Puslapio vaizdai

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

to one who crosses a country inhabited by savages than the few marks of their presence which strike the eye, or at least an unpractised eye. The little plot of ground the Kafirs have cultivated is in a few years scarcely distinguishable from the untouched surface of the surrounding land, while the mud-built hut quickly disappears under the summer rains and the scarcely less destructive efforts of the white ants. Here in South Africa the native races seem to have made no progress for centuries, if indeed they have not actually gone backward-a question to which I shall presently return; and the feebleness of savage man intensifies one's sense of the overmastering strength of nature. The elephant and the rhinoceros and the giraffe are as much the masters of the soil as is the Kafir, and man has no more right to claim that the land was made for him than have the wild beasts of the forest who roar after their prey and seek their meat from God.

These features of South African naturè, its silence, its loneliness, its drear solemnity, have not been without their influence upon the mind and temper of the European settler. The most peculiar and characteristic type that the country has produced is the Dutch Boer of the eastern plateau, the offspring of those Dutch Africans who some sixty years ago wandered away from British rule into the wilderness. These men had, and their sons and grandsons have to some extent retained, a passion for solitude that still makes them desire to live many miles from any neighbor, a sturdy self-reliance, a grim courage in the face of danger, a sternness from which the native races have often had to suffer. The majesty of nature has not, however, made them a poetical people, although the fact that they read nothing whatever but the Bible might be expected to have stimulated their imagination and purified their taste.

Before I turn from the physical conditions of South Africa and the aspects of its nature to speak of the races that inhabit it, a few sentences may be devoted to summarizing the main features already mentioned-features which need to be kept in view when we come to consider the lines on which industrial and political development have moved and are likely to move in future. These features are briefly the following: a hot and moist climate along the east coast, making the flat strip which extends northward from 30° south latitude unhealthy for Europeans; a parched and arid coast on the west northward from 32° south latitude, making the whole of this side of South Africa unattractive and of little value save for its minerals; a high mountainrange running parallel to the southern and eastern coast, cutting off a great part of the rains which come up from the Indian Ocean; a wide desert in the western half of the interior, interposing a sparsely peopled tract between the agricultural districts about Cape Town and the pastoral and mining country of the Orange Free State, the Transvaal, and southern Bechuanaland; a climate so dry in the mountains and in the eastern half of the interior that tillage is in most places possible only by the help of irrigation; a high and healthy table-land stretching northward from the eastern parts of Cape Colony nearly all the way to the Zambesi; great mineral wealth in some, possibly in many, parts of this tableland; and finally, a sun everywhere so powerful that although white men can live, and their children can grow up in perfect health, open-air labor and hard physical work of every kind is now done, and is likely to continue to be done, by natives, and not by whites. We shall presently see how these conditions, and especially the last one, are likely to tell upon the future growth of the country, and to determine the type of its civilization.

(To be continued.)

James Bryce.



SANG of love to many a string,

With many a sweet conceit and rhyme,

And everywhere and every time

Of love, and love, I could but sing,

Until my own heart felt the spell.
Ah, then, how soon my lips were mute!
How silent lay my untouched lute,
Since what Love was I knew-too well!

Mary Ainge De Vere.






HE news of Europe which seems to have reached Napoleon in Spain was of a most alarming character, and made certain considerations so emphatic that all others became insignificant. It mattered not that he must leave behind him a halfaccomplished task; that, while his strategy had been successful, he had lost the opportunity to annihilate the English, which, though he did not know it at the time, he had really had in the tardy arrival of their transports at Corunna; that the national uprising was not suppressed by his carefully devised measures; that the oaths of allegiance sworn to Joseph and the constitution had been sworn under compulsion by a minority, who, pious as the people were, did not, for that reason, consider even themselves as bound, much less the nation as a whole. All this was serious enough, but it was paltry when compared with what had taken place in central Europe during his absence.

During the campaign of Marengo there had been a knot of active, self-seeking, and traitorous men who, having risen by Bonaparte's help, schemed how best to sustain themselves in case of his death. During his absence in Spain this same group, under the leadership of Talleyrand and Fouché, had been again arranging plans for their guidance should misfortune overwhelm him in Spain. Such was their activity that even Metternich had been deceived into the belief that they had a large party of French patriots behind them, who, weary of the Emperor's incessant calls on France for aid in enterprises foreign to her welfare, would gladly be rid of him. So grave did he consider the crisis that late in November he left his post and set out for Vienna. St. Vincent's reports about the friction of Erfurt had already found credence in the war party, and

the belief was spreading that the FrancoRussian alliance was hollow.

Stein's absence from his native land had only intensified sympathy with his policy to its very borders, even at Königsberg, the seat of government; and Prussia was not only strong once more, but was ardent to redeem its disgrace. The reflex influence of the two popular movements in Prussia and Austria upon each other had intensified both, until the more advanced leaders cared little whether the process of German regeneration was begun under Hohenzollern or Hapsburg leadership. Into this surcharged atmosphere came Metternich with his exaggerated statements about the great reactionary party in France. The effect was to raise the elements. He declared, besides, that the Spanish war had absorbed so much of Napoleon's effective military strength that not more than 200,000 men were available for use in central Europe, and that Austria alone, with her new armaments, would be a match for any army the French emperor could lead against her, at least in the first stages of a war. Austria had been negotiating for an English subsidy, without which her troops, fine as they were, could not be maintained; but Great Britain refused a grant until they should actually take the field. This fact was an inducement so strong as to put a climax on the already hostile inclinations of the Emperor Francis; and as his minister Stadion had long felt that Napoleon's power must not be allowed time for further consolidation, the government concluded to strike while his difficulties in Spain were at their height.

Although the Czar had left Erfurt in an anxious mood, he was nevertheless clear in his mind that through Napoleon alone could his ambitions be gratified. He was equally determined that, while the European system should be no further disturbed, it must for a time be maintained as it now was. On his homeward journey he had time to reflect on the situation, and as he passed through Kö

« AnkstesnisTęsti »