Abbildungen der Seite

years, to conciliate the Colonial Government, and no complaints were made to the Government at home. He repeatedly stated to the officers of the colony, that an appeal must be made to the Government of England, and all the grievances of the poor Hottentots brought under review, unless something should be done for their relief. All his remonstrances proved ineffectual, and with the consent of the directors of the London Missionary Society, he returned to London in April 1826, to prosecute an object, which he remarks, was dearer to him than life. Dr. Philip soon drew up an abridgment of all his papers, which having been examined by a committee of the Board of Directors of the London Missionary Society, was transmitted to Earl Bathurst; but the official coldness of his reply,--the meagre return to a motion by Mr. Buxton, soliciting extracts from all the correspondence relative to the condition and treatment of the Hottentots—the unsatisfactory nature of the reports of certain commissioners appointed to inquire into the government and finances of the South African colony--the manner in which their special reports on this subject had been withheld from Parliament, and the fact, that by the most recent intelligence from the Cape of Good Hope, the condition of the natives remained unimproved;" all these things seemed to require that the British public should be made acquainted with the whole subject, if, observes our author, “I would not lose the fruit of all my exertions for the natives, and leave them where I found them—in the most oppressed condition of any people under any civilized government known to us upon earth.”

“In the brief notice which has been taken of the state of the Hottentots, and of the causes which have given rise to the increase of their sufferings within the last twenty years, while relating the circumstances in which the present volumes originated, I must have been anticipated by the reader in what remains to be said respecting the object of their publication. The most strenuous advocates for the doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance, will scarcely carry their principles so far, as to plead for indifference to their own civil rights, and the natural rights of their fellow-creatures. There are questions affecting the highest interests of society, on which it is criminal to be silent. There are crimes and conspiracies against man, in his collective and individual capacity, which strip the guilty of all the respect due to the adventitious circumstances connected with rank and station, and to know that such combinations exist, and not to denounce them, is treason against the throne of Heaven, and the immutable principles of Truth and Justice.

“No question can be more simple and less incumbered with difficulties than the one before us. We ask for nothing unreasonable, nothing illegal, nothing new. We have nothing to say, to politics. The question under discussion is a mere question of civil rights. We have advanced no suggestions about the new charter of justice. We are the advocates of no particular form of civil government for the colony. We have offered no particular directions about the machinery of government desirable in such a country. We have recommended no checks but such as are necessary to prevent one class of British subjects from oppressing and destroying another. In what we propose, we suspend no weight upon the wheels of government. We ask nothing for the poor natives more than this, that they should have the protection the law affords to the colonists. There is nothing surely in these claims, against which the shadow of an objection can be urged.

“The Hottentots, in addition to the unalienable rights conferred upon them by their Creator, have prescriptive rights in their favour, they are regarded by the British government as a free people; and the colonial law says, that they are to be treated in their persons, in their properties, and in their possessions, the same as other free people.

“We have shown, in the following pages, that the natives of South Africa have been deprived of these rights, and we now come forward with the law in our hand—which acknowledges them a free people, and grants to them the rights which have been specified and we ask the British government and the British public, whether the system of cruelty and injustice which is now brought to light is to have their sanction? or, whether the people who have been so long oppressed by its operations, are to have the enjoyment of those rights restored to them?

Dr. Philip does not ask the British Government to afford religious instruction to the Hottentots, but merely to defend from injustice and oppression, those missionary establishments which Christian charity has founded for their benefit. “What, he asks, could men of the most apostolic spirit now do for the propagation of religion in Turkey or in Spain? If it is the duty of Englishmen to claim the protection of the laws of their country; if the Apostle Paul was in the exercise of his duty when he claimed the privileges of a Roman citizen;" why may not the humane and religious in England, petition the British throne, and the British parliament, that the "natives of South Africa may have those rights secured to them, which are necessary to the preservation and extension of religion among them, and, as it regards


the tribes beyond the limits of the colony, their existence as a people!”

To provide a remedy for the evils which the Colonial Government inflicts upon the natives of South Africa, would, in the opinion of Dr. Philip, do more for the Christian cause, than all the funds of the London Missionary Society. The labours of Missionaries must at present be confined to their particular stations, and these are constantly exposed to the most lawless attacks and depradations, as well as to the ridicule and contempt of unchristian men. But once place them under the protection of equal laws, and the Missionary settlements will no longer be sought rather as cities of refuge, than as places of instruction. The Hottentots then employed as free labourers in every part of the colony, will gain access to schools and to churches, and acquire that knowledge, which, while they exert all their powers to obtain the scanty means of subsistence, the Missionaries endeavour to impart to them at their institutions.

In offering an apology for having said little in his work concerning the labours of other societies, than that with which he is connected, Dr. Philip expresses himself in a most honourable tone of liberality.

"I view the different missionary societies, now engaged in this great work, as so many divisions of the same army; and however we may be distinguished by a difference in our uniforms, and by the names of our respective bodies, it is the standard of the cross under which we fight and the success of one is the success of all. The Christian missionary should be of no sect; and it should not be known by his spirit among the heathen, nor among those engaged with him in the same service, to what denomination he belongs. He labours for the conversion of the heathen to a common christianity, not to the peculiarities of any particular party, and to bring them into the fellowship of the Christian church, without caring to what division of it they may belong. Having brought them into the fold of Christ, he leaves to pastors and teachers to say in what pens or partitions they shall be enclosed, within the common pale or fence, intent to collect those of whom the great Shepherd says, 'other sheep have I which are not of this fold, them also I must bring in."

Perhaps no people, have generally, been considered as more degraded than the Hottentots of South Africa. This opinion, however, gains no support from the work before us.

What was the character and condition of these tribes when first visited by

Europeans, and subsequently for many years, may be learnt from the following statement.

“When the Portuguese first visited the Cape of Good Hope, they found the inhabitants rich in cattle, living in a happy and comfortable manner, and possessed of sufficient spirit to repel aggression and to resent unjust treatment. From the slight intercourse held with them, chiefly for the purpose of procuring water and refreshments for their ships, they were led to entertain very favourable notions of the character of these natives. It was said, that they were remarkable for the excellence of their morals, that they kept the law of nations better than most civilized people, and that they were valiant in arms. Of this latter quality, they gave a memorable proof in the year 1510, when Francisco Almeida, first viceroy of the Portuguese in India, was defeated and killed in an obstinate engagement with the Hottentots, near the Salt River, in the neighbourhood of the place where Cape Town now stands.

"When the Dutch took possession of the Cape, in 1652, the natives ap. pear to have been much more numerous than they now are, and to have possessed large herds of cattle. And although some of the early writers who had visited the Cape previous to the colonization of the Dutch, seem to have given exaggerated accounts of the number and wealth of this people, yet from documents to which I have had access, it is evident that the numbers and wealth of the Hottentots were very soon much diminished by their contiguity to their European neighbours. So rapid indeed was this diminution, occasioned by the trade carried on between them and the new settlers, that it arrested the attention of the government; and it appears from the minutes of an investigation before the governor, Vander Stell, in the commencement of the eighteenth century, that a single Hottentot village had been robbed of cattle by the colonists, to the amount of two thousand head. It appears, also, from the returns made by the officers commanding the parties sent against the Bushmen, so late as the year 1770; that their villages frequently contained from one hundred to two hundred men; and these villages were, at that time, in the possession of cattle.

“All the records of the colony, during the first fifty years of the Dutch occupation, which I have seen, agree in praising the virtues of the Hottentots; and such was the admiration extorted by these virtues from the colonists, that all the Hottentot tribes were distinguished by the appellation of “The good men." It is related, on the authority of Bogaert, that, during the whole of that period, the natives had never in one instance been detected in committing an act of theft on the property of the colonists. The first that took place happened in the year 1700, and the party who suffered by it had so high an opinion of the honesty of the Hottentots, that the blame was laid upon the slaves, and the real thief was not so much as suspected. The article stolen was a waistcoat with silver buttons, and could not easily be concealed among savages. Accordingly, a short time after the affair had taken place, the waistcoat was found in the possession of a Hottentot, belonging to a kraal at a small distance from Cape Town. The discovery was no sooner made than the offender was seized by his countrymen, who brought him to town and delivered him over to the magistrates. And so great a disgrace did they consider this act to their nation, that they demanded that he should be punished, as the only means of wiping off the stain his crime had fixed upon them: and not satisfied with his getting a severe flogging, they banished him from their village, as unworthy to live

among them.

“The injuries inflicted upon the Hottentots by the colonists, must have had a deteriorating influence on their character, in the course of one hundred and fifty years, during which time they had been driven from the most fertile tracts of country, and deprived of that independence to which they were passionately attached; yet so much of the character ascribed to them by the early writers, remained visible even at the time when Mr. Barrow travelled among them, that we hesitate not to receive, as accurate, descriptions that might otherwise have been thought too flattering. "A Hottentot,” says this intelligent writer, “is capable of strong attachments; with a readiness to acknowledge, he possesses the mind to feel the force of a benevolent action. I never found that any little act of kindness or attention was thrown away upon a Hottentot; but, on the contrary, I have frequently had occasion remark the joy that sparkled in his countenance whenever an opportunity occurred to enable him to discharge his debt of gratitude. I give full credit to all that M. Le Vaillant has said with regard to the fidelity and attachment he experienced from this race of men, of whom the natural character and disposition seem to approach nearer to those of the Hindûs than of any other nation.” That the following tribute paid to the honour of the Hottentot character by the same traveller was well merited, I have been fully satisfied by my own observation and experience during my residence in South Africa; and I never knew an individual who was acquainted with the manners of this people, who did not acknowledge its justice. "A Hottentot, among the many good qualities he possesses, has one which he is master of in an eminent degree,-I mean a rigid adherence to truth. When accused of a crime of which he has been guilty, with native simplicity, he always states the fact as it happened: but, at the same time, he has always a justification at hand for what he has done. From lying and stealing, the predominant and inseparable vices of the condition of slavery, the Hottentot may be considered as exempt. In the whole course of my travels, and in the midst of the numerous attendants of this nation with which I was constantly surrounded, I can with safety declare that I never was robbed or deceived by any of them."

Like other tribes in an uncivilized state, the Hottentots lived together in their kraals, or villages, like members of the same family, having their cat

« ZurückWeiter »