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Life of Sir George Grey: Governor, High commissioner, and Premier. An Historical Biography.

The German Legion. — A Military Colony

The German Legion.
A Military Colony.

Another matter on which Grey came into collision with the Imperial Government was closely connected with the colonisation of British Kafraria. He asked the British Government to send him out 1,000 military pensioners for settlement on the frontiers of Cape Colony and in Kafraria, where they could at once lead the lives of farmers and be a bulwark of the settlers. It seemed a well-conceived scheme. Colonies of veterans had been planted by Imperial Rome in many of the countries of the Empire and by Napoleon in Northern Italy, and within a decade they were to be planted by Grey himself in the North Island of New Zealand. The Roman military settlements, at all events, were a success; could not Imperial England tread in the footsteps of her ancient homologue? He could not know that the New Zealand pensioner-settlements, like the Napoleonic, were to prove failures. The War Office announced the scheme, but South Africa was so little known in those days that few applications were received, and the matter was allowed to drop. Many of Grey's schemes, though beneficent in themselves, were in advance of his time.

Then it occurred to the War Office in 1856, when the Crimean war was over, that this would be a convenient way of disposing of the German Legion which the refusal of the British populace to enter the army had obliged the Government to enlist for the war in German cities. Grey was attracted by the proposal and induced the Cape Parliament to aid in carrying it out by contributing a sum of £40,000, or £5 a head. Then the first page 107hitch was felt. Grey understood that the whole 8,000 legionaries would be sent out and accompanied (as he phrased it) by "a fair proportion" of marriageable women. His expectations were woefully disappointed. Only 1,930 agreed to emigrate, and with these were only 330 females. Grey had some excuse for maintaining that the War Office had not kept faith with him, but, after all, it could not compel the legionaries to South Africa, and nearly 2,000 military settlers should have been hardly less welcome than 8,000.