Page:Devonshire Characters and Strange Events.djvu/434

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362
DEVONSHIRE CHARACTERS

prisoner conducted his own defence, exhibiting great presence of mind, and preserving a respectful and manly deference throughout towards his judges.

The prosecution on the part of the Crown lasted two days, and on the 26th, Parker called witnesses in his favour, and read a long and able defence which he had previously prepared. The line of argument adopted by him was—that the situation he had held had been in a measure forced upon him; that he had consented to assume it chiefly from the hope of restraining the men from excesses; that he had restrained them in various instances; that he might have taken all the ships to sea, or to an enemy's port, had his motives been disloyal, etc. Parker unquestionably spoke the truth on many of these points. Throughout the whole affair, the injury done to property was trifling, the taking of some flour from a vessel being the chief act of the kind. But he had indubitably been the head of the mutineers. It was proved that he went from ship to ship giving orders and encouraging the men to stand out, and that his orders were given as though he were actually admiral of the fleet. Nothing could save him. He was sentenced to death. When his doom was pronounced, he rose, and said, in firm tones, "I shall submit to your sentence with all due respect, being confident in the innocency of my intentions, and that God will receive me unto His favour; and I sincerely hope that my death will be the means of restoring tranquillity to the Navy, and that those men who have been implicated in the business may be reinstated in their former situations, and again be serviceable to their country."

On the morning of the 3Oth of June, the yellow flag, the signal of death, was hoisted on board the Sandwich, where Richard Parker lay, and where he was to meet