During the long voyage he and Macquarie became close friends and must have discussed through many a long day in the windless tropics or southern seas the work which lay before them. Close allies they remained until two years before Bent's death, and this period when Macquarie could always call upon the serene intellect and judicial firmness of his Judge- Advocate covers by far the best years of his Governorship.
Before the new Governor was the double task of restoration and administration. But though he was to bring the guilty to justice, he was not to play the part of avenger. His instructions with regard to the recent disturbances were transmitted to him on the eve of his sailing, and so well was their secret kept that, twelve months after, the purport was known in England by rumour only. In drawing them up, the Colonial Office had before them the additional information contained in Major Foveaux's despatches which had arrived in March, 1809. Foveaux had started from England on his return to Norfolk Island of which he was commandant, before the news of Bligh's deposition had reached England, and landed at Sydney in July, 1808. He was senior to Johnston in the corps and also bore the commission of a Lieutenant-Governor. Bligh was in great hopes that Foveaux would take his part, and the other sides were correspondingly depressed. Not long, however, was the matter in doubt. On the very day of his arrival, Foveaux decided to accept the position as it stood, taking over the command himself and remaining at headquarters. The only changes he made were to remove Bligh from his dignified imprisonment at Government House and place him in an officer's barrack, and to treat his adherents with increased severity.
The officer in command of the whole New South Wales Corps, Colonel William Paterson, was then Lieutenant-Governor at Port Dalrymple in Van Diemen's Land. Several colonists considered that Foveaux's commission superseded
- Macarthur to his wife, May, 1810. H.R., VII., p. 370.
- In accordance with his instructions, Phillip had sent Lieutenant King to make a settlement at Norfolk Island early in 1788. The island had an area of about 13,000 acres and was situated off the coast to the north-east of Port Jackson. The settlement was not a success, and was finally abandoned in the first years of Macquarie's Governorship, the settlers receiving farms in Van Diemen's Land in a district to which they gave the name of New Norfolk.