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Extensive woods once flourished in the vicinity of Strata Florida, and its burial-place covered no less than 120 acres. A long list of eminent persons from all parts of Wales were here buried, and amongst them David ap Gwillim, the famous bard. The churchyard is now reduced to small dimensions ; but leaden coffins, doubtless belonging to once celebrated personages, are still found, both there and at a distance
from the cemetery. A few aged box and yew-trees now only remain to tell of the luxuriant verdure which once grew around the Abbey; and of the venerable pile itself little is left, except an arch, and the fragment of a fine old wall, about forty feet high. A small church now stands within the enclosure, more than commonly interesting from having been built with the materials of the once celebrated Abbey of Strata Florida.
In the warm summer months a thin kind of petticoat constitutes the sole bodily attire of the Kaffir Chiefs ; but in winter a cloak is used, made of the skins of wild beasts, admirably carried. The head, even in the hottest weather, is never protected by any covering, a fillet, into which a feather of the ostrich is stuck, being generally worn; and they seldom wear shoes, except on undertaking a long journey, when they condescend to use a rude substitute for them. The bodies of both sexes are tattooed : and the
young men, like the fops of more civilized nations, paint their skins and curl their hair. Their arms are the javelin, a large shield of buffalo-hide, and a short club.
The women exhibit taste in the arrangement of their dress, particularly for that of the head, which consists of a turban made of skin, and profusely ornamented with beads, of which adornment both men and women are very fond. A mantle of skin, variously bedecked with these and other showy trinkets, is worn ; and the only distinction between the dress of the chieftains' wives and those of a lower rank consists in a greater profusion of ornaments possessed by the former, but of which all are alike vain. There is no change of dress, the whole wardrobe of the female being that which she carries about with her and sleeps in, for bed-clothes they have none.
The grain which they chiefly cultivate is a kind of millet : a small quantity of Indian corn and some pumpkins are likewise grown; but a species of sugar-cane is produced in great abundance, and of this they are extremely fond. Their diet, however, is chiefly milk in a sour curdled state. They dislike swine's flesh, keep no poultry, are averse to fish, but indulge in eating the flesh of their cattle, which they do in a very disgusting way. Although naturally brave and warlike, they prefer an indolent pastoral life, hunting being an occasional pastime.
Much light was thrown on the condition and future prospects of this people in 1835, by some papers relative to the Cape of Good Hope, which were laid before the English Government. From these it appeared that a system of oppression and unjustifiable appropriation on the part of the whites, have from time to time roused the savage energies of the Kaffirs, and impelled them to make severe reprisals upon their European spoilers. The longing of the Cape colonists for the well-watered valleys of the Kaffirs, and of the latter for the colonial cattle, which are much superior to their own, still are, as they have always been, the sources of irritation. Constant skirmishes took place, until, at length, in 1834, the savages poured into the colony in vast numbers, wasted the farms, drove off the cattle, and murdered not a few of the inhabitants. An army of 4000 men was marched against the invaders, who were driven far beyond the boundary-line which formerly separated Kaffirland from Cape Colony, and not only forced to confine themselves within the new limits prescribed, but to pay a heavy fine. Treaties have been entered into, and tracts of country assigned to the Kaffir chiefs of several families, who acknowledge themselves to be subjects of Great Britain, and who are to pay a fat ox annually as a quit-rent for the lands which they occupy.
Macomo, one of the Kaffir Chiefs, is a man of most remarkable character and talent, and succeeded his father, Gaika, who had been possessed of much greater power and wider territories than the son, but had found himself compelled to yield up a large portion of his lands to the colonists. Macomo received no education; all the culture which his mind ever obtained being derived from occasional intercourse with missionaries, after he had grown to manhood. From 1819, the period of Gaika's concessions, up to the year 1829, he with his tribe dwelt upon the Kat river, following their pastoral life in peace, and cultivating their corn-fields. Suddenly they were ejected from their lands by the Kat river, on the plea that Gaika had ceded these lands to the colony. Macomo retired, almost without a murmur, to a district farther inland, leaving the very grain growing upon his fields. He took up a new position on the banks of the river Chunice, and here he and
his tribe dwelt until 1833, when they were again driven out to seek a new home, almost without pretence. On this occasion Macomo did make a
remonstrance, in a document addressed to an influential person of the colony. “In the whole of this savage Kaffir's letter, there is," says Dr. Philip, "a beautiful simplicity, a touching pathos, a confiding magnanimity, a dignified remonstrance, which shows its author to be no common man. It was dictated to an interpreter."
“As I and my people," writes Macomo, "have been driven back over the Chunice, without being informed why, I should be glad to know from the Government what evil we have done. I was only told that we must retire over the Chunice, but for what reason I was not informed. agreed that I and my people should live west of the Chunice, as well as east of it. When shall I and my people be able to get rest ?"
F the difficulties which occasionally baffle the man of science, in his endeavours to contend with the hidden secrets of the crust of the earth which we inhabit, the Kilsby Tunnel of the London and North-western Railway presents a striking example. The proposed tunnel was to be driven about 160 feet below the surface. It was to be, as indeed it is, 2399 yards in length,
with two shafts of the extraordinary size of sixty feet in diameter, not only to give air and ventilation, but to admit light enough to enable the engine-driver, in passing through it with a train, to see the rails from end to end. In order correctly to ascertain, and honestly to make known to the contractors the nature of the ground through which this great work was to pass, the
eugineer-in-chief sank the usual number of what are called "trial shafts;" and, from the result, the usual advertisements for tenders were issued, and the shafts, &c. having been minutely examined by the competing contractors, the work was let to one of them for the sum of £99,000. In order to drive the tunnel, it was deemed necessary to construct eighteen working shafts, by which, like the hearings of a mole, the contents of the subterranean gallery were to be brought to the surface. This interesting work was in busy progress, when, all of a sudden, it was ascertained, that, at about 200 yards from the south end of the tunnel, there existed, overlaid by a bed of clay, forty feet thick, a hidden quicksand, which extended 400 yards into the proposed tunnel, and which the trial shafts on each side of it had almost miraculously just passed without touching. Overwhelmed at the discovery, the contractor instantly took to his bed ; and though he was justly relieved by the company from his engagement, the reprieve came too late, for he actually died.
The general opinion of the several eminent engineers who were consulted was against proceeding; but Mr. R. Stephenson offered to undertake the responsibility of the work. His first operation was to lower the water with which he had to contend, and it was soon ascertained that the quicksand in question covered several square miles. The tunnel, thirty feet high by thirty feet broad, was formed of bricks, laid in cement, and the bricklayers were progressing in lengths averaging twelve feet, when those who were nearest the quicksand, on driving into the roof, were suddenly almost overwhelmed by a deluge of water, which burst in upon them. As it was evident that no time was to be lost, a gang of workmen, protected by the extreme power of the engines, were, with their materials, placed on a raft; and while, with the utmost celerity, they were completing the walls of that short length, the water, in spite of every effort to keep it down, rose with such rapidity, that, at the conclusion of the work, the men were so near being jammed against the roof, that the assistantengineer jumped overboard, and then swimming, with a rope in his mouth, he towed the raft to the nearest working shaft, through which he and his men were safely lifted to daylight, or, as it is termed by miners, “ to grass."
The water now rose in the shaft, and, as it is called, “ drowned the works,”
but, by the main strength of 1250 men, 200 horses, and thirteen steamengines, not only was the work gradually completed, but, during day and night for eight months, the almost incredible quantity of 1800 gallons
of water per minute was raised, and conducted away.
The time occupied from the laying or the first Dries to the completion was thirty months.