Images de page

tein and Grahamstown, a trip of five days, it travels about fourteen hours a day. But at night there was always ten hours for supper and rest, and the accommodation on the whole was good. The beds were clean and the people along the road always civil. I was greatly taken with one little dinner which was given to us in the middle of the day at a small pretty Inn under the Catberg Mountain. The landlord, an old man, was peculiarly courteous, opening our soda water for us and handing us the brandy bottle with a grace that was all his own. Then he joined us on the coach and travelled along the road with us, and it turned out that he had been a member of the old Capetown Parliament, and had been very hot in debate in the time of the Kafir wars. He became equally hot in debate now, declaring to us that everything was going to the dogs because the Kafirs were not made to work. I liked his politics less than his leg of mutton,—which had been excellent. The drive through the Stormberg is very fine; - but the mountains are without timber or water. It is the bleak wildness of the place which gives it its sublimity. Between the Stormberg and the Catberg lies Queenstown,-a picturesque little town with two or three hotels. The one at which the coach stopped was very good. It was a marvel to me that the Inns should be so good, as the traffic is small. We sat down to a table d'hôte dinner, at which the host with all his family joined us, that would have done credit to a first class Swiss hotel. I don't know that a Swiss hotel could produce such a turkey. When the landlord told his youngest child, who had modestly asked for boiled beef, that she might have turkey in spite of the number at table, I don't know whether I admired most, the kind father, the abstemious daughter, or the capacious turkey.

I think that South Africa generally is prouder of the

road over the Catberg than of any other detail among its grand scenery. I had been told so often that whatever I did I must go over the Catberg! I did go over the Catberg, walking up the bleak side from the North, and travelling down in the coach, or Cape cart which we had got there, among the wooded ravines to the South. It certainly is very fine, but not nearly so grand in my opinion as Montague Pass or Southey's Pass in the Western Province. From the foot of the Catberg we ran into Fort Beaufort, to which town I carried my reader in a previous chapter. It was over this road that I had poured into my ears the political harangue of that late member of the Legislature. He belonged to a school of politicians which is common in South Africa, but which became very distasteful to me. The professors of it are to be found chiefly in the Eastern Province of the Cape Colony, in which I was then travelling, though the West is by no means without them. Their grand doctrine is that the Kafirs should be "ruled with a rod of iron." That phrase of the rod of iron had become odious to me before I left the country. "Thieves!" such a professor will say. "They are all thieves. Their only idea is to steal cattle." Such an one never can be made to understand that as we who are not Savages have taken the land, it is hardly unnatural that men who are Savages should think themselves entitled to help themselves to the cattle we have put on the land we have taken from them. The stealing of cattle must of course be stopped, and there are laws for the purpose; but this appealing to a "rod of iron" because men do just that which is to be expected from men so placed was always received by me. as an ebullition of impotent and useless anger. A farmer who has cattle in a Kafir country, on land which has perhaps cost him Ios or 5s., or perhaps nothing, an acre for

the freehold of it, can hardly expect the same security which a tenant enjoys in England, who pays probably 20s. an acre for the mere use of his land.

As I have now finished the account of my travels in the two Provinces and am about to go on to Natal, I will say a few words first as to the produce of the Cape Colony.

In the Cape Colony, as in Australia, wool has been for many years the staple of the country; and, as in Australia the importance or seeming importance of the staple produce has been cast into the shade by the great wealth of the gold which has been found there, so in South Africa has the same been done by the finding of diamonds. Up to the present time, however, the diamond district has not in truth belonged to the Cape Colony. Soon after these pages will have been printed it will probably be annexed. But the actual political possession of the land in which the diamonds or gold have been found has had little to do with the wealth which has flowed into the different Colonies from the finding of the treasures. That in each case has come from the greatly increased consumption created by the finders. Men finding gold and diamonds eat and drink a great deal. The persons who sell such articles are enriched,—and the articles are subject to taxation, and so a public revenue is raised. It is hence that the wealth comes rather than from the gold and diamonds themselves. Had it been possible that the possession of the land round the Kimberley mines should have been left in the hands of the native tribes, there would have been but little difference in the money result. The flour, the meat, the brandy, and the imported coats and boots would still have been carried up to Kimberley from the Cape Colony.

But of the Colony itself wool has been the staple,


and among its produce the next most interesting are its wheat, its vines, and its ostriches. In regard to wool I find that the number of wooled sheep in the Cape Colony has considerably increased during the last ten years. I say wooled sheep, because there is a kind of sheep in the Colony, native to the land, which bear no wool and are known by their fat tails and lob ears. As they produce only mutton I take no reckoning of them here. 1875 there were 9,986,240 wooled sheep in the Colony producing 28,316,181 pounds of wool, whereas in 1865 there were only 8,370,179 sheep giving 18,905,936 pounds of wool. This increase in ten years would seem to imply a fair progress,-especially as it applies not only to the number of sheep in the Colony, but also to the amount of wool given by each sheep; but I regret to say that during the latter part of that period of ten years there has been a very manifest falling off. I cannot give the figures as to the Cape Colony itself, as I have done with the numbers for 1865 and 1875;-but from the ports of the Cape Colony there were exported

In 1871, 46,279,639 pounds of wool, value £2,191,233

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

These figures not only fail to shew that ratio of increase without which a colonial trade cannot be said to be in a healthy condition; but they exhibit also a very great decrease, -the falling off in the value of wool from 1872 to 1876 being no less than £1,048,208, or nearly a third of the whole. They whom I have asked as to the reason of this, have generally said that it is due to the very remunerative nature of the trade in ostrich feathers, and have intimated that farmers have gone out

South Africa. I,


of wool in order that they might go into feathers. To find how far this may be a valid excuse we must enquire what has been the result of ostrich farming during the period. What was the export of ostrich feathers for each of the ten executive years, I have no means of saying. In 1865 there were but 80 tame ostriches kept by farmers in the Colony, though no doubt a large amount of feathers from wild ostriches was exported. In 1875, 21,751 ostriches were kept, and the total value of feathers exported was £306,867, the whole amount coming from ostriches thus being less by £700,000 than the falling off in the wool. Had the Colony been really progressing, a new trade might well have been developed to the amount above stated without any falling off in the staple produce of the country. The most interesting circumstance in reference to the wool and sheep of the country is the fact that the Kafirs own 1,108,346 sheep, and that they produced in 1875 2,249,000 pounds of wool.

It is certainly the case that the wools of the Cape Colony are very inferior to those of Australia. I find from the Prices Current as published by a large woolbroker in London for the year 1877, that the average prices through the year realized by what is called medium washed wool were for Australian wools,-taking all the Australian Colonies together, -something over I s. 6d. a pound, whereas the average price for the same class of wool from the Cape Colony was only something over Is. I d. a pound. There has been a difference of quite 5 d. a pound; or about 40 per cent. in favour of the Australian article. "There is no doubt," says my friend who furnished me with this information, "that valuable and useful as are Cape wools they are altogether distanced by the fine Australian. Breeding has to do with this. So has climate and country." For what is called Superior

« PrécédentContinuer »