In two parts
Edited, with footnotes and a biographical sketch by Louis Herrman.
Isaac’s journal is one of the first reports of a European on Natal and the kingdom of the Zulus. The first volume begins in 1825 when Isaacs went to Natal for the first time. The major portion of the text consists of a detailed description of Shaka, his society and culture. In 1830 Isaacs returned to Natal when Dingaan reigned here. He reports on the early white settlement; in addition the volume includes a good deal of information on Zulu culture.
EXTRACT FROM THE TEXT
|30 REGRET OF NATIVES.||ARRIVAL OF JOHN CANE AND MR. FYNN. 31|
|[…] my king! “ being the usual salutation of the natives. Lieutenant King gave him a piece of tobacco and a biscuit; the latter he at first declined, but, seeing us eat it, he took a piece, and thanked us repeatedly, as he preceded us to the kraal. He left us for a short time and then returned with fourteen women, a number of children, and four young men. Five of the women were his wives, and, as he was the master of the Kraal, the remainder he said were his people. The females were all besmeared with red clay. Both sexes had incisions in the lobe of the ear, in which either a piece of reed, or a small vessel used as a snuff-box, was introduced. It was some time before we could prevail on them to approach us; but on making signs of friendship, and after giving them tobacco and some bread, of which they seemed fond, the men soon mingled with us and became quite familiar; the females, however, continued at a distance, sat on the ground, and hung down their heads, either from fear, or some other impulse.
The sun was now fast declining, and we made signs that we wished to return to our habitation, when they manifested a desire that we should remain with them, but, as we declined their offer, the females began to cry, followed us a considerable part of our way to the boat, and seemed indisposed to leave us, until we assured them that we intended to visit them again.
In crossing the bay, we asked Holstead, why these natives, in their own country, were so terrified at the approach of strangers; he informed us that they were the remains of tribes who had been destroyed by a powerful nation called Zoolas, whom I shall hereafter have occasion to describe ;—that they were even to this day subject to great persecution, and abode in the forests, as we found them, in order that they might with greater
|facility make their escape in the event of being disturbed. Their cattle had been taken from them, and they were often destitute of the means of subsistence. Were it known that they possessed even corn, the Zoolas would destroy them to obtain possession of it, consequently, they seldom planted any, but subsisted chiefly on fish, and such esculents as grew spontaneously in the vicinity their residence. At sunset we reached our miserable abode.
10th —Our crew were engaged in securing everything that could be obtained from the wreck: this occupied them several days, and we were fortunate in collecting many articles of copper that afterwards proved to us inestimable. I experienced for two or three days considerable indisposition and was necessarily confined to the only mattress we had saved. On the 14th, at sunset we were most agreeably surprised by the appearance John Cane, Mr. Farewell’s carpenter, who had left the dwelling of Chaka, the Zoola chief, four days before, a distance from our residence of about 120 miles. He brought with him a number of cattle, and gave us the pleasing intelligence that Mr. Farewell was on his way home.
15th. — In the afternoon, Mr. Fynn arrived from the country of the Amampoatoes, a tribe inhabiting the banks of the St. John’s River, a distance of about 200 miles from Natal. This gentleman had been trading with the natives, and had collected a great quantity of ivory. For eight months he had separated himself from his solitary companion, Mr. Farewell, and had associated solely with the people with whom he sojourned. We sat attentively to hear him detail his adventures—the many […]