I went into the church - a large, clean, rather handsome building, consecrated in 1800 - and heard a very good sort of Litany, mixed with such singing as only black voices can produce. The organ was beautifully played by a Bastaard lad. The Herrenhuters use very fine chants, and the perfect ear and heavenly voices of a large congregation, about six hundred, all coloured people, made music more beautiful than any chorus-singing I ever heard.
Prayers lasted half an hour; then the congregation turned out of doors, and the windows were opened. Some of the people went away, and others waited for the 'allgemeine Predigt'. In a quarter of an hour a much larger congregation than the first assembled, the girls all with net-handkerchiefs tied round their heads so as to look exactly like the ancient Greek head-dress with a double fillet - the very prettiest and neatest coiffure I ever saw. The gowns were made like those of English girls of the same class, but far smarter, cleaner, and gayer in colour - pink, and green, and yellow, and bright blue; several were all in white, with white gloves. The men and women sit separate, and the women's side was a bed of tulips. The young fellows were very smart indeed, with muslin or gauze, either white, pink, or blue, rolled round their hats (that is universal here, on account of the sun). The Hottentots, as they are called - that is, those of mixed Dutch and Hottentot origin (correctly, 'bastaards') - have a sort of blackguard elegance in their gait and figure which is peculiar to them; a mixture of negro or Mozambique blood alters it altogether. The girls have the elegance without the blackguard look; ALL are slender, most are tall; all graceful, all have good hands and feet; some few are handsome in the face and many very interesting- looking. The complexion is a pale olive-yellow, and the hair more or less woolly, face flat, and cheekbones high, eyes small and bright. These are by far the most intelligent - equal, indeed, to whites. A mixture of black blood often gives real beauty, but takes off from the 'air', and generally from the talent; but then the blacks are so pleasant, and the Hottentots are taciturn and reserved. The old women of this breed are the grandest hags I ever saw; they are clean and well dressed, and tie up their old faces in white handkerchiefs like corpses, - faces like those of Andrea del Sarto's old women; they are splendid. Also, they are very clean people, addicted to tubbing more than any others. The maid-of-all- work, who lounges about your breakfast table in rags and dishevelled hair, has been in the river before you were awake, or, if that was too far off, in a tub. They are also far cleaner in their huts than any but the VERY BEST English poor.
The 'Predigt' was delivered, after more singing, by a missionary cabinet-maker, in Dutch, very ranting, and not very wise; the congregation was singularly decorous and attentive, but did not seem at all excited or impressed - just like a well-bred West-end audience, only rather more attentive. The service lasted three- quarters of an hour, including a short prayer and two hymns. The people came out and filed off in total silence, and very quickly, the tall graceful girls draping their gay silk shawls beautifully. There are seven missionaries, all in orders but one, the blacksmith, and all married, except the resident director of the boys' boarding-school; there is a doctor, a carpenter, a cabinet- maker, a shoe-maker, and a storekeeper - a very agreeable man, who had been missionary in Greenland and Labrador, and interpreter to MacClure. There is one 'Studirter Theolog'. All are Germans, and so are their wives. My friend the storekeeper married without having ever beheld his wife before they met at the altar, and came on board ship at once with her. He said it was as good a way of marrying as any other, and that they were happy together. She was lying in, so I did not see her. At eight years old, their children are all sent home to Germany to be educated, and they seldom see them again. On each side of the church are schools, and next to them the missionaries' houses on one side of the square, and on the other a row of workshops, where the Hottentots are taught all manner of trades. I have got a couple of knives, made at Gnadenthal, for the children. The girls occupy the school in the morning, and the boys in the afternoon; half a day is found quite enough of lessons in this climate. The infant school was of both sexes, but a different set morning and afternoon. The missionaries' children were in the infant school; and behind the little blonde German 'Madels' three jet black niggerlings rolled over each other like pointer-pups, and grinned, and didn't care a straw for the spelling; while the dingy yellow little bastaards were straining their black eyes out, with eagerness to answer the master's questions. He and the mistress were both Bastaards, and he seemed an excellent teacher. The girls were learning writing from a master, and Bible history from a mistress, also people of colour; and the stupid set (mostly black) were having spelling hammered into their thick skulls by another yellow mistress, in another room. At the boarding school were twenty lads, from thirteen up to twenty, in training for school-teachers at different stations. Gnadenthal supplies the Church of England with them, as well as their own stations. There were Caffres, Fingoes, a Mantatee, one boy evidently of some Oriental blood, with glossy, smooth hair and a copper skin - and the rest Bastaards of various hues, some mixed with black, probably Mozambique. The Caffre lads were splendid young Hercules'. They had just printed the first book in the Caffre language (I've got it for Dr. Hawtrey,) - extracts from the New Testament, - and I made them read the sheets they were going to bind; it is a beautiful language, like Spanish in tone, only with a queer 'click' in it. The boys drew, like Chinese, from 'copies', and wrote like copper-plate; they sang some of Mendelssohn's choruses from 'St. Paul' splendidly, the Caffres rolling out soft rich bass voices, like melodious thunder. They are clever at handicrafts, and fond of geography and natural history, incapable of mathematics, quick at languages, utterly incurious about other nations, and would all rather work in the fields than learn anything but music; good boys, honest, but 'TROTZIG'. So much for Caffres, Fingoes, &c. The Bastaards are as clever as whites, and more docile - so the 'rector' told me. The boy who played the organ sang the 'Lorelei' like an angel, and played us a number of waltzes and other things on the piano, but he was too shy to talk; while the Caffres crowded round me, and chattered away merrily. The Mantatees, whom I cannot distinguish from Caffres, are scattered all over the colony, and rival the English as workmen and labourers - fine stalwart, industrious fellows. Our little 'boy' Kleenboy hires a room for fifteen shillings a month, and takes in his compatriots as lodgers at half a crown a week - the usurious little rogue! His chief, one James, is a bricklayer here, and looks and behaves like a prince. It is fine to see his black arms, ornamented with silver bracelets, hurling huge stones about.
All Gnadenthal is wonderfully fruitful, being well watered, but it is not healthy for whites; I imagine, too hot and damp. There are three or four thousand coloured people there, under the control of the missionaries, who allow no canteens at all. The people may have what they please at home, but no public drinking-place is allowed, and we had to take our own beer and wine for the three days. The gardens and burial-ground are beautiful, and the square is entirely shaded by about ten or twelve superb oaks; nothing prettier can be conceived. It is not popular in the neighbourhood. 'You see it makes the d-d niggers cheeky' to have homes of their own - and the girls are said to be immoral. As to that, there are no so-called 'morals' among the coloured people, and how or why should there? It is an honour to one of these girls to have a child by a white man, and it is a degradation to him to marry a dark girl. A pious stiff old Dutchwoman who came here the other day for the Sacrament (which takes place twice a year), had one girl with her, big with child by her son, who also came for the Sacrament, and two in the straw at home by the other son; this caused her exactly as much emotion as I feel when my cat kittens. No one takes any notice, either to blame or to nurse the poor things - they scramble through it as pussy does. The English are almost equally contemptuous; but there is one great difference. My host, for instance, always calls a black 'a d-d nigger'; but if that nigger is wronged or oppressed he fights for him, or bails him out of the Tronk, and an English jury gives a just verdict; while a Dutch one simply finds for a Dutchman, against any one else, and ALWAYS against a dark man. I believe this to be true, from what I have seen and heard; and certainly the coloured people have a great preference for the English.
I am persecuted by the ugliest and blackest Mozambiquer I have yet seen, a bricklayer's labourer, who can speak English, and says he was servant to an English Captain - 'Oh, a good fellow he was, only he's dead!' He now insists on my taking him as a servant. 'I dessay your man at home is a good chap, and I'll be a good boy, and cook very nice.' He is thick-set and short and strong. Nature has adorned him with a cock eye and a yard of mouth, and art, with a prodigiously tall white chimney-pot hat with the crown out, a cotton nightcap, and a wondrous congeries of rags. He professes to be cook, groom, and 'walley', and is sure you would be pleased with his attentions.
Well, to go back to Gnadenthal. I wandered all over the village on Sunday afternoon, and peeped into the cottages. All were neat and clean, with good dressers of crockery, the VERY poorest, like the worst in Weybridge sandpits; but they had no glass windows, only a wooden shutter, and no doors; a calico curtain, or a sort of hurdle supplying its place. The people nodded and said 'Good day!' but took no further notice of me, except the poor old Hottentot, who was seated on a doorstep. He rose and hobbled up to meet me and take my hand again. He seemed to enjoy being helped along and seated down carefully, and shook and patted my hand repeatedly when I took leave of him. At this the people stared a good deal, and one woman came to talk to me.
In the evening I sat on a bench in the square, and saw the people go in to 'Abendsegen'. The church was lighted, and as I sat there and heard the lovely singing, I thought it was impossible to conceive a more romantic scene. On Monday I saw all the schools, and then looked at the great strong Caffre lads playing in the square. One of them stood to be pelted by five or six others, and as the stones came, he twisted and turned and jumped, and was hardly ever hit, and when he was, he didn't care, though the others hurled like catapults. It was the most wonderful display of activity and grace, and quite incredible that such a huge fellow should be so quick and light. When I found how comfortable dear old Mrs. Rietz made me, I was sorry I had hired the cart and kept it to take me home, for I would gladly have stayed longer, and the heat did me no harm; but I did not like to throw away a pound or two, and drove back that evening. Mrs. Rietz, told me her mother was a Mozambiquer. 'And your father?' said I. 'Oh, I don't know. MY MOTHER WAS ONLY A SLAVE.' She, too, was a slave, but said she 'never knew it', her 'missus' was so good; a Dutch lady, at a farm I had passed, on the road, who had a hundred and fifty slaves. I liked my Hottentot hut amazingly, and the sweet brown bread, and the dinner cooked so cleanly on the bricks in the kitchen. The walls were whitewashed and adorned with wreaths of everlasting flowers and some quaint old prints from Loutherburg - pastoral subjects, not exactly edifying.
Well, I have prosed unconscionably, so adieu for the present.