Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

institution been continued, as far as civilization is concerned, a better race of men could not, perhaps, have been found

The effect, indeed, was as surprising as it was novel, and humanity must have rejoiced at the marks of comfort and improvement attested by those Bushmen villages, in a country which had never before yielded to the plough or the spade.

23

CHAPTER II.

Abolition of the Bushman missions by the Colonial Government.

Testimonies of their beneficial effects.--Appearance of Toverberg, when visited by the author.-Motives of the colonists in conspiring against these missions.-A Commando, to extirpate the Bushmen, recommended by the Commission of Circuit, in 1816.-Continuance of this bloody system.

With such flattering prospects before us, and after the testimony of Colonel Collins, in favour of missions, and the strenuous manner in which he urges their establishment upon the colonial government, for the civilization of the Bushmen, and the benefit of the farmers, my readers will be quite unprepared to hear that, on the arrival of the deputation of the London Missionary Society in South Africa, we found these Bushman missions abolished, and the missionaries recalled within the limits of the colony.

In 1816, when Mr. Corner went to Graaff-Reinet, to have his child baptized, the landdrost informed him of the feelings entertained by the colonists towards his institution; and desired him to wait the arrival of the governor, Lord Charles Somerset, who would be there in a few days; intimating, at the same time, that it was not probable he would be permitted to return.

His Excellency, on seeing him, expressed his sorrow that he was under obligation to recall him within the limits of the colony, as these institutions, in the Bushman and the Griqua countries, were detrimental to the

colony. When permission was requested that he might be allowed to return to his station, for only a limited time, the governor refused it, observing, that if it was wanted, he must write to the government in Eng. land, as it was beyond his power to grant it. The governor asked him why he did not teach the Hottentots within the colony, and make good subjects of them: to which it was answered, that there were already several missionaries within the colony; and his instructions from the society were to a different effect. The governor wished him to itinerate among the farm- , ers, staying eight or ten days at each place, and instructing their slaves ; in which case, he would find the government favourable to him. Particular spots were pointed out to him, but he was expressly forbidden to form an institution similar to those then in existence.

After having given full details of the conversation which took place at this interview, in which nothing is alleged that afforded the shadow of a pretext for the measures now resorted to against those interesting missions, Mr. Corner states, in a document now before

governor desired the landdrost to furnish him with a written order, requiring him to remove from Hephzibah, and to settle within the colony. The first intimation,” he adds, “ that I received of the intention of government to abolish the infant institution of Hephzibah, reached me before my visit to GraaffReinet. This intimation was communicated to me by Mr. Smith of Toverberg. He gave me no particulars ; he merely stated that some misunderstandings had taken place between him and the surrounding farmers about Bushmen children; that the Field-cornet Vanderwalt was against the mission, and had reported of it un

me, that the

1

in

favourably to the landdrost ; that his apprehension was, that destruction threatened his mission; and that, if it was put down, Hephzibah would not be spared. After receiving a written order from the government, prohibiting my return to occupy that station, I received a written order also for Mr. Smith, requiring him to leave his mission and return to the colony.”

This triumph of injustice and oppression has never ceased to be lamented by the humane and religious part of the colonists themselves, as will be seen by the following extracts from letters which have been received on this subject. An individual, who was present at the commencement of those stations, and who had enjoyed favourable opportunities of marking their progress knowledge and civilization, writes (in a letter, dated in 1820) as follows :

“Where any attempts have been made with the Bushmen, the results have been most favourable. The station at Toverberg had not been long established, when a great improvement became visible. When the institution was abolished, numbers were learning to read; some of them had become decidedly pious; and all began to put their hands to labour, and could handle pretty well the spade and sickle, &c. Although deprived of their teacher, they still keep up the forms of religion ; and meet together to edify each other.

“The civilizing effects of Mr. Corner's labours at Hephzibah were still more striking. From the first day of their assembling together, they commenced making large gardens, and raised quantities of Indian corn, pumpkins, water-melons, beans, &c. A savage Bushman captain, at Kramer's fountain, has become an industrious man, having a corn-field, and a large garden of his own.

He was considered, and acknowledges himself to have been the most depraved of his race in that part of the country; but he has, for the last three years, conducted himself in the most prudent way possible, and is a wonder to himself and others; he attends the means of instruction, and is observed to be steady in the use of private prayer.

“ It is very distressing to see the ground the Bushmen cultivated, now in possession of the farmers. I am sorry

to

say, that if the present system is continued, the Bushmen must either be driven from the country they now inhabit, or become slaves to the farmers. A great part of the land, containing springs, in the Bushman country, between the colony and the Orange river, is now converted into grazing places for the farmers' cattle. The farmer, when hunting in the Bushman country, comes to a good place, having a fountain of water; he puts up his beacon ; sends his cattle there ; and claims it as his own. The evils arising out of this practice are many and great. When the Bushmen have all their game killed, and their fountains taken from them, they must be slaves or starve, or be driven to desperation. The fear of having their abuses represented to government is no doubt at the bottom of the opposition which has been shown to the missions in the Bushman country. But while I state these things, it is but justice to say,

that many

of the farmers in the Graaff-Reinet district show a different spirit; they manifest great sorrow on account of the abolition of the missions there; and wish them to be missionary stations again. I must say that the opposition which led to the destruction of those missions did not proceed from the farmers in their neighbourhood, but from farmers at a distance.'

The following extract is from a letter, dated in

« AnteriorContinuar »