Page:A colonial autocracy, New South Wales under Governor Macquarie, 1810-1821.djvu/53

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
25
THE DEPOSITION OF BLIGH.

The 73rd, a Highland regiment then in Scotland and under the command of Colonel Lachlan Macquarie, was selected to take its place. It was a gallant regiment, whose bravery at Mangalore was commemorated by the right to inscribe that word upon the colours. It was not until November that the next move was taken. Castlereagh then offered the Governorship to Brigadier-General Nightingall, departing for the first time from the precedent of appointing post-captains in the navy. It was thought necessary, he wrote, "that the Government should be placed on a more respectable basis, and that, for this purpose, a general officer, with a regiment of the line, should be sent there, to whom should be entrusted the administration of the Colony."[1] He considered a "military Governor" a necessity for the settlement."[2]

Nightingall accepted the post, but his departure was delayed by illness. Early in April of the following year, Castlereagh, feeling that some one should be sent at once, wrote to the King suggesting that Macquarie as Lieutenant-Governor should take out his regiment and set about restoring regular authority in the settlement, leaving Nightingall to follow as soon as he could. But before this could be done Nightingall resigned his appointment, and in May Macquarie sailed, bearing a commission as Governor-in-Chief and Captain-General of New South Wales and its Dependencies.

Although he had been highly recommended to the Colonial Office before the transfer was finally made, the appointment was largely due to accidental circumstances, and a series of chance occurrences thus led to the despatch of the Governor whose name and fame, for good and for evil, has been more distinctly written than that of any other over the Eastern half of the Australian Continent.

The first choice of the Colonial Office had fallen on a soldier of considerable distinction and wide experience.[3] In accepting,

  1. Castlereagh to Nightingall, 14th December, 1808. H.R., VI., p. 812.
  2. See Castlereagh's Correspondence, 1851, vol. viii., p. 205. Letter to H. Alexander, Esq., 13th May, 1809.
  3. Nightingall, afterwards Sir Miles Nightingall, entered the army in 1787. He served in India and in England with Lord Cornwallis, was with Abercrombie at Porto Rico, and at San Domingo with Maitland. He arranged the evacuation of Port-au-Prince. He commanded the 4th Battalion in Ireland during Cornwallis' Viceroyalty, and was on the staff when the latter went as Ambassador-Extraordinary to France in 1812. He was also Military Secretary during Cornwallis'