On his arrival Lieutenant-Governor Collins received him with the honours due to a Governor-in-Chief, but proclamations from Paterson and Bligh's own unreasonableness made him change his tactics, and Bligh had to take to his ship again. For some months a war of petty vexations and counter-proclamations was kept up. The Porpoise harassed the craft in the Derwent, while Collins cut off her communications with the shore.
It was while here that Bligh heard with satisfaction the rumours that a regiment and eight ships had sailed to his assistance. Probably he looked forward to the bombardment of Sydney, a course he had urged, when under arrest, upon Captain Kent of the Porpoise as a means of accomplishing his release.
Johnston and Macarthur were in England before Macquarie reached Sydney. The Colonial Office, probably hearing that they were on their way, sent all the papers bearing on their case for counsel's opinion. This was in September, 1809. Counsel declared that both Macarthur and Johnston were guilty of high treason and that the civilians and officers who aided them or confirmed their action afterwards, as Foveaux had done, were alike implicated in the crime. But though they had "levied war against the King in his realm," they could be tried only in the Colony, "and by the judicature there erected." Johnston, however, was amenable to military law also and so might be tried by a court-martial in England for mutiny. Macarthur would have to be sent back to New South Wales to stand his trial there.
Before this advice could be acted upon, Macarthur was in England and actively at work seeking political support. Johnston's patron, the Duke of Northumberland, and the Honourable Arthur Elliot, Lord Minto's brother, seem to have been the allies upon whom chiefly he relied, but he was busy making acquaintance with many members of parliament. Ministers preserved complete secrecy as to any intentions they might have. In October Lord Liverpool, with C. C. Jenkinson as Under-Secretary, replaced Castlereagh and Cooke at the Colonial Office. The change was greeted with joy by Macarthur, who
- Opinion of Harris. H.R. VII., p. 209, 12th September, 1809.