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their sons and daughters move with the march of events, (if not of intellect,) and make an attempt at imitation not always unsuccessful. It is thus the society of Cape Town is a copy of English society, and, like most copies, catches little except the faults of the original. A ball-room here is much like a ball-room with you, and the ladies dance as well, and dress more gaily, show the same becoming timidity in being introduced to their partners, and commence an immediate flirtation in much the But this is what you see every week; let me try to describe some of the points in which we differ; and I know not that I can do it better than by taking a stroll in the Government gardens.
It is Sunday, and the bands are playing, the people assembling under the shade of the oaks, and the scene is gay with many coloured dresses; even slavery wears a smile. Here is the lounging officer, and the still more lounging Indian, yellow, listless, and motiveless; the Dutch ladies, who,
though they want the fresh complexions of England, are still pretty; the Malay, with his high conical hat, or turbaned handkerchief of blue or crimson, and red sash, his bare sinewy throat, straight handsome outline of countenance, and tiger eye; then there is the female half-caste slave, (that is, having an European father,) whose form is graceful and step elastic, the blood-tinge of whose cheek shows through the clear brown complexion, which is shaded by curls of glossy blackness, and whose dark eyes glance wildly round; and these strangely contrasted figures are walking in the shade, thrown by the trailing branches of the African oak, through which gleams of sunny light find their way, and touch with a momentary brightness the gaily-coloured dresses of the passers by.
Leaving the Government gardens, we will look at the dance of the poorer slaves, whose hideousness renders itself more hideous by the most fantastically ugly garments: the sounds they dance to cannot be termed music, and the dance, (that which is common throughout the
East,) which, when performed by beauty, might be voluptuous, is here only disgusting.
This, you will tell me, is mere surface; and what is society but surface? yet to those who wish to go deeper, and to watch the changing and vagabond race of this half-way house, where the vices and follies of the East meet, and shake hands with those of Europe, the scrutiny will not go unrewarded. I leave the vices to graver writers, -to those who make strange discoveries and bold assertions, and on an acquaintance of six weeks with the poor Cape, reverse for it the epitaph which so nobly commemorates the family of Lord Lucas of Colchester, wherein it is said, that all the brothers were valiant, and all the sisters virtuous; I can only say, that the author must have had opportunities of judging, which I, in a much longer residence, have not attained. Let the follies then be my province, and let me treat them in the same manner as I have mingled in them, not lingering until they weary, but
"Lightly skim and haste away."
There are the ladies who touch on their way to the Indian market, all going out to pressing friends or relations, and not one having the most distant thought of marriage; then there are the Indian invalids, who come to pass their year of restless idleness, and to spend their allowances at the Cape; and it is among these that the spinsters look for husbands, and often find them. The ladies pass over the bilious complexions and broken constitutions of the gentlemen, and they (what can they less?) excuse the total want of education, and a few other things that in England are considered essential; but what woman ought to be, what an English woman is, one who leaves his country as a boy, can have but little knowledge. Then the Cape ladies are frequently pretty, dance well, flirt readily, and speak their broken English softly, perhaps offer to teach the Indian Dutch, excite a kind of interest, at first rather sleepy, then less drowsy, and as he (after having been to the pastrycook's) has nothing else to do, he becomes
attached. Such is the stuff of which marriage here is frequently made.
But, even in this most sketchy description of Cape Town, I must not omit the Signal-station; for, without that and the table-cloth on the Table Mountain, and the south-east wind that it denotes, I know not what we should have to talk about. From the first announcement of an approaching vessel, by the appearance of a black ball on the signal hill, all is anxiety. "Is it English?" becomes the general inquiry. The next signal says, “English ;” then, “Is it from England ?" "Yes." Then, "Has it a mail?" and the signal tells that it brings a mail; and lastly, the date of its leaving the Downs; and the health-boat puts off and returns with the mail; and people meet each other with bustling, restless looks, and tell that there are five large boxes; and the postoffice is thronged with anxious busy faces, and the files of newspapers, complete to a recent date, (that is, some three or four months old,) are sent to the library, and some determined