John Noble.

South Africa, past and present; a short history of the European settlements at the Cape online

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Ckrii of t^c Ijousb of ^ssimbln of llje €apc Colong.

" Land of Good Hopo ! thy Future lies
Bright 'fore my vision as thy skies." — Thoiisoit.

London :
longmans & co.

Cape Town, South Africa :



[Bight of Eep'oduction and Translation Eeservcd.']



To THE Memory of my Broth ei;,

This Y o l u >r f is Dedicated.

'pcun iljm tceicgcn iic gcivaltigcn Stuntcn
Jli'c^ fufjt icl;'S \vo\]i, taa-i id) in il^m ixrtor."


' For the strong hours conquer,
Yet still feel I deep what I have lost in him."


Colonial History is apt to be regarded as uneventful.
It is usually little more than a plain story of the progress
of a new country, from the time of the arrival of the first
handful of colonists, who set to work to subdue the earth
and multiply and replenish it, until they finally succeed in
reproducing around them the social aspects and the institu-
tions of the old land whence they came.

To this ordinary rule these annals of South Africa may
claim to be an exception. Upwards of two centuries of
European occupation of the country not only afford mate-
rials for a record of colonial progress and prosperity and
political development, but also fiu-nish a number of episodes
and incidents as diversified and remarkable, it will be seen,
as any chronicled in the world's history.


Tlip condition of the Cape Settlement in its early stage,
when it ^^■a.s simply a Factory of the Dutch East India
Company, has alx-eacly been described with a masterly hand
by the late Judge Watermeyer. I have contented myself
with briefly sketching the main features of that period,
and introducing some information respecting the Huguenot
emigration, which I originally communicated to the Cape
MontJihj Magazine, in 1800.

My principal aim in this volume has been to give a
continuous narrative of the progress of Em-opean colonization
from the close of the past century down to the present
time. In attempting to do so, I have endeavoured to avoid
anything like a dry chronological detail of events, and have
sought to present, in a connected view, all that is most
noticeable in the Political History of the Colonies and States
of South Africa.

These Colonies and States are now approaching a ne\^'
and important epoch. The policy of Confederation, or
Union of the European communities, recommended by Earl
Carnarvon, is at present receiving the earnest attention of
both the Imperial and Colonial Legislatures ; and a dis-
tinguished officer of the Crown (Sir Eartle Erere, K.C.B.,
KC.S.I.) has been appointed to the administration of aftairs
at the Cape, with tlie declared object of co-operating with


our foremost colonial statesmen, in removing, if possible, any-
local impediments standing in the way of its successfiil

I am hopeful that to those who are so engaged iu
considering the difficulties and solving the problems con-
nected Mith the future government of the country, this
resume of the conditions of South Africa, Past and Present,
may opportunely be of service ; while to the rising gene-
ration of colonists it will supply the long-felt want of a
succinct, yet tolerably full and reliable outline of the
changes, political, social, and commercial, which have taken
place in " the land we live in."

J. N.


Cape Towk, March, 1877.

Since writing the above, the important intelligence has
reached England that the Transvaal Eepublic has, on the
12th of April, submitted to British authority, and that the
Imperial flag now floats over Pretoria and the gold diggings
of Lydenburg, and (may we hope) assuring peace and good-
will towards men, to aU the regions south of the Zambezi.

London, May, 1877.


Page 9, line 2, for " Charl " read Charles.

Page 31, line 23, for " Dooru" read Doom.

Page 32, line 13, for "Dooru" read Doom.

Page 54, line 24, for " Ranstonc " read Eawstornc.

Page 69, Dr. Stewart, C.M.R., killed in Booma Pass , Capt. (now
Lieut.-Genl.) Bisset, severely wounded.

Page 135, line 18, for "Sales" read De Salis.

Page 135, add to the officers wounded, Lieut. Palacios, and Lieut
Mill, C.M.R.


Page 4, line 5, insert '■ King Joas II." before the word "changed."

Page 134, line 28, for " doeu " read doen.

Page 137, line 21, for " Majaliesbci'g " read Magalicsberg.

Pago 139, line 28, for " pastures " read partners.

Pago 141, line 24, for "councils" read counsels.

Page 142, line 9, for " Wajor " read Major.

Page 142, line 15, for "Baralongs" Bavolongs, wherever it occurs.

Page 163, line 10, for " legally" vcuA formally.

Page 167, line 19, for "occupied" read unoccupied.

Page 168, line 7, for " Barkley" read Barkly.

Page 170, line 12, for "Owen" read Oswell.

Page 176, line 26, for " legislative " read legislature.

Page 180, lino 12, for " on" read after.

Page 182, line 4, for "of their" read to their.

Pago 191, line 2, for " Ordinance " read Ordnance.

Page 191, line 25, for "their" read there.

Pago 245, line 25, for " Colone" read Colonel.

Page 293, line 8, for " follows " read followers.


Chapter I.

Discovery of the Cape of Good Hope by the Portuguese — Formal
possession assumed by an English Fleet — The Dutch East
India Company — Settlement for the Refreshment of their
Ships — Van Riebeek's arrival — Monopoly of Trade —
Purchase of land from the Aborigines — Embryo Colony
in\Van der Stell's time — Anti-industrial Pohcy — French
Huguenot Refugees — Political troubles — Dispersion of the
Settlers — Trekking — Extension of the Colony— Border
difficulties — Commando system — Demand for Free-trade
—Arrival of English Fleet in 1795— Close of the Dutch
East India Company's rule . . . . . . 3-20

Chapter II.

The Colony temporarily occupied by England — Restored to the
Dutch by Peace of Amiens — Improved Administration
under Governor Janssens and Commissary-General De
JMist — Renewal of War in Europe — Re-capture of the
Cape by English forces — Capitulation and close of the
Dutch Batavian Government — Condition of the Country
— Expulsion of Kafirs beyond the Fish River — Colonel
Graham's Campaign— Massacre of Landdrost Stocken-
strom— The ''Slaghtcr's Nek" Rebellion — The Settlement
of Albany — Arrival of British Emigrants . . . . 21-37


Chapter III.

Political condition of the colony in 1820 — Absolute Power of the
Governor — Censorship over the Press — Appeal to England
and Liberty of the Press secured — The Complaints of the
Albany Settlers — Public Meetings Prohibited — Pass Law
— Imperial Commission of Enquiry — Ameliorative Mea-
sures — Civil and Judicial Reforms — Use of the English
Language — Appointment of a Commissioner-General on
the Frontier — The Reprisal system — Retrospect of rela-
tions with the >'ative Tribes— The Kafir War of 1834 . . 38-54

Chapter IV.

House of Commons' Committee on the State of the Aborigines —
Lord Glenelg's Policy — Appointment of Mr. Stockenstrom
as Lieut. -Governor — Dismissal of Governor Sir B. Durban
— The Stockenstrom Treaties — Sir George Napier's and
Sir Peregrine Maitland's Alterations — The War of 1846 —
Character of Kafir Warfare— Sir H. Pottinger and Sir
IL Smilli— The War and Rebellion of 1851-2-3— Sir G.
Cathcart — Peace secured — Sir George Grey and his Policy
for the Civilization of the Native Tribes. . . . . 55-72

Chapter V.

The Voor-treklvers — Condition of the Native Tribes in the Literior
— Migrating Colonists — the Great Exodus — Causes of
Discontent — The Leaders — Adventures — Contests with
Moselekatze — Arrival in Natal — Cliaka and the Zulus —
Massacre of the Boers by Dingaan — E.xploits of Maritz,
Uys, and Pretorius — Independence claimed — British
Sovereignty asserted in Natal — Collision between the
Boers and English Troops — Endurance of the Besieged
Camp — Tiieir Relief — Dispersion and Submission of the
Insurgents — Clemency extended to them— Policy adopted
by the English Government — Conditions accepted by the
Emigrants — rroclamation of Natal as a British Colony . 73-103


Chapter VI.

Pioneers of the Transvaal — Trie-hard and Potgieter — Dispersion
of the Emigrants — Disorders in the Orange River
Territory — Proclamation hy Judge ilenzies — Governor
Napier's Treaties — Hostilities between the Boers and
Griquas — The Dragoon Guards at Zwart Koppies —
Governor ]\Iaitland's Treaties — Appointment of a British
Eesidcnt — Natal AiFairs — New Government — Influx of
Zulu Refugees — Apprehended danger from Native loca-
tions — Pretorius' Mission to the Cape Colony — His
reception by Sir H. Pottinger — Sir Harry Smith's
friendly policy — Interview with the Trek Boers —
Proclamation of British Sovereignty over the Orange
River — Pretorius' Rebellion — Battle of Boomplaats —
Resumption of Sovereignty .. .. .. 104-137

Chapter VII.

The Sovereignty — Moshesh and the Basutos — Cannibalism —
Native Disputes — The Brltisli Resident's Interference —
The Engagement at Vier Voct — Refusal of the Boers to
pei'form Militar}' c^utj — Distracted Condition of the
Country — Earl Grej^'s decision to abandon it — Reversal
of former Policy — Removal of Major Warden and
Recall of Sir Harry Smitli — Assistant-Commissioners
Ilogge and Owen — Policy of Non-interference and Non-
encroachment — Convention with the Transvaal Emigrant
Farmers — ^loshesh and Sir George Cathcart — The
Battle of the Berea — Abandonment of the Sovereignty
— Sir George Clerk's ^Mission — Convention with the
Free State — The Exodus of the Griquas — Basuto ATars
— Assumption of the Basutos as British Subjects —
Policy towards the Republics — The Diamond Fields —
The Transvaal — Opening up of the Interior — Impotence
of Authority on part of Transvaal authorities — Tragedies
of Potgieter's Rust, and Makapans Caves — Declaration
of Boundaries of Republic — Treaty v.-ith Portuguese —
Disputes with Zulu tribes — Character of population of
Transvaal undergoing a change — Election of Rev. T. F.
Burgers as President . . . . . . . . Io8-170i"


Chapter VIII.

Sir G.Xapicr's support of the first Petition for a Rcprc.«cnt:itive
Assembly — Gradual Changes in the form of Government
— Character of the Population — Obstacles to be encoun-
tcreil — The Reformers of 1842 — Earl Grey's Policy of
Self-Govcrnnicnt for the Colony — Sir Ilarrj' Smith's
instructions — Mr. Porter's draft Constitution — Joint
Kocommendations of the Governor, the Executive and
the Judges — The Anti-Convict agitation — The Cape a
Penal station — Resistance of the Colonists — The Anti-
coTivict Association — The " Pledge," and its operation —
The Neptune detained in Simon's Bay — Earl Grey's
concession and apology — The Penal Order in Council
revoked, and the Convicts sent to Van Diemcn's Land —
The result of the contest .. .. .. .. 17-±-l!J8

Chapter IX.

RenoTTcd desire for Self-Government — Constitution framed by
Committee of the Privy Council — Election of Members
to the old Legislative Council — Collision between the
Elected Members and the Officials — Appeal to England
— Debates in the Imperial Parliament — Distracted State
of the Colony in 1851-2. — ProiJOsals for Federation and
Separation — Conservative ojtposition to tlie Constilution
Ordinances— Discussions on the Parliamentary Franchise
— Arrival of Governor Sir G. Cathcart and Lieutenant-
Govcnior Darling — Illness and Death of Mr, Montagu —
Changes of ^Ministry in England — Revision of the Ordi-
nances — The Constitution ratified by Orders in Council —
Dissolution of the old Legislature— ^Meeting of the First
Parliament .. .. .. .. ., 199-21(5


Chapter X.

Sir George Grey's Plans for the moral subjugation of the Kafir
TriLes — Defence of the Frontier — Unexpected Events : —
the Cattle Killing Uclusion— Destitution and Famine in
Kafirland — Seizure of tlie Chief ^lacomo — Expedition
against Kreli — -The work of tlic First Parliament — The
Free State Proposal for Alliance, and Sir George Grey's
scheme of Federal Union — His Recall and Ke-appoint-
ment — Prince Alfred's visit — Sir George Grey's appoint-
ment to New Zealand — The general tendency of his
Policy in South Africa . . . . . . . . 217-243

Chaptkr XI.

Sir P. E.Wodehouse — Withdrawal of Imperial Funds— Letters
Patent constituting Kaffraria a separate government —
Plan for the Settlement of Europeans in the Transkei
abandoned — Concessions to Kreli — Transfer of Natives
from the Colony to the Transkei — Relations between
the Governor and Parliament — Finance — Responsible
G ovcrnment — Separation-Remedial ^Measures -Alternate
Parliaments — The Session at Graliam's Town — Imperial
Act for the Annexation of British Kaffraria — Collisions
between the Governor and the Legislature — The Final
Struggle — Appeal to the country — Proposals to Abrogate
Parliament rejected — Sir Henry Barkly appointed Go-
vcrnor — Equality of Representation — Federation —
Responsible Government introduced . . . . 244-283


Chapter XII.

Natal : After its Occupation by Great Britain — Tlio Byrne
Emigration Scheme — Sir George Grey's visit — Kepresen-
tative Government — The Charter and the Franchise —
Commercial crisis — Supplementary Charter — Langaliba-
Icle's disturbances — Sir Garnet AVolsoW's Mission —
Amendment of the Constitution. — Guiquai.axd AVest :
Proclamation of Sovereignty — The Diamond Mines^-
Eiots and Lynch-law — Constitution grantetl — Mr.
Southcy Lieut.-Governor — Causes of Discontent — Armed
Bands — Arrival of Troops — Purchase of the ilinc —
Retrenchment — The Land Question — Settlement of
Disputes with the Orange Free State — Confederation :
Earl Carnarvon's Proposals for Union . . . . 284-308


Past and Present — Population, Revenue, Trade, and Productions
of the European Settlements — Tlie Cape Colony and its
Annexed Provinces ; its Institutions and Financial Con-
dition — Griqualand West — Xatal — The Orange Free
Slate and its Government — The Transvaal and its
Resources; Gold Fields; Political Constitution ; AdnK-
nistration of President Burgers; "War and Financial
Ditiiculties ; Union with the British Possessions — Native
Races.. .. .. .. .. .. 300- uCG



The Dutch East India, Company' s Settlement.
1652 to 1795.

Discovery of the Cape of Good Hope by the Portuguese — Formal
possession assumed by an English Fleet — The Dutch East
India Company — Settlement for the refreshment of their
ships — Van Riebeek's arrival — Monopoly of trade — Purchase
of land from the aborigines — Embryo colony in Van der
Stell's time — Anti-industrial policy — French Huguenot
refugees — Political troubles — Dispersion of the settlers —
Trekking — Extension of the Colony — Border difficulties —
Commando system — Demand for free trade — Arrival of
English fleet in 1795 — Close of the Dutch East India
Company's rule.

^ Although two himdred and twenty-five years have passed since
*^ the date of the first European occupation of South Africa, it is
only during the last sixty years that colonization has been fairly
and freely encouraged in the country. I For nearly a century and
a half, it was a mere mercantile settlement of the Dutch East
India Company, who held a monopoly of trade and checked and
prevented the formation of what is now understood as a " colony .^'
It is necessary to bear this fact in mind when instituting com-
parisons between the age and progress of the Cape of Good Hope,
and the remarkable advancement of the Anglo-Saxon communities
in America and Austraha. The latter, from the outset of their
career, enjoyed the favourable auspices of political freedom and
imfettered industrial enterprise ; y but the early settlers in South
Africa found themselves trammelled and repressed by a Govern-


ment which has been well described as — " in all things political,
purely despotic, and in all things commercial, purely monopolist.".

The Portuguese were the earliest discoverers of the Cape of
Good Hope. Bartholomew Diaz first rounded it in 1486, and
changed its name from the stormy one of " Cabo Tonnentoso "
to the one it now bears. Vasco de Gama followed in 1497,
pi'oceeding as far as Natal and Mozambique. Beyond resorting
to the bays along the coast for shelter or refreshment, these
voyagers did not make any use of the promontory they had
found on this ocean-route to the east. English and Dutch
navigators afterwards, on their way to India, visited Saldanha
bay and Table bay, and the commanders of one Enghsh fleet
(Shilliuge and Fitz-Herbert) landed and took formal possession
of " the South African coast and continent " in the name of His
Majesty James the First ; but no steps appear to have been
taken by the English government to ratify this act.

In 1602, a body of Dutch merchants who had successfully
engaged in commerce with the East planned a privileged company,
and obtained a charter from the States- General of the United
Provinces, on the ground among other things of the national ad-
vantages which would acci"ue therefrom. The charter delegated
to the Company the general powers of government over the ports
and other establishments beyond the Cape of Good Hope, " for
the advancement of their exclusive rights of trade." Some years
afterwards one of their richly-laden homeward bound ships, the
Haarlem, was wrecked in Table Bay, where her treasures have been
occasionally, even quite recently, recovered by divers. Her crew,
on iJnding their way back to Holland, strongly recommended tlie
advantages of establishing a rendezvous at the Cape for the
refreshment of their fleets, and this idea was afterwards acted
upon by the Company, who accordingly ordered possession to be
taken of a spot suitable to their object.

Jan iVnthony Van Hiebeek, a sm-geon in the employ of the
Company, who had previously sailed with outward bound ships


to India, was the officer chosen as first commander of this new
settlement. He was duly commissioned by the Chamber of
Seventeen, at Amsterdam, to occupj'- the " Cabo de Boa
Esperanea," and to build a fort and lay out gardens in Table
Valley. Accompanied by about a hundred souls, he arrived
under the shade of Table mountain, on the 5th April, 1652. His
followers were officers and servants of the company, a few of
whom, after landing, were released from their engagements, and
permitted to become "free burghers" or cultivators of the soil.
The daily life they led, and the progress made, are minutely
detailed in the quaint and interesting "journal" and "despatches"
of Van Ptiebeek and his successors, which are still preserved in
the archives of the colony. These shew that the settlement was
simply regarded as a dependency of the Company, and its affairs
administered with no other view than that of protecting and
sxipporting the commercial interests of that body. The principal
object was to supply its ships cheaply and plentifully — to get as
much profit as possible out of the burghers and the natives on
whom it was dependent for these supplies — and to prevent
them engaging in exchange or barter with any other than the
company's officers, — thus monopolising all trade for its own

Van Riebeek was very zealous in carrying out the instractions
and policy of his principals, and in his relations with the natives
was tolerably just and friendly. The aboriginal tribes had long
been in the habit of selling cattle to the shipping, and as it was
serviceable for the Company, every endeavour was made to live at
peace with them. To prevent any cavilling or discontent in
consequence of the appropriation of land by the settlers, an agree-
ment for the formal purchase of it was made in 1671, with
the Hottentot Prince Manckhagon alias Shacher, "hereditary
sovereign of the land of the Cabo de Bona Esperance," by which
the district beginning from the Lion Hill and extending along
the coast of Table Bay, with the Hout and Saldanha Bays


inclusive, was made over to the Company. In 1672, a similar
contract was made with " the minor Prince D'houw, hereditary
sovereign of the country called Hottentots Holland," for the
purchase of the land from the Cape district around its coast
and Cape False and Bay False. In both instances the price paid
was " four thousand reals of eight, in sundry goods and articles
of merchandize," delivered to the satisfaction of the contracting
natives, who appear to have lived on good terms with the Dutch
until some years afterwards they were decimated by small-pox.

Among the commanders who succeeded Van Riebeek, the most
able and conspicuously -active in impro\ang the settlement was
Simon Van der Stell. He was not satisfied with its remaining
a mere provision-station for the Dutch ships calling at Table
Bay, and suggested to the Company that something more should
be made of the country, by growing corn, wine and other products
which might yield rich returns. For this purpose he urged that
the number of residents should be increased, as there was land of
excellent character in abundance, but labourers were required
to tiU it. The directors of the Company in Holland, thereupon
determined to reinforce their garrison with a number of settlers
of tlie agricultural class. Their policy, as set forth in one of
their despatches, was prompted by the consideration that " he
who would establish a new colony may be justly compared to
a good gardener who expends a large sum upon a young
orchard, with the prospect of liis labour and capital being repaid
in due time." And had such a poUcy in its integrity been acted
upon, the subsequent history of the country would have been very
different. Although in these and other expressed aims and
intentions of the Company, there was much that was good and
beneficent ; yet practically, in all that affected the encouragement
or even the toleration of trade and industry amongst its subjects,
everything was held secondary to immediate profit.

Previous to Van der Stell's time, the mode of settling the
embryo colony had been by granting discharges to such of the


•Company's soldiers or servants as were married, of good character
and Protestants — giving them land for cultivation, assisting them
with slave labour and binding them to a residence of ten, and (to
induce their longer stay) their children to a residence of twenty
years; — their faithful services after a while securing for them
the rights of free burghership. These people, however, were
bound to sell their produce only to the Company, and were
denied the privilege of earning a penny by barter with the
natives or foreigners. When after expending their labours oir
the land, they found that a fair price for their goods was denied
them, they addressed to the Company's representative a strong
statement of their grievances, which was signed by tlie whole
body of colonists, " none excepted " — as their descendants have
frequently since, with equal boldness and unanimity, asserted their
regard for their own liberties. This remonstrance, however,
appeared to the directors " full of sedition and mutiny; " and the
burghers were warned not to present such papers in future, or
" severe measures would be provided against the same." As the
Company and their local representatives exercised the power of

Online LibraryJohn NobleSouth Africa, past and present; a short history of the European settlements at the Cape → online text (page 1 of 31)