British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

3dly Whether exemption from taxes for a limited period could be allowed with safety to the revenue, and what other encouragements or assistance you consider adequate to secure the success of industrious settlers. . . .


53
GOVERNOR LORD CHARLES SOMERSET TO LORD BATHURST, 18 December 18171

Cape of Good Hope.

My LORD,

At the close of a confidential communication which I had lately the honour of addressing to your Lordship, I had occasion cursorily to observe that it were to be wished that our border on the side of the Caffres could be settled by many of those emigrants from England who were said to be most anxious to find employment and food in new countries and to whom the Home Government was understood to afford facilities in the attainment of their object.

In endeavouring to develop the hint then thrown out, I believe I shall best be enabled to meet the questions proposed to me in your Lordship's dispatch of the 28th July last relative to giving encouragement to this description of undertaking.

I should perhaps first observe to your Lordship that although this extensive country is very thinly peopled, yet from the mode by which land has been distributed in former times, little remains (except in the remote and frontier districts) which is not already private property; or I should probably be more correct in saying that, with the above exception, every part is occupied which could be usefully employed; such land as is still without a particular proprietor is either unfit for cultivation or pasture, or is so totally destitute of water that it must ever remain uninhabitable. . . .

Much valuable produce may hereafter become exportable through this channel [ Knysna River] from the fertile and well watered vale of the Lange Kloof (100 miles in extent), and from that equally fertile division, the Cango, both which are situated immediately behind it.

But however fertile these divisions may be, they are not to be compared to those which are situated between the Great Fish River (the Caffre boundary) and the Sunday River in the Uitenhage district. Here is indeed a very fine country upon which to employ and maintain a multitude of settlers. This tract of country, particularly healthy for every description of cattle and sheep, well wooded and having very fine springs in it, is very nearly uninhabited. The paucity of borderers

____________________
1
C.O. 48/33. Printed in R.C.C., vol. xi, pp. 425-3. On 24 April 1817 Somerset had written with enthusiasm on the need for settlers on the eastern frontier ( R.C.C., vol. xi, p. 303).

-467-

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