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    Re: Bligh's noon by chronometer
    From: Peter Fogg
    Date: 2010 Jul 2, 12:04 -0700

    George you wrote:

    'In the light of recent Navlist comments, here is another pointer to Bligh's
    character, from the log of 24 April 1788, after a month of fruitless
    battling heavy weather in an attempt to round Cape Horn-

    "To enable me to keep my People as healthy as possible, I have not only
    appropriated my Cabbin to as many as could hang their Hammocks in it, but I
    have all the others bedding brought into it every day while I cannot get
    them on Deck in the bad Weather, by this means I have the Tween Decks clear
    and can be properly Aired by Fires as well as the Cabbin ..." Bligh's own
    cot had already been displaced from the great cabin into a smaller one, so
    it could be prepared to recieve the breadfruit, the object of the voyage. '

    I find this anecdote quite consistent with everything else that I have heard about Bligh. He was far from being a simple despot. As others have pointed out, brutal and despotic ship's captains in the Royal Navy were far from scarce, yet mutinies were comparatively rare.

    No, he was a complex-enough character, as are we all I suppose. In Bligh's case the problem was not that he was too strong a character, with too little regard for the welfare of his men, but rather the opposite. Not just weak but even worse; inconsistent. Too familiar with his subordinates then too foul of mouth when displeased. For example. Full of unaccustomed regard for his men's well-being then unexpectedly harsh over a trifle. For example.

    Successful (read consistently despotic) despots typically don't engender mutinies, or the nation-wide equivalent; revolutions. Rather they bequeath them to their weaker, more inconsistent inheritors. Who typically have many good intentions. Just like Bligh. Just as Louis IV left the French Revolution to Louis VI. Or as Alexandre III bequeathed the Russian Revolution to Nicolas II.

    Such are the reflections of an amateur (meaning, literally, 'lover of') historian.
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