Captured in time. Five centuries of South African writing, by John Clare
Captured in time: Five centuries of South African writing is a collection historcial snippets which have been compiled and edited by John Clare.
South Africa's fine, modern highways make it difficult to imagine what a hardship travel was in the 18th and early 19th centuries. As you soar up the passes that slice through the mountains around Cape Town, it takes an effort to appreciate what mighty and daunting barriers these were to the Europeans who first penetrated them. Their wagons were drawn by spans of at least a dozen oxen, straining to haul their loads over steep, stony ground under the vicious crack of the sjambok, a whip made of rhino or hippo hide. The way was unmarked, the destination unknown and the hazards presented by man and beast could only be guessed at. The further north they went, the drier and more inhospitable the land became; the further east, the more precipitous the ravines and impenetrable the bush.Travelling often by moonlight to avoid the excoriating heat of the day, they rarely covered more than three miles an hour or 15 miles a day. But first, of course, the travellers had to arrive in Table Bay and that could be anything but plain sailing. Indeed, their experiences readily explain the origin of the myth of the Flying Dutchman, condemned to sail the seas round the Cape until Judgement Day. In 1812, for example, just getting into the Bay took the ship carrying the Rev John Campbell (13), director of the London Missionary Society, nearly two weeks. On the 9th of October, when in full expectation of reaching Cape Town on the succeeding day, the wind changed to the south east, and blew directly against us with much violence, and soon raised the sea mountain-high. The day following it blew with redoubled fury, which obliged us to lay-to under a reefed topsail and gib, driving away from our port. On the 14th, the storm continued tremendously awful; about three o'clock in the morning, we were almost upset by a dreadful sea breaking over us: the tumbling of chairs, and the rattling of plates and glasses, prevented all sleep. Perhaps of all scenes which the human eye has an opportunity of beholding, such a storm, in such a latitude, is the most grand, majestic, and awful. In the evening the storm began to abate. On the following day, at noon, we found the storm had driven us more than a hundred miles beyond the latitude of the Cape, and two hundred miles further to the westward in longitude. At noon we were able again to direct our course towards the Cape; but on the 17th, when within about a hundred miles of it, violent squalls from the south east drove us again out to sea; and in the evening the sea rose and raged as high and furious as ever. About nine o'clock the elements seemed conspiring to effect our destruction, which produced a very serious meeting for prayer, in the cabin, for our preservation from the fury of the raging storm. During prayer, the violent heaving of the ship rendered it almost impossible to remain in one posture. At one, next morning, a powerful sea broke over the stern, and came rushing down into our cabin: when at breakfast the same thing was repeated. On the 20th, our allowance of water was a second time reduced. On the 21st, at five P.M. a seaman from the mast-head descried land, which on the following day, we found to be the south side of the entrance to Saldanha Bay. Having seen no land for ten weeks, the sight was peculiarly gratifying. [...]
This is an extract from the book: Captured in time. Five centuries of South African writing, by John Clare (ed.).
Book title: Captured in time
Subtitle: Five centuries of South African writing
Editor: John Clare
Publisher: Jonathan Ball
Cape Town, South Africa 2010
ISBN 9781868423781 / ISBN 978-1-86842-378-1
Softcover, 15 x 23 cm, 600 pages, several b/w photos
Clare, John im Namibiana-Buchangebot
Five centuries of South African writing is represented by the collection of historcial snippets in Captured in time.
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