Women On Adventure is a blog by K.L. Webber exploring our rich shared history of women's adventure writing. This curated collection of quotations showcases the opinions and experiences of influential female travellers in their own words.

"A young lady, like a great general, is nothing without a proper staff."

The Castle, Cape of Good Hope: 
June 6th, 1798. 

THE enclosed journal, my dear Friend, will give you, I hope, some idea of the tour which I have made into the interior of the country since you last heard from me. I have put it in this form, as you will then be able to go over the ground with me, at least, in your imagination. […] Lord Macartney told Mr. Barnard that if he wished to see a little of the country, and did not think it too late, he might go for a month, as there was then no business which could not be transacted in his absence. But, he added, it was possible that at the end of that time he (Lord Macartney) might be receiving despatches from England which would give him leave to depart in two or three months, and then he could not do without Mr. Barnard, still less could any successor spare him who might be new to the business of the Colony. On these considerations, and the possibility of a peace, and of the Cape being given up – unlikely enough, but within the chapter of chances – we thought it best, as it were, to catch Time by the forelock and set off. The prospect of a holiday to a poor Secretary who had been screwed down to his desk for a twelvemonth was an offer much too welcome not to be accepted. 

Our young cousin Jane preferred accompanying us to remaining at the Castle, and as a young lady, like a great general, is nothing without a proper staff, Mr. Barnard invited my cousin John Dalrymple to be her aide-de-camp. Johnny is somewhere from five to seven feet high; as he grows an inch or two every fortnight, there is no knowing where to fix him. As a cornet, he is fond of his gun, but fonder of his horse, and the prospect of being jolted in a waggon with some hundreds of miles with the beauty of the garrison, to the exclusion of all the generals, colonels, and field officers, filled him with rapture. We had with us also Mr. Barnard's servant, Pawell, the Brabanter, master of French, English, and Dutch, who is active, young, and fond of excursions. 

So much for the company, now for the conveyance. Of course, it was a Cape waggon; any other sort of carriage in this country it is impossible to think of for such an excursion. An ox waggon would have suited our pockets best, being exactly half the price of a horse one; but it goes very slowly, and as a month was all we could possibly afford, we could not cover half as much ground in the time. So we determined on horses, though we knew we should have to hire oxen also occasionally to take us over the kloofs, or steep passes in the mountains. The hire of our waggon, coachman, and eight horses, came to about three guineas a day. The waggon was long and narrow, after the fashion of those here, and had over it a stout sailcloth cover, very necessary in this climate. We then set to to add what was necessary to make our month as comfortable as might be. This, as a careful  haus vrow, devolved on me. To begin with, I had a couple of sailcloth bags made to hold a pair of mattresses, two pairs of blankets, sheets, pillows, etc., in case we should find no beds at some of our nightly quarters, or perhaps very dirty ones at that. I also packed up some dozens of handkerchiefs to give to slaves and Boer servants, some ribbands, gold lace, needles, thread, scissors, tea, coffee, sugar, for the Boers themselves, etc., where people would not take money, a lot of pretty coloured beads for Hottentots, and some white pearl beads, some dozens of common knives, a large bale of tobacco, a bundle of candles, different things to eat, and a little bag of schellings, or banknotes of sixpence each, in my pocket. To these stores Mr. Barnard added two good hams, a large piece of beef, and two tongues, also a small cask of good madeira, a box of gin, rum, and liquors and plenty of powder and shot. We also each packed a box containing our special things, over which the seats were hung. By the time this was done we were all ready to start. 

South Africa, 1798

Source: Lady Anne Barnard, W.H. Wilkins, ed., Africa a Century Ago: Letters Written from the Cape of Good Hope 1797-1801, Smith Elder & Co, 1910

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WOA Image: river, Japan

WOA Image: river, Japan

WOA Image: "The night was so exquisite that I was content to rest without sleeping."

WOA Image: "The night was so exquisite that I was content to rest without sleeping."