« PreviousContinue »
A little further on his journey, he comes to the farm of one Hendrik Strydom, a hospitable Boer, to whom he thus introduces himself:
On reaching my waggon, which I found outspanned at the desolate abode of Mynheer Hendrick Strydom, I took a mighty draugot of gin and water, and then walked, followed by my interpreter carrying a bottle of Hollands and glasses, to the door of Strydom, to cultivate the acquaint. ance of himself and Frau, and wearing the garb of old Gaul, in which I generally hunted during my first expedition, to the intense surprise of the primitive Boers. Shaking Strydom most cordially by the land, I told him that I was a “ Berg Scott," or mountain Scotchman, and that it was the custom in my country, when friends met, to pledge one another in a bumper of spirits ; at the same time, suiting the action to the word, I filled him a brimming bumper. This was my invariable practice on first meeting a Boer. I found it a never-failing method of gaining his goodwill, and he always replied that the Scotch were the best people in the world.
It is a strange thing that Boers are rather partial to Scotchmen, although they detest the sight of an Englishman. They have an idea that the Scotch, like themselves, were a nation conquered by the English, and that, consequently, we“ trek” in the same yoke as themselves ; and further, a number of their ministers are Scotchmen.
After coquetting awhile with springboks and such small deer, in company with Mynheer Strydom, our wild hunter backed by his Buer ally, aspires to deal with larger game. He thus narrates a nocturnal attack upon “ what they took to be a herd of quaggas"
Night was now fast setting in; so we descended from the hills, and made for home. As we passed down, we observed what we took to be a herd of quaggas, and a bull wildebeest, standing in front of us; upon which we jumped off our horses, and, bending our bodies, approached them to fire.
It was now quite dark, and it was hard to tell what sort of game we were gning to fire at. Strydom, however, whispered to me that they were quunggas, and they certainly appeared to be such. His gun snapped three times at the wildebeest, upon which they all set off at gallop. Strydom, who was riding my stallion, let go his bridle, when he ran in to fire, taking advantage of which the horse set off at a gallop after them. I then mounted " The Cow," * and, after riding hard for about a mile, I came up to them. They were now standing still, and the stallion was in the middle of them. I could make him out by his saddle; so, jumping off my horse in a state of intense excitement, I ran forward, and fired both barrels of my two-grooved rifle into the qunggas, and heard the bullets tell loudly. They then started off; but the stallion was soon once more fighting in the middle of them. I was astonished and delighted to remark how my horse was able to take up their attention, so that they appeared heedless of the reports of my rifle.
In haste I commenced loading, but to my dismay I found that I had left my loading-rod with Hendrick. Mouuting The Cow,' I rode nearer to the quaggas, and was delighted to find that they allowed my horse to come within easy shot. It was now very dark ; but I set off in the hope to fall
# One of his horses was so designated.
in with Hendrick on the wide plnin, and galloped along, shouting with al my might, but in vain. I then rode across the plain for the hill, to try to find some bush large enough to make a ramrod. In this, by the greatest chance, I succeeded; and, being provided with a knifo, I cut a good ramrod, loaded my rifle, and rode off to seek the quaggas once more. I soon fell in with them ; and, coming within shot, fired at them right and left, and heard both bullets tell, upon which they galloped across the plain, with the stallion still after them. One of them, however, was very hard hit, and soon dropped astern. The stallion remained to keep him company.
About this time the moon shone forth faintly. I galloped on after the troop; and, presently coming up with them, rode on one side, and dismounting, and dropping on my knee, I sent a bullet through the shoulder of the last quagga; he staggered forward, fell to the ground with a heavy crash, and expired. The rest of the troop charged wildly around him, snorting and prancing like the wild horses in Mazeppa, and then set off at fulí speed across the plain. I did not wait to bleed the quagga, but mounting my horse, I galloped on after the troop, but could not, however, overtake thom. I now returned and endeavoured to find the quagga, which I had last shot ; but, owing to the darkness, and to my having no mark to guide me on the plain, I failed to find him. I then set off to try for the quagga, which had dropped astern with the stallion ; having serrched somu time in vain, I dismounted, and laid my head on the ground, when I made out two dark objects, which turned out to be what I sought. On my approaching, the quagga tried to make off, when I sent a ball through bis shoulder, which laid him low. On going up to him in the full expectation of inspecting for the first time one of these animals, what was my disappointment and vexation to find n. fine brown gelding, with two white stars on his forehead! The truth now flashed upon me. Strydom and I had both been mistaken. Instead of quaygas, the waggon-team of a neighbouring Dutchman had afforded me my ovening's shooting! I canglit my stallion, and rode home, iutending to pay for the horses, which I had killed and wounded; but, on telling my story to Strydom, with which ho seemed extremely amused, he told me not to say a word about it, as the owners of the horses were very avaricious, and would make me pay treble their value ; and that, if I kept quiet, it would be supposed they had been killed either by lions or wild Bushmen.
Oh that but ! So you did not pay for the property you had carelessly destroyed, because a mischievous Dutch Boer told you that you would have to pay a high price for it. Fie! fie! Mr. Cumming. Was this worthy of a Scottish gentleman, claiming relationship with the noble house of Gordon ? But see how much more acute is Mr. Cumming's sense of justice, when he himself is the sufferer by the carelessness of others. The Bakalahari, or people living on the borders of the great desert of Kalahari, make covered pitfalls in the neighbourhood of their villages, for the purpose of catching and destroying the wild beasts. Into one of these a young inare of Mr. Cumming's fell, and was suffocated. The owner of the unfortunate animal was pleased to assume that, on his approach, all these pitfalls ought to be laid open to view to prevent accidents to his cattle. Let us see how he promulgates his ex post facto law, and punishes
In the heading of the chapter, in which the occurrence is narrated, we are told of " a Chief Alogged for catching, and consuming a horse;" but the story imputes no such degree of guilt to the luckless savage :
When the waggons came up, I detected the head Bakalabari of the kraal, beside which my mare had been killed; he was talking with my cattle herds, with whom he seemed to be on very intimate terms. This killing of my horse was either intentional, or most culpably careless, as the pits were left covered, and the cattle driven to pasture in the middle of them. I accordingly deemed it proper that this man should be made an example of; so, calling to my English servant, Carey, to assist me, we ench seized an arm of the guilty chief, and I then caused Hendrick to flog him with a sea-cow jambok; after which I admonished him, and told him that, if the holes were not opened in future, I would make a more severe example as I proceeded. The consequence of this salutary ad. monition was, that all the pitfalls along the river were thrown opeu in advance of my march—a thing which I had uever before seen among the Bechuana tribes.
Judged by his own law, of how many stripes was Mr. Cumming wortly at the hands of the Dutchmen, whose horses he had shot? The natural effect of this display of heavy-handed injustice was manifest next morning, when he “ found himself minus his hired natives; these ruffians fearing to receive a chastisement similar to that of the chief of the Bakalahari, which they felt they deserved.” How much more tender the conscience of the savage than that of the civilized man!
Here is another lamentable proof of how much the barbarian has to learn ere he can cope with the civilised man, when the latter condescends to encounter him with his own weapons of superstition and deceit:
It happened in the course of my converse with the chief, that the subject turned on ball-practice, when, probably relying on the power of his medi: cine, the king challenged me to shoot against him for a considerable wager, stipulating at the same time that his three brothers were to be permitted to assist him in the competition. The king staked a couple of valuable karosses against a large measure filled with my gunpowder; and we then at once proceeded to the waggon, where the match was to come off, followed by a number of the tribe. Whilst Sichely was loading his gun, I repaired to the fore-chest of the waggon, where, observing that I was watched by several of the natives, I proceeded to rub my hands with sulphur, which was instantly reported to the chief, who directly joined me, and, clapping me on the back, entreated me to give him a little of my medicine for his gun, which I of course told him he must purchase. Our target being set up, we commenced firing; it was a small piece of wood six inches long by four in brendth, and was placed on the stump of a treo, at the distance of one hundred paces. Sichely fired the first shot, and very naturally missed it; upon which I let fly, and split it through the middle. It was then set up again, when Sichely and his brothers continuod firing, without once touching it, till night setting in put an end to their proceedings. This of course was solely attributed by all present to the powor of the medicine I had used.
If Mr. Cumming was not at this time the guest of Dr. Livingstone, the excellent missionary, he was at all events encamped on the scene of that good man's labours and his influence. Of course, as our wild hunter naively tells us, when Dr. Livingstone was informed of this circumstance, he was very much shocked, declaring, that "in future the natives would fail to believe him, when he denounced supernatural agency, having now seen it practised by his own countrymen." How much easier it is to do harm than to do good. This silly joke of Mr. Cumming-we will not regard it as any thing worse, for he does not tell us that he actually then sold any of his ginmedicine to the natives—may have had an injurious effect on the good missionary's labours for months or even years.
But the following is still worse ; it is a clear case of obtaining goods under false pretences; and we are astonished to find even Mr. Cumming chronicling it with so much self-complacence:
In the forenoon, Matsaca arrived from the carcase of the borélé. Ho brought with him a very fine leopard's skin kaross, and an elephant's tooth; these were for me, in return for which I was to cut him, to make him shoot well. This I did in the following manner: opening a large book of natural history, containing prints of all the chief quadrupeds, I placed his forefinger successively on several of the prints of the commonest of the South African quadrupeds; and, as I placed his finger on each, I repeated some absurd sentence, and anointed him him with turpentine. When this was accomplished, I made four cuts on his arm with a lancet, and then, anointing the bleeding wounds with gunpowder and turpentine, I told him that his gun had power over each of the animals which his finger had touched, provided he held it straight. Matsaca and his retinue seemed highly gratified, and presently took leave and departed.
Did ever quack at country fair more richly deserve the stocks, for imposing his rubbish on the credulous bumpkins as valuable specifics, than did this well born and bred British gentleman, for thus practising on the ignorance and superstition of African savages for his own sordid profit? We fear that the civilized sojourners among heathen tribes, often, in their ordinary life and conversation, do much to check the diffusion of Christian truth, without being conscious of it; but a few Cummings, scattered about in the dark places of the earth, would do more mischief in an hour, than the missionaries, whom Christian piety and Christian benevolence have sent forth, could repair in a year. We trust, however, that few of our countrymen are capable of such practices, as those which Mr. Cumming avows, not only without shame, but with very obvious satisfaction.
More than once does our eccentric friend record his performnance of those incantations--never done for nothing. Thus we
find him again obtaining valuable property by the pretended exercise of supernatural power. The process is
The process is thus particularly described :
I also exchanged some assagais for ammunition; and obtained other articles of native manufacture in payment for cutting the arms of two or three of the nobility, and rubbing medicine into the incisions, to enable them to shoot well. Whilst performing this absurd ceremony, in which the Bechunnas have unbounded faith, I held before the eye of the initiated sportsman prints of each of the game quadrupeds of the country; at the same time anointing him with the medicine (which was common turpentine), and looking him most seriously in the face, I said, in his own language, “Slay the game well; let the course of thy bullet be through the hearts of the wild beasts, thine hand and heart be strong against the lion, against the great elephant, against the rhinoceros, against the buffalo," &c.
Our merchant-hunter has no excuse for having thus juggled the savages out of their property: for the profits, which he might regard as perfectly legitimate, were certainly very handsome. For a musket, which cost sixteen shillings, he demanded ivory which he valued at 301.-“being about 3,000 per cent, which," he says, with an obvious chuckle, “I am informed, is reckoned among inercantile men to be a very fair profit.” The price, which the largest ivory fetches in the English market, Mr. Cum ming tells us, is from 281. to 321. per cwt., and he obtained pairs of tusks, which weighed considerably more than this. But then, as he informs us, he voted the trading an immense bore; and, even in his elephant-shooting expeditions, he was tempted to forget his "real interests "the making his expedition profitable—by the inducement to select and secure the largest tusks for his collection of curiosities.
The varying character of South African sport may be inferred from the following imperfect list of the game found in one district only—and the smallest and least important item in the catalogue, it must be remembered, is the antelope in various species:
In the course of the day I saw the fresh spoor of about twenty varieties of large game, and most of the animals themselves, viz. elephant, black, white, and long-horned rhinoceros, hippopotamus, camelopard, buffalo, blue wildebeest, zebra, waterbuck, sassay by, koodoo, pallah, springbok, serolomootlooque, wild boar, duiker, steinbok, lion, leopard. This district of Africa contains a larger variety of game than any other in the whole of this vast tract of the globe, and perhaps more than any district throughout the world ; for, besides the game which I have just noted, the following are not uncommon, viz. keilton, or two.horned black rhinoceros, eland, oryx, roan antelope, sable antelope, hartebeest, klipspringer, and grys steinbuck: the rietbuck is also to be found, but not abundantly.
Any of the names in this catalogue, which the reader does not recognize, may safely be regarded as those of different kinds of antelopes. These fleet, graceful, and timid inhabitants