A Letter to Earl Bathurst, Secretary of State for the Colonial Department. Henry Grey BENNET.
A Letter to Earl Bathurst, Secretary of State for the Colonial Department

A Letter to Earl Bathurst, Secretary of State for the Colonial Department

London: James Ridgway, 1820.

Octavo, half-title, 144 pp.; modern half calf, gilt-title on the spine, the Hobill Cole copy with his bookplate and with the blind stamps of Tom Ramsay and Fred Eager.

Bennet's attack on Macquarie precipitating the Bigge enquiry

One of the most important political documents of the Macquarie period, which ultimately had a catastrophic effect on Macquarie's career. It specifically attacked Macquarie's style of government, for his extravagance and autocracy, and led to the appointment of Commissioner Bigge to investigate the state of the colony, which in turn began the process to end Macquarie's governorship.

One of the most important political documents of the Macquarie period, which ultimately had a catastrophic effect on Macquarie's career. It specifically attacked Macquarie's style of government, for his extravagance and autocracy, and led to the appointment of Commissioner Bigge to investigate the state of the colony, which in turn began the process to end Macquarie's governorship.
Bennet (1777-1836) was a British politician who led a crusade to reduce crime, investigate prisons and transportation while reforming the London police. With a charge to 'to diminish the sum of human misery' Bennet worked tirelessly to expose maladministration and archaic practices in British gaols and the transportation system generally. In this published address to Lord Bathurst, Macquarie is accused of extravagance and autocracy. However, writing from England, Bennet relied upon prejudiced testimonies from Macquarie's enemies (including the indefatigable Reverend Samuel Marsden) and ultimately presented a biased version of events. Although Bennet's work in England was broad and enlightened, his critique of convict administration became a tool for colonial 'exclusives' who wished to end Macquarie's term as governor of New South Wales.
A Letter to Earl Bathurst… remains a highly informative account of transportation and early colonial society generally, it includes useful statistical information including population figures, a civil list of persons holding government posts and shipping arrivals and departures for the years 1819-20. Furthermore, the appendix prints letters from Governor Macquarie, Samuel Marsden, W.H. Moore and others. Marsden's letter concerning affairs at the Parramatta hospital is a fine work of vitriol, asserting 'For the number of persons in the hospital, I do not believe that there is such an infamous brothel in the whole universe…I behold drunkenness, whoredom, sickness and death…in the room where the dead are lying, debaucheries are going on.'

Australian Rare Books, 44; Ferguson, 777.

Price (AUD): $5,850.00  other currencies     Ref: #4503941

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