« EdellinenJatka »
CHESTERTON, THE BIRTH-PLACE OF DRYDEN. This Mansion, the seat of the Dryden family, and of the late Sir John Dryden, was
the birth-place and occasional residence of the first poetical genius in our language.
I It was situated on the western side of the great North road, near Kate's Cabin, about
four miles north of Stilton; but was burnt down a few years after the present drawing was made. Under the head "Stepheusiana," in a subsequent page, we have inserted an original letter of the last Lady Dryden, giving some curious and unpublished anecdotes of the member who conferred lustre on the family, and its interesting details supersede the necessity of our making further observations.
For the Monthly Magazine. coMMUNiCATiON/rom one of the SetTlers, relative to the New British Colony in SOUTHERN AFRICA.
THE district called the new colony is bounded to the southward by the Boshmans river, on the eastward by the sea, on the north by the Great Fish river, and to the westward by the district of Graaf Reynet.
The tract of country on which the settlers are principally fixed, is between the Kowie and Great Fish rivers. There are some between the Kowie and the Boshmans rivers, but they are few in comparison with those on the other
Monthly Mag. No. 361.
parts. The Boshmans river was formerly the boundary of the Caffres territory; they were afterwards driven back to the Fish river, and during the war, which terminated a little before our arrival here, they were driven beyond the Keiskaiuma, which is now the boundary of their possessions. Graham's Town is at present the capital of this district; its situation is commanding and beautiful, but it is intended to remove the seat of government to Bathurst; a spot is fixed upon, streets marked out, and a few mud houses built; the government house or Drosdy is began, and Bathurst may at 3C some
some fuf ore time become ft respectable tajvii, but not in this or the next generation.
'The spot fixed upon is the finest in the whole colony; a gentle rising hill, the surface diversified with easy swells and falls, the land is very good, plenty ■of wood, and though the water is rather brackish, liaDit soon renders it palatable; the prospects around are grand and beautiful, not rising to sublime, but softened to interesting. The district is at present an appendage to that of Ititenhager. The head magistrate, who resides at Graham's Town, is deputy landdrost to the landdrost, or ^Governor, at Ititenhager; a court of Ibemraden consisting of thedeputyianddrost and two provisional magistrates, sit once a month at Graham's Town rfor the determining of cases under 500 rix dollars. An appeal lies to them from the court of Bathurst, the appellant must deposit 25 rix dollars in the Bathurst court, which is returned to him if he is successful. The courts j are composed of military men. From the habits acquired in a military life, 1 ; should think a soldier hardly a fit person to will the destinies and domestic j government of so many families, especially where the law is so undefined; Ttere are a thousand families under his eontroul, as,far as fine, imprisonment, and even corporal punishment; and what makes it more disgusting, it is inflicted on the white inhabitants by the hands of a Hottentot. 'The government at Cape Town acts by certain known laws, but here a decision is sometimes said to be shaped by the law of England, and sometimes by the Dutch colonial law. Among the erections already finished at Buthurst, the largest and mpst conspicuous is a Canteen for the sale of spirits! would any one believe, that in a place like this, wild,uncultivated^ and scarcely inhabited, a licensefor the exclusive sale of spirituous liquors, was sold to a person keeping this Canteen, for nineteen thousand rix dollars, about eighteen hundred pounds sterling, for one year? What enormous profits must this man make to enable him to pay to the government such an immense sum for this privilege of retailing spirits. 'The restrictions in his favour are very severe; no person is allowed to purchase (under a severe penalty) less than half an aume, (about 19J gallons) either for liis own consumption, or to sell; nor are (woor three permitted to join ami pur
chase that quantity for the use of their families. The consequence of this monopoly may be easily conceived. The restriction of passes feels very galling to people brought up in habits of freedom, and accustomed to go to any part of the country; here no person is allowed to go out of the district without a pass from the magistrate: should his affairs lead him to Cape Town, he must get a pass from the governor, which will generally occasion a delay of a month or six weeks. That part of the country of which I have seen the most is the tract of country between the Kowie and Great Fish rivers. The general face of the country is mountainous, lofty, sterile, rugged brills intersected with deep ravines and broken into tremendous precipices, yith here and there a fertile valley and some elevated, wild and unsheltered plains; the vallies are of small extent, one of a mile wide is seldom met with, I have only seen one of that width since our arrival; in general they are very narrow and the sidesalmost perpendicular, fitter for pasturage than tillage; the banks of all the streams are so steep and high, that all the rivers appear to run in i-avines; nearly all the wood grows in these dells, the banks of which being so precipitous and deep, render it very difficult to get the timber out. The brow or side of a hill, is never covered willi wood as in EnglauJ; sometimes you meet with a track of bush, which is usually a shrubof the mimosa genus, a kind called rhinoceros wood, with a few other shrubs which serve only for fueL
The country suffers most from want of water; there are very few springs in the vales, and a few stagnant pools are found on the levels or plains, which during (he rainy season are well filled with pretty good water, but in the dry months are totally destitute of this nenessary element. Any person seeking for a spot to settle on must turn his principal attention to water, and carefuly search for a perennial spring, as he is -very liable to be deceived by the appearance of many of the brooks during the wet season, when they flow with a plentiful stream, but in summer are quite dry. Having found good water, the next consideration is good land; which also is rather scarce, and convenience of situation for the purpose of irrigation is scarcer still, but without it, it is impossible to carry farming to any extent: it is necessary in every .'..., stage stage of cultivation for the growth of gram, and hi gardening It is more important still, to have the power of turning on the water, therefore a situation which will admit this operation, is of the utmost importance; the very necessary objects of good water, good land and convenient situation for forming a farm with any prospect of success, being so scarce, it is impossible many good farms can be formed. I shall endeavour to describe the spot upon which we are placed. It is a long lofty hill, the summit a ridge of broken, scattered rocks, about half way down runs a vein of rock, which is covered generally •with so:! about four inches deep, in many places the rock is quite bare; between the top and this vein the soil is a light sandy earth, such as I have heard called in Suffolk a hungry sand J below the stony girdle the same light sand is found, and though near the bottom the soil is more moist it is still sandy; when dug up and exposed to the action of the atmosphere, it exhibits the appearance of black sea sarid. The sides of the hill were covered with a very thin coat of grass, a variety of plants of the heath kiud and several kinds of aloe, which is particularly fond of a strong barren soil and lofty situation. At the foot of the hill runs a brook of good water, and opposite rises another hill of equal length and altitude, having nearly the same characters; the breadth of the valley at the bottom, between the two hills, is only the width of the brook, for as soon as you cease to descend on one side and step over the brook, you begin to ascend on the other. The hill from its rooky summit and barren aspect, has acquired the name of Stoney Ridge; its aspect is northeasterly—here we were pitched. A space of about an acre and a half was measured out and assigned to each person, on which to build his house and form his garden; there is no wood on the hill or in the valley, bu tthere are one or two ravines running into the opposite hill from whicli we are allowed to cut wood for building; the ravines or bloofs as they are called, are narrow, rocky, precipitous and deep; the labour of procuring timber from them is excessive,—yet, spite of the difficulty of getting timber; spite of the naked, wild and comfortless appearance of the hills; spite of the barren, bleak, and chilling aspect of all nature around us, whose dreary wildness was sufficient to damp
the warmest hopes, such was the enthusiasm, that several houses were built in a short time and many more are in progress; the ground, notwithstanding the litle promise it gave of returns, was turned up in various places, and seeds of almost every kind were sown. No toil, no exertions were spared, and every hardship, every privation was borne not only without a murmur, but with cheerfulness and alacrity; everyone strove to fence in his lot and get it into the best cultivation he was able; no one seemed to fear any thing but being behind his neighbour in industry and application; a scene of general activity was exhibited that promised every thing. What has been the result? the corn came up scantily, but the consoling idea that, next year with manure it will do better, still kept rip our spirits. Harvest came, and a total blight crushed all our hopes,.dilated 'our fears, depressed our spirits, and shewed us nothing but dark and dreary prospects of incessant labour with slender, uncertain, fickle and precarious remuneration. Our method was to attend to the cattle, the only hope, to become graziers ; and indeed the country is far better suited to a pastural than to an agricultural people. Our attention was turned to the cattle, every one took all the means in his power to augment his herd or his flock, and hopes were entertained that when the facility of obtaining rations ceased, we might live by our cattle and sheep. We were deceived: notwithstanding our misfortunes and disappointments from natural causes, our harvest blighted, and our hopes destroyed, we were called on for a tax on every head of cattle and upon our sheep, crowning the whole with a poll tax upon every inhabitant; thus wringing his hard earned pittance from the poor settler, whose undertaking at the best is precarious, full of difficulty and danger, exposed to hardships, privations and distresses, to the attacks of savages, and more ferocious human savages, whose territories border on ours, and, in addition to our other misfortunes, to be ground by the hard hand ofinsatiable taxation. Such is our present state without hope of alleviation.
When first located upon our hill, we were informed that each person should have an hundred acres of land assigned to him independent of his homestead or town lot; but the land iu the vici
nity being very poor and stoney, many were induced to go to greater distances to search out spots fitter for cultivation; and many places were fixed upon where the appearance of the soil and situation were much more favourable; some of these were two, three, and four miles from the homestead. The loss of time was not regarded in the moment of enthusiasm: some thought of pitching a tent upon the land, others of erecting a temporary habitation, and all hoped that 100 acres round these spots would be assigned them, that they might go on with their cultivation. As every one wished to be certain of the possession of his land before he began to improve it, applications were made to the provisional magistrate, to have the spots measured and assigned to the different people; the only answer received, was, they might cultivate any spot which was not before occupied, that the crop should be guaranteed, but not the land! This had a paralyzing effect upon the exertions of most; for the first year's crop could not be expected to be much, and the first year's tillage must be the most expensive and difficult: the ground is harder to be broke up; enclosing, paring, bu rning and all other improvements, are much more difficult on wild, uncultivated land; add to which, nothing can be raised in this country without manure; the operations being once performed, the land acquires a greater value, greater crops may be expected; but no man is willing to bestow his time, his labour, and his money, in ameliorating the land which in a year or two may be taken from him. We were assured from time to time, that the land should be measured and allotted; we waited patiently,—a twelvemonth has elapsed, and we are no nearer than at the day of our landing. We have felt this the more, as many other parties have had their lands measured and divided to them by authority: this, operating with other causes, has occasioned many to apply for permission to quit the district, and seek employment elsewhere; this party, which on our arrival consisted of eightyfour heads of families, is now reduced to about 30, and is constantly experiencing more reductions. The blight was universal for more than 500 miles round. I had about three acres ploughed up, and sown with wheat, it did not return the seed, the whole produced three bushels, but so poor, so shrivelled,
and so small, that the grain was not one third the size of English wheat, and only fit for poultry.
But to return to our location. The valley runs south east, and north west, for about half a mile; it then turns to the southward and runs nearly north and south, still with the same general features; there is a little more wood to the southward; the country to the east and north is one of the elevated plains described by Barrow in his travels,where the blast howls over the long grass of the desert, and the eye wanders unsatisfied without an object to rest upon, till it catches the dark blue sea, where it mingles with the horizon. On the south are lofty, rugged hills, aud between them and us runs a stream about fire feet wide, dignified with the name of river; near its mouth, where the sea flows into it at high tides, it displays a greater breadth, but the place of communication between it and the sea, is dry except at high water, and at spring tides. At the mouth of the river there, is a kind of bar of sand, 4 or 500 yards wide, which is always dry, except at high spring tides, and then it is the sea which flows over it, and it is soon dry again. The river finds its way through the fine sea sand which composes this bar, below its surface.
Along the banks of this stream there are some very pretty spots, but the valley is so narrow, the banks are so steep, and the bed of the stream so low, that with the slender means possessed by the settlers, it is not possible to raise the water sufficiently to irrigate even the little cultivateable land that lies along its banks. To the westward of us, lies a tract of apparently good land, near to which Mr. Baillie has fixed his farm; the land around it is covered with thorny mimosa or camel thorn. The size and quantity of this shrub, is said to be a certain criterion by which to judge the goodness of the land, in this part of the world.
The general view around, a little way from the hill, is a wild, unsheltered plain, bounded inland by sterile, bleak and rugged hills, intersected by deep and precipitous glens, and on the other side by the boundless ocean, and a complete iron-bound coast, without indent or winding, on which a tremendous surf is eternally beating. The ravines, or bloofs, which are the only reservoirs of wood and water, are the sheltered haunts of a variety of wild
animals, animals, tygers, panthers, leopards, hyaenas, wolves, and wild dogs, all of which lie close during the day, and carry on their depredations at night. They are in general timid and cautious, and will seldom, if ever, venture to attack men, unless driven to great extremities of hunger, or in defence of their own lives; then they are furious and determined. They seldom attack the horned cattle, the smaller animals are principally their prey; among the domestic animals, goats and sheep are the greatest sufferers. The larger and more dangerous kinds of animals, as the lion, the elephant, and the rhinoceros, are seldom seen in these parts, though we are not quite without them, their tracks being sometimes seen.
The banks of the larger streams are covered with a great quantity of shrubbery called bush, which is its most appropriate term: it does not deserve the name of forest, not producing any timber of growth or size; this bush affords shelter to a number of buffaloes, which are sometimes shot by the Hottentots: their skin being very tough, is in great request for making draught ropes, or track tows for the oxen to draw by. The hippopotamus, here called the sea-cow, is the most extraordinary of all the animals this country produces; although its body is equal in size to the largest ox, its legs are not more than 18 inches long, very thick and strong, the foot is much larger than that of the ox, and of the same shape, the skin is very thick, about an inch and a half, in some places two inches, it is not covered '.villi hair, but rough and uneven, like the skins of those fish that are without scales, there is a little hair scattered over it, but not perceptible till you have the skin in your hand: the skin is used to make a kind of whip, called a shamboc, its toughness and hardness is such that it fetches blood at every stripe. The head is immensely large, its length from the top of the head to the nose, was three feet, its breadth across the eyes was two feet two inches, it does not taper always towards the mouth, but continues nearly the same breadth down to the nose, its mouth is rounded something like the representation of a dolphin's head on country signs. The tusks were four or five inches long, its ears were very small. Just above the mouth are two holes through which it spouts up the water. It generally keeps in the fresh water, but at night comes
out to feed on the weeds and long grass on the banks of the river; of all the ugly monsters nature ever formed, this is surely the most ugly. There are several kinds of smaller beasts, dreadful enemies to the poultry, foxes, wild cats, otters, and the mansehunt of which there are great numbers; they resemble the pole cat of England, but larger, stronger, and more destructive. The plains are peopled with a variety of antelopes, but by no means in such numbers as described by Vaillant and Barrow; you may travel many miles and often a whole day, without seeing one; they are extremely wild, wonderfully swift and watchful, which makes it very difficult to get within shot of them. There are hares, partridges and pheasants, the latter rather scarce; the wild turkey and the Guinea fowl are also very scarce; birds of prey are in great abundance, from the rock eagle to the kite, and several species of vulture. On the plains too we have ostriches, zebras, and the (jnucha, the latter more plentiful than the two former; they appear more social, usually going in herds; their motion and appearance is more like the mule than the horse, the manner of carrying the head shews abundance of spirit and fire. The ostriches are seldom killed, their speed is so great, and their vigilance equal to it.
To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine.
THE taste for music, which now seems greatly on the increase, has induced me to trouble you with the subjoined account of the meeting at Chester, should you deem it worthy your acceptation. The celebration of the grand musical festival of Chester, commenced on Tuesday, Sept. 25th, ia the Cathedral- This building has less to boast of, in point of architectural beauty, than any episcopal edifice we have ever seen; but upon this occasion the mode of fitting it up was admirably calculated for the purpose intended, and, with the exception of the fine and ringing choir of Gloucester, displayed the voices and instruments to as much advantage as we ever heard. The orchestra was erected at the western extremity of the broad aisle, usually called the nave, and the audience had forms placed for them between the rows of pillars, the gallery for the grandees being at the back of the screen. On, this occasion it was splendidly filled; we observed, in particular, the Countess