Distressed Settlers Report, 1823
Transcribed from a printed report filed in CO48/67 at the National Archives in Kew, London
Report of the Committee of the Society for the Relief of Distressed Settlers in South Africa
with the resolutions passed and speeches delivered at a general meeting
held at Cape Town 17th Sept 1823
to which is subjoined an appendix of letters and other documents
illustrative of the present conditions of the settlers
Ipse, ignatus, egens, Lybiae deserta perogra
Europa pulsus__________ VIRO
Printed and published by C. GREIG
At the Commercial Press, 1 Longmarket Street
(Elected 17 Sept 1823)
His Honor Sir John TRUTER L.L.D.
W.W. BIRD Esq.
J.W. STOLL Esq.
Rev. G. HOUGH A.M.
Rev. John PHILIP D.D.
Rev. W. WRIGHT A.M.
Sir Richard OTTLEY
W.T. BLAIR Esq.
H.W. MONEY Esq.
W. BRADDON Esq.
R.W. EATON Esq.
R.J. JONES Esq.
A.B. TOD Esq.
J. TROTTER Esq.
R. CROZIER Esq.
The Committee entrusted with the management of the Settlers'' Fund, in presenting the Subscribers the Account of the Annual Receipts and Expenditure, are not aware that they can better redeem their pledge to the public, whose charity they have dispensed, or afford stronger inducements for the continued and more extensive exercise of that charity, than by laying before them a plain statement of their proceedings.
The Committee deem it essential, in the first place, to explain, as particularly and satisfactorily as they can, the chief purpose of which the Funds of the Society have been appropriated. They will then offer a few of the details of the Cases relieved; and conclude their Report with one or two Extracts from the Accounts and Letters they have received respecting the existing circumstances of the Settlers. And they feel convinced, that the simple narrative of facts, contained in these extracts, will justify their farther appeal to the liberality of the Public, in behalf of sufferings which, though they cannot be effectually relieved by human means, may be greatly alleviated.
On a Reference to the Account of Expenditure, the first item that occurs is a sum of 500 Rix Dollars remitted, at various periods, to the Rev. Mr. SHAW at Salem, in the District of Albany, with whom your Committee have regularly corresponded, and to whom they are greatly indebted, both for the useful application of the Funds of the Society, and for the very full and satisfactory accounts he has furnished of the mode of their distribution. Mr. SHAW''s extensive acquaintance with the Settlers, and his habit of frequently visiting the different locations in his ministerial capacity, render him peculiarly qualified to judge of their circumstances and characters, and to employ the grants of the Society, in affording relief to the most deserving as well as to the most necessitous applicants. The following are a few of the cases which he assisted, extracted from his letters to the Society:
“Thomas SLATER: A man with a large family and who has been long suffering under affliction: The sum of 25 Rds was advanced to enable him to provide food for his family, who were suffering in consequence of his affliction.
“KEEVEY: A man afflicted with a rheumatic fever and who had, by an accident, received such an injury in one of his hands, that for many months he was unable to work. After having sold the greater part of his cattle to support himself and family, during his illness, he became pennyless, and his wife and five children suffered severely. I am happy in being able to report that he is now so far recovered as to be able to do something for himself.
“Loss accruing by the sale of wheat:-
This sum (says Mr. SHAW) I conceive to have been as usefully applied as any of the money I have expended on account of the Society. A particular kind of wheat called ‘Bengal wheat'', solid in the straw, has succeeded in several parts of this district remarkably well, during those three years which have proved so fatal to all other kinds of wheat, in consequence of the blight. The distribution of this grain, as extensively as possible amongst the Settlers, has therefore become an object of the greatest importance. The few individuals who had raised it during the last season asked very high prices – in some instances 50 Rds the muid; hence many of the poorer persons were in danger of having none of this grain for seed, from their inability to pay such a price for it. I thought I could not better fulfil the intentions of the Society, than by assisting such persons; and therefore I obtained a few muids, which I sold at a loss of the sum here charged. By requiring everyone to pay a proportion of the expence, the total loss was not great, although a considerable number received assistance in this way, as it was sold in small portions, of from 20 to 30lbs each. I doubt not but that this item of your expenditure, by the blessing of God, will, during the next year, give bread to a number of families who otherwise could not have obtained it.
“Mrs. FREEMANTLE: This poor woman''s husband was killed by the Caffers some time ago. She is left with a family of four children, whom she endeavours to maintain by needlework. The donation of the Society made the widow''s heart leap for joy.
“The sum of 60 Rds was given to the relief of three families who were sufferers by fire; in consequence of which, although capable of maintaining themselves, they were at the time reduced to the greatest straits, having all lost considerably. They appeared very grateful to the Society for its timely aid.”
The next sum of 270 Rds was voted by the Committee in aid of three cases of extreme distress, where the parties were highly respectable; and following is an extract from a letter received from one of these individuals, acknowledging the receipt of the money:-
“I will thank you to tell the Committee of the Settlers'' Fund that I am exceedingly grateful for the assistance afforded me. It was a most timely relief, as my poor children and all my family were nearly naked. I shall endeavour to repay this sum as soon as I can; but what our fate will be, God only knows.”
The next article of expence charged in the account is the sum of 579 Rds charged for clothing, purchased in Cape Town, and forwarded by sea to Algoa Bay; this was also distributed under the direction of the Rev. W. SHAW.
The sum expended and placed next in succession, is the most considerable sum in the account, and was applied to one of the principal objects for which the Society was originally instituted, viz. the relief of the widows and families of deceased settlers. Nearly the whole of this sum has been distributed in Cape Town; the widows having, by the loss of their chief stay, been necessarily compelled to abandon their locations, and to seek a scanty livelihood for themselves and children, by those efforts of female industry which are generally but too inadequately required.
The charge of 189 Rds 6 Sks next claims attentions, and was incurred by sending to the Merchant Seamen''s Hospital four settlers, who were suffering under illness, without any means of obtaining advice or assistance. It is, however, with pleasure that the Committee state that in consequence of an Institution having been lately established, for affording medical aid under similar circumstances, this charge is not likely to recur.
The following sum of 102 Rds was expended in forwarding to their respective owners several packages, which had been saved from vessels wrecked in Table Bay, in June 1822. As they consisted chiefly of agricultural implements, and articles of clothing, it was considered advisable to advance this sum, to render them available to the persons for whom they were intended, in the hope that a part at least would be repaid by the owners.
The sum of 93 Rd was paid for the interment of three individuals who, not having paid taxes, were not, it appears, entitled to burial at the expence of the Town.
The next three charges require no elucidation.
The last article of expence is for general disbursements, made towards the relief of various cases of distress amongst Settlers in this Town; a part of which has been returned by the individuals who received it, as appears on the other side of the account.
Much has been said about the impolicy of relieving by pecuniary aid, the necessity of those settlers who, being free from the engagements under which they came out, leave their locations, and seek employment or assistance in Cape Town.
Your Committee readily admit that, as a general system, such a measure would not only encourage idleness, but bring upon the Society claims which it would be equally impolitic and impossible to satisfy; yet circumstances may occur of such a kind as to render immediate assistance requisite.
Your Committee will not pretend to affirm that they may not, in their endeavours to relieve abject poverty, sometimes have extended aid to unworthy objects. When the application was made (as it frequently has been) by individuals evidently suffering under the pangs of hunger, and utterly destitute, the urgent claims of nature have been satisfied, previous to a particular enquiry – which, when made at a subsequent period, only tended to confirm the truth of the observation, that the extremes of misery and vice are commonly but too closely allied. Imposition has, however, been guarded against by persons being visited in their abodes. Of the sum expended in grants of this kind, since the last Annual Meeting, amounting altogether to little more than 400 Rds (deducting the amount repaid) a great proportion was applied to the relief of four persons reduced to the utmost wretchedness by illness or accident. Of these persons one died, a second recovered – and of the two remaining (which were cases of fractured limbs) one is now doing well, and it is to be hoped will repay to the Society a part of the money advanced.
The Committee now beg leave to lay before the Meeting a few details extracted from letters addressed to the Secretary, or obtained from other authentic sources. [For the extracts here alluded to, and others subsequently received, see Appendix]
Account of the Receipts and Expenditure of the Settlers'' Fund Society since the Last General Meeting
|To Balance of last Account
|Subscriptions received since last General Meeting
|Money returned to the Society
By cash remitted to the Rev.W.SHAW for distribution in cases of urgent distress amongst settlers residing on their locations
By Ditto paid for Clothing, distributed by the Rev.W.SHAW
By Ditto remitted by the Secretary to Settlers in Albany
By Ditto expended in monthly allowances to Widows with large families
By Ditto expended for Medical Assistance
By Ditto expended for forwarding to their respective owners Goods saved from wrecked vessels
By Expence attending the Burial of Settlers dying in Cape Town
By Cash expended on the purchase of Tools furnished to Mechanics out of Employ
By Support afforded in lying-in Cases in this Town
By Cash expended for printing Reports, Postage &c
By Ditto disbursed for various Cases of Distress in Cape Town, part of which has been repaid
By Balance at the Bank
By unpaid Subscriptions
At the ANNIVERSARY MEETING of the Subscribers to the Settlers'' Fund Society, held 17 Sept 1823
(His Honor Sir John TRUTER in the Chair)
The following RESOLUTIONS were unanimously agreed to:-
It was moved by the Rev.Dr.PHILIP and seconded by H.W.MONEY Esq.
I. That the Report which has now been read be received and printed
It was moved by John TRUTER Esq and seconded by T. PRINGLE Esq
II. That the Thanks of the Society be given to those Gentlemen who have acted as Members of the Committee during the past year; that a new Committee be elected for the ensuing year; that the following Gentlemen be appointed, with the power of filling up vacancies, and adding to their number; and that any three of the Committee form a Quorum: His Honor Sir John TRUTER, W.W.BIRD Esq, J.W.STOLL Esq, Major HOLLOWAY, Rev.G.HOUGH A.M., Rev.John PHILIP D.D., Rev.W.WRIGHT A.M., Lt.Col.PITMAN, Sir Richard OTTLEY, W.T.BLAIR Esq, H.W.MONEY Esq, W.BRADDON Esq, R.W.EATON Esq, R.J.JONES Esq. and A.B.TOD Esq.
It was moved by Lieut.Col. PITMAN and seconded by W.T. BLAIR Esq
III. That the Thanks of the Meeting be given to the Treasurer and Secretary of the Society; and that they be requested to continue to fill their respective Offices.
It was moved by Sir Richard OTTLEY and seconded by R.W. EATON Esq
IV. That the distress of many of the Settlers is extreme, and calls for the renewed and increased exertions of the inhabitants of this Colony, and of other parts of the British Empire; and, for the purpose of encouraging Subscriptions, that the proceedings of this day be printed and circulated; and that the Resolutions of this Meeting, with a List of the Subscribers, be inserted in the Cape Gazette, and in the English and Indian papers.
It was moved by the Rev.Dr. PHILIP and seconded by the Rev. W. WRIGHT
V. That the Thanks of this Meeting be presented to the following Gentlemen, who have left the Colony, for the eminent services rendered by them to the Society during their residence here: Sir Jahleel BRENTON Bart, Gilbert MASTERS Esq, J. DONNITHORNE Esq. and W.O. SALMON Esq.
It was moved by R.J. JONES Esq and seconded by G. CADOGAN Esq
VI. That the Denomination of this Society be changed from “Settlers'' Fund Society” to “The Society for the Relief of Distressed Settlers in South Africa”.
It was moved by H.W. MONEY Esq and seconded by W. BRADDON Esq
VII. That John TROTTER Esq be elected a Member of the Committee for the ensuing year
It was moved by Sir Richard OTTLEY and seconded by Samuel BAILEY Esq
VIII. That the respectful Thanks of this Meeting be presented to His Honor Sir John TRUTER for his obliging readiness in taking the Chair
The Rev.Dr. PHILIP, in moving that the Report be received and printed, addressed the meeting as follows:
Whilst I congratulate this Meeting on the talent and respectability with which I see myself surrounded – on the importance of the object for which we are assembled – and the character of the Report which has just been read, I cannot help inquiring how it happens that we are so thinly attended at our General Meetings; that we have so few Subscribers; and that, on such extensive field held out to our cultivation, our operation should have been so limited? I hope I shall be excused if I take up a small portion of your time, on the present occasion, on this question.
Does this arise from what has been said of late years respecting the abuse of this sort of charity?
I am ready to give this objection all the weight it can claim. I allow that by injudicious charity we may perpetuate the evils we wish to cure, and hold out a premium to vice and idleness. I am willing to go all the length that Malthus himself goes on this question; but I hope I shall be excused if I stop where this great champion of rigid economy stops. While Malthus shows all the bad effects of the general mode of relieving the Poor by assessment, this philosophical writer does not condemn Societies formed upon the principles of this Society. When commending active and voluntary benevolence, he enumerates several classes, as – the Aged – the Infirm – the Widow – the Fatherless &c whom he considers as having a legal claim upon us for support. He goes further. He allows even the vicious and profligate to have a title to a certain kind of relief. Even to this class he allows Bread and Water, articles extremely scarce among the most virtuous of that people for whom I am now pleading.
“In the great course of human events” says Mr. Malthus “the best-found expectations will sometimes be disappointed; and industry, prudence and virtue not only fail of their just reward, but be involved in unmerited calamities. Those who are thus suffering, in spite of the best directed efforts to avoid it, and from causes which they could not be expected to foresee, are the genuine objects of charity. In relieving these, we exercise the appropriate office of benevolence, that of mitigating the partial evils arising from general laws; and in this direction of our charity, therefore, we need not apprehend any ill consequences. Such objects ought to be relieved, according to our means, liberally and adequately, even though the worthless are starving.” Again, “I have already observed, however, and here I repeat it, that the general principles on these subjects ought not to be pushed too far, though they should always be kept in view; and that many cases may occur, in which the good resulting from the relief of present distress, may more than overbalance the evil to be apprehended from the remote consequences. All relief, in instances not arising from indolent and improvident habits, clearly comes under this description: and in general it may be observed that it is only that kind of systematic and certain relief, on which the poor can confidently depend, whatever may be their conduct, that violates general principles in such a manner as to make it clear that the general consequence is worse than the partial evil. When this first claim on our benevolence was satisfied, we might then turn our attention to the idle and improvident. But the interests of human happiness must clearly require that the relief which we afford them should be scanty. We may, perhaps, take upon ourselves, with great caution, to mitigate the punishments which they are suffering from the laws of nature, but on no account to remove them entirely. They are deservedly at the bottom in the scale of Society, and if we raise them from this situation we not only palpably defeat the ends of benevolence but commit a most glaring injustice on those who are above them. They should, on no account, be enabled to command so much of the necessities of life as can be obtained by the worst paid common labourer. The brownest bread, with the coarsest and scantiest apparel, are the utmost which they should have the means of purchasing.”
Shall I be told that there is no surplus of misery among our countrymen unprovided for? I do not stand here on this occasion as the accuser of the Colonial Government, nor of the Local Authorities of the Colony; but we may certainly allow the possibility of distress, without any reflection upon any man, or any class of men. Reasoning a priori, I maintain it is impossible to remove five thousand men from their native country, and plant them in any other country under heaven, without involving a vast portion of suffering.
For an illustration on this subject, we have only to look to the different emigrations to America in the first colonization of that country. Many of the first Settlers suffered greatly, and some whole parties perished for want of the necessaries of life, on spots that are now supporting a dense population. The history of the Sierra Leone Settlement is well known. Many lives were lost and much property sunk, before the experiment afforded any rational prospect of success. The colonization of New Holland is also a case in point. During the early period of that Settlement, the Colonists were often in the greatest distress. Several times they were under the painful apprehension of death by famine. For six years they continued to receive a great part of their supplies from Batavia, from India, and from England, at considerable expence to the mother country.
From 1550 to 1570, including the first twenty years of the history of this Colony, although the number of the first Settlers was not one third of the number landed in Albany, it cost the Dutch East India Company twenty millions of Guilders. Though it is not my intention at present to attempt to account for the facts, yet it may be remarked, that there seems to be something in a virgin soil unfavourable to the support of human life; and it seems to be with men as with vegetables – they must suffer, after being transplanted, before they can take root.
One circumstance may be mentioned, in passing, which has added to the distress of the Settlers. In the emigrations constantly taking place to America, the emigrants having landed at New York, Boston, Quebec or some large town, find employment, assistance or the means of subsistence in the countries through which they pass, and from the Colonists settled in the immediate neighbourhood of their locations; but in the late emigration to this colony we have between four and five thousand people conducted at once to a country possessed by a few Dutch Boors, who, in case of any failure of the Emigrants'' hopes, could give them no assistance.
Among other means employed to give an unfavourable impression of the Settlers, a charge of Radicalism was attempted to be fixed upon them. In such a body of people there are, no doubt, many worthless and discontented individuals; but I can aver, from my own personal knowledge, - and I have visited their different locations – that I never met with an instance where there was less reason for this charge applied to the people as a body, than in the present case. What they are at this moment I will not presume to say; but in the latter end of 1821, I was surprised to find so few persons of this description among them.
Shall we be told, to set aside their claims on our benevolence, that they want industry? If, after the failure of so many crops, they neglect to cultivate the soil, to the full extent of the credit they may have given them for physical energies, is it a matter of surprise? They cannot command the clouds of Heaven to rain upon their fields: they cannot raise the water, from the deep ravines to which it is confined, to irrigate their gardens: they cannot arrest Omnipotence, and stop the progress of that blight, which, through successive years, has destroyed the promise of the harvest. And, if under the repeated strokes of the Almighty, the mind loses its tone, when nothing but the powerful aids of Religion can prevent depression, and stimulate to perseverance, the unhappy sufferers are more entitled to our sympathy than deserving of censure.
The claims of our unhappy countrymen upon our sympathy are of more than an ordinary character. The writers of elegant fiction have been accused of injuring the cause of benevolence, by dressing it out in all the bewitching enchantments of eloquence. “All is beauty to the eye, and harmony to the ear. Nothing is seen but pictures of felicity, and nothing is heard but the pleasing whispers of gratitude and affection. The reader is carried along by soft and delightful representations of virtue. He accompanies his hero through all the fancied varieties of his history. He goes along with him to the cottage of poverty and disease, surrounded, as he may suppose, with all the charms of rural seclusion, where the murmurs of an adjoining rivulet accord with the finer sensibilities of his mind. He enters the enchanting retirement, and meets with a picture of distress, adorned with all the fascinations of romance. Perhaps a meritorious officer, who has fought the battles of his country, is languishing on the bed of affliction, without the means of subsistence, and without an attendant, save a son of tender years, to sympathise with him in his distress; and whose helpless years, and destitute condition, add poignancy to his grief. Perhaps, in the midst of a barren wilderness, and surrounded with wild beasts, he unexpectedly meets a female, whose tender form, whose elegant motion, whose sudden confusion, and whose instant attempt to escape, excite the most powerful curiosity. She flies to elude his further enquiries; he follows, and, entering a miserable hut, discovers himself an unwelcome intruder: he apologises, - he is shocked – he finds the inmate of this humble shed invested with every female grace: he felicitates himself on his good fortune: his tears flow, his heart dilates with all the luxury of tenderness: ‘the visions of Paradise play before his fancy'': his whole soul is absorbed in plans that embrace the future felicity of this interesting family: he gives his last shilling, and imparts it with so much delicacy that he makes them feel as if he is receiving and not conferring a favour!”
The lovers of romance – the epicures of feeling – can have no pretext for treating the objects now calling for their sympathy with indifference, for want of these romantic accompaniments. The admirers of this sort of fictitious history, our modern sentimentalists, who revel in all the soft delusions of an ideal philanthropy, may see all the high-wrought fiction of the ‘romantic tale, all the imagery of the poet''s song'' reduced to sober reality; if we exclude from the picture the benevolence which wipes the tear from the eye of distress, which affords relief to the necessitous, and restores to society and happiness the destitute sufferers. Here we have distress attended by all the attractions that ever fancy conferred upon fiction. And what is the sympathy this distress calls forth? We are told that the sufferers are Radicals; that they are worthless people; or that the alleged distress does not exist. To this unsupported assertion I oppose incontrovertible facts: I oppose a number of letters from the most respectable individuals in Albany, which I now hold in my hand: I oppose the most respectable witnesses, who have lately visited the locations: and to the evidence of these witnesses I add my own testimony, being able, from what I observed among the Settlers, to corroborate many of the statements contained in the Report. In that country, which was described in all the glowing tints of eastern imagery, which was held out to the poor Settlers as a second Land of Promise, as a “Land literally overflowing with milk and honey”, you may see the fingers, which seldom moved but to paint for the eye, or to charm the ear, tying up cattle, or stopping up the gaps of their enclosure: females, on whom, in England, the wind was scarcely allowed to blow, exposed to all the rage of the pitiless storm: mothers with large families, who used to have a servant to each child, without an individual to assist them in the drudgery of the house, the labour of the dairy, or the care of their children: families who used to sleep upon down, with scarcely a sufficient number of boards, or a sufficient quantity of straw, to keep them from an earthen floor: young females, possessed of every accomplishment, reduced to feed a few cows, almost the sole dependence of the family: men, who have held the ranks of Captain and Paymaster in the army, driving waggons, without shoes or stockings.
In a tour I made through the locations of the Settlers I found a gentleman, whose connexions at home I knew to be respectable, with two lovely daughters, without a single servant, male or female, upon the place. I asked him how he came to be in this situation. In reply he said, with much mildness and apparent resignation, “I have sunk my all, I have spent my last shilling, and I have never reaped one handful of produce from my farm!” On another location, I entered a house in which I was ushered into the presence of a female, whose dress and circumstances exhibited such a contrast to her manners and former connexions in life that, when she began to talk of Sir John ___, Sir Wm ___, General ___, Lady ___ as her relations, and to ask me if I knew such persons, it required a considerable effort to persuade myself that I was not listening to a person under a mental derangement. To describe all the heads of the parties I met under similar circumstances, would be to enumerate the greater part of them*. I am fully satisfied that if, in some instances, clamorous individuals may have exaggerated the miseries of their own condition, one fifth of the real distress of the Settlers, as a body, has neither met the public eye nor been made known by their own report.
If there be any thing interesting in the condition of an Emigrant, to him that knows the heart of a stranger in a strange land; any thing to excite pity for men smarting under the rod of the Almighty, like Job, when he exclaimed Have pity upon me Oh! my friends, have pity upon me, for the hand of the Lord hath touched me; any thing to excite sympathy in Old Age, bending over the grave of a partner in life who has died of a broken heart; any thing touching in the name of a Widow; any thing tender in the condition of Fatherless Children; any thing affecting in the sight of young accomplished Females, reduced, not to the spindle and the distaff, but to the drudgery that falls to the lot of the slave in the service of the African Boor; if there be any thing in hunger and nakedness to excite pity – we have all these claims embodied in this Institution. The Ancients had a temple dedicated to Pity –the human heart is the proper seat of pity; and what objects can have a greater claim to pity than those in whose cause we are assembled here today? I may be told there are greater objects of pity than these Settlers. I admit the fact; and if asked who they are, I reply – they are those persons who wish to destroy our sympathy towards our unfortunate countrymen! I would rather be the greatest sufferer in Albany than be in the condition of those individuals who not only refuse to relieve their distress, but would prevent others from doing it. “They that be slain by the sword are better than they that be slain by hunger; for those pine away, stricken through, for want of the fruits of the field.”
*See Letters of Captain B and others in the Appendix, which powerfully affected the Meeting on here being quoted.
Mr. BLAIR, on seconding the Third Resolution, expressed himself as follows:
I have much pleasure, Sir, in seconding the Resolution which has now been moved. If thanks are due to any one, it will, I think, be acknowledged that they are in a particular manner due to the Secretary, both for the interesting Report we have just heard, and for his unwearied attention to the interests of the Society. To his personal visits and minute examination into the circumstances of the different cases of distress, the Society, as it appears to me, is mainly indebted for the prevention of abuses, and the most judicious application of its funds; and I have no doubt that he will willingly continue to render the same assistance in future, and with the same beneficial effects.
But, Sir, a more powerful appeal to the best feelings of every benevolent mind, cannot be well imagined, than is to be found in the extreme distress of the unfortunate Settlers in Albany; as is but too evident from the Report of your Committee, as well as from the speech we have just heard from the Rev. Dr. PHILIP: and there are very few, I am persuaded, to whom the appeal will be made in vain. As, then, we have freely received, so let us freely give, - we shall have our reward in the prayers and benedictions of the fatherless and the widow, and inherit the blessing pronounced on those who give even a cup of cold water to the necessitous and the destitute.
In returning thanks for the honour conferred upon himself and colleague, by the resolution just passed, attributed the kind expressions used by the gentleman who had seconded the resolution to the politeness which distinguished that gentleman''s character, and which led him to speak favourably of the meanest efforts and most humble individuals. He had accepted the office of Secretary under the impression that some person better qualified for it would soon have relieved him. He was at the time perfectly unacquainted with the duties that would devolve upon him, and he felt conscious that, from the want of experience, those duties had been but ill performed; he begged, however, to assure the Meeting that whilst he should most readily relinquish his charge to any gentleman who would have the kindness to take it upon himself, he would, on the other hand, as cheerfully continue his services so long as they were considered in the smallest degree useful in promoting the views of the Society.
Sir Richard OTTLEY, on moving the Fourth Resolution, addressed the meeting to the following effect:
I am aware that this is a novel motion – that nothing similar has been proposed at former meetings. I therefore feel myself called upon to state those grounds which have induced me to bring it forward, and to suggest such arguments as I trust will warrant its adoption by the Society.
I shall abstain from all topics which might appear to be introduced for the purposes of declamation, and all exaggerations of the sufferings of the Colonists. That their distress is serious – that their wants are urgent, and call for our immediate assistance, cannot be doubted by anyone who has attentively considered the documents presented to the Society, and the statements received from those who have had the best opportunities of ascertaining the situation to which the Settlers are reduced. We might enlarge much upon the state of destitution and nakedness in which many of the inhabitants are placed, and the scenes of calamity and woe which are presented to the eyes of those who have visited the locations. But I prefer to confine myself to those facts which are contained in the Report, and which have been stated in the course of today''s proceedings, because we have had an opportunity of examining the truth of these facts. All those statements have been made by eye-witnesses; by gentlemen who have resided amongst the Settlers, or have travelled through the districts where the Colonists have been fixed. The existence of those calamitous circumstances having been sufficiently proved, it becomes our duty to search out and to apply the best remedy in our power. I therefore propose, in the first part of my motion, that we should renew and increase our exertions in behalf of the objects in whose welfare we are interested. This is absolutely necessary on our part because, upon looking at the state of our finances, I perceive that we possess only the balance of 723 Rds applicable to their relief – a sum wholly inadequate to afford the assistance which is now so imperiously demanded. But I do not rest here. The ulterior object of my motion is to call upon others to co-operate with us in the same benevolent work; and we cannot expect that other persons residing in distant countries should come forward with their money, if they see that we are idle and unconcerned. But if our felloe countrymen in England and other parts of the world are informed that we are making efforts, and are endeavouring to augment our means in proportion to the increased wants of the sufferers, we may hope that they will be ready to assist, and to supply the deficiency which remains after we have exhausted our resources.
The Settlers may properly be divided into four classes. 1. The Heads of Parties. 2. Those who have joined together and have been working upon a joint stock. 3. The Agricultural Servants and 4. The Mechanics. Of these classes of persons the two latter descriptions are alone exempted from the sufferings which have afflicted the others; and it is therefore for the purpose of assisting the two former classes that I call upon this Meeting to adopt the present motion. The heads of parties are those who have been most severely afflicted, and they are the persons who are least likely to make their afflictions public. They have lost nearly the whole of their capital, and have received no return for the grain which has been sown. Three successive failures have reduced to penury all who depended upon the produce of the earth. Those who have traded upon a joint stock are nearly in similar embarrassments, It is in favour of these persons that we are peculiarly called upon for assistance. But numerous are the sufferers of all denominations. Women who have lost their husbands – children deprived of their parents – what resources have these?
The Report has brought to our notice more than one instance of persons almost in a state of destitution, and who are literally deprived of all means of support, except those which are afforded by our subscriptions. We must, then, renew our efforts; and having done so, we may request others to come forward also; and whenever such an appeal has been made to the hearts of the English people, that appeal has seldom been made in vain. Unworthy objects have too frequently found means to impose on the generosity of the people of England, and have obtained those alms which might have been better appropriated; but when a case of real distress has been brought home to the knowledge of our countrymen, few instances are recorded in which they have refused to afford relief.
I wish, farther, to let the distress of the Settlers to be made known in India. Many gentlemen from India are now resident, or in the habit of visiting this Colony. They will be enabled to ascertain the reality of the present distress, and to afford such information as may tend to verify our Report, and to give effect to those measures which it is our object and our wish to promote.
The Rev. Dr. PHILIP, on proposing Thanks to the friends of the Society who had left the Colony, said:-
That whatever hesitation he had felt on a former occasion, in moving Thanks to the India Gentlemen, for their kind support to the Society, from a fear of wounding the delicacy of such as were present, he could feel none at this time, when the thanks were restricted to those who had left us. It had been beautifully remarked by a celebrated author “that death sets a stamp upon the character, and places it out of the reach of Fortune.” Such a stamp might be said to be affixed to the character of the gentlemen whose names he was about to read. They had, during their residence amongst us, been ever foremost in every charitable institution; and had, in a particular manner, assisted and supported the objects of this Society. Indeed, it might almost be said to owe its present existence to their fostering hand.*
*The Society originated in 1820 from the benevolent exertions of Captain MORESBY, Commander, and Mr. SHAWL, Purser, of His Majesty''s Ship Menai; and H. ELLIS Esq, Deputy Colonial Secretary.
The Rev, W. WRIGHT said:-
That it was with feelings of peculiar satisfaction that he rose to second the motion of his worthy friend Dr. PHILIP. Participating, as he did, in the sentiments which had animated the Meeting, he felt that it would be impossible for him to add any thing to what had already been delivered in defence of the objects of the Society. He could not, however, forbear taking that opportunity of stating to the Meeting the advantages which he had at all times witnessed to have been derived from the zealous co-operation of the respectable servants of the British Government in India; who had been most steady friends to the Society, recruiting its slender funds by their liberal donations, and giving it the advantage of their countenance and protection, by which its character was maintained, and its almost dying embers were rekindled. Mr.WRIGHT passed an encomium on the benevolent nature of the charity, and felt that if the respectable gentlemen, to whom he was endeavouring to pay this humble tribute, could derive any additional pleasure to that which they must enjoy from having been the happy instruments of so much good to their fellow creatures in distress, it would arise from the knowledge that their services were not forgotten.
Mr. H.W. MONEY
While he acknowledged the claims of his Indian friends, who had left the Colony, to the Thanks of the Meeting for the services they had rendered to the Society, disclaimed the degree of merit, ascribed in the observations just made, to the Gentlemen from India, for their exertions and assistance in forwarding the objects of the Society. They had acted from the impulse of those feelings – the feelings of Englishmen – to which, it had been observed, an appeal had never been made in vain.
The two following letters were written by Gentlemen who are both Heads of respectable Parties, and who had lived in genteel and comfortable circumstances in their native Country.
Graham''s Town 23rd Dec 1822
“I received your letter, and am glad that some one thinks it worth while to enquire after so wretched a being as myself. I am sorry to tell you, our dear little Matilda is no more. She was with me while reaping some Barley, when I told her to go to the house to bring me some water to drink; she ran off, and fell on one of those vile reptiles that abound in this part of the Globe, and was stung. I attended my sweet babe for seven days and nights, during which she was in the greatest agony, until mortification took place. She then recovered her senses – prayed for her poor mamma and papa, and expired quite easy, on Tuesday, at four o'' clock. She was a lovely child, only four years old: all my misfortunes are nothing compared to this; she was our last and only child.
“You ask me for an account of our situation; which I will give you, and I believe it is applicable to all the Settlers, as regards our crops and prospects of food for the ensuing year. My wheat, two months ago the most promising I ever saw in any country, is now cut down and in heaps for burning, before we plough the ground again. The rust has utterly destroyed it; not a grain have we saved. My barley, from the drought, and a grub which attacks the blade just under the surface, produced little more than I sowed. My Indian corn, very much injured by the caterpillar; cabbages destroyed by the lice; the beans all scorched with the hot winds; and carrots run to seed: the potatoes are good, but I have but a small quantity. Our cows are all dry for want of grass: not the least appearance of verdure as far as the eye can reach. Nothing but one great wilderness of faded grass, something resembling a couchy fallow in England. On Sunday, whilst watching by the sick bed of my dear little girl, I was startled by the cry of wild dogs.* I ran to the window, and saw about thirty of those ferocious animals: before I could drive them off, they killed 20 of my flock, which consisted of 27 in all. I stood for a moment thinking of my misery – my dying child – my blasted crops – my scattered and ruined flock. God''s will be done! I have need of fortitude to bear up against such accumulated misery. Farewell.”
* The Wild Hound, or Wild Dog, of the Cape is mentioned by Burchell as an undescribed and very ferocious species of the Hyena
Graham''s Town, 28th Jan 1823
“We are all here struggling in the same way in which you left us, or rather worse; our prospects being still more gloomy, as the crops have again very generally failed in this part of the country. We have also this season been troubled with a new enemy: the caterpillars and locusts have been so numerous, that our gardens are totally destroyed. I took the greatest care of mine, and the prospect of its producing something cheered us a little; but this unexpected visitation has thrown a complete damp on our exertions. The season has been so dry, that many farmers in the Graaff Reynet district have been obliged to leave their places for want of water. Several whom I know are forced to send 3 miles for what water they use for domestic purposes. Bread is now quite out of the question; the scanty allowance of half a pound of rice is all we get. We feel much the want of vegetables, sometimes being under the necessity of living several days on meat alone. The Caffers are very troublesome; they lately stole 24 head of oxen from me; but Misfortune has so long been my companion that we begin to be reconciled to each other.”
The next two extracts are selected from letters now before the Committee, and are written by a Gentleman who formerly held a Captain''s commission in His Majesty''s Service. They are addressed to a private Friend, who had collected a small Subscription for him in Cape Town.
Feb 17 1823
“To my friends, and the friends of humanity, I am indebted, I may say, for the existence of myself and family; for really, but for their kind interference, we must have perished.
“If I could only see any kind of bread of my own growing, I should be happy. ‘Tis now nearly three months since we had any bread to eat, and indeed very little rice. If I could any way get a bag of meal, it would be a great relief.
“I am very sorry to be so troublesome: however, necessity compels me to do what my nature somewhat recoils at. We are very badly off for breakfast, which now usually consists of a bit of fried cabbage, or pumpkin stewed. If we once again get bread we will enjoy it sweetly.”
May 23rd 1823
“Every necessary is so extravagant in Graham''s Town, that it is impossible to come at clothing. My sons and myself are very naked, and the weather is now excessively cold. If I could but get the price of a pair of new wheels for my waggon, I would put my son J___ on the road, and he would earn a little by drawing loads for the shop-keepers in Graham''s Town. The calico will be a great relief when it arrives. A whole shirt will now be a great luxury.
“We are at present as badly off as ever. The four cows that gave us milk, which was a great part of our support, are dry, owing to a disease now prevailing among the cattle throughout the country.”
The following interesting passages are extracted from the M.S.Journal of Mr.F____ (a Gentleman well known to several Members of the Committee), who travelled through the English locations in March and April last, and personally witnessed many of the facts which he relates:-
“Visited SCANLAN''s Party. There are only three families remaining here, out of seven of which it originally consisted. They were all, but one, shoemakers, and might have obtained plenty of employment among the Settlers, were it not that there is not one in twenty who has now money sufficient to purchase a pair of shoes; and in fact, the Settlers are generally found without them. These people have still a few cattle, but have lost many by the Caffers. Indian corn and pumpkins are their only produce.”
“Mr. MANDY informed me that many in his neighbourhood were in the greatest distress, and that some had killed their last cow for food.”
“BAILIE''s Party – Mr. ADAMS, who is head of one division of this party, informed me that there were only thirteen or fourteen families now remaining on the location, out of the whole of this large settlement. He added that there was much distress among those who remained: and instanced one person of the name of H____, who had formerly been in good circumstances, but who, from the failure of every other resource, had that day been forced to go to Graham''s Town, to sell some of the small remaining part of his clothes, to keep himself and his family from starving, for absolute want.”
“Visited SMITH and COCK''s Parties – Three persons belonging to these two parties had some wheat grown this year; and at one of their houses, I eat the first and last bread that I met with in Albany, made from wheat grown by any settler. A few of the other settlers have bought some of this wheat for seed, at two shillings per pound.”
“It is most distressing to see the husband and wife, with scarcely any thing to cover them, and their children in the same condition, lying on the ground on the outside of their miserable huts, roasting a few heads of India corn, probably the only food they have. Many have nothing but pumpkins. One family of the name of H____ had not tasted butcher''s meat, nor I believe bread, for about three months, and their children were running about without clothes. As for shoes or stockings, they are seldom to be seen on either old or young.
“I am sorry to be obliged to remark that all the honest boldness of character, so conspicuous in the yeomen and labourers of England, seems to have left these wretched Emigrants; and they now appear to meet their disappointments and misfortunes with an indifference bordering on despair.”
“HYMAN and FORD''s party are in a truly miserable plight, with scarcely any thing to eat but a few vegetables. I here saw an aged couple in almost a starving condition. On going into their hut, I found the poor woman boiling a little pumpkin soup, which was mixed with some milk. She said this was the only food they had; and their wretched dwelling was neither wind nor watertight.
“At a little distance I met what had once been, as I was told, a fine hearty-looking young woman, but now miserably emaciated – apparently about twenty four or twenty five years of age. She was leading one child, another was following, and a third was on her arm. They were all without shoes or stockings. The woman''s dress (if such it could be called) consisted of the remains of an old tent tied about her; the children were clad in the same manner; and the canvas appeared so rotten, that it would scarcely hang on them.”
“On reaching WILSON''s party we met with many persons who had formerly been in a respectable situation of life in England, and had brought out some property with them. This is the description of people who have suffered the greatest privations and calamities. I spoke to one or two respectable women, who gave me a more lively idea of their melancholy situation, by replying to me in a manner that immediately evinced that they had been well educated, and brought up in good society, though they now appeared to be half starved, and almost broken hearted, with their persons neglected and in rags. At this place their gardens had generally failed, and the corn altogether.”
“Captain ______ and his two sons were without shoes or stockings; and, actually, without sufficient clothing of any kind to cover their naked limbs. Their corn had totally failed from blight, and their garden had scarcely produced any thing, in consequence of drought and caterpillars.”
“Mrs. CURRIE (who has a shop at Bathurst) told me that although almost every settler was in the greatest distress for want of the common necessaries of life; and though the articles she sells are chiefly of this description, yet there was almost no demand; because not one in fifty had a single Rix Dollar to expend. Such, however, she added, was the distress of some, that she could not help giving credit, though with little or no prospect of ever being repaid.”
The remaining selections have been furnished to the Secretary from different most respectable quarters. The first is extracted from a Letter addressed to Mr. T. PRINGLE by a Medical Officer on the Caffer Frontier, and dated August 29 1823.
“During my recent stay at _____ I had opportunities of seeing a good deal of the actual state of the Settlers in Albany; and I can truly declare, I never witnessed so much poverty and misery before. Whilst your friends on the Bavians River are reported to be in comparative comfort and prosperity, our countrymen in the Zuureveldt are without the necessaries of life.* Disease too was amongst them, and some families presented a deplorable picture.”
*The Scotch Party are located far up in the interior, on one of the sources Great Fish River, parallel with the Sneuwberg; and have suffered less from the blight than any other Settlers.
The next is also taken from a private letter addressed to a gentleman now in Cape Town. It is written by an individual of high character and connections, and who has honourably held the office of Justice of the Peace in England, and that of Heemraad in South Africa.
Sept 1 1823
“My family are this day without bread, and I can procure none in Graham''s Town, at any price. Rice is also very dear and scarce. Now, in our fourth year, our privations are greater than ever. The spring-bucks are increasing so much, that all my own corn and my nearest neighbour''s on the plain has been entirely eaten down. My people are obliged to take their turns in watching them all night. BARKER and BIGGAR have severally lost 30 and 40 head of cattle last week, by the Caffers; STANLY, all his yesterday.”
The same gentleman, on the 8th Sept, says:-
“Before our present crop is ripe, much distress will be felt for want of food. It is really lamentable to hear of and witness the distress that now prevails from this cause. A poor Irishman told me today that many families, besides his own, were living “like the soldier''s horse – on green forage” for he had eaten nothing during the last two days but lettuces and leeks! Times are so hard that we cannot employ labourers.”
In a communication dated Sept 27th we have the following statement from the same correspondent:-
“I was yesterday asked to join in a petition to Government to send down Indian corn for seed to the Settlers, as it cannot be procured here. I have been this week at the Kowie with my waggon to get flour and rice from the little vessel (the Good Intent) which came in a day or two before. I was fortunate in getting one bag of brown rice for my share, for which I paid 20 Rds. The whole of her cargo was flour and rice, and was disposed of in the boat as it was landed: and numbers went away without a morsel, declaring that their families at home were without grain of any kind. It was, indeed, most pitiable to witness the disappointment of those who had hoarded up a few dollars for this arrival , and returned empty. I saw some of THORNHILL''s, SMITH''s, COCK''s, the Nottingham, WILSON''s, BRADSHAW''s, SOUTHEY''s and HOLDER''s parties; to all of whom I put the question whether they could spare me half a muid or so of Indian corn? The universal reply was ‘We have none for our own use – we have not even enough for seed.''
“The rust or blight is very prevalent both in the rye and solid-straw wheat, but I sincerely hope they will not be materially hurt. All the other forward wheats have suffered as usual – nothing remains of them.”
Another gentleman, whose high respectability and moderate sentiments are also well known to the Committee, writes to a friend on Sept 29 as follows:-
“I am not one who wish to encourage the reports of general distress for food; but to say that the Settlers have plenty is too barefaced. I believe very few have sufficient Indian corn for seed. Applications are made to me from all quarters for it, as I happen to have a little to spare. With respect to our crops – the Cape wheat has entirely failed; the solid-straw, or Bengal wheat, I trust will answer; and experience has taught the Settlers that they must plant plenty of Indian corn and pumpkins. Should these succeed, bread will not be absolutely wanted. But the most serious thing is the distress occasioned by the Caffers taking the milch cows. Numbers of little farmers who had got together twenty or thirty cows, and were thereby enabled to support their families, and sell butter sufficient to purchase bread, have been deprived of their little stock by these savages, and compelled to quit their locations, and seek employment in Graham''s Town.”
Mr. COLLIS, proprietor of the only mill hitherto established in the new settlements, in a note dated 20th Sept:-
“That no wheat grown by any Settler had ever yet been brought to be ground at his mill; but that it had been partly occupied up to the end of July last in grinding barley, Indian corn, and a little rye, reaped by Settlers last season. Since that period, not six muids of grain of any sort had been received into the mill; and out of that (he adds) several persons have taken back maize for seed, so it is evident there is none in hand to grind.”
The correspondent referred to at page 27 [Transcriber''s note: ie immediately prior to Mr. COLLIS] continues on the 30th September:-
“The report that the Settlers have had abundant crops of Indian corn, or that they have now any tolerable supply remaining, is utterly untrue. It is now selling at one shilling (English) per quart, for seed. Since I came from home, I am sorry to find that the prospects for harvest are worse: rust and drought are destroying every thing. The Caffers continue uncommonly active. PIGOT, COOPER, BESTER, DELPORT, ERASMUS and VANDYKE have all lost cattle. If we have not effectual relief in a very short time, we must quit our locations. It is become really distressing and alarming. Oh, for Van Diemen''s Land! I am heartily sick of it, and dread being a moment from home on account of the Caffers.”
|Not previously advertised
|His Excellency Lord C.H. SOMERSET
|Sir Richard OTTLEY
|John Thomas BIGGE Esq
|W.G.M. COLEBROOKE Esq
|J. GREGORY Esq (Secretary to the Commission)
|W.W. BIRD Esq
|Commodore Jos. NOURSE C.B.
|Captain R. HAY R.N.
|Rev. Geo. HOUGH A.M. Col. Chaplain
|Rev. John PHILIP D.D.
|Lieut.Col. PITMAN H.C.M.S.
|W.T. BLAIR Esq H.C.C.S.
|Edw. Sheffield MONTAGUE Esq H.C.C.S.
|H.M. PIGON Esq H.C.C.S.
|A.B. TOD Esq H.C.C.S.
|H. WALTERS Esq H.C.C.S.
|P. CHERRY Esq H.C.C.S.
|John TROTTER Esq H.C.C.S.
|H.W. MONEY Esq H.C.C.S.
|Colin LINDSAY Esq H.C.C.S.
|W. BRADDON Esq H.C.C.S.
|Rev. W. WRIGHT A.M.
|Mrs. Colonel MUNN
|Mrs. S.E. TOOMER
|A. JOHNSTON Esq
|G. CADOGAN Esq
|S. BAILEY Esq
|Mr. F. DICKINSON
|Mr. H.E. RUTHERFOORD
|Mr. T. PRINGLE
|R.W. EATON Esq
|R.J. JONES Esq
|Edward FLAHERTY Esq
|Mr. G. GREIG
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