Images de page
PDF
ePub

washed wool, the Victorian prices are fully a shilling a pound higher than those obtained by the growers of the Cape, the average prices for the best of the class being 2s. 6d. for Victorian, and Is. 6d. a pound for Cape Colony wool.

Perhaps the fairest standard by which to test the prosperity of a new country is its capability of producing corn, especially wheat. It is by its richness in this respect that the United States have risen so high in the world. Australia has not prospered so quickly, and will never probably prosper so greatly, because on a large portion of her soil wheat has not been grown profitably. The first great question is whether a young country can feed herself with bread. The Cape Colony has obtained a great reputation for its wheat, and does I believe produce flour which is not to be beaten anywhere on the earth. But she is not able to feed herself. In 1875, she imported wheat and flour to the value, including the duty charged on it, of £126,654. In reaching this amount I have deducted £2,800 the value of a small amount which was exported. This is more than IOS. per annum for each white inhabitant of the country, the total white population being 236,783. The deficiency is not very large; but in a Colony the climate of which is in so many respects adapted to wheat there should be no deficiency. The truth is that it is altogether a question of artificial irrigation. If the waters from the mountains can be stored and utilized, the Cape will run over with wheat.

I find that in the whole Colony there were in 1875 about 80,000,000 acres of land in private hands;—that being the amount of land which has been partly or wholly alienated by Government. I give the number of acres in approximate figures because in the official return

it is stated in morgen. The morgen is a Dutch measure of land and comprises a very little more, but still little more than two acres. Out of this large area only 550,000 acres or less than 1-14th are cultivated. It is interesting to know that more than a quarter of this, or 150,000 acres are in the hands of the native races and are cultivated by them;-cultivated by them as owners and not as servants. In 1875 there were 28,416 ploughs in the Cape Colony, and of these 9,179, nearly a third, belonged to the Kafirs or Hottentots.

In 1855 there were 55,300,025 vines in the Colony, and in 1875 this number had increased to 69,910,215. The increase in the production of wine was about in the same proportion. The increase in the distilling of brandy was more than proportionate. The wine had risen from 3,237,428 gallons to 4,485,665, and the brandy from 430,955 to 1,067,832 gallons. I was surprised to find how very small was the exportation of brandy, the total amount sent away, and noted by the Custom House as exported, being 2,910 gallons. No doubt a comparatively large quantity is sent to the other districts of South Africa by inland carriage, so that the Custom House knows nothing about it. But the bulk of this enormous increase in brandy has been consumed in the Colony, and must therefore have had its evil as well as its good results. Of the brandy exported by sea by far the greatest part is consumed in South Africa, the Portuguese at Delagoa Bay taking nearly half. Great Britain, a country which is fond of brandy, imports only 695 gallons from her own brandy-making Colony. As the Cape brandy is undoubtedly made from grapes, and as the preference for grape-made brandy is equally certain, the fact I fear tells badly for the Cape manufacture. It cannot be but that they might make their brandy better.

Of wine made in the Colony 60,973 gallons were exported in 1875, or less than 1-7th of the amount produced. This is a very poor result, seeing that the Cape Colony is particularly productive in grapes and seems to indicate that the makers of wine have as yet been hardly more successful in their manufacture, than the makers of brandy. Much no doubt is due to the fact that the merchants have not as yet found it worth their while to store their wines for any lengthened period.

At the time of my visit ostrich feathers were the popular produce of the Colony. Farmers seemed to be tired of sheep,-tired at least of the constant care which sheep require, to be diffident of wheat, and down-hearted as to the present prices of wine. It seemed to me that in regard to all these articles there was room for increased energy. As to irrigation, which every one in the Colony feels to be essential to agricultural success in the greater part not only of the Colony but of South Africa generally, the first steps must I think be taken by the governments of the different districts.

The total population of the Colony is 720,984. Of these less than a third, 209, 136, are represented as living on agriculture which in such a Colony should support more than half the people. The numbers given include of course men, women and children. Of this latter number, less than a third again, or 60,458, are represented as being of white blood,—or Dutch and English combined. I believe about two-thirds of these to be Dutch, though as to that I can only give an opinion. From this it would result that the residue, perhaps about 20,000 who are of English descent, consists of the farmers themselves and their families. Taking four to a family, this would give only 5,000 English occupiers of land. There is evidently no place for an English agricultural

labourer in a Colony which shows such a result after seventy years of English occupation. And indeed there is much other evidence proving the same fact. Let the traveller go where he will he will see no English-born agricultural labourer in receipt of wages. The work, if not done by the farmer or his family, is with but few exceptions done by native hands. Should an Englishman be seen here or there in such a position he will be one who has fallen abnormally in the scale, and will, as an exception, only prove the rule. If a man have a little money to commence as a farmer he may thrive in the Cape Colony,-providing that he can accommodate himself to the peculiarities of the climate. As a navvy he may earn good wages on the railways, or as a miner at the copper mines. But, intending to be an agricultural labourer, he should not emigrate to South Africa. In South Africa the Natives are the labourers and they will remain so, both because they can live cheaper than the white man, and because the white man will not work alongside of them on equal terms. Though an Englishman on leaving his own country might assure himself that he had no objection to such society, he would find that the ways of the Colony would be too strong for him. In Australia, in Canada, in New Zealand, or the United States, he may earn wages as an agriculturist; — but he will not do so in South Africa with content and happiness to himself. The paucity of the English population which has settled here since we owned the country is in itself sufficient proof of the truth of my assertion.

It is stated in the Blue Book of the Colony for 1876, -which no doubt may be trusted implicitly,-that the average daily hire for an agricultural labourer in the Colony is 3s. for a white man, and 2s. for a coloured man, with diet besides. But I observe also that in some of the

best corn-districts,-especially in Malmsbury,-no entry is made as to the wages of European agricultural labourers. Where such wages are paid, it will be found that they are paid to Dutchmen. There are no doubt instances of this sufficient in most districts to afford an average. A single instance would do so.

Taking the whole of the Colony I find that the wages of carpenters, masons, tailors, shoemakers and smiths average 9s. a day for white men and 6s. for coloured men. This is for town and country throughout. In some places wages as high as 15s. a day has been paid for white workmen, and as high as 8s.-9s.—and even IOS. for coloured. The European artizan is no doubt at present more efficient than the native, and when working with the native, works as his superintendent or Boss. For tradesmen such as these,- men who know their trades and can eschew drink,-there is a fair opening in South Africa, as there is in almost all the British Colonies.

The price of living for a working man is, as well as I can make a calculation on the subject, nearly the same as in England, but with a slight turn in favour of the Colony on account of the lower price of meat. Meat is about 6d. a pound; bacon is. 5d. Bread is 4d. a pound; tea 3s. 10d., coffee Is. 4d. Butter, fresh is. 10d.; salt Is. 6d. Ordinary wine per gallon,-than which a workman can drink no more wholesome liquor,-is 6s. In the parts of the Colony adjacent to Capetown it may be bought for 2s. and 3s. a gallon. The colonial beer is 5s. a gallon. Whether it be good or bad I omitted to enable myself to form an opinion. Clothing, which is imported from England, is I think cheaper than in England. This I have found to be the case in the larger Colonies generally, and I must leave those who are learned in the

« PrécédentContinuer »