THE CAPE TO 1820
The Cape was settled in the seventeenth century by boers (farmers) later called Afrikaaners - a mixture of Dutch, Flemish, German and French Huguenot stock - under the rule of the Dutch East India Company. The overthrow of the Dutch in the East Indies by the French-satellite administration calling itself the Batavian Republic prompted the British to seize the Cape of Good Hope in 1795 from the Dutch, seeing the security of this lucrative trade link with the East threatened. The Treaty of Amiens in 1802 ceded the Cape to the Batavian Republic but the British took it again on the outbreak of the Napoleonic Wars in 1805. At the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and without the military fuelling the economy at home, the British looked to the Cape and its other overseas possessions to bail them out. The stepping up of English trade with and emigration to the Cape began in earnest in 1820, the time of Pink's brief sojourn. The anglicisation of life at the Cape begins at this time with the arrival of the first large contingents of English settlers, sponsored by the government at home to relieve unemployment in England and to support the colonists' push inland to the Fish River.
EDMUND PINK AT THE CAPE, MAY 1820 - FEBRUARY 1821
Edmund Pink, an architectural draughtsman and trader with the firm of Standfast & Co., sailed from Gravesend on 27 January 1820 on the snow Neptune bound for the Cape of Good Hope. She made the equator on 15 March and came to anchor in Table Bay on 2 May. Pink remained at the Cape for ten months before sailing on in February 1821 on the brig Wakefield to his ultimate destination, Rio de Janeiro.
While he appears not to have had business at the Cape (his Journal of a Trip in the Cape of Good Hope, 1820 begins: 'During my residence in the Cape of Good Hope - my time not being particularly occupied in Cape Town I availed myself of the leisure afforded me of visiting some portion of the Colony at least ...') on the scale he would have in Brazil (for which see the sale in these Rooms, 15 July 1994, lots 39-43) his journals, notes and miscellaneous papers do reveal a clear interest in the trading conditions and commercial opportunities at the Cape, as well as an accumulation of information regarding life in the colony in general.
The printed material bound into his Cape dossier includes two Acts of Parliament (of 1809 and 1817) regulating trade and commerce to and from the Cape of Good Hope, copies of newspapers in 1820 which gazette the Acts and other proclamations on commercial, judicial and social legislation, some with particular reference to the 'late accumulation of population in various parts of this colony', Pink having been preceded to the Cape in April by the first wave of mass emigration from England. He has added transcriptions of articles, notices and letters published in other Gazettes and many of these are also concerned with commerce such as import and export regulations, the opening of trade with Mauritius, wheat prices, port duties levied at Table and Simons Bays and a report on the Beaufort fair with a long list of market prices for such various commodities as elephant teeth, cured eland, sets of leather thongs, pieces of stone for pipes, beads and skins of all kinds, oxen and honey, mostly brought by Chaka and other chiefs to trade with the settlers ("it was particularly striking on the part of the strangers who though they can be only considered in great measure as savages vied with the colonists in maintaining order and regularity"), as well as his own currency tables and calculations.
The newspapers (themselves part of the anglicisation of life in the Cape) also provide a broader picture of life in the colony in the early 1820s documenting arrivals and departures, bankruptcies, auctions and historical events such as the naming of Port Elizabeth alongside personal notices and trivia ('WANTED, A PERSON, to serve as PORTER to a front Doer, for the purpose of receiving Messages. He must understand Reading and Writing, and speak English. DR. LIESCHING, Jun. NB. Flew away, a very tame green Parrot'), as do Pink's own anecdotes ('Saturday.16 December 1820 - Witnessed this morning the Execution of Smith (a German formerly belonging to the 60th) - Hans Strompeter & Abraham Lindo - Hottentots - these 3 concerned in the Insurrection at Robin Island .... Hans Strompeter addressed the member of the Court of Justice present and told them - that it was a shame they should have been kept so long a time in suspense ... a few minutes afterwards they ascended the scaffold [see the sketches 5.1 and 5.2] and were launched into Eternity. The three first were decapitated by the Hangman. Their heads are to be sent to Robin Island and placed on stakes - as a warning to the remaining Convicts on the Island - ').
The printed and manuscript ephemera is complemented by a draft and fair copy of Pink's Journal of a Trip in the Cape of Good Hope 1820, a circuitous trip of nearly six hundred miles taking in the wine valleys and boer towns of Stellenbosch and Paarl, the Moravian Missionary's Estate at Gnadenthal [see watercolour 13], Mr Taylor's house near Zwollendam [see watercolour 14], Caledon and Mr Roux's Estate at Vredenburg.