« AnteriorContinuar »
arise between buyer and seller, on so novel an occasion.
To this market the trader was allowed to take beads and buttons, hatchets and agricultural implements, together with various descriptions of coarse wearing apparel, blankets, &c. But he was positively forbidden to vend either wine or spirits, arms or ammunition; things that have proved so destructive amongst the American Indians, as well as other barbarous nations. Numbers eagerly engaged in this new traffic, and the mart soon became a place of great resort. The different clans, far and near, flocked to it in multitudes, and frequently pre.. sented scenes both ludicrous and interesting. The quantity of ivory brought down in the course of a few months furnished demonstrative evidence that the country beyond was by no means so poor as many had been disposed to think. It was at first apprehended that the door being thrown open for a free trade in cattle would be the means of rendering the Kaffer still more predatory and mischievous; that disposing of his oxen and kine at the market, he would inevitably reduce himself to the neces sity of stealing more. This supposition, however, was founded in utter ignorance of that ardent attachment which he ever evinces towards his herds; and which at all times renders him loath to part even with a single head. He rarely disposes of a good cow at any price; but almost always selects for the market such as are no longer likely to be useful to him, in consequence of age, or some other defect. In this respect his economy is highly commendable, and places him many degrees above the improvident Hottentot.
The spread of Christianity long opposed-Restraint on Missionary effort-War of extermination-The Chief S'Lhambi -Rite of Circumcision-Servile respect paid to ChiefsInteresting assemblage-Mount Coke established-Thievish propensity of the Natives-Remarkable Birds-Pitiable state of Women in War time.
EARLY in 1825 we began to contemplate the establishment of a second station in Caffraria; and various circumstances seemed to point out the tribe of S'Lhambi as the next object of attention. This old Chief was Gaika's uncle, and the celebrated "Schelm," or villain, who, in years past, spread terror throughout all the frontier parts of the colony. In the month of June, therefore, Messrs. Davis, Young, and I, visited him for the purpose of ascertaining his views, and acquainting him with our design.
While passing through the dense jungle that stretches along the boundary line, reflection almost irresistibly carries one back to the circumstances and events of former years. The difficulty and singular crookedness of its paths might seem still to serve as a memento of the perverse spirit which then predominated; and of the obstacles with which the Gospel has had to contend in making way through its gloomy windings. As if with the view of rendering these dismal shades the boundary of light, as well as of liberty, the following measures were proposed by the Batavian Government, in the year 1803, namely, 1. To drive the Kaffers beyond the Fish River. 2. To cut off all communication between them
and the colonists. 3. To hold no intercourse with them except through the public authorities. 4. To guard the boundary by patroles of European soldiers. 5. To encourage the settlement [Dutch] adjoining Kafferland, and 6. To discourage all Missionaries except the Moravians.
In support of the last proposition, it was even alleged that the Kaffers were happier without such interference; and that to civilize them would, in all probability, injure them. In February, 1805, restraints were imposed upon Missionary effort, which put a stop to the beneficial instruction that some of the natives were then receiving within the colony, and prevented those improvements character which might have tended to allay strife between the blacks and their white neighbours. Thus was the grand engine of peace put in a corner, and the flames of hostility suffered to rise higher and higher, until the year 1811, when an exterminating war was determined on, and eighteen or twenty thousand Kaffers driven out of the colony, by force of arms. This event was productive of the most serious consequences, and doubtless proved the moving cause of numerous feuds, and of many a bloody conflict. The bare recollection of these things enhances the interest of every means by which knowledge is disseminated and amity promoted.
Just as we cleared the bush on the eastern bank a herd of elephants crossed the path, right in front of us. They rushed forth from behind a clump of trees hard by the road side, where they had apparently been basking in the evening sun. A few seconds more must have brought us into inevitable contact, as we were proceeding at a quick pace when they arose; but as no attempt was made to intercept them they passed quietly along, without turning either to the right hand or to the left, until safely harboured in the depths of the forest. The sight was rendered highly gratifying by our being but a
few paces from them, and their movements very slow. One of the train was quite small, probably not many weeks old. This was carefully kept in the midst of the herd, as if to prevent its straying or sustaining harm.
Night came on soon afterwards, and we got bewildered, not being able distinctly to see the narrow footpaths which constituted our only guides. At length, however, we reached the cattle folds of Kongo, whom the colonial Government had now permitted to pasture his herds on a part of the ceded territory. The evening was far advanced, and all around were gone to rest. Profound silence, therefore, reigned, until broken by the echo of our shouts. These, at last, aroused the people, who answered by firing a gun, the report of which led us to the dark glen wherein they were living. Kongo, as usual, received us in the most friendly manner ; and after unsaddling our horses directed us to the foot of a large tree: "There," said he, pointing to the ground, "that is the best bed I can give you." A fire was then kindled, and we were speedily supplied with basket upon basket of sour milk. Of this we supped, and soon laid down to sleep, with the bespangled arch of heaven for our only canopy.
The following morning a considerable cavalcade accompanied us from Kongo's hamlet to Wesleyville, where, according to appointment, we were joined by Mr. W. Shaw. Our road lay through an interesting part of the country, studded here and there with clusters of huts, scattered about at irregular distances from each other. By some it was deemed quite an adventure to traverse the tract we were now passing through; but nothing like hostility was any where manifested.
At S'Lhambi's residence we arrived early on Saturday afternoon; and, after turning our weary horses loose, sat down on the ground at some distance from his hut, expecting a message of inquiry. At first it was said
that he was in the fields tending his calves; but this proved to be a mistake, as he soon afterwards made his appearance. Nevertheless he affected not to see us, and scarcely looked the way we were. After a while he seated himself on the threshold of his hut, apparently to enjoy the genial warmth of the sun. Considering the character which fame had given to this venerable Chief, and which the barbarous acts of former days had probably justified, the attitude he now assumed strongly reminded us of an old lion peeping out of his den, and rendered docile by age alone. Perceiving that he was not disposed to come to us, we advanced and saluted him, upon which he very good humouredly shook hands, and requested us to sit down by his side. Just as we 1 had commenced conversation, his servant brought up a quantity of boiled meat; which, after taking a portion himself, he shared amongst his guests. Although coarse fare, hunger rendered it very acceptable, and we therefore prepared to make a hearty meal, without either vegetables or bread. Miserable indeed would be the epicure, and wretched the fastidious man of fashion, in these dwellings of the barbarian.
We had not sat long before he requested to know what news we had brought, and what the design of our journey was. Upon which it was stated, that our King and Government were wishful to promote peace amongst all nations: that having obtained the Governor's permission to visit him, we were desirous of establishing a Mission in his territories; and had therefore come for the express purpose of ascertaining his mind upon the subject. Your intentions," said he, are very good, but my people are too bad to learn. What teacher will come to live amongst them?" Here he was told that one present was ready to come and instruct them in the things of God. Where," exclaimed he, "does that man, God, live?" This is a question which the Kaffer