Imatges de pÓgina

three dollars for every perambulation; but this survey must always be more or less vague; and he is alleged sometimes to take partial steps in support of a favourite claimant. The boor, absolute master of these wide domains, covers them with flocks and herds, the care of which he commits to his Hottentots,-obtaining thus the entire disposal of his own time, which he devotes to the most listless indolence. He makes neither milk nor butter; nor does he produce either wine, fruits, or vegetables. The pipe never quits his mouth, except to take his sopie or glass of brandy, and to eat three meals of mutton soaked in the fat of the large-tailed sheep, without vegetables or even bread. The good lady of the house, equally disdainful of toil, remains almost as immoveable as the chair on which she sits, having before her a table, always covered with hot coffee. The daughters sit round with their hands folded, resembling articles of furniture rather than youthful and living beings. No diversion, no event, breaks the monotony of this insulated existence; nor does knowledge for them ever "unrol her ample page." A schoolmaster, indeed, usually forms part of the establishment; but as it is thought too much to maintain one for teaching only, he is expected to make himself useful in sundry other capacities. Mr. Barrow even saw one of this learned fraternity yoked in a plough. Amid such varied avocations, these sage instructers cannot be expected to convey to their pupils more than the mere elements of reading and writing. At the same time, hospitality knows scarcely any limits. With the exception of their nearest neighbours, with whom they are probably involved in boundary feuds, any person, from any quarter, is welcome. The stranger opens the door, shakes hands with the master, kisses the mistress, sits down, and makes himself completely at home.

From Graaf-Reynet, at the eastern extremity of the colony, Mr. Barrow pushed forward without delay to the country of the Caffres, it being one main object of his journey to adjust some differences between that people and the European settlers. The first party he met after passing the boundary made the most favourable impression upon him. The females flocked and danced round the strangers, showing the utmost curiosity, and receiving with delight presents of tobacco and brass buttons, yet never trespassing

on the limits of decorum. Their persons were somewhat short and stunted, and the skin of a dark glossy brown; but the features were almost European, and their dark sparkling eyes bespoke vivacity and intelligence. The men, again, were the finest figures that the traveller had ever seen, considerably above the middle size, robust, and muscular, yet marked with the most elegant symmetry. Their deportment was easy, and their expression frank, generous, and fearless. In reply to the complaints which were made of their encroachments upon the territory of the colony, they asserted, and seemed to prove, that much greater encroachments had been made by the colonists themselves, and expressed their readiness to accede to any arrangement which might obviate future dissension,-stating, however, that nothing could be done but through Gaika, the great king of the Caffres. The umpires immediately proceeded towards his residence, through a beautiful, but uncultivated, and somewhat entangled country. He was absent at the moment, employed in pursuing a band of wolves; but his wife and mother, with fifty or sixty attendants, sat round the strangers, and conversed, through an interpreter, in the most agreeable manner. At length the monarch was seen approaching at full gallop, mounted on a handsome ox. Alighting from this singular charger, he graciously welcomed the strangers, and seating himself and his attendants under the shade of a mimosa, immediately entered upon business. He showed himself extremely reasonable in every respect, declaring, that whatever inroads had taken place on the frontier were without his knowledge or sanction, and he agreed at once to a code of regulations which might put an end to future aggression. It seems probable, indeed, that had the wise and conciliatory measures which Mr. Barrow suggested been steadily adhered to, all collision might have been avoided with this manly and warlike race.

The Caffres are perhaps the most completely pastoral people in existence. Their agriculture is very limited, owing to their roaming mode of life. Game is scarce, and they make no use of their extensive line of seacoast for fishing; but the management of cattle is thoroughly understood, being carried on by the men, who not only tend but milk the cows, and who, by a particular modulation of

the voice, send out a herd to graze, or recall it at pleasure to the enclosures. A cow is never killed but on high occasions, milk, with roots, forming their standard diet. Skill is shown in several arts, such as making baskets of grass, sharpening iron by stones, without being able to smelt it, and dressing calf-skins for their apparel. Polygamy is lawful; but as a wife costs an ox, or two cows, the practice is confined to the rich.

After returning to Graaf-Reynet, Mr. Barrow passed across the Great Karroo, or desert, covered with scanty and useless vegetation, yet presenting spring-boks, ostriches, and other wild animals, which roam in large herds, and the most beautiful flowers, which spring up amid the sand. He then came to the borders of the Sneuwberg, or Snowy Mountains, the streams from which cover an extensive district with luxuriant herbage. The colonists there are kept in a state of greater activity than elsewhere, by the dread of wild beasts, and of the still wilder race of Bosjesman Hottentots, whose kraals occupy the intermediate valleys. They pursue and hunt down these unhappy creatures, as if they were the natural enemies of the human race. Mr. Barrow mentions a young fellow who had made a journey along part of that mountain-range; and on his return, being asked if he had seen many Bosjesmans, replied, with a disappointed air, that he had only shot four. These savages, in their turn, carry off all the cattle they can find, and put to a cruel death every one who falls into their hands, whether he be Dutch or Hottentot. Each party throws upon the other the blame of this mutual hostility. Mr. Barrow took some pains to acquire information respecting that unfortunate race. His party having succeeded in surprising a kraal, the natives sprung out of their little mat-huts with cries resembling the war-whoop of savages, and flew to the top of a neighbouring hill. From inveterate habit it was impossible to prevent some bloodshed; but at length, by persevering kindness, several were induced to come forward and hold communication with the English. They proved to be the ugliest of human beings. Their hollow backs, projecting bellies, and prominent posteriors, caused the body to assume nearly the form of the letter S, which, though by some painters described as constituting the line of beauty, produces, in its application to the human shape,

an effect very strikingly the reverse. In their condition, too, they are, of all rational beings, perhaps the most forlorn and wretched. Their only mode of obtaining food is by scrambling over the rocks after wild animals, digging the earth for some unsavoury roots, devouring the larvæ of ants and locusts, and, finally, in wild foray, carrying off the cattle from the adjoining plains. Yet the habits arising from this precarious subsistence create a degree of energy which does not arise when man slumbers in the lap of ease and abundance. Hence, this, people indulge even in an extravagant gayety, which forms a striking contrast to the gloomy dejection of the enslaved Hottentots. On moonlight nights they dance without intermission from sunset till dawn; and, on the prospect of fine weather, sometimes continue this exercise for several days and nights. Their little arrows, tipped with poison, are shot with surprising dexterity; and the warriors bound from rock to rock with an agility which baffles all European pursuit. They endure long fasts, which render their bodies usually very lank and meager; but when they make a capture of cattle or sheep, they devour the flesh in a disgusting manner, and in the most amazing quantities. Mr. Barrow having given to three of them a sheep about five in the evening, saw it entirely consumed by twelve next day, when their formerly lank, lean bellies were distended to an extraordinary size. The pictures of animals, drawn on the rocks with no inconsiderable spirit and correctness, showed at least the rudiments of art and talent.

The knowledge of Europeans respecting the Cape territory had hitherto been confined by the Karroo Desert, and the formidable range of the Sneuwberg beyond it. In 1801, a scarcity of cattle being felt, Messrs. Trutter and Somerville undertook an expedition, with the view of obtaining a supply in some of the more remote districts. Having passed the Snow mountain and the country of the Bosjesmans, they came to the Orange river, a broad stream flowing westward to the Atlantic, and on the banks of which were the Koras or Koranas, a pastoral people with numerous herds. The information here received induced them to proceed into the country of the Boshuanas, which continued to improve as they advanced, till, to their utter surprise, in the midst of these savage wildernesses of Southern Africa,

they found a regular city. Lattakoo was composed of two or three thousand houses, neatly and commodiously built, well enclosed and shaded from the sun by spreading branches of the mimosa. The country around was not only covered with numerous herds, but showed considerable signs of cultivation. The king, a venerable old man, invited them to his house, and introduced them to his two wives. The travellers met every where a kind and hospitable reception, and were the objects of an eager but friendly curiosity. Their report, in fact, encouraged the idea that the golden age had once more revived in the centre of Africa.

The Cape government afterward undertook to follow up this discovery. Lord Caledon sent Dr. Cowan and Lieutenant Denovan, at the head of a party of twenty men, with instructions to strike across the continent in a south-eastern direction, and by endeavouring to reach Mozambique, to connect the two great points of African geography. The travellers passed Lattakoo, and accounts were received from them nearly eleven days' journey beyond it, when they were in the midst of a richer and more beautiful country than they had yet seen in Southern Africa. A long and anxious interval had elapsed, when the governor sent a fastsailing vessel to Sofala and Mozambique, the captain of which was informed that the expedition had come to a most disastrous issue. It was stated that the party, having arrived in the dominions of the king of Zaire, between Inhambane and Sofala, had been attacked in the night, and all cut to pieces, with the exception of two individuals. Mr. Campbell was afterward assured, that the catastrophe had taken place among the Wanketzens, a nation immediately beyond Lattakoo, where the travellers, trusting to the friendly behaviour and professions of the people, had neglected the most common precautions. The officers went to bathe, leaving one party in arge of the wagons, and another to guard the cattle. Thus split into three divisions, they were successively attacked and destroyed by the treacherous barbarians.

Dr. Henry Lichtenstein, after surveying several of the Cape districts, extended his journey to the territory of this newly-discovered people, accompanied by one of the natives, named Kok, who had been for some time absent from his

« AnteriorContinua »