Thomas Pringle, toegeskryf aan James Struthers Stewart

Thomas Pringle (1789–1834) word in hierdie land onthou as die ‘vader van die Engelse poësie’, as leier van die enigste Skotse Setlaarsparty in 1820, en as ‘n kampvergter vir die vryheid van die pers. Hy het ‘n vroeëre loopbaan gehad as stigtersredakteur van die Blackwood’s Magazine in Edinburgh en ‘n later een as geleerde in London en sekretaris van die Anti-Slavery Society. Die afskaffing van slawerny het in Augustus 1834 in die Britse Ryk in werking getree. Kort daarna, in Desember 1834, is Pringle, ‘n teringlyer en kreupel van sy geboorte af, oorlede, net 45 jaar oud. In Kaapstad was hy aan die hoof van die Suid-Afrikaanse Openbare Biblioteek; hy was ook, saam met sy vriend John Fairbairn, redakteur van die Kaap se tweeweeklikse, eerste onafhanklike nuusblad, en het ‘n suksesvolle ‘klassieke en kommersiële akademie’ gestig, totdat dit alles tot ‘n einde gebring is deur die vyandigheid van die goewerneur, Lord Charles Somerset.

Eildon deur Thomas Baines

Hy het teruggeveg maar, finansieel geruïneer, het hy na sy loopbaan in Brittanje teruggekeer. Sy dokumente, na Kaapstad gestuur deur sy weduwee Margaret, het verlore geraak, maar briewe in ander versamelings wat hier behoue gebly het, roep die karakter, lewensuitkyk en Suid-Afrikaanse loopbaan op van ‘n prominente persoon in ons geskiedenis.

AANHALING UIT DIE TEKS

Henry Ellis

Bavian’s River, 18 July 1820

Sir

I arrived here about three weeks ago with my party, and was located on the 1st instant by Captain Harding Deputy Landdrost of Cradock. I have now thoroughly examined our situation and its capabilities, and tho’ it is in many respects very different from what I and my friends had anticipated, yet we are on the whole sufficiently satisfied with our position – or at all events with the kind intentions of the Colonial Authorities in sending us hither. We labour however under some peculiar disadvantages, which probably His Excellency the Governor and yourself were not fully aware of when I had the honour of seeing you at Port Elizabeth, and which I therefore beg leave now to explain to you.

We are placed at the very head of the Bavian’s River about 50 miles from Roode Wall. On three sides of us are wild and barren mountains, inaccessible by wagons, and uninhabitable unless by wild beasts and savages: on the fourth the road down the river forms our sole channel of communication with the habitable parts of the Colony. This road is however so exceedingly bad that we took no less than five days to travel up with our baggage from Field Cornet Opperman’s – a distance of about 28 English miles, and the first wagon sent with provisions for us from Somerset was overturned in the river and a great part of the load lost or damaged. The Dep. Landdrost promised to issue orders for the repairing of the road as far as the inhabitants extend upwards (about one half of the way), but no repairs by the inhabitants can be effectual on a route like this which must unavoidably be led along narrow defiles and rocky chasms and which crosses the channel of the Bavian’s River no less than twenty seven times – so that every flood washes down the drifts and renders new ones necessary. This being our only road to market it is evidently out of the question to think of raising grain for sale as was originally our design. We must necessarily restrict our agricultural operations to what will repay us – and perhaps only cultivate corn for our own subsistence. Some articles perhaps such as tobacco and hemp may be carried to market on pack oxen. But our chief dependence must I suspect be our cattle and sheep, although for grazing farms our allotment I fear will prove rather limited.

Geredigeer en ingelei deur Randolph Vigne

Randolph Vigne is in 1928 in Kimberley gebore en het grootgeword in Port Elizabeth, waar hy in 1941 by die Van Riebeeck-Vereniging aangesluit het. Na sy skoolopleiding in St Andrew’s College, Grahamstad en sy universitêre studies aan die Wadham College, Oxford het hy Engels-redakteur by Maskew Miller in Kaapstad geword tot in 1964, toe hy na Engeland vertrek en daar sy loopbaan in die opvoedkundige uitgewerswese voortgesit het. Hy het heelwat navorsing gedoen en geskryf oor die Suider-Afrikaanse en Europese geskiedenis, en het onder ander die volgende boeke gepubliseer: Guillaume Chenu de Chalezac, the ‘French boy’ at the Cape of Good Hope (VRV 2e Reeks, No 22, 1993) en Liberals against Apartheid, the History of the Liberal Party of South Africa (Macmillan, 1997). Hy is ‘n ‘fellow’ van die Society of Antiquaries of London, en het in 1910 die Orde van Luthuli van die president van Suid-Afrika ontvang.

Klankbaan van ‘n onderhoud met Randolph Vigne

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