Images de page
PDF
ePub

cess.

The English began their work with considerable sucThe Dutch laws were retained, but were executed with mitigated severity; a large military force was maintained in the Colony, numbering from four to five thousand men, which of course created a ready market for the produce of the country; and there was a Governor with almost royal appanages and a salary of £12,000 a year, as much probably, when the change in the value. of money is considered, as the Governor-General of India has now. Men might sell and buy as they pleased, and the intolerable strictness of Dutch colonial rule was abated. Whatever Dutch patriotism might say, the English with their money were no doubt very welcome at first, and especially at or in the neighbourhood of Capetown. We are told that Lord Caledon, who was the first regular Governor after the return of the English, was very popular. But troubles soon came, and we at once hear the dreaded name of Kafir. *

In 1811 the Dutch Boers had stretched themselves as far east as the country round Graff Reynet,—for which I must refer my reader to the map. Between the Dutch and the Kafirs a neutral district had been established in the vain hope of maintaining limits. Over this district the Kafirs came plundering,-no doubt thinking that they were exercising themselves in the legitimate and patriotic. defence of their own land. The Dutch inhabitants of course called for Government aid, and such aid was forthcoming. An officer sent to report on the matter recommended that all the Kafirs should be expelled from the Colony, and that the district called the Zuurveld,—a district which by treaty had been left to the Kafirs,

* The first record we have of the Kafirs refers to the years 1663-84, when we are told the Dutch were attacked by the Kafirs, who, however, quickly ran away before the firearms of the strangers.

should be divided among white farmers. "This," says the chronicler, "was hardly in accordance with the agreement with Ngquika, but necessity has no law." The man whose name has thus been imperfectly reduced to letters was the Kafir chieftain of that ilk, and is the same as the word Gaika now used for a tribe of British subjects. Necessity we all know has no law. But what is necessity? A man must die. A man, generally, must work or go to the wall. But need a man establish himself as a farmer on another man's land? The reader will understand that I do not deny the necessity;-but that I feel myself to be arrested when I hear it asserted as sufficient

excuse.

The Dutch never raised a question as to the necessity. The English have in latter days continually raised the question, but have so acted that they have been able to argue as sufferers while they have been the aggressors. On this occasion the necessity was allowed. A force was sent, and a gallant Dutch magistrate, one Stockenstroom, who trusted himself among the Kafirs, was, with his followers, murdered by them. Then came the first Kafir war. We are told that no quarter was given by the white men, no prisoners taken;-that all were slaughtered, till the people were driven backwards and eastwards across the Great Fish river. This, the first Kafir war, took place in 1811.

The next and quickly succeeding trouble was of another kind. There have been the two great troubles;the contests between the white men and the savages, and then the contests between the settled colonists and those who have ever been seceding or "trekking" backwards from the settlements. These latter have been generally, though by no means exclusively, Dutchmen; and it is of them we speak when we talk of South African up-country

Boers. These men, among other habits of their time, had of course been used to slavery;-and though the slavery of the Colony had never been of its nature cruel, it had of course been open to cruelty. Laws were made for the protection of slaves, and these laws were unpalatable to the Boer who wished to live in what he called freedom,-"to do what he liked with his own," according to the Duke of Newcastle,-"to do what he dam pleased," as the American of the South used to say. A certain Dutchman named Bezuidenhout refused to obey the law, and hence there arose a fight between a party of Dutch who swore that they would die to a man rather than submit, and the armed British authorities. The originator of the rebellion was shot down. The Dutch invited the Kafirs to join them; but the Kafir chief declared that as sparks were flying about, he would like to wait and see which way the wind blew. But the battle went on, and of course the rebels were beaten. There then followed an act of justice combined with vengeance. The leaders were tried and six men were condemned to be hanged. That may have been right;-but their friends and relatives were condemned to see them executed. That must have been wrong, and in the result was most unfortunate. Five of the six were hanged,-while thirty others had to stand by and see. The place of execution was called Slagter's Nek, a name long remembered by the retreating Dutch Boers. But they were hanged,-not simply once, but twice over. The apparatus, overweighted with the number, broke down when the poor wretches dropped from the platform. They were half killed by the ropes, but gradually struggled back to life. Then there arose. prayers that they might now at least be spared;-and force was attempted, but in vain. The British officer had to see that they were hanged, and hanged they were a

second time, after the interval of many hours spent in constructing a second gallows. They were all Dutchmen, and the Dutch implacable Boer has said ever since that he cannot forget Slagter's Nek. It was the followers and friends of these men who trekked away northwards and eastwards till after many a bloody battle with the natives they at last came to Natal.

From this time the Colony went on with a repetition of those two troubles,-war with the Kafirs and disturbances with other native races, and an ever-increasing disposition on the part of the European Colonists to go backwards so that they might live after their own fashion and not be forced to treat either slaves or natives according to humanitarian laws. While this was going on the customary attempts were made to civilize and improve both the colonists and the natives. Schools, libraries, and public gardens were founded, and missionaries settled themselves among the Kafirs and other coloured people. The public institutions were not very good, nor were the missionaries very wise; but some good was done. The Governors who were sent out were of course various in calibre. Lord Charles Somerset, who reigned for nearly twelve consecutive years, is said to have been very arbitrary; but the Colony prospered in spite of Kafir wars. From time to time further additions were made to our territories, always of course at the expense of the native races. In 1819 the Kafirs were driven back behind the Keiskamma River; where is the region now called British Kafraria,-which was then allowed to be Kafirs' land. Since that they have been compressed behind the Kei River, where lies what is now called Kafraria Proper. Whether it will continue "proper" to the Kafirs is hardly now matter of doubt. I may say that a considerable portion of it has been already annexed. South Africa, I,

3

In 1820 it was determined to people the districts from which the natives had last been driven by English emigrants. The fertility of the land and the salubrity of the climate had been so loudly praised that there was no difficulty in procuring volunteers for the purpose. The applications from intending emigrants were numerous, and from these four thousand were selected, and sent out at the expense of Government to Algoa Bay;-where is Port Elizabeth, about four hundred miles west of Capetown. Hence have sprung the inhabitants of the Eastern Province, which is as English as the Western Province is Dutch. And hence has come that desire for separation, -for division into an Eastern and a Western Colony, which for a long time distracted the Colonial Authorities both at home and abroad. The English there have prospered better than their old Dutch neighbours,-at any rate as far as commerce is concerned. The business done in Algoa Bay is of a more lively and prosperous kind than that transacted at Capetown. Hence have arisen jealousies, and it may easily be understood that when the question of Colonial Parliaments arose, the English at Algoa Bay thought it beneath them to be carried off, for the purpose of making laws, to Cape

town.

It was from the coming of these people that the English language began to prevail in the Colony. Until 1825 all public business was done in Dutch. Proceedings in the law courts were carried on in that language even later than that,-and it was not till 1828 that the despatches of Government were sent out in English. The language of social and commercial life can never be altered by edicts, but gradually, from this time the English began to be found the most convenient. Now it is general everywhere in the Colony, though of course

« PrécédentContinuer »