Puslapio vaizdai

ing port of Natal, are unhealthy because infested by those malarial fevers which are the blight of Africa, and which, though worst after the wet season, are more or less pernicious all through the year. These fevers follow the streams up into the interior wherever the ground is low, and sometimes occur at a height of 3000 or even 3500 feet. But they are much less deadly the farther

one gets from the coast, and above 4000 feet they seldom occur. The air of the plateau is so fresh, light, and invigorating that the heat even of midsummer is not severely felt, and sunstroke, so common and fatal in India, is not feared. This fact explains how the course of South African discovery has proceeded, and how it is the Dutch and the English, rather than the Portuguese, that have become the possessors of the rich interior.

In the early years of the sixteenth century, long before the first Dutch fort was erected at Cape Town, Portugal had planted her settlers at various points along the east coast, from Delagoa Bay to the Zambesi and Mozambique. They did some trading in gold and ivory

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native tribes, but drawn on by finding everywhere a country in which Europeans could live and thrive; while the Portuguese, having long since lost the impulse of discovery and conquest, did no more than maintain their hold upon the coast, and allowed even the few forts they had established along the course of the Zambesi to crumble away.

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J. Hart J. C. K.J

For the location of railways we are indebted to a map kindly lent by The Engineering News.>>

with the interior, and they ascended the Zambesi for several hundred miles. But the pestilential strip of flat ground which lay between the coast and the plateau damped their desires, and threw obstacles in the way of their advance. They did little to explore and nothing to civilize the interior. Three centuries passed, during which our knowledge of South Central Africa was scarcely extended; and it was not till some sixty years ago that the Dutch Boers in their slow wagons passed northeastward from Cape Colony to the spots where Bloemfontein and Pretoria now stand; not till 1854-56 that David Livingstone made his way through Bechuanaland to the Victoria Falls of the Zambesi and to the Atlantic coast at Loanda; not till 1889 that the vast territories which lie between the Transvaal Republic and Lake Tanganyika began to be occupied by the Mashonaland pioneers. All these farmers, explorers, and mining prospectors came up over the high plateau from the extreme southernmost end of Africa, checked from time to time by the warlike

VOL. LII.-7.

That the inhabitants of Cape Colony should have been so long in awakening to the value of the interior is itself to be traced to the physical character of the land they had occupied. Immediately behind the mountains which border the coast to the north and east of the original settlement about Cape Town the country is extremely arid and unattractive. Southwest of Graaf Reinet (see map) there is a tract called the Karroo (the name is Hottentot, meaning «dry »), which extends some three hundred miles east and west, and about one hundred and fifty north and south. This tract is from 2500 to 3500 feet above sealevel. It has a rainfall seldom exceeding five inches in the year, and is therefore totally without running water. Parts of it are mountainous, parts level, but it is everywhere destitute of herbage and of trees, though pretty thickly covered with small thorny shrubs and bushes. The exquisite brilliancy of the air, the warmth of the days and the coldness of the nights, remind one who crosses it of the deserts of western America between the

Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada, though the soil is much less alkaline, and the so-called "sage-brush » plants characteristic of an alkaline soil are absent. North of the Karroo a similar and still larger region, equally arid, equally barren, and in most places equally elevated, stretches away to the banks of, and even beyond, the Orange River, passing into the deserts of Damaraland and of western Bechuanaland. The dreariness of this Karroo country long discouraged colonization, and still interposes a vast expanse of very thinly peopled country between the agricultural tracts near Cape Town and the comparatively well-watered lands far to the northeast. It is not all sheer desert, for large parts of it bear small succulent plants which furnish good feed for sheep, though it takes five or six acres to keep one sheep. Villages have sprung up here and there, to some of which consumptive patients have been drawn by the extraordinary purity and invigorating quality of the air; minerals have been discovered, and in some few spots are worked with success; and in the level ground the soil is usually so rich that nothing but water is needed to enable it to produce abundant crops. The expense of finding or storing water for the purposes of tillage is, however, virtually prohibitive; so this immense region of some 120,000 square miles, far larger than Great Britain, and nearly as large as the State of Montana, remains and is likely long to remain useless except for the pasturage of sheep and goats: and the number of live stock it can support, although considerable in the aggregate, is very small when compared with the immense


plateau already described is nearly all available either for pasture or for agriculture. But as this part of Africa is that which has for us at present the greatest interest, since it is the part most recently occupied by Europeans, and the part around which the waves of political strife are now beating, it deserves a somewhat fuller description.

The eastern half of the plateau consists of three territories. Two of them are Dutch republics (though a minority of the population speak Dutch). The third includes the country intrusted by Great Britain to the administration of the British South Africa Company.

One of these republics-the Orange Free State-is very nearly as large as England, and just as large as the State of New York. It lies from 4000 to 5000 feet above the sea, and is mostly level, with some low ranges of hills. The surface is bare of wood, except in a few sheltered spots along the streams, but is well covered with herbage. The air is pure and bracing, much like that of Colorado or Wyoming. There are, happily, no blizzards; but violent thunder-storms are not uncommon, and the hailstones-I have seen them bigger than pigeon's eggs-which fall during such storms sometimes kill the smaller animals and even men. To the inhabitants and their government I shall return in a subsequent article. Here it is enough to remark that there are very few of them-only 77,000 whites and about 130,000 natives. Though much of the country is well fitted for agriculture, it is almost entirely occupied by huge grazing-farms; and as such a farm needs and supports only a few men, the population continues to grow but slowly.

Fully one third of the whole surface of South Africa consists of this sort of wilder- Northeast of the Orange Free State lies ness, which includes nearly all of German the South African Republic, which we know West Africa and of the British territories better under the name of the Transvaal State. between the Orange River and Lake Ngami. It is about two thirds the size of France, and The rest of the country is better fitted for larger than Arizona, but has in this vast terhuman life and labor. Along the coast of the ritory only about 170,000 whites, some three Indian Ocean eastward from Cape Town to fourths of whom are in the small gold-mining Durban there is rain enough for tillage; and district of the Witwatersrand. It is a very northward from Durban to the Portuguese high country, much of it above 5000 feet, port of Beira, though the frequency of mala- Johannesburg, the capital of the Rand disria makes the low grounds unhealthy for Eu- trict, is 5500 above the sea,-and these high ropeans, native labor can take full advantage parts are healthy, for the summer heats are of a sufficient rainfall and a soil in many tempered by easterly breezes and by copious places fertile. Inland, both on the seaward rains. On the east and north, where the slopes of the great Kathlamba mountain- country sinks toward the ocean and the valley range and in the long valleys which traverse of the river Limpopo, there is a good deal of it, there is plenty of pasture, and almost the fever, though drainage and cultivation may whole of the land is stocked with cattle or be expected to improve the conditions of sheep, or with ostriches. Still farther in- health. Like the Orange Free State, the land, the eastern half of the great central Transvaal is primarily a pasture-land; it is

only in the lower ground on the eastern and northern border that tillage is likely to make much progress. There are some mountainchains, but even the mountains, except on the eastern edge of the plateau facing the Indian Ocean, are destitute of trees. The fierce sun dries up the soil, and makes the grass sear and brown for the greater part of the year; the strong breezes sweep over the bare hills and rolling uplands, checked by no forest belts. It is in its gold reefs and its coal deposits that the great wealth of the country lies; but to these I shall return later. West and north of the Transvaal lie those immense British territories which have been assigned to the British South Africa Company as its sphere of operations. Bechuanalandso called from the principal native race which occupies it is a high and generally level country, mostly wooded, though the trees are but small, and with grass which is richer and more abundant than that of the Transvaal. It is looked upon as likely to prove one of the best ranching tracts in the continent. Matabeleland and Mashonaland, farther to the north, are equally high, but more undulating than Bechuanaland, with great swelling downs somewhat resembling the prairies of western Kansas. They are bright, breezy countries, very hot in the daytime, for they lie within the tropic, but with nights cool even in midsummer, and a climate which, except in the lower grounds along the marshy banks of the streams, is not merely healthy, but invigorating. Plenty of rain falls in December, January, and February, and it is only in October, at the end of the dry season, that the grass begins to fail on the pastures. The subjacent rock is, as in Bechuanaland, usually granite; but here and there beds of slate and schist are found, and in these beds there are quartz reefs, believed to be rich in gold, and from which a great deal of gold must in days gone by have been extracted, so numerous are the traces of ancient workings. The extreme easterly part of Mashonaland, where it borders on the dominions of Portugal, is called Manicaland. This is a country of bold mountains of granite mixed with porphyry and slate -a country the loftiest peaks of which rise to a height of 8000 feet above the sea, and where a comparatively abundant rainfall makes the streams more numerous, and fuller even in the dry season, than are those of any other part of the great plateau. Here and there a piece of high table-land, some 7000 feet above sea-level, offers an atmosphere of rare salubrity, while a few miles farther to the eastward, in the low grounds which slope gently

to the coast, malignant fevers warn Europeans against any attempt to settle, and make even a journey from the sea to the highlands dangerous during some months of the year.

The reader will probably have gathered from this brief sketch of the physical character of South Africa that it offers comparatively little to attract the lover of natural scenery. This impression is true if any one takes the sort of landscapes we have learned to enjoy in Europe and in the eastern part of the United States as the type of scenery which gives most pleasure. Variety of form, boldness of outline, the presence of water in lakes and running streams, and, above all, foliage and verdure, are the main elements of beauty in those landscapes; while if any one desires something of more imposing grandeur, he finds it in snow-capped mountains like the Alps or the Cascade Range, or in majestic crags such as those which tower over the fiords of Norway. But the scenery of South Africa is wholly unlike that of Europe or of most parts of America. It is, above all things, a dry land, a parched and thirsty land, where no clear brooks murmur through the meadow, no cascade sparkles from the cliff, where mountain. and plain alike are brown and dusty except during the short season of the rains. And being a dry land, it is also a bare land, with only a few veritable forests in a few favored spots, while elsewhere, even in the best-wooded tracts, the trees are generally stunted. In Bechuanaland and Matabeleland, for instance, though a great part of the surface is covered with trees, you see none forty feet high, and few reaching thirty; while in the wilderness of the Kalahari desert and Damaraland nothing larger than a bush is visible except the scraggy and thorny mimosas. These features of South Africa-the want of water and the want of greenness-are those to which a native of western Europe finds it hardest to accustom himself, however thoroughly he may enjoy the brilliant sun and the keen, dry air which go along with them. And it must also. be admitted that over very large areas the aspects of nature are so uniform as to become monotonous. One may travel eight hundred miles and see less variety in the landscape than one would find in one fourth of the same distance anywhere in western Europe or in America east of the Alleghany Mountains. The same geological formations prevail over wide areas, and give the same profile to the hilltop, the same undulations to the plain, while in traveling northward toward the equator the flora seems to change far less between 34° and 18° south latitude than it

does from Barcelona to Havre, through only half as many degrees of latitude.

There are, nevertheless, some interesting bits of scenery in South Africa, which, if they do not of themselves repay the traveler for so long a journey, add sensibly to his enjoyment. The situation of Cape Town, with a magnificent range of precipices rising behind it, with a noble bay in front, and environs full of beautiful avenues and pleasure-grounds, while bold mountain-peaks close in the distance, is equaled by that of few other cities in the world. Constantinople and Naples, Bombay and San Francisco, cannot boast of more perfect or more varied prospects. There are some fine pieces of wood and water scenery along the south coast of Cape Colony, and one of singular charm in the adjoining colony of Natal, where the suburbs of Durban, the principal port, though they lack the grandeur which its craggy heights give to the neighborhood of Cape Town, have, with a warmer climate, a richer and more tropically luxuriant vegetation. In the great range of mountains which runs some seventeen hundred miles from Cape Town almost to the banks of the Zambesi, the scenery becomes striking in three districts only. One of these is Basutoland, a little native territory which lies just where Cape Colony, the Orange Free State, and Natal meet. Its peaks are the highest in Africa south of Mount Kilimanjaro, for several of them reach 11,000 feet. On the southeast this mountain-land, the Switzerland of South Africa, faces Natal and East Griqualand with a long range of formidable precipices, impassable for many miles. The interior contains valleys and glens of singular beauty, some wild and rugged, some clothed with rich pasture. The voice of brooks, a sound rare in Africa, rises from the hidden depths of the gorges, and here and there torrents plunging over the edge of a basaltic cliff into an abyss below make waterfalls which are at all seasons beautiful, and when swollen by the rains of January majestic. Except wood, of which there is unhappily nothing more than a little scrubby bush in the sheltered hollows, nearly all the elements of beauty are present, and the contrast between the craggy summits and the soft, rich pastureand corn-lands which lie along their northern base gives rise to many admirable landscapes. Two hundred miles north-northeast of Basutoland the great Kathlamba range rises in very bold slopes from the coast levels behind Delagoa Bay, and the scenery of the valleys and passes is said to be extremely grand. Knowing it, however, only by report, I will not

venture to describe it. Nearly five hundred miles still farther to the north, in the district called Manicaland already referred to, is a third mountain-region, less lofty than Basutoland, but deriving a singular charm from the dignity and variety of its mountain forms. The whole country is so elevated that summits of 7000 or even 8000 feet do not produce any greater effect upon the eye than does Ben Lomond as seen from Loch Lomond, or Mount Washington from the Glen House. But there is a boldness of line about these granite peaks comparable to those of the west coast of Norway or of the finest parts of the Swiss Alps. Some of them rise in smooth shafts of apparently inaccessible rock; others form long ridges of pinnacles of every kind of shape, specially striking when they stand out against the brilliantly clear morning or evening sky. The valleys are well wooded, the lower slopes covered with herbage, so the effect of these wild peaks is heightened by the softness of the surroundings which they dominate, while at the same time the whole landscape becomes more complex and more noble by the mingling of such diverse elements. No scenery better deserves the name of romantic. And even in the tamer parts, where instead of mountains there are only low hills, or «kopjes » (as they are called in South Africa), the comparatively friable rock of these hills decomposes under the influence of the weather into curiously picturesque and fantastic forms, with crags riven to their base, and detached pillars supporting loose blocks and tabular masses, among or upon which the timid Mashonas have built their huts in the hope of escaping the raids of their warlike enemies, the Matabele.

Though I must admit that South Africa, taken as a whole, offers far less to attract the lover of natural beauty than does southern or western Europe or the Pacific States of North America, there are two kinds of charm which it possesses in a high degree. One is that of color. Monotonous as the landscapes often are, there is a warmth and richness of tone about them which fills and delights the eye. One sees comparatively little of that pale gray limestone which so often gives a hard and chilling aspect to the scenery of the lower ridges of the Alps and of large parts of the coasts of the Mediterranean. In Africa even the gray granite has a deeper tone than these limestones, and it is frequently covered by red and yellow lichens of wonderful beauty. The dark basalts and porphyries which occur in so many places, the rich red tint which the surface of the sandstone rocks so often takes

under the scorching sun, give great depth of tone to the landscape; and though the flood of midday sunshine is almost overpowering, the lights of morning and evening, touching the mountains with every shade of rose and crimson and violet, are indescribably beautiful. It is in these morning and evening hours that the charm of the pure, dry air is specially felt. Mountains fifty or sixty miles away stand out clearly enough to enable all the wealth of their color and all the delicacy of their outlines to be perceived; and the eye realizes, by the exquisitely fine change of color tinge between the nearer and the more distant ranges, the immensity and the harmony of the landscape. Europeans may think that the continuous profusion of sunlight during most of the year may become wearisome. I was not long enough in the country to find it so, and I notice that those who have lived for a few years in South Africa declare they prefer that continuous profusion to the murky skies of Britain or Holland or north Germany. But even if the fine weather which prevails for eight months in the year be somewhat monotonous, there is compensation in the extraordinary brilliancy of the atmospheric effects throughout the rainy season, and especially in its first weeks. During nine days which I spent in the Transvaal at that season, when several thunder-storms occurred almost every day, the combinations of sunshine, lightning, and cloud, and the symphonies-if the expression may be permitted-of light and shade and color which their changeful play produced in the sky and on the earth, were more various and more wonderful than a whole year would furnish forth for enjoyment in most parts of Europe.

The other peculiar charm which South African scenery possesses is that of primeval solitude and silence. It is a charm which is differently felt by different minds. There are many who find the presence of what Homer calls the rich works of men» essential to the perfection of a landscape. Cultivated fields, gardens, and orchards, farm-houses dotted here and there, indications in one form or another of human life and labor, do not merely give a greater variety to every prospect, but also impart an element which evokes the sense of sympathy with our fellow-men, and excites a whole group of emotions which the contemplation of nature, taken by itself, does not arouse. No one is insensible to these things, and some find little delight in any scene from which they are absent. Yet there are other minds to which there is something specially solemn and impressive in the untouched and

primitive simplicity of a country which stands now just as it came from the hands of the Creator. The self-sufficingness of nature, the insignificance of man, the mystery of a universe which does not exist, as our ancestors fondly thought, for the sake of man, but for other purposes hidden from us and forever undiscoverable-these things are more fully realized and more deeply felt when one traverses an immense wilderness which seems to have known no change since the remote ages when hill and plain and valley were molded into the forms we see to-day. Feelings of this kind powerfully affect the mind of the traveler in South Africa. They affect him in the Karroo, where the slender line of rails, along which his train creeps all day and all night across long stretches of brown desert and under the crests of stern, dark hills, seems to heighten by contrast the sense of solitudea vast and barren solitude interposed between the busy haunts of men which he has left behind on the shores of the ocean and those still busier haunts whither he is bent, where the pick and hammer sound upon the Witwatersrand, and the palpitating engine drags masses of ore from the depths of the crowded mine. They affect him still more in the breezy highlands of Matabeleland, where the eye ranges over an apparently endless succession of undulations clothed with tall grass or waving wood, till they sink in the blue distance toward the plain through which the great Zambesi takes its seaward course.

The wilderness is indeed not wholly unpeopled. Over the wide surface of Matabeleland and Mashonaland—an area of some two hundred thousand square miles-there are scattered natives of various tribes, whose numbers may be roughly estimated at from 150,000 to 250,000 persons. (There are really scarcely any data for an estimate, so I give this with the greatest hesitation.) But one rarely sees a native except along a few well-beaten tracks, and still more rarely comes upon a cluster of huts in the woods along the streamlets or half hidden among the fissured rocks of a granite kopje. The only traces of man's presence in the landscape are the narrow and winding footpaths which run hither and thither through the country, and bewilder the traveler who, having strayed from his wagon, vainly hopes by following them to find his way back to the main track, and the wreaths of blue smoke which indicate some spot where a Kafir has set the grass on fire for the sake of killing the tiny creatures which the fire may frighten from their nests or holes. Nothing is at first more surprising

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