The fig­ure of the Doc­tor is a moun­tain of de­for­mity and dis­gust. His colour is sal­low, his mo­tions par­a­lytic, his sen­tences pro­nounced to be re­peated

The Herald Magazine - - FOCUS -

back­ward hell­holes, and the as­sump­tion was that Anne would re­main at home. When she told Dun­das she would be ac­com­pa­ny­ing her hus­band he snorted: “Good God! You go to live with the Hot­ten­tots?”

In the event, the Cape brought Anne the hap­pi­est years of her life. She and An­drew lived in a sim­ple cot­tage called Par­adise at the foot of Ta­ble Moun­tain where she kept a small menagerie of wildlife. At the same time she acted as the gover­nor’s host­ess, ex­tend­ing hos­pi­tal­ity to sus­pi­cious Dutch res­i­dents and nabobs pass­ing to In­dia alike. Her egal­i­tar­ian na­ture found ex­pres­sion in deal­ings with the Khoikhoi pop­u­la­tion and slaves. The most as­ton­ish­ing poem ever to come from her pen dates from this time and con­cerns the love be­tween a white woman and a slave.

She had a wider vi­sion too. In 1799, when the Barnards set off on a wagon tour of the in­te­rior, Pitt’s gov­ern­ment saw the Cape as no more than a strate­gic bas­tion to pro­tect its vi­tal shipping net­work to In­dia from the French. Anne did her best to con­vince Dun­das that Africa too had po­ten­tial. “Here is scarcity, but here will be plenty,” she wrote to him. “It is in the power of ac­tiv­ity to make this the finest scene in the world by plant­ing.”

Over the five years she spent at the Cape, Anne wrote con­stantly to in­form Dun­das of what she called “ev­ery point which re­gards pub­lick con­cern”. She was as good as her word, and ul­ti­mately it was in large part thanks to these vi­sion­ary letters that she can now be re­stored to his­tory.

An­drew Barnard died at the Cape. It is clear from their cor­re­spon­dence that the mar­riage had been supremely happy and noth­ing could re­place him in her life. Anne lived at Berke­ley Square un­til her death aged 74 in 1825, de­vot­ing her fi­nal years to the cre­ation of six vol­umes of mem­oirs in which she recorded her life with wit and irony, along with a sear­ing hon­esty that al­most places her in an­other age

Lady Anne was sin­gle un­til she was 42, when she agreed to marry An­drew Barnard, a for­mer army of­fi­cer 12 years her ju­nior. The cou­ple then moved to South Africa where Anne en­joyed the hap­pi­est years of her life

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