« PreviousContinue »
but as the exigence of his affairs seem to demand it. They are all both shepherds and warriors, as have been the greatest and the best of mankind; they evidently prefer the former mode of life, and there seems no just foundation for attributing to them a cruel or sanguinary disposition; their moderation towards the colonists, in a variety of instances, directly indicate the contrary. And of treachery they have not a shade in their character.
Le Caffre,' says M. Vaillant, cherche toujours son ennemi face a face ; il ne peut lancer sa hassagai, qu'il ne soit a decouvert ; le Hottentot, au contraire, cache sous une roche, ou derriere un buisson, envoie la mort, sans s'exposer a la recevoir : l'un est le tigre perfide qui fond traitreusement sur la proie ; l'autre est le lion genereux qui s'annonce, se montré attaque et perit, s'il n'est pas vainquer.
“ His principal weapons are the hassagai, or omkontoo, as he calls it, a sort of spear, with an iron head of a foot long, fixed to a tapering shaft of about 4 feet in length; and the keerie. The former he throws with wonderful dexterity, seldom failing of his mark, at the distance of 50 or 60 paces. The keerie is used either in a close engagement or at a distance. It is a club of about 2 feet and a half long, and at one end nearly 3 inches in diameter. To these we may add a shield of an oval shape, made of the thickest part of a bullock's hide, which he carries to defend himself against the darts and arrows of his enemy. Unlike his neighbours, the Hotten
tots and Bosjesmans, he does not use poison on his weapons, and rarely attacks by surprise.
" The Kaffers are more attached to a pastoral than an agricultural life ; though their soil, as far as it is known, and particularly to the east, offers great facilities for cultivation, and is so extremely fertile, that, with a very little labour, it might be made to produce the finest grain and fruits of the colony. So extremely negligent are they of these advantages, that a large species of water melon and millet are their principal culinary plants. They likewise cultivate some tobacco and hemp, both of which they use for smoking. They rarely kill any of the cattle for food, except to show hospitality to a stranger. Milk is their ordinary diet, which they always use in a curdled state: berries of various descriptions, and the seeds of plants, which the natives call plantains, are also eaten, and a few of the gramineous roots with which the woods and banks of the rivers abound. Occasionally too, the palmbread of the Bosjesmans is found among them.
Their total ignorance of the use of ardent spirits - and fermented liquors, and their general temperance and activity, preserve them from the ravages of many disorders which abound amongst the other native tribes, to say nothing of the value of their independence.
“ Their wealth, consisting solely of their cattle, they devote the principal part of their time to the management of them, which is conducted with great regularity; and even the affairs of the dairy
are superintended wholly by the men. By a sharp whistling sound, made either artificially with a piece of bone or ivory, or by means of the hand applied to the mouth (as our English boys frequently make it), they contrive to inure their cattle to a sort of mechanical training. One signal of this kind disperses them in the morning to their pastures; another separates the cows from the herd to be milked, and a third collects them all for marching. Among their oxen many resemble the black cattle of the highlands, others are as remarkable for their size, and are not unlike the Alderney cow. Some are used for riding, as they have no horses among them; and the horns of these they twist into a variety of fantastic shapes. The constructing their habitations, the breaking up of the ground, and preparing it for the seed, and the gathering in of their harvest, fall to the lot of the women, who also manufacture a coarse earthenware for boiling their food, and very neat reed baskets, which serve as milk pails.
“ The commerce of this people is divided between the Dutch farmers and their eastern neighbours the Tambookies. To the former they bring their cattle in exchange for small pieces of copper and iron, glass beads, and other trifles; from the Tambookie nation they procure their wives. Previous courtship is not considered necessary to marriage. .:“ When a man once selects the object of his wishes, nothing remains but to strike a bargain
with the father, the amount of which is generally an ox or a couple of cows; and the damsel resigns herself to her fate, without emotion or surprise. The Tambookie wives, however, are thought rather a dear commodity; they are rarely obtained but by the chiefs; and among the common people this custom of purchasing wives renders polygamy, though allowable, not frequent, as they can seldom afford the price of more than one. Their marriages are celebrated with feasts and dancing, which not unfrequently last for weeks together. "A Kaffer woman,' Mr. Barrow says, 'is only serious when she dances; and at such times her eyes are fixed on the ground, and her whole body seems to be thrown into convulsive motions.'
“ 'The government of the Kaffers is monarchical, but administered by various subordinate chiefs, who are distinguished from the people at large by a brass chain suspended on the left side of the head, from a wreath of copper beads. The regal honour descends from father to son, in default of the latter to a nephew ; and in default of both, it becomes elective, and this is an occasion when it occurs of considerable strife.
“ Their rulers seem to have no control, however, over the lives or properties of those they govern. Their laws, apparently suggested by natural principles, are very few and simple. If the death of a fellow-creature be the effect of accident, a fine is paid to the relatives of the deceased; but premeditated murder is visited
with instant death. Of imprisonment for any
" Mr. Barrow, in the course of his first expe-
which he gives a very interesting account. Hay..ing waited for some time in conversation with
the mother of this chief, about 35, and his queen, a very pretty girl of 15, the king made his appearance on an ox in full gallop, attended by five or six of his people. Business commenced with little ceremony under the shade of a mimosa. Anticipating with great promptitude and ease of manner, the general object of the visit, he began by observing, that none of the Kaffers who had passed the frontier were to be considered as his subjects. He said they were chiefs as well as himself, and entirely independent of him ; but that his ancestors had always held the first rank in the country, and their supremacy had been acknowledged by the colonists. on all occasions; that all those Kaffers, and their chiefs, who had a long time been desirous to enter under the protection of his family had been kindly received; and that those who chose rather to remain independent had been permitted to do so, without being considered in the light of enemies. He then entered as freely into the history of his