Images de page

in 1838, Lord Glenelg declaring that he was willing to take upon himself the full responsibility of what he had done, and of all that might come from it.

I think I am justified in saying that since that time public opinion has decided against Lord Glenelg, and has attributed to his mistake the further Kafir wars of 1846 and 1850. It is often very difficult in the beginning of such quarrels to say who is in the right, the Savage or the civilized invader of the country. The Savage does not understand the laws as to promises, treaties, and mutual compacts which we endeavour to impose upon him, and we on the other hand are determined to live upon his land whether our doing so be just or unjust. In such a condition of things we,-meaning the civilized intruders, —are obliged to defend our position. We cannot consent to have our throats cut when we have taken the land, because our title to possession is faulty. If ever a Governor was bound to interfere for the military defence of his people, Sir Benjamin D'Urban was so bound. If ever a Savage was taken red-handed in treachery, Hintsa was so taken, and was so shot down. The full carrying out of Lord Glenelg's views would have required us to give back all the country to the Hottentots, to compensate the Dutch for our interference, and to go back to Europe. Surely no man was ever so sorely punished for the adequate performance of a most painful public duty as Sir Benjamin D'Urban.

In 1838 slavery was abolished;-and as one of the consequences of that abolition, the Dutch farmers again receded. Their lands were occupied by the English and Scotch who followed them, and in the hands of these men the growth of wool began to prevail. Merino sheep were introduced, and wool became the most important production of the colony.

During the whole of this period the practice was continued by the old-fashioned farmers of receding from their farms in quest of new lands in which they might live without interference. The Colony in spite of Kafirs had prospered under English rule, whilst the Dutch farmers had no doubt enjoyed the progress as well as their English neighbours. Their condition was infinitely more free than it had ever been under Dutch rule, and very much more comfortable. But still they were dissatisfied. British ideas as to Hottentots and Kafirs and British ideas as to slavery were in their eyes absurd, unmanly and disagreeable. And therefore they went away across the Orange River; but we shall be able to deal better with their further journeyings when we come to speak of the colony of Natal, of the Orange Free State, and of the Transvaal Republic.

In 1846 came another Kafir war, called the war of the axe,* which lasted to the end of 1847. This too grew out of a small incident. A Kafir prisoner was rescued and taken into Kafir land, and the Kafirs would not give him up when he was demanded by the Authorities. It seems that whenever any slight act of rebellion on their parts was successful, the whole tribe and the neighbouring tribes would be so elated as to think that now had come the time for absolutely subduing the white strangers. They were at last beaten and starved into submission, but at a terrible cost; and it seems to have been acknowledged at home that Lord Glenelg had been wrong. Sir Harry Smith was sent out, and he again extended the Colony to the Kei River, leaving the district between that and the Keiskamma as a British home for Kafirs, under the name of British Kafraria.

* A Kafir thief who had stolen an axe was rescued by a band of Kafirs on his way to jail.

In 1849, when Earl Grey was at the Colonial Office, an attempt was made to induce the Cape Colony to receive convicts, and a ship laden with such a freight was sent to Table Bay. But they were never landed. With an indomitable resolution which had about it much that was heroic the inhabitants resolved that the convicts should not be allowed to set foot on the soil of South Africa. The Governor, acting under orders from home, no doubt was all powerful, and there was a military force at hand quite sufficient to enforce the Governor's orders. Nothing could have prevented the landing of the men had the Governor persevered. But the inhabitants of the place agreed among themselves that if the convicts were landed they should not be fed. No stores of any kind were to be sold to any one concerned should the convicts once be put on shore. The remedy then seemed to be rebellious and has since been called ridiculous;—but it was successful, and the convicts were taken away. For four wretched months the ship with its miserable freight lay in the bay, but not a man was landed. No such freight had ever been brought to the Cape before since the coming of a party of criminals from the Dutch East India possessions, who were sold as slaves, and no such attempt has been made since. Those who know anything of the history of our Australian Colonies are aware that there is nothing to which the British Colonist has so strong an objection as the presence of a convict from the mother country. Whatever the mother country may send let it not send her declared rascaldom. The use of a Colony as a prison is no doubt in accordance with the Dutch theory that a paramount object of the outlying settlement is the welfare of the parent state,—but it is not at all compatible with the existing British idea that the paramount object is the well-being of the Colonists

themselves. It seems hard upon England that with all her territories she can find no spot of ground for the reception of her thieves and outcasts, that she, with all her population, sending out her honest folks over the whole world, should be obliged to keep her too numerous rascals at home. But it seems that where the population is which creates the crime, there the criminals must remain. The Colonies certainly will not receive them.

Then came the fifth Kafir war, which of all these wars was the bloodiest. It began in 1850, and seems to have been instigated by a Kafir prophet. It would be impossible in a short sketch such as this to give any individual interest to these struggles of the natives against their invaders. Through them all we see an attempt, made at any rate by the British rulers of the land, to bind these people by the joint strength of treaties and good offices. "If you will only do as we bid you, you shall be better off than ever you were. We will not hurt you, and the land will be enough for both of us." That is what we have said all along with a clear intention of keeping our word. But it has been necessary, if we

were to live in the land at all, that we should bind them to keep their word whether they did or did not understand what it was to which they pledged themselves. Lord Glenelg's theory required that the British holders of the land should recognise and respect the weakness of the Savage without using the strength of his own civilization. Colonization in such a country on such terms is impossible. He may have had abstract justice on his side. On that point I say nothing here. But if so, and

if Great Britain is bound to reconcile her conduct to the rules which such justice requires, then she must abandon the peculiar task which seems to have been allotted to her, of peopling the world with a civilized race. In 1850

the fifth Kafir war arose, and the inhabitants of one advanced military village after another were murdered. This went on for nearly two years and a half, but was at last suppressed by dint of hard fighting. It cost Great Britain upwards of two millions of money, with the lives of about four hundred fighting men. This was the last of the Kafir wars,--up to that of 1877, if that is to be called a Kafir war.

After that, in 1857, occurred what seems to be the most remarkable and most unintelligible of all the events known to us in Kafir history. At this time Sir George Grey was Governor of the Colony,- -a most remarkable man, who had been Governor of South Australia and of New Zealand, who had been once recalled. from his office of Governor at the Cape and then restored, who was sent back to New Zealand as Governor in the hottest of the Maori warfare, and who now lives in that Colony and is at this moment, the beginning of 1878,-singularly enough Prime Minister in the dependency in which he has twice been the Queen's vicegerent. Whatever he may be, or may have been, in New Zealand, he certainly left behind him at the Cape of Good Hope a very great reputation. There can be no doubt that of all our South African Governors he was the most popular, and probably the most high-handed. In his time there came up a prophecy among the Kafirs that they were to be restored to all their pristine glories and possessions not by living aid, but by the dead. Their old warriors would return to them from the distant world, and they themselves would all become young, beautiful, and invincible. But great faith was needed. They would find fat cattle in large caves numerous as their hearts might desire; and rich fields of flowing corn would spring up for them as food was required. Only they must kill all their own cattle,

« PrécédentContinuer »