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THE VIGIL OF VENUS.
[The Vigil of Venus, known to Latin scholars as the Pervigilium Veneris, is unique among
the fragments of antiquity. Despite the limpid purity and delicacy of the style there are a few expressions and constructions which seem to mark the incipient decline of the Latin language, whence the date has been generally assigned to the end of the second or beginning of the third century after the Christian era. The occasion of the poem was doubtless the celebration of the Floralia which may well have been coupled with the worship of Venus. We gather from Ovid's Fasti (most poetical of almanacs) that this festival extended over six days from the twenty-eighth of April to the third of May. The text on which the following translation is based is that given by the Revd. Francis St. John Thackeray in the second edition of his ' Anthologia Latina'; the punctuation has been altered in two places where the sense seemed to require it.]
Who ne'er loved must love to-morrow; whoso loved must love the more.
Roses wrought of Cypris' heart-blood, honied with the kiss of Love,
THE WILDS AND WOODLANDS OF THE CAPE.
It is a far cry from the tall Draken- are in it the most beautiful as well as burg Mountains on the north-east the most detestable things. A camfrontier of Natal to Table Mountain paigner has probably the worst imat the extreme south-west corner of pressions, a sportsman and naturalist the Cape Colony. The vast regions the best. An invalid who is in search lying between these limits, from lati- of health and comfort may be excused tude 22° S. to Agulhas, the southern- if he gives it a bad name, although most Cape of Africa in latitude there are surely worse places in the 34-49° S., can naturally boast of a world for healing diseases of the lungs great variety of climate and scenery. than Bloemfontein in the Free State, The Cape Colony and Natal, the Free or any part of the elevated plateaux State and the Transvaal, to say nothing of the interior of South Africa. To of such native territories as the Trans. really enjoy the country a traveller kei, Basutoland, Pondoland, Zululand must have time and opportunity, and and Bechuanaland, contain respectively carry with him a determination to be many definite geographical and clima- pleased with what he can get, and a tic characteristics. South Africa has resolve to rough it a little. the credit of always producing some If a tourist or naturalist can tear unexpected and puzzling variations, himself away from the comparative and is therefore a dangerous country luxury of Cogill's Hotel at Wynberg, for travellers to generalise hastily near the famous vineyards of Conabout. If observer of
stantia, and under the shadow, as it and things wishes really to know were, of Table Mountain, he may find the country, he must take time-un- much to please him. In the western less, indeed, he is content with a coast- province, what can be more beautiful ing voyage from Table Bay to Durban, than the Tulbagh Valley in the spring, and never leaves the line of railway covered with its myriads of wild when he lands. Even supposing that flowers? In fact, the Cape Peninsula he makes a hasty pilgrimage in a Cape itself, with its romantic Hout Bay, and cart over the rough and uneven roads, wild craggy scenery of Cape Point,the chances are that his impressions the stormy Land's End of South of the country will be bad, and that Africa, --can show something new to he will heartily abominate and abuse even the jaded traveller who knows the sterility, forlornness and monotony the world from China to Peru. In of the landscape, the discomfort of this peninsula the botanist will find travelling, and the primitive hotels fifty or sixty different kinds of heaths, and stores with their wretched accom- and an incredible number of little modation. If he be indiscreet enough orchids. The hill sides are white in to travel along the dusty and well- spring with thousands of everlastings, worn tracks in the height of summer as plentiful as daisies in an English he will vote the whole place a pro- meadow; the crimson gladioli and longed edition of the Valley of blue agapanthi wave over nearly Hinnom.
every rock, scarlet crassula, myriads But South Africa is a large country.
of the lowly mesembryanthemum The area of the Cape Colony alone is blossom on the plain. One flower two hundred thousand square miles. jostles another in the tangled mass of It is a country of anomalies. There fern and creeper and copious under
growth; the tall silver-tree with its South Africa seems to admit of a delicate white and glistening leaves triple description if we follow its lords it amongst them all, and is the variations in veldt, bosch and berg. most beautiful tree on the peninsula. The veldt certainly has a very disAlthough the botanical wealth of tinctive character of its own, and is these regions around Table Bay has equally unlike the wind-swept Pampas been explored and classified, still there of South America and the Bush are, for the lover of flowers, many of Australia. The name is applied welcome surprises in the sheltered to the open slopes of mountains as nooks and crannies of the neighbour- well as to the flat surface of the plaing hills.
teaux, The South African farmer If a traveller prefers a quiet village will exclaim, as his eye rests upon a high up in the mountains, at some good pasturage, “What a beautiful distance from Capetown, he can visit veldt,” just as we should say, “What Ceres, where many a noble scene of a beautiful country,” simply intending rock and gorge meets the eye. Or to his remark to apply to the agriculgo further east and northwards, it tural or pastoral aspects of a tract, would be hard to find a more exhilarat- rather than its natural beauties. He ing spot than the summit of the Zuur- will also say, “Drive in the sheep berg above Port Elizabeth, or the from the veldt," or “Fetch me Boschberg range that towers above horse from the veldt," where we the peaceful villages of Bedford and should use such a restricted term as Somerset East. Along the grassy field or paddock. Veldt means much ridges of these inland mountains and more than our field. A farmer will in the recesses of such a little-known also speak of sweet and sour veldt, district as Swagers' Hoek the sports. thereby mystifying a stranger. He is man can still find abundance of game. simply referring to the quality of the The red and grey partridge, the herbage, and it is very necessary to rheebok and the bush-buck have not know the difference between the two. yet been exterminated here by any All campaigners and sportsmen know means. Or if he travels south, in the to their cost that oxen will die off forest country of Humansdorp and the very quickly if travelling from sweet Knysna he will surely see something to sour veldi. new, where the Outeniqua and Zitzi- In the Transvaal the wide and unkama woods fringe the coast with dulating plateaux which extend from evergreen close by the water's edge, the Drakensberg range to the interior and the white foam of the southern are called by the collective term the high breakers dash upon the clinging beds veldt, and from these regions, which of dark green mesembryanthemum
mesembryanthemum constitute the watershed of the Transwetting with spray the bole of some vaal, the rivers have their sources. ancient monarch of the forest, which Here, as in the neighbouring country nods aloft with lazy swing as the sea of the Orange Free State and around breezes rustle through his lichen- the sources of the Orange River, the covered boughs. Then there are the elevation is very high, frequently regions of Kaffirland along the east- reaching from five thousand to six ern coast; and, further north, the thousand feet. The climate of this homes of the Zulus and the wide part is, therefore, cool, bracing, and Transvaal and rocky Basutoland—a dry, even in summer, and during the very Switzerland of South Africa winter so cold that deep snow somewedged in between the white man's times covers its surface. In the latter colonies. Surely there is choice enough season the African farmer is frequently in climate and scenery for the most driven from the high veldt to the fastidious explorer !
bush veldt, where herbage is more Roughly speaking, the scenery of plentiful and the climate more genial.
The custom of holding both a winter eyes, not his own bleared and dulled and a summer farm is a very common organs. one in parts of South Africa. In the In such districts as the Great Cape Colony a large district around Karroo, a region three hundred and Richmond and Victoria West is called fifty miles in length and fifty in the winter veldt, and in other parts we breadth, near Beaufort West, the find a distinction between the cold and dreary expanse of earth resembles the the warm veldt.
dried-up bottom of some vast lake. The veldt, therefore, has a very Forests and woods and lakes exist only wide application in South Africa. in airy and unsubstantial fashion when There is nothing in England with the mirage mocks us. What would not which to compare it. There is some- the African colonists give for a real thing about Wimbledon Common and lake popped down in their midst someparts of the country round Aldershot where in the interior! There is a which, on a hot summer's day espe- wondrous capacity of growth in even cially, reminds us of its radiating sur- the Karroo if only the touch of that face; and here and there little bits of magic element, water, is felt. The Devon scenery, with its dismembered deep soil answers with a noble reboulders and rough appearance, may
sponse to its subtle influences. Occarecall the familiar vision. For there sionally we come across a fontein, is no green sward in Africa as in as the Dutchmen call the spring that England; there are no such trees as makes a garden of a desert. Tall the stately elms with their noble green green mealie beds wave aloft, the vine
Vegetation is, for the most springs along the slope, the dark orangepart, stunted, and the weary sports- grove catches the eye amongst the man often longs for “umbrageous quince, apricot, and pomegranate, and bowers" and a limpid Devonshire the unwieldy pumpkins lie in scores stream, as he wends his way over the upon the fertile ground. But outside burning plain and hears the strange this little oasis on a hot summer's day and hollow ring of his horse's hoofs in there is a wilderness of mimosa-bush, a place where the nymph Echo has over which the sun holds terrible no sportive hiding-place. Far up in power.
In the noontide hours both yonder jagged mountains rising up birds and beasts seem cowed into on the distant horizon and amongst
silence. The small kopjies (hillocks), the endless cliffs the nymph is jocund which stand up here and there enough and answers the Kaffir's call or
as landmarks, give little the herdsman's whistle
shelter. The brown and
lizards mood. Sounds travel with wonderful lying still and motionless upon distinctness in the clear and still broad heated slabs of stone, scarce African climate, and Kaffirs call to one
hidden at all by the ragged growth another from cliff to cliff over almost around them, seem to enter into the incredible distances. In this, as in spirit of the noontide dream ; and other native accomplishments, the child even the singerjies (cicada) cease to jar of civilisation cannot hope to compete. our nerves with their shrill monotone. He can only wonder at the savages' The only active being in this hot hearing as he has wondered at their swoon of nature is the bustling ant, powers of vision.
He can simply whose restlessness seems to increase moralise upon their accomplishments, with the heat. The only birds that and venture a theory that the pre- seem to move are the vultures, which valence of vowel sounds in the liquid swing in lazy circles high up in the Kaffir tongue may perhaps be partially dizzy heights above us, mere specks in accounted for by these rock-to-rock dialogues. If he is a campaigner or a
? Karroo is one of the very few Hottentot
words incorporated into the Cape dialect ; it sportsman he will use their ears and
signifies a wide plain.