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NORDHOFF, Charles & HALL, Norman

Mutiny on the Bounty

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“Roger and I,” observed my mother, “have been studying the ideas of J.J.Rousseau. As you know, he believes that true happiness can only be enjoyed by man in a state of nature.”

Bligh nodded. “…if a rough seaman may express an opinion on a subject more suited to a philosopher, I believe that true happiness can only be enjoyed by a disciplined and enlightened people.”

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Fletcher Christian was at that time in his twenty-fourth year, — a fine figure of a seaman in his plain blue, gold-buttoned frock — handsomely and strongly built, with thick dark brown hair and a complexion naturally dark… His mouth and chin expressed great resolution of character , and his eyes, black, deep-set, and brilliant, had something of hypnotic power in their far-away gaze…. Christian was what women call a romantic-looking man ; his moods of gaiety alternated with fits of black depression, and he possessed a fiery temper which he controlled by efforts that brought a sweat to his brow. Though only a master’s mate, a step above a midshipman, he was of gentle birth — better born than Bligh and a gentleman in manner and speech.

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“We may as well make the best of it… It’s far from a bad best, if you look at the matter sensibly. I’ve always wanted a life of ease. Ever since reading Captain Wallis’s and Captain Cook’s accounts of their discoveries in the Pacific, I’ve dreamed of nothing but tropical islands. When the chance came to ship with the Bounty I was the happiest man in England. I’m willing to confess now that, had it been possible, I would have deserted the ship at Tahiti.”

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“It should be needless to tell British seamen that no ship, whether manned by mutineers or not, can be handled without discipline. …I mean to be obeyed. There shall be no injustice here. I shall punish no man without good cause, but I will have no man question my authority.”

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“We reached the Dutch East Indies, not by a miracle, but owing to the leadership of an officer of indomitable will, skilled in seamanship, stern to preserve discipline, cool and cheerful in the face of danger. His name will be revered by those who accompanied him for as long as they live.”