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Title: Letters from the Cape
Author: Duff Gordon, Lucie, Lady, 1821-1869
Language: English
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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.

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Transcribed from the 1921 Humphrey Milford edition by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org.  Second proof by Margaret Price.



                                 LETTERS
                                 FROM THE
                                   CAPE


                                    BY

                             LADY DUFF GORDON

                                Edited by

                               JOHN PURVES

                                * * * * *

                                  LONDON

                             HUMPHREY MILFORD

                                   1921

                                * * * * *

                            PRINTED IN ENGLAND
                      AT THE OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS



EDITOR’S FOREWORD


IF Lady Duff Gordon’s ‘Letters from the Cape’ are less familiar to the
present generation of readers than those of the Lady Anne Barnard, the
neglect is due in great part to the circumstances of their publication.
After appearing in a now-forgotten miscellany of Victorian travel,
Galton’s _Vacation Tourists_, third series (1864), where their simplicity
and delicate unprofessional candour gave them a brief hour of public
esteem, they were first issued separately as a supplement to Lady Duff
Gordon’s _Last Letters from Egypt_, occupying the latter portion of a
volume to which the writer’s daughter, Mrs. Ross, contributed a short but
vivid memoir, which touched but lightly on her South African experiences;
and they have never appeared, we believe, in any other form.  Yet they
are inferior in nothing but political interest to those of the authoress
of ‘Auld Robin Gray’.  Indeed, in her intellectual equipment, her
temperament, and her gift of style, Lady Duff Gordon was a far rarer
creature than the jovial and managing Scotswoman who was the
correspondent of Dundas.  And in human sympathy—the quality that has kept
Lady Anne Barnard’s letters alive—Lady Duff Gordon shows a still wider
range and a yet keener sensibility.  Her letters are the fine flower of
the English epistolary literature of the Cape.  Few books of their class
have better deserved reprinting.

The daughter of John and Sarah Austin ran every risk of growing up a
blue-stocking.  Yet she escaped every danger of the kind—the proximity of
Bentham, her childish friendships with Henry Reeve and the Mills, and the
formidable presence of the learned friends of both her parents—by the
force of a triumphant naturalness and humour which remained with her to
the end of her life.  Although her schooling was in Germany and her
sympathy with German character was remarkable, her own personality was
rather French in its grace and gaiety.  It was characteristic of her,
then, to defend as she did ‘la vieille gaieté française’ against Heine on
his death-bed.  But the truth is that her sympathies were nearly perfect.
She was one of those rare characters that see the best in every
nationality without aping cosmopolitanism, simply because they are
content everywhere to be human.  Convention and prejudice vex them as
little as pedantry can.  Their clear eyes look out each morning on a
fresh world, and their experiences are a perpetual school of sympathy and
never the sad routine of disillusionment.

When Lady Duff Gordon came to the Cape in search of health in 1861, she
brought with her, young though she was, a wealth of recollection and
experience such as perhaps no other observer of South Africa has known.
She had been the friend of nearly every prominent man-of-letters from
Rogers to Tennyson.  She was intimate with half the intellectual world of
England and Germany, and admired for her beauty and grace of character in
the salons of Paris as much as in the drawing-rooms of London.  And she
had shown the quality of her womanly sympathy in the most famous of her
literary friendships, that with Heinrich Heine, when she visited the poet
and soothed him in his last sad days in Paris—an episode perhaps better
known to present-day readers from Mr. Zangwill’s story of _A Mattrass
Grave_ than in the moving narrative of Lady Duff Gordon herself, on which
the story is based.

It was into the little world of Caledon and Simonstown and Worcester,
drowsy, sun-steeped villages of the old colony—for Cape Town had little
attraction for her and the climate proved unsuitable—that this rare and
exquisite being descended.  But the test of the true letter-writer, the
letter-writer of genius, is the skill and ease with which he brings
variety out of seeming monotony.  The letters of Lady Duff Gordon answer
this test.  She had not been many days in the country before she had
discovered (if she required to discover) the excellent principle: ‘Avoid
_engelsche hoogmoedigheid_ in dealing with the Dutch’; and by the time
she reaches Caledon she is on the best of terms with her new friends.
‘The postmaster, Heer Klein, and his old Pylades, Heer Ley, are great
cronies of mine’—she writes—‘stout old grey-beards, toddling down the
hill together.  I sometimes go and sit on the stoep with the two old
bachelors and they take it as a great compliment; and Heer Klein gave me
my letters all decked with flowers, and wished “vrolyke tydings,
Mevrouw”, most heartily.’  She has a keen eye for the fine shades of
national character, and the modifications that spring from differences of
upbringing: the English farmer, ‘educated in Belgium’, the young Dutch
doctor with English manners, the German basket-maker’s wife in Cape Town.
A whole chapter might be written on her friendship with the Malays, whose
hearts she won as completely as she afterwards did those of their
Mohammedan brothers in Egypt.  Mr. Ian Colvin has since opened up afresh
the field she was here almost the first to survey.  In another direction,
in her remarks on the Eastern Province Jew of 1860, Lady Duff Gordon has
given us some notes which are of distinct value for social history.  The
following passage, for example, deserves to be quoted as a ‘point de
repère’ in the evolution of a type.  ‘These Colonial Jews’—says the
writer—‘are a new _Erscheinung_ to me.  They have the features of their
race, but many of their peculiarities are gone.  Mr. L—, who is very
handsome and gentlemanly, eats ham and patronises a good breed of pigs on
the “model farm” on which he spends his money.  He is (he says) a
thorough Jew in faith, and evidently in charitable works; but he wants to
say his prayers in English and not to “dress himself up” in a veil and
phylacteries for the purpose; and he and his wife talk of England as
“home”, and care as much for Jerusalem as their neighbours.  They have
not forgotten the old persecutions, and are civil to the coloured people,
and speak of them in quite a different tone from other English colonists.
Moreover, they are far better mannered and more ‘human’, in the German
sense of the word, in all respects; in short, less “colonial”.’  It was a
lady of this party who described Prince Albert’s funeral to Lady Duff
Gordon.  ‘The people mourned for him’—she said—‘as much as for Hezekiah;
and, indeed, he deserved it a great deal better.’

There is not much attempt to describe scenery in Lady Duff Gordon’s
Letters, but just enough to show that her eye was as sensitive to
landscape as to the shades of racial character and feeling.  She
indicates delicately yet effectively the difference between the
atmosphere at the coast and that inland.  ‘It is the difference between a
pretty pompadour beauty and a Greek statue.  Those pale opal mountains as
distinct in every detail as the map on your table and so cheerful and
serene; no melodramatic effects of clouds and gloom.’  But, as a rule, it
is the human pageant that engrosses her, and here her sense of values is
extraordinarily keen.  There is no better instance than the portrait of
the German basket-maker’s wife, who confided to the writer her timidity
on landing in Africa.  ‘I had never—she said—been out of the city of
Berlin and knew nothing.’  She spoke of the natives as well-bred
(_anständig_), and Lady Duff Gordon’s comment is: ‘The use of the word
was characteristic.  She could recognize an _Anständigkeit_ not of
Berlin.’  But one might quote from every second page of these letters.
Lady Duff Gordon was less than a year in South Africa; but in that time
she brought more happiness to those around her than many have done in a
lifetime.  And her bounties live after her.

A last remark may not be out of place here, although it will doubtless
occur to every reader who approaches these letters with sympathy and
discretion.  They must be read as true letters and the spontaneous
delineation of a personality, and not as a considered contribution to
South African history.  Freer even than Stevenson himself from ‘le
romantisme des poitrinaires’, and singularly clear-sighted in all that
comes under her personal observation, Lady Duff Gordon does not wholly
escape the nemesis which overtakes the traveller who accepts his history
from hearsay.  And in South Africa, as we know, such nemesis is well-nigh
unfailing.  Few, however, have been the travellers, as the following
pages will show, who could meet such a charge with so great evidence of
candour, disinterestedness, and love of human nature in its simplest and
most innocent forms.

                                                                     J. P.



INTRODUCTORY


THE following letters were written, as the reader will readily perceive,
without the remotest view to publication.  They convey in the most
unreserved manner the fresh and vivid impressions of the moment, to the
two persons with whom, of all others, the writer felt the least necessity
for reserve in the expression of her thoughts, or care about the form in
which those thoughts were conveyed.

Such letters cannot be expected to be free from mistakes.  The writer is
misinformed; or her imagination, powerfully acted upon by new and strange
objects, colours and magnifies, to a certain extent, what she sees.  If
these are valid objections, they are equally so to every description of a
country that has not been corrected by long experience.

It has been thought, however, that their obvious and absolute
genuineness, and a certain frank and high-toned originality, hardly to be
found in what is written for the public, would recommend them to the
taste of many.

But this was not the strongest motive to their publication.

The tone of English travellers is too frequently arrogant and
contemptuous, even towards peoples whose pretensions on the score of
civilization are little inferior to their own.  When they come in contact
with communities or races inferior to them in natural organization or in
acquired advantages, the feeling of a common humanity often seems
entirely to disappear.  No attempt is made to search out, under external
differences, the proofs of a common nature; no attempt to trace the
streams of human affections in their course through channels unlike those
marked out among ourselves; no attempt to discover what there may be of
good mingled with obvious evil, or concealed under appearances which
excite our surprise and antipathy.

It is the entire absence of the exclusive and supercilious spirit which
characterizes dominant races; the rare power of entering into new trains
of thought, and sympathizing with unaccustomed feelings; the tender pity
for the feeble and subject, and the courteous respect for their
prejudices; the large and purely human sympathies;—these, far more than
any literary or graphic merits, are the qualities which have induced the
possessors of the few following letters to give them to the public.

They show, what a series of letters from Egypt, since received from the
same writer, prove yet more conclusively; that even among so-called
barbarians are to be found hearts that open to every touch of kindness,
and respond to every expression of respect and sympathy.

If they should awaken any sentiments like those which inspired them, on
behalf of races of men who come in contact with civilization only to feel
its resistless force and its haughty indifference or contempt, it will be
some consolation to those who are enduring the bitterness of the
separation to which they owe their existence.

                                                             SARAH AUSTIN.

WEYBRIDGE,
      _Feb._ 24, 1864.



LETTER I
THE VOYAGE


                                                     Wednesday, 24th July.
                                              Off the Scilly Isles, 6 P.M.

WHEN I wrote last Sunday, we put our pilot on shore, and went down
Channel.  It soon came on to blow, and all night was squally and rough.
Captain on deck all night.  Monday, I went on deck at eight.  Lovely
weather, but the ship pitching as you never saw a ship pitch—bowsprit
under water.  By two o’clock a gale came on; all ordered below.  Captain
left dinner, and, about six, a sea struck us on the weather side, and
washed a good many unconsidered trifles overboard, and stove in three
windows on the poop; nurse and four children in fits; Mrs. T— and babies
afloat, but good-humoured as usual.  Army-surgeon and I picked up
children and bullied nurse, and helped to bale cabin.  Cuddy window stove
in, and we were wetted.  Went to bed at nine; could not undress, it
pitched so, and had to call doctor to help me into cot; slept sound.  The
gale continues.  My cabin is water-tight as to big splashes, but damp and
dribbling.  I am almost ashamed to like such miseries so much.  The
forecastle is under water with every lurch, and the motion quite
incredible to one only acquainted with steamers.  If one can sit this
ship, which bounds like a tiger, one should sit a leap over a haystack.
Evidently, I can never be sea-sick; but holding on is hard work, and
writing harder.

Life is thus:—Avery—my cuddy boy—brings tea for S—, and milk for me, at
six.  S— turns out; when she is dressed, I turn out, and sing out for
Avery, who takes down my cot, and brings a bucket of salt water, in which
I wash with vast danger and difficulty; get dressed, and go on deck at
eight.  Ladies not allowed there earlier.  Breakfast solidly at nine.
Deck again; gossip; pretend to read.  Beer and biscuit at twelve.  The
faithful Avery brings mine on deck.  Dinner at four.  Do a little
carpentering in cabin, all the outfitters’ work having broken loose.  I
am now in the captain’s cabin, writing.  We have the wind as ever, dead
against us; and as soon as we get unpleasantly near Scilly, we shall tack
and stand back to the French coast, where we were last night.  Three
soldiers able to answer roll-call, all the rest utterly sick; three
middies helpless.  Several of crew, ditto.  Passengers very fairly
plucky; but only I and one other woman, who never was at sea before,
well.  The food on board our ship is good as to meat, bread, and beer;
everything else bad.  Port and sherry of British manufacture, and the
water with an incredible _borachio_, essence of tar; so that tea and
coffee are but derisive names.

To-day, the air is quite saturated with wet, and I put on my clothes damp
when I dressed, and have felt so ever since.  I am so glad I was not
persuaded out of my cot; it is the whole difference between rest, and
holding on for life.  No one in a bunk slept at all on Monday night; but
then it blew as heavy a gale as it can blow, and we had the Cornish coast
under our lee.  So we tacked and tumbled all night.  The ship being new,
too, has the rigging all wrong; and the confusion and disorder are beyond
description.  The ship’s officers are very good fellows.  The mizen is
entirely worked by the ‘young gentlemen’; so we never see the sailors,
and, at present, are not allowed to go forward.  All lights are put out
at half-past ten, and no food allowed in the cabin; but the latter
article my friend Avery makes light of, and brings me anything when I am
laid up.  The young soldier-officers bawl for him with expletives; but he
says, with a snigger, to me, ‘They’ll just wait till their betters, the
ladies, is looked to.’  I will write again some day soon, and take the
chance of meeting a ship; you may be amused by a little scrawl, though it
will probably be very stupid and ill-written, for it is not easy to see
or to guide a pen while I hold on to the table with both legs and one
arm, and am first on my back and then on my nose.  Adieu, till next time.
I have had a good taste of the humours of the Channel.

29_th_ _July_, 4 _Bells_, i.e. 2 _o’clock_, _p.m._—When I wrote last, I
thought we had had our share of contrary winds and foul weather.  Ever
since, we have beaten about the bay with the variety of a favourable gale
one night for a few hours, and a dead calm yesterday, in which we almost
rolled our masts out of the ship.  However, the sun was hot, and I sat
and basked on deck, and we had morning service.  It was a striking sight,
with the sailors seated on oars and buckets, covered with signal flags,
and with their clean frocks and faces.  To-day is so cold that I dare not
go on deck, and am writing in my black-hole of a cabin, in a green light,
with the sun blinking through the waves as they rush over my port and
scuttle.  The captain is much vexed at the loss of time.  I persist in
thinking it a very pleasant, but utterly lazy life.  I sleep a great
deal, but don’t eat much, and my cough has been bad; but, considering the
real hardship of the life—damp, cold, queer food, and bad drink—I think I
am better.  When we can get past Finisterre, I shall do very well, I
doubt not.

The children swarm on board, and cry unceasingly.  A passenger-ship is no
place for children.  Our poor ship will lose her character by the
weather, as she cannot fetch up ten days’ lost time.  But she is
evidently a race-horse.  We overhaul everything we see, at a wonderful
rate, and the speed is exciting and pleasant; but the next long voyage I
make, I’ll try for a good wholesome old ‘monthly’ tub, which will roll
along on the top of the water, instead of cutting through it, with the
waves curling in at the cuddy skylights.  We tried to signal a barque
yesterday, and send home word ‘all well’; but the brutes understood
nothing but Russian, and excited our indignation by talking ‘gibberish ‘
to us; which we resented with true British spirit, as became us.

It is now blowing hard again, and we have just been taken right aback.
Luckily, I had lashed my desk to my washing-stand, or that would have
flown off, as I did off my chair.  I don’t think I shall know what to
make of solid ground under my feet.  The rolling and pitching of a ship
of this size, with such tall masts, is quite unlike the little niggling
sort of work on a steamer—it is the difference between grinding along a
bad road in a four-wheeler, and riding well to hounds in a close country
on a good hunter.  I was horribly tired for about five days, but now I
rather like it, and never know whether it blows or not in the night, I
sleep so soundly.  The noise is beyond all belief; the creaking,
trampling, shouting, clattering; it is an incessant storm.  We have not
yet got our masts quite safe; the new wire-rigging stretches more than
was anticipated (of course), and our main-topmast is shaky.  The crew
have very hard work, as incessant tacking is added to all the extra work
incident to a new ship.  On Saturday morning, everybody was shouting for
the carpenter.  My cabin was flooded by a leak, and I superintended the
baling and swabbing from my cot, and dressed sitting on my big box.
However, I got the leak stopped and cabin dried, and no harm done, as I
had put everything up off the floor the night before, suspicious of a
dribble which came in.  Then my cot frame was broken by my cuddy boy and
I lurching over against S—’s bunk, in taking it down.  The carpenter has
given me his own, and takes my broken one for himself.  Board ship is a
famous place for tempers.  Being easily satisfied, I get all I want, and
plenty of attention and kindness; but I cannot prevail on my cuddy boy to
refrain from violent tambourine-playing with a tin tray just at the ear
of a lady who worries him.  The young soldier-officers, too, I hear
mentioned as ‘them lazy gunners’, and they struggle for water and tea in
the morning long after mine has come.  We have now been ten days at sea,
and only three on which we could eat without the ‘fiddles’ (transverse
pieces of wood to prevent the dishes from falling off).  Smooth water
will seem quite strange to me.  I fear the poor people in the forecastle
must be very wet and miserable, as the sea is constantly over it, not in
spray, but in tons of green water.

3_d_ _Aug._—We had two days of dead calm, then one or two of a very
light, favourable breeze, and yesterday we ran 175 miles with the wind
right aft.  We saw several ships, which signalled us, but we would not
answer, as we had our spars down for repairs and looked like a wreck, and
fancied it would be a pity to frighten you all with a report to that
effect.

Last night we got all right, and spread out immense studding-sails.  We
are now bowling along, wind right aft, dipping our studding-sail booms
into the water at every roll.  The weather is still surprisingly cold,
though very fine, and I have to come below quite early, out of the
evening air.  The sun sets before seven o’clock.  I still cough a good
deal, and the bad food and drink are trying.  But the life is very
enjoyable; and as I have the run of the charts, and ask all sorts of
questions, I get plenty of amusement.  S— is an excellent traveller; no
grumbling, and no gossiping, which, on board a ship like ours, is a great
merit, for there is _ad nauseam_ of both.

Mr. — is writing a charade, in which I have agreed to take a part, to
prevent squabbling.  He wanted to start a daily paper, but the captain
wisely forbade it, as it must have led to personalities and quarrels, and
suggested a play instead.  My little white Maltese goat is very well, and
gives plenty of milk, which is a great resource, as the tea and coffee
are abominable.  Avery brings it me at six, in a tin pannikin, and again
in the evening.  The chief officer is well-bred and agreeable, and,
indeed, all the young gentlemen are wonderfully good specimens of their
class.  The captain is a burly foremast man in manner, with a heart of
wax and every feeling of a gentleman.  He was in California, ‘_hide
droghing_’ with Dana, and he says every line of _Two Years before the
Mast_ is true.  He went through it all himself.  He says that I am a
great help to him, as a pattern of discipline and punctuality.  People
are much inclined to miss meals, and then want things at odd hours, and
make the work quite impossible to the cook and servants.  Of course, I
get all I want in double-quick time, as I try to save my man trouble; and
the carpenter leaves my scuttle open when no one else gets it, quite
willing to get up in his time of sleep to close it, if it comes on to
blow.  A maid is really a superfluity on board ship, as the men rather
like being ‘_aux petits soins_’.  The boatswain came the other day to say
that he had a nice carpet and a good pillow; did I want anything of the
sort?  He would be proud that I should use anything of his.  You would
delight in Avery, my cuddy man, who is as quick as ‘greased lightning’,
and full of fun.  His misery is my want of appetite, and his efforts to
cram me are very droll.  The days seem to slip away, one can’t tell how.
I sit on deck from breakfast at nine, till dinner at four, and then again
till it gets cold, and then to bed.  We are now about 100 miles from
Madeira, and shall have to run inside it, as we were thrown so far out of
our course by the foul weather.

9_th_ _Aug._—Becalmed, under a vertical sun.  Lat. 17°, or thereabouts.
We saw Madeira at a distance like a cloud; since then, we had about four
days trade wind, and then failing or contrary breezes.  We have sailed so
near the African shore that we get little good out of the trades, and
suffer much from the African climate.  Fancy a sky like a pale February
sky in London, no sun to be seen, and a heat coming, one can’t tell from
whence.  To-day, the sun is vertical and invisible, the sea glassy and
heaving.  I have been ill again, and obliged to lie still yesterday and
the day before in the captain’s cabin; to-day in my own, as we have the
ports open, and the maindeck is cooler than the upper.  The men have just
been holystoning here, singing away lustily in chorus.  Last night I got
leave to sling my cot under the main hatchway, as my cabin must have
killed me from suffocation when shut up.  Most of the men stayed on deck,
but that is dangerous after sunset on this African coast, on account of
the heavy dew and fever.  They tell me that the open sea is quite
different; certainly, nothing can look duller and dimmer than this
specimen of the tropics.  The few days of trade wind were beautiful and
cold, with sparkling sea, and fresh air and bright sun; and we galloped
along merrily.

We are now close to the Cape de Verd Islands, and shall go inside them.
About lat. 4° N. we expect to catch the S.E. trade wind, when it will be
cold again.  In lat. 24°, the day before we entered the tropics, I sat on
deck in a coat and cloak; the heat is quite sudden, and only lasts a week
or so.  The sea to-day is littered all round the ship with our floating
rubbish, so we have not moved at all.

I constantly long for you to be here, though I am not sure you would like
the life as well as I do.  All your ideas of it are wrong; the
confinement to the poop and the stringent regulations would bore you.
But then, sitting on deck in fine weather is pleasure enough, without
anything else.  In a Queen’s ship, a yacht, or a merchantman with fewer
passengers, it must be a delightful existence.

17_th_ _Aug._—Since I wrote last, we got into the south-west monsoon for
one day, and I sat up by the steersman in intense enjoyment—a bright sun
and glittering blue sea; and we tore along, pitching and tossing the
water up like mad.  It was glorious.  At night, I was calmly reposing in
my cot, in the middle of the steerage, just behind the main hatchway,
when I heard a crashing of rigging and a violent noise and confusion on
deck.  The captain screamed out orders which informed me that we were in
the thick of a collision—of course I lay still, and waited till the row,
or the ship, went down.  I found myself next day looked upon as no better
than a heathen by all the women, because I had been cool, and declined to
get up and make a noise.  Presently the officers came and told me that a
big ship had borne down on us—we were on the starboard tack, and all
right—carried off our flying jib-boom and whisker (the sort of yard to
the bowsprit).  The captain says he was never in such imminent danger in
his life, as she threatened to swing round and to crush into our waist,
which would have been certain destruction.  The little dandy
soldier-officer behaved capitally; he turned his men up in no time, and
had them all ready.  He said, ‘Why, you know, I must see that my fellows
go down decently.’  S— was as cool as an icicle, offered me my
pea-jacket, &c., which I declined, as it would be of no use for me to go
off in boats, even supposing there were time, and I preferred going down
comfortably in my cot.  Finding she was of no use to me, she took a
yelling maid in custody, and was thought a brute for begging her to hold
her noise.  The first lieutenant, who looks on passengers as odious
cargo, has utterly mollified to me since this adventure.  I heard him
report to the captain that I was ‘among ’em all, and never sung out, nor
asked a question the while’.  This he called ‘beautiful’.

Next day we got light wind S.W. (which ought to be the S.E. trades), and
the weather has been, beyond all description, lovely ever since.  Cool,
but soft, sunny and bright—in short, perfect; only the sky is so pale.
Last night the sunset was a vision of loveliness, a sort of Pompadour
paradise; the sky seemed full of rose-crowned _amorini_, and the moon
wore a rose-coloured veil of bright pink cloud, all so light, so airy, so
brilliant, and so fleeting, that it was a kind of intoxication.  It is
far less grand than northern colour, but so lovely, so shiny.  Then the
flying fish skimmed like silver swallows over the blue water.  Such a
sight!  Also, I saw a whale spout like a very tiny garden fountain.  The
Southern Cross is a delusion, and the tropical moon no better than a
Parisian one, at present.  We are now in lat. 31° about, and have been
driven halfway to Rio by this sweet southern breeze.  I have never yet
sat on deck without a cloth jacket or shawl, and the evenings are chilly.
I no longer believe in tropical heat at sea.  Even during the calm it was
not so hot as I have often felt it in England—and that, under a vertical
sun.  The ship that nearly ran us and herself down, must have kept no
look-out, and refused to answer our hail.  She is supposed to be from
Glasgow by her looks.  We may speak a ship and send letters on board; so
excuse scrawl and confusion, it is so difficult to write at all.

30_th_ _August_.—About 25° S. lat. and very much to the west.  We have
had all sorts of weather—some beautiful, some very rough, but always
contrary winds—and got within 200 miles of the coast of South America.
We now have a milder breeze from the _soft_ N.E., after a _bitter_ S.W.,
with Cape pigeons and mollymawks (a small albatross), not to compare with
our gulls.  We had private theatricals last night—ill acted, but
beautifully got up as far as the sailors were concerned.  I did not act,
as I did not feel well enough, but I put a bit for Neptune into the
Prologue and made the boatswain’s mate speak it, to make up for the
absence of any shaving at the Line, which the captain prohibited
altogether; I thought it hard the men should not get their ‘tips’.  The
boatswain’s mate dressed and spoke it admirably; and the old carpenter
sang a famous comic song, dressed to perfection as a ploughboy.

I am disappointed in the tropics as to warmth.  Our thermometer stood at
82° one day only, under the vertical sun, N. of the Line; _on_ the Line
at 74°; and at sea it _feels_ 10° colder than it is.  I have never been
hot, except for two days 4° N. of the Line, and now it is very cold, but
it is very invigorating.  All day long it looks and feels like early
morning; the sky is pale blue, with light broken clouds; the sea an
inconceivably pure opaque blue—lapis lazuli, but far brighter.  I saw a
lovely dolphin three days ago; his body five feet long (some said more)
is of a _fiery_ blue-green, and his huge tail golden bronze.  I was glad
he scorned the bait and escaped the hook; he was so beautiful.  This is
the sea from which Venus rose in her youthful glory.  All is young,
fresh, serene, beautiful, and cheerful.

We have not seen a sail for weeks.  But the life at sea makes amends for
anything, to my mind.  I am never tired of the calms, and I enjoy a stiff
gale like a Mother Carey’s chicken, so long as I can be on deck or in the
captain’s cabin.  Between decks it is very close and suffocating in rough
weather, as all is shut up.  We shall be still three weeks before we
reach the Cape; and now the sun sets with a sudden plunge before six, and
the evenings are growing too cold again for me to go on deck after
dinner.  As long as I could, I spent fourteen hours out of the
twenty-four in my quiet corner by the wheel, basking in the tropical sun.
Never again will I believe in the tales of a burning sun; the vertical
sun just kept me warm—no more.  In two days we shall be bitterly cold
again.

Immediately after writing the above it began to blow a gale (favourable,
indeed, but more furious than the captain had ever known in these
seas),—about lat. 34° S. and long. 25°.  For three days we ran under
close-reefed (four reefs) topsails, before a sea.  The gale in the Bay of
Biscay was a little shaking up in a puddle (a dirty one) compared to that
glorious South Atlantic in all its majestic fury.  The intense blue
waves, crowned with fantastic crests of bright emeralds and with the
spray blowing about like wild dishevelled hair, came after us to swallow
us up at a mouthful, but took us up on their backs, and hurried us along
as if our ship were a cork.  Then the gale slackened, and we had a dead
calm, during which the waves banged us about frightfully, and our masts
were in much jeopardy.  Then a foul wind, S.E., increased into a gale,
lasting five days, during which orders were given in dumb show, as no
one’s voice could be heard; through it we fought and laboured and dipped
under water, and I only had my dry corner by the wheel, where the kind
pleasant little third officer lashed me tight.  It was far more
formidable than the first gale, but less beautiful; and we made so much
lee-way that we lost ten days, and only arrived here yesterday.  I
recommend a fortnight’s heavy gale in the South Atlantic as a cure for a
_blasé_ state of mind.  It cannot be described; the sound, the sense of
being hurled along without the smallest regard to ‘this side uppermost’;
the beauty of the whole scene, and the occasional crack and bear-away of
sails and spars; the officer trying to ‘sing out’, quite in vain, and the
boatswain’s whistle scarcely audible.  I remained near the wheel every
day for as long as I could bear it, and was enchanted.

Then the mortal perils of eating, drinking, moving, sitting, lying;
standing can’t be done, even by the sailors, without holding on.  _The_
night of the gale, my cot twice touched the beams of the ship above me.
I asked the captain if I had dreamt it, but he said it was quite
possible; he had never seen a ship so completely on her beam ends come up
all right, masts and yards all sound.

There is a middy about half M—’s size, a very tiny ten-year-older, who
has been my delight; he is so completely ‘the officer and the gentleman’.
My maternal entrails turned like old Alvarez, when that baby lay out on
the very end of the cross-jack yard to reef, in the gale; it was quite
voluntary, and the other newcomers all declined.  I always called him
‘Mr. —, sir’, and asked his leave gravely, or, on occasions, his
protection and assistance; and his little dignity was lovely.  He is
polite to the ladies, and slightly distant to the passenger-boys, bigger
than himself, whom he orders off dangerous places; ‘Children, come out of
that; you’ll be overboard.’

A few days before landing I caught a bad cold, and kept my bed.  I caught
this cold by ‘sleeping with a damp man in my cabin’, as some one said.
During the last gale, the cabin opposite mine was utterly swamped, and I
found the Irish soldier-servant of a little officer of eighteen in
despair; the poor lad had got ague, and eight inches of water in his bed,
and two feet in the cabin.  I looked in and said, ‘He can’t stay
there—carry him into my cabin, and lay him in the bunk’; which he did,
with tears running down his honest old face.  So we got the boy into S—’s
bed, and cured his fever and ague, caught under canvas in Romney Marsh.
Meantime S— had to sleep in a chair and to undress in the boy’s wet
cabin.  As a token of gratitude, he sent me a poodle pup, born on board,
very handsome.  The artillery officers were generally well-behaved; the
men, deserters and ruffians, sent out as drivers.  We have had five
courts-martial and two floggings in eight weeks, among seventy men.  They
were pampered with food and porter, and would not pull a rope, or get up
at six to air their quarters.  The sailors are an excellent set of men.
When we parted, the first lieutenant said to me, ‘Weel, ye’ve a wonderful
idee of discipline for a leddy, I will say.  You’ve never been reported
but once, and that was on sick leave, for your light, and all in order.’

                                                      Cape Town, Sept. 18.

We anchored yesterday morning, and Captain J—, the Port Captain, came off
with a most kind letter from Sir Baldwin Walker, his gig, and a boat and
crew for S— and the baggage.  So I was whipped over the ship’s side in a
chair, and have come to a boarding house where the J—s live.  I was tired
and dizzy and landsick, and lay down and went to sleep.  After an hour or
so I woke, hearing a little _gazouillement_, like that of chimney
swallows.  On opening my eyes I beheld four demons, ‘sons of the obedient
Jinn’, each bearing an article of furniture, and holding converse over me
in the language of Nephelecoecygia.  Why has no one ever mentioned the
curious little soft voices of these coolies?—you can’t hear them with the
naked ear, three feet off.  The most hideous demon (whose complexion had
not only the colour, but the precise metallic lustre of an ill
black-leaded stove) at last chirruped a wish for orders, which I gave.  I
asked the pert, active, cockney housemaid what I ought to pay them, as,
being a stranger, they might overcharge me.  Her scorn was sublime, ‘Them
nasty blacks never asks more than their regular charge.’  So I asked the
black-lead demon, who demanded ‘two shilling each horse in waggon’, and a
dollar each ‘coolie man’.  He then glided with fiendish noiselessness
about the room, arranged the furniture to his own taste, and finally
said, ‘Poor missus sick’; then more chirruping among themselves, and
finally a fearful gesture of incantation, accompanied by ‘God bless poor
missus.  Soon well now’.  The wrath of the cockney housemaid became
majestic: ‘There, ma’am; you see how saucy they have grown—a nasty black
heathen Mohamedan a blessing of a white Christian!’

These men are the Auvergnats of Africa.  I was assured that bankers
entrust them with large sums in gold, which they carry some hundred and
twenty miles, by unknown tracks, for a small gratuity.  The pretty,
graceful Malays are no honester than ourselves, but are excellent
workmen.

To-morrow, my linen will go to a ravine in the giant mountain at my back,
and there be scoured in a clear spring by brown women, bleached on the
mountain top, and carried back all those long miles on their heads, as it
went up.

My landlady is Dutch; the waiter is an Africander, half Dutch, half
Malay, very handsome, and exactly like a French gentleman, and as civil.

Enter ‘Africander’ lad with a nosegay; only one flower that I
know—heliotrope.  The vegetation is lovely; the freshness of spring and
the richness of summer.  The leaves on the trees are in all the beauty of
spring.  Mrs. R— brought me a plate of oranges, ‘just gathered’, as soon
as I entered the house—and, oh! how good they were! better even than the
Maltese.  They are going out, and _dear_ now—two a penny, very large and
delicious.  I am wild to get out and see the glorious scenery and the
hideous people.  To-day the wind has been a cold south-wester, and I have
not been out.  My windows look N. and E. so I get all the sun and warmth.
The beauty of Table Bay is astounding.  Fancy the Undercliff in the Isle
of Wight magnified a hundred-fold, with clouds floating halfway up the
mountain.  The Hottentot mountains in the distance have a fantastic
jagged outline, which hardly looks real.  The town is like those in the
south of Europe; flat roofs, and all unfinished; roads are simply
non-existent.  At the doors sat brown women with black hair that shone
like metal, very handsome; they are Malays, and their men wear conical
hats a-top of turbans, and are the chief artisans.  At the end of the
pier sat a Mozambique woman in white drapery and the most majestic
attitude, like a Roman matron; her features large and strong and harsh,
but fine; and her skin blacker than night.

I have got a couple of Cape pigeons (the storm-bird of the South
Atlantic) for J—’s hat.  They followed us several thousand miles, and
were hooked for their pains.  The albatrosses did not come within hail.

The little Maltese goat gave a pint of milk night and morning, and was a
great comfort to the cow.  She did not like the land or the grass at
first, and is to be thrown out of milk now.  She is much admired and
petted by the young Africander.  My room is at least eighteen feet high,
and contains exactly a bedstead, one straw mattrass, one rickety table,
one wash-table, two chairs, and broken looking-glass; no carpet, and a
hiatus of three inches between the floor and the door, but all very
clean; and excellent food.  I have not made a bargain yet, but I dare say
I shall stay here.

_Friday_.—I have just received your letter; where it has been hiding, I
can’t conceive.  To-day is cold and foggy, like a baddish day in June
with you; no colder, if so cold.  Still, I did not venture out, the fog
rolls so heavily over the mountain.  Well, I must send off this yarn,
which is as interminable as the ‘sinnet’ and ‘foxes’ which I twisted with
the mids.



LETTER II


                                                        Cape Town, Oct. 3.

I CAME on shore on a very fine day, but the weather changed, and we had a
fortnight of cold and damp and S.W. wind (equivalent to our east wind),
such as the ‘oldest inhabitant’ never experienced; and I have had as bad
an attack of bronchitis as ever I remember, having been in bed till
yesterday.  I had a very good doctor, half Italian, half Dane, born at
the Cape of Good Hope, and educated at Edinburgh, named Chiappini.  He
has a son studying medicine in London, whose mother is Dutch; such is the
mixture of bloods here.

Yesterday, the wind went to the south-east; the blessed sun shone out,
and the weather was lovely at once.  The mountain threw off his cloak of
cloud, and all was bright and warm.  I got up and sat in the verandah
over the stoep (a kind of terrace in front of every house here).  They
brought me a tortoise as big as half a crown and as lively as a cricket
to look at, and a chameleon like a fairy dragon—a green fellow, five
inches long, with no claws on his feet, but suckers like a fly—the most
engaging little beast.  He sat on my finger, and caught flies with great
delight and dexterity, and I longed to send him to M—.  To-day, I went a
long drive with Captain and Mrs. J—: we went to Rondebosch and
Wynberg—lovely country; rather like Herefordshire; red earth and
oak-trees.  Miles of the road were like Gainsborough-lane, {27} on a
large scale, and looked quite English; only here and there a hedge of
prickly pear, or the big white aruns in the ditches, told a different
tale; and the scarlet geraniums and myrtles growing wild puzzled one.

And then came rattling along a light, rough, but well-poised cart, with
an Arab screw driven by a Malay, in a great hat on his kerchiefed head,
and his wife, with her neat dress, glossy black hair, and great gold
earrings.  They were coming with fish, which he had just caught at Kalk
Bay, and was going to sell for the dinners of the Capetown folk.  You
pass neat villas, with pretty gardens and stoeps, gay with flowers, and
at the doors of several, neat Malay girls are lounging.  They are the
best servants here, for the emigrants mostly drink.  Then you see a group
of children at play, some as black as coals, some brown and very pretty.
A little black girl, about R—’s age, has carefully tied what little
petticoat she has, in a tight coil round her waist, and displays the most
darling little round legs and behind, which it would be a real pleasure
to slap; it is so shiny and round, and she runs and stands so strongly
and gracefully.

Here comes another Malay, with a pair of baskets hanging from a stick
across his shoulder, like those in Chinese pictures, which his hat also
resembles.  Another cart full of working men, with a Malay driver; and
inside are jumbled some red-haired, rosy-cheeked English navvies, with
the ugliest Mozambiques, blacker than Erebus, and with faces all knobs
and corners, like a crusty loaf.  As we drive home we see a span of
sixteen noble oxen in the market-place, and on the ground squats the
Hottentot driver.  His face no words can describe—his cheek-bones are up
under his hat, and his meagre-pointed chin halfway down to his waist; his
eyes have the dull look of a viper’s, and his skin is dirty and sallow,
but not darker than a dirty European’s.

Capetown is rather pretty, but beyond words untidy and out of repair.  As
it is neither drained nor paved, it won’t do in hot weather; and I shall
migrate ‘up country’ to a Dutch village.  Mrs. J—, who is Dutch herself,
tells me that one may board in a Dutch farm-house very cheaply, and with
great comfort (of course eating with the family), and that they will
drive you about the country and tend your horses for nothing, if you are
friendly, and don’t treat them with _Engelsche hoog-moedigheid_.

_Oct._ 19_th_.—The packet came in last night, but just in time to save
the fine of 50_l._ per diem, and I got your welcome letter this morning.
I have been coughing all this time, but I hope I shall improve.  I came
out at the very worst time of year, and the weather has been (of course)
‘unprecedentedly’ bad and changeable.  But when it _is_ fine it is quite
celestial; so clear, so dry, so light.  Then comes a cloud over Table
Mountain, like the sugar on a wedding-cake, which tumbles down in
splendid waterfalls, and vanishes unaccountably halfway; and then you run
indoors and shut doors and windows, or it portends a ‘south-easter’, i.e.
a hurricane, and Capetown disappears in impenetrable clouds of dust.  But
this wind coming off the hills and fields of ice, is the Cape doctor, and
keeps away cholera, fever of every sort, and all malignant or infectious
diseases.  Most of them are unknown here.  Never was so healthy a place;
but the remedy is of the heroic nature, and very disagreeable.  The
stones rattle against the windows, and omnibuses are blown over on the
Rondebosch road.

A few days ago, I drove to Mr. V—’s farm.  Imagine St. George’s Hill,
{30} and the most beautiful bits of it, sloping gently up to Table
Mountain, with its grey precipices, and intersected with Scotch burns,
which water it all the year round, as they come from the living rock; and
sprinkled with oranges, pomegranates, and camelias in abundance.  You
drive through a mile or two as described, and arrive at a square, planted
with rows of fine oaks close together; at the upper end stands the house,
all on the ground-floor, but on a high stoep: rooms eighteen feet high;
the old slave quarters on each side; stables, &c., opposite; the square
as big as Belgrave Square, and the buildings in the old French style.

We then went on to Newlands, a still more beautiful place.  Immense
trenching and draining going on—the foreman a Caffre, black as ink, six
feet three inches high, and broad in proportion, with a staid, dignified
air, and Englishmen working under him!  At the streamlets there are the
inevitable groups of Malay women washing clothes, and brown babies
sprawling about.  Yesterday, I should have bought a black woman for her
beauty, had it been still possible.  She was carrying an immense weight
on her head, and was far gone with child; but such stupendous physical
perfection I never even imagined.  Her jet black face was like the
Sphynx, with the same mysterious smile; her shape and walk were
goddess-like, and the lustre of her skin, teeth, and eyes, showed the
fulness of health;—Caffre of course.  I walked after her as far as her
swift pace would let me, in envy and admiration of such stately humanity.

The ordinary blacks, or Mozambiques, as they call them, are hideous.
Malay here seems equivalent to Mohammedan.  They were originally Malays,
but now they include every shade, from the blackest nigger to the most
blooming English woman.  Yes, indeed, the emigrant-girls have been known
to turn ‘Malays’, and get thereby husbands who know not billiards and
brandy—the two diseases of Capetown.  They risked a plurality of wives,
and professed Islam, but they got fine clothes and industrious husbands.
They wear a very pretty dress, and all have a great air of independence
and self-respect; and the real Malays are very handsome.  I am going to
see one of the Mollahs soon, and to look at their schools and mosque;
which, to the distraction of the Scotch, they call their ‘Kerk.’

I asked a Malay if he would drive me in his cart with the six or eight
mules, which he agreed to do for thirty shillings and his dinner (i.e. a
share of my dinner) on the road.  When I asked how long it would take, he
said, ‘Allah is groot’, which meant, I found, that it depended on the
state of the beach—the only road for half the way.

The sun, moon, and stars are different beings from those we look upon.
Not only are they so large and bright, but you _see_ that the moon and
stars are _balls_, and that the sky is endless beyond them.  On the other
hand, the clear, dry air dwarfs Table Mountain, as you seem to see every
detail of it to the very top.

Capetown is very picturesque.  The old Dutch buildings are very handsome
and peculiar, but are falling to decay and dirt in the hands of their
present possessors.  The few Dutch ladies I have seen are very pleasing.
They are gentle and simple, and naturally well-bred.  Some of the Malay
women are very handsome, and the little children are darlings.  A little
parti-coloured group of every shade, from ebony to golden hair and blue
eyes, were at play in the street yesterday, and the majority were pretty,
especially the half-castes.  Most of the Caffres I have seen look like
the perfection of human physical nature, and seem to have no diseases.
Two days ago I saw a Hottentot girl of seventeen, a housemaid here.  You
would be enchanted by her superfluity of flesh; the face was very queer
and ugly, and yet pleasing, from the sweet smile and the rosy cheeks
which please one much, in contrast to all the pale yellow faces—handsome
as some of them are.

I wish I could send the six chameleons which a good-natured parson
brought me in his hat, and a queer lizard in his pocket.  The chameleons
are charming, so monkey-like and so ‘_caressants_’.  They sit on my
breakfast tray and catch flies, and hang in a bunch by their tails, and
reach out after my hand.

I have had a very kind letter from Lady Walker, and shall go and stay
with them at Simon’s Bay as soon as I feel up to the twenty-two miles
along the beaches and bad roads in the mail-cart with three horses.  The
teams of mules (I beg pardon, spans) would delight you—eight, ten,
twelve, even sixteen sleek, handsome beasts; and oh, such oxen! noble
beasts with humps; and hump is very good to eat too.

_Oct._ 21_st._—The mail goes out to-morrow, so I must finish this letter.
I feel better to-day than I have yet felt, in spite of the south-easter.

                                                                Yours, &c.



LETTER III


28_th_ _Oct._—Since I wrote, we have had more really cold weather, but
yesterday the summer seems to have begun.  The air is as light and clear
as if _there were none_, and the sun hot; but I walk in it, and do not
find it oppressive.  All the household groans and perspires, but I am
very comfortable.

Yesterday I sat in the full broil for an hour or more, in the hot dust of
the Malay burial-ground.  They buried the head butcher of the Mussulmans,
and a most strange poetical scene it was.  The burial-ground is on the
side of the Lion Mountain—on the Lion’s rump—and overlooks the whole bay,
part of the town, and the most superb mountain panorama beyond.  I never
saw a view within miles of it for beauty and grandeur.  Far down, a fussy
English steamer came puffing and popping into the deep blue bay, and the
‘Hansom’s’ cabs went tearing down to the landing place; and round me sat
a crowd of grave brown men chanting ‘Allah il Allah’ to the most
monotonous but musical air, and with the most perfect voices.  The chant
seemed to swell, and then fade, like the wind in the trees.

I went in after the procession, which consisted of a bier covered with
three common Paisley shawls of gay colours; no one looked at me; and when
they got near the grave, I kept at a distance, and sat down when they
did.  But a man came up and said, ‘You are welcome.’  So I went close,
and saw the whole ceremony.  They took the corpse, wrapped in a sheet,
out of the bier, and lifted it into the grave, where two men received it;
then a sheet was held over the grave till they had placed the dead man;
and then flowers and earth were thrown in by all present, the grave
filled in, watered out of a brass kettle, and decked with flowers.  Then
a fat old man, in printed calico shirt sleeves, and a plaid waistcoat and
corduroy trousers, pulled off his shoes, squatted on the grave, and
recited endless ‘Koran’, many reciting after him.  Then they chanted
‘Allah-il-Allah’ for twenty minutes, I think: then prayers, with ‘Ameens’
and ‘Allah il-Allahs’ again.  Then all jumped up and walked off.  There
were eighty or a hundred men, no women, and five or six ‘Hadjis’, draped
in beautiful Eastern dresses, and looking very supercilious.  The whole
party made less noise in moving and talking than two Englishmen.

A white-complexioned man spoke to me in excellent English (which few of
them speak), and was very communicative and civil.  He told me the dead
man was his brother-in-law, and he himself the barber.  I hoped I had not
taken a liberty.  ‘Oh, no; poor Malays were proud when noble English
persons showed such respect to their religion.  The young Prince had done
so too, and Allah would not forget to protect him.  He also did not laugh
at their prayers, praise be to God!’  I had already heard that Prince
Alfred is quite the darling of the Malays.  He insisted on accepting
their _fête_, which the Capetown people had snubbed.  I have a friendship
with one Abdul Jemaalee and his wife Betsy, a couple of old folks who
were slaves to Dutch owners, and now keep a fruit-shop of a rough sort,
with ‘Betsy, fruiterer,’ painted on the back of an old tin tray, and hung
up by the door of the house.  Abdul first bought himself, and then his
wife Betsy, whose ‘missus’ generously threw in her bed-ridden mother.  He
is a fine handsome old man, and has confided to me that £5,000 would not
buy what he is worth now.  I have also read the letters written by his,
son, young Abdul Rachman, now a student at Cairo, who has been away five
years—four at Mecca.  The young theologian writes to his ‘_hoog eerbare
moeder_’ a fond request for money, and promises to return soon.  I am
invited to the feast wherewith he will be welcomed.  Old Abdul Jemaalee
thinks it will divert my mind, and prove to me that Allah will take me
home safe to my children, about whom he and his wife asked many
questions.  Moreover, he compelled me to drink herb tea, compounded by a
Malay doctor for my cough.  I declined at first, and the poor old man
looked hurt, gravely assured me that it was not true that Malays always
poisoned Christians, and drank some himself.  Thereupon I was obliged, of
course, to drink up the rest; it certainly did me good, and I have drunk
it since with good effect; it is intensely bitter and rather sticky.  The
white servants and the Dutch landlady where I lodge shake their heads
ominously, and hope it mayn’t poison me a year hence.  ‘Them nasty Malays
can make it work months after you take it.’  They also possess the evil
eye, and a talent for love potions.  As the men are very handsome and
neat, I incline to believe that part of it.

_Rathfelder’s Halfway House_, 6_th_ _November_.—I drove out here
yesterday in Captain T—’s drag, which he kindly brought into Capetown for
me.  He and his wife and children came for a change of air for whooping
cough, and advised me to come too, as my cough continues, though less
troublesome.  It is a lovely spot, six miles from Constantia, ten from
Capetown, and twelve from Simon’s Bay.  I intend to stay here a little
while, and then to go to Kalk Bay, six miles from hence.  This inn was
excellent, I hear, ‘in the old Dutch times’.  Now it is kept by a young
Englishman, Cape-born, and his wife, and is dirty and disorderly.  I pay
twelve shillings a day for S— and self, without a sitting-room, and my
bed is a straw paillasse; but the food is plentiful, and not very bad.
That is the cheapest rate of living possible here, and every trifle costs
double what it would in England, except wine, which is very fair at
fivepence a bottle—a kind of hock.  The landlord pays £1 a day rent for
this house, which is the great resort of the Capetown people for Sundays,
and for change of air, &c.—a rude kind of Richmond.  His cook gets £3
10_s._ a month, besides food for himself and wife, and beer and sugar.
The two (white) housemaids get £1 15_s._ and £1 10_s._ respectively
(everything by the month).  Fresh butter is 3_s._ 6_d._ a pound, mutton
7_d._; washing very dear; cabbages my host sells at 3_d._ a piece, and
pumpkins 8_d._  He has a fine garden, and pays a gardener 3_s._ 6_d._ a
day, and black labourers 2_s._  _They_ work three days a week; then they
buy rice and a coarse fish, and lie in the sun till it is eaten; while
their darling little fat black babies play in the dust, and their black
wives make battues in the covers in their woolly heads.  But the little
black girl who cleans my room is far the best servant, and smiles and
speaks like Lalage herself, ugly as the poor drudge is.  The voice and
smile of the negroes here is bewitching, though they are hideous; and
neither S— nor I have yet heard a black child cry, or seen one naughty or
quarrelsome.  You would want to lay out a fortune in woolly babies.
Yesterday I had a dreadful heartache after my darling, on her little
birthday, and even the lovely ranges of distant mountains, coloured like
opals in the sunset, did not delight me.  This is a dreary place for
strangers.  Abdul Jemaalee’s tisanne, and a banana which he gave me each
time I went to his shop, are the sole offer of ‘Won’t you take
something?’ or even the sole attempt at a civility that I have received,
except from the J—s, who, are very civil and kind.

When I have done my visit to Simon’s Bay, I will go ‘up country’, to
Stellenbosch, Paarl and Worcester, perhaps.  If I can find people going
in a bullock-waggon, I will join them; it costs £1 a day, and goes twenty
miles.  If money were no object, I would hire one with Caffres to hunt,
as well as outspan and drive, and take a saddle-horse.  There is plenty
of pleasure to be had in travelling here, if you can afford it.  The
scenery is quite beyond anything you can imagine in beauty.  I went to a
country house at Rondebosch with the J—s, and I never saw so lovely a
spot.  The possessor had done his best to spoil it, and to destroy the
handsome Dutch house and fountains and aqueducts; but Nature was too much
for him, and the place lovely in neglect and shabbiness.

Now I will tell you my impressions of the state of society here, as far
as I have been able to make out by playing the inquisitive traveller.  I
dare say the statements are exaggerated, but I do not think they are
wholly devoid of truth.  The Dutch round Capetown (I don’t know anything
of ‘up country’) are sulky and dispirited; they regret the slave days,
and can’t bear to pay wages; they have sold all their fine houses in town
to merchants, &c., and let their handsome country places go to pieces,
and their land lie fallow, rather than hire the men they used to own.
They hate the Malays, who were their slaves, and whose ‘insolent
prosperity’ annoys them, and they don’t like the vulgar, bustling
English.  The English complain that the Dutch won’t die, and that they
are the curse of the colony (a statement for which they can never give a
reason).  But they, too, curse the emancipation, long to flog the
niggers, and hate the Malays, who work harder and don’t drink, and who
are the only masons, tailors, &c., and earn from 4_s._ 6_d._ to 10_s._ a
day.  The Malays also have almost a monopoly of cart-hiring and
horse-keeping; an Englishman charges £4 10_s._ or £5 for a carriage to do
what a Malay will do quicker in a light cart for 30_s._  S— says, ‘The
English here think the coloured people ought to do the work, and they to
get the wages.  Nothing less would satisfy them.’  Servants’ wages are
high, but other wages not much higher than in England; yet industrious
people invariably make fortunes, or at least competencies, even when they
begin with nothing.  But few of the English will do anything but lounge;
while they abuse the Dutch as lazy, and the Malays as thieves, and feel
their fingers itch to be at the blacks.  The Africanders (Dutch and negro
mixed in various proportions) are more or less lazy, dirty, and dressy,
and the beautiful girls wear pork-pie hats, and look very winning and
rather fierce; but to them the philanthropists at home have provided
formidable rivals, by emptying a shipload of young ladies from a
‘Reformatory’ into the streets of Capetown.

I am puzzled what to think of the climate here for invalids.  The air is
dry and clear beyond conception, and light, but the sun is scorching;
while the south-east wind blows an icy hurricane, and the dust obscures
the sky.  These winds last all the summer, till February or March.  I am
told when they don’t blow it is heavenly, though still cold in the
mornings and evenings.  No one must be out at, or after sunset, the chill
is so sudden.  Many of the people here declare that it is death to weak
lungs, and send their _poitrinaires_ to Madeira, or the south of France.
They also swear the climate is enervating, but their looks, and above all
the blowsy cheeks and hearty play of the English children, disprove that;
and those who come here consumptive get well in spite of the doctors, who
won’t allow it possible.  I believe it is a climate which requires great
care from invalids, but that, with care, it is good, because it is
bracing as well as warm and dry.  It is not nearly so warm as I expected;
the southern icebergs are at no great distance, and they ice the
south-east wind for us.  If it were not so violent, it would be
delicious; and there are no unhealthy winds—nothing like our east wind.
The people here grumble at the north-wester, which sometimes brings rain,
and call it damp, which, as they don’t know what damp is, is excusable;
it feels like a _dry_ south-wester in England.  It is, however, quite a
delusion to think of living out of doors, here; the south-easters keep
one in nearly, if not quite, half one’s time, and in summer they say the
sun is too hot to be out except morning and evening.  But I doubt that,
for they make an outcry about heat as soon as it is not cold.  The
transitions are so sudden, that, with the thermometer at 76°, you must
not go out without taking a thick warm cloak; you may walk into a
south-easter round the first spur of the mountain, and be cut in two.  In
short, the air is cold and bracing, and the sun blazing hot; those whom
that suits, will do well.  I should like a softer air, but I may be
wrong; when there is only a moderate wind, it is delicious.  You walk in
the hot sun, which makes you perspire a very little; but you dry as you
go, the air is so dry; and you come in untired.  I speak of slow walking.
There are no hot-climate diseases; no dysentery, fever, &c.

_Simon’s Bay_, 18_th_ _Nov._—I came on here in a cart, as I felt ill from
the return of the cold weather.  While at Rathfelder we had a superb day,
and the J—s drove me over to Constantia, which deserves all its
reputation for beauty.  What a divine spot!—such kloofs, with silver
rills running down them!  It is useless to describe scenery.  It was a
sort of glorified Scotland, with sunshine, flowers, and orange-groves.
We got home hungry and tired, but in great spirits.  Alas! next day came
the south-easter—blacker, colder, more cutting, than ever—and lasted a
week.

The Walkers came over on horseback, and pressed me to go to them.  They
are most kind and agreeable people.  The drive to Simon’s Bay was lovely,
along the coast and across five beaches of snow-white sand, which look
like winter landscapes; and the mountains and bay are lovely.

Living is very dear, and washing, travelling, chemist’s bills—all
enormous.  Thirty shillings a cart and horse from Rathfelder here—twelve
miles; and then the young English host wanted me to hire another cart for
one box and one bath!  But I would not, and my obstinacy was stoutest.
If I want cart or waggon again, I’ll deal with a Malay, only the fellows
drive with forty Jehu-power up and down the mountains.

A Madagascar woman offered to give me her orphan grandchild, a sweet
brown fairy, six years old, with long silky black hair, and gorgeous
eyes.  The child hung about me incessantly all the time I was at
Rathfelder, and I had a great mind to her.  She used to laugh like baby,
and was like her altogether, only prettier, and very brown; and when I
told her she was like my own little child, she danced about, and laughed
like mad at the idea that she could look like ‘pretty white Missy’.  She
was mighty proud of her needlework and A B C performances.

It is such a luxury to sleep on a real mattrass—not stuffed with dirty
straw; to eat clean food, and live in a nice room.  But my cough is very
bad, and the cruel wind blows on and on.  I saw the doctor of the Naval
Hospital here to-day.  If I don’t mend, I will try his advice, and go
northward for warmth.  If you can find an old Mulready envelope, send it
here to Miss Walker, who collects stamps and has not got it, and write
and thank dear good Lady Walker for her kindness to me.

You will get this about the new year.  God bless you all, and send us
better days in 1862.



LETTER IV
JOURNEY TO CALEDON


                                                       Caledon, Dec. 10th.

I DID not feel at all well at Simon’s Bay, which is a land of hurricanes.
We had a ‘south-easter’ for fourteen days, without an hour’s lull; even
the flag-ship had no communication with the shore for eight days.  The
good old naval surgeon there ordered me to start off for this high
‘up-country’ district, and arranged my departure for the first _possible_
day.  He made a bargain for me with a Dutchman, for a light Malay cart (a
capital vehicle with two wheels) and four horses, for 30_s._ a day—three
days to Caledon from Simon’s Bay, about a hundred miles or so, and one
day of back fare to his home in Capetown.

Luckily, on Saturday the wind dropped, and we started at nine o’clock,
drove to a place about four miles from Capetown, when we turned off on
the ‘country road’, and outspanned at a post-house kept by a nice old
German with a Dutch wife.  Once well out of Capetown, people are civil,
but inquisitive; I was strictly cross-questioned, and proved so
satisfactory, that the old man wished to give me some English porter
gratis.  We then jogged along again at a very good pace to another
wayside public, where we outspanned again and ate, and were again
questioned, and again made much of.  By six o’clock we got to the Eerste
River, having gone forty miles or so in the day.  It was a beautiful day,
and very pleasant travelling.  We had three good little half-Arab bays,
and one brute of a grey as off-wheeler, who fell down continually; but a
Malay driver works miracles, and no harm came of it.  The cart is small,
with a permanent tilt at top, and moveable curtains of waterproof all
round; harness of raw leather, very prettily put together by Malay
workmen.  We sat behind, and our brown coachman, with his mushroom hat,
in front, with my bath and box, and a miniature of himself about seven
years old—a nephew,—so small and handy that he would be worth his weight
in jewels as a tiger.  At Eerste River we slept in a pretty old Dutch
house, kept by an English woman, and called the Fox and Hound, ‘to sound
like home, my lady.’  Very nice and comfortable it was.

I started next day at ten; and never shall I forget that day’s journey.
The beauty of the country exceeds all description.  Ranges of mountains
beyond belief fantastic in shape, and between them a rolling country,
desolate and wild, and covered with gorgeous flowers among the ‘scrub’.
First we came to Hottentot’s Holland (now called Somerset West), the
loveliest little old Dutch village, with trees and little canals of
bright clear mountain water, and groves of orange and pomegranate, and
white houses, with incredible gable ends.  We tried to stop here; but
forage was ninepence a bundle, and the true Malay would rather die than
pay more than he can help.  So we pushed on to the foot of the mountains,
and bought forage (forage is oats _au natural_, straw and all, the only
feed known here, where there is no grass or hay) at a farm kept by
English people, who all talked Dutch together; only one girl of the
family could speak English.  They were very civil, asked us in, and gave
us unripe apricots, and the girl came down with seven flounces, to talk
with us.  Forage was still ninepence—half a dollar a bundle—and
Choslullah Jaamee groaned over it, and said the horses must have less
forage and ‘more plenty roll’ (a roll in the dust is often the only
refreshment offered to the beasts, and seems to do great good).

We got to Caledon at eleven, and drove to the place the Doctor
recommended—formerly a country house of the Dutch Governor.  It is in a
lovely spot; but do you remember the Schloss in Immermann’s Neuer
Münchausen?  Well, it is that.  A ruin;—windows half broken and boarded
up, the handsome steps in front fallen in, and all _en suite_.  The rooms
I saw were large and airy; but mud floors, white-washed walls, one chair,
one stump bedstead, and _præterea nihil_.  It has a sort of wild,
romantic look; I hear, too, it is wonderfully healthy, and not so bad as
it looks.  The long corridor is like the entrance to a great stable, or
some such thing; earth floors and open to all winds.  But you can’t
imagine it, however I may describe; it is so huge and strange, and
ruinous.  Finding that the mistress of the house was ill, and nothing
ready for our reception, I drove on to the inn.  Rain, like a Scotch
mist, came on just as we arrived, and it is damp and chilly, to the
delight of all the dwellers in the land, who love bad weather.  It makes
me cough a little more; but they say it is quite unheard of, and can’t
last.  Altogether, I suppose this summer here is as that of ’60 was in
England.

I forgot, in describing my journey, the regal-looking Caffre housemaid at
Eerste River.  ‘Such a dear, good creature,’ the landlady said; and, oh,
such a ‘noble savage’!—with a cotton handkerchief folded tight like a
cravat and tied round her head with a bow behind, and the short curly
wool sticking up in the middle;—it looked like a royal diadem on her
solemn brow; she stepped like Juno, with a huge tub full to the brim, and
holding several pailfuls, on her head, and a pailful in each hand,
bringing water for the stables from the river, across a large field.
There is nothing like a Caffre for power and grace; and the face, though
very African, has a sort of grandeur which makes it utterly unlike that
of the negro.  That woman’s bust and waist were beauty itself.  The
Caffres are also very clean and very clever as servants, I hear, learning
cookery, &c., in a wonderfully short time.  When they have saved money
enough to buy cattle in Kaffraria, off they go, cast aside civilization
and clothes, and enjoy life in naked luxury.

I can’t tell you how I longed for you in my journey.  You would have been
so delighted with the country and the queer turn-out—the wild little
horses, and the polite and delicately-clean Moslem driver.  His
description of his sufferings from ‘louses’, when he slept in a Dutch
farm, were pathetic, and ever since, he sleeps in his cart, with the
little boy; and they bathe in the nearest river, and eat their lawful
food and drink their water out of doors.  They declined beer, or meat
which had been unlawfully killed.  In Capetown _all_ meat is killed by
Malays, and has the proper prayer spoken over it, and they will eat no
other.  I was offered a fowl at a farm, but Choslullah thought it ‘too
much money for Missus’, and only accepted some eggs.  He was gratified at
my recognising the propriety of his saying ‘Bismillah’ over any animal
killed for food.  Some drink beer, and drink a good deal, but Choslullah
thought it ‘very wrong for Malay people, and not good for Christian
people, to be drunk beasties;—little wine or beer good for Christians,
but not too plenty much.’  I gave him ten shillings for himself, at which
he was enchanted, and again begged me to write to his master for him when
I wanted to leave Caledon, and to be sure to say, ‘Mind send same
coachman.’  He planned to drive me back through Worcester, Burnt Vley,
Paarl, and Stellenbosch—a longer round; but he could do it in three days
well, so as ‘not cost Missus more money’, and see a different country.

This place is curiously like Rochefort in the Ardennes, only the hills
are mountains, and the sun is far hotter; not so the air, which is fresh
and pleasant.  I am in a very nice inn, kept by an English ex-officer,
who went through the Caffre war, and found his pay insufficient for the
wants of a numerous family.  I quite admire his wife, who cooks, cleans,
nurses her babes, gives singing and music lessons,—all as merrily as if
she liked it.  I dine with them at two o’clock, and Captain D— has a
_table d’hôte_ at seven for travellers.  I pay only 10_s._ 6_d._ a day
for myself and S—; this includes all but wine or beer.  The air is very
clear and fine, and my cough is already much better.  I shall stay here
as long as it suits me and does me good, and then I am to send for
Choslullah again, and go back by the road he proposed.  It rains here now
and then, and blows a good deal, but the wind has lost its bitter chill,
and depressing quality.  I hope soon to ride a little and see the
country, which is beautiful.

The water-line is all red from the iron stone, and there are hot
chalybeate springs up the mountain which are very good for rheumatism,
and very strengthening, I am told.  The boots here is a Mantatee, very
black, and called Kleenboy, because he is so little; he is the only sleek
black I have seen here, but looks heavy and downcast.  One maid is Irish
(they make the best servants here), a very nice clean girl, and the
other, a brown girl of fifteen, whose father is English, and married to
her mother.  Food here is scarce, all but bread and mutton, both good.
Butter is 3_s._ a pound; fruit and vegetables only to be had by chance.
I miss the oranges and lemons sadly.  Poultry and milk uncertain.  The
bread is good everywhere, from the fine wheat: in the country it is
brownish and sweet.  The wine here is execrable; this is owing to the
prevailing indolence, for there is excellent wine made from the Rhenish
grape, rather like Sauterne, with a _soupçon_ of Manzanilla flavour.  The
sweet Constantia is also very good indeed; not the expensive sort, which
is made from grapes half dried, and is a liqueur, but a light, sweet,
straw-coloured wine, which even I liked.  We drank nothing else at the
Admiral’s.  The kind old sailor has given me a dozen of wine, which is
coming up here in a waggon, and will be most welcome.  I can’t tell you
how kind he and Lady Walker were; I was there three weeks, and hope to go
again when the south-easter season is over and I can get out a little.  I
could not leave the house at all; and even Lady Walker and the girls, who
are very energetic, got out but little.  They are a charming family.

I have no doubt that Dr. Shea was right, and that one must leave the
coast to get a fine climate.  Here it seems to me nearly perfect—too
windy for my pleasure, but then the sun would be overpowering without a
fresh breeze.  Every one agrees in saying that the winter in Capetown is
delicious—like a fine English summer.  In November the south-easters
begin, and they are ‘fiendish’; this year they began in September.  The
mornings here are always fresh, not to say cold; the afternoons, from one
to three, broiling; then delightful till sunset, which is deadly cold for
three-quarters of an hour; the night is lovely.  The wind rises and falls
with the sun.  That is the general course of things.  Now and then it
rains, and this year there is a little south-easter, which is quite
unusual, and not odious, as it is near the sea; and there is seldom a hot
wind from the north.  I am promised that on or about Christmas-day; then
doors and windows are shut, and you gasp.  Hitherto we have had nothing
nearly so hot as Paris in summer, or as the summer of 1859 in England;
and they say it is no hotter, except when the hot wind blows, which is
very rare.  Up here, snow sometimes lies, in winter, on the mountain
tops; but ice is unknown, and Table Mountain is never covered with snow.
The flies are pestilent—incredibly noisy, intrusive, and disgusting—and
oh, such swarms!  Fleas and bugs not half so bad as in France, as far as
my experience goes, and I have poked about in queer places.

I get up at half-past five, and walk in the early morning, before the sun
and wind begin to be oppressive; it is then dry, calm, and beautiful;
then I sleep like a Dutchman in the middle of the day.  At present it
tires me, but I shall get used to it soon.  The Dutch doctor here advised
me to do so, to avoid the wind.

When all was settled, we climbed the Hottentot’s mountains by Sir Lowry’s
Pass, a long curve round two hill-sides; and what a view!  Simon’s Bay
opening out far below, and range upon range of crags on one side, with a
wide fertile plain, in which lies Hottentot’s Holland, at one’s feet.
The road is just wide enough for one waggon, i.e. very narrow.  Where the
smooth rock came through, Choslullah gave a little grunt, and the three
bays went off like hippogriffs, dragging the grey with them.  By this
time my confidence in his driving was boundless, or I should have
expected to find myself in atoms at the bottom of the precipice.  At the
top of the pass we turned a sharp corner into a scene like the crater of
a volcano, only reaching miles away all round; and we descended a very
little and drove on along great rolling waves of country, with the
mountain tops, all crags and ruins, to our left.  At three we reached
Palmiet River, full of palmettos and bamboos, and there the horses had ‘a
little roll’, and Choslullah and his miniature washed in the river and
prayed, and ate dry bread, and drank their tepid water out of a bottle
with great good breeding and cheerfulness.  Three bullock-waggons had
outspanned, and the Dutch boers and Bastaards (half Hottentots) were all
drunk.  We went into a neat little ‘public’, and had porter and ham
sandwiches, for which I paid 4_s._ 6_d._ to a miserable-looking English
woman, who was afraid of her tipsy customers.  We got to Houw Hoek, a
pretty valley at the entrance of a mountain gorge, about half-past five,
and drove up to a mud cottage, half inn, half farm, kept by a German and
his wife.  It looked mighty queer, but Choslullah said the host was a
good old man, and all clean.  So we cheered up, and asked for food.
While the neat old woman was cooking it, up galloped five fine lads and
two pretty flaxen-haired girls, with real German faces, on wild little
horses; and one girl tucked up her habit, and waited at table, while
another waved a green bough to drive off the swarms of flies.  The chops
were excellent, ditto bread and butter, and the tea tolerable.  The
parlour was a tiny room with a mud floor, half-hatch door into the front,
and the two bedrooms still tinier and darker, each with two huge beds
which filled them entirely.  But Choslullah was right; they were
perfectly clean, with heaps of beautiful pillows; and not only none of
the creatures of which he spoke with infinite terror, but even no fleas.
The man was delighted to talk to me.  His wife had almost forgotten
German, and the children did not know a word of it, but spoke Dutch and
English.  A fine, healthy, happy family.  It was a pretty picture of
emigrant life.  Cattle, pigs, sheep, and poultry, and pigeons
innumerable, all picked up their own living, and cost nothing; and
vegetables and fruit grow in rank abundance where there is water.  I
asked for a book in the evening, and the man gave me a volume of
Schiller.  A good breakfast,—and we paid ninepence for all.

This morning we started before eight, as it looked gloomy, and came
through a superb mountain defile, out on to a rich hillocky country,
covered with miles of corn, all being cut as far as the eye could reach,
and we passed several circular threshing-floors, where the horses tread
out the grain.  Each had a few mud hovels near it, for the farmers and
men to live in during harvest.  Altogether, I was most lucky, had two
beautiful days, and enjoyed the journey immensely.  It was most
‘_abentheuerlich_’; the light two-wheeled cart, with four wild little
horses, and the marvellous brown driver, who seemed to be always going to
perdition, but made the horses do apparently impossible things with
absolute certainty; and the pretty tiny boy who came to help his uncle,
and was so clever, and so preternaturally quiet, and so very small: then
the road through the mountain passes, seven or eight feet wide, with a
precipice above and below, up which the little horses scrambled; while
big lizards, with green heads and chocolate bodies, looked pertly at us,
and a big bright amber-coloured cobra, as handsome as he is deadly,
wriggled across into a hole.

Nearly all the people in this village are Dutch.  There is one Malay
tailor here, but he is obliged to be a Christian at Caledon, though
Choslullah told me with a grin, he was a very good Malay when he went to
Capetown.  He did not seem much shocked at this double religion, staunch
Mussulman as he was himself.  I suppose the blacks ‘up country’ are what
Dutch slavery made them—mere animals—cunning and sulky.  The real
Hottentot is extinct, I believe, in the Colony; what one now sees are all
‘Bastaards’, the Dutch name for their own descendants by Hottentot women.
These mongrel Hottentots, who do all the work, are an affliction to
behold—debased and _shrivelled_ with drink, and drunk all day long;
sullen wretched creatures—so unlike the bright Malays and cheery pleasant
blacks and browns of Capetown, who never pass you without a kind word and
sunny smile or broad African grin, _selon_ their colour and shape of
face.  I look back fondly to the gracious soft-looking Malagasse woman
who used to give me a chair under the big tree near Rathfelders, and a
cup of ‘bosjesthée’ (herb tea), and talk so prettily in her soft
voice;—it is such a contrast to these poor animals, who glower at one
quite unpleasantly.  All the hovels I was in at Capetown were very fairly
clean, and I went into numbers.  They almost all contained a handsome
bed, with, at least, eight pillows.  If you only look at the door with a
friendly glance, you are implored to come in and sit down, and usually
offered a ‘coppj’ (cup) of herb tea, which they are quite grateful to one
for drinking.  I never saw or heard a hint of ‘backsheesh’, nor did I
ever give it, on principle and I was always recognised and invited to
come again with the greatest eagerness.  ‘An indulgence of talk’ from an
English ‘Missis’ seemed the height of gratification, and the pride and
pleasure of giving hospitality a sufficient reward.  But here it is quite
different.  I suppose the benefits of the emancipation were felt at
Capetown sooner than in the country, and the Malay population there
furnishes a strong element of sobriety and respectability, which sets an
example to the other coloured people.

Harvest is now going on, and the so-called Hottentots are earning 2_s._
6_d._ a day, with rations and wine.  But all the money goes at the
‘canteen’ in drink, and the poor wretched men and women look wasted and
degraded.  The children are pretty, and a few of them are half-breed
girls, who do very well, unless a white man admires them; and then they
think it quite an honour to have a whitey-brown child, which happens at
about fifteen, by which age they look full twenty.

We had very good snipe and wild duck the other day, which Capt. D—
brought home from a shooting party.  I have got the moth-like wings of a
golden snipe for R—’s hat, and those of a beautiful moor-hen.  They got
no ‘boks’, because of the violent south-easter which blew where they
were.  The game is fast decreasing, but still very abundant.  I saw
plenty of partridges on the road, but was not early enough to see boks,
who only show at dawn; neither have I seen baboons.  I will try to bring
home some cages of birds—Cape canaries and ‘roode bekjes’ (red bills),
darling little things.  The sugar-birds, which are the humming-birds of
Africa, could not be fed; but Caffre finks, which weave the pendent
nests, are hardy and easily fed.

To-day the post for England leaves Caledon, so I must conclude this yarn.
I wish R— could have seen the ‘klip springer’, the mountain deer of South
Africa, which Capt. D— brought in to show me.  Such a lovely little
beast, as big as a small kid, with eyes and ears like a hare, and a nose
so small and dainty.  It was quite tame and saucy, and belonged to some
man _en route_ for Capetown.



LETTER V
CALEDON


                                                       Caledon, Dec. 29th.

I AM beginning now really to feel better: I think my cough is less, and I
eat a great deal more.  They cook nice clean food here, and have some
good claret, which I have been extravagant enough to drink, much to my
advantage.  The Cape wine is all so fiery.  The climate is improving too.
The glorious African sun blazes and roasts one, and the cool fresh
breezes prevent one from feeling languid.  I walk from six till eight or
nine, breakfast at ten, and dine at three; in the afternoon it is
generally practicable to saunter again, now the weather is warmer.  I
sleep from twelve till two.  On Christmas-eve it was so warm that I lay
in bed with the window wide open, and the stars blazing in.  Such stars!
they are much brighter than our moon.  The Dutchmen held high jinks in
the hall, and danced and made a great noise.  On New Year’s-eve they will
have another ball, and I shall look in.  Christmas-day was the hottest
day—indeed, the only _hot_ day we have had—and I could not make it out at
all, or fancy you all cold at home.

I wish you were here to see the curious ways and new aspect of
everything.  This village, which, as I have said, is very like Rochefort,
but hardly so large, is the _chef lieu_ of a district the size of
one-third of England.  A civil commander resides here, a sort of
_préfet_; and there is an embryo market-place, with a bell hanging in a
brick arch.  When a waggon arrives with goods, it draws up there, they
ring the bell, everybody goes to see what is for sale, and the goods are
sold by auction.  My host bought potatoes and brandy the other day, and
is looking out for ostrich feathers for me, out of the men’s hats.

The other day, while we sat at dinner, all the bells began to ring
furiously, and Capt. D— jumped up and shouted ‘_Brand_!’ (fire), rushed
off for a stout leather hat, and ran down the street.  Out came all the
population, black, white, and brown, awfully excited, for it was blowing
a furious north-wester, right up the town, and the fire was at the
bottom; and as every house is thatched with a dry brown thatch, we might
all have to turn out and see the place in ashes in less than an hour.
Luckily, it was put out directly.  It is supposed to have been set on
fire by a Hottentot girl, who has done the same thing once before, on
being scolded.  There is no water but what runs down the streets in the
_sloot_, a paved channel, which brings the water from the mountain and
supplies the houses and gardens.  A garden is impossible without
irrigation, of course, as it never rains; but with it, you may have
everything, all the year round.  The people, however, are too careless to
grow fruit and vegetables.

How the cattle live is a standing marvel to me.  The whole _veld_
(common), which extends all over the country (just dotted with a few
square miles of corn here and there), is covered with a low thin scrub,
about eighteen inches high, called _rhenoster-bosch_—looking like meagre
arbor vitæ or pale juniper.  The cattle and sheep will not touch this nor
the juicy Hottentot fig; but under each little bush, I fancy, they crop a
few blades of grass, and on this they keep in very good condition.  The
noble oxen, with their huge horns (nine or ten feet from tip to tip), are
never fed, though they work hard, nor are the sheep.  The horses get a
little forage (oats, straw and all).  I should like you to see eight or
ten of these swift wiry little horses harnessed to a waggon,—a mere flat
platform on wheels.  In front stands a wild-looking Hottentot, all
patches and feathers, and drives them best pace, all ‘in hand’, using a
whip like a fishing-rod, with which he touches them, not savagely, but
with a skill which would make an old stage-coachman burst with envy to
behold.  This morning, out on the veld, I watched the process of
breaking-in a couple of colts, who were harnessed, after many struggles,
second and fourth in a team of ten.  In front stood a tiny foal cuddling
its mother, one of the leaders.  When they started, the foal had its neck
through the bridle, and I hallooed in a fright; but the Hottentot only
laughed, and in a minute it had disengaged itself quite coolly and
capered alongside.  The colts tried to plunge, but were whisked along,
and couldn’t, and then they stuck out all four feet and _skidded_ along a
bit; but the rhenoster bushes tripped them up (people drive regardless of
roads), and they shook their heads and trotted along quite subdued,
without a blow or a word, for the drivers never speak to the horses, only
to the oxen.  Colts here get no other breaking, and therefore have no
paces or action to the eye, but their speed and endurance are wonderful.
There is no such thing as a cock-tail in the country, and the waggon
teams of wiry little thoroughbreds, half Arab, look very strange to our
eyes, going full tilt.  There is a terrible murrain, called the
lung-sickness, among horses and oxen here, every four or five years, but
it never touches those that are stabled, however exposed to wet or wind
on the roads.

I must describe the house I inhabit, as all are much alike.  It is
whitewashed, with a door in the middle and two windows on each side;
those on the left are Mrs. D—’s bed and sitting rooms.  On the right is a
large room, which is mine; in the middle of the house is a spacious hall,
with doors into other rooms on each side, and into the kitchen, &c.
There is a yard behind, and a staircase up to the _zolder_ or loft, under
the thatch, with partitions, where the servants and children, and
sometimes guests, sleep.  There are no ceilings; the floor of the zolder
is made of yellow wood, and, resting on beams, forms the ceiling of my
room, and the thatch alone covers that.  No moss ever grows on the
thatch, which is brown, with white ridges.  In front is a stoep, with
‘blue gums’ (Australian gum-trees) in front of it, where I sit till
twelve, when the sun comes on it.  These trees prevail here greatly, as
they want neither water nor anything else, and grow with incredible
rapidity.

We have got a new ‘boy’ (all coloured servants are ‘boys,’—a remnant of
slavery), and he is the type of the nigger slave.  A thief, a liar, a
glutton, a drunkard—but you can’t resent it; he has a _naïf_,
half-foolish, half-knavish buffoonery, a total want of self-respect,
which disarms you.  I sent him to the post to inquire for letters, and
the postmaster had been tipsy over-night and was not awake.  Jack came
back spluttering threats against ‘dat domned Dutchman.  Me no _want_
(like) him; me go and kick up dom’d row.  What for he no give Missis
letter?’ &c.  I begged him to be patient; on which he bonneted himself in
a violent way, and started off at a pantomime walk.  Jack is the product
of slavery: he pretends to be a simpleton in order to do less work and
eat and drink and sleep more than a reasonable being, and he knows his
buffoonery will get him out of scrapes.  Withal, thoroughly good-natured
and obliging, and perfectly honest, except where food and drink are
concerned, which he pilfers like a monkey.  He worships S—, and won’t
allow her to carry anything, or to dirty her hands, if he is in the way
to do it.  Some one suggested to him to kiss her, but he declined with
terror, and said he should be hanged by my orders if he did.  He is a
hideous little negro, with a monstrous-shaped head, every colour of the
rainbow on his clothes, and a power of making faces which would enchant a
schoolboy.  The height of his ambition would be to go to England with me.

An old ‘bastaard’ woman, married to the Malay tailor here, explained to
me my popularity with the coloured people, as set forth by ‘dat Malay
boy’, my driver.  He told them he was sure I was a ‘very great Missis’,
because of my ‘plenty good behaviour’; that I spoke to him just as to a
white gentleman, and did not ‘laugh and talk nonsense talk’.  ‘Never say
“Here, you black fellow”, dat Misses.’  The English, when they mean to be
good-natured, are generally offensively familiar, and ‘talk nonsense
talk’, i.e. imitate the Dutch English of the Malays and blacks; the
latter feel it the greatest compliment to be treated _au sérieux_, and
spoken to in good English.  Choslullah’s theory was that I must be
related to the Queen, in consequence of my not ‘knowing bad behaviour’.
The Malays, who are intelligent and proud, of course feel the annoyance
of vulgar familiarity more than the blacks, who are rather awe-struck by
civility, though they like and admire it.

Mrs. D— tells me that the coloured servant-girls, with all their faults,
are immaculately honest in these parts; and, indeed, as every door and
window is always left open, even when every soul is out, and nothing
locked up, there must be no thieves.  Captain D— told me he had been in
remote Dutch farmhouses, where rouleaux of gold were ranged under the
thatch on the top of the low wall, the doors being always left open; and
everywhere the Dutch boers keep their money by them, in coin.

_Jan._ 3_d._—We have had tremendous festivities here—a ball on New
Year’s-eve, and another on the 1st of January—and the shooting for Prince
Alfred’s rifle yesterday.  The difficulty of music for the ball was
solved by the arrival of two Malay bricklayers to build the new
parsonage, and I heard with my own ears the proof of what I had been told
as to their extraordinary musical gifts.  When I went into the hall, a
Dutchman was _screeching_ a concertina hideously.  Presently in walked a
yellow Malay, with a blue cotton handkerchief on his head, and a
half-bred of negro blood (very dark brown), with a red handkerchief, and
holding a rough tambourine.  The handsome yellow man took the concertina
which seemed so discordant, and the touch of his dainty fingers
transformed it to harmony.  He played dances with a precision and feeling
quite unequalled, except by Strauss’s band, and a variety which seemed
endless.  I asked him if he could read music, at which he laughed
heartily, and said, music came into the ears, not the eyes.  He had
picked it all up from the bands in Capetown, or elsewhere.

It was a strange sight,—the picturesque group, and the contrast between
the quiet manners of the true Malay and the grotesque fun of the
half-negro.  The latter made his tambourine do duty as a drum, rattled
the bits of brass so as to produce an indescribable effect, nodded and
grinned in wild excitement, and drank beer while his comrade took water.
The dancing was uninteresting enough.  The Dutchmen danced badly, and
said not a word, but plodded on so as to get all the dancing they could
for their money.  I went to bed at half-past eleven, but the ball went on
till four.

Next night there was genteeler company, and I did not go in, but lay in
bed listening to the Malay’s playing.  He had quite a fresh set of tunes,
of which several were from the ‘Traviata’!

Yesterday was a real African summer’s day.  The D—s had a tent and an
awning, one for food and the other for drink, on the ground where the
shooting took place.  At twelve o’clock Mrs. D— went down to sell cold
chickens, &c., and I went with her, and sat under a tree in the bed of
the little stream, now nearly dry.  The sun was such as in any other
climate would strike you down, but here _coup de soleil_ is unknown.  It
broils you till your shoulders ache and your lips crack, but it does not
make you feel the least languid, and you perspire very little; nor does
it tan the skin as you would expect.  The light of the sun is by no means
‘golden’—it is pure white—and the slightest shade of a tree or bush
affords a delicious temperature, so light and fresh is the air.  They
said the thermometer was at about 130° where I was walking yesterday, but
(barring the scorch) I could not have believed it.

It was a very amusing day.  The great tall Dutchmen came in to shoot, and
did but moderately, I thought.  The longest range was five hundred yards,
and at that they shot well; at shorter ranges, poorly enough.  The best
man made ten points.  But oh! what figures were there of negroes and
coloured people!  I longed for a photographer.  Some coloured lads were
exquisitely graceful, and composed beautiful _tableaux vivants_, after
Murillo’s beggar-boys.

A poor little, very old Bosjesman crept up, and was jeered and bullied.
I scolded the lad who abused him for being rude to an old man, whereupon
the poor little old creature squatted on the ground close by (for which
he would have been kicked but for me), took off his ragged hat, and sat
staring and nodding his small grey woolly head at me, and jabbering some
little soliloquy very _sotto voce_.  There was something shocking in the
timidity with which he took the plate of food I gave him, and in the way
in which he ate it, with the _wrong_ side of his little yellow hand, like
a monkey.  A black, who had helped to fetch the hamper, suggested to me
to give him wine instead of meat and bread, and make him drunk _for fun_
(the blacks and Hottentots copy the white man’s manners _to them_, when
they get hold of a Bosjesman to practise upon); but upon this a handsome
West Indian black, who had been cooking pies, fired up, and told him he
was a ‘nasty black rascal, and a Dutchman to boot’, to insult a lady and
an old man at once.  If you could see the difference between one negro
and another, you would be quite convinced that education (i.e.
circumstances) makes the race.  It was hardly conceivable that the
hideous, dirty, bandy-legged, ragged creature, who looked down on the
Bosjesman, and the well-made, smart fellow, with his fine eyes, jaunty
red cap, and snow-white shirt and trousers, alert as the best German
Kellner, were of the same blood; nothing but the colour was alike.

Then came a Dutchman, and asked for six penn’orth of ‘brood en kaas’, and
haggled for beer; and Englishmen, who bought chickens and champagne
without asking the price.  One rich old boer got three lunches, and then
‘trekked’ (made off) without paying at all.  Then came a Hottentot,
stupidly drunk, with a fiddle, and was beaten by a little red-haired
Scotchman, and his fiddle smashed.  The Hottentot hit at his aggressor,
who then declared he _had been_ a policeman, and insisted on taking him
into custody and to the ‘Tronk’ (prison) on his own authority, but was in
turn sent flying by a gigantic Irishman, who ‘wouldn’t see the poor baste
abused’.  The Irishman was a farmer; I never saw such a Hercules—and
beaming with fun and good nature.  He was very civil, and answered my
questions, and talked like an intelligent man; but when Captain D— asked
him with an air of some anxiety, if he was coming to the hotel, he
replied, ‘No, sir, no; I wouldn’t be guilty of such a misdemeanour.  I am
aware that I was a disgrace and opprobrium to your house, sir, last time
I was there, sir.  No, sir, I shall sleep in my cart, and not come into
the presence of ladies.’  Hereupon he departed, and I was informed that
he had been drunk for seventeen days, _sans désemparer_, on his last
visit to Caledon.  However, he kept quite sober on this occasion, and
amused himself by making the little blackies scramble for halfpence in
the pools left in the bed of the river.  Among our customers was a very
handsome black man, with high straight nose, deep-set eyes, and a small
mouth, smartly dressed in a white felt hat, paletot, and trousers.  He is
the shoemaker, and is making a pair of ‘Veldschoen’ for you, which you
will delight in.  They are what the rough boers and Hottentots wear,
buff-hide barbarously tanned and shaped, and as soft as woollen socks.
The Othello-looking shoemaker’s name is Moor, and his father told him he
came of a ‘good breed’; that was all he knew.

A very pleasing English farmer, who had been educated in Belgium, came
and ordered a bottle of champagne, and shyly begged me to drink a glass,
whereupon we talked of crops and the like; and an excellent specimen of a
colonist he appeared: very gentle and unaffected, with homely good sense,
and real good breeding—such a contrast to the pert airs and vulgarity of
Capetown and of the people in (colonial) high places.  Finding we had no
carriage, he posted off and borrowed a cart of one man and harness of
another, and put his and his son’s riding horses to it, to take Mrs. D—
and me home.  As it was still early, he took us a ‘little drive’; and oh,
ye gods! what a terrific and dislocating pleasure was that!  At a hard
gallop, Mr. M— (with the mildest and steadiest air and with perfect
safety) took us right across country.  It is true there were no fences;
but over bushes, ditches, lumps of rock, watercourses, we jumped, flew,
and bounded, and up every hill we went racing pace.  I arrived at home
much bewildered, and feeling more like Bürger’s Lenore than anything
else, till I saw Mr. M—’s steady, pleasant face quite undisturbed, and
was informed that such was the way of driving of Cape farmers.

We found the luckless Jack in such a state of furious drunkenness that he
had to be dismissed on the spot, not without threats of the ‘Tronk’, and
once more Kleenboy fills the office of boots.  He returned in a ludicrous
state of penitence and emaciation, frankly admitting that it was better
to work hard and get ‘plenty grub’, than to work less and get
none;—still, however, protesting against work at all.

_January_ 7_th_.—For the last four days it has again been blowing a
wintry hurricane.  Every one says that the continuance of these winds so
late into the summer (this answers to July) is unheard of, and _must_
cease soon.  In Table Bay, I hear a good deal of mischief has been done
to the shipping.

I hope my long yarns won’t bore you.  I put down what seems new and
amusing to me at the moment, but by the time it reaches you, it will seem
very dull and commonplace.  I hear that the Scotchman who attacked poor
Aria, the crazy Hottentot, is a ‘revival lecturer’, and was ‘simply
exhorting him to break his fiddle and come to Christ’ (the phrase is a
clergyman’s, I beg to observe); and the saints are indignant that, after
executing the pious purpose as far as the fiddle went, he was prevented
by the chief constable from dragging him to the Tronk.  The ‘revival’
mania has broken out rather violently in some places; the infection was
brought from St. Helena, I am told.  At Capetown, old Abdool Jemaalee
told me that English Christians were getting more like Malays, and had
begun to hold ‘Kalifahs’ at Simon’s Bay.  These are festivals in which
Mussulman fanatics run knives into their flesh, go into convulsions, &c,
to the sound of music, like the Arab described by Houdin.  Of course the
poor blacks go quite demented.

I intend to stay here another two or three weeks, and then to go to
Worcester—stay a bit; Paarl, ditto; Stellenbosch, ditto—and go to
Capetown early in March, and in April to embark for home.

_January_ 15_th_.—No mail in yet.  We have had beautiful weather the last
three days.  Captain D— has been in Capetown, and bought a horse, which
he rode home seventy-five miles in a day and a half,—the beast none the
worse nor tired.  I am to ride him, and so shall see the country if the
vile cold winds keep off.

This morning I walked on the Veld, and met a young black shepherd leading
his sheep and goats, and playing on a guitar composed of an old tin mug
covered with a bit of sheepskin and a handle of rough wood, with pegs,
and three strings of sheep-gut.  I asked him to sing, and he flung
himself at my feet in an attitude that would make Watts crazy with
delight, and _crooned_ queer little mournful ditties.  I gave him
sixpence, and told him not to get drunk.  He said, ‘Oh no; I will buy
bread enough to make my belly stiff—I almost never had my belly stiff.’
He likewise informed me he had just been in the Tronk (prison), and on my
asking why, replied: ‘Oh, for fighting, and telling lies;’ Die liebe
Unschuld!  (Dear innocence!)

Hottentot figs are rather nice—a green fig-shaped thing, containing about
a spoonful of _salt-sweet_ insipid glue, which you suck out.  This does
not sound nice, but it is.  The plant has a thick, succulent, triangular
leaf, creeping on the ground, and growing anywhere, without earth or
water.  Figs proper are common here, but tasteless; and the people pick
all their fruit green, and eat it so too.  The children are all crunching
hard peaches and plums just now, particularly some little half-breeds
near here, who are frightfully ugly.  Fancy the children of a black woman
and a red-haired man; the little monsters are as black as the mother, and
have _red_ wool—you never saw so diabolical an appearance.  Some of the
coloured people are very pretty; for example, a coal-black girl of
seventeen, and my washerwoman, who is brown.  They are wonderfully
slender and agile, and quite old hard-working women have waists you could
span.  They never grow thick and square, like Europeans.

I could write a volume on Cape horses.  Such valiant little beasts, and
so composed in temper, I never saw.  They are nearly all bays—a few very
dark grey, which are esteemed; _very_ few white or light grey.  I have
seen no black, and only one dark chestnut.  They are not cobs, and look
‘very little of them’, and have no beauty; but one of these little
brutes, ungroomed, half-fed, seldom stabled, will carry a
six-and-a-half-foot Dutchman sixty miles a day, day after day, at a
shuffling easy canter, six miles an hour.  You ‘off saddle’ every three
hours, and let him roll; you also let him drink all he can get; his coat
shines and his eye is bright, and unsoundness is very rare.  They are
never properly broke, and the soft-mouthed colts are sometimes made
vicious by the cruel bits and heavy hands; but by nature their temper is
perfect.

Every morning all the horses in the village are turned loose, and a
general gallop takes place to the water tank, where they drink and lounge
a little; and the young ones are fetched home by their niggers, while the
old stagers know they will be wanted, and saunter off by themselves.  I
often attend the Houyhnhnm _conversazione_ at the tank, at about seven
o’clock, and am amused by their behaviour; and I continually wish I could
see Ned’s face on witnessing many equine proceedings here.  To see a
farmer outspan and turn the team of active little beasts loose on the
boundless veld to amuse themselves for an hour or two, sure that they
will all be there, would astonish him a little; and then to offer a horse
nothing but a roll in the dust to refresh himself withal!

One unpleasant sight here is the skeletons of horses and oxen along the
roadside; or at times a fresh carcase surrounded by a convocation of huge
serious-looking carrion crows, with neat white neck-cloths.  The
skeletons look like wrecks, and make you feel very lonely on the wide
veld.  In this district, and in most, I believe, the roads are mere
tracks over the hard, level earth, and very good they are.  When one gets
rutty, you drive parallel to it, till the bush is worn out and a new
track is formed.

_January_ 17_th_.—Lovely weather all the week.  Summer well set in.



LETTER VI
CALEDON


                                                    Caledon, January 19th.

DEAREST MOTHER,

Till this last week, the weather was pertinaciously cold and windy; and I
had resolved to go to Worcester, which lies in a ‘Kessel’, and is really
hot.  But now the glorious African summer is come, and I believe this is
the weather of Paradise.  I got up at four this morning, when the
Dutchmen who had slept here were starting in their carts and waggons.  It
was quite light; but the moon shone brilliantly still, and had put on a
bright rose-coloured veil, borrowed from the rising sun on the opposite
horizon.  The freshness (without a shadow of cold or damp) of the air was
indescribable—no dew was on the ground.  I went up the hill-side, along
the ‘Sloot’ (channel, which supplies all our water), into the ‘Kloof’
between the mountains, and clambered up to the ‘Venster Klip’, from which
natural window the view is very fine.  The flowers are all gone and the
grass all dead.  Rhenoster boschjes and Hottentot fig are green
everywhere, and among the rocks all manner of shrubs, and far too much
‘Wacht een beetje’ (_Wait a bit_), a sort of series of natural
fish-hooks, which try the robustest patience.  Between seven and eight,
the sun gets rather hot, and I came in and _tubbed_, and sat on the stoep
(a sort of terrace, in front of every house in South Africa).  I
breakfast at nine, sit on the stoep again till the sun comes round, and
then retreat behind closed shutters from the stinging sun.  The _air_ is
fresh and light all day, though the sun is tremendous; but one has no
languid feeling or desire to lie about, unless one is sleepy.  We dine at
two or half-past, and at four or five the heat is over, and one puts on a
shawl to go out in the afternoon breeze.  The nights are cool, so as
always to want one blanket.  I still have a cough; but it is getting
better, so that I can always eat and walk.  Mine host has just bought a
horse, which he is going to try with a petticoat to-day, and if he goes
well I shall ride.

I like this inn-life, because I see all the ‘neighbourhood’—farmers and
traders—whom I like far better than the _gentility_ of Capetown.  I have
given letters to England to a ‘boer’, who is ‘going home’, i.e. to
Europe, the _first of his race since the revocation of the Edict of
Nantes_, when some poor refugees were inveigled hither by the Dutch
Governor, and oppressed worse than the Hottentots.  M. de Villiers has
had no education _at all_, and has worked, and traded, and farmed,—but
the breed tells; he is a pure and thorough Frenchman, unable to speak a
word of French.  When I went in to dinner, he rose and gave me a chair
with a bow which, with his appearance, made me ask, ‘_Monsieur vient
d’arriver_?’  This at once put him out and pleased him.  He is very
unlike a Dutchman.  If you think that any of the French will feel as I
felt to this far-distant brother of theirs, pray give him a few letters;
but remember that he can speak only English and Dutch, and a little
German.  Here his name is _called_ ‘Filljee’, but I told him to drop that
barbarism in Europe; De Villiers ought to speak for itself.  He says they
came from the neighbourhood of Bordeaux.

The postmaster, Heer Klein, and his old Pylades, Heer Ley, are great
cronies of mine—stout old greybeards, toddling down the hill together.  I
sometimes go and sit on the stoep with the two old bachelors, and they
take it as a great compliment; and Heer Klein gave me my letters all
decked with flowers, and wished ‘Vrolyke tydings, Mevrouw,’ most
heartily.  He has also made his tributary mail-cart Hottentots bring from
various higher mountain ranges the beautiful everlasting flowers, which
will make pretty wreaths for J—.  When I went to his house to thank him,
I found a handsome Malay, with a basket of ‘Klipkaus’, a shell-fish much
esteemed here.  Old Klein told me they were sent him by a Malay who was
born in his father’s house, a slave, and had been _his_ ‘_boy_’ and
play-fellow.  Now, the slave is far richer than the old young master, and
no waggon comes without a little gift—oranges, fish, &c.—for ‘Wilhem’.
When Klein goes to Capetown, the old Malay seats him in a grand chair and
sits on a little wooden stool at his feet; Klein begs him, as ‘Huisheer’,
to sit properly; but, ‘Neen Wilhem, Ik zal niet; ik kan niet vergeten.’
‘Good boy!’ said old Klein; ‘good people the Malays.’  It is a relief,
after the horrors one has heard of Dutch cruelty, to see such an
‘idyllisches Verhältniss’.  I have heard other instances of the same
fidelity from Malays, but they were utterly unappreciated, and only told
to prove the excellence of slavery, and ‘how well the rascals must have
been off’.

I have fallen in love with a Hottentot baby here.  Her mother is all
black, with a broad face and soft spaniel eyes, and the father is
Bastaard; but the baby (a girl, nine months old), has walked out of one
of Leonardo da Vinci’s pictures.  I never saw so beautiful a child.  She
has huge eyes with the spiritual look he gives to them, and is exquisite
in every way.  When the Hottentot blood is handsome, it is beautiful;
there is a delicacy and softness about some of the women which is very
pretty, and the eyes are those of a _good_ dog.  Most of them are
hideous, and nearly all drink; but they are very clean and honest.  Their
cottages are far superior in cleanliness to anything out of England,
except in picked places, like some parts of Belgium; and they wash as
much as they can, with the bad water-supply, and the English outcry if
they strip out of doors to bathe.  Compared to French peasants, they are
very clean indeed, and even the children are far more decent and cleanly
in their habits than those of France.  The woman who comes here to clean
and scour is a model of neatness in her work and her person (quite
black), but she gets helplessly drunk as soon as she has a penny to buy a
glass of wine; for a penny, a half-pint tumbler of very strong and
remarkably nasty wine is sold at the canteens.

I have many more ‘humours’ to tell, but A— can show you all the long
story I have written.  I hope it does not seem very stale and _decies
repetita_.  All being new and curious to the eye here, one becomes
long-winded about mere trifles.

One small thing more.  The first few shillings that a coloured woman has
to spend on her cottage go in—what do you think?—A grand toilet table of
worked muslin over pink, all set out with little ‘_objets_’—such as they
are: if there is nothing else, there is that here, as at Capetown, and
all along to Simon’s Bay.  Now, what is the use or comfort of a
_duchesse_ to a Hottentot family?  I shall never see those toilets again
without thinking of Hottentots—what a baroque association of ideas!  I
intend, in a day or two, to go over to ‘Gnadenthal’, the Moravian
missionary station, founded in 1736—the ‘blühende Gemeinde von
Hottentoten’.  How little did I think to see it, when we smiled at the
phrase in old Mr. Steinkopf’s sermon years ago in London!  The
_missionarized_ Hottentots are not, as it is said, thought well of—being
even tipsier than the rest; but I may see a full-blood one, and even a
true Bosjesman, which is worth a couple of hours’ drive; and the place is
said to be beautiful.

This climate is evidently a styptic of great power, I shall write a few
lines to the _Lancet_ about Caledon and its hot baths—‘Bad Caledon’, as
the Germans at Houw Hoek call it.  The baths do not concern me, as they
are chalybeate; but they seem very effectual in many cases.  Yet English
people never come here; they stay at Capetown, which must be a furnace
now, or at Wynberg, which is damp and chill (comparatively); at most,
they get to Stellenbosch.  I mean visitors, not settlers; _they_ are
everywhere.  I look the colour of a Hottentot.  Now I _must_ leave off.

                                                    Your most affectionate
                                                                  L. D. G.



LETTER VII
GNADENTHAL


                                                       Caledon, Jan. 28th.

WELL, I have been to Gnadenthal, and seen the ‘blooming parish’, and a
lovely spot it is.  A large village nestled in a deep valley, surrounded
by high mountains on three sides, and a lower range in front.  We started
early on Saturday, and drove over a mighty queer road, and through a
river.  Oh, ye gods! what a shaking and pounding!  We were rattled up
like dice in a box.  Nothing but a Cape cart, Cape horses, and a
Hottentot driver, above all, could have accomplished it.  Captain D—
rode, and had the best of it.  On the road we passed three or four farms,
at all which horses were _galloping out_ the grain, or men were winnowing
it by tossing it up with wooden shovels to let the wind blow away the
chaff.  We did the twenty-four miles up and down the mountain roads in
two hours and a half, with our valiant little pair of horses; it is
incredible how they go.  We stopped at a nice cottage on the hillside
belonging to a _ci-devant_ slave, one Christian Rietz, a _white_ man,
with brown woolly hair, sharp features, grey eyes, and _not_ woolly
moustaches.  He said he was a ‘Scotch bastaard’, and ‘le bon sang
parlait—très-haut même’, for a more thriving, shrewd, sensible fellow I
never saw.  His _father_ and master had had to let him go when all slaves
were emancipated, and he had come to Gnadenthal.  He keeps a little inn
in the village, and a shop and a fine garden.  The cottage we lodged in
was on the mountain side, and had been built for his son, who was dead;
and his adopted daughter, a pretty coloured girl, exactly like a southern
Frenchwoman, waited on us, assisted by about six or seven other women,
who came chiefly to stare.  Vrouw Rietz was as black as a coal, but _so_
pretty!—a dear, soft, sleek, old lady, with beautiful eyes, and the kind
pleasant ways which belong to nice blacks; and, though old and fat, still
graceful and lovely in face, hands, and arms.  The cottage was thus:—One
large hall; my bedroom on the right, S—’s on the left; the kitchen behind
me; Miss Rietz behind S—; mud floors daintily washed over with fresh
cow-dung; ceiling of big rafters, just as they had grown, on which rested
bamboo canes close together _across_ the rafters, and bound together
between each, with transverse bamboo—a pretty _beehivey_ effect; at top,
mud again, and then a high thatched roof and a loft or zolder for forage,
&c.; the walls of course mud, very thick and whitewashed.  The bedrooms
tiny; beds, clean sweet melies (maize) straw, with clean sheets, and
eight good pillows on each; glass windows (a great distinction),
exquisite cleanliness, and hearty civility; good food, well cooked;
horrid tea and coffee, and hardly any milk; no end of fruit.  In all the
gardens it hung on the trees thicker than the leaves.  Never did I behold
such a profusion of fruit and vegetables.

But first I must tell what struck me most, I asked one of the Herrenhut
brethren whether there were any _real_ Hottentots, and he said, ‘Yes,
one;’ and next morning, as I sat waiting for early prayers under the big
oak-trees in the Plaats (square), he came up, followed by a tiny old man
hobbling along with a long stick to support him.  ‘Here’, said he, ‘is
the _last_ Hottentot; he is a hundred and seven years old, and lives all
alone.’  I looked on the little, wizened, yellow face, and was shocked
that he should be dragged up like a wild beast to be stared at.  A
feeling of pity which felt like remorse fell upon me, and my eyes filled
as I rose and stood before him, so tall and like a tyrant and oppressor,
while he uncovered his poor little old snow-white head, and peered up in
my face.  I led him to the seat, and helped him to sit down, and said in
Dutch, ‘Father, I hope you are not tired; you are old.’  He saw and heard
as well as ever, and spoke good Dutch in a firm voice.  ‘Yes, I am above
a hundred years old, and alone—quite alone.’  I sat beside him, and he
put his head on one side, and looked curiously up at me with his faded,
but still piercing little wild eyes.  Perhaps he had a perception of what
I felt—yet I hardly think so; perhaps he thought I was in trouble, for he
crept close up to me, and put one tiny brown paw into my hand, which he
stroked with the other, and asked (like most coloured people) if I had
children.  I said, ‘Yes, at home in England;’ and he patted my hand
again, and said, ‘God bless them!’  It was a relief to feel that he was
pleased, for I should have felt like a murderer if my curiosity had added
a moment’s pain to so tragic a fate.

This may sound like sentimentalism; but you cannot conceive the effect of
looking on the last of a race once the owners of all this land, and now
utterly gone.  His look was not quite human, physically speaking;—a good
head, small wild-beast eyes, piercing and restless; cheek-bones strangely
high and prominent, nose _quite_ flat, mouth rather wide; thin shapeless
lips, and an indescribably small, long, pointed chin, with just a very
little soft white woolly beard; his head covered with extremely short
close white wool, which ended round the poll in little ringlets.  Hands
and feet like an English child of seven or eight, and person about the
size of a child of eleven.  He had all his teeth, and though shrunk to
nothing, was very little wrinkled in the face, and not at all in the
hands, which were dark brown, while his face was yellow.  His manner, and
way of speaking were like those of an old peasant in England, only his
voice was clearer and stronger, and his perceptions not blunted by age.
He had travelled with one of the missionaries in the year 1790, or
thereabouts, and remained with them ever since.

I went into the church—a large, clean, rather handsome building,
consecrated in 1800—and heard a very good sort of Litany, mixed with such
singing as only black voices can produce.  The organ was beautifully
played by a Bastaard lad.  The Herrenhuters use very fine chants, and the
perfect ear and heavenly voices of a large congregation, about six
hundred, all coloured people, made music more beautiful than any
chorus-singing I ever heard.

Prayers lasted half an hour; then the congregation turned out of doors,
and the windows were opened.  Some of the people went away, and others
waited for the ‘allgemeine Predigt’.  In a quarter of an hour a much
larger congregation than the first assembled, the girls all with
net-handkerchiefs tied round their heads so as to look exactly like the
ancient Greek head-dress with a double fillet—the very prettiest and
neatest coiffure I ever saw.  The gowns were made like those of English
girls of the same class, but far smarter, cleaner, and gayer in
colour—pink, and green, and yellow, and bright blue; several were all in
white, with white gloves.  The men and women sit separate, and the
women’s side was a bed of tulips.  The young fellows were very smart
indeed, with muslin or gauze, either white, pink, or blue, rolled round
their hats (that is universal here, on account of the sun).  The
Hottentots, as they are called—that is, those of mixed Dutch and
Hottentot origin (correctly, ‘bastaards’)—have a sort of blackguard
elegance in their gait and figure which is peculiar to them; a mixture of
negro or Mozambique blood alters it altogether.  The girls have the
elegance without the blackguard look; _all_ are slender, most are tall;
all graceful, all have good hands and feet; some few are handsome in the
face and many very interesting-looking.  The complexion is a pale
olive-yellow, and the hair more or less woolly, face flat, and cheekbones
high, eyes small and bright.  These are by far the most
intelligent—equal, indeed, to whites.  A mixture of black blood often
gives real beauty, but takes off from the ‘air’, and generally from the
talent; but then the blacks are so pleasant, and the Hottentots are
taciturn and reserved.  The old women of this breed are the grandest hags
I ever saw; they are clean and well dressed, and tie up their old faces
in white handkerchiefs like corpses,—faces like those of Andrea del
Sarto’s old women; they are splendid.  Also, they are very clean people,
addicted to tubbing more than any others.  The maid-of-all-work, who
lounges about your breakfast table in rags and dishevelled hair, has been
in the river before you were awake, or, if that was too far off, in a
tub.  They are also far cleaner in their huts than any but the _very
best_ English poor.

The ‘Predigt’ was delivered, after more singing, by a missionary
cabinet-maker, in Dutch, very ranting, and not very wise; the
congregation was singularly decorous and attentive, but did not seem at
all excited or impressed—just like a well-bred West-end audience, only
rather more attentive.  The service lasted three-quarters of an hour,
including a short prayer and two hymns.  The people came out and filed
off in total silence, and very quickly, the tall graceful girls draping
their gay silk shawls beautifully.  There are seven missionaries, all in
orders but one, the blacksmith, and all married, except the resident
director of the boys’ boarding-school; there is a doctor, a carpenter, a
cabinet-maker, a shoe-maker, and a storekeeper—a very agreeable man, who
had been missionary in Greenland and Labrador, and interpreter to
MacClure.  There is one ‘Studirter Theolog’.  All are Germans, and so are
their wives.  My friend the storekeeper married without having ever
beheld his wife before they met at the altar, and came on board ship at
once with her.  He said it was as good a way of marrying as any other,
and that they were happy together.  She was lying in, so I did not see
her.  At eight years old, their children are all sent home to Germany to
be educated, and they seldom see them again.  On each side of the church
are schools, and next to them the missionaries’ houses on one side of the
square, and on the other a row of workshops, where the Hottentots are
taught all manner of trades.  I have got a couple of knives, made at
Gnadenthal, for the children.  The girls occupy the school in the
morning, and the boys in the afternoon; half a day is found quite enough
of lessons in this climate.  The infant school was of both sexes, but a
different set morning and afternoon.  The missionaries’ children were in
the infant school; and behind the little blonde German ‘Mädels’ three jet
black niggerlings rolled over each other like pointer-pups, and grinned,
and didn’t care a straw for the spelling; while the dingy yellow little
bastaards were straining their black eyes out, with eagerness to answer
the master’s questions.  He and the mistress were both Bastaards, and he
seemed an excellent teacher.  The girls were learning writing from a
master, and Bible history from a mistress, also people of colour; and the
stupid set (mostly black) were having spelling hammered into their thick
skulls by another yellow mistress, in another room.  At the boarding
school were twenty lads, from thirteen up to twenty, in training for
school-teachers at different stations.  Gnadenthal supplies the Church of
England with them, as well as their own stations.  There were Caffres,
Fingoes, a Mantatee, one boy evidently of some Oriental blood, with
glossy, smooth hair and a copper skin—and the rest Bastaards of various
hues, some mixed with black, probably Mozambique.  The Caffre lads were
splendid young Hercules’.  They had just printed the first book in the
Caffre language (I’ve got it for Dr. Hawtrey,)—extracts from the New
Testament,—and I made them read the sheets they were going to bind; it is
a beautiful language, like Spanish in tone, only with a queer ‘click’ in
it.  The boys drew, like Chinese, from ‘copies’, and wrote like
copper-plate; they sang some of Mendelssohn’s choruses from ‘St. Paul’
splendidly, the Caffres rolling out soft rich bass voices, like melodious
thunder.  They are clever at handicrafts, and fond of geography and
natural history, incapable of mathematics, quick at languages, utterly
incurious about other nations, and would all rather work in the fields
than learn anything but music; good boys, honest, but ‘_trotzig_’.  So
much for Caffres, Fingoes, &c.  The Bastaards are as clever as whites,
and more docile—so the ‘rector’ told me.  The boy who played the organ
sang the ‘Lorelei’ like an angel, and played us a number of waltzes and
other things on the piano, but he was too shy to talk; while the Caffres
crowded round me, and chattered away merrily.  The Mantatees, whom I
cannot distinguish from Caffres, are scattered all over the colony, and
rival the English as workmen and labourers—fine stalwart, industrious
fellows.  Our little ‘boy’ Kleenboy hires a room for fifteen shillings a
month, and takes in his compatriots as lodgers at half a crown a week—the
usurious little rogue!  His chief, one James, is a bricklayer here, and
looks and behaves like a prince.  It is fine to see his black arms,
ornamented with silver bracelets, hurling huge stones about.

All Gnadenthal is wonderfully fruitful, being well watered, but it is not
healthy for whites; I imagine, too hot and damp.  There are three or four
thousand coloured people there, under the control of the missionaries,
who allow no canteens at all.  The people may have what they please at
home, but no public drinking-place is allowed, and we had to take our own
beer and wine for the three days.  The gardens and burial-ground are
beautiful, and the square is entirely shaded by about ten or twelve
superb oaks; nothing prettier can be conceived.  It is not popular in the
neighbourhood.  ‘You see it makes the d-d niggers cheeky’ to have homes
of their own—and the girls are said to be immoral.  As to that, there are
no so-called ‘morals’ among the coloured people, and how or why should
there?  It is an honour to one of these girls to have a child by a white
man, and it is a degradation to him to marry a dark girl.  A pious stiff
old Dutchwoman who came here the other day for the Sacrament (which takes
place twice a year), had one girl with her, big with child by her son,
who also came for the Sacrament, and two in the straw at home by the
other son; this caused her exactly as much emotion as I feel when my cat
kittens.  No one takes any notice, either to blame or to nurse the poor
things—they scramble through it as pussy does.  The English are almost
equally contemptuous; but there is one great difference.  My host, for
instance, always calls a black ‘a d-d nigger’; but if that nigger is
wronged or oppressed he fights for him, or bails him out of the Tronk,
and an English jury gives a just verdict; while a Dutch one simply finds
for a Dutchman, against any one else, and _always_ against a dark man.  I
believe this to be true, from what I have seen and heard; and certainly
the coloured people have a great preference for the English.

I am persecuted by the ugliest and blackest Mozambiquer I have yet seen,
a bricklayer’s labourer, who can speak English, and says he was servant
to an English Captain—‘Oh, a good fellow he was, only he’s dead!’  He now
insists on my taking him as a servant.  ‘I dessay your man at home is a
good chap, and I’ll be a good boy, and cook very nice.’  He is thick-set
and short and strong.  Nature has adorned him with a cock eye and a yard
of mouth, and art, with a prodigiously tall white chimney-pot hat with
the crown out, a cotton nightcap, and a wondrous congeries of rags.  He
professes to be cook, groom, and ‘walley’, and is sure you would be
pleased with his attentions.

Well, to go back to Gnadenthal.  I wandered all over the village on
Sunday afternoon, and peeped into the cottages.  All were neat and clean,
with good dressers of crockery, the _very_ poorest, like the worst in
Weybridge sandpits; but they had no glass windows, only a wooden shutter,
and no doors; a calico curtain, or a sort of hurdle supplying its place.
The people nodded and said ‘Good day!’ but took no further notice of me,
except the poor old Hottentot, who was seated on a doorstep.  He rose and
hobbled up to meet me and take my hand again.  He seemed to enjoy being
helped along and seated down carefully, and shook and patted my hand
repeatedly when I took leave of him.  At this the people stared a good
deal, and one woman came to talk to me.

In the evening I sat on a bench in the square, and saw the people go in
to ‘Abendsegen’.  The church was lighted, and as I sat there and heard
the lovely singing, I thought it was impossible to conceive a more
romantic scene.  On Monday I saw all the schools, and then looked at the
great strong Caffre lads playing in the square.  One of them stood to be
pelted by five or six others, and as the stones came, he twisted and
turned and jumped, and was hardly ever hit, and when he was, he didn’t
care, though the others hurled like catapults.  It was the most wonderful
display of activity and grace, and quite incredible that such a huge
fellow should be so quick and light.  When I found how comfortable dear
old Mrs. Rietz made me, I was sorry I had hired the cart and kept it to
take me home, for I would gladly have stayed longer, and the heat did me
no harm; but I did not like to throw away a pound or two, and drove back
that evening.  Mrs. Rietz, told me her mother was a Mozambiquer.  ‘And
your father?’ said I.  ‘Oh, I don’t know.  _My mother was only a slave_.’
She, too, was a slave, but said she ‘never knew it’, her ‘missus’ was so
good; a Dutch lady, at a farm I had passed, on the road, who had a
hundred and fifty slaves.  I liked my Hottentot hut amazingly, and the
sweet brown bread, and the dinner cooked so cleanly on the bricks in the
kitchen.  The walls were whitewashed and adorned with wreaths of
everlasting flowers and some quaint old prints from Loutherburg—pastoral
subjects, not exactly edifying.

Well, I have prosed unconscionably, so adieu for the present.

_February_ 3_d_.—Many happy returns of your birthday, dear —.  I had a
bottle of champagne to drink your health, and partly to swell the bill,
which these good people make so moderate, that I am half ashamed.  I get
everything that Caledon can furnish for myself and S— for 15_l._ a month.

On Saturday we got the sad news of Prince Albert’s death, and it created
real consternation here.  What a thoroughly unexpected calamity!  Every
one is already dressed in deep mourning.  It is more general than in a
village of the same size at home—(how I have caught the colonial trick of
always saying ‘home’ for England!  Dutchmen who can barely speak English,
and never did or will see England, equally talk of ‘news from home’).  It
also seems, by the papers of the 24th of December, which came by a
steamer the other day, that war is imminent.  I shall have to wait for
convoy, I suppose, as I object to walking the plank from a Yankee
privateer.  I shall wait here for the next mail, and then go back to
Capetown, stopping by the way, so as to get there early in March, and
arrange for my voyage.  The weather had a relapse into cold, and an
attempt at rain.  Pity it failed, for the drought is dreadful this year,
chiefly owing to the unusual quantity of sharp drying winds—a most
unlucky summer for the country and for me.

My old friend Klein, who told me several instances of the kindness and
gratitude of former slaves, poured out to me the misery he had undergone
from the ‘ingratitude’ of a certain Rosina, a slave-girl of his.  She was
in her youth handsome, clever, the best horsebreaker, bullock-trainer and
driver, and hardest worker in the district.  She had two children by
Klein, then a young fellow; six by another white man, and a few more by
two husbands of her own race!  But she was of a rebellious spirit, and
took to drink.  After the emancipation, she used to go in front of
Klein’s windows and read the statute in a loud voice on every anniversary
of the day; and as if that did not enrage him enough, she pertinaciously
(whenever she was a little drunk) kissed him by main force every time she
met him in the street, exclaiming, ‘Aha! when I young and pretty
slave-girl you make kiss me then; now I ugly, drunk, dirty old devil and
free woman, I kiss you!’  Frightful retributive justice!  I struggled
hard to keep my countenance, but the fat old fellow’s good-humoured,
rueful face was too much for me.  His tormentor is dead, but he retains a
painful impression of her ‘ingratitude ‘.

Our little Mantatee ‘Kleenboy’ has again, like Jeshurun, ‘waxed fat and
kicked’, as soon as he had eaten enough to be once more plump and shiny.
After his hungry period, he took to squatting on the stoep, just in front
of the hall-door, and altogether declining to do anything; so he is
superseded by an equally ugly little red-headed Englishman.  The Irish
housemaid has married the German baker (a fine match for her!), and a
dour little Scotch Presbyterian has come up from Capetown in her place.
Such are the vicissitudes of colonial house-keeping!  The only
‘permanency’ is the old soldier of Captain D—’s regiment, who is barman
in the canteen, and not likely to leave ‘his honour’, and the coloured
girl, who improves on acquaintance.  She wants to ingratiate herself with
me, and get taken to England.  Her father is an Englishman, and of course
the brown mother and her large family always live in the fear of his
‘going home’ and ignoring their existence; a _marriage_ with the mother
of his children would be too much degradation for him to submit to.  Few
of the coloured people are ever married, but they don’t separate oftener
than _really_ married folks.  Bill, the handsome West Indian black,
married my pretty washerwoman Rosalind, and was thought rather assuming
because he was asked in church and lawfully married; and she wore a
handsome lilac silk gown and a white wreath and veil, and very well she
looked in them.  She had a child of two years old, which did not at all
disconcert Bill; but he continues to be dignified, and won’t let her go
and wash clothes in the river, because the hot sun makes her ill, and it
is not fit work for women.

_Sunday_, 9_th_.—Last night a dance took place in a house next door to
this, and a party of boers attempted to go in, but were repulsed by a
sortie of the young men within.  Some of the more peaceable boers came in
here and wanted ale, which was refused, as they were already very
_vinous_; so they imbibed ginger-beer, whereof one drank thirty-four
bottles to his own share!  Inspired by this drink, they began to quarrel,
and were summarily turned out.  They spent the whole night, till five
this morning, scuffling and vociferating in the street.  The constables
discreetly stayed in bed, displaying the true Dogberry spirit, which
leads them to take up Hottentots, drunk or sober, to show their zeal, but
carefully to avoid meddling with stalwart boers, from six to six and a
half feet high and strong in proportion.  The jabbering of Dutch brings
to mind Demosthenes trying to outroar a stormy sea with his mouth full of
pebbles.  The hardest blows are those given with the tongue, though much
pulling of hair and scuffling takes place.  ‘Verdomde
Schmeerlap!’—‘Donder and Bliksem! am I a verdomde Schmeerlap?’—‘Ja, u
is,’ &c., &c.  I could not help laughing heartily as I lay in bed, at
hearing the gambols of these Titan cubs; for this is a boer’s notion of
enjoying himself.  This morning, I hear, the street was strewn with the
hair they had pulled out of each other’s heads.  All who come here make
love to S—; not by describing their tender feelings, but by enumerating
the oxen, sheep, horses, land, money, &c., of which they are possessed,
and whereof, by the law of this colony, she would become half-owner on
marriage.  There is a fine handsome Van Steen, who is very persevering;
but S— does not seem to fancy becoming Mevrouw at all.  The demand for
English girls as wives is wonderful here.  The nasty cross little ugly
Scotch maid has had three offers already, in one fortnight!

_February_ 18_th_.—I expect to receive the letters by the English mail
to-morrow morning, and to go to Worcester on Thursday.  On Saturday the
young doctor—good-humoured, jolly, big, young Dutchman—drove me, with his
pretty little greys, over to two farms; at one I ate half a huge melon,
and at the other, uncounted grapes.  We poor Europeans don’t know what
fruit _can be_, I must admit.  The melon was a foretaste of paradise, and
the grapes made one’s fingers as sticky as honey, and had a muscat
fragrance quite inconceivable.  They looked like amber eggs.  The best of
it is, too, that in this climate stomach-aches are not.  We all eat
grapes, peaches, and figs, all day long.  Old Klein sends me, for my own
daily consumption, about thirty peaches, three pounds of grapes, and
apples, pears, and figs besides—‘just a little taste of fruits’; only
here they will pick it all unripe.

_February_ 19_th_.—The post came in late last night, and old Klein kindly
sent me my letters at near midnight.  The post goes out this evening, and
the hot wind is blowing, so I can only write to you, and a line to my
mother.  I feel really better now.  I think the constant eating of grapes
has done me much good.

The Dutch cart-owner was so extortionate, that I am going to wait a few
days, and write to my dear Malay to come up and drive me back.  It is
better than having to fight the Dutch monopolist in every village, and
getting drunken drivers and bad carts after all.  I shall go round all
the same.  The weather has been beautiful; to-day there is a wind, which
comes about two or three times in the year: it is not depressing, but
hot, and a bore, because one must shut every window or be stifled with
dust.

The people are burning the veld all about, and the lurid smoke by day and
flaming hill-sides by night are very striking.  The ashes of the Bosh
serve as manure for the young grass, which will sprout in the autumn
rains.  Such nights!  Such a moon!  I walk out after dark when it is mild
and clear, and can read any print by the moonlight, and see the distant
landscape as well as by day.

Old Klein has just sent me a haunch of bok, and the skin and hoofs, which
are pretty.



LETTER VIII


                                                          Caledon, Sunday.

YOU must have fallen into second childhood to think of _printing_ such
rambling hasty scrawls as I write.  I never could write a good letter;
and unless I gallop as hard as I can, and don’t stop to think, I can say
nothing; so all is confused and unconnected: only I fancy _you_ will be
amused by some of my ‘impressions’.  I have written to my mother an
accurate account of my health.  I am dressed and out of doors never later
than six, now the weather makes it possible.  It is surprising how little
sleep one wants.  I go to bed at ten and often am up at four.

I made friends here the other day with a lively dried-up little old
Irishman, who came out at seven years old a pauper-boy.  He has made a
fortune by ‘going on _Togt_’ (_German_, _Tausch_), as thus; he charters
two waggons, twelve oxen each, and two Hottentots to each waggon, leader
and driver.  The waggons he fills with cotton, hardware, &c., &c.—an
ambulatory village ‘shop’,—and goes about fifteen miles a day, on and on,
into the far interior, swapping baftas (calico), punjums (loose
trowsers), and voerschitz (cotton gownpieces), pronounced ‘foossy’,
against oxen and sheep.  When all is gone he swaps his waggons against
more oxen and a horse, and he and his four ‘totties’ drive home the
spoil; and he has doubled or trebled his venture.  _En route_ home, each
day they kill a sheep, and eat it _all_.  ‘What!’ says I; ‘the whole?’
‘Every bit.  I always take one leg and the liver for myself, and the
totties roast the rest, and melt all the fat and entrails down in an iron
pot and eat it with a wooden spoon.’  _Je n’en revenais pas_.  ‘What! the
whole leg and liver at one meal?’  ‘Every bit; ay, and you’d do the same,
ma’am, if you were there.’  No bread, no salt, no nothing—mutton and
water.  The old fellow was quite poetic and heroic in describing the joys
and perils of Togt.  I said I should like to go too; and he bewailed
having settled a year ago in a store at Swellendam, ‘else he’d ha’ fitted
up a waggon all nice and snug for me, and shown me what going on togt was
like.  Nothing like it for the health, ma’am; and beautiful shooting.’
My friend had 700_l._ in gold in a carpet bag, without a lock, lying
about on the stoep.  ‘All right; nobody steals money or such like here.
I’m going to pay bills in Capetown.’

Tell my mother that a man would get from 2_l._ to 4_l._ a month wages,
with board, lodging, &c., all found, and his wife from 1_l._ 10_s._ to
2_l._ a month and everything found, according to abilities and
testimonials.  Wages are enormous, and servants at famine price; emigrant
ships are _cleared off_ in three days, and every ragged Irish girl in
place somewhere.  Four pounds a month, and food for self, husband, and
children, is no uncommon pay for a good cook; and after all her cookery
may be poor enough.  My landlady at Capetown gave that.  The housemaid
had _only_ 1_l._ 5_s._ a month, but told me herself she had taken 8_l._
in one week in ‘tips’.  She was an excellent servant.  Up country here
the wages are less, but the comfort greater, and the chances of ‘getting
on’ much increased.  But I believe Algoa Bay or Grahamstown are by far
the best fields for new colonists, and (I am assured) the best climate
for lung diseases.  The wealthy English merchants of Port Elizabeth
(Algoa Bay) pay best.  It seems to me, as far as I can learn, that every
really _working_ man or woman can thrive here.

My German host at Houw Hoek came out twenty-three years ago, he told me,
without a ‘heller’, and is now the owner of cattle and land and horses to
a large amount.  But then the Germans work, while the Dutch dawdle and
the English drink.  ‘New wine’ is a penny a glass (half a pint), enough
to blow your head off, and ‘Cape smoke’ (brandy, like vitriol) ninepence
a bottle—that is the real calamity.  If the Cape had the grape disease as
badly as Madeira, it would be the making of the colony.

I received a message from my Malay friends, Abdool Jemaalee and Betsy,
anxious to know ‘if the Misses had good news of her children, for bad
news would make her sick’.  Old Betsy and I used to prose about young
Abdurrachman and his studies at Mecca, and about my children, with more
real heartiness than you can fancy.  We were not afraid of boring each
other; and pious old Abdool sat and nodded and said, ‘May Allah protect
them all!’ as a refrain;—‘Allah, il Allah!’



LETTER IX


                                                       Caledon, Feb. 21st.

THIS morning’s post brought your packet, and the announcement of an extra
mail to-night—so I can send you a P.S.  I hear that Capetown has been
pestilential, and as hot as Calcutta.  It is totally undrained, and the
Mozambiquers are beginning to object to acting as scavengers to each
separate house.  The ‘_vidanges_’ are more barbarous even than in Paris.
Without the south-easter (or ‘Cape doctor’) they must have fevers, &c.;
and though too rough a practitioner for me, he benefits the general
health.  Next month the winds abate, but last week an omnibus was blown
over on the Rondebosch road, which is the most sheltered spot, and
inhabited by Capetown merchants.  I have received all the _Saturday
Reviews_ quite safe, likewise the books, Mendelssohn’s letters, and the
novel.  I have written for my dear Choslullah to fetch me.  The Dutch
farmers don’t know how to charge enough; moreover, the Hottentot drivers
get drunk, and for two lone women that is not the thing.  I pay my gentle
Malay thirty shillings a day, which, for a cart and four and such a jewel
of a driver, is not outrageous; and I had better pay that for the few
days I wait on the road, than risk bad carts, tipsy Hottentots, and
extortionate boers.

This intermediate country between the ‘Central African wilderness’ and
Capetown has been little frequented.  I went to the Church Mission School
with the English clergyman yesterday.  You know I don’t believe in every
kind of missionaries, but I do believe that, in these districts, kind,
judicious English clergymen are of great value.  The Dutch pastors still
remember the distinction between ‘Christenmenschen’ and ‘Hottentoten’;
but the Church Mission Schools teach the Anglican Catechism to every
child that will learn, and the congregation is as piebald as Harlequin’s
jacket.  A pretty, coloured lad, about eleven years old, answered my
questions in geography with great quickness and some wit.  I said, ‘Show
me the country you belong to.’  He pointed to England, and when I
laughed, to the cape.  ‘This is where we are, but that is the country I
_belong to_.’  I asked him how we were governed, and he answered quite
right.  ‘How is the Cape governed?’  ‘Oh, we have a Parliament too, and
Mr. Silberbauer is the man _we_ send.’  Boys and girls of all ages were
mixed, but no blacks.  I don’t think they will learn, except on
compulsion, as at Gnadenthal.

I regret to say that Bill’s wife has broken his head with a bottle, at
the end of the honeymoon.  I fear the innovation of being _married at
church_ has not had a good effect, and that his neighbours may quote Mr.
Peachum.

I was offered a young lion yesterday, but I hardly think it would be an
agreeable addition to the household at Esher.

I hear that Worcester, Paarl, and Stellenbosch are beautiful, and the
road very desolate and grand: one mountain pass takes six hours to cross.
I should not return to Capetown so early, but poor Captain J— has had his
leg smashed and amputated, so I must look out for myself in the matter of
ships.  Whenever it is hot, I am well, for the heat here is so _light_
and dry.  The wind tries me, but we have little here compared to the
coast.  I hope that the voyage home will do me still more good; but I
will not sail till April, so as to arrive in June.  May, in the Channel,
would not do.

How I wish I could send you the fruit now on my table—amber-coloured
grapes, yellow waxen apples streaked with vermillion in fine little
lines, huge peaches, and tiny green figs!  I must send dear old Klein a
little present from England, to show that I don’t forget my Dutch adorer.
I wish I could bring you the ‘Biltong ‘ he sent me—beef or bok dried in
the sun in strips, and slightly salted; you may carry enough in your
pocket to live on for a fortnight, and it is very good as a little
‘relish’.  The partridges also have been welcome, and we shall eat the
tiny haunch of bok to-day.

Mrs. D— is gone to Capetown to get servants (the Scotch girl having
carried on her amours too flagrantly), and will return in my cart.  S— is
still keeping house meanwhile, much perturbed by the placid indolence of
the brown girl.  The stableman cooks, and very well too.  This is
colonial life—a series of makeshifts and difficulties; but the climate is
fine, people feel well and make money, and I think it is not an unhappy
life.  I have been most fortunate in my abode, and can say, without
speaking cynically, that I have found ‘my warmest welcome at an inn’.
Mine host is a rough soldier, but the very soul of good nature and good
feeling; and his wife is a very nice person—so cheerful, clever, and
kindhearted.

I should like to bring home the little Madagascar girl from Rathfelders,
or a dear little mulatto who nurses a brown baby here, and is so clean
and careful and ‘pretty behaved’,—but it would be a great risk.  The
brown babies are ravishing—so fat and jolly and funny.

One great charm of the people here is, that no one expects money or
gifts, and that all civility is gratis.  Many a time I finger small coin
secretly in my pocket, and refrain from giving it, for fear of spoiling
this innocence.  I have not once seen a _look_ implying ‘backsheesh’, and
begging is unknown.  But the people are reserved and silent, and have not
the attractive manners of the darkies of Capetown and the neighbourhood.



LETTER X


                                                        Caledon, Feb. 22d.

Yesterday Captain D— gave me a very nice caross of blessbok skins, which
he got from some travelling trader.  The excellence of the Caffre
skin-dressing and sewing is, I fancy, unequalled; the bok-skins are as
soft as a kid glove, and have no smell at all.

In the afternoon the young doctor drove me, in his little gig-cart and
pair (the lightest and swiftest of conveyances), to see a wine-farm.  The
people were not at work, but we saw the tubs and vats, and drank ‘most’.
The grapes are simply trodden by a Hottentot, in a tub with a sort of
strainer at the bottom, and then thrown—skins, stalks, and all—into vats,
where the juice ferments for twice twenty-four hours; after which it is
run into casks, which are left with the bung out for eight days; then the
wine is drawn off into another cask, a little sulphur and brandy are
added to it, and it is bunged down.  Nothing can be conceived so
barbarous.  I have promised Mr. M— to procure and send him an exact
account of the process in Spain.  It might be a real service to a most
worthy and amiable man.  Dr. M— also would be glad of a copy.  They
literally know nothing about wine-making here, and with such matchless
grapes I am sure it ought to be good.  Altogether, ‘der alte Schlendrian’
prevails at the Cape to an incredible degree.

If two ‘Heeren M—’ call on you, please be civil to them.  I don’t know
them personally, but their brother is the doctor here, and the most
good-natured young fellow I ever saw.  If I were returning by Somerset
instead of Worcester, I might put up at their parents’ house and be sure
of a welcome; and I can tell you civility to strangers is by no means of
course here.  I don’t wonder at it; for the old Dutch families _are
gentlefolks_ of the good dull old school, and the English colonists can
scarcely suit them.  In the few instances in which I have succeeded in
_thawing_ a Dutchman, I have found him wonderfully good-natured; and the
different manner in which I was greeted when in company with the young
doctor showed the feeling at once.  The dirt of a Dutch house is not to
be conceived.  I have had sights in bedrooms in very respectable houses
which I dare not describe.  The coloured people are just as clean.  The
young doctor (who is much Anglicised) tells me that, in illness, he has
to break the windows in the farmhouses—they are built not to open!  The
boers are below the English in manners and intelligence, and hate them
for their ‘go-ahead’ ways, though _they_ seem slow enough to me.  As to
drink, I fancy it is six of one and half a dozen of the other; but the
English are more given to eternal drams, and the Dutch to solemn drinking
bouts.  I can’t understand either, in this climate, which is so
stimulating, that I more often drink ginger-beer or water than wine—a
bottle of sherry lasted me a fortnight, though I was ordered to drink it;
somehow, I had no mind to it.

27_th_.—The cart could not be got till the day before yesterday, and
yesterday Mrs. D— arrived in it with two new Irish maids; it saved her
3_l._, and I must have paid equally.  The horses were very tired, having
been hard at work carrying Malays all the week to Constantia and back, on
a pilgrimage to the tomb of a Mussulman saint; so to-day they rest, and
to-morrow I go to Villiersdorp.  Choslullah has been appointed driver of
a post-cart; he tried hard to be allowed to pay a _remplaçant_, and to
fetch ‘his missis’, but was refused leave; and so a smaller and blacker
Malay has come, whom Choslullah threatened to curse heavily if he failed
to take great care of ‘my missis’ and be a ‘good boy’.  Ramadan begins on
Sunday, and my poor driver can’t even prepare for it by a good feast, as
no fowls are to be had here just now, and he can’t eat profanely-killed
meat.  Some pious Christian has tried to burn a Mussulman martyr’s tomb
at Eerste River, and there were fears the Malays might indulge in a
little revenge; but they keep quiet.  I am to go with my driver to eat
some of the feast (of Bairam, is it not?) at his priest’s when Ramadan
ends, if I am in Capetown, and also am asked to a wedding at a relation
of Choslullah’s.  It was quite a pleasure to hear the kindly Mussulman
talk, after these silent Hottentots.  The Malays have such agreeable
manners; so civil, without the least cringing or Indian obsequiousness.
I dare say they can be very ‘insolent’ on provocation; but I have always
found among them manners like old-fashioned French ones, but quieter; and
they have an affectionate way of saying ‘_my_ missis’ when they know one,
which is very nice to hear.  It is getting quite chilly here already;
_cold_ night and morning; and I shall be glad to descend off this plateau
into the warmer regions of Worcester, &c.  I have just bought _eight_
splendid ostrich feathers for 1_l._ of my old Togthandler friend.  In
England they would cost from eighteen to twenty-five shillings each.  I
have got a reebok and a klipspringer skin for you; the latter makes a
saddle-cloth which defies sore backs; they were given me by Klein and a
farmer at Palmiet River.  The flesh was poor stuff, white and papery.
The Hottentots can’t ‘bray’ the skins as the Caffres do; and the woman
who did mine asked me for a trifle beforehand, and got so drunk that she
let them dry halfway in the process, consequently they don’t look so
well.

                                              Worcester, Sunday, March 2d.

Oh, such a journey!  Such country!  Pearly mountains and deep blue sky,
and an impassable pass to walk down, and baboons, and secretary birds,
and tortoises!  I couldn’t sleep for it all last night, tired as I was
with the unutterably bad road, or track rather.

Well, we left Caledon on Friday, at ten o’clock, and though the weather
had been cold and unpleasant for two days, I had a lovely morning, and
away we went to Villiersdorp (pronounced Filjeesdorp).  It is quite a
tiny village, in a sort of Rasselas-looking valley.  We were four hours
on the road, winding along the side of a mountain ridge, which we finally
crossed, with a splendid view of the sea at the far-distant end of a huge
amphitheatre formed by two ridges of mountains, and on the other side the
descent into Filjeesdorp.  The whole way we saw no human being or
habitation, except one shepherd, from the time we passed Buntje’s kraal,
about two miles out of Caledon.  The little drinking-shop would not hold
travellers, so I went to the house of the storekeeper (as the clergyman
of Caledon had told me I might), and found a most kind reception.  Our
host was English, an old man-of-war’s man, with a gentle, kindly Dutch
wife, and the best-mannered children I have seen in the colony.  They
gave us clean comfortable beds and a good dinner, and wine ten years in
the cellar; in short, the best of hospitality.  I made an effort to pay
for the entertainment next morning, when, after a good breakfast, we
started loaded with fruit, but the kind people would not hear of it, and
bid me good-bye like old friends.  At the end of the valley we went a
little up-hill, and then found ourselves at the top of a pass down into
the level below.  S— and I burst out with one voice, ‘How beautiful!’
Sabaal, our driver, thought the exclamation was an ironical remark on the
road, which, indeed, appeared to be exclusively intended for goats.  I
suggested walking down, to which, for a wonder, the Malay agreed.  I was
really curious to see him get down with two wheels and four horses, where
I had to lay hold from time to time in walking.  The track was
excessively steep, barely wide enough, and as slippery as a flagstone
pavement, being the naked mountain-top, which is bare rock.  However, all
went perfectly right.

How shall I describe the view from that pass?  In front was a long, long
level valley, perhaps three to five miles broad (I can’t judge distance
in this atmosphere; a house that looks a quarter of a mile off is two
miles distant).  At the extreme end, in a little gap between two low
brown hills that crossed each other, one could just see Worcester—five
hours’ drive off.  Behind it, and on each side the plain, mountains of
every conceivable shape and colour; the strangest cliffs and peaks and
crags toppling every way, and tinged with all the colours of opal;
chiefly delicate, pale lilac and peach colour, but varied with red brown
and Titian green.  In spite of the drought, water sparkled on the
mountain-sides in little glittering threads, and here and there in the
plain; and pretty farms were dotted on either side at the very bottom of
the slopes toward the mountain-foot.  The sky of such a blue! (it is
deeper now by far than earlier in the year).  In short, I never did see
anything so beautiful.  It even surpassed Hottentot’s Holland.  On we
went, straight along the valley, crossing drift after drift;—a drift is
the bed of a stream more or less dry; in which sometimes you are drowned,
sometimes only _pounded_, as was our hap.  The track was incredibly bad,
except for short bits, where ironstone prevailed.  However, all went
well, and on the road I chased and captured a pair of remarkably swift
and handsome little ‘Schelpats’.  That you may duly appreciate such a
feat of valour and activity, I will inform you that their English name is
‘tortoise’.  On the strength of this effort, we drank a bottle of beer,
as it was very hot and sandy; and our Malay was a _wet_ enough Mussulman
to take his full share in a modest way, though he declined wine or ‘Cape
smoke Soopjes’ (drams) with aversion.  No sooner had we got under weigh
again, than Sabaal pulled up and said, ‘There _are_ the Baviāans Missis
want to see!’ and so they were.  At some distance by the river was a
great brute, bigger than a Newfoundland dog, stalking along with the
hideous baboon walk, and tail vehemently cocked up; a troop followed at a
distance, hiding and dodging among the palmiets.  They were evidently _en
route_ to rob a garden close to them, and had sent a great stout fellow
ahead to reconnoitre.  ‘He see Missis, and feel sure she not got a gun;
if man come on horseback, you see ’em run like devil.’  We had not that
pleasure, and left them, on felonious thoughts intent.

The road got more and more beautiful as we neared Worcester, and the
mountains grew higher and craggier.  Presently, a huge bird, like a stork
on the wing, pounced down close by us.  He was a secretary-bird, and had
caught sight of a snake.  We passed ‘Brant Vley’ (_burnt_ or hot spring),
where sulphur-water bubbles up in a basin some thirty feet across and ten
or twelve deep.  The water is clear as crystal, and is hot enough just
_not_ to boil an egg, I was told.  At last, one reaches the little gap
between the brown hills which one has seen for four hours, and drives
through it into a wide, wide flat, with still craggier and higher
mountains all round, and Worcester in front at the foot of a towering
cliff.  The town is not so pretty, to my taste, as the little villages.
The streets are too wide, and the market-place too large, which always
looks dreary, but the houses and gardens individually are charming.  Our
inn is a very nice handsome old Dutch house; but we have got back to
‘civilization’, and the horrid attempts at ‘style’ which belong to
Capetown.  The landlord and lady are too genteel to appear at all, and
the Hottentots, who are disguised, according to their sexes, in pantry
jacket and flounced petticoat, don’t understand a word of English or of
real Dutch.  At Gnadenthal they understood Dutch, and spoke it tolerably;
but here, as in most places, it is three-parts Hottentot; and then they
affect to understand English, and bring everything wrong, and are sulky:
but the rooms are very comfortable.  The change of climate is
complete—the summer was over at Caledon, and here we are into it
again—the most delicious air one can conceive; it must have been a
perfect oven six weeks ago.  The birds are singing away merrily still;
the approach of autumn does not silence them here.  The canaries have a
very pretty song, like our linnet, only sweeter; the rest are very
inferior to ours.  The sugar-bird is delicious when close by, but his
pipe is too soft to be heard at any distance.

To those who think voyages and travels tiresome, my delight in the new
birds and beasts and people must seem very stupid.  I can’t help it if it
does, and am not ashamed to confess that I feel the old sort of enchanted
wonder with which I used to read Cook’s voyages, and the like, as a
child.  It is very coarse and unintellectual of me; but I would rather
see this now, at my age, than Italy; the fresh, new, beautiful nature is
a second youth—or _childhood_—_si vous voulez_.  To-morrow we shall cross
the highest pass I have yet crossed, and sleep at Paarl—then
Stellenbosch, then Capetown.  For any one _out_ of health, and _in_
pocket, I should certainly prescribe the purchase of a waggon and team of
six horses, and a long, slow progress in South Africa.  One cannot walk
in the midday sun, but driving with a very light roof over one’s head is
quite delicious.  When I looked back upon my dreary, lonely prison at
Ventnor, I wondered I had survived it at all.

                                                      Capetown, March 7th.

After writing last, we drove out, on Sunday afternoon, to a deep alpine
valley, to see a _new bridge_—a great marvel apparently.  The old Spanish
Joe Miller about selling the bridge to buy water occurred to me, and made
Sabaal laugh immensely.  The Dutch farmers were tearing home from Kerk,
in their carts—well-dressed, prosperous-looking folks, with capital
horses.  Such lovely farms, snugly nestled in orange and pomegranate
groves!  It is of no use to describe this scenery; it is always
mountains, and always beautiful opal mountains; quite without the gloom
of European mountain scenery.  The atmosphere must make the charm.  I
hear that an English traveller went the same journey and found all barren
from Dan to Beersheba.  I’m sorry for him.

In the morning of Sunday, early, I walked along the road with Sabaal, and
saw a picture I shall never forget.  A little Malabar girl had just been
bathing in the Sloot, and had put her scanty shift on her lovely little
wet brown body; she stood in the water with the drops glittering on her
brown skin and black, satin hair, the perfection of youthful loveliness—a
naiad of ten years old.  When the shape and features are _perfect_, as
hers were, the coffee-brown shows it better than our colour, on account
of its perfect _evenness_—like the dead white of marble.  I shall never
forget her as she stood playing with the leaves of the gum-tree which
hung over her, and gazing with her glorious eyes so placidly.

On Monday morning, I walked off early to the old _Drosdy_ (Landdrost’s
house), found an old gentleman, who turned out to be the owner, and who
asked me my name and all the rest of the Dutch ‘litanei’ of questions,
and showed me the pretty old Dutch garden and the house—a very handsome
one.  I walked back to breakfast, and thought Worcester the prettiest
place I had ever seen.  We then started for Paarl, and drove through
‘Bain’s Kloof’, a splendid mountain-pass, four hours’ long, constant
driving.  It was glorious, but more like what one had seen in pictures—a
deep, narrow gorge, almost dark in places, and, to my mind, lacked the
_beauty_ of the yesterday’s drive, though it is, perhaps, grander; but
the view which bursts on one at the top, and the descent, winding down
the open mountain-side, is too fine to describe.  Table Mountain, like a
giant’s stronghold, seen far distant, with an immense plain, half
fertile, half white sand; to the left, Wagenmaker’s Vley; and further on,
the Paarl lying scattered on the slope of a mountain topped with two
_domes_, just the shape of the cup which Lais (wasn’t it?) presented to
the temple of Venus, moulded on her breast.  The horses were tired, so we
stopped at Waggon-maker’s Valley (or Wellington, as the English try to
get it called), and found ourselves in a true Flemish village, and under
the roof of a jolly Dutch hostess, who gave us divine coffee and
bread-and-butter, which seemed ambrosia after being deprived of those
luxuries for almost three months.  Also new milk in abundance, besides
fruit of all kinds in vast heaps, and pomegranates off the tree.  I asked
her to buy me a few to take in the cart, and got a ‘muid’, the third of a
sack, for a shilling, with a bill, ‘U bekomt 1 muid 28 granaeten dat
Kostet 1_s._’  The old lady would walk out with me and take me into the
shops, to show the ‘vrow uit Engelland’ to her friends.  It was a lovely
place, intensely hot, all glowing with sunshine.  Then the sun went down,
and the high mountains behind us were precisely the colour of a Venice
ruby glass—really, truly, and literally;—not purple, not crimson, but
glowing ruby-red—and the quince-hedges and orange-trees below looked
_intensely_ green, and the houses snow-white.  It was a
transfiguration—no less.

I saw Hottentots again, four of them, from some remote corner, so the
race is not quite extinct.  These were youngish, two men and two women,
quite light yellow, not darker than Europeans, and with little tiny black
knots of wool scattered over their heads at intervals.  They are hideous
in face, but exquisitely shaped—very, very small though.  One of the men
was drunk, poor wretch, and looked the picture of misery.  You can see
the fineness of their senses by the way in which they dart their glances
and prick their ears.  Every one agrees that, when tamed, they make the
best of servants—gentle, clever, and honest; but the penny-a-glass wine
they can’t resist, unless when caught and tamed young.  They work in the
fields, or did so as long as any were left; but even here, I was told, it
was a wonder to see them.

We went on through the Paarl, a sweet pretty place, reminding one vaguely
of Bonchurch, and still through fine mountains, with Scotch firs growing
like Italian stone pines, and farms, and vineyard upon vineyard.  At
Stellenbosch we stopped.  I had been told it was the prettiest town in
the colony, and it _is_ very pretty, with oak-trees all along the street,
like those at Paarl and Wagenmakkers Vley; but I was disappointed.  It
was less beautiful than what I had seen.  Besides, the evening was dull
and cold.  The south-easter greeted us here, and I could not go out all
the afternoon.  The inn was called ‘Railway Hotel’, and kept by low
coarse English people, who gave us a filthy dinner, dirty sheets, and an
atrocious breakfast, and charged 1_l._ 3_s._ 6_d._ for the same meals and
time as old Vrow Langfeldt had charged 12_s._ for, and had given
civility, cleanliness, and abundance of excellent food;—besides which,
she fed Sabaal gratis, and these people fleeced him as they did me.  So,
next morning, we set off, less pleasantly disposed, for Capetown, over
the flat, which is dreary enough, and had a horrid south-easter.  We
started early, and got in before the wind became a hurricane, which it
did later.  We were warmly welcomed by Mrs. R—; and here I am in my old
room, looking over the beautiful bay, quite at home again.  It blew all
yesterday, and having rather a sore-throat I stayed in bed, and to-day is
all bright and beautiful.  But Capetown looks murky after Caledon and
Worcester; there is, to my eyes, quite a haze over the mountains, and
they look far off and indistinct.  All is comparative in this world, even
African skies.  At Caledon, the most distant mountains, as far as your
eye can reach, look as clear in every detail as the map on your table—an
appearance utterly new to European eyes.

I gave Sabaal 1_l._ for his eight days’ service as driver, as a
Drinkgelt, and the worthy fellow was in ecstasies of gratitude.  Next
morning early, he appeared with a present of bananas, and his little girl
dressed from head to foot in brand-new clothes, bought out of my money,
with her wool screwed up extremely tight in little knots on her black
little head (evidently her mother is the blackest of Caffres or
Mozambiques).  The child looked like a Caffre, and her father considers
her quite a pearl.  I had her in, and admired the little thing loud
enough for him to hear outside, as I lay in bed.  You see, I too was to
have my share in the pleasure of the new clothes.  This readiness to
believe that one will sympathize with them, is very pleasing in the
Malays.

                                                                 March 15.

I went to see my old Malay friends and to buy a water-melon.  They were
in all the misery of Ramadan.  Betsy and pretty Nassirah very thin and
miserable, and the pious old Abdool sitting on a little barrel waiting
for ‘gun-fire’—i.e. sunset, to fall to on the supper which old Betsy was
setting out.  He was silent, and the corners of his mouth were drawn down
just like —’s at an evening party.

I shall go to-morrow to bid the T—s good-bye, at Wynberg.  I was to have
spent a few days there, but Wynberg is cold at night and dampish, so I
declined that.  She is a nice woman—Irish, and so innocent and frank and
well-bred.  She has been at Cold Bokke Veld, and shocked her puritanical
host by admiring the naked Caffres who worked on his farm.  He wanted
them to wear clothes.

We have been amused by the airs of a naval captain and his wife, who are
just come here.  They complained that the merchant-service officers spoke
_familiarly_ to their children on board.  _Quel audace_!  When I think of
the excellent, modest, manly young fellows who talked very familiarly and
pleasantly to me on board the _St. Lawrence_, I long to reprimand these
foolish people.

_Friday_, 21_st_.—I am just come from prayer, at the Mosque in Chiappini
Street, on the outskirts of the town.  A most striking sight.  A large
room, like a county ball-room, with glass chandeliers, carpeted with
common carpet, all but a space at the entrance, railed off for shoes; the
Caaba and pulpit at one end; over the niche, a crescent painted; and over
the entrance door a crescent, an Arabic inscription, and the royal arms
of England!  A fat jolly Mollah looked amazed as I ascended the steps;
but when I touched my forehead and said, ‘Salaam Aleikoom’, he laughed
and said, ‘Salaam, Salaam, come in, come in.’  The faithful poured in,
all neatly dressed in their loose drab trousers, blue jackets, and red
handkerchiefs on their heads; they left their wooden clogs in company,
with my shoes, and proceeded, as it appeared, to strip.  Off went
jackets, waistcoats, and trousers, with the dexterity of a pantomime
transformation; the red handkerchief was replaced by a white skullcap,
and a long large white shirt and full white drawers flowed around them.
How it had all been stuffed into the trim jacket and trousers, one could
not conceive.  Gay sashes and scarves were pulled out of a little bundle
in a clean silk handkerchief, and a towel served as prayer-carpet.  In a
moment the whole scene was as oriental as if the Hansom cab I had come in
existed no more.  Women suckled their children, and boys played among the
clogs and shoes all the time, and I sat on the floor in a remote corner.
The chanting was very fine, and the whole ceremony very decorous and
solemn.  It lasted an hour; and then the little heaps of garments were
put on, and the congregation dispersed, each man first laying a penny on
a very curious little old Dutch-looking, heavy, iron-bound chest, which
stood in the middle of the room.

I have just heard that the post closes to-night and must say farewell—_a
rivederci_.



LETTER XI


                                                     Capetown, March 20th.

DEAREST MOTHER,

Dr. Shea says he fears I must not winter in England yet, but that I am
greatly improved—as, indeed, I could tell him.  He is another of the kind
‘sea doctors’ I have met with; he came all the way from Simon’s Bay to
see me, and then said, ‘What nonsense is that?’ when I offered him a fee.
This is a very nice place up in the ‘gardens’, quite out of the town and
very comfortable.  But I regret Caledon.  A— will show you my account of
my beautiful journey back.  Worcester is a fairy-land; and then to catch
tortoises walking about, and to see ‘baviāans’, and snakes and secretary
birds eating them! and then people have the impudence to think I must
have been ‘very dull!’  _Sie merken’s nicht_, that it is _they_ who are
dull.

Dear Dr. Hawtrey! he must have died just as I was packing up the first
Caffre Testament for him!  I felt his death very much, in connexion with
my father; their regard for each other was an honour to both.  I have the
letter he wrote me on J—’s marriage, and a charming one it is.

I took Mrs. A— a drive in a Hansom cab to-day out to Wynberg, to see my
friends Captain and Mrs. T—, who have a cottage under Table Mountain in a
spot like the best of St. George’s Hill.  Very dull too; but as she is
really a lady, it suits her, and Capetown does not.  I was to have stayed
with them, but Wynberg is cold at night.  Poor B—’s wife is very ill and
won’t leave Capetown for a day.  The people here are _wunderlich_ for
that.  A lady born here, and with 7,000_l._ a year, has never been
further than Stellenbosch, about twenty miles.  I am asked how I lived
and what I ate during my little excursion, as if I had been to Lake
Ngami.  If only I had known how easy it all is, I would have gone by sea
to East London and seen the Knysna and George district, and the primæval
African forest, the yellow wood, and other giant trees.  However, ‘For
what I have received,’ &c., &c.  No one can conceive what it is, after
two years of prison and utter languor, to stand on the top of a mountain
pass, and enjoy physical existence for a few hours at a time.  I felt as
if it was quite selfish to enjoy anything so much when you were all so
anxious about me at home; but as that is the best symptom of all, I do
not repent.

S— has been an excellent travelling servant, and really a better
companion than many more educated people; for she is always amused and
curious, and is friendly with the coloured people.  She is quite
recovered.  It is a wonderful climate—_sans que celà paraisse_.  It feels
chilly and it blows horridly, and does not seem genial, but it gives new
life.

To-morrow I am going with old Abdool Jemaalee to prayers at the Mosque,
and shall see a school kept by a Malay priest.  It is now Ramadan, and my
Muslim friends are very thin and look glum.  Choslullah sent a message to
ask, ‘Might he see the Missis once more?  He should pray all the time she
was on the sea.’  Some pious Christians here would expect such horrors to
sink the ship.  I can’t think why Mussulmans are always gentlemen; the
Malay coolies have a grave courtesy which contrasts most strikingly with
both European vulgarity and negro jollity.  It is very curious, for they
only speak Dutch, and know nothing of oriental manners.  I fear I shall
not see the Walkers again.  Simon’s Bay is too far to go and come in a
day, as one cannot go out before ten or eleven, and must be in by five or
half-past.  Those hours are gloriously bright and hot, but morning and
night are cold.

I am so happy in the thought of sailing now so very soon and seeing you
all again, that I can settle to nothing for five minutes.  I now feel how
anxious and uneasy I have been, and how I shall rejoice to get home.  I
shall leave a letter for A—, to go in April, and tell him and you what
ship I am in.  I shall choose the _slowest_, so as not to reach England
and face the Channel before June, if possible.  So don’t be alarmed if I
do not arrive till late in June.  Till then good-bye, and God bless you,
dearest mother—_Auf frohes Wiedersehn_.



LETTER XII


                                              Capetown, Sunday, March 23d.

IT has been a _real_ hot day, and threatened an earthquake and a
thunderstorm; but nothing has come of it beyond sheet lightning to-night,
which is splendid over the bay, and looks as if repeated in a grand
bush-fire on the hills opposite.  The sunset was glorious.  That rarest
of insects, the praying mantis, has just dropped upon my paper.  I am
thankful that, not being an entomologist, I am dispensed from the sacred
duty of impaling the lovely green creature who sits there, looking quite
wise and human.  Fussy little brown beetles, as big as two lady-birds,
keep flying into my eyes, and the musquitoes are rejoicing loudly in the
prospect of a feast.  You will understand by this that both windows are
wide open into the great verandah,—very unusual in this land of cold
nights.

_April_ 4_th_.—I have been trying in vain to get a passage home.  The
_Camperdown_ has not come.  In short, I am waiting for a chance vessel,
and shall pack up now and be ready to go on board at a day’s notice.

I went on the last evening of Ramadan to the Mosque, having heard there
was a grand ‘function’; but there were only little boys lying about on
the floor, some on their stomachs, some on their backs, higgledy-piggledy
(if it be not profane to apply the phrase to young Islam), all shouting
their prayers _à tue tête_.  Priests, men, women, and English crowded in
and out in the exterior division.  The English behaved _à
l’Anglaise_—pushed each other, laughed, sneered, and made a disgusting
display of themselves.  I asked a stately priest, in a red turban, to
explain the affair to me, and in a few minutes found myself supplied by
one Mollah with a chair, and by another with a cup of tea—was, in short,
in the midst of a Malay _soirée_.  They spoke English very little, but
made up for it by their usual good breeding and intelligence.  On Monday,
I am going to see the school which the priest keeps at his house, and to
‘honour his house by my presence’.  The delight they show at any friendly
interest taken in them is wonderful.  Of course, I am supposed to be
poisoned.  A clergyman’s widow here gravely asserts that her husband went
mad _three years_ after drinking a cup of coffee handed to him by a
Malay!—and in consequence of drinking it!  It is exactly like the
mediæval feeling about the Jews.  I saw that it was quite a
_demonstration_ that I drank up the tea unhesitatingly.  Considering that
the Malays drank it themselves, my courage deserves less admiration.  But
it was a quaint sensation to sit in a Mosque, behaving as if at an
evening party, in a little circle of poor Moslim priests.

I am going to have a photograph of my cart done.  I was to have gone to
the place to-day, but when Choslullah (whom I sent for to complete the
picture) found out what I wanted, he implored me to put it off till
Monday, that he might be better dressed, and was so unhappy at the notion
of being immortalized in an old jacket, that I agreed to the delay.  Such
a handsome fellow may be allowed a little vanity.

The colony is torn with dissensions as to Sunday trains.  Some of the
Dutch clergy are even more absurd than our own on that point.  A certain
Van der Lingen, at Stellenbosch, calls Europe ‘one vast Sodom’, and so
forth.  There is altogether a nice kettle of religious hatred brewing
here.  The English Bishop of Capetown appoints all the English clergy,
and is absolute monarch of all he surveys; and he and his clergy are
carrying matters with a high hand.  The Bishop’s chaplain told Mrs. J—
that she could not hope for salvation in the Dutch Church, since her
clergy were not ordained by any bishop, and therefore they could only
administer the sacrament ‘_unto damnation_’.  All the physicians in a
body, English as well as Dutch, have withdrawn from the Dispensary,
because it was used as a means of pressure to draw the coloured people
from the Dutch to the English Church.

This High-Church tyranny cannot go on long.  Catholics there are few, but
their bishop plays the same game; and it is a losing one.  The Irish maid
at the Caledon inn was driven by her bishop to be married at the Lutheran
church, just as a young Englishman I know (though a fervent Puseyite) was
driven to be married at the Scotch kirk.  The colonial bishops are
despots in their own churches, and there is no escape from their tyranny
but by dissent.  The Admiral and his family have been anathematized for
going to a fancy bazaar given by the Wesleyans for their chapel.

_April_ 8_th_.—Yesterday, I failed about my cart photograph.  First, the
owner had sent away the cart, and when Choslullah came dressed in all his
best clothes, with a lovely blue handkerchief setting off his beautiful
orange-tawny face, he had to rush off to try to borrow another cart.  As
ill luck would have it, he met a ‘serious young man’, with no front
teeth, and a hideous wen on his eyebrow, who informed the priest of
Choslullah’s impious purpose, and came with him to see that he did _not_
sit for his portrait.  I believe it was half envy; for my handsome driver
was as pleased, and then as disappointed, as a young lady about her first
ball, and obviously had no religious scruples of his own on the subject.
The weather is very delightful now—hot, but beautiful; and the
south-easters, though violent, are short, and not cold.  As in all other
countries, autumn is the best time of year.

_April_ 15_th_.—Your letters arrived yesterday, to my great delight.  I
have been worrying about a ship, and was very near sailing to-day by the
_Queen of the South_ at twenty-four hours’ notice, but I have resolved to
wait for the _Camperdown_.  The _Queen of the South_ is a steamer,—which
is odious, for they pitch the coal all over the lower deck, so that you
breathe coal-dust for the first ten days; then she was crammed—only one
cabin vacant, and that small, and on the lower deck—and fifty-two
children on board.  Moreover, she will probably get to England too soon,
so I resign myself to wait.  The _Camperdown_ has only upper-deck cabins,
and I shall have fresh air.  I am not as well as I was at Caledon, so I
am all the more anxious to have a voyage likely to do me good instead of
harm.

I got my cart and Choslullah photographed after all.  Choslullah came
next day (having got rid of his pious friend), quite resolved that ‘the
Missis’ should take his portrait, so I will send or bring a few copies of
my beloved cart.  After the photograph was done, we drove round the
Kloof, between Table and Lion Mountain.  The road is cut on the side of
Lion Mountain, and overhangs the sea at a great height.  Camp Bay, which
lies on the further side of the ‘Lion’s Head’, is most lovely; never was
sea so deeply blue, rocks so warmly brown, or sand and foam so glittering
white; and down at the mountain-foot the bright green of the orange and
pomegranate trees throws it all out in greater relief.  But the
atmosphere here won’t do after that of the ‘Ruggings’, as the Caledon
line of country is called.  I shall never lose the impression of the view
I had when Dr. Morkel drove me out on a hill-side, where the view seemed
endless and without a vestige of life; and yet in every valley there were
farms; but it looked a vast, utter solitude, and without the least haze.
You don’t know what that utter clearness means—the distinctness is quite
awful.  Here it is always slightly hazy; very pretty and warm, but it
takes off from the grandeur.  It is the difference between a pretty
Pompadour beauty and a Greek statue.  Those pale opal mountains, as
distinct in every detail as the map on your table, are so cheerful and
serene; no melodramatic effects of clouds and gloom.  I suppose it is not
really so beautiful as it seemed to me, for other people say it is bare
and desolate, and certainly it is; but it seemed to me anything but
dreary.

I am persuaded that Capetown is not healthy; indeed, the town can’t be,
from its stench and dirt; but I believe the whole seashore is more or
less bad, compared to the upper plateaux, of which I know only the first.
I should have gone back to Paarl, only that ships come and go within
twenty-four hours, so one has the pleasure of living in constant
expectation, with packed trunks, wondering when one shall get away.  A
clever Mr. M—, who has lived _all over_ India, and is going back to
Singapore, with his wife and child, are now in the house; and some very
pleasant Jews, bound for British Caffraria—one of them has a lovely
little wife and three children.  She is very full of Prince Albert’s
death, and says there was not a dry eye in the synagogues in London,
which were all hung with black on the day of his funeral, and prayer went
on the whole day.  ‘_The people_ mourned for him as much as for Hezekiah;
and, indeed, he deserved it a great deal better,’ was her rather
unorthodox conclusion.  These colonial Jews are a new ‘Erscheinung’ to
me.  They have the features of their race, but many of their
peculiarities are gone.  Mr. L—, who is very handsome and gentlemanly,
eats ham and patronises a good breed of pigs on the ‘model farm’ on which
he spends his money.  He is (he says) a thorough Jew in faith, and
evidently in charitable works; but he wants to say his prayers in English
and not to ‘dress himself up’ in a veil and phylacteries for the purpose;
and he and his wife talk of England as ‘home’, and care as much for
Jerusalem as their neighbours.  They have not forgotten the old
persecutions, and are civil to the coloured people, and speak of them in
quite a different tone from other English colonists.  Moreover, they are
far better mannered, and more ‘_human_’, in the German sense of the word,
in all respects;—in short, less ‘colonial’.

I have bought some Cape ‘confeyt’; apricots, salted and then sugared,
called ‘mebos’—delicious!  Also pickled peaches, ‘chistnee’, and quince
jelly.  I have a notion of some Cherupiga wine for ourselves.  I will
inquire the cost of bottling, packing, &c.; it is about one shilling and
fourpence a bottle here, sweet red wine, unlike any other I ever drank,
and I think very good.  It is very tempting to bring a few things so
unknown in England.  I have a glorious ‘Velcombers’ for you, a blanket of
nine Damara sheepskins, sewn by the Damaras, and dressed so that moths
and fleas won’t stay near them.  It will make a grand railway rug and
‘outside car’ covering.  The hunters use them for sleeping out of doors.
I have bought three, and a springbok caross for somebody.

_April_ 17_th_.—The winter has set in to-day.  It rains steadily, at the
rate of the heaviest bit of the heaviest shower in England, and is as
cold as a bad day early in September.  One can just sit without a fire.
Presently, all will be green and gay; for winter is here the season of
flowers, and the heaths will cover the country with a vast Turkey carpet.
Already the green is appearing where all was brown yesterday.  To-day is
Good Friday; and if Christmas seemed odd at Midsummer, Easter in autumn
seems positively unnatural.  Our Jewish party made their exodus to-day,
by the little coasting steamer, to Algoa Bay.  I rather condoled with the
pretty little woman about her long rough journey, with three babies; but
she laughed, and said they had had time to get used to it ever since the
days of Moses.  All she grieved over was not being able to keep Passover,
and she described their domestic ceremonies quite poetically.  We heard
from our former housemaid, Annie, the other day, announcing her marriage
and her sister’s.  She wrote such a pretty, merry letter to S—, saying
‘the more she tried not to like him, the better she loved him, and had to
say, “Aha, Annie, you’re caught at last.”’  A year and a half is a long
time to remain single in this country.

_Monday_, _April_ 21_st_, _Easter Monday_.—The mail goes out in an hour,
so I will just add, good-bye.  The winter is now fairly set in, and I
long to be off.  I fear I shall have a desperately cold week or so at
first sailing, till we catch the south-east trades.  This weather is
beautiful in itself, but I feel it from the suddenness of the change.  We
passed in one night from hot summer to winter, which is like _fine_
English April, or October, only brighter than anything in Europe.  There
is properly, no autumn or spring here; only hot, dry, brown summer, with
its cold wind at times, and fresh green winter, all fragrance and
flowers, and much less wind.  Mr. M—, of whom I told you, has been in
every corner of the far East—Java, Sumatra, everywhere—and is extremely
amusing.  He has brought his wife here for her health, and is as glad to
talk as I am.  The conversation of an educated, clever person, is quite a
new and delightful sensation to me now.  He appears to have held high
posts under the East India Company, is learned in Oriental languages, and
was last resident at Singapore.  He says that no doubt Java is Paradise,
it is so lovely, and such a climate; but he does not look as if it had
agreed with him.  I feel quite heart-sick at seeing these letters go off
before me, instead of leaving them behind, as I had hoped.

Well, I must say good-bye—or rather, ‘_auf Wiedersehn_’—and God knows how
glad I shall be when that day comes!



LETTER XIII


                                                     Capetown, April 19th.

DEAREST MOTHER,

Here I am, waiting for a ship; the steamer was too horrid: and I look so
much to the good to be gained by the voyage that I did not like to throw
away the chance of two months at sea at this favourable time of year, and
under favourable circumstances; so I made up my mind to see you all a
month later.  The sea just off the Cape is very, very cold; less so now
than in spring, I dare say.  The weather to-day is just like _very_ warm
April at home—showery, sunshiny, and fragrant; most lovely.  It is so odd
to see an autumn without dead leaves: only the oaks lose theirs, the old
ones drop without turning brown, and the trees bud again at once.  The
rest put on a darker green dress for winter, and now the flowers will
begin.  I have got a picture for you of my ‘cart and four’, with sedate
Choslullah and dear little Mohammed.  The former wants to go with me,
‘anywhere’, as he placidly said, ‘to be the missis’ servant’.  What a
sensation his thatchlike hat and handsome orange-tawny face would make at
Esher!  Such a stalwart henchman would be very creditable.  I shall
grieve to think I shall never see my Malay friends again; they are the
only people here who are really interesting.  I think they must be like
the Turks in manner, as they have all the eastern gentlemanly
‘Gelassenheit’ (ease) and politeness, and no eastern ‘Geschmeidigkeit’
(obsequiousness), and no idea of Baksheesh; withal frugal, industrious,
and money-making, to an astonishing degree.  The priest is a bit of a
proselytiser, and amused me much with an account of how he had converted
English girls from their evil courses and made them good _Mussulwomen_.
I never heard a _naïf_ and sincere account of conversions _from_
Christianity before, and I must own it was much milder than the Exeter
Hall style.

I have heard a great many expressions of sorrow for the Queen from the
Malays, and always with the ‘hope the people will take much care of her,
now she is alone’.  Of course Prince Albert was only the Queen’s husband
to them, and all their feeling is about her.  It is very difficult to see
anything of them, for they want nothing of you, and expect nothing but
dislike and contempt.  It would take a long time to make many friends, as
they are naturally distrustful.  I found that eating or drinking
anything, if they offer it, made most way, as they know they are accused
of poisoning all Christians indiscriminately.  Of course, therefore, they
are shy of offering things.  I drank tea in the Mosque at the end of
Ramadan, and was surrounded by delighted faces as I sipped.  The little
boy who waits in this house here had followed us, and was horrified: he
is still waiting to see the poison work.

No one can conceive what has become of all the ships that usually touch
here about this time.  I was promised my choice of Green’s and Smith’s,
and now only the heavy old _Camperdown_ is expected with rice from
Moulmein.  A lady now here, who has been Heaven only knows _where not_,
praises Alexandria above all other places, after Suez.  Her lungs are
bad, and she swears by Suez, which she says is the dreariest and
healthiest (for lungs) place in the world.  You can’t think how soon one
learns to ‘annihilate space’, if not time, in one’s thoughts, by daily
reading advertisements for every port in India, America, Australia, &c.,
&c., and conversing with people who have just come from the ‘ends of the
earth’.  Meanwhile, I fear I shall have to fly from next winter again,
and certainly will go with J— to Egypt, which seems to me like next door.

I have run on, and not thanked you for your letter and M. Mignet’s
beautiful _éloge_ of Mr. Hallam, which pleased me greatly.  I wish
Englishmen could learn to speak with the same good taste and _mésure_.

Mr. Wodehouse, who has been very civil to me, kindly tried to get me a
passage home in a French frigate lying here, but in vain.  I am now sorry
I let the Jack tars here persuade me not to go in the little barque; but
they talked so much of the heat and damp of such tiny cabins in an iron
vessel, that I gave her up, though I liked the idea of a good tossing in
such a tiny cockboat.  I will leave a letter for the May mail, unless I
sail within a week of to-morrow, or go by the _Jason_, which would be
home far sooner than the mail.  I only hope you and A— won’t be uneasy;
the worst that can happen is delay, and the long voyage will be all gain
to health, which would not be the case in a steamer.

All I hear of R— makes me wild to see her again.  The little darkies are
the only pleasing children here, and a fat black toddling thing is
‘allerliebst’.  I know a boy of four, literally jet black, whom I long to
steal as he follows his mother up to the mountain to wash.  Little Malays
are lovely, but _too_ well-behaved and quiet.  I tried to get a real
‘_tottie_’, or ‘Hotentotje’, but the people were too drunk to remember
where they had left their child.  _C’est assez dire_, that I should have
had no scruple in buying it for a bottle of ‘smoke’ (the spirit made from
grape husks).  They are clever and affectionate when they have a chance,
poor things,—and so strange to look at.

By the bye, a Bonn man, Dr. Bleek, called here with ‘Grüsse’ from our old
friends, Professor Mendelssohn and his wife.  He is devoting himself to
Hottentot and aboriginal literature!—and has actually mastered the Caffre
_click_, which I vainly practised under Kleenboy’s tuition.  He wanted to
teach me to say ‘Tkorkha’, which means ‘you lie’, or ‘you have missed’
(in shooting or throwing a stone, &c.)—a curious combination of meanings.
He taught me to throw stones or a stick at him, which he always avoided,
however close they fell, and cried ‘Tkorkha!’  The Caffres ask for a
present, ‘Tkzeelah Tabak’, ‘a gift for tobacco’.

The Farnese Hercules is a living _truth_.  I saw him in the street two
days ago, and he was a Caffre coolie.  The proportions of the head and
throat were more wonderful in flesh, or muscle rather, than in marble.  I
know a Caffre girl of thirteen, who is a noble model of strength and
beauty; such an arm—larger than any white woman’s—with such a dimple in
her elbow, and a wrist and hand which no glove is small enough to fit—and
a noble countenance too.  She is ‘apprenticed’, a name for temporary
slavery, and is highly spoken of as a servant, as the Caffres always are.
They are a majestic race, but with just the stupid conceit of a certain
sort of Englishmen; the women and girls seem charming.

_Easter Sunday_.—The weather continues beautifully clear and bright, like
the finest European spring.  It seems so strange for the floral season to
be the winter.  But as the wind blows the air is quite cold to-day;
nevertheless, I feel much better the last two days.  The brewing of the
rain made the air very oppressive and heavy for three weeks, but now it
is as light as possible.

I must say good-bye, as the mail closes to-morrow morning.  Easter in
autumn is preposterous, only the autumn looks like spring.  The
consumptive young girl whom I packed off to the Cape, and her sister, are
about to be married—of course.  Annie has had a touch of Algoa Bay fever,
a mild kind of ague, but no sign of chest disease, or even delicacy.  My
‘hurrying her off’, which some people thought so cruel, has saved her.
Whoever comes _soon enough_ recovers, but for people far gone it is too
bracing.



LETTER XIV


                                               Capetown, Saturday, May 3d.

DEAREST MOTHER,

After five weeks of waiting and worry, I have, at last, sent my goods on
board the ship _Camperdown_, now discharging her cargo, and about to take
a small party of passengers from the Cape.  I offered to take a cabin in
a Swedish ship, bound for Falmouth; but the captain could not decide
whether he would take a passenger; and while he hesitated the old
_Camperdown_ came in.  I have the best cabin after the stern cabins,
which are occupied by the captain and his wife and the Attorney-General
of Capetown, who is much liked.  The other passengers are quiet people,
and few of them, and the captain has a high character; so I may hope for
a comfortable, though slow passage.  I will let you know the day I sail,
and leave this letter to go by post.  I may be looked for three weeks or
so after this letter.  I am crazy to get home now; after the period was
over for which I had made up my mind, home-sickness began.

Mrs. R— has offered me a darling tiny monkey, which loves me; but I fear
A— would send me away again if I returned with her in my pocket.
Nassirah, old Abdool’s pretty granddaughter, brought me a pair of Malay
shoes or clogs as a parting gift, to-day.  Mr. M—, the resident at
Singapore, tells me that his secretary’s wife, a Malay lady, has made an
excellent translation of the _Arabian Nights_, from Arabic into Malay.
Her husband is an Indian Mussulman, who, Mr. M— said, was one of the
ablest men he ever knew.  Curious!

I sat, yesterday, for an hour, in the stall of a poor German basket-maker
who had been long in Caffre-land.  His wife, a Berlinerin, was very
intelligent, and her account of her life here most entertaining, as
showing the different _Ansicht_ natural to Germans.  ‘I had never’, she
said, ‘been out of the city of Berlin, and _knew nothing_.’  (Compare
with London cockney, or genuine Parisian.)  Thence her fear, on landing
at Algoa Bay and seeing swarms of naked black men, that she had come to a
country where no clothes were to be had; and what should she do when hers
were worn out?  They had a grant of land at Fort Peddie, and she dug
while her husband made baskets of cane, and carried them hundreds of
miles for sale; sleeping and eating in Caffre huts.  ‘Yes, they are good,
honest people, and very well-bred (_anständig_), though they go as naked
as God made them.  The girls are pretty and very delicate (_fein_), and
they think no harm of it, the dear innocents.’  If their cattle strayed,
it was always brought back; and they received every sort of kindness.
‘Yes, madam, it is shocking how people here treat the blacks.  They call
quite an old man ‘Boy’, and speak so scornfully, and yet the blacks have
very nice manners, I assure you.’  When I looked at the poor little
wizened, pale, sickly Berliner, and fancied him a guest in a Caffre hut,
it seemed an odd picture.  But he spoke as coolly of his long, lonely
journeys as possible, and seemed to think black friends quite as good as
white ones.  The use of the words _anständig_ and _fein_ by a woman who
spoke very good German were characteristic.  She could recognise an
‘_Anständigkeit_’ _not_ of Berlin.  I need not say that the Germans are
generally liked by the coloured people.  Choslullah was astonished and
Pleased at my talking German; he evidently had a preference for Germans,
and put up, wherever he could, at German inns and ‘publics’.

I went on to bid Mrs. Wodehouse good-bye.  We talked of our dear old
Cornish friends.  The Governor and Mrs. Wodehouse have been very kind to
me.  I dined there twice; last time, with all the dear good Walkers.  I
missed seeing the opening of the colonial parliament by a mistake about a
ticket, which I am sorry for.

If I could have dreamed of waiting here so long, I would have run up to
Algoa Bay or East London by sea, and had a glimpse of Caffreland.
Capetown makes me very languid—there is something depressing in the
air—but my cough is much better.  I can’t walk here without feeling
knocked-up; and cab-hire is so dear; and somehow, nothing is worth while,
when one is waiting from day to day.  So I have spent more money than
when I was most amused, in being bored.

Mr. J— drove me to the Capetown races, at Green Point, on Friday.  As
races, they were _nichts_, but a queer-looking little Cape farmer’s
horse, ridden by a Hottentot, beat the English crack racer, ridden by a
first-rate English jockey, in an unaccountable way, twice over.  The
Malays are passionately fond of horse-racing, and the crowd was fully
half Malay: there were dozens of carts crowded with the bright-eyed
women, in petticoats of every most brilliant colour, white muslin
jackets, and gold daggers in their great coils of shining black hair.
All most ‘anständig’, as they always are.  Their pleasure is driving
about _en famille_; the men have no separate amusements.  Every spare
corner in the cart is filled by the little soft round faces of the
intelligent-looking quiet children, who seem amused and happy, and never
make a noise or have the fidgets.  I cannot make out why they are so well
behaved.  It favours A—’s theory of the expediency of utter spoiling, for
one never hears any educational process going on.  Tiny Mohammed never
spoke but when he was spoken to, and was always happy and alert.  I
observed that his uncle spoke to him like a grown man, and never ordered
him about, or rebuked him in the least.  I like to go up the hill and
meet the black women coming home in troops from the washing place, most
of them with a fat black baby hanging to their backs asleep, and a few
rather older trotting alongside, and if small, holding on by the mother’s
gown.  She, poor soul, carries a bundle on her head, which few men could
lift.  If I admire the babies, the poor women are enchanted;—_du reste_,
if you look at blacks of any age or sex, they _must_ grin and nod, as a
good-natured dog must wag his tail; they can’t help it.  The blacks here
(except a very few Caffres) are from the Mozambique—a short, thick-set,
ugly race, with wool in huge masses; but here and there one sees a very
pretty face among the women.  The men are beyond belief hideous.  There
are all possible crosses—Dutch, Mozambique, Hottentot and English, ‘alles
durcheinander’; then here and there you see that a Chinese or a Bengalee
_a passé par là_.  The Malays are also a mixed race, like the Turks—i.e.
they marry women of all sorts and colours, provided they will embrace
Islam.  A very nice old fellow who waits here occasionally is married to
an Englishwoman, _ci-devant_ lady’s-maid to a Governor’s wife.  I fancy,
too, they brought some Chinese blood with them from Java.  I think the
population of Capetown must be the most motley crew in the world.

_Thursday_, May 8_th_.—I sail on Saturday, and go on board to-morrow, so
as not to be hurried off in the early fog.  How glad I am to be ‘homeward
bound’ at last, I cannot say.  I am very well, and have every prospect of
a pleasant voyage.  We are sure to be well found, as the Attorney-General
is on board, and is a very great man, ‘inspiring terror and respect’
here.

S— says we certainly _shall_ put in at St. Helena, so make up your minds
not to see me till I don’t know when.  She has been on board fitting up
the cabin to-day.  I have _such_ a rug for J—! a mosaic of skins as fine
as marqueterie, done by Damara women, and really beautiful; and a
sheep-skin blanket for you, the essence of warmth and softness.  I shall
sleep in mine, and dream of African hill-sides wrapt in a ‘Veld combas’.
The poor little water-tortoises have been killed by drought, and I can’t
get any, but I have the two of my own catching for M—.

Good-bye, dearest mother.

                                * * * * *

You would have been moved by poor old Abdool Jemaalee’s solemn
benediction when I took leave to-day.  He accompanied it with a gross of
oranges and lemons.



LETTER XV


                                              Capetown, Thursday, May 8th.

AT last, after no end of ‘casus’ and ‘discrimina rerum’, I shall sail on
Saturday the 10th, per ship _Camperdown_, for East India Docks.

These weary six weeks have cost no end of money and temper.  I have been
eating my heart out at the delay, but it was utterly impossible to go by
any of the Indian ships.  They say there have never been so few ships
sailing from the Cape as this year, yet crowds were expected on account
of the Exhibition.  The Attorney-General goes by our ship, so we are sure
of good usage; and I hear he is very agreeable.  I have the best cabin
next to the stern cabin, in both senses of _next_.  S— has come back from
the ship, where she has spent the day with the carpenter; and I am to go
on board to-morrow.  Will you ask R— to cause inquiries to be made among
the Mollahs of Cairo for a Hadji, by name Abdool Rachman, the son of
Abdool Jemaalee, of Capetown, and, if possible, to get the inclosed
letter sent him?  The poor people are in sad anxiety for their son, of
whom they have not heard for four months, and that from an old letter.
Henry will thus have a part of all the blessings which were solemnly
invoked on me by poor old Abdool, who is getting very infirm, but toddled
up and cracked his old fingers over my head, and invoked the protection
of Allah with all form; besides that Betsy sent me twelve dozen oranges
and lemons.  Abdool Rachman is about twenty-six, a Malay of Capetown,
speaks Dutch and English, and is supposed to be studying theology at
Cairo.  The letter is written by the prettiest Malay girl in Capetown.

I won’t enter upon my longings to be home again, and to see you all.  I
must now see to my last commissions and things, and send this to go by
next mail.

God bless you all, and kiss my darlings, all three.



LETTER XVI


                                                         Friday, May 16th.
                                      On board the good ship _Camperdown_,
                                        500 miles North-west of Table-Bay.

I EMBARKED this day week, and found a good airy cabin, and all very
comfortable.  Next day I got the carpenter’s services, by being on board
before all the rest, and relashed and cleeted everything, which the
‘Timmerman’, of course, had left so as to get adrift the first breeze.
At two o’clock the Attorney-General, Mr. Porter, came on board, escorted
by bands of music and all the volunteers of Capetown, _quorum pars maxima
fuit_; i.e. Colonel.  It was quite what the Yankees call an ‘ovation’.
The ship was all decked with flags, and altogether there was _le diable à
quatre_.  The consequence was, that three signals went adrift in the
scuffle; and when a Frenchman signalled us, we had to pass for _brutaux
Anglais_, because we could not reply.  I found means to supply the
deficiency by the lining of that very ancient anonymous cloak, which did
the red, while a bandanna handkerchief of the Captain’s furnished the
yellow, to the sailmaker’s immense amusement.  On him I bestowed the blue
outside of the cloak for a pair of dungaree trowsers, and in signalling
now it is, ‘up go 2.41, and my lady’s cloak, which is 7.’

We have had lovely weather, and on Sunday such a glorious farewell sight
of Table Mountain and my dear old Hottentot Hills, and of Kaap Goed Hoop
itself.  There was little enough wind till yesterday, when a fair
southerly breeze sprang up, and we are rolling along merrily; and the fat
old _Camperdown does_ roll like an honest old ‘wholesome’ tub as she is.
It is quite a _bonne fortune_ for me to have been forced to wait for her,
for we have had a wonderful spell of fine weather, and the ship is the
_ne plus ultra_ of comfort.  We are only twelve first-class upper-deck
passengers.  The captain is a delightful fellow, with a very charming
young wife.  There is only one child (a great comfort), a capital cook,
and universal civility and quietness.  It is like a private house
compared to a railway hotel.  Six of the passengers are invalids, more or
less.  Mr. Porter, over-worked, going home for health to Ireland; two
men, both with delicate chests, and one poor young fellow from Capetown
in a consumption, who, I fear, will not outlive the voyage.  The doctor
is very civil, and very kind to the sick; but I stick to the cook, and am
quite greedy over the good fare, after the atrocious food of the Cape.
Said cook is a Portuguese, a distinguished artist, and a great
bird-fancier.  One can wander all over the ship here, instead of being a
prisoner on the poop; and I even have paid my footing on the forecastle.
S— clambers up like a lively youngster.  You may fancy what the weather
is, that I have only closed my cabin-window once during half of a very
damp night; but no one else is so airy.  The little goat was as rejoiced
to be afloat again as her mistress, and is a regular pet on board, with
the run of the quarter-deck.  She still gives milk—a perfect Amalthæa.
The butcher, who has the care of her, cockers her up with dainties, and
she begs biscuit of the cook.  I pay nothing for her fare.  M—’s
tortoises are in my cabin, and seem very happy.  Poor Mr. Porter is very
sick, and so are the two or three coloured passengers, who won’t ‘make an
effort’ at all.  Mrs. H— (the captain’s wife), a young Cape lady, and I
are the only ‘female ladies’ of the party.  The other day we saw a shoal
of porpoises, amounting to many hundreds, if not some thousands, who came
frisking round the ship.  When we first saw them they looked like a line
of breakers; they made such a splash, and they jumped right out of the
water three feet in height, and ten or twelve in distance, glittering
green and bronze in the sun.  Such a pretty, merry set of fellows!

We shall touch at St. Helena, where I shall leave this letter to go by
the mail steamer, that you may know a few weeks before I arrive how
comfortably my voyage has begun.

We see no Cape pigeons; they only visit outward ships—is not that
strange?—but, _en revanche_, many more albatrosses than in coming; and we
also enjoy the advantage of seeing all the homeward-bound ships, as they
all _pass_ us—a humiliating fact.  The captain laughed heartily because I
said, ‘Oh, all right; I shall have the more sea for my money’,—when the
prospect of a slow voyage was discussed.  It is very provoking to be so
much longer separated from you all than I had hoped, but I really believe
that the bad air and discomfort of the other ships would have done me
serious injury; while here I have every chance of benefiting to the
utmost, and having mild weather the whole way, besides the utmost amount
of comfort possible on board ship.  There are some cockroaches, indeed,
but that is the only drawback.  The _Camperdown_ is fourteen years old,
and was the crack ship to India in her day.  Now she takes cargo and
poop-passengers only, and, of course, only gets invalids and people who
care more for comfort than speed.

_Monday Evening_, May 26_th_.—Here we are, working away still to reach
St. Helena.  We got the tail of a terrific gale and a tremendous sea all
night in our teeth, which broke up the south-east trades for a week.  Now
it is all smooth and fair, with a light breeze again right aft; the old
trade again.  Yesterday a large shark paid us a visit, with his suite of
three pretty little pilot-fish, striped like zebras, who swam just over
his back.  He tried on a sailor’s cap which fell overboard, tossed it
away contemptuously, snuffed at the fat pork with which a hook was
baited, and would none of it, and finally ate the fresh sheep-skin which
the butcher had in tow to clean it, previous to putting it away as a
perquisite.  It is a beautiful fish in shape and very graceful in motion.

To-day a barque from Algoa Bay came close to us, and talked with the
speaking trumpet.  She was a pretty, clipper-built, sharp-looking craft,
but had made a slower run even than ourselves.  I dare say we shall have
her company for a long time, as she is bound for St. Helena and London.
My poor goat died suddenly the other day, to the general grief of the
ship; also one of the tortoises.  The poor consumptive lad is wonderfully
better.  But all the passengers were very sick during the rough weather,
except S— and I, who are quite old salts.  Last week we saw a young
whale, a baby, about thirty feet long, and had a good view of him as he
played round the ship.  We shall probably be at St. Helena on Wednesday,
but I cannot write from thence, as, if there is time, I shall get a run
on shore while the ship takes in water.  But this letter will tell you of
my well-being so far, and in about six weeks after the date of it I hope
to be with you.  I hope you won’t expect too much in the way of
improvement in my health.  I look forward, oh, so eagerly, to be with you
again, and with my brats, big and little.  God bless you all.

                                                               Yours ever,
                                                                  L. D. G.

_Wednesday_, 28_th_.—Early morning, off St. Helena, James Town.

Such a lovely _unreal_ view of the bold rocks and baby-house forts on
them!  Ship close in.  Washer-woman come on board, and all hurry.

_Au revoir_.



FOOTNOTES


{27}  A lane near Esher.

{30}  Near Walton-on-Thames.





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