The table land, which stands at the back of the town, is a black dreary looking mountain, apparently flat at top, and of more than eleven hundred yards in height. The gusts of wind which blow from it are violent to an excess, and have a very unpleasant effect, by raising the dust in such clouds, as to render stirring out of doors next to impossible. Nor can any precaution prevent the inhabitants from being annoyed by it, as much within doors as without.
At length the wished-for day, on which the next effort for reaching the place of our destination was to be made, appeared. The morning was calm, but the land wind getting up about noon, on the 12th of November we weighed anchor, and soon left far behind every scene of civilization and humanized manners, to explore a remote and barbarous land; and plant in it those happy arts, which alone constitute the pre-eminence and dignity of other countries.
The live animals we took on board on the public account from the Cape, for stocking our projected colony, were, two bulls, three cows, three horses, forty-four sheep, and thirty-two hogs, besides goats, and a very large quantity of poultry of every kind. A considerable addition to this was made by the private stocks of the officers, who were, however, under a necessity of circumscribing their original intentions on this head very much, from the excessive dearness of many of the articles. It will readily be believed, that few of the military found it convenient to purchase sheep, when hay to feed them costs sixteen shillings a hundred weight.
The boarding-houses on shore, to which strangers have recourse, are more reasonable than might be expected. For a dollar and a half per day we were well lodged, and partook of a table tolerably supplied in the French style. Should a traveller’s stock of tea run short, it is a thousand chances to one that he will be able to replenish it here at a cheaper rate than in England. He may procure plenty of arrack and white wine; also raisins, and dried fruits of other sorts. If he dislikes to live at a boarding-house, he will find the markets well stored, and the price of butcher’s meat and vegetables far from excessive.
Just before the signal for weighing was made, a ship, under American colours, entered the road, bound from Boston, from whence she had sailed one hundred and forty days, on a trading voyage to the East Indies. In her route, she had been lucky enough to pick up several of the inferior officers and crew of the Harcourt East-Indiaman, which ship had been wrecked on one of the Cape de Verd Islands. The master, who appeared to be a man of some information, on being told the destination of our fleet, gave it as his opinion, that if a reception could be secured, emigrations would take place to New South Wales, not only from the old continent, but the new one, where the spirit of adventure and thirst for novelty were excessive.