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Thursday, 10th February, 2005

Thursday, February 10, 2005

# The previously mentioned book regarding the possibility of Fletcher Christian having escaped Pitcairn and travelled to South America was covered by The Times newspaper on the 13th September 1796, page 3, middle of the third column (Original image, approx. 1MB in size):

Christian, Chief Mutineer on board his Majesty's Ship Bounty. This extraordinary nautical character has, at length, transmitted to England an account of his conduct in his mutiny on board the Bounty and a detail also of his subsequent proceedings, after he obtained command of the ship, in which, after visiting Juan Fernandez, and various islands in South America, he was shipwrecked in rescuing Don Henriques, Major-General of the kingdom of Chili, from a similar disaster; an event which, after many perilous circumstances, led to his present lucrative establishment under the Spanish Government in South America, for which he was about to fail when the last accounts were received from him.
In his voyage, &c. which he has lately published at Cadiz, we are told, by this enterprizing mutineer; that the revolt which he headed on board his Majesty's ship Bounty, was not ascribeable to any dislike of their commander, Captain Bligh, but to the unconquerable passion which he and the major part of the ship's crew entertained for the enjoyments which Otaheite still held out to their voluptuous imaginations:
"It is but justice," says he, "that I should acquit Captain Bligh in the most unequivocal manner, of having contributed in the smallest degree to the promotion of our conspiracy, by any harsh or ungentlemanlike conduct on his part: so far from it, that few Officers in the service, I am persuaded, can in this respect be found superior to him, or produce stronger claims upon the gratitude and attachment of the men whom they are appointed to command. Our mutiny is wholly to be ascribed to the strong predilection we had contracted for living at Otaheite, where, exclusive of the happy disposition of the inhabitants, the mildness of the climate and the fertility of the soil, we had formed certain ternder connections, which banished the rememberance of Old England entirely from out breasts!".
After describing the seizure, and securing of Captain Bligh's person in his cabin, Christian thus concludes his account of this brutal revolt: "During the whole of this transaction; Captain Bligh exerted himself to the utmost to reduce the people to a sense of their duty, by haranguing and expostulating with them, which caused me to assume a degree of ferocity quite repugnant to my feelings, as I dreaded the effect which his remonstrances might produce. Hence I several times threatened him with instant death, unless he desisted; but my menaces were all in vain. He continued to harangue us with so much manly eloquence, that I was tain to call in the dram bottle to my aid, which I directed to be served round to my associates. Thus heartened and encouraged, we went through the business; though, for my own part, I must acknowledge that I suffered more than words can express, from the conflict of contending passions; but I had gone too far to recede; so, putting the best face on the business, I ordered the boat to be cut adift, wore ship, and shaped our course back for Otaheite!".

# The Letters of Fletcher Christian. A book describing Fletcher Christians travels after the mutiny where he travels to South America. It is a republishing of the original titled "Letters from Mr Fletcher Christian Containing a Narrative of the Transactions on Board His Majesty's Ship Bounty Before and After the Mutiny, With His Subsequent Voyages and Travels in America.". Whether this is true or not is open to debate.

Could Fletcher have escaped death on Pitcairn and travelled to South America? Certainly the Bounty's chronometer was found by an old muleteer in Concepcion, Chile. Or might the infamous mutineer have returned in secret to England? His fellow shipmate, Peter Heywood was convinced he spotted him in a Plymouth side street in 1808.

# How Fletcher Christian died is something of a mystery. The most common story is that during an uprising of the Tahiatian men he was shot and clubbed to death. There is a rumour though that he somehow managed to make his way back to England. This link describes some of the possibilities.

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