Rare: the only full-length contemporary account of the voyage. The author sailed as surgeon on board the Pandora under Captain Edwards, whose orders from the Admiralty were to seek out the surviving Bounty mutineers and bring them back to justice. Hamilton writes in a relaxed, one might say light-hearted manner, making his one of the most easily read of 18th-century narratives. Fourteen of the mutineers were apprehended when the ship reached Tahiti and placed in a cage on the quarter-deck, which the crew nicknamed ‘Pandora’s Box’. However whilst navigating Endeavour Strait the Pandora struck a reef and began to sink. Hamilton records that within 15 minutes there was nine feet of water in the hold, and ‘some of the prisoners were let out of irons, and turned to the pumps’. The guns were thrown overboard to lighten the load, however one poor crewman was crushed to death by a runaway gun, and another was killed by a falling topmast. All in all 35 crewmen and 4 prisoners were drowned, and Hamilton’s light-hearted tone seems at odds with the reality of the situation: ‘the cries of the men drowning in the water was at first awful in the extreme; but as they sunk, and became faint, it died away by degrees’. Hamilton fails to mention that Captain Edwards left the prisoners to drown in Pandora’s box. The ten who survived owed their life to the sergeant-at-arms who dropped the keys down to them. In a cruel twist of fate they, along with the rest of the surviving crew, had to endure a grueling open-boat voyage to the Dutch colonies, just as Bligh had done after the Bounty Mutiny. The Pandora survivors however landed at Timor in the East of the Dutch East Indies, whilst Bligh had sailed on to Batavia, modern day Jakarta. Of the ten mutineers who returned to England four men were found not guilty, two received a pardon and one was acquitted on a legal technically, leaving just three to be hanged for mutiny. That left just those nine who had sailed with Fletcher Christian to Pitcairn Island. They were not discovered until 1808 when the American sealing ship Topaz stopped at the island and reported back to the Admiralty. By this time John Adams was the only mutineer alive and he was granted a pardon.
First edition. Portrait frontispiece. 8vo. 20th-century half calf, spine gilt, with red & black morocco labels, these lettered in gilt, frontispiece & slightly toned. [ii], 3-164pp.[Hill, 766.]