Gleanings in Africa; exhibiting a faithful and correct view of the manners and customs of the inhabitants of the Cape of Good Hope, and surrounding country. With a full and comprehensive account of the system of Agriculture adopted by the Colonists; Soil, Climate, Natural Productions &c. Interspersed with observations and reflections on the State of Slavery in the Southern Extremity of the African continent.
James Cundee
Travel Writings
University of Pretoria Online Research Repository. British Library. Goldsmiths' Library of Economic Literature, University of London. Rhodes House, Oxford. Bibliothèque Nationale de France.
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Gleaning South Africa Slavery British Colonies Revolutionary Wars Cape Dutch Agriculture Travel
A series of thirty nine letters, "from an English Officer", written during the first British occupation of South Africa from 1795 to 1803. Information on African slavery had particularly been requested by the author's correspondent in Britain, and almost half of the book (letters viii-xxiii) discusses the problem of slavery at length. The author is concerned that the "factious spirit" (55) of the European revolutionary wars is being extended to South Africa, but he justifies the British role there as a liberating one. As his abolitionist ideas suggest, a "free and enlightened country" would intervene for "the violated rights of humanity" to "remove the foul stain that blots the European character" (57). He is clearly influenced by abolitionist political discourse, citing the maxim "that what is morally wrong, can never be politically right" (57). The letters describe the diverse population of slaves in the Cape Colony. Several letters also reflect more widely on the history of slavery and the slave trade in Europe, Africa and the Americas since antiquity, reaffirming national pride in Britain, as a "land of freedom" under the "fostering influence" of its constitution (80), and suggesting ways in which colonial slavery could gradually be abolished.
With ten printed illustrations, including views of Cape Town and the surrounding area, whale fishing and hunting scenes, etc.