Page:A colonial autocracy, New South Wales under Governor Macquarie, 1810-1821.djvu/122

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
94
A COLONIAL AUTOCRACY.

"Public morals" were affected in several ways. There was in the first place the impropriety of permitting an officer of the Government already filling so many important posts as D'Arcy Wentworth, to become a party to such a contract. There was sufficient evidence to show that he reaped to the full the advantage placed in his hands. As Superintendent of Police his influence was great both in regard to the licensing and conduct of public houses. The four years during which the contract lasted were generally regarded as those in which the licensed houses were most disorderly. Wentworth would not agree that their number was too great, replying to remonstrances that it was good for trade and good for the Police Fund.[1] Thirty-one annual licenses were issued in 1810, but in the following four years the numbers were sixty, one hundred and seventeen, ninety-three and one hundred and ten, numbers which were not reached again in Macquarie's time.[2]

The amount of spirit which the contractors were allowed to import was placed at 45,000 gallons or 15,000 gallons a year. When the time of the contract was extended to four years the amount was increased proportionately. It was only in 1812 that any spirit but that assigned to the contractors was landed, and the amount of this extra importation was 10,000 gallons. Leaving this out, the total number of gallons imported during the four years was 144,000 gallons.[3] One-third of this was probably on Government account,[4] but even allowing for that the contractors imported at least 40,000 gallons more than was allowed to them in the original covenant. Macquarie seems to have thought that because the Government received a greater sum in duties by this means, the violation of the terms of the contract was of no account. The profits of the monopoly were immense, for spirit sold during its currency at 30s. the gallon was in 1815 selling at 17s.[5]

So soon as the hospital contract expired Macquarie issued

  1. Evidence of Dr. Harris. See Appendix to Bigge's Reports. R.O., MS. See also evidence of H. Macarthur and others.
  2. Return in Appendix, Bigge's Reports. R.O., MS.
  3. This is calculated on the returns of 1819 and 1820. In previous years there is no separation made.
  4. See Return, Appendix to Bigge's Reports, R.O., MS.
  5. Evidence of Lara. Appendix to Bigge's Reports. R.O., MS.