Dating the book of revelation gentry
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“The operation,” as one historian recently put it, “was probably the most callous act of mass settlement in the entire history of empire” (Mostert 533).
Pringle, an Edinburgh University educated Scottish journalist and poet, could hardly speak for working-class spinners in Manchester (though his own social status as a struggling writer from a family in decline would remain somewhat “anomalous,” caught “in the fissures of the class structure. While such days may seem historically inconsequential, their general make-up nevertheless remained an important barometer of an individual’s, and a nation’s, quality of life.Limiting its focus to a reading of (1822, 1834), a poem by the settler-poet Thomas Pringle (1789-1834), the entry argues that 1820 settler rhetoric navigated debates over labor through a novel engagement with time.By imagining a two-tiered system of labor time in the poem—one for settlers, based on unemployment relief and freedom from the oppressive pace of industrial life; and one for the African labor force on the eastern Cape farms, based on missionary discipline, a proto-Victorian program of “improvement,” and freedom from slavery—Pringle’s verse helped foster a British cultural identity in the Cape that resonates even today.Some believed the scheme was simply devised to displace Britain’s poor and unemployed onto foreign shores—and though the four thousand applicants (out of some forty thousand) selected for the scheme represented “a neatly sliced section of early nineteenth-century British society in all its layered complexity from parish indigent to gentry,” the depressed climate at home fostered an impression that Parliament was solely attempting to displace the lower orders of society abroad (Mostert 520).For in the wake of the Napoleonic wars, and in the period immediately preceding Parliament’s announcement of the settlement scheme, the “burden of an enormous national debt, drastic changes in industry and agriculture brought about by the Agrarian and Industrial Revolutions, the distress of returned, disabled and jobless soldiers, the collapse of markets created by war, general disillusionment so intrinsic a part of war’s aftermath, and, lately, the failure of the American cotton crop, had brought unemployment and economic distress”—especially among the poor and working class—“to an unbearable point” (Meiring 2).The 1820 settlement scheme to South Africa marks an important conjuncture both for the colony’s internal development and for the rhetoric of immigration in the internal politics of Britain.
Examining the rationale for the venture in light of the seminal historical event of the age—the Peterloo Massacre of 16 August 1819—and in light of Romantic notions of the “Noble Savage,” this entry attempts to demonstrate how concerns surrounding the South African scheme came to be entangled within larger debates over joblessness, slavery, class struggle, and inanition in early nineteenth-century British culture.Other scholars maintain that South Africa entered “a whole new epoch” (Mostert 524) after the arrival of the settlers, and that Britons, from this point on, began to have a “disproportionately large impact” on the development of the colony (Keegan 61).Although a relative sideshow in what James Belich calls the “Settler Revolution,” a “remarkable explosion of the nineteenth century that put the Anglophones on the top of the world” (9), the metropolitan, abolitionary sensibility that the settlers established in the interior of the region became “as much a landmark in the colonial mythology of South Africa as the Afrikaner’s Great Trek a decade and a half later” (Keegan 61).The plots were thought to be too small, rainfall was often unpredictable or scarce, and the soil retained an abnormally high level of acidity, “which is harmful, even fatal, to cattle in autumn and winter” (Giliomee 293).From performing the most ordinary tasks, then, all the way up the chain of the imperial command, the 1820 settlement scheme appeared somewhat precarious.For example, in (1819), the pamphleteer James Griffin reasoned: “You give up your country, your friends, and all the polish of European society [in South Africa]. Booster literature conveniently failed to mention that the farm plots assigned to the settlers were intended to serve as a buffer between “more established western regions of the colony” and ama Xhosa and ama Thembu communities further east, African polities who had recently lost the territory to European commandoes (Pereira and Chapman xiv).