Page:A colonial autocracy, New South Wales under Governor Macquarie, 1810-1821.djvu/61

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33
THE DEPOSITION OF BLIGH.

The progress of events in the Colony led to the complete abrogation of these instructions. By the end of 1809, of the four principal actors, Foveaux alone remained.

When Bligh's arrest had been accomplished, two courses were open to Johnston. One was to send for Paterson at Port Dalrymple and to administer the Government until his arrival by right of seniority alone. The other was the one he followed of proclaiming himself Lieutenant-Governor and thus performing a complete act of usurpation. It is true that within a week a despatch was sent to Paterson, but it did not contain an enthusiastic invitation for his presence. Paterson wrote at once to Lord Castlereagh and to the Commander-in-Chief and then relapsed into the helpless state of ill-health to which age and drink, or hard service, had brought him. A full year elapsed before he decided that there was a ship which would carry him with safety to Port Jackson, and long before that time Foveaux was in Sydney appealing to him as his superior officer for instructions and approval. Paterson was little fit to give either, and indeed took no real part in the whole affair.

The self-constituted Lieutenant-Governor had got quickly to work. On the 29th of January, 1808, a bell-ringer went through Sydney calling a meeting at the church for the evening. The triumphant party turned out in good array. An address and a sword of honour were voted to Johnston, and more addresses to Macarthur and the regiment. Macarthur thanked the people and made a flaming speech upon his wrongs. The hot excited crowd heard his pious hope that no harm would come to Bligh, but must have been far more thrilled by his furious denunciation of the Governor and the Magistrates as "blood-thirsty villains eager to drink his blood".[1] At the height of their enthusiasm, increased by the heat (it was midsummer) and by liberal potations, the meeting agreed to send a delegate to England to state their case to Ministers, and forthwith appointed Macarthur. A subscription list for his expenses was opened and £400 promised on the spot. But by next day faction had broken out, the party split up, and

  1. Bligh to Castlereagh, 30th April, 1808. H.R., vi., p. 607.

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