A WINTER TOUR IN SOUTH AFRICA
SIR FREDERICK YOUNG, K.C.M.G.
(Reprinted by permission from the Proceedings of the Royal Colonial Institute, with large additions, Illustrations, and a Map.)
London: E.A. Petherick & Co., 33, Paternoster Row, E.C.
TO HER ROYAL HIGHNESS, PRINCESS LOUISE, MARCHIONESS OF LORNE,
This Volume, describing a recent tour, during which a large portion of Her Majesty's magnificent Dominions in South Africa were traversed, is, by gracious permission, dedicated with feelings of sincere respect.
The growth of the great Colonies of the British Empire is so phenomenal, and their development is so rapid, and remarkable, that if we are to possess a correct knowledge of their actual state, and condition, from year to year, their current history requires to be constantly re-written.
The writer of a decade since, is, to-day, almost obsolete. He has only produced a current record of facts, and places, at the period he wrote. This is especially the case with South Africa.
I have recently returned from a very interesting tour in that remarkable country. My impressions were noted down, as they occurred, from day to day. A summary of my observations, and of the incidents, in connection with my journey, was the subject of a Paper I read at the opening meeting of the present Session of the Royal Colonial Institute, on the 12th of November last. I wish it to be understood that the opinions expressed on that occasion were my own, and that the Institute as a body is in no way responsible for them. This Paper has formed the outline of the volume, which—with much new matter from my note book—I now offer to the public, in the belief, that the narrative of a traveller, simply seeking instruction, as well as amusement, from a few months tour, while traversing some 12,000 miles by sea, and 4,000 miles by land, through the wonderful country in which he lately roamed, might prove of some use, in awakening additional interest on the part of the general public, to one of the most promising, and valuable portions of the Colonial Empire.
In this spirit, I offer my "Winter Tour in South Africa," to my countrymen, "at home and beyond the seas," in the hope that it may receive from them, a favourable reception.
On the "Political Situation," I have spoken strongly and frankly, I hope not too much so. The result of my personal observations has convinced me, that I have only correctly expressed the opinions, very widely entertained by large classes of Her Majesty's subjects in South Africa.
I cannot conclude without acknowledging the aid I have derived from the Statistical information contained in the "Argus Annual," and it also affords me much pleasure to thank Mr. James R. Boose, the Librarian of the Royal Colonial Institute, for the assistance he has rendered me.
5, Queensberry Place, S.W. 1st January, 1890.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
MY WAGON Frontispiece
GOVERNMENT HOUSE, CAPETOWN facing 6
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CAPETOWN facing 8
JOHANNESBURG, MARKET PLACE facing 57
CEMETERY, MAJUBA HILL facing 81
GOVERNMENT HOUSE, MARITZBURG facing 83
A STREET IN MARITZBURG facing 84
TOWN HALL, DURBAN facing 86
HARBOUR WORKS, DURBAN facing 89
HEX RIVER PASS facing 107
THE VOYAGE.—Embark at Southampton—Amusements at Sea—Lisbon—Madeira—Teneriffe—St. Helena—Longwood—Arrival at Cape Town 1-4
CAPE TOWN.—Queen's Birthday—Review of Troops—Regatta—Table Bay—Table Mountain—Hotels—House of Parliament—Observatory—South African Museum—Public Library—Botanic Gardens—Record Office—Places of Worship—Harbour Works and Breakwater—Graving Dock—Simon's Town—Kalk Bay—Constantia—Wynberg—Journey to Kimberley 5-21
KIMBERLEY.—Address of Welcome from the Fellows of the Royal Colonial Institute—Diamond Industry—Bultfontein Mine—DeBeer's Mine—Compounds—United Companies—Central Kimberley Diamond Mine—Kimberley Hospital—Progress of Kimberley—Town Hall—Post Office—High Court—Public Library—Waterworks—En route for Bechuanaland—Wagon Travelling—Warrenton—Drake's Farm 22-38
BECHUANALAND.—Scenery—Field for Settlement—Vryburg—Lochnagar Farm—Prospect of Gold Discovery 39-46
KLERKSDORP.—Nooitgedacht Mine—Pan Washing—Klerksdorp Gold Estates Company—Future of Klerksdorp 47-49
POTCHEFSTROOM.—Wagon Journey—Presence of Gold-bearing Reefs—Vultures—Fort and Cemetery—Chevalier Forssman 50-52
JOHANNESBURG.—Difficulties of Travelling—Appearance of the Town—Gold—Knights—The Jumpers—Robinson's—Langlaagte—Descent to the Mines—Market Square—Growth of Johannesburg—Sanitary arrangements 53-59
PRETORIA.—Water Supply—The Volksraad—President Paul Kruger—High Court of Justice—Want of Railroads—Growing Prosperity—Post Office—New Government Buildings—Political and Social Life—Pretoria Races 60-65
WATERBURG.—Polonia—Hebron—Salt Pans—Kafirs—Appearance of the Country—Prospects of Gold—Scarcity of Game—Bush Fire—Narrow Escape—Transport Driver—Waterburg Sulphur Baths—Nylstroom Road—Return to Pretoria 66-78
PRETORIA TO NATAL.—Coach to Johannesburg—Post Cart Travelling—Richmond—Heidelburg—Standerton—Newcastle—Eland's Laagte—Natal Railway—Coal Fields—Laing's Nek—Majuba Hill—Ingogo—Scenery of Natal 79-82
MARITZBURG.—Public Buildings—House of Assembly—Statue of the Queen—British Troops 83-84
DURBAN.—Railway Journey—Town Hall—Municipal arrangements—Trade—Harbour Works—The "Berea"—Natal Central Sugar Company's Manufactory—Trappist Establishment at Marion Hill—Defences—Embark for Port Elizabeth 85-96
PORT ELIZABETH.—Trade—Town Hall—Public Library—Ostrich Feathers—The "Hill"—Botanical Garden—Hospital—Water Supply—Churches—Presentation of an address 97-101
GRAHAMSTOWN.—Railway Journey—Scenery—Botanical Gardens—Mountain Road—Museum—The Prison—Kafir School—Ostrich Farm at Heatherton Towers—Export of Feathers 102-105
PORT ELIZABETH TO CAPE TOWN.—Scenery—Hex River Pass—Arrival at Cape Town—Lecture at Young Men's Christian Society—Start for England—Arrival at Southampton 106-108
THE NATIVE QUESTION. 113-116
THE POLITICAL SITUATION. 128-148
I. Discussion on a Paper entitled "A Winter Tour in South Africa," by Sir Frederick Young, at the Royal Colonial Institute 149-163
II. Lecture on Imperial Federation delivered at Cape Town 164-173
On the 3rd of May last, I left Southampton in the s.s. Spartan for Cape Town. This three weeks' ocean voyage has become one of the most enjoyable it is possible to take by those who are seeking health or pleasure on the sea. The steamers of the great companies, which carry on so admirably the weekly communication between England and South Africa, are so powerful, handsome, and commodious, their captains and crews are so attentive and obliging, their food and cabin accommodation so ample and luxurious, that it seems impossible for anyone, excepting a confirmed grumbler, to find any reasonable fault with any of their arrangements, where all are so good. Passengers will select the particular vessel by which they desire to travel, rather by the convenience of the date fixed for sailing, than from any particular choice of the name of the steamer, either belonging to the Castle Mail Packet Company, the Union Steamship Company, or any other line.
A sea voyage of the kind I have recently taken does not give opportunity for much striking incident, or exciting variety. If restful and pleasant to those who are escaping for a while from the bustle and turmoil of life on shore, it is at all events bound to be somewhat monotonous, in spite of the many amusements which are daily arranged, including cricket, tennis, quoits, concerts, dances, etc., of which I experienced a fair share. On many occasions I was called upon to preside at concerts, lectures, etc., not only amongst the saloon passengers, but also in the third class cabin. A rough voyage across the Bay of Biscay, a view of the Tagus, a brief run on shore to look at the picturesque capital of Portugal, a gaze at the spot, which marks the memory of the scene of the fearful earthquake of 1755, which destroyed most of the town, and 50,000 of its inhabitants; a short stay at the lovely island of Madeira, sufficient to glance at its beautiful scenery, to breathe its balmy air, to taste its delicious fruits, and to land at its pretty town of Funchal, to see some of its charming surroundings; a passing peep at Teneriffe, which is now receiving so much attention in Europe as an attractive health resort; a few days' run of exhausting heat through the tropics; a visit to Saint Helena, enough to allow of a drive to Longwood, and a look at the room, where the first Napoleon breathed his last—leaving there the legacy of the shadow of a mighty name to all time—on this "lonely rock in the Atlantic"; a few days more of solitary sailing over a stormy sea, a daily look-out for whales, porpoises, dolphins, flying fish, sharks, and albatrosses; a glance upward, night after night, into the starry sky, to gaze on the Southern Cross, so much belauded, and yet so disappointing in its appearance, after the extravagant encomiums lavished on it; and at length, on the early morning of May 24, I safely reached Cape Town.
To produce the most favourable impression of any new place, it is essential that it should be seen for the first time in fine weather. Places look so very different under a canopy of cloud, and, perhaps, a deluge of rain, or when they are bathed in the sunshine of a beautiful day. Happily for me, my first view of Cape Town was under the latter genial aspect. I need scarcely say, that I was, in consequence, quite charmed with my first sight of this celebrated town, the seat of Government of the Cape Colony. What made the scene more than usually striking to a traveller, fresh from the sea, was, that it was the Queen's birthday, and the day dawned with a most perfect specimen of "Queen's weather." Cape Town was literally en fete. The inhabitants thronged the streets. I was astonished at the great variety of gay costumes among the motley crowd—English, Dutch, Germans and French, Malays, Indian Coolies, Kafirs, and Hottentots—a tremendous gathering, in fact, of all nations, and "all sorts and conditions of men." There was a grand review of all the military branches of the Service, in which His Excellency the Administrator, General Smyth, surrounded by a brilliant staff, received the homage due to the British flag; and, as her representative on this occasion, to Her Majesty's honoured name. The review was followed by a regatta in the afternoon. It was quite refreshing to a new arrival, like myself, to observe the enthusiastic evidences of loyal feeling everywhere exhibited in the capital of the Colony to our Queen, the beloved and venerated head of the British Empire.
Before commencing my long and interesting tour "up country," I spent a few most pleasant, days at Cape Town. My impressions of it, and of its beautiful surroundings, could not fail to be most favourable. The panoramic view of its approach from Table Bay, at the foot of Table Mountain, is very fine. The town itself appeared to me much cleaner, and brighter than I expected to see it, although, it must be admitted, there is still considerable room for improvement in its sanitary arrangements, and also in the accommodation, and condition of its hotels, to make them as attractive as they ought to be. The best of them do not come at all up to our standard at home, nor to our English ideas of comfort and convenience. A great improvement in these respects, I am satisfied, is not only necessary, but would pay well, and induce a far larger number of visitors to stay at Cape Town, and avail themselves of its attractions of climate, and fine surroundings.
While I was at Cape Town, I visited among other places, the House of Parliament, the Observatory, the South African Museum, the Public Library, the Botanic Gardens, &c.
The House of Parliament, which was opened for public use in 1885, is a very handsome building, having a frontage of 264 feet, and is divided into a central portico, leading into the grand vestibule, the two debating chambers, and side pavilions. The portico, which is of massive dimensions, is approached by a commanding flight of granite steps, which runs round three sides of it. The pavilions are relieved by groups of pilasters with Corinthian capitals, and are surmounted by domes and ventilators. The whole of the ground floor up to the level of the main floor has been built of Paarl granite, which is obtained from the neighbouring district of that name. The upper part of the building is of red brick, relieved by pilasters and window dressing of Portland cement, the effect being very pleasing to the eye. The interior accommodation for the business of the two Legislative bodies is most complete, and arranged with a careful view to comfort and convenience. In addition to the Debating Chambers, which are sixty-seven feet in length by thirty-six feet in width, there is a lofty hall of stately appearance, with marble pillars, and tesselated pavement, which forms the central lobby, or grand vestibule. I might mention, that the debating chambers are only ten feet in length and width less than the British House of Commons. Adjoining the central lobby is the parliamentary library, a large apartment, with galleries above each other reaching to the full height of the building. The usual refreshment, luncheon, and smoking rooms have not been forgotten, in connection with the comfort of the members. The public are accommodated in roomy galleries, and ample provision has been made for ladies, distinguished visitors, and the press. The portrait of Her Majesty, and the Mace at the table reminds one forcibly of the fact that one is still in a portion of the British Empire. The total cost of the building, including furniture, was L220,000.
I attended two or three debates in the House of Parliament, and was much impressed with the manner in which, in this superb and commodious legislative chamber, the discussions were carried on. There was a quiet dignity of debate, as well as business-like capacity and orderly tone, observed on both sides of the House, which might be copied with advantage, as it is in striking contrast to much of the practice, in the Parliament of Great Britain. It is certainly satisfactory to notice, that the modern manners and customs, in the popular branch of our own ancient national assembly, which so frequently fail in orthodox propriety, have not been imitated in the Cape Colony.
At the Record Office attached to the House of Parliament, I went into the vaults, and inspected the early manuscripts of the Dutch, during their original occupation of the Cape of Good Hope. These are most deeply and historically interesting, and valuable. The minute accuracy, with which every incident is recorded is most remarkable. There are bays in these vaults, filled with records, which must be of priceless value to an historical student, and they are now in course of arrangement by the able librarian, Mr. H.C.V. Leibbrandt, who is the author of a most interesting work entitled "Rambles through the Archives of the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope."[A]
At the South African Museum I found a valuable collection of beasts, birds, fishes, &c., not only from South Africa, but from various parts of the world. The collection has been enriched by valuable contributions from Mr. Selous, the distinguished African traveller, and sportsman, his donations consisting chiefly of big game, including two gigantic elands, (male and female), buffaloes, antelopes, &c. The series of birds comprises the large number of two thousand species.
A visit of great interest to me was to the South African Public Library, which boasts of about 50,000 volumes, and embraces every branch of science and literature. It contains three distinct collections, viz., the Dessinian, the Grey, and the Porter. The first-named was bequeathed to the Colony in 1761 by Mr. Joachim Nicholas Von Dessin, and consists of books, manuscripts and paintings. The Porter collection took its name from the Hon. William Porter, and was purchased from the subscriptions raised for the purpose of procuring a life-size portrait of that gentleman, in recognition of his services to the Colony. As, however, Mr. Porter declined to sit for his portrait, the amount subscribed was appropriated to the purchase of standard works, to be known as the Porter Collection. By far the most valuable, however, is the Grey Collection, numbering about 5,000 volumes, and occupying a separate room. These were presented by Sir George Grey, Governor of the Cape Colony from 1854 to 1859, and still an active member of the New Zealand House of Representatives. Here are many rare manuscripts, mostly on vellum or parchment, some of them of the tenth century, in addition to a unique collection of works relating to South Africa generally.
Among the places of worship in Cape Town the most important are St. George's Cathedral, which was built in 1830, and is of Grecian style of architecture, and accommodates about 1,200 persons; and the Dutch Reformed Church, which possesses accommodation for 3,000 persons, and is not unappropriately named the Colonial Westminster Abbey. Beneath its floors lie buried eight Governors of the Colony, the last one being Ryk Tulbagh, who was buried in 1771.
No account of Cape Town would be complete without a reference to the important Harbour Works, and Breakwater, which at once attract the attention of the visitor, and which have been in course of erection for several years past, from the designs of Sir John Coode. These works have been of the greatest importance in extending, and developing the commercial advantages of the port. The Graving Dock now named the Robinson, after the late Governor, Sir Hercules Robinson, was formally opened during the year 1882, and it so happened that the first vessel to enter it was the Athenian, in which I returned to England, at the termination of my tour. The whole of the works connected with the building of the Docks and Breakwater reflect credit upon all who have in any way been engaged upon their construction. The amount expended on them up to the end of 1887 was L1,298,103.
Before leaving Cape Town, at the invitation of the Naval Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Wells, I paid a visit to Simon's Town, the chief naval station of the colony. The railway runs at present as far as Kalk Bay, which takes about an hour to get to from Cape Town. Kalk Bay is a pleasant seaside resort for the inhabitants of the colony, the air being regarded as particularly invigorating. The remaining distance of six miles to Simon's Town is performed in a Cape cart, which is a most comfortable vehicle on two wheels, drawn by two horses with a pole between them, and covered with a hood, as a protection from the weather. The scenery from the Kalk Bay station to Simon's Town is very picturesque. A bold sea stretches out on one side of the road, and the mountain on the other. Amongst other things which attracted my attention at Simon's Town was the Dockyard, which embraces about a mile of the foreshore, and contains appliances for repairing modern war vessels, a repairing and victualling depot, and a patent slip, capable of lifting vessels of about 900 tons displacement. I went with the Admiral, and a party of ladies to have luncheon on board the Steam Corvette Archer.
Simon's Bay is very sheltered, excepting from the south-east, with good holding anchorage ground. It seems a quiet, secluded spot, well-adapted for a naval station in this part of the world, although I have heard that an opinion prevails that the fleet should be at Cape Town instead of Simon's Bay. The Raleigh is the flag-ship; I saw also some other vessels of the Royal Navy at anchor in the bay. The fortifications which are now in progress for the protection of this important point in our chain of defences will, when completed, render the place practically impregnable from sea attack.
Some of the most beautiful coast scenery I have ever seen is to be found in that very lovely drive by Sea Point to Hout's Bay, and thence back to Cape Town by Constantia and Wynberg. This is a celebrated excursion, and well deserves the praises bestowed upon it. The road has been admirably constructed by convict labour.
A very convenient short line of railway also brings within easy reach of the inhabitants of Cape Town the pretty villages of Mowbray, Rondebosch, Rosebank, Newlands, Wynberg, Constantia, &c., where, in charming villas and other residences, so many of the wealthier classes reside. At Constantia the principal wine farms are situated, the most noted being the Groot Constantia (the Government farm) and High Constantia. Constantia wine can only be produced on these farms. Another farm in this neighbourhood is Witteboomen, which is particularly noted for its peaches, there being over one thousand trees on the farm, in addition to many other kinds of fruit. Another one, and probably the largest in the district, is named "Sillery." Here not many years ago the ground was a wilderness, but it has now attained a high state of perfection, there being at least 140,000 vines and hundreds of fruit trees of all kinds, under cultivation.
At Cape Town I received the first proofs of the kind and lavish attentions which everywhere in South Africa were subsequently bestowed upon me. From everyone, without exception—from His Excellency the Administrator and Mrs. Smyth, and the members of his staff—from all the public men and high officials—from members of the Cape Government, and from the leaders of the Opposition, besides from innumerable private friends, Dutch and English alike, I received such cordial tokens of goodwill, that I can only express my deep sense of appreciation of their most genial and friendly hospitality. I bid adieu to Cape Town (which I was visiting for the first time in my life) with the conviction that I was truly in a land, not of strangers, but of real friends, who desired to do everything in their power to make my visit to South Africa pleasant and agreeable to me; and this impression I carried with me ever afterwards at every place I visited during the whole of my tour.
On Wednesday, May 29, I left Cape Town at 6.30 p.m. for Kimberley, passing Beaufort West, the centre of an extensive pastoral district, and De Aar, the railway junction from Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. This journey is a long one, of between 600 and 700 miles, and of some forty-two hours by railway. I travelled all through that night, and the whole of the next day, through the most remarkable kind of country I ever saw. Flat, and apparently as level, as a bowling-green (although we were continually rising from our starting-point at Cape Town to a height at Kimberley of about 3,800 feet above the sea), a sandy and dreary desert, with occasionally low, and barren hills in the far distance—not a tree to be seen, and scarcely any vestige of vegetation, excepting now and then, a few of the indigenous Mimosa shrubs, which, for hundreds of miles, grow fitfully on this desolate soil. This is the wonderful tract of country called the Great Karoo. Not a sign of animal life is to be detected, at this period of the year. During the summer months it affords pasturage for large flocks of sheep. It is a vast interminable sea of lone land, over which the eye wanders unceasingly during the whole of the daylight hours.
[Footnote A: The First Series was published in 1887.]
After another long night in the railway train, at noon on the second day, after leaving Cape Town, I reached the celebrated diamond town of Kimberley, the population of which consists of about 6,000 Europeans, with a native population estimated at about 10,000, chiefly concentrated in the mining area.
On my arrival at the railway station, I was met by the Mayor, and a deputation of the residents of the town. At a conversazione held later, and which was attended by over four hundred ladies and gentlemen, the following address was presented to me by the Fellows of the Royal Colonial Institute resident at Kimberley and Beaconsfield:—
"Kimberley, June 1st, 1889.
"To SIR FREDERICK YOUNG, K.C.M.G.
"A Vice-President of the Royal Colonial Institute.
"DEAR SIR,—We, the Fellows of the Royal Colonial Institute, resident in the towns and mining centres of Kimberley, and Beaconsfield, South Africa, cordially welcome your arrival amongst us.
"We are persuaded that your visit to this distant part of Her Majesty's Dominions has been undertaken, not merely for personal pleasure, but also on behalf of the great and growing need for the consolidation and expansion of colonial interests throughout the Empire.
"We feel that your own career has been an important factor in the formation of a sound public opinion on this subject, and that it is largely through your patient and far-seeing efforts, that the Royal Colonial Institute has attained its present proud position amongst the various, influences, moulding, organising, and guiding the life and destinies of Her Majesty's Colonial Empire.
"We believe the present time to be vitally important in the history of Her Majesty's Dominions in South Africa. The tide of confederation, and corporate union is manifestly rising, the wave of extended British influence is flowing northwards, the various nationalities and states of this vast country are educating themselves by experience to see the folly and sterile weakness of isolation, and are learning to realise the inherent strength, and vitality of mutual co-operation, based on a self respecting, yet unselfish responsibility to South Africa as a whole.
"We venture to suggest that this growing feeling for co-operation will prove a valuable element in the growth, and formation in the near future, of one Grand Confederation of all countries and peoples, owing allegiance to, or claiming corporate alliance with, Her Britannic Majesty's Empire.
"We rejoice, as members of the Royal Colonial Institute, that your personal merits and public career have been recognised by Her Majesty in the honour conferred upon you, which we trust you will enjoy for many years.
"Coming amongst us as a Vice-President of our own Institute, your presence symbolises to us the aspiration, radiant in hope, and prophetic in promise, which animates all true and loyal subjects of Her Majesty, and which is alone worthy of our past history, and present responsibilities—the aspirations of a strong and united people for a vigorous, and progressive 'United Empire.'"
To anyone visiting, for the first time, this great centre of the diamond industry of South Africa the scene is most extraordinary. The excitement and bustle, the wild whirl of vehicular traffic, the fearful dust, the ceaseless movement of men and women of all descriptions, and of every shade of complexion and colour, are positively bewildering. The thoughts of everybody appear to be centred in diamonds, and the prevailing talk and speech are accordingly. Being the recipient, myself, of the most kind attention and genial and generous hospitality, my stay was most agreeable, and pleasant. Great facilities were afforded me for seeing everything connected with this wonderful industry, and satisfying myself, that there are no present signs of its being exhausted or "played out." Indubitable evidences were given me, that diamonds continue to be found in as large quantities as ever. They appeared to me to be "as plentiful as blackberries."
At the Bultfontein Mine I descended to the bottom of the open workings in one of the iron buckets, used for bringing up the "blue ground" to the surface. This is rather a perilous adventure. To go down by a wire rope, some five or six hundred feet perpendicular into the bowels of the earth with lightning rapidity, standing up in an open receptacle, the top of which does not approach your waist, oscillating like a pendulum, while you are holding on "like grim death" by your hands, is something more than a joke. It certainly ought not to be attempted by anyone who does not possess a cool head and tolerable nerve.
Here I saw multitudes of natives employed,—as afterwards in the De Beer's, the Kimberley, and other diamond mines,—with pickaxes, shovels, and other tools, breaking down the ground at the sides of the mine, perched at various spots, and many a giddy height. Diamond mining at Kimberley is altogether a very wonderful specimen of the development of a new industry. In this mine I had explained to me the various processes, by which diamonds are discovered in the rocky strata which is being constantly dug out of the enormous circular hole, constituting it.
I also visited the celebrated De Beer's Mine. This vast mine, where some thousands of workmen, white and coloured, are employed, is carried on much in the same way as the Bultfontein, as far as the different processes are concerned, of treating the material in which the diamonds are found. It is much richer, however, in "blue ground," and consequently far more valuable results are obtained from it. For instance, the average value of each truck load of stuff from the Bultfontein is said to be about 8s., while from the De Beer's it is 28s. or 30s. The latter mine is now worked underground, in the same way as copper and coal mines are worked in England. Excellent arrangements are made for the protection and well-being of the native workmen, especially by the introduction of "compounds" during the last year or two. These are vast enclosures, with high walls, where the natives compulsorily reside, after their daily work is done during the whole time they remain at work in the mine. This system has been attended with the most satisfactory results. I went over the De Beer's "compound," where I saw an immense number of natives, all appearing lively, cheerful, and happy. A large number were playing at cards (they are great gamblers), and others amusing themselves in various ways. No intoxicating liquor is permitted to be sold within the "compounds." The weekly receipts for ginger beer amount to a sum, which seems fabulous, averaging from L60 to L100 a week. The natives can purchase from the "compound" store every possible thing they want, from a tinpot to a blanket, from a suit of old clothes to a pannikin of mealies. Before the establishment of the "compounds," when the natives had the free run of the town, and could obtain alcoholic liquor—on Saturday nights especially, after they had done their work and received their weekly wages—Kimberley was a perfect pandemonium.
An interesting visit was one to the central offices of the United Companies, where I saw the diamonds, as they are prepared ready for sale, lying on a counter in small assorted lots, on white paper. This is a most remarkable sight. The lots, varying from half-a-dozen to twenty, or thirty, or more diamonds, are spread out arranged according to their estimated value. I took up one, which I was told would probably fetch L1,000, and of which there were several similar ones in the different parcels on the counter. The manager showed me a paper of a sale to the buyers, a day or two before, of a parcel, which was calculated to realise L14,189, and which actually was sold afterwards for L14,150; showing the surprising accuracy of the previous estimate on the part of the experts.
Another day I went to the Central Kimberley Diamond Mine. After going over the mine, my party and myself all "assisted" at the counter in one of the large sheds in picking out diamonds from the heap of small stones just brought up and laid out from the day's washings. It is rather a fascinating occupation, turning over the heap with a little triangular piece of tin held in one hand, and continually "scraped" along the board. I found several diamonds. We were told, after we had been working diligently for an hour or two—there were six of us—that the value of the diamonds we had found, and placed in the manager's box, was probably L1,200. This seemed to us a good afternoon's work. The entire district of Kimberley seems to teem with diamonds, and yet there is no cessation in the demand for them, and they are still rising in price. Accidents are frequent at these mines, but excellent provision for meeting these misfortunes is made in the admirably conducted Kimberley Hospital (where there are no less than 360 beds for patients), which I visited during my stay. It is under the management of a very remarkable woman, Sister Henrietta, and reflects the greatest credit on everyone connected with its conduct, and support. The number of native cases treated at the Hospital during the year 1887 was 2,975.
Kimberley has risen with immense speed, commencing from what is generally known as a "rush," to a large and prosperous centre of wealth, trade, and commerce. There, where only a few years since, was to be found a collection of tents and small huts, I found a city with handsome buildings, churches, stores, institutions, and law courts, and, above all, a well ordered society. Some of the buildings which I might specially mention, are the Town Hall, the Post Office, the High Court, and the Public Library, which has been in existence about seven years, and is superintended with such excellent results and most gratifying success by the Judge President. One noticeable fact connected with this Library is that the number of works of fiction annually taken out by the subscribers, exceeds, per head of the population, that of any Public Library in the United Kingdom.
The Kimberley Waterworks, which I also visited, have proved a great boon to this part, of the Colony. They were erected at a cost of L400,000, the water supply being obtained from the Vaal River, seventeen miles away.
After spending a most pleasant and agreeable week there, I left Kimberley at six o'clock on the morning of June 7, in a wagon drawn by eight horses, and accompanied by five friends, for Warrenton, en route for Bechuanaland and the Transvaal. This mode of travelling was quite a novelty to me. Although in this journey of altogether three weeks' duration, we occasionally put up at one or two hotels, at some of the towns, and sometimes at the farmhouses on our way, we frequently "camped out" on the open veldt, and, after finishing our evening meal of the rough-and-ready provisions we carried with us, supplemented by the game we shot, we wrapped ourselves in our karosses, and slept for the night under the canopy of the starlit sky. I occupied the wagon, my more juvenile companions lying on the ground beneath it.
This was my first experience of sleeping in the open air in a wagon, and this, too, in the depth of a South African winter.
The town of Warrenton is situated on the banks of the Vaal River, and is forty-three miles north of Kimberley. It is at present an unimportant town, but diamond diggings have been recently opened, and it is a good cattle district. It took its name from Sir Charles Warren. Soon after leaving Warrenton we crossed the Vaal River on a pontoon. Here a trooper of the Mounted Police joined us, who was said to be a very crack shot. He rode a charming and well-bred grey horse, and had two admirably trained pointers with him. He offered me his horse to ride, he taking my place in the wagon. I had a most enjoyable morning's ride on one of the best little hacks I ever mounted, cantering over the veldt in the track of the wagon for about eight or ten miles—through a charming country with a superb view towards Bechuanaland, the veldt being more wooded and picturesque, than I had hitherto seen.
We slept that night at Drake's Farm. Before starting the next morning, I had a long conversation with Mr. Drake. He was born and brought up in London, and was in business with the firm of Moses & Son, of Cheapside, as a traveller. He came out here nine years ago with L10 in his pocket, and travelled up from Port Elizabeth. Mr. Drake is evidently a man of great energy, and perseverance. He has a high opinion of the country, and a great idea of its future. His farm and store are situated on the borders of Bechuanaland; but he now wishes he had settled there, even in preference to where he is. He laughs at the idea of there being no water. He says there is plenty to be found at from seventeen to twenty-five feet below the surface. But he says it must be dug for. If properly irrigated, it is his opinion that thousands and thousands of tons of mealies might be grown. He is enthusiastic about the beauty of Bechuanaland, and spoke of having seen parts of it in which the charms of English scenery are to be found, and even greater attractions than in many gentlemen's parks in the Old Country. His opinion of the climate is very high. He told me he would on no account exchange his present location, with its dry, pure, and bracing air, so healthful, invigorating, and free, for the chill, and damps, and fogs of England. Mr. Drake was in England during the year 1887 (the Jubilee year), but he was glad to get back again to his home on the border of Bechuanaland—a very comfortable one, as I can testify from my own personal experience.
I was very much struck with the appearance of the country on first entering Bechuanaland. The vast plain, over which I was then riding on horseback, was bounded by low, sloping hills, covered with brushwood and trees. It suggested to me forcibly the idea of a "land of promise," wanting only an intelligent and energetic people to secure its proper and successful development.
In fact, as a field for settlement, I entirely concur with the remarks of Mr. John Mackenzie, who has worked for so many years in Bechuanaland, and who states in his recent work, entitled, "Austral Africa"—
"I come now to give my own thoughts as to the capabilities of Bechuanaland as a field for colonisation. My mind reverts at once to thrifty, and laborious people who are battling for dear-life on some small holding in England or Scotland, and who can barely make ends meet. I do not think that any class of men, or men of any colour, endure such hardships in South Africa. There are portions of Bechuanaland where, in my opinion, a body of some hundreds of agricultural emigrants would, like the Scottish settlers in Baviaan's river, some sixty years ago, take root from the first, and make for themselves homes. If they came in considerable numbers, and accompanied by a minister of religion, and possibly a schoolmaster, the children would not be losers by the change, while the church and school-house would form that centre in South Africa, with which all are familiar in Scotland, and give the people from the first a feeling of home. I would not suggest that such men should be merely agriculturists, but that like most farmers in South Africa they should follow both branches of farming. They would begin with some sheep, or angora goats, and a few cows. In the first instance they would have a freehold in the village, with right of pasturage, and they would also have their farm itself in the neighbourhood, the size of which would depend upon its locality and capabilities. But with the milk of his stock and the produce of his land in maize, millet and pumpkins, the farmer and his family would be, from the first, beyond the reach of want."
For two days more we travelled through the same kind of country, a fine, bold, and very extensive plain (a promising district for cattle farming), with rolling and undulating hills in the distance, till we reached Vryburg, about a hundred and forty-five miles—in four days—from Kimberley. This is the capital of British Bechuanaland, and the head-quarters of Sir Sidney Shippard, the Administrator. The town itself contains about 500 inhabitants, chiefly Europeans. Here we spent four days. On one of these I was taken by Mr. M—— to visit his fine Bechuanaland farm of 6,000 morgen—12,000 acres—which he has named "Lochnagar." We left Vryburg at 7.30 a.m., and drove about twelve miles in the direction of Kuruman, reaching Lochnagar Farm about 10 o'clock. While breakfast was preparing, Mr. M—— took me round the nearest part of this excellent and valuable farm. He has had it about three years, and he has already shown the wonderful capabilities for development which an enterprising proprietor, possessed of some capital, can evolve from farms in Bechuanaland. He first took me into his fruit garden, which he has stocked with fruits of all descriptions. I was particularly struck with the healthy appearance of the wood (it was then the middle of winter) of the trees of all sorts of fruit. He has planted mulberry, apple, pear, apricot, peach, orange, citron, and several other fruits, all of which seem to be growing fast, and taking root vigorously in the soil. A large space is also devoted to a vineyard, as well as another to an orchard.
The farm is well irrigated, there being an abundance of water on it, as I myself saw. After breakfast we walked round the cattle lair, where a large portion of his 200 head of cattle were collected. I was much impressed with the fine appearance of the stock. Large-framed, stalwart oxen, and fat milch cows were round me on every side during my inspection. I did not notice a single animal that was not in capital condition, and fit for the market—if market there could only be. I next went through a large enclosure, in which there were about forty horses, part of the eighty belonging to Mr. M——. Here I saw several three-year-olds, and brood mares, and colts, all looking well and healthy, and containing several good, well-shaped, and promising specimens of young horseflesh. Mr. M—— has also a flock of one thousand sheep on his farm, but these I did not see, as they were out grazing on the veldt. We then walked to another portion of the farm, lying close to the capital house, built of stone by Mr. M——, to a large "pan," or lake, in which there were fish caught with a net. These are a sort of carp, and a black-coloured fish of seven pounds or eight pounds weight, said to be very good eating. I saw in an outhouse a small collapsible boat, which is sometimes used on the lake. In summer, I am told, the farm looks very pretty, with its long stretches of bright green herbage, and wild flowers, and sunny aspect.
Mr. M—— was born at Cape Town. He is of Dutch origin, and is a fine, stalwart-looking man with great energy of character and keen intelligence. He seems well fitted to be a pioneer farmer, to develop the too-long neglected resources of this fertile land. He is about forty-five years of age, and a bachelor. He first arrived on his farm on a Saturday night three years ago, and the next day commenced tree planting. His first trees were thus planted on a Sunday Morning. This was a good omen of the success he deserves, as I remarked to him.
While I was at Vryburg I was also taken by the proprietor of the Vryburg Hotel to see a farm about five miles off, where they were prospecting for gold. Mr. H—— informed me that the reef I saw, was the same description of rock, I should see at Johannesburg. The people in this neighbourhood are very sanguine; I was told that this may prove a great discovery for Bechuanaland.
Having received the same hospitable attention, as elsewhere, at Vryburg, our wagon party once more resumed its journey. Thirty miles brought us to the south-western frontier of the Transvaal, from whence we travelled on, through the most dreary, flat, uninteresting, barren, treeless plain, for two or three days more, sleeping every night on the veldt, until we reached Klerksdorp, about 120 miles from Vryburg. The south-western part of the Transvaal is certainly exceedingly inferior in appearance to what I saw in Bechuanaland. We remained at Klerksdorp three days. While there I visited one or two of the gold mines of this promising district.
At the Nooitgedacht Mine I saw the process performed of pan washing of the previously crushed quartz. I also went to the stamping house, where a machine for crushing has been erected of twenty stamps. I inspected the mine generally, and its various shafts already sunk. The work appeared to me to be well and systematically conducted. Before leaving this mine the great gold cake lump, weighing 1,370 ozs., which was being forwarded, the day I was there, to the Paris Exhibition, was put into my hands. It seemed a wonderfully big lump of the precious metal, which is so earnestly sought for by every race of civilised man.
I also went over another mine, at present in the early stage of its development, but which struck me as being conducted, as far as the working management was concerned, on good, sound, business principles—belonging to the Klerksdorp Gold Estates Company.
My stay at Klerksdorp much impressed me with the idea of the future of this town of yesterday's growth. It is only fifteen months ago, (a little more than a year) that the whole of the town on the side of the stream where the Union Hotel is situated, was begun. The inhabitants already number some thousands; and the indications I have seen in the mines, of great prospects of gold being found in large and payable quantities, are very strong. Klerksdorp may yet become a second Johannesburg, whose remarkable and rapid development I was told, would astonish me.
After leaving Klerksdorp, we travelled the next day in our wagon thirty-two miles, halting for the night at Potchefstroom, which is not only one of the oldest, but one of the most important of the Transvaal districts. Recently the presence of gold-bearing reefs has been demonstrated in many parts of the division. On our way we passed, during the afternoon, a spot on the road where a flock of not less than fifty of those unclean birds, vultures, were hovering over and around the carcase of a recently dead bullock. These birds are the scavengers of this part of the world; they feed greedily on carrion, and rapidly pull a dead animal completely to pieces, leaving only the bones, which afterwards lie bleaching on the Veldt, to mark the spot where it has fallen in death—whether it be either horse, or mule, or bullock—left to die, worn out with fatigue by its unfeeling owners.
Before leaving Potchefstroom, the next morning, I paid a hasty visit to the Fort and Cemetery, rendered so tragically historical in connection with the Transvaal war. It was here that my lamented friend, the late Chevalier Forssman, was shut up with his family for ninety days, and lost during the siege, two of his children, a son and a daughter. I was much struck with the picturesque appearance of Potchefstroom. It has a population of about 2,000. Another long two days' journeying of about sixty-four miles, through a prettier country than the wide wilderness of the boundless and treeless plain, we had hitherto passed through in the Western part of the Transvaal, brought us to Johannesburg.
We had some little trouble in finding our way into the town, as for the last two hours the daylight failed, and we had to grope our way along at a snail's pace in total darkness. This, in a country of such rough roads and deep and dangerous gulleys and water-courses, was a most intricate and difficult proceeding. Eventually, however, we reached our destination about nine o'clock at night.
This "auriferous" town is indeed a marvellous place, lying on the crest of a hill at an elevation of 5,000 feet above the level of the sea. Along its sides are spread out every variety of habitation, from the substantial brick and stone structures, which are being erected with extraordinary rapidity, to the multitude of galvanised iron dwellings, and the still not unfrequent tents of the first, and last comers. It is indeed a wonderful and bewildering sight to view it from the opposite hill across the intervening valley. Scarcely more than two years have elapsed since this town of twenty-five thousand inhabitants commenced its miraculous existence. The excitement and bustle of the motley crowd of gold seekers and gold finders is tremendous, the whole of the live-long day. The incessant subject of all conversation is gold, gold, gold. It is in all their thoughts, excepting, perhaps, a too liberal thought of drink. The people of Johannesburg think of gold; they talk of gold; they dream of gold. I believe, if they could, they would eat and drink gold. But, demoralising as this is to a vast number of those, who are in the vortex of the daily doings of this remarkable place, the startling fact is only too apparent to anyone who visits Johannesburg. It is to be hoped that the day will come when the legitimate pursuit of wealth will be followed in a less excitable, and a more calm and decorous manner, than at present regretably prevails.
I spent a pleasant, as well as interesting, week at Johannesburg; and, during my stay, visited several of the mines, among them Knight's, the Jumpers, Robinson's, Langlaagte, &c. At Robinson's, I had an opportunity of inspecting the wonderful battery just completed, and in full working order, constructed on the most approved principles for gold crushing, with sixty head of stamps. It is a marvellous specimen of mechanical contrivance for crushing the ore. Many parts of the machinery work automatically. I ascended the various floors, and had all the processes minutely and clearly described to me in a most courteous manner, by the superintendent of the battery. I afterwards went down into the mine, first to the 70-feet, and then again to the 150-feet levels. In this way, I passed two hours wandering underground with a candle in my hand, and inspecting the gold-bearing lodes of one of the richest mines in the Randt. This mine possesses magnificent lodes, and millions of tons of gold-producing quartz. There is a prospect of most profitable results in it for years to come. Altogether, from what I have seen of the various gold mines of Johannesburg, I am satisfied of the permanence of its gold fields. Of course they are not all of equal value; but many, even of the poorer mines, when they come to be worked more scientifically, and on proper business principles, will ultimately be found to pay fairly, although they may never be destined to yield such brilliant results, as some of those I have mentioned. The Market Square (of which an illustration is given) is the largest in South Africa, covering an area of 1,300 feet in length, and 300 feet in width. Some idea of the growth of Johannesburg may be gathered from the fact, that at the latter part of the year 1886 there was not a Post Office in existence, whilst the revenue of that department for the first quarter of 1887 was L167, and at the end of 1888 it had risen to L7,588.
This extraordinary and rapid growth has unfortunately produced the usual results, when an immense population is suddenly planted on a limited area, without any proper sanitary arrangements being provided for their protection. From its elevated situation and naturally pure and dry atmosphere, Johannesburg ought to be a very healthy town. That it notoriously is not so, and that the amount of sickness and death-rate from fever and other diseases is abnormal, must, undoubtedly, be attributed to the great neglect and utter absence of an efficient system of drainage. I fear this state of things will continue; and the certainty of serious increase, as the population continues to grow rapidly, is only too likely, until there is established some kind of municipal body, acting under Governmental authority, to adopt a thorough and complete system of sanitation. It is to be hoped that the Transvaal Government, which is having its treasury so rapidly filled from the pockets of the British population, which is pouring into Johannesburg, as well as into so many other towns in the Transvaal, will awake in time to the importance of taking measures for thoroughly remedying this great and glaring evil, which is becoming such a scandal, as well as creating such widely spread and justifiable alarm among the British community in the Transvaal.[B]
[Footnote B: Since my return to England I am glad to hear that a Sanitary Board is to be established at Johannesburg.]
From Johannesburg I proceeded to Pretoria, a distance of about thirty-five miles, through a fine, and bold, and sometimes pretty country. Some of the views on the way were extensive and picturesque. Pretoria itself is an exceedingly pretty town, situated at the base of the surrounding hills. There is a continuous, and most abundant supply of water running through all the principal streets. Here, again, I was forcibly reminded of the absence of any municipal body—although Pretoria is the seat of Government—for dealing with the sanitary and other wants of the town. The dust, every day (as at Johannesburg), was intolerable, although, with the abundance of water flowing unceasingly through the streets, it would be the easiest thing in the world to apply it, as much as could possibly be wanted, to water them, and keep the dust down. I remained for three weeks at Pretoria. While there I attended some meetings of the Volksraad, accompanied by a Dutch friend who kept me au fait of the proceedings by translating to me the speeches of the various members, on the subjects under discussion.
The debates are held in a very large, somewhat low-pitched apartment. About fifty members were present. The President of the Volksraad sat at a table on a platform, covered with green cloth. On one side of him, at the same table, sat Paul Kruger, the President of the Transvaal Republic. General Joubert—who defeated the English at Majuba Hill—sat at a separate table on the left of the chairman.
I was also present, more than once, at the sittings of the High Court of Justice. The proceedings are conducted both in English and Dutch.
By the courtesy of the Chief Justice, I was introduced by him at a special interview, which lasted half-an-hour, to Paul Kruger. During our conversation, which was carried on by my speaking in English, translated into Dutch by the Chief Justice, I referred to the fact of my having been introduced to him in England some years ago. I went on to speak of my having come from England to South Africa to learn. That I had already learned much, and that I was much pleased with all I had seen, especially in the Transvaal, which seemed to me a country teeming with riches and great natural resources. That I was a great friend to railroads, and that I was never in a country which I thought required railroads so much as the Transvaal. I expressed a hope, therefore, to see the day when the country would be penetrated by them in every direction—east, and south, and west. The President smiled at my strongly expressed aspiration, but did not give me any other reply.
Like every other town in the Transvaal, Pretoria shows signs of rapidly-growing prosperity. Public buildings and private dwelling-houses are springing up in every direction. The Post Office, recently finished, is capacious and commodious; and the new Government buildings for the accommodation of the Volksraad and the Courts of Justice, already commenced, but, as yet, only a few feet from the ground, and which cover a very large space, promise to be very fine and imposing. While at Pretoria I had ample opportunity for observing many of the prevalent features of both political and social life, and especially of the condition of the large native population of the town.
The Pretoria winter races took place during my stay there. The races were very good and well-conducted. There was a large and orderly crowd who appeared thoroughly to enjoy themselves, and their outing in that fine and sunny climate. The Racecourse seemed a good one, though rather hard owing to the dry weather. It is in a very pretty spot with picturesque surroundings.
The Kafirs, who are employed in great numbers, and who are earning high wages at their various occupations, are always to be seen, either working hard, or, after the hours of labour are over, amusing themselves cheerfully, chatting at street corners, walking, gossiping, and talking, and gratifying themselves by giving vent to their very voluble tongues. Here also, as at Johannesburg, at Potchefstroom, and at Klerksdorp, I was forcibly struck with the large amount of English spoken, as well as of the number of English names over the various shops in the Transvaal towns. This is an interesting and important fact, which marks the tendency of the direction of future development. The country must certainly become more and more anglicised, in spite of the political efforts made to oppose it.
I left Pretoria on July the 17th in a wagon with eight horses, accompanied by two friends, for an excursion into the Waterburg district of the Transvaal. On this occasion we travelled about one hundred and fifty miles north of Pretoria in the course of a fortnight, returning about the same distance back again. We had a half-breed servant named Sole with us, who made himself generally useful during our journey. All this time we camped out day and night, sleeping always in the open veldt, in true gipsy fashion.
We went by the Van der Vroom Poort, having the Maalieburg range of mountains on our left.
Our first night was spent at a farm called "Polonia," belonging to a Russian Missionary who has been for many years in the Transvaal. He unites the pursuits of spiritual instruction according to the tenets of the Greek Church, with farming on a large scale. On leaving "Polonia" we passed the large and picturesque German Mission Station of "Hebron," which is situated in the midst of a rich and fertile valley. One night we outspanned at a spot called the "Salt Pans." While breakfast was being prepared the next morning, I walked to see those wonderful "Salt Pans," which were close to our camping ground. I descended by a steep path some six hundred or seven hundred feet to the bottom. It is an immense amphitheatre at the base of thickly wooded hills. It is larger in extent than the vast open excavation formed by the "Kimberley" Mine at Kimberley. The salt and soda brine is perpetually oosing from the bottom, and is continually being scraped up with a sort of wooden scraper into heaps, where, after a time, by the action of the atmosphere, it becomes crystallised. I picked up and brought away with me several crystals of pure salt. This is another of the marvels of the Transvaal, a country which abounds in natural wealth of all kinds, fitted for the service of man. These Salt Pans are the property of the Transvaal Government, which derives a considerable income from the tax imposed for taking away the salt, and soda, from them.
Frequently during our journey we outspanned just outside the Kafir kraals, and often entered into them; one of my companions speaking the native, as well as the Dutch languages very fluently. We were always received by both Boers, and Kafirs, very kindly. Sometimes we were accompanied by a large number of Kafirs for days. I remember once, counting as many as forty Kafirs sitting round our camp fire, clothed and unclothed, and in every variety of costume, from the old British Artillery tunic to the equally ancient pea coat, the bright-coloured blue morning jacket, and the cloak of Jackall skins. On this occasion they remained all night with us, keeping up the fire and indulging in endless and cheerful talk among themselves. When I wrapped myself in my kaross and turned into the wagon at night I left them talking. When I awoke in the early morning I found them talking still.
The country I saw in the Northern part of the Transvaal is very different, and far more picturesque than it is in the South-West or South-East, which have a close resemblance to one another, in their bare, barren, treeless, and dreary character. I saw some parts which were really beautiful. One day we drove for several miles through quite lovely scenery. In passing along the road I was forcibly reminded of the road between Braemar and Mar Lodge, in Aberdeenshire, which it strongly resembles. The road runs on the side of the hill, sloping down to the rivulet at the bottom, exactly like the river Dee, and the Rooiburg, or red tinted, Mountain, exactly resembles the heather on the Scottish hills. It is altogether a charming spot, and a perfect picture of fine scenery. There is a large quantity of excellent and valuable timber in this district, as well as abundant evidence of mineral-bearing quartz. I believe that, some day, other Johannesburgs are destined to rise in the Northern part of the Transvaal, rivalling, or perhaps even eclipsing, the treasures already discovered in the Randt.
At the spot I have described, which is called Hartebeestepoort, not far from the banks of the Zand River, where there is a good quantity of excellent and valuable timber, there was quite a romantic scene one night. We were discussing, as usual, our evening meal round our camp fire. It was starlight, but otherwise we were in total darkness. In addition to ourselves, there were nine Kafirs, making a party of a dozen altogether. It was an intensely interesting and remarkable scene to me, to find myself surrounded by these wild fellows in perfectly friendly fashion, in the midst of the vast veldt, the silence and stillness only broken every now and then by the cry of the jackals howling in the distance. On leaving here we travelled north towards Grouthoek, which is situated in the midst of the Rhynoster range of mountains, being drawn by oxen, our horses following us, in order to give them rest, and so keep them fresher.
I was disappointed at the small quantity of game we found on our journey. We occasionally shot a springbok, and I thus had an opportunity of making myself acquainted with the delicious flavour of the South African venison. But the days of the enormous herds which once abounded in these regions are gone. They have been either exterminated by the Boers, or been driven far northward, into the interior of Africa, together with the lions and elephants, over whose former habitation I was travelling. There are still a good many koodoos, and hartebeestes in this neighbourhood, but I was not fortunate enough to come across them. Our commissariat was occasionally supplemented by a delicious bird, about the size of a pheasant, called the kooran, as well as by a few pheasants, partridges, and guinea fowls.
One afternoon we were exposed to a thrilling adventure, which, but for the merciful interposition of Providence, might have terminated in a most disastrous way. Suddenly, as we were driving along the road, through a dense wood, we discovered to the right of us the light of an immense bush fire. It was careering wildly along, fiercely burning, and sweeping everything before it. We saw it was coming swiftly towards the road we were travelling. We pulled up the horses, and taking out lucifer matches, jumped off the wagon, and tried to set alight to the grass, which was about five or six feet high, and very dry, close by us, in order to secure a clear open space around us. But it was too late. The fierce fire, to the height of several feet, was rushing and crashing through the wood furiously towards us. Another moment, and we should have been within its terrible grasp, and wagon, horses, and ourselves infallibly burnt. It was in truth an awful crisis. We jumped back into the wagon and pushed frantically forward. Showers of sparks were already in the road. But, fortunately, the fire, which for a full half mile was burning behind us, was only a short distance in front of us, and, thank God, we happily escaped.
One of the great advantages I have derived from my tour is, that I have had many opportunities of communicating personally with so many men of different races, and all classes—British, Dutch, and natives.
During my present journey I had a most interesting conversation one morning with a transport driver, who was travelling by the northern part of the Transvaal, with three hundred lean cattle from the Cape Colony into Bechuanaland. He gave me some very valuable and important information with regard to Colonial feeling in the country districts of the Cape Colony. He was Colonial born, and a fine, handsome man of about forty—a descendant of the Scotch farmers, who emigrated to the Cape in 1820. His conversation impressed me much. He told me that the Colonists generally are loyal to the Queen to the backbone; but not to the British Government, which they consider has not represented their feelings and opinions, and has sacrificed their interests. They dislike the Colonial Government, and are not favourable to responsible Government, as they see it.
They would prefer being under the British Government direct, in spite of all its terrible mistakes and mishaps, from which they have so cruelly suffered. My informant's opinion was, that the present policy of the administration in Bechuanaland is not conducive to encourage emigration, as it puts artificial impediments in the way of farmers with small means settling there, which, he thought, they would do in crowds from the Colony, if they were allowed to do so on paying a quit rent, say of L10 or L15 per annum, instead of the high terms of L40 demanded at present. He had a very high opinion of Bechuanaland as a cattle-grazing country.
The Waterburg warm sulphur baths—to which I paid a visit, taking a hot bath myself, which was certainly much too hot for me, but which was otherwise refreshing, after nearly a fortnight's residence on the veldt, where there is a decided scarcity of water, both for drinking and washing purposes—are situated about seventy miles north of Pretoria. They are extensively patronised by the Boers, and are said to be most efficacious in every variety of rheumatic and gouty complaints. They are strongly impregnated with sulphur, and might be made very attractive in the hands of anyone of enterprise, who would construct a suitable establishment of baths, fit for patients who would be quite ready to pay handsomely for them, instead of the miserably primitive and wretched receptacles, called baths, into which the highly excellent natural sulphur water is conveyed, and used by the motley crowd of invalids I saw there.
From the Waterburg warm baths our route lay to the southward, across the Springbok Flats, to the Nylstroom road, along which, in two days more, we accomplished the intervening distance of about seventy miles back to Pretoria, thus concluding a most interesting and instructive journey into the northern part of the Transvaal. During all this time, with the exception of the first night, I lived entirely in our wagon, sleeping in it every night, and having every meal (which consisted principally of the game we shot on the way), cooked at the various camp fires kindled on the veldt, and drinking nothing but tea. I saw much, of course, of the Kafirs in their kraals, as well as of the Boers in their tents and wagons, in my trek through this wilderness.
PRETORIA TO NATAL.
After reaching Pretoria, I stayed only two days there, engaged in bidding farewell to my numerous friends, and making preparations for my next long journey into Natal. I left Pretoria for Johannesburg by coach, on the 1st of August, and started from the latter town at five o'clock in the morning of the 3rd, in very cold weather and pitch dark, by the post cart. This most uncomfortable vehicle is a kind of wagonette, with somewhat dilapidated canvas curtains, through which the wind whistled most unpleasantly, being utterly insufficient to keep out the cold. It is drawn by eight horses, and has cramped seats for eight or ten passengers. On this occasion there were seven others besides myself. In addition the mail bags were crammed inconveniently under the seats. In this post cart I travelled for three days and two nights by way of Richmond, Heidelburg, Standerton,—where cattle rearing and horse breeding is successfully carried on,—and Newcastle, which will be remembered as having been the base of operations during the Boer war, and also as the place where the final treaty of Peace was drawn up and signed by the joint Commission, to Eland's Laagte, the present terminus of the Natal railway, thirteen miles beyond Ladysmith. At Eland's Laagte a very promising coal field is being worked, from which great and important results are expected in the future. Soon after crossing the Transvaal border we passed the battle fields of Laing's Nek, Majuba Hill, and Ingogo, names indelibly associated with one of the saddest, as well as most humiliating, episodes of English modern military history, in connection with the Transvaal War of 1881. I gazed mournfully on Majuba Hill, that black spot of bitter memories to every Briton, and of natural exultation and pride to the Boers; and on Colley's grave, the unfortunate commander, whose unhappy and most unaccountable military blunder led to the lamentable and fatal defeat, which cost him his life, and resulted in the miserable fiasco—the retrocession of the Transvaal to the Boers. It is impossible to estimate the damage done to British influence, prestige, and power by the political consequences resulting from that disastrous day.
The south-eastern part of the Transvaal is as bare, and treeless, and altogether as uninteresting and unattractive as the south western region, between Bechuanaland and Klerksdorp, through which I had travelled a few weeks previously. The instant, however, the border is crossed, and Natal is entered, the scene is at once changed, and the beauty of the surrounding country becomes apparent. Instead of the flat, wearisome desert of the Transvaal, undulating hills, clothed with verdure, and an extensive panorama of broad and fertile plains meets the eye.
After leaving Ladysmith, I proceeded to Maritzburg, the seat of Government of Natal. This picturesque town is in a charming situation, the surrounding scenery being extremely pretty. The town itself, is well laid out, the streets being wide, and in most cases edged with trees. Amongst its public buildings may be mentioned the new House of Assembly, of which Sir John Akerman is Speaker. It is a handsome edifice, well arranged, and economically constructed at a cost of L20,000. A life-size statue of Her Majesty is to be erected in the front of the building, the pedestal of which is already in situ.
While staying at Government House, and enjoying the kind hospitality of Sir Charles and Lady Mitchell, my ear was often gladdened by the sound of the cavalry bugle and the roll of the drum, those striking symbols of British sway, as the troops passed my window in their early morning rides. I am persuaded that these outward evidences of latent power, impress not only the minds of Englishmen, but of natives also, in this distant land. There cannot be a doubt of the influence exercised by the British race over the aboriginal inhabitants of South Africa. That this should be used, at all times, with justice, tact, and discretion, "goes without saying;" but that it is a factor of great effect on their minds is unquestionable.
The railway journey from Maritzburg to Durban, a distance of fifty-seven miles by road, is long and rather tedious travelling on account of the slow pace. The line (a single one), which seems to have been very skilfully engineered, is necessarily constructed with such steep gradients that this seems inevitable. The long stoppages at stations might be certainly improved. Durban is the prettiest as well as one of the cleanest, and most well-ordered towns I have seen in South Africa. I was at once struck with the Town Hall, a magnificent building, recently erected, and generally stated to be, although not the largest, in some respects the handsomest in South Africa. The total cost of construction was about L50,000, and it is worthy of note that in their selection of an architect, the Corporation of Durban did not have to go beyond their own town, an efficient man being found in Mr. P.M. Dudgeon. The building is of the Corinthian order of architecture, having a frontage of 206 feet, with a depth of 270 feet. It is prettily situated, and is a striking proof of what colonists can do when an occasion demanding skill, and perseverance, arises. There are several other fine buildings in the town. A stranger coming from the Transvaal is immediately impressed with the contrast between the careless indifference, which marks the absence of proper municipal arrangements in the towns of the South African Republic, and the proofs of their presence in an energetic British community. The Natalians certainly deserve the greatest credit for the way in which they carry on the business and manage the public affairs of their prosperous, and thriving town, which has a population of 17,000, of whom about 9,000 are Europeans. Recent commercial returns show that the trade of Natal, of which Durban, as the seaport town, is the centre, is rapidly increasing.
The imports during the first three-quarters of the year 1888 were about two millions; and in 1889, during the same period, they had risen to three millions. The exports during 1888 were one million; for the same period in 1889 they were one million and a quarter. Imports have advanced 50 per cent., exports by 25 per cent. Customs revenue has advanced by 25 per cent., and if the receipts be maintained, which is more than probable, the total income for the year from this source will reach L350,000. It is anticipated that the combined trade of Natal for the year 1889 will not be far short of six millions sterling. The increase is a substantial one, and, what is more satisfactory, is that there appears to be every reasonable prospect that the trade will go on increasing by leaps and bounds. Affairs are in a generally prosperous state, and a good sign is to be found in the fact that the emigration returns are also rapidly rising.
The gigantic Harbour Works, commenced and now nearly successfully completed for the purpose of removing the bar, according to the plans both of Sir John Coode, and subsequently of his pupil, their late lamented engineer, Mr. Innes, and under the active personal superintendence of their distinguished townsman the Chairman of the Harbour Board, comprise an undertaking of which the citizens of Durban may well be proud. Nor is less credit due to them, and to their spirited leaders, for their enterprise in so rapidly pushing on their railway to the Transvaal border, in the confident expectation that they will be the first to bring the benefits of that most necessary modern mode of conveyance, both for passengers and goods, into the heart of the Transvaal Republic.
The Harbour Works, the Railway, and the Durban Town Hall are all works of sufficient magnitude to give undoubted evidence of the public spirit and unconquerable energy of the people of Natal.
The inhabitants of Durban are fortunate in possessing picturesque surroundings to their pretty town. The "Berea," one of its most attractive spots, is an elevated suburb where many of the principal merchants, and others have their residences. It commands a lovely prospect over the bay, and a beautiful view of the country inland.
During, my stay at Durban I paid visits to two of the most remarkable places in the neighbourhood. These were the Natal Central Sugar Company's manufactory at Mount Edgcumbe, and the famous Trappist establishment at Marionhill. The sugar manufactory is situated on a farm of some 8,000 acres, about 15 miles from Durban. A short railway ride brought me to it. I was courteously received by the manager, Monsieur Dumat. This gentleman, a Frenchman of great experience in the manufacture of sugar both in India and Mauritius, has been at Mount Edgcumbe for the last ten years. He is remarkable for the way in which he maintains order and control over all his numerous native workmen. In the mill itself there are 160 men employed, everyone of whom is a Coolie. There is not a single white man on the premises, excepting two English clerks in the counting house. I was astonished at the perfect order which reigned in the mill, where I spent some time. Everyone appeared to perform his allotted task with activity, cheerfulness, and untiring perseverance. Monsieur Dumat told me he could never get the same steady work from white workmen. He seems to govern them all with perfect tact and kindness. Some of them have been with him for many years. There are about 900 other men, Kafirs and Coolies, employed on the farm. I was shown all the various processes of sugar manufacture, from the crushing of the cane, to the crystallising of the sugar. The first sorts are ready for sale in forty-eight hours; other qualities require a week, and again even as much as six months to perfect them. There is some wonderful machinery in the mill.
The Trappist establishment at Marionhill is one which should be seen by everyone visiting Natal. It is reached by rail from Durban in about an hour's ride to the Pine Town station. A drive from thence of about four miles brings a visitor to Marionhill. The monks, as is well known, are under a vow of strict silence. I was met by one of them at the station, who drove me in a waggonette to the Trappist farm. Here I was met by, and presented to, the Abbot. He is the real leader and director of this remarkable establishment. He devoted three hours to taking me over it, and showing me all the various industries and works which are carried on. About two hundred brothers are there at present, but more are expected shortly, and upwards of one hundred sisters, and about three hundred Kafirs. The latter are taught, not only the ordinary branches of a practical education (of course including religion), but all sorts of handicraft. It is, emphatically, a school of technical education. Everything is manufactured and made at Marionhill, from the substantial bullock wagons, and the delicate spiders, to the baking of bread, the building of houses, stables, and cattle lairs, the printing of periodicals, and book-binding. Work is the great and leading feature of the Trappist creed. The motive power is religion. Its controlling influence is here complete.
I came away quite amazed at all I saw, as well as pleased at the attention I received from the Abbot. He is certainly a very remarkable man, of great natural gifts, and indomitable energy and power. He is sixty-five years of age. He was born on the shores of Lake Constance; and before he took to studying for the Roman Catholic Church in a German University, he was employed, as he told me, in early life in the care of cattle at his native home.
The Trappist farm is beautifully situated, and within its area contains some really fine scenery. The Kafir women's part of the establishment is distinct, and quite half a mile distant from the men's quarters. Women are taught to sew, and sing, to cut out and make dresses, to cook, clean, and go through all the usual routine of household work. The costume of the female Trappists, who, as well as the male, are highly educated, is scarlet serge, with white aprons. The men are clothed in brown serge.
I was struck with the admirable arrangement of the stables, constructed for twenty horses, and of the cow and cattle sheds. All the engineering works also show evidences of the complete knowledge of science possessed by the "brothers," and their energetic leader. I came away much interested, and wonderfully impressed with all I had seen in this remarkable institution.
Up to the present time the defences of the Colony have been in a very backward state but I was glad to find that a battery is in course of construction, commanding the entrance to the Bay, which is to be armed with guns of the latest pattern, one of them having recently arrived at Durban.
Having passed ten very pleasant days at Durban and its neighbourhood, I embarked, on the 15th of August, on board the coasting steamer, Anglian, for Port Elizabeth. I had a terrible experience of the annoyance of the present mode of embarking passengers at Durban. After attempting to get over the Bar in a tremendous sea, we were obliged to put back into the Harbour thoroughly drenched. Once more attempting it, we succeeded after another good wetting in getting alongside the Anglian, where we remained at anchor until the morning, waiting for the Cargo Boat we were obliged to leave behind, rolling and pitching all night. The eastern coast of South Africa is subject to weather which is often very rough and stormy; and I was, unluckily, destined to experience it. I certainly had a most disagreeable time, in making this short voyage. After touching at East London, where extensive harbour works are being constructed, I was landed at Port Elizabeth (after three days' knocking about at sea) on the 18th, being let down, like St. Paul, in a basket, from the deck of the Anglian to the tug, which took me to the pier in the open roadstead. Right glad was I to get on terra firma again.
Port Elizabeth (Algoa Bay) which is generally known as the "Liverpool" of South Africa, is the chief seaport of the Eastern Province, its trade being steadily increased by the development of the Transvaal Gold Fields, and the growth of the interior towns of the Cape Colony. It is a thriving business town. Its inhabitants, like those of Natal, are thoroughly energetic and active in the pursuit of their various mercantile avocations, and number about 12,000, a large proportion being Europeans.
The town contains many fine buildings, the most conspicuous being the Town Hall and Public Library combined, which is a striking edifice, erected at a cost of L26,000. Attached to it is the market, leading out of which is a splendid and capacious hall, 180 feet long by 90 feet broad. Here I saw a curious and unique scene. Long tables were extended along its entire length, on which were arranged large heaps of ostrich feathers, carefully tied up, and sampled for sale. Port Elizabeth is the staple market for this industry. The value of the feathers I saw, I was told, was something fabulous.
Port Elizabeth is a handsome town. In the upper part of it, called the Hill, there are many good private residences, and an excellent club house, at which I stayed, and enjoyed the kind hospitality, courteously extended to me.
A large, well kept, and conveniently laid out botanical garden, which is much resorted to, is a great attraction to the town. There is also an excellent hospital at Port Elizabeth. I was much pleased with its appearance, and with the arrangements made for the comfort of the patients. The ventilation struck me as being particularly perfect. There is accommodation for 100 patients, male and female. A well-arranged children's ward, attracts much attention, especially with the lady visitors.
There is, in addition, a good water supply obtained from Van Staden's River, distant about twenty-seven miles from the town, at a cost of about L150,000.
There are several Churches, including Trinity Church, St. Augustine's Roman Catholic Cathedral, the Scottish Presbyterian Church, and a Congregational Church, upon which no less a sum than L7,715 was expended.
Previously to leaving Port Elizabeth, the following address was presented to me by the Fellows of the Royal Colonial Institute resident there:—
TO SIR, FREDERICK YOUNG, K.C.M.G.,
A Vice-President of the Royal Colonial Institute.
"We, the undersigned Fellows of the Royal Colonial Institute, take advantage of your presence amongst us to join in the expression of hearty welcome to South Africa, which has greeted you in the several towns where you have met the Members of the Institute, with which you have been so long and honourably connected.
"We are mindful of the valuable services which you have so long rendered to our Institute, as Honorary Secretary, the indefatigable zeal ever displayed by you in forwarding the interests of the Colonies of Great Britain; and that the success of the Institution, over which you now preside, as one of the Vice-Presidents, is in no small degree due to your exertions. We venture to hope that your visit to South Africa has been an agreeable one, and that with renewed health you will return home to resume and continue the valuable services you have heretofore rendered, and that the Royal Colonial Institute may continue to flourish under the auspices of the distinguished men who so ably guard its interests."
While I was at Port Elizabeth I paid a flying visit to Grahamstown. A railway journey of rather over one hundred miles carried me there. The railway runs through the veldt, where wild elephants are still strictly preserved. There are said to be more than one hundred of these animals in the district. They occasionally do great damage to the line. During my stay I was hospitably entertained by the Bishop. I had already heard that Grahamstown was noted for its natural charms, and its appearance certainly did not disappoint me. Beautiful in situation, it merits the high praises which have been bestowed upon it. It has also acquired a reputation for being the seat of learning, and the centre of the principal educational establishments of the Colony. The Bishop having kindly provided me with a carriage, I drove to see the various objects of interest in the neighbourhood. I first went to the Botanical Gardens, which are very striking. They contain a large collection of rare and valuable specimens of both arboriculture and horticulture. They are admirably kept, and are very ornamental. I next drove round the Mountain road. This is a beautiful drive of seven miles back into the town. The views of the surrounding country are superb. It is a priceless boon to the inhabitants of Grahamstown to possess such an attractive and health-giving spot, for their recreation and enjoyment. I afterwards visited the Museum, where there is a most interesting and valuable collection of animal, vegetable, and mineral curiosities, both ancient and modern. I also went over the Prison, and recorded in the visitors' book my favourable opinion of the arrangements made for the health and comfort of the prisoners. They appeared to me to be all that could reasonably be expected, or desired. I also went to see the Kafir school, carried on under the careful management of the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. M——.
I regretted that time did not permit of my visiting the celebrated Ostrich Farm of Mr. Arthur Douglass, at Heatherton Towers, about fifteen miles from Grahamstown. Mr. Douglass has the largest and most successful Ostrich Farm in the Colony, in addition to which he is the patentee of an egg hatching machine, or incubator, which is very much used in various parts of South Africa. The export of feathers has increased rapidly, and has become one of the chief exports of the Colony, as whilst in 1868 the quantity exported was valued at L70,000, in 1887 it had reached the value of L365,587. This is by no means the largest amount appearing under the head of exports during recent years, as in 1882 the value of feathers exported was L1,093,989. It is estimated that during the past half-century the total weight of the feathers exported has been more than one thousand tons. The Cape Colony has, in fact, had a monopoly of the ostrich industry, but in 1884 several shipments of ostriches took place to South Australia, the Argentine Republic, and to California, and the Government of the Cape Colony, being alarmed, that the Colony was in danger of losing its lucrative monopoly, imposed an export tax of L100 on each ostrich, and L5 on each ostrich egg exported.
PORT ELIZABETH TO CAPE TOWN.
On my return to Port Elizabeth, I spent another day or two there, and left on the evening of Monday, the 26th of August, by railway for Cape Town. This long journey of between eight hundred and nine hundred miles occupies nearly two days and two nights. It was the last I took in South Africa. The country, generally speaking, is very much of the same kind as that northward, over the Karoo, and in the southern part of the Transvaal. High land,—in the neighbourhood of Nieupoort 5,050 feet above the sea level,—flat, bare, and treeless. It is certainly a very desolate-looking country to travel over in winter. Nearing Cape Town, however, I ought not to omit to mention the Hex River Pass. The scenery here is certainly very grand, and is some of the best of its kind I have seen in South Africa. The railway, which winds through it by a succession of zigzags from a great height, is another of the many triumphs of engineering skill which are to be found in all parts of the world. The fine views of the Pass, when I traversed it, were heightened by the tops of the mountains being tinged with a wreath of snow. From Hex River the route to Cape Town lay through a rich and fertile valley, conveying ample proofs of the agricultural value and resources of this part of the Cape Colony. I arrived at Cape Town in the afternoon of the following Wednesday. Here I spent another pleasant week, seeing various friends.
One of the last duties which devolved upon me before leaving South Africa—at the urgent invitation of some of my friends—was to deliver an address at Cape Town on Imperial Federation. This I did at the hall of the Young Men's Christian Society, to a large and attentive audience.[C]
On the 4th of September I left Cape Town in the s.s. Athenian; and, after a pleasant and rapid voyage of eighteen days, touching only at Madeira on the way, I landed safely at Southampton on Sunday the 22nd.
I have now given an account of the prominent features of my tour, during which, in the course of five months, I travelled about twelve thousand miles by sea, and four thousand by land.