Page:A colonial autocracy, New South Wales under Governor Macquarie, 1810-1821.djvu/52

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24
A COLONIAL AUTOCRACY.

well in the background. It was the year in which the Peninsular campaign commenced, and in September the uproar raised by the Convention of Cintra was at its height. The events of January, however, the subversion of Bligh's government by the military garrison, demanded some attention, and when despatches arrived, scanty as was the information they conveyed, some course of action had to be agreed upon. On the one side, there were despatches from Bligh enclosing letters from Gore, his Provost-Marshal, who had been deprived of his office and suffered harsh treatment, and from Palmer, the Commissary, whose lot had been similar. From the revolutionary party came an official despatch, an interesting and partial account from the pen of John Macarthur, who then held the self-created and unsalaried office of Colonial Secretary. There were also two letters from Doctor Townson, the first explaining his reasons for supporting Johnston, the second his reasons for withdrawing his support. By neither action had he found himself any nearer to his prime object, the grant of land and servants promised him, and though he certainly gave both sides of the matter, his letters rather clouded than cleared the real issue. For he took both sides with a fiery vehemence and reckless zeal in searching out unworthy motives that created scepticism rather than assisted conviction.[1]

But whatever the final judgment was to be, it was impossible to pass over a successful mutiny, even of a far distant garrison, and immediate action had to be taken.

On the 20th October (and in pre-telegraphic days, with a great war in progress near at hand, this cannot be considered dilatory procedure), the Commander-in-Chief agreed with the Colonial Office that the New South Wales Corps should be immediately recalled. Originally enlisted in England for service in the Colony, it had been stationed there for nearly twenty years, and had conclusively proved the impolicy of permanently keeping any regiment in such a situation.[2] Even Macarthur, whose allies and tools they had been, wrote of the officers in 1810 that "a more improper set of men could not be collected together than they have latterly become."[3]

  1. For these letters see H.R., VI., pp. 299, 571, 575, 738.
  2. Castlereagh to Duke of York, 11th October, 1808. H.R., VI., p. 778.
  3. Macarthur to his wife, 3rd May, 1810. H.R., VII., p. 368.