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small islands at Saldanha Bay, and that he was very anxious to have examined his remains, but was deterred by the superstitious veneration of the Dutch sailors who accompanied him. It is, therefore, extremely probable, that the body, lately discovered, may be the identical one mentioned by the French traveller, but as the bump of "veneration" appears not to have been so strongly developed with the modern guano diggers as on the good old “ Mynheers” of yore, the Dane (if such he were) was unceremoniously not only dug out, but securely packed and shipped on board a vessel consigned to Liverpool, and was there exhibited with considerable profit as a South African relic!
Thus are the very dead, in this stirring age, turned to account, and there is “speculation” even in their "eyeless skulls.”
At the time of our arrival, Saldanha Bay had resumed its original deserted aspect, the guano—its chief attraction-had nearly disappeared, leaving the gray rocks in pristine nakedness; a scaffolding or two on the water's edge, to facilitate the embarcation of the manure, were the only remaining signs of the busy scenes which had of late enlivened its now abandoned shores, and a solitary bark lay motionless at anchor in one of the small rocky inlets of the gulf
. This, to us was a fortunate event, as she happened to have on board a supply of coals—for, so completely had we expended all our fuel, that, to reach the present haven, spare spars, gratings, and every chip of wood that could be laid hands on, had, to supply our boilers, mercilessly been consigned to the flames; as it was, we with difficulty, by "hugging” the coast, managed to hold our own, and avoided being obliged, by the southeasterly gale, to make for St. Helena; great, therefore, was our delight to find we could here insure our onward progress. We required but a few tons of fuel to carry us to our port, that quantity was fortunately to be had from this vessel ; they were transhipped during the night, and at daybreak next morning we were again under weigh.
During our short stay at Saldanha Bay, some of the party went ashore. The country, presenting a sandy and rocky appearance, without signs of habitation, was, however, generally speaking, covered with low underwood, where, although, as in the days of Le Vaillant, neither lion, panther, or hyæna, were roused from their lairs—a small deer, not much larger than a hare, was frequently put up, and numbers of game-looking birds were flushed, here rejoicing in the name of “pheasants,” but which are neither more nor less than a large species of jungle partridge, very similar to what, in India, is known as the “
fowl." The larger denizens of the wilderness : the elephant, the buffalo, the
quagga, the eland, and the koudou, have long since retreated before the march of culture and civilisation, and been closely followed by the more formidable beasts of prey, such as the lion, the panther, and hyæna, which, a century ago, were often found in such unpleasant proximity even to Cape Town, that Kolben-an old author who wrote at the commencement of last century-states that “a sentinel there standing on his post, before his officer's tent, was knocked down by a lion and carried clean off.” “ I remember, too,” says the same writer, “ that, in the year 1707, a lion at the Cape knocked down a middle-sized ox, and made his with him over a brick wall of a considerable height.”
At the present time lions are far from being so accommodating, and the venturous sportsman, in order to wage war on the king of beasts, must, at
least, cross the great Karroo,* or, to have a shot at an elephant, is fain to follow the footsteps of Methuen and Harris to the very verge of the tropic. Even the tiger and wolf (as the panther and hyæna are here invariably mis-called), have taken themselves off afar, and are now seldom met with in the more westerly parts of the colony.
With a fresh supply of fuel, and a pilot on board, the morning after our arrival we were again under weigh, and, by the grey of dawn, steered our course out of Saldanha Bay, between the islands, or rather rocks of Maleassen and Jutten.
On passing within a short distance of the latter its surface presented one living mass of aquatic birds : penguins, gannets, cormorants, gulls of every size and description; in short, the whole of the feathered Antarctic race appeared here assembled in grave and serious debate, the ludicrous effect of which was not a little enhanced by the grotesque sitting posture of the penguin species, that apparent link between birds and fish.
On the discharge of a gun, a feathered cloud arose, which, had the sun been above the horizon, would have sufficed to obscure its rays ; and as the mass deployed into lengthened lines and stretched in every direction, might have no doubt afforded a fine field of speculation for a learned augur, or orniocopist of old. Nor was the immense quantity of guano, so lately to be found on the spot, any longer a matter of surprise ; it appeared, in fact, only unaccountable that, similar to those deposits of filth and rubbish in Egypt, on the outskirts of Alexandria and Cairo, it had not, during the course of ages, accumulated even into miniature mountains.
If, after having been so lately and much disturbed in the former peaceful possession of their remote and once retired abode, these aquatic birds be still found in such quantities, their numbers may be easily imagined, before a knowledge of the virtues of guano brought upon them so many unceremonious intruders.
Le Valliant, in his visit to Saldanha Bay, says, that on passing one of the small islands with which it is dotted, his ears were assailed by hollow sound, which had in it something very dismal and terrifying. He landed on this rock, which was Schaapen Eyland, or Sheep's Island, when “ all of a sudden there arose from the whole surface of the island an impenetrable cloud, which formed, at the distance of forty feet above our heads, an immense canopy, or rather a sky, composed of birds of every species, and of all colours; cormorants, sea gulls, sea swallows, pelicans, and, I believe, all the winged tribe of this part of Africa were here assembled. All their voices mixed together, and modified according to their different kinds, formed such a horrid music, that I was every moment obliged to cover my head to prevent it from being torn to pieces-(Quære, by the music or the birds?)—and to give a little relief to my ears. The alarm which we spread was so much the more general among these innumerable legions of birds, as we principally disturbed the females who were then setting. They had nests, eggs, and young ones to defend. They were like furious harpies let loose against us, and their cries rendered us almost deaf. They often flew so near us, that they flapped their wings in our faces, and though we fired our pieces repeatedly, we were not able to frighten them; it seemed
The great Karroo is a desert sandy tract extending along the northern boundaries of the districts of Swellendam and George, “ Karroo" being the general term applied to a space void of vegetation and water.
almost impossible to disperse this cloud ; we could not move one step without crushing either their eggs or their young ones, so that the earth was entirely strewed with them.”
It was a fine morning in the latter end of September,--the spring of these southern regions,—when, on clearing the entrance of the bay, we directed our course towards Table Mountain, which, though at the distance of full sixty miles, was plainly visible on the clear and cloudless atmosphere of the southern horizon.
After the severe buffeting we had lately experienced, the elements appeared now to have sunk into their calmest and most placable mood; we rapidly coasted the “ Cape district," and whilst a gentle northerly wind crept along the shore, scarcely ruffling the surface of the water, we could far out at sea descry--and with no slight feelings of envy-homeward-bound vessels, staggering under a press of canvass, and apparently well within the influence of the south-easterly trade, by which, in the course of eight or ten days, they would, in all probability, be lazily “ rolled down"* to St. Helena.
Dassen Rock was soon passed, and the barren surface of Robben Island next opened on our starboard bow.
This former abode of seals (as the name implies in the Dutch language), once used as a penal settlement to the Cape, is now tenanted by a mixed population of rabbits, lepers, and lunatics ;—the former often afford a day's shooting to the sportsman from Cape Town, whilst the latter wretched beings are confined within the walls of an establishment lately erected for their maintenance and support.
This last haven of human misery and woe, where in former days crime was frequently consigned to sorrow and repentance, is a dreary, desolate spot, over which the nor-westerly winds oft fiercely howl, unchecked by tree or shrub, whilst it is at too great a distance from the main-land to afford any shelter or protection to Table Bay, from whose shores it is separated by three or four leagues of sea.
No wonder if Makanna, the celebrated Kaffir prophet and chief, who,as a just penalty for past offences and a precaution against future aggressions on the colony-was doomed to pass the remainder of his days on this barren rock, should oft in his exile have sighed for the scenes of his youth, amidst the wild, wooded heights of the Amatola, or the green banks of the Keiskamma, or, finally, made that bold though ineffectual attempt at freedom which cost him his life ;—but of the “ Lynx,"—for so was this remarkable man surnamed-more will be said anon.
Steaming rapidly past these various objects, the dark, horizontal line of the summit of Table Mountain, gradually heightening as we approached, presented the appearance of a gigantic wall, placed by the hand of Nature to arrest all onward progress ; we brought-to at its rocky base, and having thus in fifty days reached the long wished-for goal, our gallant boat puffed off her steam, discharged her living cargo, and we soon found ourselves safely deposited on Afric's southernmost shores.
A term generally used to express the steady progress of a homeward-bound vessel in its course to St. Helena from the Cape; as, after getting once fairly into the S.E. trade, she keeps staggering on under a heavy press of canvass, and without moving for days either tack or sheet-a most delightful mode of navigation, particularly to the exile, who is now taking such rapid strides towards home.”
MEMOIRS OF AN OLD ETON BOY.
BY CHARLES ROWCROFT, AUTHOR OF “TALES OF THE COLONIES; OR,
THE ADVENTURES OF AN EMIGRANT.”
It is not pleasant to confess one's faults; and it is for that reason, doubtless, among others, that, although I have many times begun, I have as often relinquished the writing of these memoirs. There is another embarrassment, also, which I feel at the commencement; personal records, if written by the party himself, must necessarily assume the air of being egotistical; and this involves the risk of becoming as disagreeable to the reader as the writer. But, on the other hand, it is clear that such histories cannot be related with the faithfulness which is desirable, by any other than the party who alone can possess a knowledge of all the facts, and who has that exact understanding of the secret causes which have led to particular results, which can never be perfectly known to an extraneous biographer. It is not as in chess, where the looker-on often sees more than the players ; in the game of life it is only the player who knows the secret motives which have impelled him to make the unaccountable moves which puzzle the bystanders.
And this leads me to make an observation which I trust may be excused in this place ; namely, that great caution ought to be exercised in judging of other men's actions, as no one can pretend to say
what may be the hidden reasons which might justify or excuse the particular act or line of conduct pursued by any person ; the world sees only the last link of the chain of causes necessitating certain consequences, and which, without the explanation which a knowledge of the antecedent series could give, may seem imprudent and blameable.—But, unhappily, people are always ready to take for granted all the ill that they hear of another, while they demur at the good as hypothetical.
But no one can be so intimately acquainted with the inward workings of another man's mind, as to presume to say, with certainty, that the particular reasons which appear on the surface were the sole causes, unmixed and uninfluenced by other motives, which led to particular acts. In this respect, every man's mind is its own mystery.
To be sure, novel and romance writers describe, with all the ease in the world, and with an accuracy which is astonishing, not only the sayings and doings of their heroes and heroines, but also their secret thoughts; nay, more; those ingenious writers have the art to make known to us what the said heroes and heroines would have thought on remarkable occasions, if they had had the opportunity. These extraordinary revelations of unuttered words and of unengendered thoughts, I must say, have always seemed to me very droll; for my wonder has been—in common with other readers, I dáre say—how the narrator Jan.-VOL. LXXXII, No. CCCXXV.
contrived to become acquainted with the thoughts which were unknown to the thinkers themselves. But in fiction, I presume, these contradictions and discrepancies are allowable.
But there certainly is an advantage attending narrations in the third person, which such histories as these are necessarily deprived of; you may praise yourself in the third person, but you cannot in the first. People will allow you to abuse yourself as much as you please, and the worse you made yourself out to be, the more charmingly candid they will con
but you must take care how you touch the other side of the picture; self-praise is always suspicious. With this consideration, no wonder there are so few honest biographies. It is more difficult to write truth than fiction.
However, as my purpose is not to write a romance but a history, I must put up with this inconvenience as well as I can. Perhaps, after all, I should have abandoned the task in despair if I had not happened to light on a passage in some author, whose name I forget, which stimulated me anew to the exertion, and which I shall transcribe for the benefit of my readers, and for my own justification for placing these pages befo the public :
It would be a great benefit to society, says the writer, if those who pretend to give accounts of their own lives would really reveal the truth to the world, and frankly confess the various causes which have led to their failure or success in any particular pursuit ; and who would have the courage also to state with sincerity the errors into which they have been drawn, and the faults which they have committed. Such analyses of private life, adds the author, would serve as illustrations, and as beacons to preserve others from the dangers of the shoals and quicksands with which the voyage of life is unhappily beset.
It is for the object thus expressed that I have at last determined to complete the design which for a long period of time has furnished me with matter for meditation ; and it would be some solace to me in my retirement if I could hope to be the means, in some degree, of usefully warning other voyagers on the ocean of life to avoid the rock on which I have split.
I WILL begin really at the beginning; and it is the more necessary that I should do so, as the main evil which has pursued me through life began to exercise its influence before I was bornand I have pleased myself in my fanciful moments, by endeavouring to derive excuse and consolation from the fatality which has seemed to overpower me in the various mishaps which have befallen me. In fact, I began life“ on tick;” my old nurse has related to me with considerable exultation on her part, that I was “a monstrous large child,” and that my excellent mother, having been deceived in her calculations as to the infantine habiliments provided on such occasions, there was a dreadful hurry and bustle when I presented myself in such unexpected proportions. My worthy father jocosely suggested that I might be temporarily accommodated in one of his jack-boots, but the nurse scouted that idea with indignation ; and after a prodigious quantity of excitement, which furnished abundant matter for conversation