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in complication and variety of device the most
ingenious display of pyrotechny. As many as
fifty-six distinct lightning flashes in every min-
ute may sometimes be counted, rising in this
way from one spot of the horizon ; and the
exhibition may be seen continuing on the same
scale for one or two hours at a time."

Tornadoes seldom occur. The only one I
remember was in 1850, which stripped the
native huts of their grass covering and tore
up trees by the roots, but soon spent itself
without causing loss of life. Natalians have
a way of guarding against sunstroke which
Americans might imitate ; they wear cork hel-
mets, well ventilated and covered with white.

The vital statistics of the colony show a
record of mortality said to be low, compared



274 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

with other countries. Persons troubled with
pulmonary complaints often derive substantial
aid, if the}" reach South Africa before the dis-
ease has become too deeply seated. Those
who have adopted Natal as their home are gen-
erally contented with their lot. At first some
of them had to " rough it," but persistent
industry rewarded many with the luxuries as
well as the comforts of life. I recall what was
designated as the " pumpkin and mealie (corn)
dispensation " of 1850. A number of immi-
grants, shipwrecked as they were crossing the
Natal sandbar, were for a time reduced to
straits, obliged to subsist on Indian corn and
pumpkins ; but they endured their trials brave-
ly and cheerfully, and now, being well off, can
remind their children, when they are disposed
to complain, of what their parents had to con-
tend with in those early colonial days. One
competent to speak from experience has
observed : —

" Natal is not a country in which to realize
a fortune. By steady work a man beginning
with even a small capital may rapidly acquire
a competence and a comfortable home. From
a social point of view Natal is altogether
delightful. A man who does not crave mil-
lions, but happiness, may assuredly lind the
latter."

In 1889, on account of the rapidly develop-
ing gold fields and rush to South Africa, the
demand for skilled labor was great. Artisans,
masons, carpenters, miners then obtained high



Facts Concernuig Natal. 275

wages. The times have changed somewhat,
but physicians, printers, lawyers, clerks, and
bookkeepers are now well remunerated.

The cost of living, though greater than it
was formerly, is not beyond the means of the
majority. Good beef, mutton, and bacon can
be had at twelve and one-half cents per pound.
Fish, at the seaport, is cheap and abundant.
Fowls are twenty-five cents apiece. Oysters
can be had by knocking them off the rocks at
low tide ; tliey are small, but of good flavor.
Game is sometimes obtainable in the market,
and vegetables of various kinds are abundant.
Fruit is plentiful and cheap. Bananas, pine-
apples, mangoes, oranges, mandarins, limes,
peaches, lemons, guavas, pawpaws, avocado
pears, custard-apples, and loquats are culti-
vated with great success. There are native
fruits such as the Cape gooseberry, granadilla
(fruit of the passion-vine), and itiingulu^ an
acid plum which is much used for preserves.
Apples and quinces thrive on higher land,
towards the north of the colony. The staple
production is Indian corn, of which two crops
can be raised during the year with a little
painstaking. This is the principal native food.
The Zulus, however, raise sweet potatoes and
beans to a large extent. Wheat and other ce-
reals do better inland, but not so well as in
Australia; hence the importation of flour from
that country.

Of the various colonial enterprises, that of
sugar culture stands at the head, the planta-



276 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

tions extending the whole length of the coun-
try. Mills are in operation and sugar of the
best quality is manufactured. The Natal
Central Sugar Company's manufactory at
Mount Edgecomb is the largest, having one
hundred Indian coolies employed at the mill,
besides nine hundred other laborers, natives
and coolies, on the farm connected with the
establishment.

Professor Maury predicted that Natal would
prove a good locality for the cultivation of
cotton, but his prediction has not been realized.
Every attempt to raise it has proved a failure.
Coffee for a time seemed to succeed, but tea
is now taking its place, the soil in many local-
ities being especially adapted for this plant.
The largest tea estate at Kearsney has over two
hundred acres under cultivation. The yield in
1887 was not far from eighty thousand pounds.
A competent judge says : —

" No enterprise promises such a fair return
upon capital invested, no occupation is sur-
rounded with greater attractions. It is at once
cleanly and interesting, and offers scope to the
inventive and mechanical energies of those
engaged therein."

The chief industry in the upland districts is
that of cattle and sheep farming. On the
coast, animals are severely bitten by ticks
which come from the grass. The tetse fly is
not found in Natal, but it is no uncommon thing
to see a cow or horse covered with ticks, which,
when filled with blood, are the size of a large



Facts Concerning Natal. 277

pea. The ears of the poor animals are much
affected. All that can be done is to rub on tar
and grease or carbolic acid and oil. One spe-
cies of tick adheres so firmly to the skin that
it has to be removed by the application of
sharp scissors. There is a smaller kind of tick,
not larger than the head of a pin, which human
beings have to encounter. It burrows in the
flesh, producing sensations anything but agree-
able. " Natal sores," which require ointments
for healing and sometimes poultices, are the
result of the bite, especially with persons not
acclimated. When these little, almost invis-
ible, insects get between the fingers, but partic-
ularly the toes, the irritation for a time is
almost unbearable. Clergymen, when preach-
ing, if thus disturbed, are sometimes obliged to
curtail their sermons !

Pleuro-pneumonia, or lung sickness, which
has swept away thousands, yea, hundreds of
thousands of cattle, is continually breaking out
in South Africa, inflicting serious loss upon the
farmers. As there are few fences, it is next to
impossible to keep diseased cattle in quaran-
tine as in this country, and thus " stamp out "
the disease. The method adopted to save
enough oxen for necessary work, and cows for
milk, is to inoculate them. Some resort to
di'enching the healthy cattle ; that is, pouring
down their throats two or three quarts of
water in which is some of the virus of a dis-
eased lung. This is to prevent contagion.
Hut the majority of farmers prefer to make an



278 Forty Tears Among the Zulus.

incision in the lower part of the animal's tail
and place there a seton with a few drops of
the virus. If it " takes " violently, the tail
swells and becomes a mass of putrefaction, and
is then chopped off, and if it rises again the
process is repeated. The unfortunate brutes
suffer greatly in warm weather for want of
something with which to brush off the flies.

Zulu cows are not noted for giving milk.
It takes as many as six of the average kind to
give as much as one good American cow. And
the}^ have this peculiarity, that they will not
let the milker have an}^ until the calves have
first been fed. The milkman has to dispute
with the calf as to who shall have the largest
portion. And in case the calf dies, its mother
refuses to give down her milk altogether. We
have tried to teach African cows better man-
ners, but all in vain. The horns of both oxen
and cows are large and wide-spreading, very
unlike those in New England.

There is another species of African pest,
which, though it does not, like the tick, attack
persons and animals, makes raids on food, cloth-
ing, books, and furniture. I refer to the ants.
The ant kingdom is an exceedingly interesting
one, an excellent description of which can be
found in Professor Drummond's Tropical
Africa. These ants, especially annoying to
housewives, are of a brownish color ; they
build their nests in the walls or under floors,
and forage in every direction, making the pan-
try their favorite resort. Black ants often



Facts Concerning Natal. ■ 279

l)uild their nest in a tree, and woe be to the
man who climbs it ! Baldwin, the hunter, tells
us of his ascending a tree overhanging a river,
in order to shoot a sea cow, and says : " But
the ants fell upon me so vigorously and in
such countless numbers, biting so severely, that
llesh and bh^od could not possibly hold out
another second, and I was forced to descend.
An old sea cow is indebted to the black ants
for her life."

The termites or white ants are the most
destructive, though, properly speaking, they
are not ants at all — '^ holding an intermediate
position between the orthopterous and hyme-
nopterous families." They work out of sight,
incessantly and indefatigably, forming galleries
of hardened clay which ramify in various
directions from the cell or nest of their king
and queen. They have a partiality for the
floors of dwelling houses, coming up through
them into boxes or trunks, not lined with tin,
converting their contents, however valuable,
into a state of pulp. They often give human
beings an unwelcome invitation to descend to
a level with themselves. Walking one day in
the parlor of a brother missionary, the floor
suddenly gave way, and J sank three or four
feet. On examination, I found that the ants
had consumed, not only the sleepers, but the
boards, rendering them too thin to support my
weight. They often attack books, eating the
margin as far as the print, at which they stop.
" In many parts of Africa," Professor Drum-



280 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

mond remarks, " I believe if a man lay down
to sleep with wooden leg, it would be a heap of
sawdust in the morning." Dr. Livingstone
wrote of them: "At some of their operations
they beat time in a curious manner. Hundreds
of them are engaged in building a large tube,
and they wish to beat it smooth. At a signal,
they all give three or four energetic beats on
the plaster in unison. It produces a sound
like the dropping of rain off a bush when
touched." The doctor regarded them as a
blessing to South Africa, as agents employed
in forming a fertile soil.^

It is interesting to observe the swarming pro-
cess ; so thick are they, and so white their
wings, they have not inaptly been compared to
" snowflakes floating about in the air." Cats,
dogs, and fowls devour them eagerly. The
natives also gather and roast them for eating,
regarding them as a luxury. Dr. Livingstone
once gave a chief a bottle of preserved apricots,
and asked if he had ever tasted anything nicer ;
his reply was : " Yes : white ants ! "

In some localities ant heaps rise to the height
of seven or eight feet. Traveling one winter
in the Orange Free State, where there was no
firewood, I was in a quandary as to how I should
get the wherewithal to boil my kettle. It oc-
curred to me that I might utilize an ant heap
near my wagon. Taking a spade, I cut off the
apex of the conical mound, made a fireplace at
the base, punched a hole from top to bottom for

1 Livingstone's Researches in South Africjv.



p



Facts Concerning Natal, 281

a flue, kindled a fire with some newspapers, and
soon had a fine stove though of a novel charac-
ter. On the top I placed the kettle, which soon
boiled, after which the natives who accompa-
nied me cooked their food.

The termites, not fancying the heat, ran in
every direction. When bedtime came, all the
natives had to do was to spread their mats on
the ground by the side of a beautiful fire, which
lasted till morning, thus sleeping with unusual
comfort. As is their custom when any ingen-
ious device is resorted to by white people,
baffling their own skill, they broke out next
morning with the expression: ^'•Yek'' ahelungu^
ha hlulwa 'kufa kodtva (O white men, nothing
conquers you but death) I "

I am not aware that any contrivance for the
extermination or extinction of the white ants
has proved successful. Tar, arsenic, strych-
nine, corrosive sublimate, and kerosene have
been tried, but in vain. The best remedy for the
time being I found was hot ashes. Taking up
the planks of a floor which the ants had begun
to devour, and removing their champings, I
sprinkled ashes freely about, which, clogging
their mandibles, caused them to leave in dis-
gust ; but only to renew operations in another
place.

The greatest curiosity connected with the
termites is the queen, which attains the size
and length of a man's finger, and resembles a
mass of white jelly. Professor Drummond says:
" She is two or tlu-ee inches in length ; in shape



282 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

like a sausage, and white like a bolster." Her
palace, or nest, is near the center of the heap,
varying in size, but ordinarily just large enough
to accommodate her majesty and the king, who
is the size of an ordinary ant. No mason's
trowel could make the sides of her abode
smoother or neater than is done by the workers
in the ant colony. In her cell she must remain,
for the place of egress and ingress is only large
enough to accommodate the common ant, and
when she has laid a countless number of eofo-s
she must die. It has been said that when she
dies, or is removed, — like bees when their queen
is destroyed, — the ants remove to another
place ; but I have been unable to verify this.

The great enemy of the termites is the ant-
bear, an animal as large as a ^ood-sized wolf,
with a long nose, but a much longer tongue.
It burrows into an ant heap, and puts out its
tongue, upon which the insects creep uncon-
scious of danger. When well covered, the
tongue is drawn in, and the process is repeated
until the hunger of the animal is appeased.
Ant-bear holes are so common in South Africa
that horseback riders have to use great caution
lest they fall into them.







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CHAPTER XXX.

PHYSICAL FEATURES AND POLITICAL AFFAIRS.

DURBAN is the seaport town of Natal,
and has a popnlation, including natives
and Asiatics, of nearly 30,000. Its large and
substantial buildings, especially the town hall,
which cost about £50,000, would be an ornament
to any English or American city. Its surround-
ings are exceedingly picturesque. On the
"Berea," an elevation in the suburbs, reached
by tram cars, are numerous and tasteful cot-
tages which command a fine view of the light-
house and outer anchorage. Its botanical
garden, well stocked with flowers, plants, and
trees, exotic and indigenous, and under the
supervision of a scientific curator, is a favorite
place of resort. The streets are wide, hard,
and kept scrupulousl}" clean. Water is at pres-
ent brought from a small stream a short dis-
tance from the town, but a scheme is projected
for conveying a larger supply from a river ten
miles away at an expense' of £30,000. The
matter of defense is not overlooked. A bat-
tery, to be furnished with guns of the latest
model, commanding the entrance to the bay,
is in process of construction.

As Durban is one of the principal gateways
to the Transvaal, the El Dorado in South Africa,

283



284 Forty Years Among the Zulus,

it has before it the brightest prospects, and bids
fair to become a second Melbourne or San Fran-
cisco. There seems no reason why it should
not be a coaling station for steamers from Amer-
ica to China by way of the Cape of Good Hope,
as well as from England to Australia.

In point of religious and literary privileges
the town is highly favored, having large and
commodious churches, able ministers, a public
library, reading room, and two daily news-
papers. The Natal Mercury, an old and
popular paper, has for its chief editor a
gentleman of great ability. Sir John Robinson,
who has lately received the honor of knight-
hood. His love and labors for the good of his
adopted country prove him to be a Natalian of
the right stamp. With untiring patience he
has " dinned into the colonial ears for the last
quarter of a century " their need of responsible
government. May he live to see this boon
secured! A keen observer has justly re-
marked, " The three-cornered South African
problem is no longer Blacks, Boers, and Brit-
ish, but Republicanism, Responsible Colonial-
ism, and Crown Colonialism. Until Natal
strikes for freedom and gains a voice in the
direction of its own affairs, it will be behind
in the great northern race."

The Natalians have voted, with a small
majority however, to ask the home government
for tlie privilege of ruling themselves. But
the question has not yet been decided. Evi-
dently expecting it, the progressive party, with



Physical Features. 285

Sir John Robinson at their head, have drafted
a new responsible constitution for the colony
and presented it to the Legislative Council.
Among the things recommended, I am glad to
see that an annual grant of .£20,000 has been
devoted to " raise the natives in the scale of
civilization."

Maritzburg, the colonial capital, fifty miles
from Durban, with which it is connected by
rail, has been called the loveliest of South
African towns. I think it deserves that appel-
lation. Its streets are lined with tall Austra-
lian gums, which answer the twofold purpose
of shade and lightning conductors. Good
drinking water is brought in aqueducts from
a fountain in the suburbs. Fort Napier, on
an elevation just outside, commands the city
and surroundings. Prominent among build-
ings are the legislative hall, hospital, and the
residence of the governor. In the center is
an immense square for market purposes, at
the end of which is a neat granite monu-
ment commemorative of colonists who fell in
the Zulu war. Opposite the legislative hall
stands a fine statue of Queen Victoria, also
a bust of Sir Bartle Frere, a statesman whose
memory is cherished with profound respect by
all Natalians. The scenery about the capital
is exceedingly beautiful, and on the road lead-
ing to the coast the traveler, if he lias been
in Switzerland, is often reminded of that coun-
try. Lofty cliffs and huge rocks give variety
to the view. In some parts of the colony are



286 Forty Years Among the Zulus.



seen immense slabs of granite on hillsides,
apparently just ready to launch into deep
ravines below, the earth having been washed
away from underneath. One, near Esidumbini,
measures one hundred feet in length, ninety
in width, and thirty in thickness. A cave
underneath served as a hiding place for Zulus
in the time of Chaka.

No thorough geological survey of Natal has
been made as yet. A few years ago, there
appeared in The Natal Journal the following
brief, but good, description : —

" The country is composed of granite, gneiss,
trap, sandstone, and shale. Of sandstone there
are two kinds, the old coarse species, which
forms the summits of the Table Mountains, and
a much finer grained sort which is associated
with carboniferous strata containing impressions
of vegetable remains imbedded in the layers.
The trap is of different ages. The shale is
sometimes gray and sometimes red, and is fis-
sured and laminated. Enormous masses of trap
rock are scattered over the face of the country.
The bed of every water course is encumbered
with them. The granite hills inland are gener-
ally broad, low, and smoothly rounded protru-
sions. These are square, tabular elevations,
molded entirely of trap, and may be at once
distinguished by the eye from the true sand-
stone-slabbed Table Mountains, notwithstanding
their general resemblance. There is abundant
evidence that during past centuries volcanic
eruptions have had much to do in mingling to-



Physical Features. 287

gether in a most confused manner various kinds
of rocks in every part of the colony."

A few gold mines are worked both in Natal
and Zululand, but none have as yet proved as
rich as those in tlie Transvaal. But beds of
good coal are extensive in the upper districts,
and are destined greatly to enrich the colony.
Steamers plying between Durban and London
are using it instead of English coal, and South
America is applying to the colonial government
for a monthly supply.

The flora of Natal presents much tliat is
attractive and beautiful and well worth atten-
tion. During the rainy season the country is
brilliant with flowers, and even when the rains
have ceased many more quiet but interesting
plants may be found. Perhaps no orders are
more fully represented than the Legmninosce
and Compositce. Examples of the former are
the Kaftir boom, with its showy scarlet blos-
soms and bright red seeds with the black spot
around the hilum, used by natives and white
children alike for necklaces. Throughout the
colonv can be found the acacias. An Austra-
lian species has been introduced and is exten-
sively cultivated for the bark, which is sent to
England for tanning purposes.

Among the Compositce^ those which are bet-
ter known than the others are the everlastings
or immortelles, the pink and yellow being very
common, while the silvery-white variety, with
the delicate pink tinge around tlie disk, is found
in the upper districts. One species of nywr



288 Forty Years Among the Zulus.



phcea, the blue water lily, is quite numerous.
The arum, erroneously called calla in America,
is found in almost every marshy place.

Tlie beautiful blue and white agapanthus,
the graceful littonia, and sandei'sonia, and
the aloes are among the members of the lily
family. Many of the so-called lilies in Natal
belong to the order amariillidacece ; as, for
example, the *' Natal lily," with its pink-
veined perianth, and the " fire lily," Avhose
showy scarlet bells contrast vividly with the
blackness of the hills after the annual burning
of the grass.

A few epiphytic, and numerous terrestrial,
orchids are found in Natal. Some are showy
and conspicuous, while others are dull and
hardly distinguishable fi'om the grass. Among
the cycads, the stangeria is a beautiful form,
with its long, frond-like leaves and central cone.
Grasses and sedges abound, and the lover of
ferns would have no lack of material for inves-
tigation.

Palms and wild bananas and the ungainly
euphorbias are conspicuous among the larger
plants.

The trees used for cabinetwork are yellow-
wood Qpodocarpus') ; sneezewood (^pteroxylon
utile) ; stink wood (oreodaphne bullata)^ so called
for its odor, which, however, is useful, in that
worms do not attack it ; black ironwood (^olea
laurifolia)^ a hard, solid wood which takes a
fine polish ; and many others of which more
use could be made than has been 3^et attempted.



Physical Features. 289

Waterfalls in Natal are common and beauti-
ful. From numerous fountains in the hillsides
there issue streams which roll down till they
unite with rivers winding their way to the
Indian Ocean. A perpendicular fall of three
hundred and sixty feet on the Umgeni River is
one of surpassing beauty. A Dutch farmer, in
attempting to cross the ford about a hundred
yards above, in an ox-wagon, had a most nar-
row escape. His " forelooper " (ox leader), a
Zulu lad of sixteen years, could not swim, and
was told by his master to get into the wagon.
The Dutchman knew his oxen well — had often
seen them swim through swollen streams, and
believed he could trust them in this instance.
Alas ! he had not calculated on the rapidity of
the current. The oxen could not reach the
opposite landing, and to his horror he found
that bullocks, wagon, and all were approaching
the rapids. The native, losing his presence of
mind, plunged into the river and was soon taken
over the fall. The Dutchman, made of different
stuff, concluded that so long as there was life
there was hope, and made a desperate attempt
to save himself. He cracked his long whip
most energetically, calling on each ox by name
to do his best. The brave fellows, inspired
doubtless by the frantic cries of their driver,
swam for dear life. The two leaders got a foot-
hold on the bank, and just as the wagon swung
about, within a few feet of the abyss, the faithful
beasts drew it out and up to a place of safety.

The political affairs of Natal are administered



290 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

by a governor, appointed by the crown, aided
by an executive and legislative council, com-
posed of thirty members, who retain their seat
for four years. The administration of justice is
conducted by a supreme court, by courts of
macristrates in various counties, also bv circuit
courts held when required. A special judge is


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