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Art. I.—1. The Cape of Good Hope Government Proclamations
from 1806 to 1825, as now in force and unrepealed, and the Ordinances passed in Council from 1825 to 1839, with an Appendix containing Acts of Parliament, Orders in Council, &c., enacted and published since 1825, and which have the force of law in this colony. By Mr. Walter Harding.
Capetown: 1838-40. 2. Papers illustrative of the case of the Catholic Chapel of the
Cape of Good Hope. Capetown : 1833. 3. Narrative of an Expedition into Southern Africa, during
the years 1836 and 1837, from the Cape of Good Hope to the Tropic of Capricorn; with a sketch of the recent emigration of the Border Colonists. By Captain W. C. Harris, Hon.
East India Company's Engineers. Bombay: 1838. 4. Notes on South African Affairs, from 1834 to 1838; &c.
By William B. Boyce, Wesleyan Missionary. Graham's
Town : 1838. 5. A Defence of the Wesleyan Missionaries in Southern Africa ;
&c. By William Shaw, Wesleyan Missionary. Graham's
Town: 1839. 6. The South African Commercial Advertiser. Vol. xvii.
Capetown: 1840. 7. Emigration Return to an Address of the Honourable the
House of Commons, dated 9th July, 1839. Ordered by the
House of Commons to be printed, 15th August, 1839. 8. The Cape Calendar and Annual Register, for 1840. By
B. J. Van de Sandt, Superintendent of the Government
Printing Office. Capetown: 1840. 9. Cape of Good Hope Almanac, for the Leap Year 1840.
Capetown: 1840. THE comprehensive title of our paper casts upon us the
duty of treating its subject in a manner as comprehensive; and we can only discharge it by treating that subject as being, above and before all beside, one of a highly religious
VOL. XI._NO. XXI.
aspect. Our views are out of date in the island, once, of saints; and especially among her sons who trade in chrematology, under the firm of Smith, Ricardo, and M‘Culloch. But as we can never consent to entertain any history of this earth of ours, which should eschew all consideration of its very heart and core, the world of spirits, so, if we would utter a good word to-day upon the physical well-being of a portion of our globe, we must, consistently with principle, premise somewhat that regards the moral prosperity of its people. Having traversed all the human fields of enterprise in this matter, we cheerfully decide to remain members of that school of social and political ethics which He founded, who said, “ Seek first the kingdom of God and His justice, and then,” all temporal boons, all excellent equations of supply and demand, “shall be added unto you!” To point out therefore the existing emergencies of our African province with better effect, and at the same time to suggest the natural and obvious remedies, we cannot do better than trace with brevity the religious lineaments of its present aspect, after which the conclusions which we shall draw will need no better vindication with our readers than our premises will afford. And first, as to the Church in South Africa, we shall endeavour to present our readers with some details of interest. From the Church we shall naturally turn to glance awhile at the sectaries around her.
It is difficult to define with certainty the precise amount of the Catholic Cape colonists, at the time of the permanent occupation of the settlement by Sir David Baird and Sir Home Popham. That population was a very mixed one, there being scarce an European nation which, even at this day, cannot lay claim to many of its members. Perhaps its central position, and especially its proximity to India, occasioned a large influx of Portuguese and Venetians, or Genoese, at an early period of the colony. Perhaps from these or other local causes, the atrocious Dutch laws that scourged Ceylon became of less frequent enforcement here than elsewhere, and by this concession to a sounder policy than Dutchmen have in this regard usually exhibited, their persecuted countrymen, as well as Catholics from other countries, were tempted to migrate hitherward. The deficiency of statistical information upon this head from the colonial archives, must be our excuse for citing the testimony of old Dutch and German colonists still living in the colony; who assert that under the Hollander the Church could number ten thousand children within its borders. This is probably the harmless exaggeration of men who turn from a woeful present, with a sigh for the less unhappy past. But whether the abandonment of this valuable outgate of European civilisation date from an earlier period or not, it is sufficient for our purpose that a heavy debt is due from Catholic England for her share in the remissness, which, from the British conquest in 1806 to the arrival of the first Vicar Apostolic of the Cape in 1838, was rapidly effecting the utter extinction of the very name of Catholicity in that abandoned country. Sir David Baird, it is known, found three priests of Dutch lineage among the inhabitants; and, anxious to gratify a morose bigotry against the Church, which greatly darkens the lustre of his military prowess, he determined to strike a blow which should annihilate our hopes in that quarter. For that purpose, making use of a prerogative bequeathed to him by departed governors of the Stadthouder, which had authorised them to banish, without trial or assignment of cause, any obnoxious colonist, he seized the persons of the three clergymen and put them on board of a ship bound for Mauritius, from whence they never afterwards returned. This summary and speedy achievement was effected within the eleven months during which Baird continued after his conquest to hold the supreme command, until he was relieved by the Earl of Caledon. It may be as well to remind our readers that the same Sir David Baird had viously signed the articles of capitulation proposed by the Dutch governor of the town and castle of Capetown, Van Prophalow; the eighth article of which is as follows: “ The burghers and inhabitants shall preserve all their rights and privileges which they have enjoyed hitherto : public worship, as at present in use, shall also be maintained without alteration." Things seem to have gone on in a dull course of indifferentism and liberalism from this time onward till now; and it is impossible to refuse even greater blame to the tameness and muteness of the professing Catholics in the colony, for not striving to better themselves, than to those transmarine brethren who should have sought them out in their far house of bondage. Yet we must remember that till 1827 a free press did not exist ; it was a boon not as yet extorted from ministers, who, where they dared, preferred to govern Englishmen by foreign laws, when their own laws were not arbitrary enough. The same Dutch code forbade the colonists to hold public meetings; and the only instance which
we remember of even an attempt at one, is recorded in the proclamation of Lord Charles Henry Somerset, the governor, dated the 24th of May, 1822, which warned the starving colonists of Albany, that, in attending a proposed meeting for petitioning the king and parliament for a grant of rations, or other temporary relief, they would be “ guilty of a high misdemeanor, and severely punishable for such offence!"* More recently, in 1832,† Sir Lowry Cole, then governor, was graciously pleased to re-enact the old law, with a qualification that such meetings might be held, with the permission of the government first had and obtained! This law, however, being limited in its duration, and having since expired, it would seem that the lieges may now meet and discuss public measures as freely as they were wont at home. All this while—for we have somewhat anticipated—the pressing wants of our colonial brethren were administered to at irregular intervals by a chance priest, whom accident might bring among them, or whom the vicar-apostolic of the Mauritius could contrive to afford to the claims of this portion of his too-extensive mission. Year after year the unhappy results of their desertion made themselves manifest, in the desolating apostacies which assimilated by degrees the most Catholic of the families to the Protestants or Naturalists among whom they dwelt. Indifferentism of the grossest order had always prevailed among the latter; the former very soon became as bad as their less enlightened neighbours: even the personally orthodox, and the well educated, men, who would have parted with life sooner than the truths which they knew so well and prized so highly, nearly in every instance, where remoteness from Capetown or any other cause rendered it probable that a Catholic school or chapel would not readily be established, preferred that their children should be taught the pernicious tenets of Calvinism, on the plea which they afterwards urged to their present vicar-apostolic; that “it was better for their boys to have a false religion than to have none at all!” We have learned from our own observation, as well as from the startling facts communicated to us from the clergy at large, that the prevailing vice of all, Catholic or Protestant, English or foreign, who during our occupation of the colony have sojourned within it, is that blighting one, indifferentism: and it is against this especially that the zealous ecclesiastics who now administer their spiritual affairs have hitherto striven, with
* Proclamation and Ordinances, vol. i. p. 238.
| Id. vol. ii. p. 184.
endeavour to uproot and destroy it. Never was there a country where religion was less regarded, either in the abstract or in practice, than was this colony, when Dr. Griffith and his lordship’s reverend subjects landed there three years since! And yet a new element had, before this period, begun to show itself, which has since then hastened on towards the maturity it will shortly reach; and which is welcome enough at any rate, as it neutralises the smoother and subtler venom of indifferentism-we mean the no-popery fanaticism. For its rise we have to thank a man, now we believe gone to his account, of whom to say no evil as a man or a public officer we must of necessity say nothing; and member moreover of a family hateful to all foes to tyrants, and all friends of the Church, the Lord Charles Henry Somerset. Reformation is peculiar in its blessings received. Its best patrons in high places, in every age, have been men whose protest against Popery at large, seems to have been made more in contemplation of our moral than our dogmatical theology; and in asserting spiritual freedom, to have rather intended a licence for their ignobler element. Hence, when dangers howl at the portals of Lambeth palace, gallantly steps the King of Hanover forward to the rescue; when “eight peers,” including “ Lord Mount Coffeehouse,” hold in Dublin “a great Protestant meeting," one resolution, affirming the beauty of his purer religion and the ugliness of our fallen faith, is commended to the inspired lips of the Lord Marquis of Waterford; and, equally, a decrepit and expiring penal law finds its latest avenger upon the old gentry of England in his excellency Lord Charles Henry Somerset. At the risk of fatiguing our readers with an episode, we cannot refrain from detailing in a minute fashion the particulars of the outrage we refer to. The narrative will both preserve, for our own and our children's execration, the remembrance of that last oppression of the penal laws, till now unrecorded altogether; and vindicate to the world, long after the inscrutable providence of God shall have ceased to endure the faction which wrought these wickednesses, those feelings of disgust and indignation which they must necessarily inspire in every liberal and well-regulated mind. Well is it to date the beginning of the strife in Southern Africa from a wrong fruitful of good deserts unto our insulted fellow-Catholic, of shame and dishonour to the governor who perpetrated, and the ministers who abetted, the deed ! The facts are as follows; the documents which we for the first time pub