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Some amusing stories are told of the manner in which these surveys were originally made. The land was of little value, and it mattered not whether a few hundred or thousand acres were included or not. Many boundaries were laid out by taking a natural object, such as the top of a hill, the area to be a square obtained by riding on horseback for one hour in a particular direction, and then turning at right angles for another hour, and so on until the original point was reached. At other times the chain bearer, being a native, would be directed to mark off the distance from where the surveyor stood to some distant point, but being unable to count he was supplied with a stick on which he was to make a notch for each chain. The surveyor would then busy himself about other matters; the native when out of sight would cut as many notches as he considered necessary, and after a proper time in his opinion had elapsed he would return to his master.'
At other times the surveys were conducted without theodolites—an upright post upon which was a cross was used, and the directions were settled by running the eye along the direction of this cross—the beacon was to be placed where this crishout,' or rough instrument, had stood. No beacon was erected, and the Conrts had frequently to settle from conflicting evidence as to the exact position on which many years previously the crishout' had originally stood. On other occasions an ant-bear's earth, being the most conspicuous feature in the neighbourhood, was selected. In the course of time the ant-bear, having established its offspring in other earths in the neighbourhood, naturally it became a matter of extreme difficulty to ascertain the exact earth which had been originally selected.
In this case the land had been occupied by Mr. Molten in accordance with the measurements pointed out by his predecessor, which he had accepted as correct until, as was natural with such inaccurate surveys, disputes began to arise with his neighbours. It then became clear that the original surveys did not harmonise. The Commissioners pointed out in their report that the original claimants in these cases were sellers leaving the Colony, who sold without a diagram or title, and were not indisposed to exaggerate the extent of their farms. The original surveyor was before them, but they were unable to attach much value to his evidence. He stated that he was obliged somewhat hurriedly to proceed to a Kaffir war in 1835, and in consequence his papers and notes had got into confusion-some were mislaid and lost. Being ordered officially to send in a diagram in 1843, he then framed it to the best of his ability. They further reported that the inspections mentioned in the evidence were almost worthless, as it appeared upon examination that they had been merely conducted in a house in Beaufort, and not on the spot as should have been the case.
It will readily be understood that as the land increased in value the disputes were frequent, and afforded ample employment for the lawyers. It was finally decided in the Supreme Court in the case of Barrington versus the Colonial Government, that where the diagram and the extent actually occupied and proved to have been in occupation for the period requisite to acquire a prescriptive right were at variance, this area should prevail against the diagram. The Commissioners who dealt with the Beaufort case took an opposite view, and the whole subject was disposed of by their report, which effectually killed this unfounded accusetion.2
"See C. P., G—40 of 1864, p. 48.
MAINTENANCE OF THE UNITY OF THE COLONY.
Governor summons Parliament in Grahamstown- Sketch of Mr. Molteno by
*Limner '—Mr. Molteno Leader of House-Serious position of Western Members—Opposes Governor's Separation Measures-Motion for removal of seat of Government--Strong Party Feeling-British Kaffraria-Transkei -High-handed action of Governor-New Session-Mr. Molteno challenges action of Governor-Annexation and Representation Bills-Governor censured by Parliament-Legislation paralysed - Violent Obstruction by Eastern Members-Carelessness and Incompetency of Executive-Redress of Grievances precedes Supply-Disastrous Condition of Colony-New Session-Withdrawal of Troops-- Strained Relations between Executive and Parliament-Griffiths appointed Attorney-General-Crown Lands, necessity for sale of-Retrenchment Committee-Work of Session-Sir
Philip Wodehouse and Responsible Government. MEANWHILE we have been somewhat anticipating matters. Mr. Molteno had obtained leave of absence for the session of 1861.
He visited Europe, spending some time with his relatives in Scotland. The best known member of the circle in which he moved was the author of ‘Rab and his Friends,' Dr. John Brown, with whom he formed a valued and interesting acquaintanceship. All through his life his visits to Europe had a stimulating effect upon him; he followed European politics very closely, and took an informed interest in all public questions, keeping himself well abreast of the subjects of the day, and ever seeking to apply his experiences in their bearing to Cape affairs.
His observations on matters of public utility made during his travels on the European continent were of service to him subsequently, when he was in a position to put them in practice. The rest and change were of great value after his assiduous work, and served to prepare him for the still more arduous duties which awaited him on his return, coinciding as it did with the arrival of Sir Philip Wodehouse and the commencement of the great constitutional struggle which was to last nearly ten years.
A general election took place in 1863. Mr. Molteno was returned unopposed for Beaufort. The Governor had proposed, in the session of 1862, that Parliament should be held alternately in the east and west. This had been negatived, but he nevertheless announced in his prorogation speech that he was going to hold the first session of this new Parliament at Grahamstown, and he forthwith proceeded to the east and took up his residence there.
He was naturally received with acclamations of delight by the public of Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown. The hopes of the eastern province were raised to their highest pitch, and the west was now at a serious disadvantage. It had to depend for its parliamentary reports upon the eastern press, which was, without exception, violently hostile to the western members. The Great Eastern' was to be the leading paper—it had been founded by the extreme eastern party, who had enlisted the bitter pen of the former editor of the "Argus,” Mr. R. W. Murray. The avowed objects of this paper were to report the Grahamstown Parliament, and to render effectual the separation of the east from the west. We are indebted to it for a sketch by 'Limner' of Mr. Molteno as he appeared in this Parliament; clever as the one given on a previous page, but now imbued with a bitter feeling which the writer had since exhibited in his attacks upon Mr. Molteno's political work :
I select this gentleman first, of the elected members, because he is put forward as the leader of the party with whom he is associated, and because it appears to be taken for granted that if a change of government took place, he would occupy the first place in the Treasury benches. When persons think of party government in active operation, they picture to themselves a government in which Mr. Rawson is superseded by the Hon. Mr. Molteno. Talk as they may about the principle of the thing,' this is practically what it would have to come to if party government had been carried when the Colonial Secretary and Attorney-General first succumbed to that party, who selected the member for Beaufort West to lead the debate, and to introduce the party government motion. The man who was selected as the leader on that eventful evening would have been Premier had the party who made him their leader got into office. . . . It must be conceded that, as men of political mark go, Mr. Molteno is one. He is looked up to by a good number of the elected members as their chief, and is consulted by the Attorney-General and Colonial Secretary on almost every question that is before the House. He is by no means a member without a tail. He is a feature—and a very prominent one-of the House of Assembly. When visitors go there to listen and to admire, they ask—when they have found out which is the Attorney-General, the Colonial Secretary, and the Treasurer-General—which is Mr. Molteno; and when they are told that the gentleman with the bald head and the heavy beard, near the Clerk's table, is the man they inquire after, they take his measure from top to toe, and regard him as one of the lights—the political lights-of the constitutional government age, one who must inevitably be a law-giver and administrator. They do not reason about that; have not the remotest notion how it came to be so; but take things as they find them spoken at the corners of the streets. They have heard of him taking down the Colonial Secretary a peg or two; hauling and pulling at, and razing-or attempting to raze—the convict establishment; and they suppose that when he has succeeded in bringing the Present down by the run, he will rise from its ashes, and be our great successful political Future. . . . In the Parliament as at present constituted, he is a useful member; and I, for one, should be as sorry to see him out of it as I should be sorry to see him at the head of affairs. He is marvellously patient and painstaking. He never leaves his seat from the moment the session opens till it closes, and he loses no opportunity in the House or in Select Committee to serve his party. He seldom speaks without saying something or hinting something about responsible government.