and men; that he was a petty tyrant and was guilty of all sorts of mean forms of aggravation. Here is one instance: he accused officers and men, from the senior officer under him downwards, of being thieves, alleging publicly on the quarter-deck that they stole his coconuts.