To the Pacific and Arctic with Beechey: The Journal of Lieutenant George Peard of H.M.S. ‘Blossom’

George Peard, the first lieutenant of the Blossom, gives detailed descriptions of the places visited and the inhabitants, among them Pitcairn Island and the Gambier, Tahitian and Hawaiian groups. No less valuable are his accounts of Kamchatka, California, the Northwestern extremity of North America, and various parts of South America. Peard had an inquisitive, scientific mind, and he wrote a clear discursive narrative which shows that British exploration in the early Pax Britannica bore many fruits – scientific, commercial and strategic. It also showed that the Northwest passage had again eluded the British, in spite of the careful planning of the Admiralty, the Colonial office and the Hudson’s Bay Company and the painstaking execution of orders by such naval officers as Parry, Franklin, Beechey and Peard himself. Two of the plates are now printed at the end of the book. [Description from Google Books, 10/7/17.]

p. 22-23. Introduction: While Beechey seems to have had no difficulty in convincing the Admiralty of the necessity of supplying navigational and surveying devices and items of trade, their Lordships were unwilling to meet the full request of Mr George Tradescant Lay, the official naturalist of the expedition. The Admiralty would approve instruments for skinning animals, a microscope, forceps for catching insects, varnish for fish, and the like. They could not sanction the purchase of twenty-one different books on natural history that Lay said he required. Only four were allowed, and a marginal notation gives the explanation. Sir Joseph Banks was of the opinion that ‘books are not necessary’ during the voyage and only served to distract young naturalists when they should be collecting. This was also the opinion of Barrow and, if Lay required the other volumes, he would presumably have had to buy them himself.” (PRO.Beechey to Croker, 9 Apr. 1825, Adm. I/1572, Cap. B 99).

p. 77-78, in an account of the Bounty mutineers at Pitcairn: The Members of each family meet together if possible, at prayers & hymns 4 times a day. On Sundays the whole Colony collected together, meet in the house of John Adams and he performs the service according to the Liturgy of the Church of England, Morning, Afternoon & Evening. John Buffet, an Englishman who came out in a whaleship a few years ago, & was engaged by them as Schoolmaster, reads a sermon Morning & Afternoon. And so strictly do they observe the Sabbath that they think it wrong to venture on that day beyond the square in front of their houses. … In return for teaching their Children to write & read, they have given the Schoolmaster a piece of ground which they cultivate for him.

p. 79: Excepting Old John Adams, now in his 63rd year, no one sings any thing but hymns, – … It is to the repentance of this man that the good conduct and proper religious notions of the present inhabitants is to be traced. It is now five and twenty years ago, since the last of his early companions died, and Adams left to himself as it were…began to reflect on his misspent life and tremble at the justice of his offended God. Finding some religious books amongst those saved from the Bounty he turned to them for comfort, and the consequence was that he established regular prayers in his own house…. This soon caught the attention of the children… Each would separately beg of Adams to teach him a portion of prayer…. By the same means they persuaded the old man to teach them to read their Bible.