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Letters from the Cape by Lady Duff Gordon

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Transcribed from the 1921 edition by David Price,
email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk. Second proof by Margaret Price.



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.

29th 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.

3d 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.

9th Aug.--Becalmed, under a vertical sun. Lat. 17 degrees, 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 degrees N. we expect to catch the S.E. trade
wind, when it will be cold again. In lat. 24 degrees, 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.

17th 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 degrees
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.

30th August.--About 25 degrees 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

I am disappointed in the tropics as to warmth. Our thermometer
stood at 82 degrees one day only, under the vertical sun, N. of the
Line; ON the Line at 74 degrees; and at sea it FEELS 10 degrees
colder than it is. I have never been hot, except for two days 4
degrees 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

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 degrees S. and long. 25
degrees. 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 blase
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

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.


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, 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 marketplace,
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. 19th.--The packet came in last night, but just in time to save
the fine of 50l. 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, 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. 21st.--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

Yours, &c.


28th 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 fete, 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 pounds 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, 6th 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 pound 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 pounds 10s. a month, besides food for
himself and wife, and beer and sugar. The two (white) housemaids
get 1 pound 15s. and 1 pound 10s. respectively (everything by the
month). Fresh butter is 3s. 6d. a pound, mutton 7d.; washing very
dear; cabbages my host sells at 3d. a piece, and pumpkins 8d. He
has a fine garden, and pays a gardener 3s. 6d. a day, and black
labourers 2s. 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
pound 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 4s. 6d. to 10s. a day.
The Malays also have almost a monopoly of cart-hiring and horse-
keeping; an Englishman charges 4 pounds 10s. or 5 pounds for a
carriage to do what a Malay will do quicker in a light cart for
30s. 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
degrees, 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, 18th 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.


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 30s. 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 Munchausen? 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 praeterea 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

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'hote at seven for
travellers. I pay only 10s. 6d. 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 3s. 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 soupcon 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 southeasters 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

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 4s. 6d. 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 'bosjesthee' (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
2s. 6d. 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

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.


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 prefet; 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 vitae 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

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 naif, 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 serieux,
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. 3d.--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 degrees 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 desemparer, 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 Burger'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 7th.--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 15th.--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

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

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 17th.--Lovely weather all the week. Summer well set in.


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 Verhaltniss'.
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

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 'bluhende 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.


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--tres-haut meme', 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

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 'Madels' 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

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