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A COLONIAL AUTOCRACY.
On the whole Sydney was for Johnston, but the small settlers from the Hawkesbury to Paramatta stood firm for Bligh, who had been popular with them from the beginning of his Governorship. Even stronger than their affection for Bligh was their hatred of Macarthur. He had started as a Lieutenant of the New South Wales Corps, sold out as captain in 1804, and devoted himself to the cultivation of the finest estate in the Colony. It lay in the Cow Pastures, the richest tract of land then discovered. There he grew fine wool and made experiments in cultivating fruit and vines. He also carried on trade with China and the South Sea Islands, and was one of the biggest rum-dealers in a rum-dealing community. His enterprise and his success were alone enough to arouse envy. His hot, defiant temper, his commercial greed, his burning conviction that all who opposed his will sought only for his ruin, his power of raising a personal injury to the status of a national wrong, the very domestic virtue which made his home an example to the country-side—all marked him out as a man whose few friends would be far outbalanced by the number of his enemies. His multifarious interests brought him into connection, and with Macarthur that meant into collision, with nearly every man in the Colony, and his vigorous tempestuous spirit had left not one comer of the territory undisturbed. It was known to be by his persuasion that Johnston had taken the title of Lieutenant-Governor, and it was supposed by the settlers to be for Macarthur's benefit that the Government was carried on. Although he would accept no salary when he took the office of Colonial Secretary and became the real head of the administration, they still believed that he was reaping a
Macarthur refused to go. The plan was abandoned and the money never collected.
- Bligh to Castlereagh, 30th April, 1808. H.R., vi., p. 607.
- In 1805 addresses were presented to King on his departure and Bligh on his arrival. They were signed by three persons—one representing the garrison, one the civil staff, and one the settlers. Macarthur signed for the settlers. A large number of these protested against this, alleging that his action was "unconstitutional and unauthorised," and that they never would or could accept him as their representative on any occasion. H.R., VI., p. 188.
- This was never proved in black and white, but short of that it was quite clear that the general impression that this was the case was in accordance with the facts.