Page:A colonial autocracy, New South Wales under Governor Macquarie, 1810-1821.djvu/54

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26
A COLONIAL AUTOCRACY.

Nightingall had dwelt more on the drawbacks of the position than the advantages; the salary (£2,000) was small, the distance great, and in short, unless he was fairly sure of a pension of not less than £1,000 for the rest of his life, he could not undertake a service attended with so many disadvantages, and … which at the outset must be viewed as both difficult and unpleasant.[1] The near prospect, however, of obtaining a regiment would perhaps in the eyes of his friends justify his accepting a situation which otherwise might be considered by a military man of fair prospects and good expectations as little better than a waste of time.[2] Indeed the prospect of four or five years in New South Wales, "deprived of almost all communication with England," was for him a prospect of profitless exile.[3]

Very different was the view taken of the position by Sir Joseph Banks in 1795. "You have," he wrote to Hunter in 1795, "a prospect before you of no small interest to the feeling mind—a Colony just emerging from the miseries to which new colonists are uniformly subjected; to your abilities it is left to model the rising state into a happy nation, and I have no doubt you will effect your purpose".[4]

Such high aims and eager hopes had animated Phillip when he set out to found the Colony in 1788, but of his three naval successors not one echoed his enthusiasm. Hunter, for example, "a pleasant and sensible old man,"[5] after four years of office, put his view with much ingenuousness. "My former knowledge and acquaintance with this country,"[6] he wrote, "encouraged me in a hope, which, however, has in some respects proved delusive, that I should with ease to myself and with proper effect and advantage to the public" (a consideration he places second) "have been able to manage all the duties of my office ".[7]

  1. Viceroyalty in India. In 1805 he was made a K.C.B. After resigning his appointment as Governor of New South Wales he went again to India, where he was given the command in Bengal. He returned to England in 1819 and sat in the House of Commons for Eye from 1820 to 1826. See Dictionary of National Biography.

  2. Nightingall to Castlereagh, 6th December, 1808. H.R., VI., p. 810.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Sir Joseph Banks to Hunter, 30th March, 1797. H.R., III., p. 202.
  6. H.R., III., p. 730, 13th October, 1799. Letter from a ship's officer.
  7. He had been second in command in the fleet of 1788.
  8. Hunter to Sir Samuel Bentham, 20th May, 1799. H.R., III., p. 673.