« PrécédentContinuer »
NATAL.-HISTORY OF THE COLONY.
THE little Colony of Natal has a special history of its own quite distinct from that of the Cape Colony which cannot be said to be its parent. In Australia, Queensland and Victoria were, in compliance with their own demands, separated from New South Wales. In South Africa the Transvaal Republic, now again under British rule, and the Orange Free State were sent into the world to shift for themselves by the Mother Country. In these cases there is something akin to the not unnatural severance of the adult son from the home and the hands of his father. But Natal did not spring into existence after this fashion and has owed nothing to the fostering care of the Cape Colony. I will quote here the commencing words of a pamphlet on the political condition of Natal published in 1869, because they convey incidentally a true statement of the causes which led to its colonization. "The motives which induced the Imperial Government to claim Natal from the Dutch African emigrants were not merely philanthropic. The Dutch in their occupation of the country had been involved in serious struggles with the Zulus. The apprehension that these struggles might be renewed and that the wave of disturbance might be carried
towards the Eastern frontier of the Cape influenced to some extent the resolution to colonize Natal. But whatever may
have been the prudential considerations that entered into their counsels, the Government were deeply impressed with the wish to protect the Natives and to raise them in the scale of humanity.' ""* From this the reader will learn that the British took up the country from the Dutch who had on occupying it been involved in difficulties with the Natives, and that the English had stepped in to give a government to the country, partly in defence of the Dutch against the Natives, but partly also, and chiefly in defence of the Natives against the Dutch. This was, in truth, the case. The difficulties which the Dutch wanderers had encountered were awful, tragic, heartrending. They had almost been annihilated. Dingaan, the then chief of the Zulus, had resolved to annihilate them, and had gone nearer to success than the Indians of Mexico or Peru had ever done with Cortez or Pizarro. But they had stood their ground,—and were not inclined to be gentle in their dealings with the Zulus, as the congregation of tribes was called with which they had come in contact.
Natal received its name four centuries ago. In 1497 it was visited, or at any rate seen,-by Vasco da Gama on Christmas day and was then called Terra Natalis from that
"The form of Constitutional Government existing in the Colony of Natal considered," by John Bird. Mr. Bird's object is to shew that Natal is not in a condition to be benefitted by a parliamentary form of government, and his arguments are well worthy of the attention of gentlemen in Downing Street. He thoroughly understands his subject, and, as I think, proves his conclusion. Mr. Bird is now Colonial Treasurer in Natal.
It is now called Na-tal, with the emphasis sharp on the last syllable. I remember when we simply translated the Latin word into plain English and called the place Port Natal in the ordinary way,-as may be remembered by the following stanza from Tom Hood's "Miss Kelmansegg":Into this world we come like ships,
Launched from the docks and stocks and slips,
For future fair or fatal.
And one little craft is cast away
On its very first trip to Babbicombe Bay,
After that no more was known of the coast for more than a hundred and fifty years. In the latter part of the eighteenth century the Dutch seem to have had a settlement there, not the Dutch coming overland as they did afterwards, but the Dutch trading along the coast. It did not, however, come to much, and we hear no more of the country till 1823,-only fifty-five years ago, when an English officer of the name of Farewell, with a few of his countrymen, settled himself on the land where the town of D'Urban now stands. At that time King Chaka of the Zulus, of whom I shall speak in a following chapter, had well-nigh exterminated the natives of the coast, so that there was no one to oppose Mr. Farewell and his companions. There they remained, with more or less of trouble from Chaka's successor and from invading Zulus, till 1835, when the British of the Cape Colony took so much notice of the place as to call the settlement Durban, after Sir Benjamin D'Urban, its then Governor.
Then began the real history of Natal which like so many
other parts of South Africa,-like the greater part of that South Africa which we now govern, was first occupied by Dutchmen trekking away from the to them odious rule of British Governors, British officers, British laws,—and what seemed to them to be mawkish British philanthropy. The time is so recent that I myself have been able to hear the story told by the lips of those who were themselves among the number of indignant emigrants,—of those who had barely escaped when their brethren and friends had been killed around them by the natives. "Why did you leave your old home?" I asked one old Dutch farmer whom I found still in Natal. With the urbanity which seemed always to characterize the Dutch he would say nothing to me derogatory to the English. "He says that there was not land enough for their wants," explained the gentleman who was acting as interpreter between us. But it meant the same thing. The English were pressing on the heels of the Dutchmen.
The whole theory of life was different between the two people and remains so to the present day. The Englishman likes to have a neighbour near him; the Dutchman cannot bear to see the smoke of another man's chimney from his own front door. The Englishman would fain grow wheat; the Dutchman is fond of flocks and herds. The Englishman is of his nature democratic ;-the Dutchman is patriarchal. The Englishman loves to have his finger in every pie around him. The Dutchman wishes to have his own family, his own lands, above all his own servants and dependants, altogether within his own grasp, and cares for little beyond that.
There had come various laws in the Cape Colony altogether antagonistic to the feelings of the Dutch farmer, and at last in 1834, came the emancipation act which was to set free all the slaves in 1838. Although the Dutch had first explored Natal before that act came into operation,-it had perhaps more to do with the final exodus of the future Natalians than any other cause. The Dutchman of South Africa could not endure the interference with his old domestic habits which English laws were threatening and creating.
In 1834 the first Dutch party made their way from Uitenhage in the Eastern Province of the Cape Colony, by land, across the South Eastern corner of South Africa over the Drakensberg mountains to the Natal coast. Here they fraternised with the few English they found there, examined the country and seemed to have made themselves merry,till news reached them of the Kafir wars then raging. They gallantly hurried back to their friends, postponing their idea of permanent emigration till this new trouble should be over. It was probably the feeling induced by Lord Glenelg's wonderful despatch of Dec. 1835,-in which he declared that the English and Dutch had been all wrong and the Kafirs all right in the late wars, which at last produced the exodus. There were personal grievances to boot, all of which sprang from impatience of the Dutch to the English law; and towards the end of 1836 two hundred Dutchmen started under Hendrik Potgeiter. numerous party followed under Gerrit Maritz. crossed the Orange river, to which the Cape Colony was