Page:A colonial autocracy, New South Wales under Governor Macquarie, 1810-1821.djvu/191

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163
LAND, LABOUR AND COMMERCE.

failure. "And yet," he continued, "in a community like this no great public confidence can perhaps be even expected for some years to be found, and no contributions could have been obtained for a common stock but on the strongest Government and legal assurance of personal indemnity from all general liability or partnership risk. Such an indemnity could only and reasonably satisfy, and such it appeared to me could only be afforded, as in the one usual way, in the grant of Letters of Incorporation and the constitution of a Joint Stock Company."[1] But the charter met with disapproval from the Secretary of State who, after consulting the Law Officers, informed the Governor that he was not legally empowered to grant it and that it was consequently null and void.[2] "You will therefore," wrote Lord Bathurst, "intimate to the gentlemen composing that establishment that they can only consider themselves in the situation of persons associated for the purposes of trade, and as such not entitled to any of those special privileges which it was the object of the charter to confer." "So long as the bank is conducted on sound principles it will of course derive from the Government a due degree of support; but you will carefully avoid incurring any responsibility on account of it, or in any degree implicating the faith of the Colonial Government in its pecuniary transactions."

Macquarie in reply referred to Wylde's opinion and enumerated the advantages which had already accrued. "Antecedent to the opening of the bank," he said, "there was scarcely a mercantile transaction which did not become the subject of a lawsuit before payment could be effected. … Now in consequence of the facilities rendered by the bank, mercantile contracts and payments are as punctually observed and as promptly made, as they could be among the most eminent merchants on the Royal Exchange. These, my Lord, are effects that could never have been looked forward to, by any other means, in a new country like this, unprovided with any kind of specie, except what may remain of the ten thousand pounds in dollars sent … by order of Government from India."[3]

  1. Wylde to Goulburn. Enclosure to D. 26, 1st September, 1820. R.O., MS.
  2. D. 22, 29th October, 1818. C.O., MS.
  3. D. 26. See above.