Images de page

the good-natured man who had allowed the fish to occupy the space intended for a part of his own body. I never afterwards learned what became of the fish. If all Maritzburg was called together to eat it I was not asked to join the party.

I must not complete my record of the journey without saying that we dined at Pinetown, half way, and that I never saw a better coach dinner put upon a table.

The scenery throughout from Durban to Pieter Maritzburg is interesting and in some places is very beautiful. The road passes over the ridge of hills which guards the interior from the sea, and in many places from its altitude allows the traveller to look down on the tops of smaller hills grouped fantastically below, lying as though they had been crumbled down from a giant's hand. And every now and then are seen those flat-topped mountains, --such as is the Table mountain over Capetown,—which form so remarkable a feature in South African scenery, and occur so often as to indicate some peculiar cause for their formation.

Altogether what with the scenery, the dinner, Apollo, and the fish, the journey was very interesting.


Condition of the Colony.-No. 2.

On arriving at Pieter Maritzburg I put up for a day or two at the Royal Hotel which I found to be comfortable enough. I had been told that the Club was a good club but that it had not accommodation for sleeping. I arrived late on Saturday evening, and on the Sunday morning I went, of course, to hear Bishop Colenso preach. Whatever might be the Bishop's doctrine, so much at any rate was due to his fame. The most innocent and the most trusting young believer in every letter of the Old Testament would have heard nothing on that occasion to disturb a cherished conviction or to shock a devotional feeling. The church itself was all that a church ought to be, pretty, sufficiently large and comfortable. It was, perhaps, not crowded, but was by no means deserted. I had expected that either nobody would have been there, or else that it would have been filled to inconvenience,-because of the Bishop's alleged heresies. A stranger who had never heard of Bishop Colenso would have imagined that he had entered a simple church in which the service was pleasantly performed, all completed including the sermon within an hour and a half,—and would have had his special attention only called to the two facts that one of the clergymen wore lawn sleeves, and that the other was SO singularly like Charles Dickens as to make him expect to hear the tones of that wonderful voice when ever a verse of the Bible was commenced.

South Africa. I.


Pieter Maritzburg is a town covering a large area of ground but is nevertheless sufficiently built up and perfected to prevent that look of scattered failure which is so common to colonial embryo cities. I do not know that it contains anything that can be called a handsome building; but the edifices whether public or private are neat, appropriate, and sufficient. The town is surrounded by hills, and is therefore, necessarily, pretty. The roadways of the street are good, and the shops have a look of established business. The first idea of Pieter Maritzburg on the mind of a visitor is that of success, and this idea remains with him to the last. It contains only a little more than 4,000 white inhabitants, whereas it would seem from the appearance of the place, and the breadth and length of the streets, and the size of the shops, and the number of churches of different denominations, to require more than double that number of persons to inhabit it. Observation in the streets, however, will show that the deficiency is made up by natives, who in fact do all the manual and domestic work of the place. Their number is given as 2,500; but I am disposed to think that a very large number come in from the country for their daily occupations in the town. The Zulu adherents to Pieter Maritzburg are so remarkable that I must speak separately of them in a separate chapter. The white man in the capital as in Durban is not the working man, but the master, or boss, who looks after the working man.

I liked Pieter Maritzburg very much,-perhaps the best of all South African towns. But whenever I would express such an opinion to a Pieter Maritzburger he would never quite agree with me. It is difficult to get a Colonist to assent to any opinion as to his own Colony. If you find fault, he is injured and almost insulted. The

traveller soon learns that he had better abstain from all spoken criticism, even when that often repeated, that dreadful question is put to him,-which I was called upon to answer sometimes four or five times a day,"Well, Mr. Trollope, what do you think of——‚,”—let us say for the moment, "South Africa?" But even praise is not accepted without contradiction, and the peculiar hardships of a Colonist's life are insisted upon almost with indignation when colonial blessings are spoken of with admiration. The Government at home is doing everything that is cruel, and the Government in the Colony is doing everything that is foolish. With whatever interest the gentleman himself is concerned, that peculiar interest is peculiarly ill-managed by the existing powers. But for some fatuous maddening law he himself could make his own fortune and almost that of the Colony. In Pieter Maritzburg everybody seemed to me very comfortable, but everybody was ill-used. There was no labour, -though the streets were full of Zulus, who would do anything for a shilling and half anything for sixpence. There was no emigration from England provided for by the country. There were not half soldiers enough in Natal, though Natal has luckily had no real use for soldiers since the Dutch went away. But perhaps the most popular source of complaint was that everything was so dear that nobody could afford to live. Nevertheless I did not hear that any great number of the inhabitants of the town were encumbered by debt, and everybody seemed to live comfortably enough.

"You must begin," said one lady to me, "by computing that £400 a year in England means £200 a year here." To this I demurred before the lady,-with very little effect, as of course she had the better of me in the

argument. But I demur again here, with better chance of success, as I have not the lady by to contradict me.

The point is one on which it is very difficult to come to a direct and positive conclusion. The lady began by appealing to wages, rent, the price of tea and all such articles as must be imported, the price of clothes, the material of which must at least be imported, the price of butter and vegetables, the price of schooling, of medical assistance and of law, which must be regulated in accordance with the price of the articles which the schoolmaster, doctors, and lawyers consume, and the price of washing. In all such arguments the price of washing is brought forward as a matter in which the Colonist suffers great hardships. It must be acknowledged that the washing is dear,—and bad, atrociously bad;—so bad that the coming home of one's linen is a season for tears and wailing. Bread and meat she gave up to me. Bread might be about the same as in Europe, and meat no doubt in Pieter Maritzburg was to be had at about half the London prices. She defied me to name another article of consumption which was not cheaper at home than in the Colony.

I did not care to go through the list with her, though I think that a London butler costs more than a Zulu boy. I found the matter of wages paid to native servants to be so inexplicable as to defy my enquiries. A boy,—that is a Zulu man—would run almost anywhere for a shilling with a portmanteau on his head. I often heard of 7s. a month as the amount of wages paid by a farmer,—with a diet exclusively of mealies or of Kafir corn. And yet housekeepers have told me that they paid £5 and £6 a month wages for a man, and that they considered his diet to cost them 15s. a week. In the heat of argument exceptional circumstances are often taken to prove

« PrécédentContinuer »