The Story of Captain William Bligh, seaman, navigator, surveyor and of the BOUNTY mutineers
State Library of New South Wales 1991, Five authors, plates in col & b&w, Ind, 104 pp.
Was Captain Bligh his own enemy or was he assassinated with a sharp instrument?
Following the mutiny on the BOUNTY, being court martialled on the WARRIOR and arrested while Governor of New South Wales, Bligh was forced to use the quill and in a masterly manner to defend his name. Even so not all reads well for Bligh, for without Fletcher Christian, the mutineer’s leader stating his case, Bligh still stands condemned! Nevertheless, the authors do justice to Bligh in depicting him as a proud naval officer and a leader.
Richard Ormond expertly portrays the naval happenings and traditions of the period and their strength to Bligh in promoting order and discipline as a duty, even at the expense of a presumptive attitude. Glynn Christian champions Fletcher Christian, second-in-command, as one with a courageous social pioneering and professional seamanlike character that brought the captain and his second-in-command to openly air the merits or otherwise of each other’s antagonistic psychological attitude to the other.
A telling story by Ronald A. Coleman describes the tragedy befalling the voyage of the PANDORA.
Gavin Kennedy skilfully sorts out the facts and the legends and mentions the BOUNTY’S master, John Fryer, surely a man of ability and discernment, as having respect for Bligh but disdain for his resolute and rectitude.
Paul Brunton has given a very good insight into the character of Bligh as “absolutely immoveable when he believed he was right, which was most of the time.”
The Foreword by Alison Crook, State Librarian and an Introduction by Elizabeth Egan are most explanatory and have great historical import.
The excellent art plates add credence to the passing of time and the written word from within the Mitchell and Dixon collections of the State Library, in which is held the largest and most valuable collection of Bligh memorabilia unrivalled throughout the world, affords the authors unparalleled authentication of factual comment. They have given an in depth understanding of all the players in this unfortunate drama which makes intriguing reading and a valuable book of reference.
The facts as presented, depict Bligh himself as his main handicap. With a little flexibility or graciousness, he would have thwarted most of his problems, which continue to impinge the goodness of his character.