Images de page

then extended, and still travelling on, making their waggons their homes as they went, they came to the Vaal, leaving a portion of their numbers behind them in what is now the Orange Free State. We have no written account of the mode of life of these people as they trekked on, but we can conceive it. No Dutchman in South Africa is ever without a waggon big enough to make a home for his family and to carry many of his goods, or without a span or team of oxen numerous enough to drag it. They took their flocks and horses with them, remaining here and there as water and grass would suit them. And here and there they would sow their seeds and wait for a crop, and then if the crop was good and the water pleasant, and if the Natives had either not quarrelled with them or had been subdued, they would stay for another season till the waggon would at last give place to a house, and then, as others came after them, they would move on again, jealous of neighbourhood even among their own people. So they went northwards till they crossed the Vaal river and came into hostile contact with the fierce tribes of the Matabeles which then occupied the Transvaal.

What took place then belongs rather to the history of the Transvaal than to that of Natal; but the Dutch pioneers who had gone thus far were forced back over the Vaal; and though they succeeded in recovering by renewed raids many of the oxen and waggons of which they had been deprived by a great Chief of the Matabele tribe named Mazulekatze, they acknowledged that they must carry their present fortunes elsewhere, and they remembered the pleasant

valleys which some of them had seen a few years earlier on

the Natal coast. pervious to wheels through the Drakenbergs, and made their way down to the coast. There had been disagreements among the Dutch themselves after their return back over the Vaal river, and they did not all go forth into Natal. Pieter Retief, who had now joined them from the old Colony and who had had his own reasons for quarrelling with the British authorities in the Cape, was chosen the Chief of those who made their way eastwards into Natal, and he also, on reaching the coast, fraternised with the English there who at that time acknowledged no obedience to the British Government at Capetown. It seems that Retief and the few English at Durban had some idea of a joint Republic; -but the Dutchman took the lead and finding that the natives were apparently amenable, he entertained the idea of obtaining a cession of the land from Dingaan, who had murdered and succeeded his brother Chaka as King of the Zulus.

With great difficulty they found a track


Dingaan made his terms, which Retief executed. quantity of cattle which another tribe had taken was to be returned to Dingaan. The cattle were obtained and given up to the Zulu Chief. In the meantime Dutchman after Dutchman swarmed into the new country with their waggons and herds through the passes which had been found. We are told that by the end of 1837 a thousand waggons had made their way into this district now called Natal and had occupied the northern portion of it. Probably not a single waggon was owned by an Englishman,-though Natal is now

specially an English and not a Dutch Colony. There was hardly a Native to be seen, the country having been desolated by the King of the Zulus. It was the very place for the Dutch,-fertile, without interference, and with space for every one.

Early in 1838 Retief with a party of picked men started for the head quarters of Dingaan, the Zulu King, with the recovered cattle which he was to give up as the price of the wide lands assigned to him. Then there was a festival and rejoicings among the Zulus in which the Dutchmen joined. A deed of cession was signed, of which Dingaan, the King, understood probably but little. But he did understand that these were white men coming to take away his land and at the moment in which the ceremonies were being completed, -he contrived to murder them all. That was the end of Pieter Retief, whose name in conjunction with that of his friend and colleague Gerrit Maritz still lives in the singular appellation found for the capital of Natal,-Pieter Maritzburg.

Then Dingaan, with a spirit which I cannot reprobate as I find it reprobated by other writers, determined to sally forth and drive the Dutch out of the land. It seems to me of all things the most natural for a king of Natives to do,unless the contemplation of such a feat were beyond his intelligence or its attempt beyond his courage. It may be acknowledged that it is the business of us Europeans first to subjugate and then to civilize the savage races-but that the Savage shall object to be subjugated is surely natural. abuse a Savage for being treacherous and cruel is to abuse


[ocr errors]

him for being a Savage, which is irrational. Dingaan failed neither in intelligence or courage, and went forth to annihilate the Dutch in those northern portions of the present Colony which are now called Klip-River and Wienen. The latter word is Dutch for wailing and arose from the sufferings which Dingaan then inflicted. He first came across a party of women and children at the Blue Krans river,—in the district now called Wienen,-and killed them all. Various separated parties were destroyed in the same way, till at last an entrenchment of waggons was formed,--a laager as it is called in Dutch,-and from thence a battle was fought as from a besieged city against the besiegers. The old man who told me that he had trekked because land in the Colony was insufficient had been one of the besieged, and his old wife, who sat by and added a word now and then to the tale, had been inside the laager with him and had held her baby with one hand while she supplied ammunition to her husband with the other. It was thus that the Dutch always defended themselves, linking their huge waggons together into a circle within which were collected their wives and children, while their cattle were brought into a circle on the outside. It must be remembered that they, few in number, were armed with rifles while the Savages around were attacking them with their pointed spears which they call assegais.

By far the greater number of Dutch who had thus made their way over into Natal were killed, but a remnant remained sufficient to establish itself. In these contests the white man always comes off as conqueror at last. Dingaan,

however, carried on the battle for a long time, and though driven out of Natal was never thoroughly worsted on his own Zulu territory.

Both Dutch and English attacked him in

his own stronghold, but of those who went over the Buffalo or Tugela river in Dingaan's time with hostile intentions. but few lived to return and tell the tale. There was one raid across the river in which it is said that 3,000 Zulus were killed, and that Dingaan was obliged to burn his head kraal or capital, and fly; but even in this last of their attacks on Zulu land the Dutch were at first nearly destroyed,

At last these battles with Dingaan were brought to an end by a quarrel which the emigrants fostered between Dingaan and his brother Panda, who was also his heir. I should hardly interest my readers if I were to go into the details of this family feud. It seems however that in spite of the excessive superstitious reverence felt by these Savages for their acknowledged Chief, they were unable to endure the prolonged cruelties of their tyrant. Panda himself was not a warrior, having been kept by Dingaan in the back-ground in order that he might not become the leader of an insurrection against him; but he was put forward as the new king; and the new king's party having allied themselves with the Europeans, Dingaan was driven into banishment and seems to have been murdered by those among whom he fell. That was the end of Dingaan and has really been the end, up to this time, of all fighting between the Zulus and the white occupiers of Natal. From the death of Dingaan the ascendancy of the white man seems to

« PrécédentContinuer »