British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

the Commissioners were obliged precipitately to leave the country, under the most imminent danger of losing their lives. Want of authority on the part of our Government is the chief reason that the Cape was so easily reduced. Everybody would command here, and nobody would obey--it is then no longer surprising if we lost a colony, which although unable to secure its Government against the invasion of a superior enemy, might yet have opposed him a more effectual and durable resistance. The Cape is weak by nature, ill fortified, and has been still worse defended. As in the mother country it was sufficient that one proposed to his neighbour to reject; it is thus that they also lost their country. The inhabitants are for the greater part impoverished--this poverty has disposed them for disaffection and revolt as appears again by the example of Grave Reinet. Those unhappy people are dispersed over an expansive surface and live at a considerable distance from each other--on one side are incessantly harassed by the Bossies Manns (a species of Hottentos) and on the other they are obliged to struggle under the oppressive yoke of their own Government.

The object of all merchants is gain--it was then consistent that they, the [Dutch] East India Company, should govern the colony more with an eye to their own interest, than to that of the people.1...


35
CAPE COLONY: MINUTE OF THE COMMITTEE FOR TRADE, 13 December 17622

Read. Order of His Majesty in Council of the 7th instant, referring to this Committee a letter from Mr. Secretary Dundas to the Lord President, with a draft of a commission proposed to be given to the Earl of Macartney as Governor of the settlement of the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

Ordered that the said draft of Commission be referred to His Majesty's Advocate, Attorney and Solicitor General, to take the same into their consideration, and report their opinion thereupon; observing that the Government intended thereby to be established is merely provisional, and that the question of the future Government of the Cape is to be reserved for the consideration of His Majesty or of a Parliament, as circumstances may require; and that is not their Lordships' intention that as far as relates to the commerce carried on in the ports of the Cape, the laws of navigation should attach, that

____________________
1
He proceeds to enumerate the chief products of the colony and to list the discontents. Among the demands of the Graff Reinet rebels was a claim to 'the freedom to sell all their products where they please and a free trade in general'.
2
B.T. 5/10, pp. 284-5. The Order in Council dated 28 December 1796 is printed in R.C.C., vol. Ii ( 1898), pp.1-3.

-306-

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