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and obtain assistants for his work. In the following year he
applied to the East India Company for permission to return ;
but an objection having been made by some persons of
influence that the propagation of Christianity by the Moravians
amongst the Hottentots would be detrimental to the interests
of the colony, his request was refused, to his great grief and
disappointment. A long night of darkness and misery was
yet before the wretched Hottentots.' J

It is interesting to learn that the seed thus sown has borne
good fruit, and that Genadendal has now (1891) a population
of 4000 natives, many of whom go out as labourers among the
farmers during the harvest and wine-pressing season. The
whole body of Moravians, according to the census of 1891,
numbered 16,297, of whom only 169 were Europeans. Such
was the proselytising force that the ignorant Boers thrust from
their gates a force that has tended by precept and by example
1 Theal's Compendium of South African History, p. HO.

The South African Colonies 1 29

to teach the true value of labour, and to provide a class of
agriculturists and handicraftsmen most useful to the colonists.
But of course those men who spurned the efforts of Christianity
and philanthropy without scrupling afterwards to gain what
advantage they could from the mission-Hottentots' labour
were the forefathers of those voertrekkers who burned Dr.
Livingstone's house and books at Kuruman, and tried to bar
the way to the interior.

It may also be asked how far slavery, which proved to be
such a curse both to West Africa and the West Indies, blighting
both the land that gave the slave and the land that received
him, affected South Africa. Upon consideration it will be
clear that as there was no mining industry, as in Hispaniola,
or any tropical industry, such as sugar, coffee, or cocoa planting,
in South Africa, there could be no very great need of hordes
of imported slaves. Moreover, the Cape possessed a climate in
which the European could work all day, and nearly all the year
round, if he chose ; whereas the West Indies and Central
America were wholly unsuited to him. Slaves were very use-
ful, of course, to the wine-growers, the graziers and herdsmen ;
but such industries as the Cape could develop formerly were
purely local, hardly any produce being exported to the markets
of Europe. No great pecuniary profit could, therefore, accrue
to the South African farmer from the possession of slaves in
any way comparable to that which was the lot of sugar-planters,
for instance, in Jamaica.

In the Cape slavery was a matter of recent growth com-
pared to the traffic that went on in the Caribbean Seas.
Previous to 1685, the only slaves at the Cape were some ten or
twelve individuals, and these came not from the West African
coasts but from Malaya and Madagascar. In 1691 their
number had risen to 285 men slaves, 57 women slaves, and
44 slave children ; the European colonists at this time only
numbering 250 men, 50 women, and 60 or 70 children. The
terms of servitude were not very hard in the early days of the
Cape Colony, and there was a charitable inclination displayed

130 British Colonisation

towards the blacks, when a profession of Christianity and an
ability to talk Dutch were considered sufficient grounds for
claiming emancipation. We may contrast this with the con-
ditions of the island of Jamaica, where the annual quantity of
slaves imported from Africa and retained in the island, on an
average of many years, amounted to 5700, the whole slave
population there reaching, in 1792, the enormous total of

250J000. 1

Still, the evils of slavery were bad enough as time went on
in the Cape Colony, and as the voertrekkers wandered into the
interior beyond the pale of law and order. Towards the close
of the eighteenth century travellers reported that bands of
runaway slaves caused terror and alarm to lonely homesteads.
They were not numerous enough to cause a servile war, as in
the West Indian islands ; and, the back-country being open
and wide, they could get beyond the range of punishment
or pursuit. Sparrmann throws a little light upon the state of
society when he remarks, during a visit at a Dutch Boer's
house not far from Capetown : ' Being but two Christians
among twelve or fourteen men slaves, we bolted the door fast,
and had five loaded pieces hung.' Even the heights of Table
Mountain were not safe for a wandering botanist or ento-
mologist, who at any moment stood the chance of being
assailed by a predatory band of runaways. The Buganese or
Malays were said by Sparrmann to be particularly revengeful
a quality they seem now certainly to have lost in the Cape
acclimatisation. At the same time, he observes that the slaves
were often treated ' kindly and familiarly ' by some of the

England came to the Cape (1805) with clean hands as far
as the slave trade was concerned, the abolition of the slave
trade taking place in 1807 ; nor had she, in this country at
least, either the temptation or the opportunity to sully her
hands. But the Boers never could understand the height and

1 Notices respecting Jamaica in 1808, 1809, 1810. By Gilbert Mathison.

The South African Colonies 131

depth of her repentance. Living cheek by jowl with Hottentots
and bushmen, they regarded it as a divine ordinance that the
blacks should be hewers of wood and drawers of water, and,
being uneducated and isolated men, remained completely un-
affected by that extraordinary wave that swept over Europe and
touched every part of the West Indies. The compensation
money, amounting to the sum of ^1,200,000, at ^85 per slave,
salved but by no means satisfied the Boers, who, being un-
businesslike men, did not profit by England's generosity, or
even claim their money.

Such, indeed, in some of its main features, was the settlement
which the English took over finally in 1805 : unpromising
enough in certain respects, and as a place of production,
agricultural or otherwise, poor beyond measure, and not to be
compared for a moment even with one of the West Indian
islands. To speak figuratively, the Cape Colony was a
derelict, a wreck of old Dutch rule, brought to disaster by un-
skilful steering, and floating bottom uppermost in these
southern waters. If left alone it would be dangerous to all
navigation, and especially English navigation; and England
determined to take it under tow. 1

1 For facts and figures see Appendix V. Section A F.

References :

Theal's Compendium of South African History, 1877.

Theal's History of South Africa, 1888.

Natal: its Land and Story, by Robert Russell, 1891.

Greswell's Our South African Empire, 1884.

Gres well's Geography of Africa South of the Zambesi, 1892.

South Africa, from Arab Rule to British Domination, by R. W.

Murray, 1891.
Travels and Voyages, by Sparrmann, Barrow, Livingstone, etc. etc.



WHILST the outlines of New France and New England were
being sketched upon the map, and the islands, rivers, and
mighty valleys of the western world were being explored and
colonised by the rival nations of Europe ; whilst the tropical
islands of the Caribbean Seas were pouring their garden wealth,
as from the horn of Amalthea, into the lap of Europe ; whilst
intrepid merchants ran the longitudes down the simmering
coasts of West Africa, anchoring in the rivers, traversing the
lagoons, bringing back gold-dust, ivory, and palm-oil from

' ... the realm

Of Congo and Angola furthest south,
Or thence from Niger flood to Atlas mount ' ;

(MILTON'S Paradise Lost}

whilst beyond the stormy Cape, immortalised by Camoens,
Further India and the Spice Islands were making the merchants
of Lisbon, Amsterdam, and London rich ; the great island
continent of Australia lay obscure and undeveloped in the
wastes of the South Pacific.

There was no El Dorado nor kingdom of classic fame which
even rumour could assign to this distant southern land, cut off
for ever by the truly ' dissociabilis Oceanus ' from the rest of
the world ; nor was there even the ruin of an ancient kingdom
or people no fabled Timbuctoo, no seat of empire like that
of * Cambalu, seat of Cathaian Cham/ no * seat of Montezume,'


The Australian Colonies 133

no * richer seat of Atabalipa, and yet unspoiled Guiana,' to stir
the sailor's imagination and whet the edge of enterprise.

Milton's fancy, bounded by his geographical knowledge,
followed the route eastward taken by the merchants of
Portugal and the other nations who pursued their course
thither after them. This was the well-known route round the
stormy Cape, past Mozambique, far to the north again where

* ... north-east winds blow
Sabaean odours from the spicy shores
Of Araby the blest.'

True it was that the Straits of Magellan, the gateway of the
Pacific, both north and south, were known, and the mariner's
eye had, long before Milton wrote, surveyed the world's waters
from ' cold Estotiland ' as far south as * beneath Magellan ' ;
still, the centre of attraction lay in the North Pacific waters,
round the Philippines, the Moluccas, and the Malay Archi-
pelago, rather than the South Pacific.

For the sake of clearness it may be pointed out that there
are three prominent periods in the history of South Pacific
exploration and of Australian discovery, viz. : (i) that of the in-
dividual adventurers, pioneers, and buccaneers, resembling in
motive and conception the West Indian 'age of the buccaneers,'
Spain being in both cases the object of attack, and Spanish
booty the prize held in view ; (2) that of more definite official
interference, when the task of South Sea discovery was taken
out of the hands of individuals and more or less sanctioned
by the British Government; (3) that of final occupation
and colonisation, beginning with the proclamation of the King's
sovereignty by Captain Cook in New South Wales.

For Englishmen perhaps the most exciting period of South
Pacific discovery is that of the bold buccaneers, who carried
on their hazardous occupation with equal daring here as in
the Caribbean Seas. The voyages of these adventurers
created a hardy race of seamen without their equal in Europe,
and those who commanded in the South Seas were nearly all

134 British Colonisation

Englishmen. Davis, a celebrated leader, had under him a
fleet of nine or ten vessels, with 1000 men to man them.
Within a space of thirty-six years, i.e. between 1686 and 1722,
it is said that the buccaneers circumnavigated the globe no less
than six times. Nor were the sailors of France, especially of
St. Malo, behindhand in the exciting work of privateering,
no fewer than fourteen vessels being equipped in one year
(1721) by the merchants of St. Malo. The sailors of northern
France were as keen as the sailors of our western ports of
Bristol and Plymouth. Their places of rendezvous were
islands such as Tortuga in the West Indies and the lonely
island of Juan Fernandez, off the coast of Chili, the abode of
Robinson Crusoe. They crossed and recrossed the Isthmus
of Darien, and were at home equally in the Caribbean as they
were in South Pacific waters. Sometimes they took up log-
wood-cutting in the Bay of Campeche, intruding upon Spanish
territory here ; but Dampier, the prince of buccaneers, himself
remarked that the Spaniards should make light of their
trespass, as the buccaneers were far less dangerous to them
when thus employed than when carrying on their buccaneering
raids. Amongst the buccaneers were all sorts and conditions
of men, young and old, high-born and low-born.

But the objects of the buccaneers were mainly predatory,
and they haunted well-known ocean routes, intercepted
galleons, and stormed cities rather than set out in search of
the visionary Notasia or Land of the South. It is generally
accepted now that a Dutch crew, setting out from Java in the
Dove, were the first Europeans to set foot upon Australian soil.
To make a long story of exploration short a story which
belongs really to the maritime history of Holland they were
followed up by Dirk Hartog, 1616; by Edel, 1619; by Peter
Nuyts, who entered the Great Australian Bight ; by General
Carpenter, who gave his name to the Gulf of Carpentaria ; and
by Pelsart and Tasman, 1642.

The Dutch, indeed, began to proclaim themselves * lords of
the Southern Seas,' a fact alluded to by Pepys in his Diary

The Australian Colonies 135

(February 15, 1663-4). He records that 'This afternoon Sir
Thomas Chamberlin came to the office to me and showed me
several letters from the East Indys, showing the height that
the Dutch are come to there, showing scorn to all the English
even in our only factory there at Surat, beating several men,
and hanging the English standard St. George under the Dutch
flag in scorn : saying, that whatever their masters do or say at
home, they will do what they list, and be masters of all the
world there ; and have so proclaimed themselves soveraigne of
all the South Seas ; which certainly our King cannot endure,
if the Parliament will give him money.'

The day of reckoning with the Dutch was to come. Eng-
land could never forget or forgive J:he bloody affair of Amboyna,
which happened in 1623, and gave birth to use the words of
Campbell in his Lives of the Admirals to England's national
hatred of the Dutch, which existed long and had such fatal
effects. At Amboyna, a small island of the Moluccas, the
English had a house and the Dutch a strong fort garrisoned
with 200 soldiers. Upon what was said to be a trumped-up
charge of conspiracy with the Indians of Ternate and the King
of Tidore against the Dutch Governor, the English traders and
residents were tortured and put to death. This summary act
was known as ' the massacre of Amboyna,' and the English
continued to demand satisfaction for it from 1623 to 1672.

In the year 1699 Great Britain began to inaugurate more
definitely the period of official intervention in the affairs of
the Pacific. The age of filibustering and of privateering was
gradually disappearing, and the maritime nations of Europe
were approaching the task of final adjustment and delimitation.
England being at peace with her neighbours, King William
ordered an expedition for the discovery of new countries and
for the examination of New Holland, as Australia was termed,
and New Guinea. The man placed in charge of the expedition
was William Dampier, a Somersetshire sailor.

Whilst carrying out his instructions on board the Roebuck^ a
sloop of twelve guns and fifty men, placed at his disposal by the

136 British Colonisation

Government, Dampier made some observations on the scenery
and products of Western Australia round Shark's Bay. Along
the bay the soil was sandy, and ' further in it is of a reddish
mould, a sort of sand, producing grass, plants, and shrubs. Of
trees and shrubs are various sorts, but none above ten feet
high. Some of the trees were sweet-scented, and reddish
within the bark, like sassafrass, but redder. The blossoms of
the different sorts of trees are of several colours, but mostly
blue, and smelt very sweet and fragrant.' The kangaroo he
described as a sort of racoon, differing from those of the West
Indies chiefly in the legs. He noticed also the iguanas, sharks,
green turtles, and fish, and even the shells, Dampier display-
ing in his narrative those powers of accurate observation of
nature which were peculiar to him. On the whole, however,
the first glimpse of the Australian shores did not augur well ;
and it was probably owing to his descriptions of the dryness
of this great Thirst Land that explorers were kept away from
the continent.

Leaving Australia, Dampier directed his course to New
Guinea, following the coast south-west and west ; discovering
that ' the east land was not joined to New Guinea,' he called it
New Britain. Dampier's homeward voyage was -prosperous
until he reached Ascension, where the Roebuck, an old and
worn-out ship, sprang a leak, and he was compelled to abandon
her. A few weeks afterwards he found his way home on board
an English ship-of-war which anchored at Ascension. Thus
ended the first official attempt to examine the coasts of New

Later on Dampier persuaded the Bristol merchants to fit
out another expedition of two ships for the purpose of plunder-
ing the Spaniards. The crews numbered 321, and Captain
Woodes Rogers was placed in command, Dampier being the
pilot. Their cruise in the Pacific was successful, and at the
island of Juan Fernandez, the usual rendezvous of the
buccaneers, they discovered Alexander Selkirk. His rescue is
thus described : ' The pinnace came back immediately from the

The Australian Colonies 137

shore, and brought abundance of cray-fish ; and with a man
clothed in goat-skins, who looked more wild than the first
owners of them. He had been on the island four years and
four months. His name was Alexander Selkirk, a Scotchman,
who had been master of the Cinque Ports galley, a ship which
came here with Captain Dampier, who told me he was the
best man in her : so I immediately agreed with him to be mate
on board our ship.'

Pursuing his object of sweeping the Pacific and plundering
the Spaniards, Woodes Rogers captured the town of Guayaquil
and took booty to the value of ,21,000, together with 27,000
dollars ransom. A Manilla ship, laden with merchandise and
;i 2,000 in gold and silver, fell into his hands. Turning his
face homewards, Woodes Rogers finally reached the Thames
with money and merchandise valued at 1 50,000. From this
date nothing more is known of William Dampier, his end being
wrapped in obscurity. Yet no career was, after a fashion, more
extraordinary. Compared with its varied and chequered
aspect, the adventures of Alexander Selkirk, or of such sailors
as Lionel Wafer, the shipmate of Dampier and the hero of
many wonderful exploits in the South Seas, or indeed of the
majority of the buccaneer leaders, may be regarded only in the
light of casual events. Dampier's active seafaring life extended
over forty years.

The voyage of Woodes Rogers having been crowned with so
much success, the Bristol merchants again fitted out two ships
for the South Seas in 1 7 18. Captains Shelvocke and Clipperton
were placed in command, but unfortunately the expedition was
badly conducted and did not succeed. Shelvocke took some
prizes, and published an account of his voyage in 1726, which
has a literary interest as being the book which prompted the
picturesque imagery of the immortal Ancient Mariner of
Coleridge. Shelvocke described the weird ocean scenery of
Patagonia and Cape Horn ; how the navigators experienced
such extreme cold when driven into the latitude of 61 30' S.,
that a sailor fell with benumbed fingers from the mainsail and

138 British Colonisation

was drowned. * In short, one would think it impossible that
anything living could subsist in so rigid a climate : and indeed
we all observed that we had not the sight of one fish of any
kind since we were come to the southward of the Streights of
Le Mair ; not one seabird, except a disconsolate black albatross
who accompanied us for several days, hovering about us for
a long time as if he had lost himself; till Hatley (my second
captain) observing, in one of his melancholy fits, that this bird
was always near us, imagined from its colour that it might be
some ill omen. That which, I suppose, induced him the more to
encourage his superstition was the continued series of contrary
tempestuous winds which had oppressed us ever since we had
got into this sea. But, be that as it would, he, after some
fruitless attempts, at length shot the albatross, not doubting,
perhaps, that we should have a fair wind after it.

In November 1739 Captain George Anson was despatched
to attack the Spanish trade and settlements in the South Seas,
in command of a fleet of six ships of war and two storeships.
This expedition cruised against the Spaniards with success, the
town of Payta being taken and a number of prizes being
captured. The galleon of Acapulco, with an immense amount
of wealth on board, was captured. But the voyage of Anson
will ever be memorable on account of that cruel and unjustifi-
able order that despatched five hundred invalids from among
the out-pensioners of Chelsea to endure the terrors and hard-
ships of the passage of the Straits of Magellan. Not one of
these poor men lived to return to his native land.

Another severe blow was struck at the commerce of Spain
in 1762 by the capture of Manilla. Spain having entered into
an alliance with France in consequence of the family compact
of the house of Bourbon, England declared war against Spain
as well as France. A force was sent from our East India
settlements, particularly Madras, for the conquest of the
Philippine Islands under General Draper and Admiral Cornish.
Arriving at Manilla, this force stormed and took the town in
October 1762 ; but to save so fine a city from destruction the

The A ustralian Colonies 1 39

English agreed to accept a ransom amounting to ,1,000,000
sterling. The settlement has been described as superlatively
rich. Five large vessels sailed yearly to Acapulco in Mexico
freighted with diamonds from Golconda, cinnamon from
Ceylon, pepper from Sumatra and Java, cloves and nutmegs
from the Moluccas and Banda Islands, camphire from Borneo,
ivory from Cambodia, silks, tea, and china-ware from China.
These ships returned laden with Mexican silver, and made
400 per cent, profit on their voyage.

The * Manilla ransom ' was never paid by the Spaniards, and
formed a subject of notice and animadversion in two of Junius'
Letters. 1 Junius regarded the remission of the sum of money
due to England as part of a feeble and retrograde policy to
be classed with ' the alienation of the affection of the American
colonists, the shameful abandonment of Corsica, the languish-
ing of commerce, and the threatening of public credit with a
new debt.'

The intervention of France in the affairs of the Pacific offers
a fresh landmark and a distinct political departure. When
the French power was finally broken in Canada, and the valley
of the St. Lawrence, as well as the maritime settlements along
the east coast, handed over to England by the Treaty of Paris
in 1763, some of the more adventurous and intrepid of the
French sailors turned their attention to the South Seas. The
men of St. Malo, with their accustomed zeal and enterprise,
had adventured as far south as the Falkland Islands, and given
them the name of lies Malouines. This lonely outpost, com-
manding as it does the entrance to the Straits of Magellan and
the passage round Cape Horn, seemed likely to acquire a new
value in case any great trade or commerce could be developed
in the waters of the South Pacific. The Frenchmen intro-
duced horses and cattle, and the Falklands promised to be a
kind of second St. Helena as a recruiting place for vessels, the
harbours being many and good, and the climate well adapted
for the growth of provisions.

1 Nos. iii. and iv.

140 British Colonisation

Amongst the individual Frenchmen who had distinguished
themselves in the campaigns in Canada was M. Bourgainville.
It was plain to him, as well as to all others who had the colonial
prosperity of France at heart, that if North America were lost
some compensation should be found in the southern hemisphere.
Accordingly, by way of taking the first step, he proposed to
the French . Government that, if they would allow him, he
would make a settlement on the Falkland Islands at his own
expense. The people he wished to take with him were those
unfortunate Frenchmen, many of them Malouines by extraction,
who had been driven by the American War from their homes
in Acadia and New Brunswick. They were splendid colonis-
ing material, and as fishermen and sailors were well known
along the tempestuous North American seaboard.

The Falkland Islands were already a place of resort for the
New England whalers and fishermen. In his speech on
* Conciliation with America,' Edmund Burke said :

' Look at the manner in which the people of New England
have of late carried on the whale fishery. Whilst we follow them
among the tumbling mountains of ice, and behold them pene-
trating into the deepest frozen recesses of Hudson's Bay and
Davis's Straits, whilst we are looking for them beneath the
Arctic Circle, we hear that they have pierced into the opposite
region of polar cold, that they are at the Antipodes, and
engaged under the frozen Serpent of the South. Falkland
Island, which seemed too remote and romantic an object for

Online LibraryWilliam Henry Parr GreswellOutlines of British colonisation → online text (page 12 of 31)