Little can be added to the many accounts already published of the Cape of Good Hope, though, if an opinion on the subject might be risqued, the descriptions they contain are too flattering. When contrasted with Rio de Janeiro, it certainly suffers in the comparison. Indeed we arrived at a time equally unfavourable for judging of the produce of the soil and the temper of its cultivators, who had suffered considerably from a dearth that had happened the preceding season, and created a general scarcity. Nor was the chagrin of these deprivations lessened by the news daily arriving of the convulsions that shook the republic, which could not fail to make an impression even on Batavian phlegm.
As a considerable quantity of flour, and the principal part of the live stock, which was to store our intended settlement, were meant to be procured here, Governor Phillip lost no time in waiting on Mynheer Van Graaffe, the Dutch Governor, to request permission (according to the custom of the place) to purchase all that we stood in need of. How far the demand extended, I know not, nor Mynheer Van Graaffe’s reasons for complying with it in part only. To this gentleman’s political sentiments I confess myself a stranger; though I should do his politeness and liberality at his own table an injustice, were I not to take this public opportunity of acknowledging them; nor can I resist the opportunity which presents itself, to inform my readers, in honor of M. Van Graaffe’s humanity, that he has made repeated efforts to recover the unfortunate remains of the crew of the Grosvenor Indiaman, which was wrecked about five years ago on the coast of Caffraria. This information was given me by Colonel Gordon, commandant of the Dutch troops at the Cape, whose knowledge of the interior parts of this country surpasses that of any other man. And I am sorry to say that the Colonel added, these unhappy people were irrecoverably lost to the world and their friends, by being detained among the Caffres, the most savage set of brutes on earth.
His Excellency resides at the Government house, in the East India Company’s garden. This last is of considerable extent, and is planted chiefly with vegetables for the Dutch Indiamen which may happen to touch at the port. Some of the walks are extremely pleasant from the shade they afford, and the whole garden is very neatly kept. The regular lines intersecting each other at right angles, in which it is laid out, will, nevertheless, afford but little gratification to an Englishman, who has been used to contemplate the natural style which distinguishes the pleasure grounds of his own country. At the head of the centre walks stands a menagerie, on which, as well as the garden, many pompous eulogiums have been passed, though in my own judgment, considering the local advantages possessed by the Company, it is poorly furnished both with animals and birds; a tyger, a zebra, some fine ostriches, a cassowary, and the lovely crown-fowl, are among the most remarkable.