General => Book Reviews => Topic started by: Bilgerat on February 24, 2018, 15:08:18

Title: Voyage in the Pandora by George Hamilton
Post by: Bilgerat on February 24, 2018, 15:08:18
ISBN 1-875567-28-2.

The full title of this book is "A Voyage Around the World in His Majesty's Frigate Pandora" and George Hamilton was the ship's Surgeon. It is a first-hand, factual account of the voyage of HMS Pandora, sent on a mission to hunt down and bring the Bounty Mutineers back to the UK to face justice.

HMS Pandora was a 24-gun, 9pdr-armed Post Ship of the ten-strong Porcupine Class, built by John Barnard in the Grove Street shipyard in Deptford, at the time in the County of Kent and was launched in May of 1779, at the height of the American War of Independence. Between July and October 1790, the ship was recommissioned after being in the Chatham Ordinary since the end of the war and was refitted for a voyage to the Great South Sea and it is on completion of that refit that the author joined the ship.

The book tells of the ship leaving Chatham and sailing to Rio de Janiero via the Azores and then into the great Pacific Ocean. It tells of encountering islands and people whose lives were utterly alien to 18th century Britons. It tells of encountering strange animals, plants and landscapes which may as well have been on a different planet. The book describes the famous 'Pandoras Box', the cage built by the ship's carpenter to house the prisoners they caught, on the ship's quarterdeck. Finally, it tells of the wreck of HMS Pandora in the Torres Strait, on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef and of the voyage in open boats of the survivors of the wreck to the Dutch colony at Timor. They managed to catch 14 of the mutineers, of whom four perished in the wreck. The remaining ten were brought back to the UK and they all faced Courts Martial in which four were acquitted. Of the six convicted men, three were hanged aboard HMS Brunswick (74) at Portsmouth, two were given a Royal Pardon and the remaining man was acquitted on appeal.

An educated man, George Hamilton was also a gifted writer and wrote about the amazing things he saw from the point of view of a typical middle-class Englishman of the early 1790's.

The wreck of HMS Pandora was discovered in 1977 and was found to contain hundreds of perfectly preserved artifacts, many of which would have been used by the author during his time on the ship.

The original book was first published in 1798 and my copy is one of a limited edition of 950 copies re-published by Horden House on behalf of the Australian National Maritime Museum in 1998.
Title: Re: Voyage in the Pandora by George Hamilton
Post by: pr1uk on February 25, 2018, 08:02:31
A recording of the book is in public domain