Press at Cape of Good Hope

Mr Greig, after stating the correspondence which took place between him and the Fiscal, which led to the suppression of his journal, gives the following account of his interview with that functionary. “On Monday evening, the Fiscal sent a messenger to me, requesting I would call at his house, in Strand-street; I did so ; he then opened a conversation upon the subject of my paper, The South African Commercial Advertiser, and said he was instructed to inform me that I had departed from the Prospectus – that it was become obnoxious to the Government, and referred more particularly to the last three or four Numbers. I asked him to point out such parts as were immediately objectionable. He then mentioned some leading remarks, which (he said) bore upon the Administration of the Colony. He further pointed out as ” ob- noxious, ” all quotations which had been made from ” De Lolne[?], “Blackstone,” and ” Civil Servant’s”work ” Lacon,” and, generally all extracts relative to the Liberty of the Press, observing –” Nobody can doubt the obvious tendency of these ; and, as we are not men in this Colony, but merely infants,” it was, in his opinion, dangerous to insert such matter. He added, also, that it was expected I should, in future, publish no parts of trials, but wait until the whole were finished ; and, even then, all scurrilous parts (such as the Memorial of Mr L. Cooke to the Treasury), were to be omitted. That I was further to bound down with two sureties, in the penalty of ten thousand rix-dollars, that nothing of the offensive nature pointed out, should appear in any future number ; and, lastly, that I was to take particular care, that the next number (18) contained no matter of the description alluded to, nor any notice of Mr Edward’s trial. To all this, I replied, that I would give no promise as to what would appear in the next or any future number. That I required time to consider what was fitting to be done with regard to the security demanded.”

The Morning Chronicle makes the following remarks on this case :– We cannot say that we are surprised that acts of this description should take place in our Colonies. Uncontrouled power produces every day in Europe the worst effects on men of the best dispositions, and the best talents, and the Governors of our conquered Colonies, and New South Wales, are unfortunately quite absolute. In Europe the people under absolute Governments have this advantage over the people in our colonies, that men in office are generally selected with some reference to abilities and acquirements. But with the exception of the East Indies, the Gonernment of which, with all its faults, generally, we believe, avails itself of talents, our colonies are unfortunately considered as mere places of refuge for the relatives of our Aristocracy, of whom nothing can be made in this country. This is what constitutes fitness for a Colonial Office ; and so far from being astonished at the disgraceful scenes which are constantly taking place in the colonies, every person capable of reflecting at all upon the matter would be astonished were he to find common abilities the holder of a colonial appointment of any value. Of Lord Charles Somerset, the less that is said the better. In fact nothing is more wanted than the perusal of a Cape of Good Hope Almanack, to satisfy the British public what sort of personage he is. Would it be believe, that in a country of boundless extent, with only a settlement here and there, where the greatest enemies the Colonists have to contend with, are the wild animals, it could possible enter in to the head of any rarional being to introduce laws for the preservation of game. One would as soon expect to hear laws in Turkey for the preservation of the plague. Yet it so happens, that a code which would do credit to Sir John Shelley himself, guarding against the possible disinction of the game of Africa, occupies a goodly space in the Cape Almanack. After such a specimen of wisdom, all criticism on this personage would be thrown away.

Citation: Scotsman (Edinburgh, United Kingdom), 25 August 1824, available at the Scissors and Paste Database,