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Pacific portrays radio sketches of men and women whose lives illustrate times and places south of the equator in the Pacific. William block vice admiral of the blue fellow of the Royal Society honored friend of Sir Joseph Banks not grocer James Hawkins Admiral Lord Nelson. A grim boyhood in the savage Naval Missile his historic voyage with the mapmaker the mutiny of the bounty. Those Titanic weeks in an open boat the rum rebellion the honors of his last year. Where does the scale to blight the bully or towards blight the moment seem a. Player. With. Captain Bligh program to learn a series of specific portraits
produced by radio station WAGA of the University of Wisconsin under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters now speaking to you from Auckland New Zealand. Here is the planner and writer of the series Professor John Reed. After the opening up of the Pacific which we saw through the eyes of Captain Cook in our first program they came the gradual settling of the New Territories scattered throughout the 68 million square miles of ocean. This settlement wasn't a planned orderly operation. The European powers were a half hearted almost offhand in their attitude towards their remote colonies. So those who came first to the islands of the Southern Sea were individualists adventurers freelances of the Spirit white men met brown men in conflict and mingling pioneers ventured out to carve whom's from the green hoop of Australia and New Zealand adventurers
moved in on the palm fringed Island and many richly colorful characters fulfill their destiny on the Pacific's broad acres. Some of these were great because they clasped history's wrist with shining deeds like pearls. Others were great because like sand in the oyster they were irritants around which pearls could grow such an irritant was William Bligh. Here we sketch his portrait against the background of the ocean he helped to master the Pacific and his words have been adapted from his writings and his recorded. Wait a minute wait is this the bully who goaded his crew into mutiny. The cowardly tyrannical governor who was deposed by the people of New South Wales. Is this the blood of the bounty. The same how can you possibly praise such a saddest saddest to say this is the William Bligh whom George Burke called one of the best seamen that ever trod deck and one of the
bravest of men. But what have Hollywood's portrait his very name struck terror into the breasts of all his crew. His hair was a robe whose teeth were Marlin spikes and the seamen who dared just obey his mad ruthless orders to do it again. Nonsense behind that you lied legend stands a man of science and character a masterly seaman not a states blank a bully. No a brave sailor a just man stop stop. Will you deny that Bligh was twice deposed by his subordinates. There is no smoke without fire. A moment please. May not the smoke be only the condensed breath of rumor because cursed was hot tempered and Annette cannot also have been brave intelligent and humane. Let me put it like this for the ancients. All things were compounded of the four elements earth air fire and water in the Virgin places of the world. These things seemed to men of Bligh's age still the primary realities which could be conquered only by men compounded out of the same elements.
Bly was compact of earth air fire and water from them all he tore his honor let us away from the haze of prejudice. See him do it. Or as. Was great from the good corners for he came really just 15 years old when he joined the hunter as a midshipman. I was ship's master at the time and remember him well with his large nose type seldom smiling lips steady eyes and strong hearty body. It had to be tough to survive ship life in 1770 often the food arrived with maggots the drinking water was foul and slimy. Most of the men were scum Philthy of body and tongue who'd cut your throat over spilled rum.
Discipline was savage. Midshipman brought out your hammock. Yessir. Why is it not for it sir you're so big before dark this morning. There is no excuse Mr Downer's 30 lashes for me. From the forge of His Majesty's navy he came steel hard tight jawed quick of tongue but sufficiently master of his profession to win the attention of James Cook preparing for his third great Pacific voyage for the resolution I request to services as shipping master of William Bligh of only 23 years old midshipman Bligh is an experienced seaman with a special gift for surveying which could be usefully employed under my direction in constructing charts. It was Bligh commanding a cutter in the COA Bay who watched powerless to help as the Hawaiians struck Captain Cook down. This was his first
trial of water. Cook was the greatest of all navigators and he taught me many things the art of command the scientific care of judging the doer of yours. And perhaps above all to guard the house ship's crew back in Britain with the sons of the Pacific still dazzling his inner eye and the feel of its island earth under his feet. Bligh was appointed master of a ship in Admiral Parker's squadron and received his baptism of fire against the Dutch Dogger Bank. From this impeachment he emerged with a commission one on the water. But when peace was made William Bligh at thirty found his occupation gone so seeking new air a new earth for four years he drove a merchant ship back and forth across the Atlantic to the West Indies. One of his crew was a young man whom he treated like a brother and to whom he taught the elements of seamanship. His name Fletcher Christian Fletcher Christian. I first set eyes on him as we signed up together for the bounty.
And as I later learned unstable lazy and mad for the women. But at that time I had room only for the bounty and cargo of the West Indies planters wanted breadfruit plants from the Pacific. Sir Joseph Banks botanist and fellow voyager of Koch persuaded the British Admiralty to equip a 90 foot vessel for the purpose and to put his friend William Bligh in charge with forty six persons. The voyage began on November 20. Seventeen eighty seven years later called Captain a slave driver. Suddenly he lost his temper but expected such things and he held no rancor nor did he ever punish unjustly but most respected him was his constant care for our well-being. Never fail in the precautions against scurvy which we learn from even engaged. So that by dancing we could get regular exercise. While the bounty awkwardly rigged and leaky round the Cape it was tossed back from hand to hand by
fears no westerlies get through nine days of winter storm with the pumps working every hour in the decks like sieves Bly. Although sodden with the tea drove his ship round the Horn into calm water. When we were out of danger the first thing he did was to give up his own cabin to those poor fellows who had wet berths and so at last the paradise of the world lay before us with its gentle kindly man and its. Beautiful compliant maidens its smiling skies and chuckling peaches. For twenty three weeks the bounty anchored to Tahiti by a Bligh carefully collected his bread and observe the life of the natives. You used to like her to watch the swarms of little children that are everywhere to be seen. Some flying kites. Some swinging ropes suspended from the powers of three others walking on stilts some briskly
and others playing all manner of antique tricks such as are common to boys in England. Just before sunset the whole beach before the ship is like a pretty crowded with men women and children who go on with their sport till nearly dark. Little wonder that the crew of the bounty were reluctant to leave this flowering earth and intoxicating air for the long hard haul to the Indies. As the ship moved away their hearts turned longingly back to the indolent beaches and the paper free women in his loathing for inefficiency Bligh's tongue cut like a razor. You're very you're a lover why don't you hoist by your damn dress code what are you about. One day some coconuts seem to be missing. Mr Christian sir. How many coconuts have you got. I really don't know sir and I hope you don't care. You lie. But lies temper had little to do with what happened. Christian and others of the crew were drunk with the
delights of Tahiti which they carried corkscrew mementoes in their blood across the water to heat an Earth called them with its summer air its summer women and its untilled planting the wish to have no master but their mood drove them one day just before dawn to seize their captain while he slept. Some of the crew held back but Christian and Mears for supply on deck for your work. This outbreak basic person can't comply your office is a matter now you vote and you must go with them. If you attempt to leave resistance you will instantly be put to death. They stick her surname. Consider again. I do put on my honor. I will give my bunk never to think of a CQ to see snow. If you had any honest things would not have come to this planet. I hear how it is too late. I've been in hell for this fortnight past and I can bear it no longer in the hope of you having life I beg you to remember that the armorers interpreters have no part in this. Correct sir first turning to you in your heart to think that this is any
proper treatment for my friendship. That Captain Bligh Now does this. I am in hell. I have been hurt and bearing his private hell in his bosom. Christian in the mutineers sailed the bounty back to Tahiti to collect their women then on to Pitcairn Island there to brawl and murder each other until but one was left alive. Surely you weighed the scales in favor of Bly. Do you think so. What comparison can there be between Milton Ayres scuttling back to Pacific fleshpots and Bly at the commencement of the greatest open boat Odyssey in history. None whatever. Bly The only able bodied seamen of one thousand persons in a 23 foot boat. No maps no chronometer with seven inches of freeboard and so overloaded that only two could lie down at a time. He determined to sail the thirty six hundred
miles to the East Indies first to the whole island for water and bread fruit but on the beach hostile natives killed one of the sailors and only Bligh's quick thinking and casting off saved the lives of the rest. We thank God for our delivery from a massacre. But we own you know that only with cutlasses we must give all islands a wide berth. During the next six weeks we suffered incredible privations driven nearly insane with starvation and misery. Save the captain whose iron will never faltered. Weak from hunger and fatigue he continued to take observations with his sextant and as the hostile seas broke over him meticulously kept his journal. Our situation extremely dangerous. Seas running over Stern kept us reeling with all our strength. He's 60.
Now starving. Sight of land increased our miseries. But landing would have been attended with too much danger. May 19th. Dark. Nights. Running before the sea with utmost care. In the least entering him would be our destruction. May 26. In the evening we had the good fortune to catch. The blood was given to the three who would in most need to fool. The body with its Andrews beacon feet. I made a good supper. Compared with our usual fare. So in the dazzling tropical air under the sun's fire up the steep slope of water Bligh lashed the boat along through the Great Barrier Reef. The second man after Cook to find a passage among the hungry breakers and gaping coral fangs here and there they were able to land fatigue and weakness so far got the better of their sense of duty.
That's some declared they would rather be without their dinner then search for it. One person went so far as to tell me with a mutinous look that he was as good a man as myself by a determined either to preserve my command or die in the attempt. And seizing a cutlass I ordered him to lay hold of another and defend himself which he immediately made concessions and everything soon became quiet. A coward of legend brought his men through Tora Strait Timor. They had covered an incredible three thousand six hundred eighteen miles. Bligh had written an indelible page in The Chronicles of the scene. At the. Back in England while others sought the mutineers bli fitted out another pacific
expedition a voyage of exploration during which the Fiji Islands were discovered at Tahiti. He loaded another cargo of breadfruit trees and delivered them to the grateful West Indies settlers on this voyage in which I was proud to say Blair's leadership courage and skill won him the esteem of even the roughest of us when he left the ship. We cheered him to the echo and at the dock gates we drew up again and repeated our tribute. Back home again he plunged into action once more. His ship was in the van of the British squadron that clashed with the Dutch at Camperdown. He marked as his own the Dutch flag ship and after an hour's fierce fighting bested it soon after Bly ventured out again to a greater battle under Nelson he commanded one of the nine British ships which engaged the eighteen massive floating batteries of the Danes at Copenhagen two to one odds which Nelson relished and which Bligh thrived.
And this bloody clash the frightful cannon AIDS with their raking fire shattered vessel after vessel Nelson's aid begged him to retire. But Nelson nailed his signal to the mast and live following his example redoubled his fire. They're tired of battle turn and the Danes were crushed at 2:45 the action was ended. Lord Nelson in the elephant. Our second ahead did me the honor to hail me to come on board. Captain Bligh. I have asked you to come aboard so that before my officers and men I might personally thank you for the surprisingly gallant action of you and your men without your support. The day may well have been lost for England this was Bligh's supreme moment to be commended by the great Nelson on the quarter deck of his ship at such a time. Was something he never forgot. RULER.
And now for the first phase of his life it opened in air and water of the Pacific. The final phase began that of Earth and Fire. The governorship of New South Wales in Australia Les bacon. Recommended for the post by Sir Joseph Banks Bligh set sail in eighteen five. The eighteen years old colony had broken the spirit of all its previous governors. It was typical of those early scattered Pacific settlements the crude brutal brawling lawless beginning of new lands. But New South Wales had a special mark. It was Britain's dumping ground for convicts. With Bly was one of his daughters marry we little guessed what Newt South Wales would hold for us. We soon found out. This mixed colony of convicts freed prisoners free settlers and soldiers had been flung down in this remote land in the most primitive circumstances. The real rulers
my father learnt were the garrison soldiers of the New South Wales corps who were busy enriching themselves at the expense of the community chiefly by the sale of rum. Mary Bligh did not exaggerate New South Wales was floating on a sea of liquor when Bligh arrived. Rum was the sole currency of firewater which served as wages and government rewards. A man sold his wife for five gallons. The price of erecting the first church was paid in RUM. Settlers barter their crops for a few gallons flows like water and this drank like one and the regiment is labeled by the revealed name of the rum punch in Cork. So I will cut 100 feet of timber for a bottle of spirits which you drink in a few hours. When for the same labor he would charge two bushels of wheat which would give him bread for two months. This is a depraved and licentious community of eighteen hundred children over one thousand are illegitimate.
There are three binds for every married woman Bligh at once set himself to clean the filthy stables and soon insincere memorials the honest settlers thanked him for his efforts but the core determined to break this new governor as it had broken his predecessors. My father had one implacable enemy John MacArthur a former officer of the corps who had amassed thousands of acres and was beginning sheep raising in the colony a greedy Scot. He had a directness of manner that matched my father's. But a swift cunning as well of the MacArthur's faith in the world was to be the basis of a great Australian industry. The man himself was concerned only with maintaining his privileges by curbing the power of Bly a series of crises boiled up forcing the governor to arrest MacArthur. But the wily Scot managed to persuade the officers of the court to defy the governor at once Bligh some of them before him on a charge of treason. This act set off the explosion. The call rebelled in support of the officers and for the second time in his life Bligh faced mutiny.
The New South Wales Corps proceeded to carry out their military exploits of its brief and disgraceful career. Hundred strong they marched with flags flying and pipes playing the 700 yards from the barracks to Government House. Many of its members rose and staggered rather than marched by their side stalked the infamous MacArthur and his fellow traffickers the loyal suckers and Freeman being quite on armed were quite unable to take any action but watched with bitterness. This half broken band set out in force to seize a man and a woman the only one who offered resistance was Mary blood. As I saw the reeling blood go to events down the street I ran downstairs to summon the guard only to find they had joined the mutineers. My father was up stairs burning his papers so I opened the door and confronted them. A swaggering trio armed with bad bandits and breathing fumes came toward the door. But seeing me in the front of it hesitated stabbed me to the heart if you
will I said but respect the life of my father was nothing but the welfare of this colony. But my words did not deter them. And rushing me roughly as they tramped in to search for the governor. Bligh was flung into prison and the car celebrated its bloodless victory with a night of bonfires and riotous drinking. So ended the glorious rum rebellion because I was declared colonial secretary and the ruler of the colony. But by matching the rule of force with the courage of Wright continued to declare that he was the rightful governor. Put on a ship after a year in prison he proclaimed the Corps in a state of mutiny despite MacArthur's frantic lobbying the British government agreed with Bly the rum punch and Carr was withdrawn and replaced by the seventy third regiment under a new governor. A Cory Johnson the leader of the car was court martialed and cashews MacArthur dared not show his face in the colony for eight years.
But look here. He hadn't cleaned out the stables he'd failed again hadn't he. Not at all. He had succeeded. The rebellion destroyed the car not Bligh. As he had survived the trials of air and water he survived those of fire and earth. A squalid rebellion against the wishes of the settlers was the only way he could be moved from his purpose. And this focused the attention of Britain on a festering sore in her colonial heel led to the destruction of the exploiters to reform of the Law Courts and to a betterment of the lot of the settlers Bligh's failure as you call it. Borage or fruit that most men's successes. Was. Seven years later one December day in 1817 by Europe was breaking the stranglehold of Napoleon Admiral Bligh lay dying at Lima in the sixty fourth year. William Bligh vice admiral of the blue fellow of the Royal Society on a friend of the Earl of Selkirk Sir Frederick POLLOCK Sir Joseph
Banks Admiral Sir James Hawkins Admiral Lord Nelson. Through his dying mind found a film of memory. His grim boyhood in the savage naval vessel. His historic voyage with Cooke the mapmaker. The Mutiny of the bounty. Those Titanic weeks in an open boat. Nelson on his flagship. The rum rebellion. And he held his dying head erect. Of tyranny and oppression I declare in God's name. I wish never guilty. Nor was I found guilty in the eyes of men. Where then. Does the scales tip towards Bligh the bully or towards Bly the bull for seamen. It must come down Bligh's side. Earth Air Fire and Water. The cross-grained quick tongued sailor who never once
surrendered his integrity etched in sharp black lines against the broad blue of his beloved Pacific. His image still breathes defiance to his detractors. Out of the waste of waters. The challenge of fire. The resistance of the earth the insubstantial air. He plucked a name to remember. Bligh. Of the bounty. And here is Professor Reed the author of this program to say a closing word. We of the southern islands do remember that it was hands like those of Bly that
shape the present we enjoy that it was men like him who brought the rule of law and justice to the black mouth. Early settlements of Down Under. So that out of the sweating squabbling hard drinking colonies began to emerge a design which we will trace in other Pacific portraits that of a linked group of law abiding peoples taking their place among the free nations of the world. Wood. Was. Pacific portrait radio sketches of men and women whose lives
illustrate times and places south of the equator. In the Pacific Ocean. These programs are produced by radio station WAGA of the University of Wisconsin under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center. Professor John C. REED of Auckland University Auckland New Zealand is the writer and planner of the series production by Carl Schmidt. Music by Don vaguely. These programs are distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. Was. Was.
Was. This is the national educational radio network.
Pacific portraits
Captain Bligh
Producing Organization
University of Wisconsin
WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
The later exploration of the area, white settlement and early conditions in Australia.
Series Description
This series explores various aspects of the Pacific region through dramatization, narration, commentary and music.
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Producing Organization: University of Wisconsin
Producing Organization: WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
Production Manager: Schmidt, Karl
Speaker: Rains, Claude, 1889-1967
Writer: Reid, J. C. (John Cowie), 1916-1972
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 58-41-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:13
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Chicago: “Pacific portraits; Captain Bligh,” 1965-03-17, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 14, 2024,
MLA: “Pacific portraits; Captain Bligh.” 1965-03-17. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 14, 2024. <>.
APA: Pacific portraits; Captain Bligh. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from