Images de page

self? And then, during this time, the tribes who had fled in fear of the Dutch or who had been scattered by the Zulu King, flocked in vast hordes into the country when they had been taught to feel that they would be safe under British protection. It is said that in 1843 there were not above 3,000 natives in all Natal, but that within three or four years 80,000 had crowded in. Now the numbers amount to 320,000. Of course they spread themselves over the lands which the Dutch had called their own, and the Dutch were unable to stop them. In December 1845 Mr. West was appointed the first Governor of Natal, and attempts were made to arrange matters between the remaining Boers and the Zulus. A commission was appointed to settle claims, but it could do but little,-or nothing. Native locations were arranged; that is large tracts of land were given over to the Natives. But this to the Boers was poison. To them the Natives were as wild beasts, and wild beasts whom they with their blood and energy had succeeded in expelling. Now the wild beasts were to be brought back under the auspices of the British Government!

In 1847 Andrias Pretorius was the dominant leader of the Natal Boers and he went on a pilgrimage to Sir Henry Pottenger who was then Governor in the Cape Colony. Sir Henry Pottenger would not see him,-required him to put down what he had to say in writing, which is perhaps the most heartbreaking thing which any official man can do to an applicant. What if our Cabinet Ministers were to desire deputations to put down their complaints in writing? Pretorius, who afterwards became a great rebel against

British authority and the first President of the Transvaal Republic, returned furious to Pieter Maritzburg,—having however first put down "what he had to say" in very strong writing. Sir Henry was then leaving the Colony and answered by referring the matter to his successor. Pretorius flew to the public press and endeavoured to instigate his fellow subjects to mutiny by the indignant vehemence of his language. When the news of his failure with Sir Henry Pottenger reached the Boers in Natal, they determined upon a further wholesale and new expatriation. They would all "trek " and they did trek, on this occasion into the district between the Orange and the Vaal,—where we shall have to follow them in speaking of the origin of the two Dutch Republics. In this way Natal was nearly cleared of Dutchmen in the year 1848.

It all happened so short a time ago that many of the actors in those early days of Natal are still alive, and some of my readers will probably remember dimly something of the incidents as they passed;-how Sir Harry Smith, who succeeded Sir Henry Pottenger as Governor of the Cape, became a South African hero, and somewhat tarnished his heroism by the absurdity of his words. The story of Retief hardly became known to us in England with all its tragic horrors, but I myself can well remember how unwilling we were to have Natal, and how at last it was borne in upon us that Natal had to be taken up by us,-perhaps as a fourth rate Colony, with many regrets, much as the Fiji islands have been taken up since. The Transvaal, inferior as it is in advantages and good gifts, has just now been accepted,

[blocks in formation]

with very much greater favour. The salary awarded to a Governor may perhaps best attest the importance of a new Colony. The Transvaal has begun with £3,000 a year. A poor £2,500 is even still considered sufficient for the

much older Colony of Natal.

Since 1848 Natal has had its history, but not one that has peculiarly endeared it to the Mother Country. In 1849 a body of English emigrants went out there who have certainly been successful as farmers, and who came chiefly I think from the County of York. I do not know that there has since that been any one peculiar influx of English, though of course from time to time Englishmen have settled there, some as farmers, more probably as traders, small or large. In 1850 Mr. Pine succeeded Mr. West as second Governor, a gentleman who has again been Governor of the same Colony as Sir Benjamin Pine, and who has had to encounter, somewhat unfairly, as I think,-the opprobrium incident to the irrational sympathy of a certain class at home in the little understood matter of Langalibalele. Langalibalele has, however, been so interesting a South African personage that I must dedicate a separate chapter to his history. In 1853 Dr. Colenso was appointed Bishop of Natal, and by the peculiarity of his religious opinions has given more notoriety to the Colony, has caused the Colony to be more talked about,-than any of its Governors or even than any of its romantic incidents. Into religious opinion I certainly shall not stray in these pages. In my days I have written something about clergymen but never a word about religion. No doubt shall be thrown by me either upon the

miracles or upon Colenso. But when he expressed his unusual opinions he became a noted man, and Natal was heard of for the first time by many people. He came to England in those days, and I remember being asked to dinner by a gushing friend. "We have secured Colenso," said my gushing friend, as though she was asking me to meet a royal duke or a Japanese ambassador. But I had never met the Bishop till I arrived in his own see, where it was allowed me to come in contact with that clear intellect, the gift of which has always been allowed to him. He is still Bishop of Natal, and will probably remain so till he dies. He is not the man to abandon any position of which he is proud. But there is another bishop-of Maritzburg— whose tenets are perhaps more in accord with those generally held by the Church of England. The confusion has no doubt been unfortunate,-and is still unfortunate, as has been almost everything connected with Natal. And yet it is a smiling pretty land, blessed with numerous advantages; and if it were my fate to live in South Africa I should certainly choose Natal for my residence. Fair Natal, but unfortunate Natal! Its worldly affairs have hitherto not gone smoothly.

In 1856 the Colony, which had hitherto been but a subColony under the Cape was made independent, and a Legislative Council was appointed, at first of twelve elected and of four official members;-but this has since been altered. From that day to this there seems to have always been alive in Natal questions of altering the constitution, with a desire on the part of many of the English to draw nearer to, if not

to adopt a system of government by parliamentary majorities, -and with a feeling on the part of a few that a further departure and a wider severance from such form of government would be expedient.

In 1873 came the Langalibalele affair to which I will only refer here for the purpose of saying that it led to the sending out of Sir Garnet Wolseley as a temporary governor or political head mediciner to set things right which were supposed at home to be wrong. There can be no doubt that the coming of a picked man, as was Sir Garnet, had the effect of subordinating the will of the people of the Colony to the judgment of the Colonial Office at home. Such effects will always be caused by such selections. A Cabinet Minister will persuade with words which from an Under Secretary would be inoperative. A known man will be successful with arguments which would be received with no respect from the mouth of one unknown. Sir Garnet Wolseley enjoyed an African reputation and was recognised as a great man when he landed in South Africa. The effect of his greatness was seen in his ability to induce the Legislative Council to add eight nominated members to their own House and thus to clip their own wings. Before his coming there were 15 elected members, and 5 official members who were the Governor's Council and who received a salary. Now there are 13 nominated members, of whom eight are chosen by the Governor but who receive no salaries. The consequence is that the Government can command a majority in almost all cases, and that Natal is therefore, in truth, a Crown Colony. I know that the word

« PrécédentContinuer »