Page:A colonial autocracy, New South Wales under Governor Macquarie, 1810-1821.djvu/10

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PREFACE

For these reasons it has seemed necessary to give an account in considerable detail of events taking place in the years immediately preceding Macquarie's arrival, and to describe fully the conditions of the Colony—social, economic and political—at that time.

From the beginning of 1812 the documentary evidence in the Public Record and Colonial Offices, the files of the Sydney Gazette (in the Public Record Office) and Parliamentary Papers have formed the basis of the following chapters in the history of New South Wales. All accessible printed books have also been examined, on the whole with very little result. The only contemporary historian of any note is W. C. Wentworth; but apart altogether from the narrow limitations of his book, no one in search of facts would find much profit from a study of his early work.

In later days G. W. Rusden is the only historian who has dealt in detail with the subject. In his History of Australia he devotes one chapter of more than a hundred pages to Macquarie's governorship, and he appears to have had before him many important official despatches and much private correspondence. Unfortunately Mr. Rusden made many errors in chronological and other facts which really vitiate the greater number of his conclusions, and this part of his history is not only too summary to be of great value, but too inaccurate to be of much consideration. Mr. Jenks' History of Australia, which is by far the best and most reliable book upon the subject, deals very lightly with early days, the years from 1801 to 1821 being passed over in two pages. Even in such a specialised treatise as that of Mr. Epps' Land Laws of Australia, the system of land distribution before Lord Ripon's Regulations in 1831 is accorded an equally unimportant position.

In spite of the fact that so little attention has been given to Macquarie's governorship, it is a time of considerable interest and importance. From a small settlement dependent even for