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off as occasion requires to refresh the plants, and create luxuriance of growth in a spot otherwise doomed to sterility. The generous proprietor permits free access at all times to strangers, and also to the inhabitants of Cape Town on certain days of the week—an example which might be beneficially followed by the conservators of some of our botanic gardens at home. He also furnishes specimens, either for the hortus-siccus, or for cultivation, to such as are anxious to obtain them. Altogether, it is a sweet place, and furnishes an instructive and agreeable lounge, particularly striking in contrast with the country around, where the landscape presents few trees, and none save those which have been planted by the hand of art. Being somewhat of an amateur in gardening, and particularly interested in the succulent tribe of vegetation, I had brought with me a few scores of the cactus family, fruit-bearing and others. These I presented to the baron as a small accession to his stock; and fain hope that their progeny may yet find their way to many an African farm, and yield flowers and fruit superior to what the hedges of the common prickly pear have hitherto afforded.
Rejoining my com nions at the Phænix, we dined, slept, and had breakfast; and for this our bill was nine shillings each, which may be taken as a specimen of the charges of respectable inns at the Cape. Not wishing, however, to be long an inndweller, I went out with one of my comrades similarly inclined in search of private lodgings, which we found at the house of a Dutchman, at the rate of 25. 6d. a-day—a rate more in accordance with my Scotch economy than those of the Phønix. I now began to make inquiries at persons of experience respecting the nature of the adjacent country, and the prospects of success it held out to such as wished to engage in farming pursuits. Good land in the neighbourhood of Cape Town, and indeed in any situation convenient for markets, sold at a high price, and could seldom be obtained at a rate advantageous to a new settler of limited means. A few thousand pounds in his pocket might enable him at times to pick up a bargain, but, generally speaking, the best of the farms were permanently occupied, and only occasionally came into the market. Inferior lands could more frequently be got hold of, and at a much lower figure; but such, from the deficiency of water, and the arid nature of the climate, were unquestionably dear at any price. Without enlarging, therefore, on other people's opinions, and giving their experience of the advantages and disadvantages of the colony-opinions and experience which I found to be of a very conflicting character-I resolved to take a look at the interior, and judge for myself. Before doing so, however, I took several rambles through the town, and ascended the Lion's Rump through clumps of opuntias, aloes, lobelias, crassulas, fig-marigolds, geraniums, proteas, heaths, and other characteristic vegetation now common to British gardens and conservatories.
It was necessary, before setting out on my overland journey to the eastern districts, to procure an animal for the road; and so I sought the horse-market, which is held on the paradeground every Saturday morning, Here hacks of all sorts were exposed for sale — the sales being conducted by auction. I soon purchased a Rosinante, with saddle and bridle, for 108 dollars-making in all £8, 2s. sterling---no great price, certainly, for horseback accommodation; but that accommodation was far from being of first-rate description. Mr F, who proposed to accompany me in the journey, also bought a pony at a low figure-saddle, bridle, and animal as it stood—in fact, a mere apology for a horse; but economy was the order of the day, and we hoped to get over the road by easy stages and regular feeding. From all I could see of the sale of horses, prices were much the same as in England, except for superiorly-bred animals, which went decidedly higher. We got our sorry nags into stable, under charge of a Dutchman, paying for their keep 2s. 6d. a-day. While in town, I also visited the general market, which is held every morning at daybreak, in a square appropriated to the purpose. Hither the surrounding farmers, to the distance of some hundred miles, bring their grain, winé, skins, tallow, oat-hay, &c. for disposal. Wagons heavily laden came onwards, drawn by from fourteen to twenty oxen, with a Hottentot or other coloured person leading the front pair, and a driver urging on the others with an immense whip, whose cracks re-echoed like a pistol-shot. Some wagons were drawn by horses, and others by mules, of which eight or
ten sufficed to get on at a rapid rate. The sales are effected in Dutch, and the auctioneer carries on the biddings in a low monotonous drawl, which to me, as yet being one of the unknown tongues, I could not tell the prices realised, and soon ceased to take an interest in the proceedings. Here also I witnessed for the first time flocks of the Cape slaughter-sheep, famed for their enormous tails; and passing along, I also beheld a goodly display of their carcases at the butchers', with their greasy appendages split open to display, the tempting nature of the interior. Those who love to feed on the “fat of the earth,” may do so in Cape Town to advantage, the retail price of mutton being then from 24d. to 3d. a pound. Fish cost å mere trifle, but they do not nearly come up to the quality obtained from our own seas.
Bread was then rather dearer than what it was in London in the autumn of 1845. As a set-off to these prices, I may mention that the labouring people who came out in the Susan were engaged to places in Cape Town and the neighbourhood-maid-servants at from £10 to £20 a-year, and man-servants at from £30 to £40. A few who declined to take places in the western districts, went on with the vessel to Algoa Bay.
On the Sunday previous to our departure, we heard sermon by the Rev. Mr Morgan of St Andrews church-a plain, sensible
discourse, such as one might expect from the better class of country clergymen at home. I had in the meantime procured letters of introduction to several people—farmers and otherswhose places lay along our intended route; and here I cannot forbear mentioning the kindness which prompted the reverend gentleman above-mentioned to furnish me liberally in this respect. Having been long resident in the colony, he had an extensive circle of acquaintances, by whom he was much esteemed; and a presentation to several of these, by note, was to me of essential service. To several other gentlemen I also owe a similar obligation.
TO STELLENBOSCH AND SWELLENDAM,
On Monday, 28 February, we fairly got started, a little after six o'clock; and a curious couple we certainly were, setting out on a journey of five or six hundred miles, through a difficult and strange country, on such miserable animals as we bestrode. As we got out of town to the northward, we met numerous wagons coming in with agricultural and garden produce; and it was astonishing to witness the ease and dexterity with which a single driver managed these ponderous vehicles, drawn as they were by six, eight, or even ten pairs of oxen. After rounding the base of the Devil and Table Mounts, we held eastward to Stellenbosch, that village being intended as the termination of our first day's journey. Our road gave us a view of what we termed the Cape Flats a large tract of country, composed of shifting sand-dunes and ridges. The strong south-east winds, blowing from False Bay, urge the sands before them in dense clouds, exceedingly troublesome to the eyes, and not at all salubrious for the lungs. To guard against this pest, most of the travellers we met were furnished with green veils, which answered the double purpose of excluding the sand, and of mitigating the fierce rays of the sun, which now raised the temperature to upwards of 88 degrees. In my readings on the Cape, I have seen the question put, “What is the reason that the Cape Flats have never been apportioned to settlers ?” or some question to this effect; but I would ask in reply, “What could the most assiduous make of such a mass of moving sand ?” What a strange idea of farming and farms that individual must have, who talks seriously of reclaiming these hundreds of miles of drift, and of locating people on sand-downs! Notwithstanding the utter unfitness of the surface for profitable occupancy, in many places it looked pretty, and
no means uninteresting. Heaths, proteas, and other characteristic plants grew in clumps, patches, and shrubby-like arrangements; and though generally of season, many of them bore flowers of great beauty. After a somewhat tedious ride, we halted before noon at a negotie winkel or store, kept by an Englishman, where we got both ourselves and horses fed and rested for 3s. 6d. Our own refreshment consisted of cold mutton,
bread, and wine-the latter article being so plentiful in this district of the country, as to be had for 3d. to 5d. a bottle, and to be put on the table at every meal. Having rested for a couple of hours, we again took horse; and crossing a low hill abounding with bush and stones, but thinly set with grass, we came in sight of Stellenbosch. The village made its appearance at first peeping forth among trees, beautifully situated at the base of a hilly range, and getting more and more interesting as we drew near. When fairly within its bounds, the distant promise was sufficiently realised to make me regard it as one of the most charming villages I had ever witnessed.
Having an introduction to Mr M- government teacher, I called on and enjoyed the hospitality of that gentleman. He is a Scotchman, as many of the government teachers and clergymen are, and a kinder class of people to strangers, particularly their countrymen, cannot be imagined. Besides à salary of £230 received officially, Mr M. keeps a number of boarders, and altogether realises a handsome income. Stellenbosch contains upwards of two thousand inhabitants, who seem for the most part to live comfortably, such a thing as want being altogether unknown. The chief employment of its people is wine-making, which is here carried on after the same primitive fashion as recorded in Scripture. The grapes are brought from the vineyard in bullocks' skins drawn by oxen, then transferred to a large tub, having perforated bullocks' hides within it, and here trodden out by the feet of men. The husks are usually left to ferment along with the expressed juice, ere they are removed, a proceeding certainly not tending to improve the quality of the liquor. The streets of Stellenbosch present several large and handsome houses, which have a stream of water running under an avenue of oaks before their doors. These oaks were laden with very large acorns, on which pigs are reared and fed : specimens of the acorns were noticed as large as walnuts. Being the commencement of the fruit season, abundance of pears, apples, peaches, grapes, and other garden produce prevailed, and the most voracious might have feasted to satiety for the small sum of a penny. Quince hedges were the general enclosures of the gardens; but, except for ornament, where fruits were so plentiful, were unnecessary to exclude thieves. These hedges were also loaded with fruit, but of so little value, as to be cast to the pigs. Stellenbosch being neither an agricultural nor a pastoral district, I tarried only till the following forenoon.
Our journey was under a sultry and cloudless sky, and over a country somewhat hilly, with a scant shrubby vegetation, of quite a foreign aspect, and little or grass. Where there was no running water, there was no wood; and that only grew in patches where it had been planted beside some occupied places, tew and far between. At noon we knee-haltered our horses, and refreshed under the shade of some trees—feasting on country
bread and grapes, which we picked from a wayside vineyard. After upsaddling, we soon gained the highest neighbouring land, and were invigorated by an agreeable sea breeze, and a view of False Bay. Hottentots Holland lay before us a few miles distant, and we reached it two hours before sunset. It is a small straggling village, with a church, a store, a wine-shop, and some such accompaniments: cultivation was carried on, but not to any great extent. To obtain accommodation for the night, we had to proceed five miles farther eastward, in the direction of a range of mountains which crossed our path nearly at right angles, and stretched out to the sea. We had now come upon the great road leading from Cape Town to Swellendam and George. The ground in this quarter seemed much parched, and but thinly covered with vegetation, The house of entertainment to which we resorted was kept by an Englishman, who had a doleful account to give both of the country and of its peopledeeming the former the most miserable on the face of the globe, and the latter, especially the Dutch farmers, little better than barbarians. His house stands on the left of the road as it begins to ascend the mountains by what is known as Sir Lowrie's Pass. This is a recently-constructed highway, as it may with justice be termed, and has opened up a communication between Cape Town and the country beyond it, much to the advantage of the distant farmer. The pass” is cut aslant the face of the mountain, which is both lofty and precipitous; and not a little labour and money must have been expended on its completion.
We started next morning before day break, and after crossing, the mountain-ridge, and paying a toll of 3d. for “Sir Lowrie's> improvement, found the road on the eastern side less precipitous, and the country of a somewhat different aspect. There was less bush, and more grass, or rather grass-like plants-consisting of flowering bulbs, rushes, and such-like, which formed a thicker carpet over the soil, and gave out a livelier tint of green. This is what the colonial farmer terms zuir-veld, or sour field, which, though
more pleasing to the eye, is not reckoned better pasturage, and indeed cannot be used for that purpose without much care and caution. This account seemed to be confirmed by the fact
, that not a sheep or cow was to be seen grazing on it; and farmsteads were equally scarce. During the day, we passed a couple of shoemakers' or rather leather-workers
' huts, a roadside inn-at which we refreshed on tea with ham and egg-and a Dutch boer and his family travelling in quest of a new abode. He had left Cold Bokkeveld, a high region north of Cape Town, where snow lies for eight or ten days during winter, where the vine does not ripen, but where all sorts of trees and grain grow to perfection. There were, however, no roads, and consequently, no market for the produce; and so he had left the district, and sold his farm of 6000 acres for £250. Night coming on, we had to crave shelter at a neighbouring farm, and found á hearty