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South Africa by  Ian D. Colvin


 

 

VAN RIEBECK—CONTINUED

[95] FROM this time onwards there was a growing prosperity in the little settlement. There were indeed occasional blows—and heavy blows—as for example the loss of the company's herd of cattle in circumstances which I shall presently narrate to you; but development and progress were none the less steady. The Commander laid his colony on sound foundations, and the building was strong and secure.

Van Riebeck's chief problem was the natives. And here the Commander followed the famous motto of the Company in all matters of native policy—"First to creep and then to go." To win their favour, "to draw them to us," as his own phrase goes, nothing was left undone that could be done. Not many pages of the diary pass without some reference to a "treat" to the natives—presents of tobacco, a "bellyful of rice," and "as much arrack or brandy as they could drink." There was no philanthropy in this matter. Here is a typical extract that explains the situation very well—"Gave them some tobacco. More bread, rice, and arrack should be at hand, as they draw the natives towards us, who continually say that the English gave them whole bags of bread, much tobacco, and whole cans filled with arrack and wine—we ought, therefore, to be better provided to outdo the English if we wish to draw the [96] natives towards us, otherwise not an animal will be had, which may, if natives are humoured, cost so little that we could afford to add to the price some bread, tobacco, wine, or arrack." When we remember that the price given per head for cattle was ordinarily two copper plates, and for sheep "as much tobacco and wire as the sheep is long with the tail," we will realise that the shrewd Dutchman was not far out in his calculations. So the Hottentots were "drawn to us" with "the very strongest tobacco and brandy obtainable, and also with music and dancing," the Hottentots being very fond of music and firing of salutes, "in short, whatever might serve to draw them nearer and amuse them." Here is an idyllic picture of a pleasant Sunday afternoon at the fort with van Riebeck's native policy in full swing:—

After the sermon they were also treated with food and liquor, whilst a tub filled with a mixture of arrack and brandy was set open in the middle of the square within the fort, with a small sailor's cup in it, out of which they drank themselves so drunk that one beheld them making the strangest antics in the world, singing, dancing, leaping, and with other strange behaviour; at one time one, at another another, fell down through drunkenness, and were picked up by those not so far gone, carried outside the fort and laid on the grass to sleep.


[Illustration]

VAN RIEBECK ENTERTAINS THE HOTTENTOTS.

Van Riebeck and his Dutchmen entered into the entertainment with spirit. On one occasion we hear of certain natives being "introduced into the Commander's own room and placed before a large mirror, at which they appeared to be completely at a loss, at one time thinking that the reflections were persons in another room, at another time recognising themselves and other persons; they believed that they were seeing spectres, so much so that Eva, Doman, and other Hottentots living near the fort had enough to do to explain matters to them. Thus we have often wonderful jokes and amusing oddities with these strangers." And we have a delightful account of the reception given to Sousoa, [97] "chief of the Chainouquas," who "entered the fort, riding on a large ox, accompanied by his son's wife." "He was treated to cheese, fresh bread and sugar in a tin dish, and seated on a mat in the Commander's room with the aforesaid dirty princess (his son's wife), a favour never shown to anyone before. We also played for him on the claversingel, all which appeared to please him immensely, as well as the beer, Spanish and French wines, which he relished exceedingly. However, he did not take so much as would have intoxicated him. His followers were entertained in the front hall with biscuits and brandy in such a way that they sang lustily, jumped and performed various monkey tricks." Cannot we imagine the scene—the rudely-timbered room in the fort, hung with weapons and horns and other trophies of the chase, the chief and the "dirty princess" with their mantles of skins about them on the floor, and the jovial Dutchmen in their mid-seventeenth century dress pouring out the wine or strumming some rollicking tune on the claversingel, while Vrouw van Riebeck in white kerchief and stiff farthingale stands in the doorway looking on, with one half-frightened child in her arms and another hiding his head in her skirts.

The Hottentots of those days were not over-careful as to personal cleanliness. Indeed, as the Commander puts it, they were "grievously tormented if not allowed to wallow like swine in all kinds of filth," and van Riebeck tells us ruefully that he spoiled a new suit of clothes in embracing one of them. Perhaps no greater proof of the Commander's zeal for the Company could be given than such an embrace.

But van Riebeck had more methods of gaining influence over the natives than these genial entertainments. When he came to the Cape he set himself to study their tribal politics and profit by their divisions and jealousies. On the peninsula itself he found a wretched tribe, which he calls the Watermen, miserable [98] Calibans who had no cattle and lived on the mussels of the rocks on the seashore and roots and herbs dug out of the ground. Besides these Caapmen or Watermen, there were other tribes, one behind the other receding into the interior, which were known to him by picturesque names of more or less doubtful authenticity—"the true Saldanhars" (Saldanha being the Portuguese captain who had given his name to this region), the Gorachouquas, or tobacco thieves, the Chainouquas, the Goringhaiquas, the Hesaquas, "regular Dagga-makers of the Hamcumquar," the Namaquas, and so forth. I need not go into their mutual relations, and the respective tracts of country over which they wandered with their herds. Sufficient it is to say that they all desired tobacco, copper, and arrack, that they were all more or less hostile to one another, and that van Riebeck skilfully used their greed and their hate to serve the interests of his Company. He had several Hottentot instruments from whom he learned all he could of native lore. There was Eva, the interpretress, for whom the Commander had a soft spot in his heart—though not for a moment do I suggest that there were the same picturesque relations between them as between Cortes and his famous interpretress Marina. Eva was aristocratically connected, her sister being married to a chief, and she seems to have been devoted to the Dutch, so that her information and influence were of great value. Then there was her uncle, Herry, a rascally Caapman, who had gone on a voyage to the East Indies in an English ship. "Herry," says van Riebeck, "likes the English better than he does us"—a characteristic of most natives who have tried both—"being always full of them—no doubt he has persuaded the natives to keep their cattle back until the arrival of the English, as he seems to know pretty exactly when their fleet will be here from India." Herry was by no means a faithful servant; his aim was to line his nest at the expense of the Company by making himself [99] the sole intermediary between Dutch and natives, and his tricks in the pursuit of this policy soon led him into trouble. For van Riebeck was a true Dutchman, cleverer than any native at his own game. "Herry was also in the fort pretending that he had urged the natives now here to bring cattle; pretended we believed him"—one entry goes; and Herry, as I shall presently show, soon found himself laid by the heels and a prisoner in Robben Island, where Eva also was for a time (and behaved herself most scandalously). He was only brought to the mainland when his services were urgently required on some special mission. When, for example, the Commander was looking for certain cattle thieves, a resolution was passed that "Herry will therefore be brought over from the island and employed for the purpose, but well secured. Golden promises as big as mountains will be made to him, but none will be held binding"—a remark which may be regarded as typical of van Riebeck's code of political morality. Herry ultimately escaped in an old boat, and afterwards succeeded in getting into favour with the Dutch again, though he is reported as "trembling like a lap-dog owing to his bad conscience." Dominy was another creature of the Commander's. He was called "Dominy" because he was "such a very simple-minded man"; but in the end was found to be by no means so simple as he looked. He "tries to thwart the Company in everything," says the Journal at last, "and is thrice as bad as Herry ever was during his whole life." But between these three people, the visitors to the fort and the expeditions inland, van Riebeck contrived to learn much of the native and to get a great deal of influence over his affairs, so that at last he became known among the Hottentot tribes far and wide as "Lord of the Land," "who wishes to make friendship with all nations."

But before he reached this position he had to get many lessons from hard experience. The first, and in [100] some respects the worst blow he received from the natives came down upon him like a thunderbolt, when he had only been eighteen months in the country. It happened on a Sunday—"while we were listening to the sermon." The Company's herd of cattle, forty-two in number, including all the milch-cows and draught oxen, were grazing in the charge of a herd-boy, when the Watermen swooped down, murdered the boy, and drove off the cattle. Herry seems to have been at the bottom of it, for during service he absconded with his family. Soldiers were despatched after the light-footed thieves, but in vain. The Dutchmen sank in the heavy sand of the Flats, just as Almeida's Portuguese had done more than a hundred years before, and the Hottentots and the cattle were soon over the hills and far away.

It was a terrible blow to van Riebeck. "We have lost the pantaloons—being unbreeched," he says in his diary—and by the Watermen too, whom he had kindly treated. "Besides, we have been cruelly deceived in our interpreter Herry, whom we had always maintained as the chief of the lot, who had always dined at our table as a friend of the house, and been dressed in Dutch clothes."

That in moral turpitude in this matter of cattle-stealing the Dutch were on much the same level as the Hottentots, may be seen anywhere in the diary, for van Riebeck is always sighing to be allowed to seize the natives' cattle and themselves as well, and only the commands of the Company and considerations of policy prevented him. But the fact remains that the Hottentots were the first actual transgressors, and this circumstance is made full use of by the Commander. A dozen schemes of revenge flit through his mind and are frankly set down in the Journal. "Suitable opportunity" is the burden of them all; but in the meantime the natives must be lulled into confidence again, so that they may be enticed into the trap. "If their cattle be [101] taken they must be taken also, and removed. Can be easily got within the fort and made as drunk as pigs, the more so as their confidence in us is unlimited."

Then he has another plan to throw a chain of forts across the neck of the peninsula, get the Hottentots inside and keep them there, taking their cattle as required, and allowing a few of them out at a time to get more. But "first to creep and then to go." The Commander waited long for his "suitable opportunity." He waited five years, and during that time he loaded Herry with favours. He allowed him to steal copper on pretence of trading it for cattle on behalf of the Company; he allowed him to become a great man; he allowed him to grow rich in cattle; he allowed him to graze them near the fort; he allowed him to do anything he pleased.

Then at last came the "suitable opportunity." Herry was coaxed inside the fort and made prisoner. The sergeant and twenty men surrounded the cattle. The Hottentots resisted; but one of them was killed and another wounded and the herd brought into the kraal. Besides Herry, van Riebeck had secured a number of prisoners, and the Caapmen were now in his power. Then the Commander drew up a treaty with the tribe, and a perusal of it leaves us with a high opinion of his abilities. The first article is as follows: "Whatever the Caapmen have done to our injury, and whatever we did against them, including the shooting of the Hottentoo yesterday, in the fury of the encounter, shall be considered forgotten and forgiven, as if nothing of the whole had ever taken place, and the dead Hottentoo had never been in the world." The Caapmen were forbidden to cross the Salt River or the Liesbeeck, "as the pastures on this side are too small for us all." If they were attacked by other natives they might come under the shelter of the guns. The cattle of the natives were not to trespass on the cornlands of the Dutch. If [102] any of the Company's slaves escaped, the Hottentots were to capture them and receive payment for them in copper. They were not to stop any other natives from coming to the fort to trade. They were to supply all vessels with a certain number of cattle and sheep for payment in copper, and they were to have the right of boarding the vessels to get bread and brandy. Thus van Riebeck had his "suitable revenge"; in return for the loss of forty cattle and a boy and some copper and tobacco, he had got 110 cattle, 260 sheep, three prisoners, a title to the lands of the peninsula, and a claim on a large percentage of the tribe's cattle in perpetuity. Besides this, as van Riebeck calculated, Herry still owed him f. 375; and "moreover"—so ends this settlement of accounts—"the murder of the boy is still open—an open question, and not yet forgotten."

It is characteristic of our good Commander that this delightful instrument was signed "after the sermon."

But the trouble with the natives was not yet over. The freemen were now extending their corn and pasture lands to such an extent that the Hottentots saw the best of their grazing ground taken from them. "First to creep and then to go." When they protested, van Riebeck sweetly replied that there was not enough for both. The natives began to make reprisals. Their raids made life on the frontier of the colony exceedingly precarious. They killed a burgher named Simon In't Velt, and a servant, and they kept the whole settlement in a constant state of alarm. But van Riebeck was again too much, for them. He organised mounted parties who raided the native camps, destroyed their goods and killed them or took them prisoners. He built three block-houses on a line from the Devil's Peak to the shore, so as to cut off the settlement from the rest of the country, facetiously calling them "Kyk out," "Keert de Koe" and "Houd den Bule," which mean "Look out," "Guard the Cow" and "Hold the Bull." These [103] little forts were garrisoned and linked together by a broad thorn hedge, after the manner of the thorn hedges the commander had seen in the East. The natives were thoroughly beaten, and were at last fain to sue for peace. And now van Riebeck made his titles doubly sure.

Here is his account of the matter:—

This day peace was once more concluded with the captain and chief of the Kaapmen, Herry (who had escaped from Robben Island), and all the principal men and elders. Promises were made on both sides no longer to molest one another. However nothing was left of the stolen cattle that could be restored, but they promised on their part to do their best that as many as possible might be brought down from the interior by other tribes, and from time to time, though they firmly maintained their grievance that we had more and more taken of their lands for ourselves which had been their property for centuries and on which they had been accustomed to de pasture their cattle, etc. They also asked whether they would be allowed to do the same thing if they came to Holland, and added that it would have mattered little if we had confined ourselves to the Fort, but that instead we were selecting the best land for ourselves, without asking them whether they liked it or not, or whether they were inconvenienced or not. They therefore urged it very pressingly to be permitted once more to have free access to the same for the purpose mentioned. At first we replied that there was not enough grass there for their and our cattle. They answered, "Have we then no cause to prevent you from obtaining cattle, as having many you cover our pastures with them? And if you say the land is not big enough for us both, who ought then in justice to retire, the real owner or the foreign usurper?" They therefore adhered to their old right of natural ownership, and desired to be allowed at least to collect bitter almonds which were growing wild in large quantities in that neighbourhood, as well as to dig roots for their winter food. This likewise could not be permitted as they would find too many opportunities to injure the colonists, and because we shall require the bitter almonds this year for ourselves in order to plant them for the projected fence. These reasons were certainly not communicated to them, but as they steadfastly adhered to their claims it was at last necessary to tell them that they had now lost the land on account of the war, and therefore could make [104] sure of nothing else than that they had lost it completely, the more so as they could not be induced to restore the stolen cattle, which they had taken from us unjustly and without any reason, that accordingly their country, having been fairly won by the sword in a defensive war, had fallen to us and that we intended to keep it.

"First to creep and then to go." A little fort on the seashore, fair words and strong drink, a little herd of cattle, a bigger herd, a good cause of quarrel, and now the ancestral owners of the soil are not to be allowed even to dig roots in it for their winter food. It is the natural course of events. Prospero takes the island from Caliban—though even Caliban was allowed to "dig up pig nuts." The higher pushes out the lower, the stronger the weaker. 'Tis thus the world goes round. Another hundred years and over the whole country where once their great herds of cattle had roamed, the Hottentots were mere landless serfs, slave labourers for their masters the Dutch.

But besides this intercourse with the natives, van Riebeck found other means of exploring his new country. Expedition after expedition struck out into the wild waste of mountain and valley, which lay ridge upon ridge, line upon line, between the coast and the great tableland which forms the interior of South Africa. The first of these adventures was a strange affair. It happened two or three months after van Riebeck's landing, when the men were on short rations and suffering bitterly from hard work, cold and wet. Two sailors and two soldiers, the chief of them Jan Blanx of Malines, the boatswain of the yacht, deserted during the night and were not heard of for eight days. They at last returned very footsore and hungry, and from their confessions it seems that Jan Blanx had "dreamed in the yacht of a mountain of gold and such like frivolous things."He and Jan Jansz van Leyden had persuaded the two others to go with him, as he [105] "understood navigation," his intention apparently being to make for Mozambique, taking the mountain of gold on the road. They got twenty-four miles on their way; but as they had with them only four biscuits and some fish, hunger soon brought them to sore straits. They lived for a while on eggs, young birds, and mussels; they saw ostriches and had to dodge rhinoceroses, "which threatened to attack us." But at last they got to a very high mountain which they tried in vain to climb, and so Jan Blanx and his party returned to the fort to be put in irons. The bo'sun's diary, written with red chalk, "in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ," is a pathetic little document of exploration—the first into the interior of South Africa. "Alone" (it ends) "I could not proceed, so we decided to return, trusting to mercy in God's name." But van Riebeck was not inclined to mercy: there was too much discontent simmering among his men, and he thought it time to make an example. Jan van Leyden was indeed reprieved from sentence of death which was passed; instead, he was bound to a post and had a bullet fired over his head. Jan Blanx was keel-hauled and got 150 lashes. All four were condemned to work as slaves in irons for two years. Thus ended our first expedition, most unhappily for the explorers.'

But except for occasional voyages along the coast, or overland expeditions to Saldanha Bay, it was five years before any serious exploration was attempted. Then Abraham Gabbema was sent with an expedition to reach the "Saldanhars" and to open direct trade with them, the object being to get rid of Herry's officious intervention between the Dutch and the tribes of the interior. Gabbema got as far as the Berg River, over seven leagues from the fort; but could not cross it, and so was forced to return. Next came the expedition [106] under the gallant Sergeant Jan van Harwarden with fifteen men, two Hottentots, six pack oxen, and three weeks' provisions. In the words of the Journal, the sergeant and his men "found the pass over the mountain range of Africa, against which the Berg River is lying, and through a cliff of which it runs from the far inland. On the other side of the mountains they had found such a large flat that they believed they might travel more than a hundred leagues without reaching another mountain range. The flat seemed to be stony soil unfit for corn, there being hardly any grass for the oxen, and no natives found at a distance of 50 hours. Hence they had returned, especially also because their food was running short and some were sick."

It was an arduous journey. Once a rhinoceros ran through their cattle in its blind way, without doing any harm. They saw an elephant, wild horses (zebras), wolves, leopards, antelopes and elands. They saw lions, sometimes five or six in company. At night "the roaring of the lions was dreadful." Dysentery attacked the little band, and two of the explorers died, Gerrit Benkeren and another, the first martyrs of South African exploration. Once as they were camping on the banks of the Eerste River, while the sergeant was serving out the provisions, a large lion sprang upon one of the men, threw him down, and tore him grievously. The sergeant seized his gun, placed the muzzle against the forehead of the brute, and shot it dead. The skin was taken home and stuffed and placed in the large hall of the fort, where it long remained as a memorial of the sergeant's gallantry. We next hear of Harwarden, now ensign and member of the Council, making an expedition to the Cochoquas, a great tribe of the interior. The officer made himself very popular with Oedasoa, the chief, playing the fiddle merrily as they sat round the camp-fire, "whilst a certain soldier made a lot of fun to the great amusement of all." The ensign, [107] who had served in the States' army, afterwards told the Commander "that he had never before seen so many people living on so many encampments all on one spot, all full-grown powerful men, living in large round houses made of mats, 30 or 40 feet in diameter. Oedasoa had three houses for himself, much larger even, and so full of assegais, arrows and bows as if they were armour rooms. His sleeping place was on a very fine mat in a hole in the ground. Like all the Hottentots he was dressed in skins, and so besmeared that the fat dripped down his body. This is their greatest pomp. Their cattle were in such numbers that the end could not be seen. . . . The sheep alone took three hours to leave their kraals, and the cattle not less. The latter were bigger than any oxen ever seen at home, and about 2 feet broad on the back and the buttocks. They were also so high that he being a very tall person, could scarcely look over the backs of the animals, or reach them with the elbow."


[Illustration]

A LARGE LION SPRANG UPON ONE OF THE MEN.

Then came a more ambitious venture. Van Riebeck himself had been dreaming golden dreams. Eva and other natives had been telling him wonderful stories of a great native people that lived far inland. There was an emperor called Chobona, who ruled over all the Cape natives. He was rich in gold, which was taken out of the sand, and his people knew how to coin and stamp the coin, "which they made as big as, or even bigger than the palm of the hand." They had large houses of stone and beams; they sowed white rice and they planted all kinds of vegetables; they wore clothes and kept a standing army. Now what the foundation of these stories was I do not know. Perhaps they had none, perhaps they were a confused rumour, stolen across Africa, of the Arabs or Portuguese; perhaps they were a tradition of a great native people now extinct, who may have built the gigantic ruins of Zimbabwe, which remain to "teaze us out of thought" with their weird [108] mystery. I do not know; but at any rate these old wives' tales fired our Commander's imagination, and with them in his mind were jumbled up confused ideas of Portuguese Africa, drawn partly, no doubt, from soldiers and sailors, who had either been there or talked with men that had, partly from a wonderful chart upon which were marked fabulous towns and rivers according to the geographer's fancy. So an expedition was organised to go to the "land of the Monomotapers." It was to look for the "permanent towns of Monomotapa, Butua and Davugul, at and in the neighbourhood of the River Spirito Sancto." We have heard of this river before. You may see it in the old maps of Spanish America and East Africa; but here at anyrate it was the river of Romance, the Holy Spirit of Adventure, to lure men on after gold and knowledge till they should fall in the quest and their bones bleach in the wilderness. Jan Danchaert, a soldier of Nynoven, led the expedition, and a brave man he seems to have been, even though he did not reach the Monomotapa—who was, if van Riebeck had only known it, a thousand miles away, with a waste of mountain and desert karoo and savage wilderness between that no man could cross. Danckaert and his twelve men only got some sixty miles on the way, and even this gave them incredible toil. They made attempt after attempt to break through the great mountain ranges, which, one behind the other, bar the way into the interior. Now, in these pleasant valleys under the rocky precipices and in the sheltered kloofs where the waterfalls leap from height to height, you may see farms and vineyards, sheltered among oaks and gum-trees, or in a snow of orchard blossom—

Fair white homesteads there abide,

Lustrous glimmering pearls ashine.

But in the days when Jan Danckaert broke his fingernails in trying to open the door of Africa, the rocks were peopled only by bushmen and baboons, and the [109] valleys by rhinoceros and antelope. At a river which still bears the name of Elephant's River, Danckaert saw a herd of two or three hundred elephants, and among the cliffs he met bushmen who gave him honey out of their leathern bags or ran from him in fear. For days the men and oxen blundered through the high grass, followed the rhinoceros paths, stumbled in the molehills that riddled the ground, climbed the mountain passes. They were knocked over with dysentery. They became mutinous, and one of them threatened to shoot Danckaert when the leader ordered him to look after the cattle. "At this time," he writes in his diary, "I have not the mastery so as to keep the men in good order, so that I am obliged to put up with every insult, keep my tongue, and get them with kind words to proceed."

So they returned, and van Riebeck sent out another expedition. This time it was made up of thirteen men, led by Corporal Pieter Cruythoff, "master-builder of the Company." After toiling through many a valley and over many mountain ranges, "we saw level country. Between north and west we could see no more mountains." Everywhere were signs of old encampments, but it was not until evening that one of the Hottentots cried out in a voice of terror, "Meester Pieter, Namaqua."

And sure enough twenty-three tall natives were standing on the rocks above them, looking down at the party. They had great shields of oxhide, skins hung over their left arms, they had bows and arrows over their shoulders, and an assegai in each hand. Pieter soon made friends with these savages and was introduced to the king, "a man like a giant, much taller than Cattibou, the biggest slave of the Company." Pieter taught the king how to smoke tobacco, and gave him a sup of brandy—which pleased the monarch much. They were led into the camp, a town of round huts, [110] where there were some seven hundred people and great herds of cattle and sheep. Then the king entertained his visitors.

"A triumph was blown," Pieter tells us, and then "from one to two hundred people formed a circle, each had a hollow reed in his hand, some were long, some short, some thick, and some thin. One stood in the centre with a long stick and sang, the others blew on the reeds and danced around, performing fine actions with their feet. The women danced round the ring, and the sound was as if one heard trumpets blowing. The king sat on his chair a little distance off. This chair is a round piece of wood three or four fingers thick, beautifully ornamented with beads, and is generally carried with them wherever they go. This amusement lasted about two hours, and consisted of all sorts of dances. They then left off, and the king accompanied us to our camp, where he smoked a few pipes of tobacco. Darkness coming on he went back to his house. The blowing of trumpets then recommenced and lasted about three or four hours in the night, when they went to sleep."

Thus Pieter was happily entertained by these hospitable Namaquas, who were great dandies in their way, in their "beautifully prepared skins of tigers, leopards and rock-rabbits, gorgeously ornamented with copper ornaments," with locks "as long as those of a Dutchman" threaded with copper beads, their necks and their waists hung with copper and iron chains, metal rings round their arms, and plaited skins on their legs. Pieter left them with kindly salutations on both sides, and warm invitations to the Namaquas to visit the fort.

There were other expeditions which brought back tantalising but unsubstantial tales of "gold nations," and pigmies, people who lived in houses, and the town of Vigite Magna.

[111] The last was disastrous. Near the Berg River the party saw an elephant which seemed to threaten an attack. To protect the cattle, the men bore down on the intruder with guns, and a battle royal ensued. In those days, one must remember, there were no explosive bullets and Express rifles, and a rogue elephant, which is counted dangerous even now, was then a very formidable enemy. In this case it charged one of the Dutchmen, named Pieter Roman, and so cruelly mangled him that he died two hours afterwards.

Worse still, when they reached the Namaqua encampment they found that the tribe had left, and their efforts to follow them brought the expedition into a dismal desert where they nearly died of thirst. The ground there is as dry and barren as a plank and full of sandy molehills, without a green herb or grass, and only here and there a little pool of salt, muddy water, the sides of which were quite white with salt."

This was the end of van Riebeck's exploration. He had done a great deal, showing himself as zealous in this as in all other matters. But he had not found gold nor Vigite Magna, and the conclusion of the whole matter was, "All declare that nowhere a tithe has been found of such good land and water as are found here in this little corner of the Cape."


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