At the time when the Cape settlement was raised temporarily to the dignity of being called a government, the European population consisted of sixty-four burghers, thirty-nine of whom were married, sixty-five children, fifty-three Dutch men-servants, and about three hundred and seventy servants of the Company and soldiers, in all not exceeding six hundred souls. But there are circumstances under which the deeds of six hundred individuals may be of greater importance in an historical retrospect than are ordinarily those of six hundred thousand. These few white men were laying the foundations of a great colony, they were exploring a country as yet very imperfectly known, they were dealing with the first difficulties of meeting a population of barbarians who, though nomads, claimed possession of the soil. Their situation was the most commanding point on the surface of the earth, and they knew its importance then as well as England does now. The Cape castle, wrote the directors, is the frontier fortress of India, an expression which shows the value they attached to it.
At this time the Free Netherlands were engaged in the most unequal struggle that modern Europe has witnessed. The kings of England and France, the elector of Cologne, and the bishop of Munster were allied together for the suppression of Batavian liberty. In May 1672 Louis XIV in person with a splendidly equipped army invaded the provinces from the south and within twentyeight days no fewer than ninety-two cities and strongholds fell into his hands.
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