Page:A colonial autocracy, New South Wales under Governor Macquarie, 1810-1821.djvu/210

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182
A COLONIAL AUTOCRACY.

conformably to the port regulations from hence … on proper officers being appointed to take charge of her."[1]

Drake wrote again, and his letter concluded in these words:—

"If there be specific charges against any of the officers or crew of the ship Chapman, I have to solicit that those of the officers and crew of the said ship so charged be withdrawn from on board by the proper authorities, that arrangements may be forthwith made for their being properly succeeded in their different stations on board."[2]

It was the difficulty of deciding on the specific charges which was the cause of the delay. Though the court held its final sitting on the 4th October, it did not report to the Governor until the 17th November. On the 9th, Wylde wrote to him describing his efforts to obtain a unanimous report, but he was unsuccessful, and on the 17th Campbell presented one report and Wylde and Wentworth another.

On many points the same views were put forward in both. No proof had been forthcoming that a mutiny had ever been projected. The means taken to arrest what those in command deemed to be mutinous attempts (though on amazingly little evidence) had been far in excess of necessary self-defence. One night an alarm was given that the convicts were trying to seize the boats, and that night four innocent men were shot down. The alarm was proved at the inquiry to have been utterly without foundation. The proofs of shooting by three soldiers of the guard were quite conclusive, and they were committed to the Sydney gaol to be tried for murder in England. It was in regard to the captain of the ship, the surgeon-superintendent, the officer of the guard, and the three mates, that the reports differed. Campbell proposed that these men should all be committed for trial on criminal charges of varying heinousness from murder downwards, and Macquarie concurred. He had read through the evidence, depositions, log-books and journals which had been before the Court, and discussed the matter with Campbell and probably with Field, the Judge of the Supreme Court. Field had also communicated his opinions to Wylde,

  1. Campbell to Drake, 29th October, 1817. R.O., MS.
  2. Drake to M., 8th November, 1817. R.O., MS.