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THE VEGETABLE AND ANIMAL PRODUCTIONS of the Cape are, perhaps, more varied than those of any other country in the world, and while the indigenous descriptions are almost innumerable, those of exotic birth which have been introduced, thrive most luxuriantly. Wheat, barley, rye, oats, maize, the pabula of life, with the clustering vine, and every species of culinary herb or plant, and nearly all sorts of fruits, both of cold and warm climates, grow as well, and in some cases better than in their native stations, and the horse, cow, hairy and woolled sheep, goats, swine, and poultry of every known kind attain equal excellence and perfection. It would be an endless task to enumerate the native resources ; but gums, fruit, herbs, medicinal plants,* wax, timber, ivory, hides, tallow, wild animals, ostrich feathers, and oil, are a few among the long list which are prepared of exportable articles of value.
THE POPULATION returns of the colony are shamefully defective. The census being taken only at the time of the payment of taxes, when a capitation impost being supposed to be intended, it is not to be wondered at that they should be underrated; there are, however, within the legal boundaries of the colony, without doubt, from 180,000 to 220,000 inhabitants, including coloured people. The distribution of the population following the official, but defective, rolls alluded to, will be found in the tabular return at the end of this section.
The whole colony, until lately comprehended under one government, was, upon the 19th of February, 1836, by authority of the home Government, divided into two provinces, the WESTERN under the jurisdiction of his Excellency the Supreme Governor ; and the EASTERN under his Honour the Lieut.Governor; the latter officer's power, however, being superseded whenever the governor visits, and as long as he remains in, the Eastern division. These provinces contain the following districts or counties, namely :
* Medicinal plants. The Bukû has already proved a valuable addition to the Materia Medica ; but there are innumerable other botanical treasures known to the farmers' wives, and old Hottentot ladies, of great use in many diseases, which a judicious inquirer could add to physical science. It would be worth any man’s while, panting for fame and profit, to turn his attention to this matter.
WESTERN PROVINCE. 1. Cape County. 2, Stellenbosch do. 3. Zwellendam do. 4. Worcester do. 5, Clan William do. 6. George do. 7. Beaufort do.
Over each of which presides a civil commissioner or political agent of the Government, who is at the same time a resident magistrate; these counties are again subdivided into wards, the chief officer over which is termed a field-cornet, while for ecclesiastical purposes, certain arbitrary limits mark out the parishes or respective church jurisdictions of each county.
The Cape Colony has now become essentially British. The laws are administered by British judges, and the language is officially declared to be English ; why not, then, at once make British immigrants feel they were still at home, by adapting everything possible to British ears? From this day forward, therefore, we have counties and shires, instead of districts or divisions, and hundreds in lieu of field-cornetcies.
DESCRIPTION OF THE EASTERN PROVINCE.
THE Eastern Province of the colony of the Cape of Good Hope comprises the divisions or counties of–1. ALBANY; 2. UTENHAY; 3. SOMERSET; 4. CRADOCK; 5. GRAF REINET; 6. COLESBERG ; comprehending an area of 37,544 square miles, peopled by 60,842 souls, of whom 26,032 are white, and 34,810 of colour. It is separated from the Western Province of the colony by the counties of George and Beaufort. On the south the Indian ocean is its boundary, on the north the Gariep or Orange River, and on the east it has the country of the Kafirs.
1. ALBANY.—Albany is the extreme easterly frontier county of the colony. The country along its sea line, now called Lower Albany, obtained, at a very early period, from the Dutch inhabitants, in consequence of the nature of its pasturage, the name of the zuurevelden, or sour fields. To this county Governor Sir John Cradock attached the appellation of Albany, in honour of the late Duke of York, after he had recovered it from the encroachments of the Kafirs in 1814; and on the arrival of the British immigrants in 1820, this county having been selected as their future home, it was separated from that of Utenhay, and formed into an independent jurisdiction under its present name.
The boundaries of this, by far the most beautiful and interesting division of the Cape colony, are as follow :-on the north-east the ridges of the hoary and elevated Winterbergen, to the sources of the Kat River, separate it from the country of the Amatembu or Tambookie tribes; on the east the Kat and Great Fish Rivers divide it from the Amakosa or Kafirs Proper ; on the south the billows of the Indian Ocean break upon its coast; and on the west and north-west, the Bushman's and Kunap Rivers part it from the counties of Somerset and Utenhay. Its area is 1792 square miles ; its population 19,777 ; 7710 whites, and 12,067 of the coloured race. It is, without any exception, by very far the most densely peopled division of the whole colony, having 114 souls to a square
mile. The chief productions of Albany are cattle, sheep, and grain; it possesses 3340 horses, 42,510 horned cattle, and 255,400 sheep, and 45,350 goats. Of the sheep, the larger proportion, about 200,000, is of the improved breed, and wool forms the staple of the district. Its other exports are identical with those of the rest of the colony. The southern parts of Albany are generally best fitted for the breeding of horned cattle, and for arable purposes; while the northern, and more particularly the country around the Koonap, are peculiarly adapted for fine woolled sheep as well as for cultivation ; the corn of the Winterberg division especially is particularly fine and abundant.
The county is divided, for the purposes of local administration, into six wards or hundreds, over each of which an officer called a field-cornet presides.
Albany is watered by the Bushman's River, the Kowie, Kariega, Great Fish, Kat, and Koonap Rivers, besides several other fine rivulets of smaller note. In Lower Albany the streams are too deeply seated to be used for the purposes of irrigation, but
as that part of the country enjoys all the influence of the moisture derived from the neighbouring ocean, and the soil being light, crops are easily raised without the necessity of leading water. In the upper parts of the division, the Koonap, the Kat, and the Great Fish Rivers are capable of being diverted from their beds over the stiffer soils, whereby the most luxuriant harvests are reaped.
The scenery of this Arcadian county has called forth the unqualified praise of every inhabitant and sojourner. Towards the sea, well grassed and gently undulating meadows are interspersed with park-like scenery. Natural shrubberies, variegated by flowers of a thousand hues, everywhere arrest the attention of the delighted beholder. These elegant prairies are covered with numerous flocks of sleek and healthy cattle, and sprinkled with the cottages of farmers, whose dazzling whiteness pleasingly contrasts with the freshness and brilliancy of the bright verdure. On the north the character of the landscape undergoes a complete and sudden change, passing at once into sublimity. There the bold ranges of the Winterberg, Kat River, and Kaffrarian Mountains with their occasional crests of snow and eternal diadems of hoary forest, stand out in sharp relief against an intensely azure sky, and give a grandeur to the scene not surpassed in any part of the world. In short, the appearance of the entire county is splendid beyond description, and continues to increase in majesty and richness as the traveller proceeds eastward into the country of the Kafirs. The pastoral muse of the amiable poet Thomas Pringle has conferred a classic immortality upon many of the lovely spots in this district, in which he for some time resided, especially those around the “ lone Mancazana," “ the Wizard Kat,” and the “Green Camalu.”
For the further details of this important county, I shall now avail myself of the labours of the editor of the “ Graham's Town Journal,” R. Godlonton, Esq., whose description, drawn on the spot, has recently been published in the colony, and may be depended upon for its fidelity*
* Sketches of the Eastern Districts of the Cape of Good Hope, as they are in 1842, the copyright of which has handsomely been conferred on the Editor of the present work.
“ Albany may properly be divided into two parts, by a line drawn from east to west, from Double Drift on the Fish River, to Rontenbach's Drift on the Bushman's River. The portion south of this line comprises what is called Lower Albany, and is the tract of country known as the Zuureveld, originally appropriated for the reception of the British settlers of 1820, and who must justly be considered as the founders of the settlement.
“ This part, to an English eye, is beyond comparison the most pleasing, though the upper part, as being more suited for sheep, is considered at present as by far the most valuable.
“ The line mentioned would intersect Graham's Town at a point equidistant from the east and west boundaries, and which is thus admirably situated to command the trade, and to contribute to the convenience of the whole district.
“ Lower Albany, though not in request for sheep walks, the pasturage being too rank and sour*, and the atmosphere too humid, is nevertheless, from its capabilities of supporting a dense population, a most valuable tract of country. Thousands of acres are ready for the plough, perfectly free from obstruction of any kind, and the soil of excellent quality for the production of grain of all descriptions.
“ Port Frances is situated at the mouth of the Kowie River, where it forms an estuary of considerable width and depth of water, but which is impeded at the entrance by a large accumulation of sand, partly the debris of the surrounding high lands that skirt the river, and partly from the action of the sea and its evident but slow retrocession from the eastern shore of this continent. Through the sand thus formed, the spirited projector, W. Cock, Esq., has succeeded, at an expense of several thousand pounds, in cutting a straight channel on the western side, by which means much greater velocity has been given to the current, while the channel thereby has been considerably deepened.
“ A steam tug has been ordered for this port, by the aid of which the most sanguine hopes are indulged that vessels of considerable burden will be enabled to enter the port. A company
* Farms formerly entirely covered with sour grass, which scours the cattle. By being burnt down in summer and gradually depastured with sheep and cattle is very soon improved, and has turned out in some cases the best land for stock.