Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas
People are always asking me which is the finer harbour, Rio Janeiro or Sydney, and I generally answer “Table Bay.” For I think that though Rio is the most beautiful and Sydney the prettiest, Capetown with its open sweep of Table Bay and the mighty mountain above it strikes one as the finest.
On the next page is a sketch of the place as seen on entering the bay. Though I have lived there for three years, and have visited it again and again, I am never tired of seeing it, and don’t mind how soon I go back again!
Behind the city of Capetown rises a great granite wall or mountain some 4000 feet in height, quite flat along the top-and this is Table Mountain. On the left of it as seen from Table Bay there stands a peak as if broken off from it by some giant’s hand; this is called the Devil’s Peak, and there’s a story to it.
Sometimes upon the clearest day a little wisp of cloud will be seen hanging on the top of Table Mountain, and this will grow and grow till soon it covers all the top with a long, flat sheet of white —which stays for hours, always to be followed later on by violent wind and storm from the south-east. This cloud is called “the tablecloth.” Sometimes it gets more loose and covers all the mountain up in clouds.
This rough sketch gives you an idea of what Capetown looks like as you enter Table Bay. Table Mountain forms a very prominen feature in the background.
How the British took the Cape
The mountain on the right is called the Lion, since it is just the shape of a lion lying down. On the “Lion’s Rump” is the signal station from which all ships are signalled as they come in sight.
It was here that the British first hoisted the flag and proclaimed the whole country to be under our King. That was in 1652, when the fine old salt Captain Shilling, and Humphrey FitzHerbert, brought their fleet of six ships into Table Bay on the way to India. The fleet belonged to the East India Company, which was afterwards to become so great in India. But though the Cape thus became a British possession, and was thenceforward regularly visited by British ships, we did not colonise it.
Twenty years after Shilling came a fleet belonging to the Dutch East India Company under the gallant old Dutchman Van Riebeck. He paid no attention to the place having been called British, but started to make a Dutch settlement.