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Title: The Cape Peninsula - Pen and Colour Sketches
Author: Juta, Réné
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Cape Peninsula - Pen and Colour Sketches" ***

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Transcriber's Note:

  Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the original document have
  been preserved. Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

  Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.


  [Illustration: CAPE TOWN FROM TABLE BAY]





     CAPE TOWN: J. C. JUTA & CO.


'Only those who see take off their shoes. The rest sit round and pluck
blackberries and stain their faces with the natural hue of them.'

       *       *       *       *       *

'I am told there are people who do not care for maps, and find it hard
to believe. The names, the shapes of the woodlands, the courses of the
roads and rivers, the prehistoric footsteps of man still distinctly
traceable up hill and down dale, the mills and the ruins, the ponds
and the ferries, perhaps the Standing Stone or the Druidic Circle on
the heath; here is an inexhaustible fund of interest for any man with
eyes to see or twopence worth of imagination to understand with.'



     CHAPTER                                             PAGE

     I. THE CASTLE                                          1



     IV. 'PARADISE' AND THE BARNARDS                       46

     V. THE LIESBEEK RIVER                                 53


     VII. THE CONSTANTIA VALLEY                            73

     VIII. THE MOUNTAIN                                    78


     X. FALSE BAY                                         100

     XI. THE BLUE SHADOW ACROSS THE FLATS                 110


     1.   Cape Town from Table Bay (_Frontispiece_)
                                                           FACING PAGE
     2.   On the Ramparts of the old Castle (moonlight)              5

     3.   Table Bay from the Kloof Nek                              17

     4.   Blaauwberg and Head of Table Bay                          32

     5.   Tigerberg and Diep River                                  34

     6.   Blue Hydrangeas at Groote Schuur                          41

     7.   The Blue Shadow--View from Rhodes's Monument              45

     8.   The Southern Part of False Bay, with Cape Hangclip        47

     9.   Oak Avenue, Newlands                                      59

     10.  Silver Trees and Wild Geraniums                           62

     11.  Fir Avenue--'Alphen'                                      72

     12.  Constantia Valley and False Bay, with Cape Point          78

     13.  A Sunset on the Lions Head: Effect of South-east Wind     88

     14.  On the Victoria Road, near Oude Kraal                     92

     15.  Camps Bay, on the Victoria Road                           95

     16.  Hout Bay and Hangberg                                     97

     17.  Chapman's Peak and Slang Kop Point from Hout Bay          99

     18.  At Lakeside, looking towards Constantia                  102

     19.  At Lakeside, looking South-East                          103

     20.  On Fish Hoek Beach, Nord Hoek Mountains in
            Distance                                               105

     21.  Simonstown Mountains, with Cape Point and Roman
            Rock Lighthouses                                       106

     22.  Table Mountain from Retreat Flats                        110

     23.  Sand Dunes                                               112

     24.  On the Sandhills near Muizenberg                         115

     25.  At the Head of False Bay                                 118


MARINUS and THE WRITER, two slightly sentimental travellers, in modern
dress, generally riding-clothes.


     MYNHEER VAN RHEENEN, a brewer.
     MR. BARROW, a naturalist.
     MONSIEUR LE VAILLANT, a French explorer with a temperament.
     KOLBÉ, a great liar with a sense of humour.
     MYNHEER CLOETE, a wealthy farmer,

     And some others.


Hottentots, Bushmen, Saldanhas, Dutch Soldiers and Sailors, English
Soldiers and Sailors, Burghers, Slaves, Market-Gardeners, Wine-Makers,
Fishermen, and ordinary people from 1651 to 1910.




Under three purple-flowered trees standing in the Castle courtyard,
one blazing hot morning, we, more sentimentally than travellingly
inclined, sat and rested while a khaki-clothed Tommy wandered round to
find a guide to show us over the old Dutch fort. We thanked Heaven for
his half-heartedness and for some shade. Marinus, fortunately for us
both, smoked his pipe of peace and of Transvaal tobacco, and I opened
the Brass Bottle, which, indeed, is no bottle at all, but, as everyone
not vulgarly inclined knows, a fairy-tale metaphor for one's
imagination. The barometer registered 97° F. in the shade, which is a
perfect state of atmosphere for the fumes of the Brass Bottle, in
which, all mingling with the smoke from Marinus' pipe, the building of
the Castle began.

The walls dissolved into blue air: the brasswork of the 'Kat,' the
block of buildings dividing the Castle into two courtyards, melted
into one small spot of liquid, leaving a dry, dusty, levelled yellow
plain, with an earthwork wall embodying the spirit of the dykes of the
Netherlands in its composition--for the green waves of Table Bay
lapped at its base. It was the second day of January, 1666; under the
blazing sun three hundred discontented-looking men were digging and
levelling the hard earth. At the westerly land-points were the
foundations of two bastions. Suddenly a group of men appeared, looking
like Rembrandt's 'Night-Watch' come to life, carrying sealed
parchments and plans, followed by many Madagascar slaves in clean
white linen tunics not to be renewed for six whole months, this being
the New Year. The slaves carried bags of food and a long tray made of
wood, on which were about one hundred small moneybags. One of the
Night-Watch, who was the Commander Wagenaar, walked up to a long table
whereon was a white stone; the guns of the old fort, crumbling to
pieces across the parade-ground, fired. It was noon, and the
foundation-stone of the Castle was laid. The three hundred weary,
sweating men raised a feeble cheer, the masons, carpenters, and
smiths, advancing separately, received from the hands of the 'Fiscal,'
Chief Magistrate and Attorney-General of the Colony, the gift of the
General Netherlands East India Company of thirty Rds., or rix-dollars,
tied up in the small black bags. Then the Company moved across to
another part of the ground, and the Predikant, the Rev. Joan van
Arckel, proceeded to lay another stone, followed by the Fiscal, Sieur
Hendrick Lucas, to whose honour fell the laying of the third great
corner-stone. Then were the entire three hundred malcontents, as well
as the soldiers who had also laboured, presented with two oxen, six
sheep, one hundred fresh-baked wheaten loaves, and eight casks of
Cape-brewed beer, 'which food and drink, well cooked and well
prepared,' whispered the Chief Surgeon, Sieur Pieter van Clinckenberg,
to Lieutenant Abraham Schut, 'let us hope may induce these sluggish
fellows to be better encouraged and made more willing to work.'

Lieutenant Abraham Schut, to whose duties of supervising the Company's
stables and the Mounted Guards in the country, and the watch-houses,
and the supervising of the workings and workers of the vineyards, the
orchards, and the granary, were also added those of 'keeping an eye'
on the 'lazy fellows at work in the brick and tile fields,' very
solemnly stared before him at the 'encouraged' diggers, and wondered
what reward the General Netherlands East India Company had laid up for

But the Fiscal was addressing the crowd gathered round the Commander.
I had missed some of his speech because of these two babbling
Night-Watchers next me, but I now listened: 'And that it may also
somewhat be evident that by this continual digging and delving in and
under the ground, poets have also been found and thrown up, a certain
amateur this day presents to the Commander the following eight
verses.' The crowd drew closer to the Fiscal, who continued with the
amateur's verses:



     Soo worden voort en voort de rijcken uijtgespreijt,
     Soo worden al de swart en geluwen gespreijt,
     Soo doet men uijt den aerd' een steen wall oprechten,
     Daer't donderend metael seer weijnigh (an ophecten)
     Voor Hottentoosen waren 't altijts eerde wallen.
     Nu komt men hier met steen van anderen oock brallen,
     Dus maeckt men dan een schrik soowel d'Europiaen,
     Als vor den Aes! Ame! en wilden Africaen,
     Dus wort beroemt gemaeckt 't geheijligst Christendom,
     Die zetels stellen in het woeste heijdendom,
     Wij loven 't Groot Bestier, en zeggen met malcander,
     Augustus heerschappij, noch winnend' Alexander,
     Noch Caesars groot beleijd zijn noijt daermee geswaerd,
     Met 't leggen van een steen op 't eijnde van de Aerd!


     Thus more and more the kingdoms are extended;
     Thus more and more are black and yellow spread;
     Thus from the ground a wall of stone is raised,
     On which the thundering brass can no impression make.
     For Hottentoos the walls were always earthen,
     But now we come with stone to boast before all men,
     And terrify not only Europeans, but also
     Asians, Americans, and savage Africans.
     Thus holy Christendom is glorified;
     Establishing its seats amidst the savage heathen.
     We praise the Great Director, and say with one another:
     'Augustus's dominion, nor conquering Alexander,
     Nor Cæsar's mighty genius, has ever had the glory
     To lay a corner-stone at earth's extremest end!'


Lieutenant Abraham Schut came towards me; no, it was not this
wonderful Abraham, though he wore a uniform--the cheering of the crowd
still rung in my ears. 'Who wrote it?' I said. 'Wrote what?' The
subaltern stared at me. 'Built it, I suppose you mean,' he smiled. 'Oh
yes, built, of course, of course,' I muttered, hotter than ever.
Marinus' pipe had burnt out, and the officer who stood before us wore

With the last words of the quaint Dutch poem ringing in my ears, we
followed our guide across the courtyard into an arched white doorway.
The old entrance, the sea entrance to the Castle, was blocked up,
because on the other side runs the Cape Government Railway, with all
its paraphernalia of tin walls, engine-rooms, dirty, ugly workshops,
gasometers, coal-heaps, all making up the foreshore scenery of Table
Bay, and delighting the eyes of the workers and drones who are daily
hurried (_sic_) along like 'animated packages in a rabbit hutch.'[1]

In the plaster ceiling of this archway is such a charming miniature
plan, in raised stucco, of the Castle buildings. From here we climbed
some stone steps and came on to the ramparts, called after the ships
that first brought Company rule to the Cape--the _Reiger_, the
_Walvis_, the _Dromedaris_. We climbed up stone stairs, and in white
stucco, in the wall, were the Company's arms--the big galleon in full
sail. We passed the cells--the one used by Cetewayo, the rebellious
Chief of the Zulus, the 'Children of Heaven,' had a special little
fireplace sunk into the wall--walked along wonderfully neat, bricked
ramparts past the Guard Tower, and climbed down more steps into the

We rambled through the quarters of the old Governors. Everything is
groaning under heavy military paint--teak doors, beautiful brass
fittings and beamed ceilings--and about a mile away, shut up in a
small ugly museum room, are the Rightful Inhabitants--the proper
belongings of these long rooms: the oak tables, the big chairs, which
once held the old Dutch Governors, the glass they used, the huge
silver spittoons, their swords, the flowered panniers of their wives'
dresses, fire-irons, brasses, china, the old flags, someone's
sedan-chair--all bundled together in grotesque array. The teak-beamed
rooms in the Castle would make a better setting than the little room
in the museum.

'Marinus,' I said, 'isn't it awful--this horrible clean paint and
these little tin sheds in the old garden? Oh, Marinus, _do_ let us
scrape this tiny bit of latch, just to peep at the lovely brass
beneath! And let us pretend we are putting back the old cupboards, and
coffers, and china, and let us burn all that'--with my eye on sheets
of neat military maps and deal tables. But Marinus, with the fear of
God and of the King, pushed me rudely past a Georgian fireplace into a
large room with a big open chimney. Over the grate, let into the wood,
I saw the most ridiculous old painting--like a piece of ancient
sampler in paint instead of silk--an absurd tree with an impossible
bird on a bough, and beneath it a terraced wall with some animals like
peacocks, with the _paysage_ background _à la_ Noah's ark, but
slightly less accurate. 'There is a superstitious story about that
picture,' said Marinus. 'They say some treasure was hidden in the
thick wooden screen over the chimney, and the picture was gummed over
it. The story goes that whoever should touch this picture, or attempt
to remove it, would die shortly afterwards. It may be that the curse,
or a bit of it, landed on the old, stamped brass screen which was
taken to Groote Schuur, shortly before Rhodes died. But no one would
want this horror, would they?' This story made me love the chintz
picture, and, after all, the colours were good; it was antique; it
was old; and there was treasure behind it!

Above this room are Anne Barnard's apartments, where she came to live
when the Secretary of State, Melville, gave 'the prettiest appointment
in the world for any young fellow'--the Secretaryship to the Governor
of the Cape--to Lady Anne's husband in 1797. She had to write Melville
several letters before she got this appointment. 'To pay me all you
have owed and still owe me, you _never can_--but what you can you
should do, and you have got before you the pleasure of obliging me,'
she wrote. There is stuff for a novel in this sentence. The last
appeal, 'You owe me some happiness, in truth you do,' brought this
pretty appointment with a salary of £3,500 a year.

I looked out of a window of her room, which opened on to a small
balcony, and conjured up the procession she saw the day after she
landed--the taking of the oath of allegiance to King George III., the
crowd trooping in through the yellow-bricked gateway, clattering over
the cobble-stones, every man with his hat off (an old Dutch regulation
on entering the Castle on a public occasion). 'Well-fed, rosy-cheeked
men, well-powdered and dressed in black! "Boers" from the country,
farmers and settlers, in blue cloth jackets and trousers and very
large flat hats, with a Hottentot slave slinking behind, each carrying
his master's umbrella, a red handkerchief round his head, and a piece
of leather round his waist comprising his toilette.'

I heard voices under the arch-gateway leading to the inner courtyard;
the subaltern had another party in tow, and his nice voice was very
clear: 'Oh yes, wonderful people, these old Dutch Johnnies; everything
they built lasts so well. Now look at this old sundial; same old
thing! there it is, _keeping the right time still--what_?'

I laughed quite loudly, and the party looked up, but I had flown back
into Anne's room, which is haunted, so perhaps they thought it was the
ghost--same old ghost! a good lusty ghost--what?

I met Marinus in the inner court with a man carrying a lantern and
some huge keys--our guide to the magazine and armoury, which might
have been the crypt of some old European monastery, with what seemed
to be miles of white arches, arches with broad brass shutters over the
windows, covered with red or grey army paint.

The garden of this second courtyard exists no longer, though the man
with the lantern and the keys told us he remembered it--a pond with
bamboos and trees. Beyond the moat on the mountain side, on a low
level, is a disused Tennis court, a real court for the 'Jeu de Paume'
of the seventeenth century, with hard cement walls and cement floor.

Although Governor Borghorst, with his entire family, amused
themselves by carrying the earth in baskets from the ditch which was
to form the moat, the real work of the Castle was carried out from old
plans of Vauban by Isbrand Goski, in a great hurry, with the shadows
of French cannon and French flags disturbing his dreams. The shadows
proved worthless phantoms, for peace was declared before the fort was
ready. Later on, Sir James Craig, filled with zeal for the defence of
this ultra-important outpost, which had come, with some slight
misunderstanding, into the hands of England, caused more blockhouses
to be built along the slopes of the Devil's Peak, realizing the
ridiculous position of the Castle for defence purposes. Fort Knokke
was connected with the Castle by a long, low, fortified wall, called
the 'Sea Lines.' Beyond the Castle stood the 'Rogge Bay,' the
'Amsterdam,' and the 'Chavonnes' batteries, while at the water edge of
the old Downs--now called Green Point Common--stood the little
'Mouille' battery. The land on which, unfortunately, the Amsterdam
battery was built has become a valuable adjunct of the docks, and it
now stands a scarred, maimed thing with its sea-wall lying in débris.
A sad spectacle, like a deserted beehive, with all its cells and
secrets exposed to the dock world--half solid rock, half small, yellow
Dutch brick.

It is Wednesday morning in present Cape Town, we have left the
Castle, wept over the Amsterdam battery, and marched up Adderley

At the top of Adderley Street is the old Slave Lodge, now used for
Government Offices and the Supreme Court, low and white, with cobbled
courtyard and thick walls. About here, in the old days, began the
Government Gardens or 'Company's' Gardens, a long oak avenue running
through them. At the time of the Cession of the Cape to the English,
the Gardens had been very much neglected. Lord Macartney appropriated
a large slice for the rearing of curious and rare plants (the
Botanical Gardens).

Government House, on the left, was originally built as a pleasure
pavilion or overflow guesthouse during the 'Company's' régime. One or
two of the later Dutch Governors used it as their residence, and
during the short English rule in 1797 Lord Macartney and his
successor, Sir George Younge, ceased to use the large suite of rooms
in the old Castle. Poor Lord Macartney, because of his gout, found the
narrow, steep stairs in the Gardens House a great trial. He hopped up
the stairs like a parrot to its perch, says one of his staff in a
private letter; but Sir George Younge, fresh from Holyrood, rebuilt
the stairs and kitchens and the high wall round a part of the garden.
For the occasion the avenue was shut to the public, which nearly
caused a revolution. It has seen much, this low, yellow 'Pavilion in
the Gardens.' It has sheltered French, English, and Dutch: famous for
its ancient hospitality, its big white ball-room saw our
great-grandmothers, in white muslin and cashmere shawls, dancing under
the tallow candles: every tree in the garden hung with lights: Van
Rheenen and Mostaert ladies dancing away, while their husbands and
fathers and mothers stood outside and cursed their partners: but one
must dance, no matter what one's politics may be.

Hanging on the walls of the present day Government House are portraits
of the Past-Governors--Milner with the thinking eyes, dignified Lord
Loch, Rosmead, Grey, Bartle Frere benignly gazing. Skip some history,
and you have Somerset, stern and disliked; 'Davie' Baird, full of good
round oaths, in 'Raeburn' red; Sir Harry Smith of the perfect profile,
too short for the greatness of his spirit. Marinus grows sentimental
before this portrait, because of Juanita, Lady Smith, her beauty, and
her bravery. 'But she was fat'--this from me. Marinus looks
compassionately on such doubtful tactics. 'She was not fat when he
found her in that sacked Spanish town; she was not fat when he sent
her that long ride to return the looted silver candlesticks; she was
not fat when she rode with him into danger during the Kaffir
wars--wonderful energetic woman!' 'Sir Harry was very short,'
continued Marinus, whose methods are quite unoriginal. 'But his
dignity, and his beautiful nose!' I said; 'it reminds me of that story
told of Napoleon, who tried and failed, through being too short, to
reach a certain book from a shelf. A tall Marshal came to his aid,
and, looking down at the little Emperor, said: "Ah, sire, je suis plus
grand que vous." "Pas du tout, vous êtes plus long," said the

Then there is the portrait of Macartney, looking straight across the
room at old Dutch Rhenius in wig and satins, whose shrewd, amused eyes
follow one about the room. I think Rhenius' dinner-parties were
probably amusing.

There are no other portraits of Dutch Governors; none of those who
followed in such quick succession just before the first British

One of these, De Chavonnes, ruled with pomp and circumstance. There is
an amusing story set down in the 1720 _Journal_ wherein the Governor
maintained his dignity in the face of a humorous situation.

De Chavonnes was at the Castle, and into Table Bay sailed the English
ship, the _Marlborough_. She failed to salute the Castle on arrival.
Much bustle and fuss--such an insult cannot be passed over. The
Wharf-master, Cornelius Volk, is ordered to proceed on board and
inform the captain that no one will be allowed to land before the
usual salute is fired. With more haste arrives an English midshipman,
very pink and well-mannered: 'We have on board an elephant, your
Excellency, and are afraid the firing might frighten him.' His
Excellency and the Wharf-master and the chief merchant, Jan de la
Fontaine, together with the members of the Council and officers of the
garrison, stared at the pink-faced middy. De Chavonnes hesitated only
one minute, which is a long period of time for the middy, who I am
quite sure had compromising dimples; then came His Excellency's
answer: 'The excuse is allowed.'

A very dignified finale! Smaller things than elephants have unbalanced
the scales of peace.


[1] The Right Hon. J. X. Merriman.



We walked across the parade-ground, and past the spot where, in my
dream, I had seen the old Van Riebeek fort crumbling to pieces, with
its canal and little bridges: now, there is a building called the Post
Office, and instead of the canal, with its tree-bordered pathways, a
street called Adderley Street, with shop-windows where the trees
stood. Even the old Exchange is gone, with its stiff row of trees and
its chained posts and _kiosque_, before which, in the turbulent days
of Sir Harry Smith's régime, all Cape Town, English, Dutch, Malay, in
stock, and crinoline, and turban, with one united voice roared against
the Imperial Government's decree, which was to turn the Peninsula into
a dumping-ground for convicts. Crinoline, stock, and turban kept the
half-starved convict ships with their unwelcome freight for five
months at anchor in Simon's Bay. Sir Harry, with an eye of sympathy on
the mob, and the other eye of duty on the starving convict ships,
ordered food to be sent, offered famine prices: no one moved. A few
judicious civil servants, with both eyes on the main chance, smuggled
a small supply on board. But the crowd in front of the old Exchange
won the day, and Australia profited instead.

At the end of the eighteenth century a young lady described the Cape
and its inhabitants in a few words: 'Di menschen zyn moei dik en vet,
di huizen moei wit en groen' (The people are very fat and plump; the
houses are pretty white and green).

Up Strand Street, which was the 'Beach Street,' lived all the high in
the land, the Koopmans, or merchants--'a title,' says an old writer,
'that conferred rank at the Cape to which the military even aspired.'
There they lived, in flat-roofed, high-stoeped houses with teak doors
and small-paned glass windows, facing the sea; the men smoking,
drinking and selling; the women eating, dressing and dancing. Not a
decent school in the town, not a sign of a library, only a theatre
whose productions bored them intolerably: 'Ach, foei toch, Mijnheer
Cook,' says the lady with the smallest feet in all Kaapstad to the
famous sailor Cook, who was the guest of her father, Mijnheer Le Roux,
'go to the theatre? to listen for three hours to a conversation?' Cook
gave in, and, instead, was carried off in a big 'carosse,'[2] with a
Malay coachman in large reed hat over his turban, pointed and with
flowing ribbons at the side, to the Avenue in the Company's
Gardens, a modest Vauxhall, and then on to one of the monthly dances
given in the Castle by the Governor Van Plettenberg.


Dancing was the great form of exercise. 'The ladies of the Cape are
pretty and well dressed,' says the French traveller Le Vaillant,
visiting the Cape about this time--1772. He expressed great surprise
at the way they dressed: 'With as much attention to the minutiæ of
dress as the ladies of France, with neither their manners nor their
graces.' How could they have manners and graces? With the adaptability
which amounts to genius, which the women of newly-arisen cosmopolitan
nations possess as Fate's compensation for depriving them of the
birthright of history, tradition, and ancient habitation, they
imitated the manners and fashions of the passing passengers resting a
few days at the Cape on their way to India. Those belonging to the
better class all played on the harpsichord and sang; they had
generally a good knowledge of French, and often of English; were
experts with the needle, making all kinds of lace, 'knotting' and
tambour work; and they usually made up their own dresses.

The men and youths, who never mixed with the English or foreign
visitors, were entirely different: phlegmatic and dull, badly dressed
and badly mannered. Anne Barnard, writing Cape gossip to London, has
many stories to tell of pretty Cape ladies running off with
Englishmen or Frenchmen. The thanksgiving sigh of one worthy 'Koopman'
is conclusive: 'Grace à Dieu, ma femme est bien laide!'

However, we must return to the house of Le Roux in the Strand Street.
It is the day after the fête in the Avenue and the Governor's ball. At
an old French bureau, with metal inlays, praising Monsieur Buhl in
every beautiful line, this gallant Captain Cook wrote in his _Journal_
while the pretty little 'Foei toch,' with sighs of neglect, sat
playing the spinet in a corner of vantage. They changed places
presently--he would dictate and she should write. Two minutes passed,
and Cook got up and looked over her shoulder. She had written,
atrociously, a funny little French verse and signed it:

     'Marion pleurt,
     Marion rit,
     Marion veut, qu'on la marie.

Cook smiled and bowed. 'Me dear, you have the most adorable foot in
the world, but I dare say little for your hand.' Very witty of him,
but of course she wrote badly; there were no schools, only ill-paid
writing masters. The parsons, all well paid by the Government, would
not condescend to such a worthless occupation.

So Cook wrote his _Journal_ himself, in large, scrawling writing,
with old-fashioned _s_'s, while his two ships, the _Resolution_ and
the _Adventure_, anchored by stout chains instead of cables in this
Bay of Storms, lay waiting for a good wind to sail away round the
world. And Marion sang from her corner at the spinet:

               'Marions ci,
               Marions ça,
     Mais jamais, jamais marions là.'

Cook writes:

                                 'THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE,
                                    '_Monday, November 2, 1772_.

     'The Cape of Good Hope, in Caffraria, or the Country of the
     Hottentots, is the most southern promontory of Africa.

     'It is very mountainous.

     'The Table Mountain is of a great height (_sic_), and the
     top of it is always covered with a cap of clouds before a
     storm. There are no harbours, though there is a sea-coast
     of a thousand miles. When Commodore Byron touched at the
     Cape he was obliged to work into Table Bay with his top
     sails close reefed. Indeed, the Cape is scarce ever free
     from storms a week together; the winds blow hard and on
     every side from the vast southern ocean, and the waves of
     the sea rise to a height never seen or experienced in any
     part of Europe. The Bay of Biscay, turbulent as it is, has
     no billows that mount like those on this extensive ocean;
     the stoutest vessels are tossed and almost lifted to the
     skies. A number of rich ships have perished on this coast;
     the Dutch have lost whole fleets even at anchor before the

     'The climate is very healthy, the country is fine, and it
     abounds with refreshments of every kind. The Company's
     garden is the most ravishing spot.'

(He read this to Mademoiselle Marion, who had found Mr. Pickersgill,
his Third Lieutenant, a good second when the gallant Captain, with his
tongue in his cheek and a wink at Marion, escorted the fat wife of
Governor Van Plettenberg round the most ravishing Gardens.) The
Captain went on with his diary:

     'The garden produces all the most delicious fruits of Asia
     and Europe. It is guarded from the winds and storms by
     hedges of bay, very thick and high, affording a most
     refreshing shade in the hottest season. It abounds with
     peaches, pomegranates, pineapple, bananas, citrons, lemons,
     oranges, the pears and apples of Europe, all excellent in
     their kind, and the crimson apple of Japan, appearing
     through the green leaves, of all the most beautiful. The
     Dutch have large plantations of almond-trees, and many
     sorts of camphor-trees, and there is scarce a cottage
     without a vineyard to it. Their cabbages and cauliflowers
     weigh from thirty to forty pounds, their potatoes from six
     to ten, raised from seed brought from Cyprus and Savoy.
     Their corn is ripe in December, and our Christmas is the
     time of their harvest. In January they tread out their
     corn, and in February the farmers carry it to the Company's

     'They sow every kind of grain but oats. Lions, tigers,
     leopards, elephants, and the rhinoceros are to be found
     here; the elephants are very large; their teeth (_sic_)
     weigh from sixty to one hundred and twenty pounds. The
     Dutch keep up a body of regular forces, and have a strong
     garrison at the Cape; they have also a militia, a corps of
     men in all nations formidable in themselves, most dreadful
     to an enemy, and, when called out for service, spreading
     destruction all around them in the heights of their
     ungovernable fury. They are of so robust a disposition, and
     so naturally inclined for war, that, like the Devonshire
     and Northamptonshire champions in England, they are ever
     ready to solicit employment, even against the principles of
     their own institution.'

Next day the Governor, the English Consul, the Fiscal, Marion and her
father, together with a large party, boarded the _Resolution_, to see
them make fresh water out of salt water; and when they left, and
before the _Resolution_, firing fifteen guns, and the _Adventure_
nine, sailed away round the world, Mr. Pickersgill and Marion had
found time to fall in love. Marion at her spinet that evening shed
very salt little Dutch tears when she came to the lines, 'Mais jamais,
jamais marions là.'

There is a charming poem by Ian Colvin which Marinus thinks might be
inspired by Marion and her Lieutenant.

In the Museum at the top of the old Company's gardens lies a little
English shoe of surprising smallness--surprising, for not only Anne
Barnard remarked on the size of the Cape ladies' feet: there is that
nice story of the enterprising merchant who chartered a large shipload
of out-sizes in ladies' shoes, and the ladies sent their slaves in the
dark to buy them!

The poem goes:

     'There's a tiny English shoe
     Of morocco, cream and blue,
     Made with all a cobbler's skill
     By Sam Miller in Cornhill.

     'Many a story, quaint and sweet,
     Of the lady fair, whose feet
     Twinkled with a charm divine
     Beneath her ample crinoline,
     Making her tortured lovers dream
     That heaven itself was blue and cream.'

The story tells of how this dainty creature walked down the
'Heerengracht,' followed by the tortured lovers:

     'Van der Merwe, Jacques Theron,
     The Captain of the garrison,
     Petrus de Witt, or Van Breda,
     Or Cloete of Constantia.
     And then the Fiscal--fat and old--
     What matters? he had power and gold,
     Coffers of dollars, and doubloons,
     Gold mohurs, pagodas, ducatoons,
     And in his cupboards stored away
     The priceless treasures of Cathay.'

Then it tells of how she loved this English sailor, how he left to
sail to many strange lands, and asked her what she wished to have.

     'And she, although her cheeks were wet,
     Was in a moment all coquette:
     "Your English fashions would, I fear,
     But ill become my homely sphere;
     Besides, you know not how to choose--
     Bring me instead a pair of shoes."'

So the English lover sailed away, and the Fiscal became a menace to
the poor little cream and blue 'Jonge Vrouw,' and the wedding-day

     'From Signal Hill to Witteboom,
     From Kirstenbosch to Roodebloem,
     With cannon, bugle, bell and horn,
     They ushered in the wedding morn.'

But the English lover and the shoes arrived just in time; the bride
was missing; the wedding-party and the storming Fiscal rushed down to
the sea-shore--'a ship in a cloud of sail was riding out of the Bay in
a favouring gale.'

     'They heard above the ocean's swell
     Ring faint and clear a wedding bell;
     And where the boat put off, they found
     A tiny shoe upon the ground.'

              'Marions ci,
              Marions ça,
        Et jamais, jamais marions là.'

A charming idyll to amuse us as we climbed up the hill to Riebeek
Square, where the flat-roofed houses and the old Slave-Market with a
few wind-twisted pines have so much of the 'old order' in their

Behind the square were the old brickfields, where poor Lieutenant
Schut's duties lay. The Slave-House stands in the middle of the

This energetic young man disappears from the pages of the _Journals_
and presumably from society.

                                            '_August 1, 1668._

     'Lieutenant Schut is expelled from the Council, because he
     has passed a deed of reclamation to the widow of the late
     Reverend Wachtendorp for libellous words uttered by him
     behind her back, and to her injury.

     'The Council should keep itself free from obloquy, and

Praiseworthy sentiments, but they must have suffered for them. I find
no mention of another paragon who was able to accept the
responsibilities imposed upon Schut.

Indiscriminate gossip or libel was most severely punished at the Cape,
the desire to be free from obloquy not being confined to the Council.

In 1663 Teuntje Bartholomeus, wife of the burgher, Bartholomeus Born,
is banished for six weeks to Dassen Island for having libelled a
certain honest woman. A perfect rest-cure! Six weeks on Dassen Island!
alone with Nature, wind, sea, rock-rabbits, and seals!

There is no official mention of her return from exile.


'For there is no country in the world where slaves are treated with so
much humanity as at the Cape,' writes Le Vaillant in 1780, but in
reading through the old day-books of Van Riebeek, Hackius, Borghorst,
Isbrand Goski, and the Van der Stels, the punishments inflicted on
slaves might have been inspired by those old, over-praised painters,
who gloried in an anatomical dissection of a poor wretch whose
miserable body possessed no anatomy at all. The Mozambique,
Madagascar, and Malay slaves were keel-hauled; they were tied in sacks
and thrown into the Bay; they were tortured. Here is the sentence of
one: 'Bound on a cross, when his right hand shall be cut off, his body
pinched in six places with red-hot irons, his arms and legs broken to
pieces, and after that to be impaled alive before the Town House on
the Square, his dead body afterwards to be thrown on a wheel outside
the town _at the usual place_, and to be left a prey to the birds of
the air.' Could any torture of the Inquisition be worse? But these
tortures were in 1696, years before the enlightened days of Le
Vaillant. The half-breed slaves of the early days were a source of
worry to the ruling council; several times in the _Journals_ one may
come across a case of a freeman or burgher marrying his emancipated

     '"Maria of Bengal," a Hindoo woman, set the fashion, and
     the famous interpretress, Eva, during her extraordinary
     career of diplomatic and immoral episodes within the walls
     of the Fort, where she wore garments made by kind Maria van
     Riebeek, or outside the walls, where she wore the filthy
     skins of her own people, the Hottentots, beguiled the
     senior surgeon to such lengths that he was granted
     permission to marry her. He fortunately was killed during
     an expedition to Madagascar, but not before he had had
     sufficient time to regret the beguilings of Eva.'

Many of the slaves were children of convicts sent from Batavia and the
Malay Settlements. Here is the case of a half-breed girl, which was
sent to Batavia for judgment:

     'Regarding the half-breed girl, you order that she is to
     serve the Company until her twenty-second year, when she is
     to be emancipated on condition that she makes profession of
     the Christian faith, and, moreover, pays R. 150 for her
     education. We are well aware that this rule is observed in
     the case of _slave children having Dutch fathers_, but
     whether it applies to children of _convict women_ by Dutch
     fathers, as in the case of this girl, would like to hear
     from you.'

When Le Vaillant wrote, all these rules had changed, though even he
talks with some mystery of a runaway slave having received a _slight
correction_. When slaves landed at the Cape, they cost from a hundred
and twenty to a hundred and fifty dollars (_i.e._, rix-dollars) each,
that being about £22 10s. to £27 10s. The negroes from Mozambique and
those of Madagascar were the best labourers; the Indians were much
sought after for service in the house and in the town. Malays were the
most intelligent and the most dangerous. Barrow, in whose days (1798)
the price of slaves had gone up considerably, tells a story showing
the revengeful spirit of the Malay. A slave, thinking that he had
served his master sufficiently long and with great fidelity, and
having also paid him several sums of money, was tempted to demand his
liberty. He was met with a refusal. He straightway went and murdered
his fellow-slave. He was taken up and brought before the Court,
acknowledged that the slave he had murdered was his friend, but said
that the best form of revenge he could think of was not to murder his
master, but to deprive him of a slave worth the value of a thousand
rix-dollars (_i.e._, £187 10s.) and of another thousand by bringing
himself to the gallows!

The Creole slaves were sold for a higher price than the others, and
were often 'acquainted with a trade,' when their price became
exorbitant. They were clothed properly, but went barefooted. Twenty to
thirty slaves were generally found in one house. 'That insolent set
of domestics called _footmen_,' writes the French explorer, 'are not
to be seen at the Cape; for pride and luxury have not yet introduced
these idle and contemptible attendants who in Europe line the
ante-chambers of the rich, and who in their deportment exhibit every
mark of impertinence!' The abolition of the Rack and Torture was
responsible for an extraordinary occurrence: the public executioner
made an application for a pension in lieu of the emoluments he used to
receive for the breaking of legs and arms; the second hangman upon
inquiry learnt that not only did the English of this new régime
abolish the Rack and Torture, but that they were not thinking of
establishing breaking on the wheel; this was more than he could bear,
and, fearing starvation, he went and hanged himself! Strange irony of

In every family a slave was kept whose sole duty was the gathering of
wood. It was strictly forbidden to gather any fuel, scrub, or bush on
the Downs or Flats, so the slave would go out every morning up the
mountains, and would return at night with two or three small bundles
of faggots--the produce of six or eight hours' hard labour--swinging
at the two ends of a bamboo carried across his shoulder. In some
families more than one slave was kept for this purpose, and this gives
a very good idea of the scarcity of wood at the Cape as late as 1798.
From the diaries of that time one gathers that, though wood was only
used for cooking purposes--as only the kitchen possessed a
fireplace--yet the cost of fuel for a small household amounted to
forty or fifty pounds a year.


[2] Barouche.



The blue shadow of Table Mountain falls straight across the 'Flats,'
or the sandy isthmus of the Cape Peninsula--a long, intensely blue
line stretching from one ocean to the other.

In 1653 this shadow meant something more than a beautiful shade; it
was a boundary-line; it meant safety and shade within its depth, war
and barbarians beyond.

Along its borders were dotted small forts and watch-houses; there were
even the beginnings of a canal running parallel with the definite
shade, to intensify its significance.

The Dutch East India Company's long-suffering and harassed Commander,
Van Riebeek, with infinite undertaking of dangers and difficulties,
wild beasts, Hottentots, and quicksands, rode across it, and fixed its
boundaries as proper limits to the Settlements, which its most
honourable directors were pleased to call 'Goode Hoop.'

The blue shadow begins on the other side of the Wind Mountain or
Devil's Peak, and we will go where it leads.

In 1663 there was a narrow road running close up to the mountain
rather higher up than the present dusty main road. It ran as far as
Rondebosch, or 'Rond die Bostje,' whose round-wood traditions are
untraceable, Van Riebeek having given orders that only the outer
bushes should be preserved as a convenient kraal for cattle. Along
this narrow road a small ox-cart rumbled every day from the fort in
Cape Town, dragging home logs of wood from the almost unknown land
beyond; its driver running momentary risk of meeting in the narrow way
the lions, tigers, or rhino, that roamed the mountain slopes.

One end of the shadow falls into the sea at Maitland or Paarden
Island, and covers some stretches of beach, small houses, and railway
workshops. There the rivers meet--the Diep River from Milnerton, the
Liesbeek and the Black Rivers from across the Flats. They join and
form the Salt River, a wide, overflowing stream that is constantly
flooding the green lands between the sea and the old Trek road to the

In the old days, this beach between Salt River and Milnerton was the
setting of tragedies: backed in on the north and east by the
Blaauwberg Mountains and the Stellenbosch Ranges, and on the
south-east by the Hottentot's Holland.

From behind the Blaauwberg, or Blueberg, came that long thin stream of
Saldanhas from the north, lighting their fires among the rushes of the
Diep River and the Salt Pans near the Tigerberg or Leopard Mountains,
which are the green, corn-sown hills of Durbanville and Klipheuvel.

They brought with them, past the outpost 'Doornhoop' on the Salt
River, to the very gates of Van Riebeek's Fort, then standing where
the railway station now is, cattle and sheep and wonderful stories of
rich countries to the north and north-east, where kings lived in
stationary stone houses and had much gold, their wives loaded with
bracelets and having necklaces of sparkling white stones! The little
dysentery-stricken settlement, growing thin and determined on a carrot
and a snack of rhinoceros, opened the gates, bought the scurvy cattle,
believed the stories, and had visions of reaching the fabulously
renowned river 'Spirito Sancto.' They dragged their waggons and their
precious oxen and horses over the scrub and sand-dunes; and now one
may see the fruits of these brave but small expeditions in carefully
compiled but imaginative maps and plans, telling of how one or another
reached the banks of the Orange River and found 'a great desert,' but
found no great kings, no gold, no cities.


Lying close to the shore are many wrecks, an old order which has
changed but slowly.

This corner of the bay was a dangerous roadstead before the year 1653.

A scurvy gang of bastard natives called 'Watermen' or 'Beach Rangers,'
crawling like mammoth cockroaches among the seaweed and wreckage, had
eked out their monstrous living long before the _Harlem_ dragged her
anchor and stranded at the mouth of the Salt River.

A grand string of names in the records of these old wrecks; no cheap
sloops, galleots, or second-rate pirating-hulks, but big, stately
merchantmen: one, from France, _La Maréchale_, with a Bishop on board
who is uncommonly like the man who became a Cardinal during the reign
of 'Le Roi Soleil.' He was on his way to Madagascar with something
political behind his mad-sounding schemes for church-building (on such
a sparsely inhabited island) and for personally endowing the buildings
to the tune of hundreds of thousands; it may be heresy, but there was
something politically consequent in the extraordinary story of this
wreck of _La Maréchale_ and the energy of the French seal-fisheries at
Saldanha Bay.

To continue the rôle of backstairs glory: an English ship--a
well-known name, _The Mayflower_--on her way from the east with John
Howard, her captain, got a bad time in the terrible bay, tearing winds
coming from the 'Wind Mountain' and across from Robben Island.

The clearing of the roadsteads became almost a yearly festival and a
certain necessity.

So the blue shadow begins by the sea and ends by the sea; but to reach
the other end will take us in a motor more than thirty minutes; an
ox-waggon lumbering across sandy dunes and along stony mountain-paths
took the early settlers something more than a day or two. We did it
riding, and took something like a month; but one must compromise to
really enjoy life.

We rode one day along the main road to Rondebosch, where the old
Commanders would ride out two hundred years ago, to inspect the
Company's granary, 'Groote Schuur,' and the Company's guesthouse,

The Cape Town length of the road has little of interest. 'Roodebloem'
comes into the list of old homesteads; and down in the swampy green
fields of Observatory Road, where the clerk life of Cape Town has its
two acres and a cow, and near the Royal Observatory, lived the
Company's free miller; and the Liesbeek waters worked his mill. There
is still an old mill in existence, but probably of later date.


In 1658 the Company gave grants of land along the Liesbeek River,
mostly all along the west side, beginning with the swampy land below
the Wind Mountain or Devil's Peak, granted to the Commander's
nephew-in-law, Jan Reyniez, and ending on the south side,
somewhere in Wynberg, with the lands of Jacob Cloeten of Cologne. The
burghers, having formed into three companies--one called Vredens
Company--lying in lands on the wrong side of the river at Rosebank,
sent in a petition, which was forwarded with all due delay to the
Commander and Council, who, 'having found, according to the many deeds
and diagrams, that the land is quite dangerously situated, the owners
being exposed to the depredations of the Hottentots,' granted new
lands near the Company's orchard, called 'Rustenburg.'

The conditions laid down by the Company to freemen varied slightly in
each little colony: there were three along the Blue shadow:

     '1. They might fish in the rivers, but not for sale.

     '2. The Company would _sell_ them at ploughing time a plough
     and twelve oxen. The ground should be theirs for ever.

     '3. That they should grow tobacco.'

These are some of the rules. Everyone knows the story of how the rules
later became unbearable--the fixing of selling-prices by the Company,
the paying of taxes, the limitations set on selling produce to the

The conditions, however, and the dangers from the Hottentots on the
east side of the shadow, were thankfully accepted.

In the old records there is the entry which explains the position of
these little colonies:

                                         '_February 21, 1657._

     'Fine sunshine, fickle weather.'

     'Many having been informed of the intention of the Masters
     to establish freemen all about and under favourable
     conditions, a party of five selected a locality on the
     other side of the Fresh River (Liesbeek), named by us the
     Amstel, _below_ the forests and beyond it where our
     woodcutters are, near the crooked tree about three leagues
     from the Fort, and as long and broad as they wished it, on
     condition that they were to remain on the other side of the
     river. Another party of four selected a spot about a league
     nearer, at the Rondebosjen, on this side of the river or
     Amstel, from the small bridge leading to the forest as far
     as the spot chosen for the redoubt, near where the bird
     trap is to be built. The boundary of that land will be
     three-quarters of a league long, the river will divide them
     from the other party, and they will go back as far as they
     like to Table Mountain and the other mountains. The party
     of five may go forward towards the mountains of the
     continent proper, as far as they like; these two parties
     are therefore stationed right on the isthmus in fruitful
     soil. The further colony has therefore been named Amstel,
     or the Groeneveld, and the farthest redoubt will be about
     quarter of a league beyond it. The nearer colony at
     Rondebosjen (which is to be converted into a cattle kraal
     and to be provided with a gate) is to be called the "Dutch
     garden." A redoubt will also be built there.'

And then began some amusing correspondence between the Honorable
Commander and his honorable employers at Amsterdam.

Very few of these freemen had wives. Jan Reyniez had married the
Commander's niece Lysbeth, Jacob Cloeten sent to Cologne for Frau
Fychje Raderoffjes, and a few other wives were ordered out; but,
grumbled the Council from this strenuous settlement, 'Here are good
freemen, who would willingly marry if there were any material
(_stoffe_)'--to quote from the old documents--

     'These young men have accordingly prayed and begged us [the
     Council spared no words] to ask girls (_meis-jen_) for
     them, whom they may marry. We therefore request
     outward-bound families to bring with them strong, healthy
     farm girls, and the Company would make the condition that,
     when arriving at the Cape, the good ones might be retained
     and all others permitted to go on; as between Patria and
     this, it will be easily discovered what sort of persons
     they are.'

So in like manner, as bread fell from heaven to the Israelites in the
desert, or as the British Government supplied wives to their Virginian
Colonies, came wives to the freemen at the Cape. But rather hard for
the families who were to have their good maids retained.

It is a surprising thing, in looking over the old Roll-call, to find
so few old Cape names. The varying forms of spelling may account for

In the old title-deeds one finds some lands in Table Valley granted to
one Cornelius Mostaert, a well-known name; then there are mentioned
Cloeten, Cloetas, Muller, Theunissen, Visagie, and a Van der Byl, who
was a 'messenger of justice,' and rode from Cape Town to the Bosheuvel
on his rounds; but the large majority are almost unknown names.

But we have arrived at Rustenburg, off the wagon road which leads to
the forest on the slopes of the Bosheuvel, or 'Hen and Chickens Hill,'
where Amman Erichiszen, the keeper of the forest lands, planted most
energetically the great pine-trees which now, like an invincible army,
have marched over all the lands.

It is said that the original buildings at Rustenburg have been
destroyed. Marinus and I choose to think differently, as the position
of the present building must be on the exact spot. Rustenburg has
degenerated into a high school for girls, and bears itself like an
aristocrat in the stocks. Its long teak windows and rows of Doric
pillars look imposing enough to suggest the ancient glories which are
so carefully recorded: 'This day the Commander takes out a party to
inspect the Company's corn-lands at Rond die Bosje'--Van Riebeek on
his famous horse, 'Groote Vos'; Maria de Quellerai, his wife, in a
coach with the guests; Governors on their way to the East--the Great
Drakenstein, Van Oudtshoorn, Governor Van Goens, the Java Commander
who gave so much advice on his way to and fro, the Van der Stels still
working in the East; the Admirals of Return and Outward
Fleets--Vlemdingh, Van Tromp, De Reuyter--with their wives and
families; the famous Commander of the French Fleet, M. le Marquis du
Quesne, and so many others. Do their ghosts disturb the dreams of the
little high-school 'backfish'?

At the back of the Rustenburg buildings, to the left, following a path
which was probably a way to the Groote Schuur, are the remains of some
old orchard lands, and some years ago I remember going with a troop of
excited girls, in the terrifying hour of twilight, to see the old
slave burial-place, which lay to the right of a path leading to the
summer-house and 'Rustbank'--a small white seat still to be seen near
the little red-roofed tea-house. To the right of this spot is the
house called 'The Woolsack,' where Rudyard Kipling has lived every
summer for years. Here were remains of graves, old bits of tombstone,
old decaying skulls--oh! the horror and pleasure of these evening
desecrations! An orgie for the emotions which makes one adore the

Above the Woolsack towers the Wind Mountain, on its slopes the white
and grey granite temple of the Rhodes Monument.


One day someone sat gazing at the big Devils Peak, which shadows
Groote Schuur and stands like a rampart of the Citadel Mountain
behind. As he gazed he became inspired; he said: 'There should be a
monument to Rhodes, just there, on those steep green slopes under the
Watch House, where the heavy Dutch cannon were dragged up to defend
the bay.' The Rhodes trustees rose up and formed the chorus.

So began the drama of the monument.

The players were reinforced. Watts from London sent a huge bronze
group, Physical Energy, which is the beginning in the game of
progress. John Swan, with his wonderful head of a Michael Angelo
prophet and a later Roman Emperor, Rodin of the English, came himself
and drew designs for paradoxical lions.

This was our train of mind as we rode up the fir avenue of Groote
Schuur bordered with blue periwinkle flowers.


Home of Rhodes and a hostel for passing visitors of name and fame, it
was the 'Great Barn' of long ago--the Great Barn where the 'Company's'
corn, grown under such difficulties, was stored in times of
plenty, that there should be food for the Company's servants, ever
busy fighting off the Hottentots across the Flats, when the Batavian
Directors, with great omnipotence, decreed that the homeward-bound
fleet should find no room to carry rice to the vegetable settlement of
Bonne Esperance. For the Company settled in the shadow, not to found
an empire beyond the seas, but to 'grow vegetables for their ships.'

Groote Schuur, the great barn with its present building carefully
imitative, its masses of blue hydrangeas and wisteria, white-walled
terraces of plumbago and magenta bougainvillæa, and its tall
pine-trees and deep, fern-banked glen.

There is something adorable in the green plaque over the front
entrance--and instinctively it is _chapeau bas_--a small group of
Dutchmen and Hottentots on the seashore--'The Landing of Van Riebeek.'
The simplicity of the thing starts the weaving of the spell, which, in
the plod, plod of life at the Cape, is a forgotten aspect. No nation
can ever be great that has no time for sentimental patriotism. Why is
it that this Africa cannot hold its people? There is talk of the Call
of the Sun, but it does not hold fast, this Sun call. If Progress goes
north and all new effort must wander away from the Patria, it must not
be allowed to wander without the shibboleth of sentiment. A domestic
simile would be invidious.

Marinus, my guide, is used to my wanderings, and the horses are slowly
climbing the steep gravelled path behind the house. Past cool woods
filled with arum lilies and fantastic, twisted young oaks, looking to
the heated imagination like fauns and satyrs, which send back one's
mind to a long-ago atmosphere of mythology.

This atmosphere increases, and culminates at the Temple of the

In a large sloping field to the right of the path live, in happy
monotony, four or five llamas, while in another teak-gated enclosure
the striped zebras are gazing in mild surprise at a fierce wildebeeste
stalking along the other side of the thin wire fence.

Far across the purple sandy flats with their blue barriers to the
north--the 'Mountains of Africa'--lie the big vleis, or lakes, and
near them the tall white spire of the tiny Lutheran church, little
shepherd of all the German souls who cluster round in white farms,
growing lettuce on week-days and singing Lutheran hymns on Sunday.

At the top of the gravel road, almost buried in a kloof of stunted
oaks and yellow protea-bush, is a cottage, where the two sons of that
fat King of the Matabele, Lobengula, lived and were educated. What has
happened to them since Rhodes's death I do not know; they may be
studying French and science at the Sorbonne, or, having married
somebody's 'respectable English housemaid,' may be the happy fathers
of a tinted family of pupil teachers or typewriters!

We climbed higher, and were soon in the shadow of the Devil's Peak or
Doves Peak.

The name 'Devil' must have drifted from the 'Cape' to the Wind
Mountain. 'Windberg' was the ordinary name for the Peak, and 'Devil's
Cape' was the name given to the Cape many years before Diaz's ship was
driven round into the Indian Ocean.

Humboldt, the German traveller, has interesting information about this
name. He says that on Fra Mauro's world chart, published between 1457
and 1459, the Cape of Good Hope is marked 'Capo Di Diab!'

Diaz, to his surprise and unintention, rounded the Cape in 1486.

But even before this, others than the 'Flying Dutchman' sailed these
seas. On the old planisphere of 'Semito,' made in 1306, the tricorned
shape of South Africa is shown, and in a note added later to the
planisphere it is stated that an Indian junk coming from the East
circumnavigated this Cape 'Diab.'

To those who have thought of this Cape as shrouded in mystery until
the Portuguese sailors rounded it, the shock might be similar to the
state of mind of the Ignoble Vulgar (used in the sense of ignorance),
who find, one day, that quite a decent system of education existed
before the Flood; but shattering a fallacious perspective may not
necessarily widen a horizon, and Sheba's Mines of Ophir, the voyages
of the Phoenicians, Moorish slavers, Indian junks, gold, and apes,
and peacocks, and Flying Dutchmen, may still be in the jig-saw pattern
border of South Africa.

Groups of almond-trees guide us to two cement and iron cages. There,
lying blinking benignly in the sun, are the famous lions of Groote
Schuur--almost monuments in themselves.

Did not their ancestors roam over these very slopes of the mountain,
and swoop down into the cornfields and ricefields of the Company's
burghers, seeking water and shelter from the raging north winds, in
the comfortable piece of land 'Rond die Bosch' below?

Passing the lions, we are still mounting to the east ridge of the
Peak. Somewhere George Eliot says, 'attempts at description are
stupid--how can one describe a human being?' The assertion does not
apply entirely to human beings. Who but refuses to bear attempt at
minute description, and who but would fail in the attempt to describe
the wonderful view which suddenly appears--the shining blue rim of
Table Bay, a harmony in blue and silver, Watts's 'Energy' in
silhouette, the giant horse and rider dominating a huge precipice, the
precipice which is the narrow, flat, and sandy isthmus of the
Peninsula? All round and down the slopes are soft, green forests of


The inscription on the statue runs: 'Physical Energy, by G. F. Watts,
R.A., and by him given to the Genius of Rhodes.'

From the foot of the group in bronze and granite we look up the huge
steps to the grey granite temple, the grey rocks of the mountain
behind, and the 'Silver-Trees' keep the eye and senses running along
the gamut of greys.

Behind the tall pillars runs another inscription--'Dedicated to the
Spirit and Life Work of Cecil John Rhodes.' The paradox to this will
be found in the statue, or bust, of Cecil John, to be placed by the
trustees in the niche below. It is in the nature of man to embody,
allegorically, in human form, virtues and vices, but surely it were
better to leave the good deeds of the man, which belonged to the
Spirit, in the care of this wonderful grey granite temple. To the Life
and Spirit! Few bodies make temples worthy of the Spirit, and Cecil
John failed to prove the rule. But 'how truly great is the Actual, is
the Thing, that has rescued itself from bottomless depths of theory
and possibility, and stands as a definite indisputable fact ...' and
the Knowledge and the Practice, which are the elements of the mighty
Physical Energy, hang over the abyss of the Known, the Practicable.

The man and his life 'rest on solidity and some kind of truth.'

So we came down from the heights.



From Newlands we rode, one glorious afternoon, up a small, conical
hill at the back of Fernwood, or the old homestead 'Boshof.' There are
several ways of arriving, but we, full of enthusiasm, chose to take a
stony path hedged by scented wild-geraniums and ripening blackberry
hedges, along which more than a hundred years ago a big wagon had
rolled, dragging up the hill, as far as the ravines and rocks would
allow, two occupants--Mr. Barnard, His Excellency's secretary, and
Lady Anne, his wife.

There has been a great 'Barnard' cult of late, and the people who have
wondered at the romantic and witty correspondence of Lady Anne and the
Secretary of State for War, Lord Melville, have perhaps gained some
geographical knowledge of the Cape Peninsula one hundred years ago. I
adore Anne for her sense of humour; Marinus adores her for her
faithfulness to Barnard, whom for various reasons I have depicted to
him as a dullish and obliging man.


Behind this overgrown hill at the top of the Newlands Avenue lies
'Paradise,' where Anne Barnard lived during the summer, and which she
called her Trianon!

So Mecca-wards we rode, with the gigantic grey wall of Table Mountain
towering before us.

We turned our horses round to face the Flats! We saw the great plains
before us, once so bare that you could have seen a Hottentot crawling
among the sandhills miles away; the Bosheuvel Hill, or 'Hen and
Chickens,' standing out to the right, with its crown of silver-trees
shivering and shining in the sun. To the east lay False Bay--thousands
and thousands of emeralds set in cream; to the left, the dull, low,
crouching Tygerberg Hills, full of propriety, sleek and smooth. Below
us lay the Bishopscourt woods--the old Company's 'Forest lands' hiding
the river and the squirrels and the black babies of Little Paradise,
or Protea, with the branches of their enormous oak-trees--_chapeauz
bas_ to Wilhelm Adrian Van der Stel.

Anne Barnard wrote other letters than those to Lord Melville; she
wrote in long charming letters to her sisters at home a description of
the pretty little place called 'Paradise,' halfway up the hill, which
Lord Macartney wished her to have; 'how she could not drive up the
hill, but had to alight,' and walk, and thought the way to Paradise
the proverbial path, hard and steep, and thought less and less of His
Excellency's offer the steeper the path became. She writes--all out of

     'On turning round, a sequestered low road appeared, over
     which oaks met in cordial embrace--the path which, suddenly
     turning, presented to us an old farmhouse, charming in no
     point of architecture, but charming from the mountain which
     reared itself three thousand feet perpendicular above its
     head, with such a variety of spiral and gothic forms,
     wooded and picturesque, as to be a complete contrast to the
     hill which we had ascended or the plains over which we
     gazed. Before the house, _which was raised a few steps from
     the court_, there was a row of orange-trees. A garden, well
     stocked with fruit-trees, was behind the house, through
     which ran a hasty stream of water descending from the
     mountain; on the left a grove of fir-trees, whose long
     stems, agitated by the slightest breeze of wind, knocked
     their heads together like angry bullocks in a most
     ludicrous manner.'

'Anne! What do you say to this?'

Mr. Barnard speaks in much admiration. Anne, still breathless, feeling
happier, but her skirts are torn by the blackberries and low bushes:

'Why, that I like it, I am vexed to say, beyond all things.'

His Excellency's Secretary, becoming more elated (Anne having bright
pink in her flushed cheeks): 'And if you do, my dear Anne, why should
we not have it?' (This with all acknowledgment of the lamentable
fact, which I impress upon Marinus, that Anne's approval is the only
thing which will matter; Marinus always argues that in the other scale
are 'Robin Gray' and that packet of letters which Lord Melville tied
up with blue ribbon.)

Anne answers the adoring Barnard, not too decisively: 'Because the
World's end is not so distant as this spot from the haunts of men.'

Barnard's last effort is worthy of a diplomatist; he sighed: 'It's
very charming, however.'

They visited a number of other places, but Barnard's sigh won the day;
and a new road was made to 'Paradise' by the slaves--a road we were
presently to see, still showing the hard brick foundation, winding and
hugging the mountain from the present Groote Schuur Road.

There is a delicious description of a day at 'Paradise' in the
wonderful 'Lives of the Lindsays'--the mad, witty Lindsays! and Anne
was one of them--and she wrote as amusingly and wittily to her sisters
as she wrote to Melville, and she tied up the beautiful Cape wild
flowers in gauze bags to send to 'my dearest Margaret.'

I sometimes think that the letters, which are known to be in a famous
collection kept from the world, must be less philosophical, less
cynical, less amusing, and more in accord with the mood in which Anne
wrote 'Old Robin Gray.'

That in 1797.

This in 1909--Marinus and I asking our way of an old black woodcutter,
with feathery green 'Newlands Creeper' twisted round his hat--that
heirloom of the old slave descendant--a broad, passive grin crinkling
over his face: 'Jaa, Missis; Missis want ole slavy-house--want get by
ole "Paradise"? Yaa, vat I know ole Paradise; working by dese woods
tirty years--fader, grandfader, all working by "Paradise."' So we
followed him, our guide, our ponies scrambling up the slippery,
moss-covered pathway, the trees growing low and thick, obscuring the
sunlight, the dark figure of the woodman always running before us.
Deeper and deeper we plunged into the low woods, when turning suddenly
to the right and going slightly downhill, quite behind the fir-covered
koppie, we came into 'Paradise.' Found! and in ruins! And I picked
ferns from the walls of Anne Barnard's dining-room!

Here was the courtyard with the chief buildings facing north; on the
right, the long stoep showing remains of the curved, rounded steps. On
the left are the walls of lower buildings--probably the kitchens which
the Barnards built.

We left our ponies with the black man and pushed our way in silence
through the overgrown garden, all the terraces still banked up by
small stone walls, now moss-covered, past little garden paths running
along the mountain-stream, and fig-trees long since overgrown and
forgetful of bearing fruit; and higher up towards the mountain we
found two graves and four or five chestnut-trees--'the finest
chestnuts I ever saw by many, many degrees,' says Anne.

But wherever we went the thin, twisted, fantastic oaks, like deformed
gnomes reared in the dark, barred the way of 'Paradise' to intruders,
and with the rustling breeze the frightened squirrels and the ghosts
of this Trianon rushed away before us into the gloom.

Once, when sitting alone, only breathing a little Greek poem of praise
to Pan, I thought I saw a ghost of this dead 'Paradise,' forming
etheresque, vague and elusive, between the green hanging strands of
creepers.... It was only the web of a wood-spider caught in a shaft of
sunlight which had shot through the heavy roof of leaves. The garden
which should have grown the most sensitive plants now grows weeds;
only in a deserted corner we found a quaint, aromatic pink flower with
a scent which suggested the East.

The light was fading; Anne in her letters remarks upon this: 'The sun
sets here in "Paradise" two hours sooner than on the other side of the
hill, which I am told marks its height, but with lamps and candles it
makes no difference. We have nothing here to annoy us--except
mosquitoes and the baboons who come down in packs to pillage our
garden of the fruit with which the trees are laden.'

So we recovered our ponies from the woodcutter, who told us he had cut
wood round 'Paradise' for over thirty years, and followed the
red-brick slave-road which brought us to the middle of the Newlands
Avenue. 'Paradise,' with its shy ghosts, its decay, its charm, and its
memories of Anne, we placed at the back of our minds like little
sacred hidden temples, and the essence of it all burnt like incense in
their shrines.



We traced one day the old boundary-line, the Liesbeek River, from its
mouth near the Salt River to its sources in the woods of Paradise and

In some of the old record-books I found this entry, which will do as a
prologue to the chapter:

                                      'CABO DE BONNE ESPERANCE,
                                         '_September, 1652_.

     'Riebeek and the Carpenter proceed' (it was proceeding with
     some great care and danger in those days) 'to the back of
     Table Mountain' (a vague term for everything which was not
     visible from the fort). 'Here to examine, whether there are
     any forests other than already mentioned on the Lion
     Mountain, as the timber from home has been much spoilt, and
     is too light for the dwellings, in consequence of the heavy
     winds from the mountain we dare not leave our heaviest
     houses without supports. We found in the kloofs fine,
     thick, fairly strong trees, somewhat like the ash and
     beech, heavy and difficult to be transported. We found on
     some trees the dates 1604, 1620, and 1622, but did not
     know who carved them. Astonished that so many East India
     voyagers have maintained that there is no wood here. Found
     also fine soil, intersected by countless rivulets, the
     biggest as broad as the Amstel (Liesbeek), and running into
     the Salt River.'

This well-watered ground round Bishopscourt and Newlands became the
Company's forest lands.

In 1656, when the Commander went on another tree-hunting expedition,
there is another entry:

                                            '_August 31, 1656._

     'The Commander proceeds to the cornland, has some tobacco
     sown, and proceeds behind Table Mountain, where the forests
     are. He found very many sorts of trees similar to pine, but
     no real pines, and not one higher than 6, 7, or 8 feet.'

The Commander grew to love the forests, and land was granted him on
the banks of the Liesbeek (where Bishopscourt now stands) in an almost
dangerous situation, for day and night a watch was kept on the
Hottentots lurking in the bushes of the Hen and Chickens Hill, or
secretly striving to drive their cattle across the river into the
Company's grazing-ground. The river, the watch-houses reported, was
fordable, and cattle were constantly stolen. And as we were now
pushing our way through the bushes and brambles along the overgrown
banks, so in 1658 did Van Riebeek ride out with Van Goens 'all
through the reeds, shrubs, lilies, and marshes.'

The old Diary goes on:

     'He found the forest so closely grown from the one point to
     the other that no opening could be found than the wagon
     road, which might be easily closed with a bar. No cattle
     could pass through this wood, even if thousands of
     Hottentots were driving them. It is about two hours distant
     from the fort, as far as Visagie's dwelling and brewery
     below the foot of the Bosheuvel, where the Commander one
     morning showed Commander Van Goens, when they were walking
     over the Bosheuvel (with a Hottentot who did not wish that
     land should be cultivated there), a spot on which to build
     a small redoubt or watch-house, to protect the lands in the
     neighbourhood, and to which spot the River Liesbeek could
     be made navigable for small boats from the fort and through
     the Salt River. But as the Liesbeek is thickly studded with
     reeds, etc., 1½ and 2 feet high, it will be necessary to
     make a clearing on the sides, in order to examine the whole
     more carefully.'

Then started a great labour, and many seamen were busy for months
clearing the river, until, with much triumph, it was written in the
journal that in 'some places it was found to be the depth of a pike.'

The river as far as Rondebosch is not interesting, and often
impossible to follow, as it runs through private grounds and is very
overgrown by oaks and poplars. At the extreme end of Rondebosch it
becomes wider. At Westerford, or the West Ford, the main road crosses
it on a bridge, and the old history is perpetuated in the name given
to a shaded road running past the brewery--Boundary Road.

At Westerford is one of the old, fast-disappearing Outspan places--a
big, bare spot under the oaks, with the white walls and thatch
outhouses of the homestead which once belonged to Mostaert, 'living on
the other side of the Schuur.' Here we saw, as we rode past, some
wagons outspanned, the small black boys busy watering the mules and
oxen in the river below, farmers lying about wreathed in tobacco
smoke--the old days seem so quaintly characteristic, in spite of the
near proximity of a wine-store and a forage-loft. A scene of busy
lethargy--if such a paradox is permitted. I imagined how much more it
meant in the olden days, when the hard-grown corn, and flax, and hemp,
and tobacco were brought in from the brave little colony in the
Groeneveld; how they rushed through the deep ford to this outspan of
safety on the right side of the river.

The river runs through a lovely wood at the bottom of Government
House, Newlands, and on its steep opposite bank is 'The Vineyard,'
which little place--lately belonging to the Manuel family--was
designed and built by the Barnards, when the angel with the flaming
sword, in the guise of a new Governor--decrepit, weak old Sir George
Younge, with his debts and dissipations--turned them out of

Anne writes to Melville from 'The Vineyard' on March 14, 1800:

     'I am living out of town at our little country place, which
     we purchased, built a cottage on, and called "The
     Vineyard," removed from all party work, except working
     parties in our fields, rooting up of palmiet roots[3] and
     planting of fir-trees and potatoes.'

'The Vineyard,' which is in due order the correct place to fly to when
one has lost 'Paradise,' must have been a great refuge to the
Barnards. Those were troublous times of social intrigue--the old order
and the new--the Barnards weeping over the departure of the poor
Governor Macartney, wary, well-bred and witty, all crippled with gout;
old Younge, arriving with his sycophants; the General, Dundas, busy
fighting the natives and courting the rather dull lady who came out to
marry him; the entire gang eyeing poor Anne in her comfortable
stronghold in the Castle, and (one may gather) keeping no judicious
guard over their tongues. Anne rose to the occasion, offered her
Castle home to the General and his Cummings gave a good party for the
ladies of the staff, and retired to watch the dénouement from the
comforting distance at 'The Vineyard,' and to write philosophical
letters on the political situation, which, in the district of
Graff-Reinet, was of an inky blackness.

The long oak avenues of Newlands House on the opposite bank gave us
Canaletto-like perspectives of the low white house and twisted
chimneys, the green lawns and deer-park, and the intensest blue
hydrangeas. I have seen a drawing of the house as it was in the time
of Lord Charles Somerset, with oval verandah, otherwise very much the
same. It ultimately became the property of an old Van der Pool, who
left it to the famous Hiddingh family, who have for years leased it to
the Government. A namesake of his was an amusing character, living in
semi-darkness and dirt, hoarding up his unprofitable wealth. An old
black woman who was once his cook told a very good story of this old
miser. Van der Pool was noted for having in his cellars the best wine
at the Cape--no one ever tasted it. He hated spinach, but spinach grew
in the garden, and therefore must not be wasted. In the dark
dining-room, with an old gazette serving for a tablecloth, sat old man
Van der Pool waiting for his dinner. Up came the dinner, 'Saartje'
with a big dish of spinach rotten with long keeping. Old man Van der
Pool cursed Saartje and spinach in best Dutch, and 'made a plan.'
'"Saartje," say ole Bass, very gentle, soft like, "go fetch me from
die cellar a best big bottle of ole Pontac." I run fetch ole Pontac;
ole Bass, he put die bottle jus so, in front of him. "Now," he say,
"Saartje, you trek." I trek out not farder dan die door keyhole. I see
ole Bass pour out best old Pontac and put die spinach in front too.
"Now," he say, "Hendrick, you see dis fine, werry, werry fine ole
Pontac, you eat dis verdommte spinach first, den you drink dis wine,
wot's been standin, Hendrickie, Kerl, for werry many years." Ole Bass,
he eat, eat fast as I nebber seen him before; den, when all spinach
done, ole Bass he pour die wine back in die bottle. He laf, laf, and
he say, putting his finger to his nose, "Hi! Hendrick, I fool you dis
time, I tink, fool you pretty well."'

  [Illustration: OAK AVENUE, NEWLANDS]

We left the river for a time and got up a side avenue into the big
Newlands Avenue, near Montebello and the brewery. All this estate,
once called the Palmboom, or Brewery Estate, belonged to old Dirk Van
Rheenen, or Van Rhénen, Anne Barnard's friend, the most hospitable man
in all the Peninsula. Dirk got the Government beer contract and built
a wonderful mansion, designed with all its white stateliness and Doric
pillars by a Frenchman who came out to build the Amsterdam Battery--at
least, Marinus says so. But I have another story which is as well
told. Anne Barnard is my authority, and she says she considers the
Van Rheenen house possessed the air of a European mansion, it being
erected by his own slaves from an Italian drawing he happened to meet
with. There is a quaint description of how the Barnards' party went
a-dining with Mynheer Van Rheenen:

     'The family received us all with open countenances of
     gladness and hospitality, but the openest countenance and
     the most resolute smile, amounting to a grin, was borne by
     a calf's head, nearly as large as that of an ox, which was
     boiled entire and served up with the ears whole and a pair
     of gallant horns. The teeth were more perfect than dentist
     ever made, and no white satin was so pure as the skin of
     the countenance. This melancholy merry smiler and a tureen
     of bird's-nest soup were the most distinguished _plats_ in
     the entertainment. The soup was a mass of the most aromatic
     nastiness I ever tasted, somewhat resembling macaroni
     perfumed with different scents; it is a Chinese dish, and
     was formerly so highly valued in India that five-and-twenty
     guineas was the price of a tureenful of it. The
     "springer"[4] also made its appearance, boiled in large
     slices--admirable! It is a fish which would make the
     fortune of anyone who could carry it by spawn to England.
     The party was good, the game abundant, but ill-cooked, the
     beef bad, the mutton by no means superior, the poultry
     remarkably good, and the venison of the highest flavour,
     but without fat; this, however, was supplied by its being
     larded very thickly--all sorts of fruits in great
     perfection, pines excepted, of which there are not many at
     the Cape. Mynheer carried us off after dinner to see his
     bloom of tulips and other flowers; the tulips are very
     fine, and the carnations beautiful; _all were sheltered
     from the winds by myrtle hedges_. Our gentlemen returned
     delighted with the day they had spent, and very glad to
     have the prospect of another such.'

Gigantic appetites, hadn't they? And if Anne hadn't tasted it all how
could she have commented with so much definiteness? They grew tulips
here! Why not? But they won't grow, is the answer. I expect the secret
lies in the neat myrtle hedges, which can yet be seen in some
old-fashioned gardens in Sea Point and Cape Town. They drank well and
unwisely, also, these Peninsula people. Thompson remarks upon this in
his book on the Cape: 'The Pokaalie cup, like the blessed beer of
Bradwardine, too often drowns both reason and refinement.'


[3] Palmiet is a high, strong river-weed.

[4] A fresh-water fish.



We crossed the river at the bottom of the Bishopscourt gardens, and
found ourselves looking down the long fir avenue, arched as perfectly
as the nave of a Gothic cathedral. Opposite, ran another little avenue
along the side of the hill, and to the right, staring at us like black
and white toadstools of monstrous size out of the green gloom, the
thatched cottages of Bishopscourt.

We chose a little narrow pathway running up the hill from the middle
avenue, winding through low protea-bush and silver-trees.


There is cruel, continuous, silent fighting on this hillside--the
battle between the silver-trees and the firs. The firs, or pines, who
came here last, are creeping, year by year, higher and higher up the
hill; year by year the brave little 'witteboomen' (white trees) are
driven before this strong green army of invaders; soon there will be a
last stand on the hilltop--the survival of the fittest. We shall all
see it; we are seeing it every day of our lives--and will no one
help? The pines are helped by unthinking man in his horrible
materialism--the silver-tree branches are easy to break off, and make
good fuel. Day by day, like a file of gaudy beetles, the dwellers of
'Protea' crawl along our little path and down again to the river huts,
with loaded shoulders, and leave the silver woods leaner.

A hundred years ago Anne Barnard, herself a tree-planter for the
generations to come, talks with satisfaction of 'The Marriage of Miss
Silver-tree and Donald Fir-tops.' Marinus says I am a sentimental
traveller, but it is a distressing end to such a _ménage_ after only
one hundred years! Barrow, the naturalist, speaks of the moth which
feeds on the _Protea argenta_, and suggests turning them to some
account, seeing that it is said to be exactly the same insect which
spins the strong Indian silk called 'Tussach.' Here is an idea of
interest, but that means the protection of the silver-tree. There is
in Cape Town a society for the preservation of objects of national
interest--a slumbering giant of the moment. The protection of natural
objects of national importance and beauty should appear as an
amendment on its syllabus. In France, a fat little bourgeois Ministre
de l'Instruction Publique et des Beaux Arts, or the fatter and more
bourgeois Sous-Préfet of a small town, will run about on any hot day
or any cold day, with all the importance and authority of the State
embodied in his active patriotic French body and his 'red ribbon,' and
behold! 'Messieurs, you would destroy this tree--"tiens!"--destroy the
beauty of France, "je vous demande?" Never, "jamais de la vie!"' The
tree stays. That ancient wall destroying the value of a good building
site--'tant pis!' It remains! 'Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité'--the New
Rule; but we must perforce worship the Old. Such the snobbism of La
Patrie, La France.

Such is my plea for the shining, Ancient Inhabitants of the Bosheuvel.
Most travellers assert that they are unique, growing in no other part
of the world; and many affirm that they are indigenous. Their
evolution is distinctly traceable in the soft grey silkiness on the
back of the leaves of the large, yellow protea-bush. A careful walk
across the Wynberg hills, and you will come back to report that nearly
every shrub or even quite tiny ground plant is of the protea family,
vastly productive and attractive family, from the yellow giants with
their pink-tipped cousins, the sugar-bushes--the treasure caves of the
bees and tiny, brilliant, green sugar-birds--to the top-heavy white
protea, sometimes painted, like Alice's red rose-tree, a deep crimson.
Some very distant cousins, who have not risen sufficiently high in
their world, have no flowers at all, only brilliant-coloured red and
yellow stem tops.

We have seen the Bosheuvel in many moods and seasons; we have been
there when the sweet-smelling pink flower, half acacia, half pea, the
Keurboom, lines the paths, and Bishopscourt lies in a deep blue sea of
mist, while above, the 'Skeleton' and 'Window' Gorges are mauve with
aching buds of the oaks in early spring. Now it is middle summer, with
fields of yellow mustard flower, tall blue reeds, and wild-geraniums,
of which it is said that 'this tribe of plant alone might imitate in
their leaves every genus of the vegetable world.'

Our ponies crackled their way over the dead silver leaves as we
climbed over this old outpost hill, from whose summit the agitated
freemen or soldiers would see the 'Caapmen' dancing round their fires
below. The hill has a fighting reputation; terrible murders of slaves
and burghers and cattle-thieving were daily recorded from the vicinity
of the Bosheuvel in the first Commander's journal. Van Riebeek,
walking up from his farm below, saw 'Kyekuyt,' his second outpost,
burning away to the tune of this Hottentot singing; saw the Saldanhas
pressing close to its base, forming one long ominous barrier along the
blue shadow. His mind was full of tricks for peace. By a clever ruse
he turned these savages with their herds through the Kloof Nek, hoping
they might wander away to Cape Point. But they hurried back over the
Constantia or Wynberg Pass, and their cattle fed with the Company's
cattle, and they danced once again on the 'Hen and Chickens,' whose
grey granite boulders, several small rocks clustering round a big one,
would form fit temples for these worshippers of the moon.

When we reached the famous 'Grey Hen' overlooking the Wynberg Park,
Marinus produced a small piece of paper, and read from it this scheme
of peace, signed in full by the Council and the Commander,
recommending their decision to the grace of God and the approval of
Amsterdam: 'That not only should the Colony be protected from the
ravages of the Hottentots by the redoubts placed at intervals along
the river, with the last and farthest on the Bosheuvel, called "Hout
den Bul" (Hold the Bull), but a fence of bitter almonds should be
planted across the Bosheuvel, stretching to the bottom and then going
off at a direct angle along the river lands to the seashore.'

On our way along the river we have behaved with more inquisitiveness
than respect; most unsuspecting people have had their gardens and
fields incautiously explored by Marinus and me. Here and there we have
found in the overgrown garden of a thatched house, in a tangle of
oleanders (or Chinese roses, as the Dutch call them)--and goodness
knows they are the only flowers that can possibly account for the
floral decorations on old China--myrtle hedges, Cape jasmine, and
magnolias (can't you smell the garden?), a few little clumps of the
shining, green bitter almond, the last of the old fence.

It is not, however, hard to find on the Bosheuvel Hill, though it is
always being destroyed in the bush fires so frequent on the hill, when
in a few minutes hundreds of trees have given one sharp crackle of
agony, and are charred heaps of silvery ashes. We traced it, this old
warrior of a hedge which was once the only shade for the horsemen and
soldiers stationed at the Redoubt. It crosses the middle of the hill.
It once looked on one side on the farm of the Commander, and on the
other side on the huts and kraals of the Hottentots, whose erring
cattle poked their uncivilized horns through its thick greenness; and
now its aged branches lap over a barbed-wire fence which runs along
the farms Oosterzee and Glen Dirk, of Mr. Philip Cloete and his
brother; while, on the other side, the firs and oaks hide the white
walls of Bishopscourt. The silver-tree and the bitter-almond hedge are
the Ancient Inhabitants, and Marinus and I felt we were friends and in
league with the barbed-wire fence, and we hated the position.

So we rode down the hill into the Wynberg Park, and leaving the camp
on the left we crossed the glen at the bottom of Glen Dirk, and,
behold, we were in a sea of vineyards, the purple bunches almost
resting their ripe weight on the burning pink earth.

Some old naturalist thinks that it is to the laziness of the old
vine-growers that we owe the slow evolution of our wine. No tall
trellised vines or standards of France and Spain and the Rhine, no
rows of mulberry-trees supporting the hanging tendrils as in Italy,
but low, stubby-looking little vine-sticks; and, says my authority of
a hundred years ago, 'as is well known, the exhalations from the earth
are so much imbibed by the leaves of the tobacco plant which grow
nearest to it, that those leaves are always rejected as unfit for use,
so it is natural to suppose that the fruit of the vine hanging very
near to, or even resting upon, the ground, will also receive the
prevailing flavour exhaling from the soil.' This was the theory of a
theorist. I have the authority of a wine-maker who says that it is not
only the heavy spring winds that have necessitated low vines, but that
the Cape wine was, and is, essentially a sweet wine, and to procure
the right amount of sugar it is important to grow the vines as near
the ground as possible, that the radiation of the sun off the ground
may ripen them. Later came the demand for a lighter wine, and creeping
vines were introduced grown on wire, but as close to the ground as
possible, otherwise the wine does not maintain itself, and becomes
acid. The old Pontac vine, which is a creeper by nature, was treated
in the old days, and is still treated as a creeper, by tying a long
cane across the centre of the tree, so that it lies horizontally
across, close to the ground; no wire is used, or the days of sweet
Pontac would be over.

My first authority, the theorist, deplores, in excellent English, the
slackness that existed in the making of wine and brandy. I remember
with horror seeing in Constantia cellars the old process in full
swing. Huge vats--the hugeness of a fairy-tale ogre's bath--raised
high up in the gloom of the cellar, the sickening smell of
fermentation, the squash, squash, bubble, bubble, of the juice oozing
through the vat holes, and the sweating blacks, in tunics that reached
to the knee and were once white, treading and squashing the grapes,
their black faces bobbing up and down in the great vats, sometimes
singing, or spitting out the chewed tobacco, the Nirvana of the
workers. My whole body and soul revolted against this physical
strength and stench--to me it was the greatest weapon in the total
abstainer crusade; the nauseous odour of malt and beer is nothing to

Oh! it's a fascinating subject, this culture of the Vine, as old as
the hills, and with the greatest sympathy do the Jew and the Gentile
view it; and its cosmopolicy is almost perfect. It makes brothers of
strangers, swine of brothers; it is an everlasting monument to
Adam--he went out of Paradise to till the ground, and wherefore till
unless to grow the vine which alone can make him forget Paradise--and
in its long pageant come passing by, old Noah and his sons, who
peopled the earth; Dionysius and his followers--his troupe of
Bacchantes revelling in leopard skins, purple grapes and flowing hair,
and in turn their ghastly following of fauns and satyrs, the chorus
for their appalling rites and festivals; then comes the solemn
Persian, whose women carried the purple wine while he sang the praises
of both, in the guise of the philosophy of the most ancient Abyssinian
Universities; in great disorder crowd along the poisoners of early
Rome and the Renaissance, carrying their fatal goblets; the decadent
revellers of Lemnos in artistic drunkenness--roses and pearls and wine
and the heated dancers of inspiration, which made luxury to be
desired. In the crowd, jostling with all, pass Popes and Cardinals
with more wine--strange vicissitude! The Host of the Lord followed by
the faithful--it is now become the religion of the world. Then come
the painters, the great 'primitives,' and the makers of the new
religion, creators of sublime pictures--a 'Last Supper'; the wine in
the cup, pure red, as red as the wine Bacchus is flinging over his
drunken followers, as red as the wine of Omar, of Cleopatra's
love-philtres dissolving pearls. Great Fellowship of the Vine; it
rules the world! Continue looking: there is more procession;
picturesque, besatined men who have fought picturesque duels, and
gambled and drunk wine in the coffee-houses (what a paradox!), men who
have made poems and books, and run States and Empires, and have laid
with unflagging regularity under their tables in the respectability
which rank and custom made possible; and looming in the gloom behind
the pageant are the shadows of the invading army. They, too, have kept
their pattern in this kaleidoscope; the men who have made a Hell for
the drunkards--the Ironsides, Calvinists, Protestants, a dull crowd to
follow such gorgeousness. The Banners of Temperance are Grey and
Green: and grey is an enduring colour, and clashes with nothing; and
green is the colour of the World! the Earth! and the woods! leaves and
pure water! the singing of birds! time to sleep, time to eat, time to
listen! This may be behind the grey banners; but the Eyes of the
Pageant are near-sighted and tired with overmuch colour and vibration,
and the Ears of the Pageant are tuned too high to hear the song of

We have been round the Mulberry Bush, round and round....

     'This is the way we have brushed our hair;
     This is the way we have washed our faces;
     This is the way we have eaten our food;
     This is the way we go to bed;
     This is the way we get up again.'

All the cynical philosophy of that child-game brings us back to where
we started--the vineyards.

I told all this to Marinus as we lazed along the path through the
vineyards, with Klastenbosch Woods on our right and tiny thatched
farms with a symmetrical patch of cabbages and violets supporting each
household: the slopes of the Tokai or Steenbergen ranges before us,
'Un paysage après Claud.'

Constantia was once divided into two big plots--Great and Little--and
a few things in between which didn't count much.

Now--well, there are such pretty names; old Klastenbosch, its
outhouses dying in their old faith, with dilapidated Dutch white and
green and low stoeps, while the dwelling-house flaunts its regenerated
walls in newly-acquired glory, full of comfortable English
furniture--the fullest example of the new South African nation, in
ideals laid down by a clever man--_enfin!_ what could be more solid
than such combination? English, Dutch, and German. But the
Klastenbosch pigs are still black, and they grunt and nozzle in the
oak forest and along the stream with the wild olive-trees on its banks
_comme autrefois_. To continue the list of names. Just below us in a
poplar forest lies 'Belle Ombre'; to our left is 'Alphen'; and we
trotted past its gates and low white walls, along the avenue of
twisted, red-dusted stone-pines, past 'Hauptville,' a tiny spot in the
midst of its acres of vines, and up the pink, pine-edged Constantia
road to Groot Constantia.

  [Illustration: FIR AVENUE--ALPHEN]



Lady Anne Barnard writes amusingly of a visit she paid to this green
valley from her home on the other side of the hill, to the house of
Mynheer Cloete, who once had to pay one thousand dollars for a large
piece of Druip[5] stone. In a cave beyond Sir Lowry's Pass this
gentleman saw the mass of petrifaction, and thinking it a safe thing,
he made a bet with a Boer standing near that, though no one could
possibly get such a fragile mass over the pass, he would give one
thousand dollars to have it at Constantia. The fragile mass, and the
Boer, turned up one day at Constantia, to the disgust of Mynheer.

Lady Anne took Lord Mornington, stopping at the Cape on his way to
India, to lunch with this Cloete, who showed her a new blend of wine
which he had himself invented. 'I was astonished,' she remarks, 'to
hear a Dutchman say he did anything his father had not done before
him, for when I asked him why such and such a thing was not done, he
shrugged his shoulders and said 'it was not the custom.' A
characteristic episode, I fancy, and one which has taken too long to
change, independence of mind and imagination not being smiled upon by
cautious contentment.

As Governors-General did not often pass the Cape, Mynheer brought out
his best and oldest port, sherry, and claret, and 'the gentlemen's
prejudices got the better of their manners'; Mynheer Cloete copiously
drinking foreign claret, remarking, 'My wines are valuable; and I am
glad when others like them, but I do not; whoever prizes what is made
at home?'

A few years before Mynheer did without his after-dinner (luncheon)
'slaap' to entertain Lord Mornington and the Barnards, Monsieur Le
Vaillant, turning his unappreciated French back on the town 'where
only the English are loved,' wandered into the quince and
myrtle-hedged vineyard of Cloete's Constantia, where his host, a
Jacobin to his finger-tips, gave him a 'sopje'[6] of his best
Constantia, and Le Vaillant bewailed his prejudiced Cape Town audience

'Mynheer, here in your Kaapstad, it is the English who are adored;
when they arrive, everyone is eager to offer them a lodging. In less
than eight days everything becomes English in the house upon which
they have fixed their choice; and the master and the mistress, and
even the children (with his fine laces ballet-dancing round his waving
and gesticulating hands), _et même des enfants!_ soon assume their
manners.' Then came the currant in this suet. 'At table, for instance,
the knife never fails to discharge the office of the fork! Would you
credit this, Mynheer? I have even heard some of the inhabitants say
that they would rather be taken by the English than owe their safety
to the French.' Mynheer, deep in his 'sopje,' grunts a Dutch grunt of
uncompromising depth.

This garrulous French explorer found this rich old Cloete less
sympathetic than his Jacobin friend Broers, for whose services at a
critical time a grateful French Government was not unwilling to shower
rewards, and Le Vaillant left Constantia to write of it: 'That this
celebrated vineyard does not produce a tenth part of the wine which is
sold under its name. Some say the first plants were brought here from
Burgundy, others from Madeira, and some from Persia. However this may
be, it is certain (in 1782) that this wine is delicious when drunk at
the Cape; that it loses much by being transported; and that after five
years it is worth nothing. Close to Constantia is another vineyard,
called the Lesser Constantia (Klein Constantia), but it is only within
these later years that it has begun to be held in the same esteem as
the former. It has even sometimes happened that the produce of it has
been sold for a larger sum than that of the other at the Company's
sales! As it is separated from the other only by a plain hedge, it is
probable that there was formerly no difference between the wines, but
in the manner of preparing them. Only the rich use the wine of other

A not too flourishing 'koopman' (merchant), a lover of the English and
a well-known despiser of the popinjay little Frenchman, hearing this
remark in a coffee-house, and not counting on the irrepressible
Broers, sat one evening on the stoep of his long, flat-roofed house in
the Wale Street. Up from the Heerengracht, across the canal bridge,
came Monsieur le Français with friend Fiscal Broers. This was an
opportunity to be seized. 'Dantje!' echoed in loud tones down the Wale
Street. Dantje the slave came running up from the kitchens. 'Fetch
some red wine immediately.' 'The vanity of this man,' says the
triumphant Le Vaillant, 'is ridiculous. Mr. Broers assures me that he
has not a single drop in his possession, and that he had perhaps drunk
of it ten times in his life.' On this account, having reached the top
of the street, they turned round and beheld the knowing Dantje pouring
out beer! Slimmer Kerl! There seems justifiable reason for belief that
Dantje scored heaviest in this particular case.

By now we have passed the gates of High Constantia and Klein
Constantia, and very soon have reached the Government wine-farm,
Groote Constantia, Simon Van der Stel's home, of which so much has
been written, and which we passed rather hurriedly; for it does not
please me to know that its best furniture has disappeared, that the
new wine cellars have iron roofs, that the old bath is overgrown with
brambles and weeds, and that convicts in a plague of arrow-marked
garments frighten the birds who come to 'steal in the vineyards.' We
cut across country into the Tokai road, through a violet farm, whose
charm dies when the flowers fade in early summer. There are acres and
acres of violets, hedged by poplars, and deep streams which water them
and overflow into potato lands lying lower down in 'Retreat' country,
and help to feed the 'vleis' at Lakeside. We raced along a mile of
sandy lane lined with firs and protea and heath, called, by reason of
some virtue, 'The Ladies' Mile.' This road led us to the farm 'Berg
Vliet,' behind whose white walls we passed into a sandy vineyard
track, and soon we reached the Tokai convict station and the oak woods
of the Manor House.


[5] Druip stone--_i.e._, stalactite.

[6] A 'sopje' or 'sooppie,' a glass of rack or gin, or, rather, a
French brandy. Before sitting down to dinner it was etiquette to offer
a 'soppe' or a little white wine, into which wormwood or aloes had
been infused in order to excite the appetite.



To realize the Cape Peninsula one must stand on the lower plateau of
Table Mountain, near the Wynberg Reservoir: there is a clear, neat map
of the country laid out before one.

We drove up over the Hen and Chickens Hill, the road running parallel
with the old bitter-almond Hedge to the teak-gated enclosure on the
'Rhodes Road.'

It was a misty morning, though the sun was hot; the Flats were mostly
in shade, with long shafts of light striking across the sand-dunes and
the 'vleis.'

A trolley, dragged by a white horse, brought us through a grove of
silver-trees to a tin shed, where a coolie half-caste told us that we
should have to wait for the mountain trolley, which was then running
up coal and food to the workers at the reservoir on the mountain above


The thin mist crept up and down the slopes, and hordes of black
flower-pickers passed us, carrying huge bunches of pink and
purple flowers, gathered from the Skeleton and Window Gorges, to be
sold next morning in Adderley Street.

A small black trolley, with planks across the top to serve as seats,
slipped through a clump of gum-trees, stopped at the shed, and we
climbed in. The damp mists crept lower, and Marinus lent me his big
black mackintosh. The trolley was hauled up the one-in-one gradient by
a rope worked by steam. Running from the front of the car to the iron
bar at the back of it was a small piece of dilapidated-looking rope,
the object of which I could not imagine. Slowly we climbed through the
gum-trees, and came face to face with the grey wall of mountain
towering before us.

The rays of sun caught the silver-trees below, and they flashed their
farewells as we mounted into the mists. On our right were slopes of
pale pink gladioli and gentian-blue flowering reed. On our left,
clumps of scarlet-red 'Erica' heath and brown grasses, and
far--terribly far--below us the Rhodes Road winding close to the
mountain over Constantia Nek.

Suddenly I felt the rope tighten, and instinctively (no need to ask
its use now) found myself clinging and crouching forward with a tense
feeling in my throat.

The mountain seemed almost to hang over the car, yet the line went
straight up.

I smelt the pungent scent of wild-geraniums, and knew there were pink
flowers, but my eyes saw not.

The rope slackened, and I looked back!

I understood why Lot's wife became a pillar of salt: we had come up
over the edge of the world.

Once, like a reassuring presence, a small black car ran down past the
trolley, almost brushing my coat.

Twelve minutes of this, then before us were iron sheds and black and
white genii--the men who had made the line and the men who worked the
trolley. Inside the shed the puffing little engine of magic power.
Then the 'man who makes' on the mountain hurried us off, through a
forest of thin firs, on to a plain of rock and white sand, with not
more than ten feet of view around.

It was a mysterious walk, this pilgrimage in silence through the
rain--soft, soaking stuff of spray--past huge water-worn boulders,
grey granite gargoyles that peered at us through the fog. No sound but
the noise of our footsteps on the damp white pathway, and the crunch
of small pebbles as we passed between grey walls of rock.

Suddenly the way became a field of mauveness, palest pink and purple
flowers, hedged by masses of tall, yellow, flowering reeds, while
close to the damp earth grew hundreds of sweet-smelling
butter-coloured orchids and white crassula.

As we watched our phantom party moving through the flowers in their
unpractical garments, Marinus reminded me of how Anne Barnard had
climbed this mountain in scanty skirt, her husband's trousers, and
pattens. The memory of Anne made me sing something Scotch--not her own
song, 'Robin Gray,' but 'Loch Lomond.' I sang very softly to suit the
mists, elusive spirits with feathery wings.

As I sang there came a noise of driven waters, the clouds moved away,
and before us was a lake: a great ocean it might have been, for one
saw no farther shore, but only big angry waves dashing against the

The 'man who made things' took us down the bank and led us on to a
huge wall with a cement pathway and a thin iron rail.

On one side of the water, a sheer drop of over a hundred feet, a drop
into ferns and creepers and gorgeous greenness. On the other side,
sixty feet across, were the wind-driven waters of the big Cape Town
reservoir, and the clever fingers of the 'man who made' pointed into
the mist to where there was another of those caged seas, 'The highest
dam in Africa--in all Africa,' he said, with some suspicion of
satisfaction in his voice.

Big waves splashed over the stone wall, and through the mist we heard
a dog bark from the caretaker's cottage across the water.


                                           DISA HEAD, TABLE MOUNTAIN,
                                               _January 29, 1910_.

A small Norwegian Pan is sitting on a big grey rock beside me as I
write; he is a Christian, civilized imp by birth, and his name is Olaf
Tafelberg Thorsen, and he is a Viking by descent. He is round and
brown as one of the little pebbles that lie on the white shores of the
big blue dams, and his eyes are like the blue-brown pools that are in
the shadow of the 'Disa Gorge.' This world, which I had only seen
through the grey mists, is sparkling in the perfect atmosphere of some
2,000 feet above the sea.

The same trolley I have spoken of before ran me and my baggage up the
Wynberg side of the mountain. On top I was met by its inventor and the
father of Olaf Tafelberg, and we formed a procession, to walk for
three-quarters of an hour to this home on the grey rock above the dam,
where months before I had heard a dog bark out of the mist.

Olaf Tafelberg has a Viking brother, Sigveg, fair and blue-eyed, who
knows every flower on the mountain. Then there is a girl child with
nothing more distinctive than the most distinctive name of Disa
Narina; but she has the same simpleness of manner as the buxom brown
Lady Narina, beloved by Monsieur Le Vaillant--the 'model for the
pencil of Albano'--'the youngest of the Graces, under the figure of a
Hottentot.' This fascinating Hottentot, whom Le Vaillant met with on
his inland travels, became a kind of dusky and rustic Egeria. But
Narina possessed more morality than morals, and made life very
pleasant for herself, acquiring many fine bracelets and
head-handkerchiefs from her devoted Frenchman, whose 'sentimentality'
induced him to weep over the far-travelled letters of Madame Le
Vaillant, and to be content to see Narina in the capacity of a game
dog who would tramp for miles with him along the banks of the river

But this is a diversion from the small Disa Narina of Table Mountain.
Narina is the Hottentot word for flower, and the flower is a gorgeous
species of lily in every shade of red, pink, and maroon, covered with
shining gold dust. There is a picture by an old Dutch master of the
time of William of Orange, hanging in a room in Hampton Court--dull
pink narinas in a gold vase.

The red grandiflora Disa grows in a deep gully running right through
the mountain. The father of Disa Narina took me into the gorge over
which the great white dam wall towers, and down which 25 to 50 million
gallons of water rush weekly into the thirsty Cape Town reservoirs. We
watched it dashing and splashing out of its narrow valve pipe down
this steep ravine with towering, fern-covered cliffs on either side,
down into the soft blue distance, where it rushes through a tunnel,
and is lost from sight. Poor water! to leave those lovely blue lakes
for dusty Cape Town; no wonder it grumbles and foams all the long
length of the Disa Gorge. Some of it escapes--for a rest--into the
dark brown pools that lie round the low tree-roots in the shadow of
the dripping fern cliffs.

I climbed along some fallen boughs into the coolness to pick the fern,
which is a bright pink colour where it grows in the shadow. High above
I saw the crimson disa and terracotta heath, and, edging the pathway,
a pure mauve flower and gentian-blue lobelia, the ancestor of that
little blue border for English flower-beds. The first lobelia emigrant
left the Cape in 1660, and arrived to find London almost too busy
welcoming a new-old King to worry very much about its little Colonial
blueness. Still, it has found a certain rural fame, and has returned
to the land of its birth; but its mountain brothers, who are citizens
of the world, would wonder at its small size.

We climbed down the gorge through an aromatic hedge of shrub and tall
red gladiolus and royal blue agapanthus, until we came to a projecting
cliff, called 'Lover's Leap,' which has the romantic and tragic
tradition that its name implies. Instead of being overpowered by its
tragedy and its height, I sat down on a sun-warmed rock, and so
closely in our souls are the praises of all religions allied, that,
stirred by the pureness of the air, the blueness of the distances, the
sea before me and the distance of the world below, I unconsciously
quoted the words which are written by Walt Whitman in that creed of
the vagrant philosopher, the 'Song of the Open Road': 'The efflux of
the Soul is happiness; here is happiness; I think it pervades the open
air, waiting at all times.

'Now it flows unto us: we are rightly charged; the earth never tires.

'I swear to you that there are divine things more beautiful than words
can tell.'

                                          _Sunday, January 30, 1910._

I have spent the morning in the fir-woods which fringe the dams.
Through a dip in the mountains facing east, I see the blue peaks of
the Hottentot's Holland Ranges. A trolley brought me and my books down
from the house on the rock, and I walked up the 'Kitchen Gorge' to
find an old Hottentot cattle kraal--the grey rocks covered with
lichen--and close beside it, on the side of the mountain, a concave
rock big enough to hold six herds. Just above us the famous 'Echo'
Valley, where Anne Barnard, having discarded many pairs of pattens,
called on her party to drink the health of His Majesty King George,
'not doubting that all the hills around would join us: "God save the
King--God save great George our King!" roared I and my troop. "God
save--God save--God save--great George--great George--great George our
King!" echoed the loyal mountains.'

Anne was almost the first woman to climb up the mountain, and there
was pretty heavy betting against it in the town.

Among her party was one of the pleasantest, best-informed, and most
eager-minded young men in the world--a Mr. Barrow, a naturalist and
explorer, who was employed by the Governor, Lord Macartney, to report
on the Colony, and especially its unexplored territory. Barrow wrote a
life of Lord Macartney and a two-volume book of travels in Africa, in
which it is amusing to trace the way of all explorers--the casting of
dark doubts on the writing of those who have been before. Le Vaillant
dismissed the disgraceful old gossiper Kolbé in a few well-timed
words: 'The Residence of this man at the Cape is not yet forgotten. It
is well known that he never quitted the town, yet he speaks with all
the assurance of an eyewitness. It cannot, however, be doubted that,
after an abode of ten years, having failed to accomplish what he was
commissioned to do, he found it much easier to collect all the
tipplers of the Colony, who, treating him with derision whilst they
were drinking his wine, dictated memoirs to him from tavern to
tavern, tried who could relate to him the most absurd and ridiculous
anecdotes, and amused him with information until they had drained his
bottles. In this manner are new discoveries made, and thus is the
progress of the human mind enlarged!'

In turn Barrow treats Monsieur Le Vaillant in like manner. For while
visiting some years later the farm on which Le Vaillant killed some
tigers with so much éclat and danger that a few pages are devoted to
the feat, Barrow hears a very different story at the famous house of
Slabert in the Groen Kloof. The family knew Le Vaillant well, and Mr.
Barrow read his travels aloud, to the intense amusement of the
Slaberts. Barrow says in his book: '... But the whole of his
transactions in this part of the country, wherein his own heroism is
so fully set forth, they assert to be so many fabrications'; that the
celebrated tiger-shoot was done entirely by their own Hottentots'
trap-gun; and that the gay Le Vaillant found the animal expiring under
a bush, and, with no great danger to himself, discharged his musket
into the dying tiger! Le Vaillant had set out to find a barbarous race
said to wear cotton clothing. His first book of travels in the East
had sold well, and here in Africa Kolbe's imagination had left little
scope for improvement; hence these revilings.

                                            DISA HEAD, TABLE MOUNTAIN,
                                                   _January 31_.

There was no sunrise this morning; a driving mist and a howling, black
south-easter. 'Table Mountain has put on its peruke,' says the witty
Le Vaillant, so there will be no fir-woods or flower-hunting this
morning; and I am sitting in a small office. Through the windows, in
the minutes between the mists, I can see the blue Indian Ocean and
Hout Bay, and the tallest heads of the Twelve Apostles Mountains, or
'Casteelbergen' as they used to be called. Every hour it grows
clearer, and the wind keeps the clouds high up, their great dark
shadows flying across the grey rocks like a defeated army of Erlkings.
A big bird battling against the gale in the Disa Valley reminds one of
the story told by some old traveller, who states that, when the
south-east wind blew very strongly, whole swarms of vultures were
swept down from the mountain into the streets of Cape Town, where the
inhabitants killed them, like locusts, with big sticks!

The world is showing itself now, but all looks cowed and dominated by
the fury of the wind. A mad game this--wind and clouds in league,
making a sun-proof roof, with only the noise of the gale, the splash
of the driven waters in the dams below, and the bells of the goats
walking round the house in the fog.



I have seen the kingdoms of the world, and am satisfied--a wondrous
state of mind and body! I have sat on a ledge of crassula-covered rock
and looked down upon Cape Town--Lion's Head far below us, the green
slopes scarred by innumerable red roads, the bay clear and calm
beneath us, and a gentle south-east breeze with the coolness of water
behind us. To the north, line upon line of low hills swimming in blue
haze, the farms of Malmesbury showing up like little white beacons in
the plains; to our left the Platt Klip Gorge, like a great rent in the
grey mountain. My guide, who is a philosopher, started a story--at
least, I thought it was a fairy-tale--of a sanatorium on the flat top
and a railway. 'Cape Town has got that up its sleeve'--I realized that
he really was speaking sense. It will happen, of course, in the
natural order of things; and it will bring the believers and the
unbelievers--those who see and those 'who pick blackberries to stain
their faces'--the cool gorges will echo with their voices, the Disa
will be hedged round with regulations stronger than barbed wire, and
the swampy ground which now grows shiny white pebbles will grow
potatoes and lettuce for the multitude.

In the old journal we have the first record of the climbing of Table

                                 '_Sunday, September 29, 1652._

     'Fine day. Our assistants and two others ascended Table
     Mountain with the Ottento, who speaks a little English; saw
     the fires lit by them; ascent difficult; top of mountain
     flat--as broad and three times as long as the Dam of
     Amsterdam, with some pools of fresh water.'

The present pool has very little water; but then, it is summer, and we
took the rain gauge for the month and poured back on to the earth
three large drops of water!

Barrow, in his description of the ascent, which he made in the
charming company of the Barnards, talks of the view from the top: 'All
the objects on the plain below are, in fact, dwindled away to the eye
of the spectator into littleness and insignificance. The flat-roofed
houses of Cape Town, disposed into formal clumps, appear like those
paper fabrics which children are accustomed to make with cards. The
shrubbery on the sandy isthmus looks like dots, and the farms and
their enclosures as so many lines, and the more-finished parts of a
plan drawn on paper.'

But we crossed the flat top and came to the Wynberg side: saw the
country, neatly mapped as Barrow says, bathed in sunshine. My guide
has been a sailor, and has travelled round the world, but here he
says: 'Here is the best view in the world!' and he went off to examine
more rain gauges.

It is a wonderful thing to be utterly alone with the earth and the
sun; to become a hill Pantheist, but to realize why, in a hot stone
church, one can get up and sing that the Sun, the Moon, the Air, the
Mountains, and the Earth may bless and praise the Lord.



Sea Point lies, white-roofed and aloe-hedged, under the sanctified
Lion's Head Mountain; sanctified, because of a great white cross
scarred into the bare rock by a nation to whom crosses and scars were
almost inseparable. Da Gama's gigantic cross on the Lion's Head is one
of the many to be found round the coast; but here begins and ends
every trace of Portuguese possession or atmosphere in the Cape


Old Sea Point savours of ancient Dutch régime, but is hedged in on
every side, hidden, almost lost, by Cape Town Commerce _chez eux_. But
along the Beach Road, running from the old Downs, or Common, to the
Queen's Hotel, are houses with names which are historical:
flat-roofed, whitewashed houses, with high stoeps and stucco
fountains, syringa-trees, cactus plants, and hedges of flaming red
aloes behind their white garden walls; old-fashioned gardens with
box and myrtle hedges, lichens and gaudy mesembryanthemums crawling
like giant starfish over the walls. Edging the road and hiding the
beach from travellers are thick hedges of kei-apple, a prickly red
berry, and of a low shrub whose leaves furnished correct food for the
imported French snails, whose descendants are purely a pest and have
no justification. But the French-lavender hedges and pink Huguenot
roses can still say 'Bonjour' to the snails. It is the only French
word any of them remember; it is prettier than the 'Dag,' which the
prickly-pear, gorgeous with orange and carmine flower, grunts across
the road to the hedge of wax berries; it is prettier, too, than the
'Morgen,' which is the large white 'Frau Karl Druschki's' morning
greeting; just a little daintier than 'Saka bona,' from the purple
jacaranda and scarlet kaffir-boom; but far, far more charming than the
chorus of 'Hullo! hullo!' from the cheerful English trees and plants
in this white-walled garden. And then there is the sea--not the
wind-swept sea of False Bay, but a cosmopolitan sea; a highroad, where
ships of many flags sail past the rocks, bound for the world.

In one white-roofed house lived a man on whose importance hung the
beginning of a nation. The resolution in favour of responsible
government had been passed by the Lower House of Parliament. The
decision now rested with the Council. To be a member, the
qualification meant possessing property to the value of some thousand
pounds over and above mortgages. The member whose vote turned the
balance was in such bad circumstances, that even if the mortgaged
white house at Sea Point was sold he would not be qualified for this
momentous voting. His friends, filled with national and patriotic
zeal, rushed out to Sea Point: 'Have you, then, nothing of any value?'
they cried. 'Yes; I will show you something which might be of some
value. I was once in Turkey and of service to the Sultan.' He produced
from a deep-shelved Dutch cupboard with brass fittings, then of little
account, a small gold case, filigree-worked, and inside a snuff-box
sparkling with diamonds, rubies and emeralds. 'Given by the Sultan,'
said he of the important vote. Nothing more, just this _soupçon_ of
adventure. Responsible government was carried on a snuff-box.

Sea Point possesses the two best private libraries in the Peninsula.
One of them belonged to a great little man, Saul Solomon, of
Clarensville, who died some years ago. Public men never live long
enough at the Cape to die in the fulness of attainment; ambition and
principle go but slowly hand in hand if you would have them travel
along the same road, but Saul Solomon's name is high in the annals of
politics and principles. The rocks below Clarensville, or probably
those larger granite masses beyond the Queen's Hotel, were
celebrated fishing-places in the days of the early Commanders; but one
short entry thrills one and dissipates the ideal dulness of the gentle
art. During the Van Riebeek reign a corporal went fishing for 'klip'
fish amongst the brown seaweed which lies like a barren reef round the
south-west coast, when a lion wandered down to the beach, and left so
little of the angler that nought of him was found but his trousers and
his shoes: which we imagine he had discarded, and was not
discrimination on the part of the lion.


Marinus and I climbed into a green tram which ran along a high
mountain road overlooking the lower Victoria Road. We reached Clifton,
a little kraal of houses and bungalows, and left the tram and walked
down to the lower road through an old farm-garden. The steep slopes of
the cliff down to the sea were covered with brilliant green shrub and
purple flowers. Strolling along, we came upon Camps Bay, which we
fancy was Caapmans Bay; for here the Caapmans, or Hottentots, pastured
their flocks during their 'merry-go-round' journeying from the Fort,
over the Kloof Nek, along the Casteelbergen, or Twelve Apostles Range,
to Hout Bay; then often over the Constantia Nek to worry the outposts
on the Bosheuvel, and back to the Fort; or from Hout Bay to Chapmans
Bay and Noord Hoek, and on to Cape Point. Their last stronghold was in
the Hottentot's Holland Mountains; but in the year 1714 nearly all
the tribe were exterminated by the smallpox. Four chiefs
remained--'Scipio Africanus,' 'Hannibal,' 'Hercules,' and 'Konja'--who
received, says the old chronicle, 'the usual stick with the brass
knob,' the insignia of office. Camps Bay gave the old map-makers and
Commanders some trouble; but they all found the great line of breakers
prevented the bay from being used either for themselves or for the
landing of hostile forces.

On the slope of the Lion's Head, above the bay, is a little round
white house, the Round House, where Sir Charles Somerset spent his
week-ends. Sir Charles, whose reign here was during the end of the
eighteenth century, used several of the old homesteads as

Marinus, with enormous satisfaction, found a stray taxi, and soon we
had passed the 'Oude Kraal' of the watermen on our way to Hout Bay.
The turreted tops of the Casteelbergen, or Twelve Apostles Mountains,
were 'canopied in blue,' their slopes covered with a bright mauve
Michaelmas daisy. The narrow road curves and curls round their sides,
and below stretch acres and acres of sea, horizonless, heaving and
sinking, blue and green and gold, lapping against the edges of the
land in crescent-shaped little bays, or dashing against walls of rock.
The cliffs, grass-grown down to the water, are covered with flowers,
big clumps of prickly-pear, and blue aloe, every freshly-turned
corner more lovely than the last. There is one other road in the world
to compare with it, and that road runs along the South of France into
Italy; but the waters of the Mediterranean are _fade_, lifeless waters
to the ocean that fringes the Casteelbergen in Africa.

  [Illustration: HOUT BAY AND HANGBERG]

Far out into the sea stretches a reef of sharp rocks where many ships
have found a terrible end: the steep, slippery slopes beyond the
little Lion's Head isolate the coast from all assistance.

In front of us a dull green car was swinging round the curves. 'We'll
pass her,' said Marinus, who was driving. The road is not wide--just
room enough for two cars to pass abreast. The green car saw us coming,
and decided we should not pass her. Marinus jerked his head forward,
and vowed we should. For ten minutes I sat rigid; my eyes never left a
small spot of mud on Marinus' coat. Between us and the mountain was
the green motor; to our right was the sea. We dashed round corner
after corner, a great juggernaut or machinery with not a spare yard of
road. It was a glorious gamble, with almost a thousand to one that
round the next corner we should meet something--a car or a cart. The
cars ran silently.... Suddenly someone's nerve failed; we had passed
the green car, and Marinus turned round to me and grinned. 'All
right?' he said. My jaw seemed set in plaster of Paris, so I grinned
too. The chauffeur was cursing softly and rapidly. Over the brow of
the Hout Bay Nek was a big white car, full of people and wild flowers,
coming towards us. I bent forward close to Marinus, so that the
chauffeur should not hear. 'You brute!' I whispered; 'but it was
simply great.' And Marinus winked.

We rushed down the hill, lined with pink protea, into the village of
Hout Bay, or the Wood Bay, where the Company's yachts and sloops would
come to carry away wood from the thick forests. No sign of forest
now--only some low, wind-stunted trees along the beach. The Dutch
fortified the bay, and the ruins of their fort still stand.

Chapman's Peak hides the curve of the coast and the Noord Hoek and
Kommetje Valleys. Near the village is the old home of the Van
Oudtshoorn family, whitewash and teak, high-stoeped, with stucco
designs, and the date over the door. The Hout Bay Valley has a
distinctive charm of its own; its river-bed is overgrown with palmiet,
and its thatched farmhouses have Huguenot names: for in this valley
grants of land were made to the Huguenot refugees, the road is hedged
with little pink Huguenot roses growing over the ground which pastured
the Hottentots' cattle. The farm, Orange Grove, lies low in an oak
wood. We climbed the long Constantia Nek, and once more saw the
widespread Isthmus, Constantia, Wynberg, and False Bay; little farms,
little woods, the smoke from an engine--we had been round our world in
a few hours.




The old road from Wynberg to Muizenberg is no longer traceable. I
imagine it started from Waterloo Green, as all old Wynberg was centred
round the hill. A convent stands back from the green, but, like the
poem in the story of 'Through the Looking-Glass,' if you look again
you will see it isn't a convent at all, but the old Wynberg homestead,
one of the early grants of land to a freeman, the home of Mynheer

Wynberg hides its archives in overgrown gardens of oleander,
wild-olive, blue plumbago hedges, cool white gardenias and red
hibiscus flowers, cypress-trees and date-palms, brought from the East
by retired soldiers from India, with large livers and small pensions,
making their curries and their chutneys in the little thatched
bungalows of old Wynberg. To one of these, still standing and acting
as a stable to a big white house in the oak avenue which we fancy is
part of the old road, came Wellington on his way to India, and gave
his name to the avenue. On our way along the main road to Muizenberg
we passed a renovated homestead, probably one of the old rest-houses,
now used as a convalescent home, but its gardens are full of old-world
memories, willows, and myrtle-hedge, and arbours of strange trees,
bent and twisted into fantastic coolnesses.

There is a dull stretch of wattled road running through Plumstead,
Diep River, and Retreat. At Diep River the flooded lands grow
potatoes, at Plumstead they grow vegetables, all in amongst the
wildness of the big plain covered with vleis and protea-bush and
purple and crimson heath. The Retreat is historical. It lies on the
Cape Town side of the Muizenberg Mountains, which seem to spring up in
granite and green from the sea. A narrow strip of land at their base
spoils the illusion--'The Thermopylæ of the Cape,' says an old
enthusiast some hundred years ago. Through the narrow pass between the
sea and mountains retreated the famous Burgher Cavalry, abandoning
their position at Muizenberg before the guns of the _America_. But
history, I fancy, regards the Battle of Muizenberg more as a
diplomatic coup than as a serious fight. Even the cannon-balls, which
are dotted along the road from Kalk Bay to Muizenberg, are ending
their uneventful days in seaside peace, and their resting-places in
soft sand speak of further diplomacy.

Near Lakeside are several old farms with lost identity. Over the
hill, leaving the lovely vleis behind us, we came upon Muizenberg,
from an architectural point of view the saddest sight in the world;
here are two old landmarks, the one so renovated that it is almost
unrecognizable, the other a ruin. The first was a low, whitewashed,
thatched homestead--an old inn, or rest-house, as the Dutch called
it--and it was named 'Farmer Pecks.' The oldest inhabitant cannot tell
why, but I remember the original building with its celebrated
signboard. The story of the signboard is as follows: 'Two middies,
many, many years ago, returning to Simonstown from Cape Town, where
they had been on a jaunt, arrived one dark night at Muizenberg. It was
a twenty-mile walk--twenty miles along a difficult track, across a
dangerous beach of quicksands (Fish Hoek), and they were travelling on
foot, because very few people could afford a cart. It was too late and
too dark to continue their journey, so they had to put up at Farmer
Pecks'. When it came to paying for the night's board and lodging there
was no money--all left in Cape Town. "We'll paint you a signboard,"
they said--a Utopian mode of finance to solve the difficulty and pay
their debt. They must have come from Salisbury Plain, or Farmer Peck
had, for the signboard portrayed a mild-looking shepherd of a Noah's
Ark type, gazing over a hill at some fat wooden sheep, grazing in
emerald grass, and in the background a very English-looking little
farmhouse with rows of stiff Noah's Ark trees. Quite a premature
attempt at modern conventional design, inspired by the ideals of "Two
Years Old" playing at Creation and landscape-gardening in the nursery.
Here the momentous questions are: whether Mr. and Mrs. Noah, in red
and blue æsthetic garments of a wondrous purity of line, shall stand
under perfectly symmetrical trees which are on dear little rounds of
wood, or whether they shall be dotted over the farm together with
Shem, Ham, and Japheth, in pure yellow, pink, and green, in close
proximity to two pink cows, two red geese, two black pigs, and two
purple horses.'



A domesticated sequel to the story of the Flood.

Everyone has played 'Noah,' so everyone will understand the design of
the poster.

The following verses were painted under the board, springing from the
same talented and amusing brains, a quaint mixture of English, Dutch,
and Latin:

     'Multum in parvo, pro bono publico,
     Entertainment for man and beast all of a row.
     Lekker kost as much as you please,
     Excellent beds without any fleas.

     'Nos patriam fugimus now we are here,
     Vivamus, let us live by selling beer.
     On donne à boire et à manger ici,
     Come in and try, whosoever you be.'

In a balloon issuing from the mouth of the gentle shepherd was this
motto, carrying a deeper philosophy: 'Life's but a journey; let us
live well on the road, says the gentle shepherd of Salisbury Plain.'

On the opposite side of the road are the ruins of the barracks, a low,
stone, thatched house in a green field, surrounded by a stone wall.

Anne Barnard drove down at the peril of her life, she thought, to
Simonstown, or False Bay as it was called, and, passing Muizenberg on
her way, found the garrison living in huts, and was regaled on boiled
beef and Constantia wine served by the late steward of the Duke of
Orleans. 'Un mauvais sujet,' says Lady Anne.

The main road runs at the foot of the mountains, with a railway-line
and a few yards of beach and rock between it and the sea. The most
wonderful sea in the world! emerald green, with mauve reefs of rock
showing through its clearness; sapphire blue towards Simonstown, the
colour of forget-me-nots sweeping the white crescent of Muizenberg

We passed St. James and Kalk Bay, where the steam-trawler was coming
in like a big brown hen to roost surrounded by all the fishing-boats,
some still on the horizon, like straggling chickens, flying along with
their white wings sparkling and fluttering in the sun and south-east


At Fish Hoek, the dangerous beach of quicksands, the setting sun
poured through the Kommetje and Noord Hoek Valley, tinting the
sandhills until they glowed like gigantic opals; the lights swept pink
over the blue streams running across the beach into the sea, and the
long line of wave, which rolled in to meet them, made a bank of
transparent aquamarine before it curled itself on to the shore--thin
blueness with foam-scalloped edges.

We rounded another mountain corner and came upon Glen Cairn with its
beach-streams and quarries. Clusters of stone huts, like prehistoric
dwellings on the mountain slopes, are the homes of the quarrymen.
Simonstown had begun to consider its nightcap when we rode slowly
round the last corner. The dark grey cruisers were hardly discernible
in the dusk; across the bay, on the Hottentot's Holland, a fire
crawled like a red snake up the mountains; the light on the Roman Rock
Lighthouse was lit. The gardens of Admiralty House are terraced above
the sea by a long, low white wall; to the right is an enormous white
plaster figure of Penelope, the old figure-head from the ship of that
name, and the unseeing eyes of the watchful Penelope are turned
towards the decrepit hulk lying a few hundred yards away. Great
magenta masses of bougainvillæa hid the low house, and soon the
darkness hid all.

The strains of 'God save the King' from the flagship woke me to the
day, and an hour later we were riding along the gum-tree avenue into
the town. The quaint little town was named after Governor Simon Van
der Stel; before that it was called False Bay, or the Bay of Falso.
Here for five months, beginning with March, the ships from Table Bay
would anchor, while for five months Table Bay was given over to
intolerable gales.

A traveller of the eighteenth century describes the town:

     'Close to the shore of the Bay there are a number of
     warehouses, in which the provisions are deposited for the
     use of the East India Company's ships. A very beautiful
     hospital has been erected here for the crews, and a
     commodious house for the Governor, who usually comes hither
     and spends a few days while the ships are lying in the Bay.
     Commerce draws hither also a great number of individuals
     from the Cape, who furnish the officers with lodgings.
     While the latter are here the Bay is exceedingly lively,
     but as soon as the season permits them to heave up their
     anchors, it becomes a desert; everyone decamps, and the
     only inhabitants are a company of the garrison, who are
     relieved every two months. The vessels which arrive then
     and have need of provisions are in a dismal situation, for
     it often happens that the warehouse has been so much
     drained that it is necessary to bring from Cape Town in
     carts whatever these new-comers are in want of, and
     the carriage usually costs an exorbitant price. The hire of
     a paltry cart is from twenty to thirty dollars a day; I
     have known of fifty paid for one, and it is to be observed
     that they can only make one journey in the twenty-four


We can nowadays, for the exorbitant price of something more than a
dollar, run up to Cape Town in less than an hour; but I have heard
from not too ancient inhabitants wonderful stories of not too long ago
of how, packed like sardines, parties would drive from Town to
Simonstown to dance on a gunboat and home again in the dawn, with some
danger of the wrong tide over the Fish Hoek beach, or of the bad road
to Wynberg.

In an old book of travels I find the _raison d'être_ for the name
given to the 'Roman' Rock:

     'The finest fish are caught here, and particularly the
     Rooman (or Rooiman), that gives its name to the Roman Rock,
     in the neighbourhood of which it is found in great

The Commander of old Simonstown died a millionaire, and his illegal
dealings seem to have been well known and discussed, as all the
writers of this time and later speak of it. He had the rank of 'under
merchant,' and carried on a trade with the foreign vessels, reselling
necessaries at enormous profit.... 'Mr. Trail (a great rogue),' writes
Anne Barnard to Melville.

We rode up the Red Hill--a steep roadway up the mountain--and saw a
precarious-looking aerial car swaying up the mountain-side to the
Sanatorium and Range. We ultimately passed quite close to the Range on
the flat top in thick purple heath. We looked north, over the False
Bay and Noord Hoek Mountains, the Steenbergen, or Tokai Ranges, and
saw Table Mountain in a coronet of cloud. Across these flat-topped
ranges, over three hundred years ago, had fled the Hottentots, before
finding their asylum on the opposite shore--the Hottentot's Holland
Mountains. The two Passes--the Kloof and the road from the Castle to
the Flats--were carefully guarded. The Caapmans, Hottentots, and
Watermen, cattle-thieves, tobacco-thieves, garden-thieves,
wreck-salvagers, hurried along with their cattle from Hout Bay,
Chapmans Bay, and Noord Hoek, to Cape Point. The Commander sent
several parties to hunt them out, and the majority made off over the
Flats, led by their rascally chief 'Herry.' The lowest of them, the
Watermen, remained behind, hiding in caves and underwood. One fine day
Corporal Elias Giero, who, with a considerable force, had wandered for
days round Hout Bay and the Berghvalleyen, reported that eighteen
hours' walk from this neighbourhood, almost at the southern end of the
Cape, he had come upon their camp. It sounds pathetic, this great
expedition for such a small enemy. They found three reed huts, with
thirteen men and as many women and children. They were making
assegais, when their dogs barked, and they fled into the rushes,
crying out that they were Watermen, and not cattle-stealers. But some
were recognized by 'men who had felt their assegais,' and the chief
was captured. The former were killed. The chief and a _ci-devant_
kitchen-boy refused to walk to the fort, 'and, as it was too difficult
to carry them, our men brought with them to the fort _their upper
lips_.' Many of them were recognized as wood and water carriers to the
garrison at the fort, and their names and aliases are carefully
recorded--for example: 'Carbinza,' or 'Plat neus'; 'Egutha,' or 'Hoogh
en Laagh'; 'Mosscha,' or 'Kleine Lubbert'; 'Kaikana Makonkoa';
'Louchoeve'; 'Orenbare'; 'Diknavel'; and so on. Translated into
English--those that are translatable--they run: 'Flat-nose,' 'High and
Low,' 'Quick,' 'Bring,' 'Unweary,' 'Hold him fast,' 'He nearly,' etc.

This is a small bit of history which belongs to Cape Point.



Our ponies met us at Muizenberg, and we crossed the railway-line on to
the long white beach.

It was Easter Monday, and trainloads of inhabitants swarmed like gaudy
bees round the bathing-huts. At no other time can one see to better
advantage the wonderful fusion of races which has gone to the making
of the population of the Cape Peninsula.

In the shade of one of the small, stationary wooden bathing-houses I
saw the gardener's family, their colour scheme running through the
gamut of shades from white to chocolate. The gardener had once had a
Cockney wife, and his life was ''ell,' so he married Marlie, the
slightly coloured girl brought up on a German mission-station, who
made excellent stews, washed his shirts well, and sang Lutheran hymns
to the children when they howled. There were ancestors, black and
white, on both sides--and everyone hasn't ancestors.


We passed a wagon-load of Malays in gala dress of silks and
spangles--our washerwomen--possessing the wondrous Oriental gift
of elusive speech, which will turn away good Christian wrath. One old
Malay told us he remembered the days when all the Malays made their
pilgrimage yearly to the grave of Sheik Joseph. A political prisoner
of the East India Company, of great wealth and position in the East,
he was exiled to the Cape, and lived at the mouth of the Eerste River,
near the farm of the Governor's witty brother, Franz Van der Stel.
There is a sepulchre which is called the 'Kramat,' or resting-place of
a holy man. The wanderers of the Flats in those early days would often
come upon the Sheik and his forty followers galloping across the
sand-hills. This generation of followers wore suits of neat blue
serge, and, over the fez, a wide reed hat with a low, pointed crown.

Marinus and I thought it would require a Shakespeare to describe the
heterogeneous mass we passed through. Pathetic sometimes--a
knock-kneed clerk from Cape Town, shivering in a new, dark-blue
bathing suit, vainly trying to acclimatize his pasty-faced offspring
to the waves. Complexions are hard to keep in South Africa; the sun is
our master, all-absorbing and requiring all--colour, brain,
energy--your puny effort of concentration useless against this fierce,
concentrated mass, this alluring South African sun--Lorelei of the

The very people here are an example--not one concentrated type.
Marinus and I soliloquized quietly until we reached the shallow river
which feeds the Lakeside Vleis (lakes). We avoided the beach and kept
close up to the sand-dunes, the white sand protected from the tearing
gales of the 'south-easters' by a network of creeping 'Hottentot fig,'
a fleshy plant with wonderful bright flowers of every hue, and bearing
an acquired taste in fruit--a small, dried-up-looking fig.

Tall flowering reeds grow in 'klompjes,'[7] and dotted about are small
green bushes covered with red berries--'dinna bessies,' the coloured
folk call them. 'Not much cover for the hippo,' laughed Marinus.

My mind went back with a jerk to the old days of Muizenberg, the
Mountain of Mice, its cannon buried in the sand, its battle, its fort
and barracks, the Caapmans, who wandered with their herds over the
flats and killed sea-cows, or hippo, on the very spot where the
enterprising boatman of Lakeside had built his café.

'And elephants roamed,' I quoted; 'and always the reflection of Table
Mountain--always the same blue lotus lilies, and the sand-hills, and
the blue river flowing across the beach.'

We made for Strandfontein, regaining the beach as the tide was going
out and we could avoid the quicksands. Strandfontein, a little
desolate bay boasting one reed-covered house and a celebrated
beach--celebrated for its shells, huge blue mussels, pale pink
mussels, daintily carved nautili, and rows and rows of coral and mauve
fan shells.

  [Illustration: SAND DUNES]

Again we talked of the old 'Company days,' and the wonderful plan of
Commander Van Riebeek to drain the Liesbeek and the Salt Rivers into
one big canal which would cut off the peninsula from the mainland,
and, like the great Wall of Hadrian, would keep the barbarians out,
away from the Company's freemen growing flax, wheat, and disaffection
on the swampy flats.

Van Riebeek bewails the impracticability in his journal, which, bound
in ancient brown leather, and written in heavy Dutch lettering, is
carefully preserved in Cape Town.

                                           '_February 4, 1656._

     'Dry, calm weather. Riebeeck proceeds to False Bay (roads
     being favourable), accompanied by a guard of soldiers, to
     see whether the Canal, proposed by Van Goens, could be made
     across the Isthmus. Took the river course to see whether it
     at all approached False Bay. Found that the Sweet River,
     now Liesbeek, which with the Salt River runs into Table
     Bay, runs snake-like three or four leagues crosswise over
     the Isthmus, and at some places appears to be stagnant,
     forming small lakes, between which low and sandy lands lie,
     until within a league of certain high sand-hills of False
     Bay, where it again turns into small streams, which
     gradually become broader, and form a river of fresh water
     running further on into a large lake, almost as broad as
     the Meuse and about two hours on foot in circumference,
     with deep and brackish water full of sea-cows and
     sea-horses, and supplied from the downs of False Cape.
     There was apparently no opening, but the water percolated
     through the sands. The Lake is still about one and a half
     hours on foot from the seashore, which is about half an
     hour's walk broad. The Downs about a league, and so high,
     that they are almost mountains, twenty or twenty-four
     behind each other, it would therefore be impossible to cut
     them through. Besides, there would be lakelets on the
     Flats, some a quarter, some half a league broad to be cut
     through. This would also be difficult, because of the rocky
     ground, as we found the next day, after having spent the
     night in the veldt. The matter is therefore impossible, and
     would be useless and most injurious to the Company, as the
     Canal could not be made so wide and deep as to prevent the
     natives swimming across with their cattle. In case it is
     supposed that on this side the passage would be closed to
     them, it must be borne in mind that a large sheet of water
     on the south side of False Cape about three hours' walk in
     circumference, becomes a large dry and salt flat in summer,
     so that no proper Canal could be pierced through it--as the
     sand is soft and the downs are high--which latter would
     continually fill up the channel; thousands of men would be
     required to keep it open; so that the Company cannot
     for a moment think of it, as the expense would be enormous
     in comparison with the advantages derived. _Millions of
     gold would be required!_ and if finally the work be
     finished and communication with the natives cut off, it
     would be absurd to suppose that they could be confined on
     this side--for the artificial island would have such
     dimensions that, in order to control it, a large number of
     men would be required, scattered in the veldt, not a few,
     but a good many, soldiers.

     'The idea that such a canal would enable the householders
     to live more securely is hardly worth considering, as those
     who may choose to live here and there may build stone
     dwellings sufficiently strong to protect them from the
     natives. Should such free householders cost the Company so
     much that soldiers are to be kept for their defence,
     instead of their assisting the Company?...'


We cantered over some small sand-hills, and came down to the plains,
covered with 'quick' grass, dotted with small yellow protea-bush, tiny
pink flowers, and scarlet heath called 'erica,' intersected by blue
pools of water, their surfaces almost covered by a sweet-smelling,
white waterweed. The Malays gather the flower, 'water-eintje,' and
curry it or stew it into a thick soup. A narrow, white, sandy pathway
ran between the pools, and far away, in a blue haze, we saw Table
Mountain and the Devil's Peak.

Quoting again from the Diary:

                                               '_June 29, 1656._

     'Proceeded to the Flats where Van Goens wished to have
     canal dug. Find the whole country so inundated with rapid
     streams that the whole cutting, with redoubts and all,
     would, if made, be swept away at once. The Flats had become
     a combination of lakes; the work would therefore at present
     be left in abeyance.'

The ponies slopped through the wet sand, and ahead lay the big lake
called Zeekoe Vlei (_i.e._, Sea-Cow Lake), separated from a smaller
lake, Ronde Vlei, by a narrow isthmus.

Skirting a huge, precipitous mountain of sand, we rode round the vlei,
disturbing great flocks of heron, gulls, and wild-duck.

Straight up out of a yellow protea-bush flew a brown bird with a dull
orange-red breast--a wip-poor-will, or, as the coloured people say,
the 'Christmas bird,' or 'Piet, mij vrouw.' Its call is more surely
'Piet, mij vrouw' than anything else.

'Do you know Le Vaillant's story?' said Marinus. I did. But Marinus
loves to tell a story, and he has to listen to many; so I said: 'His
story of what?' Then Marinus, being a dear, told me the tale:

'Le Vaillant and the faithful Hottentot chief, or Piet, as his master
called him, were out shooting. Le Vaillant shot and killed a female
bird. Piet brought up the bird. "Go back, you adorable Hottentot,"
said the traveller, "to the spot where you found this bird, for surely
there you will find Monsieur le Mari." The "adorable Piet" began to
weep; that Baas would excuse him, but this he could not do--never
could he fire at the male bird. "Go--I insist!" said Le Vaillant. "No,
no, Baas!" And the astonished Baas listened to the reason: that no
sooner had Piet shot the female, when the male, to quote the old
story, "began to pursue him with great fury, continually repeating,
'Piet, mij vrouw! Piet, mij vrouw!' This, in English, is, 'Piet, my
wife! Piet, my wife!' Small wonder that Le Vaillant wrote of the
misjudged, Dutch-ridden Hottentot as being "full of sensibility"!'

The sun had begun to set when we reached the other side of the vlei,
and a coloured woman, carrying a mass of blue lotus lilies up to Town
for sale, told us 'we had v-e-ry far way still to go.'

Marinus agreed that it was quite worth a hurried ride home, seeing
this wonderful kaleidoscope of colouring reflected in the vleis.

The sand-hills around were pink, and over the tops of some appeared
the purple of the Muizenberg Mountains. In the north were the
Stellenbosch Mountains, with the Helderberg, in a blaze of red,
underlined by long patches of shining white sand-hills.

But all the while the great blue shadow of Table Mountain crept over
the Flats, over the vleis, until we watched it reach the north
barriers. Slowly the blue mounted, absorbing the flush of sunset,
reached the summits, and drove the pink into the fleecy, detached
clouds above; these, like blazing balloons, floated over the bay.

I sat up--to reality.

'I have been lost on these Flats, Marinus, and still remember with
horror the growing darkness and the interminable miles of sandy road
and dense wattle plantations. Let us get on.'

So we rode and rode, through the brown rushes, splashing through
water, over mealie patches, dozens of little German children from the
tiny farms hidden in low wattle rushing out to see us pass.

On we flew into the darkening blue shadow; behind us, whirlwinds of
sand rising like white wraiths of pursuing Erlkings; and before, the
smoke from the Kaffir location near the mouth of the Salt River
curling into the mist.


[7] _I.e._, clumps.


  [Illustration: AT THE HEAD OF FALSE BAY]

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