British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

consideration, if this country should obtain possession of the Cape, and be mad enough to encourage colonization, but without that circumstance I see no great reason to fear for the concessions proposed. . . .


14
COMMODORE JOHN BLANKETT TO EVAN NEPEAN 25 January 17951

No. 34 Mortimer Street.

Dear NEPEAN,

As I wrote you some time since concerning the Cape of Good Hope, I will now endeavour to make you master of that subject, which may perhaps be useful.

The Dutch never considered the Cape in a commercial view, but merely as a place of refreshment necessary for the carrying on their commerce to India, and on this principle formed all their colony arrangements. Considered as an entrepôt between Europe and Asia, it has every advantage that can be wished, either in point of situation, climate, soil and productions. The principal regulations that affect the colonists are; the Company claim as a privilege a tenth of all property sold for their use, with a right of preference on the purchase, the price of the commodity to be fixed by the Governor and Council. The Cape Town to be the only market for foreigners, and all goods subject to a duty of entry and exit, and on all sales within the town; no goods to be carried coastwise, nor any boats to be allowed but such as were licensed by Government. Most articles of general use are farmed, such as wine, flour, grain, rice and all sorts of cattle, by which means the supply to foreigners is a monopoly under the control of the Governor and Council. These duties and exactions were meant as a balance to the Company for the expenses of maintaining the Colony.

While the Colony was in its infancy and the plantations at no great distance, all went well, the farmer brought his cattle, his wine and his corn to the Cape Town, where it was bought by the Company's agents and put into their storehouses till the arrival of the ships. By this means the farmer was sure of his market, and enabled to purchase from the Company's stores whatever was necessary to continue his

____________________
1
R.C.C., vol. i, pp. 23-26. F. Blankett was Commodore of a small squadron sent to the Cape before the main force arrived under Sir George Elphinstone in June 1795. Evan Nepean ( 1751-1822) was a very able and conscientious official. After holding a clerkship in the Navy he was appointed by Lord Shelburne in 1782 to be Under-Secretary of State in the Home (and Colonial) Department. In that capacity his duties were multifarious. In addition to home affairs he personally dealt with a wide range of Irish and colonial business. In 1794 he was appointed Under- Secretary for War and the following year he succeeded Sir Philip Stephens as Secretary of the Admiralty. He received a baronetcy in 1802; in 1804 (for a few months) was Chief Secretary for Ireland; and was later Governor of Bombay ( 1812-19).

-19-

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