Page:National Life and Character.djvu/47

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The climate would be fatal in a generation, except in the hills; and that a remote province like Cashmere could be cleared of its present people, settled by Europeans, and kept free from the intrusion of native labour, seems the most fanciful of speculations. There remain therefore only Central Asia, Malaysia, and Africa as possible outlets not yet used for the surplus population of Europe, and of these Africa is naturally that which is especially attracting the attention of Englishmen at the present moment. It has been opened up very much by English enterprise; its resources prove to be vaster than was at one time supposed; and the climate of large tracts appears to be tolerable. We have arranged its partition with the most important of our neighbours; and the posts we hold along the Western Coast, in the Cape and Natal, and in Egypt, are so many points of vantage for our empire. It seems as if England for the moment was a little weary of India, and disposed to regard the Colonies as rather troublesome allies than dependencies, but was actively sanguine of possibilities in the Dark Continent.

We may put aside the Portuguese and French settlements of Mozambique, Angola, and Senegambia. No one of these has succeeded in attracting colonists; but the failure may be explained by climate or by an administration that aimed rather at commerce than at settlement. The case of the Cape and the sister colonies seems to be more in point. The Dutch occupation of the Cape dates from 1652, and the early colonists were to a great extent picked men; many of them French Huguenots. The natives with whom the settlers came in contact were Hottentots and Bushmen, weak races, of whom the Bushmen were not fitted to be slaves, while the Hottentots were not very valuable.