« PreviousContinue »
If, in some future period, we resolve on having possession of the Cape, it will not be on account of the largeness and the value of its productions. On these grounds, it certainly is not very desirable ; and this author, a strong Cape-man, states its physical disadvantages with great appearance of impartiality. The soil, in some seasons, labours excessively with drought : but this evil might, as Mr. B. suggests, be in some degree remedied by planting trees, and inclosing the country. The want of springs, however, is too severely felt; and this circunstance renders the best Bay in the colony useless for ship. ping. The reason assigned by the author for this scarcity of springs appears to us very ingenious and just, and it also points out the plan to be adopted in procuring water :
. All the continued chains of mountains in Southern Africa are composed of sandstone resting upon a base of granite. This granite base is sometimes elevated considerably above the general surface of the country, and sometimes its upper part is sunk as far beneath it. In situations where the former happens to be the case, numerous springs are sure to be found, as in the instance of Table Mountain, where, on every side, copious streams of pure limpid water, filtered through the immense mass of superincumbent sandstone, glide over the impenetrable surface of granite, furnishing an ample supply to the whole town, the gardens, and the adjacent farms. But in all those places where the sandstone continues to descend below the surface, and the upper part of the granite base is sunk beneath the general level of the country, the springs that make their appearance are few
• The reasoning that suggests itself on these facts will lead to the following conclusion :-that the cisterns or cavities in the sandstone mountains, being corroded and fretted away, in the lapse of ages, to a greater depth ihan the openings or conduits which might, perhaps, at one time have given their waters vent, the springs can no longer find their vay upon the surface, but, oozing imperceptibly between the g nit and the sandstone, below the general level of the country, glide in subterraneous streams to the sea.
"I am the more inclined to this opinion from the experience of several facts. When Admiral Sir Roger Curtis directed a space of ground, between the Admiralty. house and the shore of Table Bay, to he inclosed as a naval yard, the workmen met with great impediment from the copious springs of pure fresh water that rushed out of the holes, which they found necessary to sink in the sand, for receiving the upright posts. It is a well known fact, that on almost every part of the isthmus that connects the mountainous peninsula of the Cape to the continent, fresh water may be procured at the depth of ten or twelie feet below the sandy surface. Even in the side of the Tyger Hills, at an elevation of twenty feet, at least, above the general surface of the isthmus, when the workmen were driving a level in search of coal, a copious stream of water was collected within it in the month of February, which is the very dryest season of the year. And on 9
boring, for the same purpose, on Wynberg, they came to a rill of water at the depth of twenty feet below the surface.
The second chapter, the only one of this volume which contains narrative, is intitled a military expedition to the Kaffer country. The detail is interesting, but not very important. It contains proofs, however, if proofs were wanting, of the indolence, ignorance, and diabolical barbarity of the Boors. They are indecent, ferocious, unwieldy, disgusting in outward form and inward mind; and the many recorded instances of their brutality continually excite in us and cherish the hope, that the Cape may be found beneficial to the interests of this country, that policy may be on the same side with humanity, and that the Hottentot
be delivered from his Dutch master. In fact, the Hottentots would assist us in the defence of the colony. Sir James Craig found that they made excellent soldiers, tolerably clean, neither roving nor drunken; and though their collective courage was not put to a trial, individualiy they are not deficient in that quality. A Dutch Boor is indeed bolder than the Hottentot, but only when the former has a gun, and the latter is unarmed.
To the great honor of our people while at the Cape, they protected the Hottentots; who, on every account, seem to be the best production in the form and features of men, of which the colony can boast. Something like justice was administered ; murder (for a Boor feels not much compunction in murdering a Hoitentot) was repressed ; and the cruelty, displayed by a Boor was punished, to his no small astonishment and indignation. We select a passage on this subject, which will not be read without emotion :
" The next house we halted at upon the road presented us with a still more horrid instance of brutality.. We observed a fine Hottentot boy, about eight years of age, sitting at the corner of the house, with a pair of iron rings clenched upon his legs, of the weight of ten or twelæ pounds; and they had remained in one situation for such a length of time, that they appeared to be sunk into the leg, the muscle being tumefied both above and below the rings. The poor creature was so benumbed and oppressed with the weight, that being unable to walk with ease, he crawled on the ground. It appeared, on inquiry, that they had been rivetted to his legs more than ten months ago. What was to be done in a case of such wanton and deliberate cruelty ? It was scarcely in human nature to behold an innocent boy for ever maimed in so barbarous a manner; and at the same time to look upon the cold blooded perpetrator without feeling a sentiment of horror mingled with exasperation,-a sentiment that seemed to say it would serve the cause of humanity to rid the world of such a monster. The fellow shrunk from the inquiries of the indignant General ; he had nothing to allege against him but that he had always been a worthless boy; he had lost him so many sheep; he had slept when he ought to
watch watch the cattle, and such like frivolous charges of a negative kind ; the amount of which, if true, only proved that his own interest had sometimes been neglected by this child.
• Determined to make an example of the author of such unparalleled brutality, the General ordered him instantly to yoke his oxen to his waggon, and, placing the boy by his side, to drive directly to head. quarters. Here he gave orders to the farrier of the 8th regiment of Light Dragoons to strike off the irons from the boy, an operation that required great nicety and attention, and to clench them as tight as he could on the legs of his master, who roared and bellowed in a most violent manner, to the inexpressible satisfaction of the by-stand. ers, and, above all, to that of the little sufferer just relieved from tor. ment. For the whole of the first night his lamentations were incessant; with a Stentorian voice a thousand times he vociferated, “ Min God! is dat een maniere om Christian mensch te handelen!"" My God! is this a way to treat Christians !” His, however, were not the agonies of bodily pain, but the bursts of rage and resentment on being put on a level with one, as they call them, of the Zwarte Natie, between whom and the Christian Mensch they conceive the difference to be fully as great as between themselves and their cattle, and whom, indeed, they most commonly honour with the appellation of Zwarte Vee, black cattle. Having roared for three days and as many nights, at first to the great amusement, but afterwards, to the no less annoyance, of the whole camp, he was suffered to go about his business on paying a heavy penalty in money for the use of the boy, whom he had abused in so shameful a manner.'
Along the banks of the Sunday-River, the British party fell in with a great number of Kaffers, under the command of a chief called Congo, flying from the territories and power of the Kaffer king Gaika. This retreating party having encroached on the limits of the colony, an interview with the chief was requested, in order to urge him to quit the territory which in some way or another,) is made to belong to Europeans; and the Kaffer chief, at the head of thirty of his people, each armed with a hassagay or spear, approached the British troops :
« On being told how necessary it was, for the sake of preserving tranquillity, that he should quit his present station among the boors, he replied, with great firmness, that the ground he then stood upon was his own by inheritance, for that his father had been cheated out of it by a Dutch Landrost of Graaf Reynet ; that, however, being desirous of remaining in friendship with the English, he would remove eastward in the course of three days; but that it was im. possible for himn to cross the Great Fish River, as there was a deadly hatred, or, as he expressed it, there was blood between Gaika and himself ; and that Gaika was then much too powerful for him.
· The decided tone in which he spoke, at the head of his small party, when surrounded by British troops ; his prepossessing countenance, and tall muscular figure, could not fail to excite a strong interest in his favour. An open and manly deportment, free from
suspicion, fear, or embarrassment, seems to characterize the Kaffer chiefs. Though extremely good-humoured, benevolent, and hospitable, they are neither so pliant nor so passive as the Hottentot. The poorer sort are sometimes led to seek for service among the boors, and engage themselves for so many moons in consideration of so many head of cattle ; and they never suffer themselves to be duped out of their hire like the easy Hottentots. The conversation with Congo ended by recommending him to withdraw his people and their cattle from the banks of the Sunday-River, to which he gave a kind of reluctant assent.
• The whole of the party that accompanied this chief were tall, upright, and well made men; affording a clear proof that aninial food is by no means necessary to promote the growth of the human species ; or to add strength of fibre to the muscular parts of the body.'
Instigated by certain rebellious oors, the brave Kaffers ventured on the rash attempt of attacking the British camp under General Vandeleur: but they were repulsed with loss. It is remarkable that, after the conflict had continued some time, the Kaffers, finding their missile weapons of no use, broke their hassagays, and rushed forwards to the combat with the iron part only in their hands.
The gloom and the sorrow, which prevailed on the evacuation of the Cape by our people, strongly testified their kind and just conduct. Of the troops who, after their departure, took possession of the Cape, half the officers were Frenchmen; and probably their conduct will not steal the affections of the colonists from the British: for difference of latitude will noi cause much alteration in the moral conduct of a Frenchman, who will be rapacious whether at Hanover or at Cape Town. We apprehend, however, that these French officers will make the second capture much more difficult to us than we found the first.
Chapter Jir. treats on the importance of the Cape of Good Hope, considered as a military station. On this point, there have been and still are many various opinions. It is somithing, in the way of argument, that the ministry of this country, who have recourse to the best documents, have esteeme ed this post important; and it has been styled the Defence of the East Indies : but, on the other hand, the East India Directors, whose interest ought to make them judge rightly, hold it cheap;—of late, they have not even used it as a half-way house, and have ordered their ships not to touch at it. An English crew, Mr. Barrow observes, can bear the whole voyage without a halt: but, when the crew is composed of Lascars, who require fresh provisions, it is almost indispenssably necessary for their health to stop at the Cape. It can
scarcely be denied that this settlement, in the possession of our enemies, would afford them the means of greatly annoying our trade; and in former wars, the celebrated Suffrein went thither after his actions, to refit and revictual his strips. The French do not now seem ignorant of its consequence; and Mr. Barrow detects, in the late negotiation, a great but suppressed solicitude on their part to have the Cape restored : they said very little about it, indeed, and appeared to consider it as of trivial moment: but this was political finesse and adroitness; and they blustered about other things, and other places, for which in reality they cared little. If we now look to the composition of the garrison, we must grant that the Cape was really ceded to France.
According to Mr. B.'s account, this station is admirably fitted to season troops 4 since it is very healthy, provisions are plentiíul, and a few months' residence there enables soldiers to bear the Indian climate extremely well. Very convenient drafts were recently made from our force at the Cape, to Egypt and India ; and the expedition under Sir Home Popham is said not to have lost a man by sickness.
Though we do not precisely understand Mr. Barrow's calculations, which state that the English government made large savings by issuing paper money, and by deducting, on the score of rations, from the pay of the soldiers, yet the Cape is clearly the cheapest place, at present known, for merely subsisting a military force. The price of butcher's meat is two-pence per pound, bread a penny, and a pint of sound wine may be bought for three pence.
Mr. B. thinks that, from the expence of the colony, the pay of the garrison, which must subsist somewhere, ought to be deducted: but this is not an exact statement: had we retained possession of the Cape, the garrison (6000 or 7000 men) must have been a created force, additional to our present, and consequently the whole cost of maintaining it would have been a charge on government. The expence of a garrison of 5000 men, from an average of seven years, is 255,5971. - After having made the above gratuitous deduction for the maintenance of the garrison, Mr. Barrow says:
• There is little reason, therefore, in reality, for considering the Cape in the light of an expensive settlement. In fact, the sums of money, that have been expended there, dwindle into nothing upon a comparison with some of the West India Islands, whose import. ance are a feather when weighed against that of the Cape of Good Hope. Viewing it only as a point of security to our Indian possessions, and as a nursery for maturing raw recruits into complete soldiers, the question of expence falls to the ground. Of the several