Images de page

perseverance I might walk on till I came to Grand Cairo. I had my stick in my hand and was prepared for any lion that I might meet. But on this occasion I met no lion. After a while I found myself descending into a valley,-a pretty little green valley altogether out of sight of the town, and which as I was wending along seemed at first to be an interruption in my way to the centre of the continent. But as I approached the verge from which I could look down into its bosom, I heard the sound of voices, and when I had reached a rock which hung over it, I saw beneath me a ring, as it might be of fairy folk, in full glee,-of folk, fairy or human, running hither and thither with extreme merriment and joy. After standing awhile and gazing I perceived that the young people of Fort Elizabeth were playing kissin-the-ring. Oh,-how long ago it was since I played kissin-the-ring, and how nice I used to think it! It was many many years since I had even seen the game. And these young people played it with an energy and an ecstasy which I had never seen equalled. I walked down, almost amongst them, but no one noticed me. I felt among them like Rip Van Winkle. I was as a ghost, for they seemed not even to see me. How the girls ran, and could always have escaped from the lads had they listed, but always were caught round some corner out of the circle! And how awkward the lads were in kissing, and how clever the girls in taking care that it should always come off at last, without undue violence! But it seemed to me that had I been a lad I should have felt that when all the girls had been once kissed, or say twice, and when every girl had been

[blocks in formation]

kissed twice round by every lad, the thing would have become tame, and the lips unhallowed. But this was merely the cynicism of an old man, and no such feeling interrupted the sport. There I left them when the sun was setting, still hard at work, and returned sadly to my dinner at the club.


The land round the town, though well arranged for such purpose as that just described, is not otherwise of a valuable There seems to be an unlimited commonage of grass, but of so poor and sour a kind that it will not fatten and will hardly feed cattle. For sheep it is of no use whatever. This surrounds the town, and when the weather is cool and the air sweet, as it was when I visited the place, even the land round Fort Elizabeth is not without its charms. But I can understand that it would be very hot in summer and that then the unshaded expanse would not be attractive. There is not a tree to be seen.

The town is built on a steep hill rising up from the sea, and is very neat. The town hall is a large handsome building, putting its rival and elder sister Capetown quite to shame. I was taken over a huge store in which, it seemed to me, that every thing known and wanted in the world was sold, from American agricultural implements down to Aberdeen red herrings. The library and reading room, and public ball room or concert hall, were perfect. The place contains only 15,000 inhabitants, but has every thing needed for instruction, civilization and the general improvement of the human race. It is built on the lines of one of those marvellous American little towns in which philanthropy

and humanity seem to have worked together to prevent any rational want.

Ostrich feathers and wool are the staples of the place. I witnessed a sale of feathers and was lost in wonder at the ingenuity of the auctioneer and of the purchasers. They seemed to understand each other as the different lots were sold, with an average of 30 seconds allowed to each lot. To me it was simply marvellous, but I gathered that the feathers were sold at prices varying from £5 to £25 a pound. They are sold by the pound, but in lots which may weigh perhaps not more than a few ounces each. I need only say further of Fort Elizabeth that there are churches, banks, and institutions fit for a town of ten times its size,and that its club is a pattern club, for all Colonial towns.

Twenty miles north west of Fort Elizabeth is the pleasant little town of Uitenhage,—which was one of the spots. peopled by the English emigrants who came into the Eastern Province in 1820. It had previously been settled and inhabited by Dutch inhabitants in 1804, but seems to have owed its success to the coming of the English, and is now part of an English, as distinct from a Dutch Colony. It is joined to Fort Elizabeth by a railway which is being carried on to the more important town of Graff Reynet. It is impossible to imagine a more smiling little town than Uitenhage, or one in which the real comforts of life are more accessible. There is an ample supply of water. The streets are well laid out, and the houses well built. And it is surrounded by a group of mountains, at thirty miles distance, varying from 3,000 to 6,000 feet in height, which

give a charm to the scenery around. It has not within. itself much appearance of business, but everything and everybody seems to be comfortable. I was told that it is much affected by well-to-do widows who go thither to spend the evenings of their lives and enjoy that pleasant tea-andtoast society which is dear to the widowed heart. Timber is generally scarce in South Africa;-but through the streets of Uitenhage there are lovely trees, which were green and flowering when I was there in the month of August, warning me that the spring and then the heats of summer were coming on me all too soon.

During the last few years a special industry has developed itself at Uitenhage, that of washing wool by machinery. As this is all carried on, not in stores or manufactories within the place, but at suburban mills placed along the banks of the river Swartzcop outside the town, they do not affect the semi-rural and widow-befitting aspect of the place. I remarked to the gentleman who was kindly driving me about the place that the people I saw around me seemed to be for the most part coloured. This he good-humouredly resented, begging that I would not go away and declare that Uitenhage was not inhabited by a white population. I have no doubt that my friend has a large circle of white friends, and that Uitenhage has a pure-blooded aristocracy. Were I to return there, as I half promised, for the sake of meeting the charming ladies whom he graciously undertook to have gathered together for my gratification, I am sure that I should have found this to be the case. But still I maintain that the people are a coloured people. I saw no

white man who looked as though he earned his bread simply with his hands. I was driven through a street of pleasant cottages, and in asking who lived in the best looking of the lot I was told that he was an old Hottentot. The men working at the washing machines were all Kafirs,— earning on an average 3s. 6d. a day. It is from such evidence as this that we have to form an opinion whether the so called savage races of South Africa may or may not ultimately be brought into habits of civilization. After visiting one of the washing mills and being driven about the town we returned to Fort Elizabeth to dine.

Starting from Fort Elizabeth I had to commence the perils of South African travel. These I was well aware would not come from lions, buffaloes, or hippopotamuses,nor even, to such a traveller as myself, from Kafirs or Zulus, -but simply from the length, the roughness and the dustiness of roads. I had been told before I left England that a man of my age ought not to make the attempt because the roads were so long, so rough, and so dusty. In travelling round the coast there is nothing to be dreaded. The discomforts are simply of a marine nature, and may easily be borne by an old traveller.

The terrible question of lug

He may carry what he
But when he leaves the

gage does not disturb his mind. pleases and revel in clean shirts. sea in South Africa every ounce has to be calculated. When I was told at Capetown that on going up from Natal to the Transvaal I should be charged 4s. extra for every pound I carried above fifteen I at once made up my mind to leave my bullock trunk at Government House. At Fort

« PrécédentContinuer »