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THE COLONISTS OF CAPE TOWN REFUSE TO RECEIVE
THE English Government resolved, in 1848, to establish a new convict establishment at the Cape; but they resolved, as we shall see, without consulting their hosts.
The Neptune, with a cargo of English and Irish convicts, arrived at Bermuda on the 5th April, 1849, with orders to take in our State convict, John Mitchel,—and convey him, with the rest of the cargo, to Cape Town, Mitchel, on hearing the news, writes :
HUMBLED BY IMPRISONMENT.
“The Neptune has arrived, and is to sail in about a fortnight. There is still, I understand, a good deal of agitation at the Cape against the project of establishing a penal colony there;
and assuredly it is a brutal act of tyranny, if it be indeed done without their consent."
Notwithstanding this style of writing, imprisonment seems to have humbled the mind of this proud man. The following words were penned just before he left Bermuda :
“God can find instruments, I never dreamt of, to elevate my poor country out of the dust, and set her high among the nations, and give her peace and prosperity within her cottages. In short, everybody can do without me, and if I am to perish in this exile, I shall take it as a certain sign, that all things shall go better without me.”
The Neptune sailed on Sunday, the 22nd of April, 1849.
“ Four o'clock,—at sea. The cedar groves of Bermuda are sinking below the hazy horizon. So ends my Dream of the Summer Islands."
He had a cabin opening on the quarter deck,
and expected to enjoy “the otium cum dignitate that befits a gentleman.”
Among his fellow-convicts, destined for the Cape, were about two hundred Irish. famine-struck Irish of the special commission, many who have not a word of English, and most of them so shattered in constitution by hunger and hardship, that all the deaths among the prisoners ever since we embarked”-nearly five months before this entry—“have been Irish.
“As I am far removed from their part of the ship, I seldom hear their voices, except when they sing at night on deck; and such singing is mournful beyond all caoines, coronachs and næniæ."
But he makes an exception, in speaking of Irish voices, in favour of Mrs. Nolan, an Irish woman, from the County Clare, the wife of a sergeant who went out as a guard to the convicts.
A SHINDY AT THE CAPE.
" When Mrs. Nolan comes up to the poop for a little fresh air, I go and talk with her awhile, to fill my ears with the liquid music that distils from a kindly Munster tongue.
“ It is well she is so old—say half a century -else I should fall in love with Mrs.
On the 18th September, 1849, the Table Mountain hove in view, when some of the prisoners, who had worn fustian and corduroy during the voyage, began to unfold “new and very good clothes, which they had provided at Bermuda, with a view of entering on their campaign respectably at the Cape.-Gentlemen of Africa, take care of your pockets.”
John Mitchel is in his true element again. There is a shindy at the Cape. The colony has risen and protested against being made a penal setttlement. It may be called “the Cape of Storms once more. “Hurrah ! Hurrah! Africa
has brought forth a new thing—a right noble birth this time and from the bottom of heart
NOT ALLOWED TO LAND.
I wish her joy. Last night I wrote down my congratulations to Africa, and drank her health with enthusiasm.”
The man who writes thus is one of the con
victs, whom the colonists guard off, and what is more, he is dying to go ashore, and fears the dernier ressort of Australia more than he ever feared the bottomless pit.
“This, assuredly, in one view, is a great disappointment to me. No man can guess
what our ultimate destination may be. Probably Australia, and of Australia I have ever felt the utmost abhorrence.”
The Governor of the Cape, Sir Harry Smith, is in a fix. He dare not, in the face of public opinion, and what might prove something stronger than opinion, allow the convicts to land ; nor would he venture, without orders from London, to send the ship away—not certainly to another colony; so there she lay month after month wearing the ring of her anchor.
A public meeting was convened in Cape Town on