Farewell to Charles Cornwallis Michell

26 February 1848
The South African Commercial Advertiser

[Text from pp. 34-35 of Cape Agulhas 1849-1949 by Jeannette Grobbelaar]

As Lt.-Col. MICHELL is on the eve of departure from this Colony, on account of severe indisposition, brought on by too intense application to the increased and incredible deeds of labour in the appointment of Surveyor General, the subjoined Address to this invaluable public servant, and most estimable man, has been placed for signature in the Commercial Hall.  It is a tribute justly due, and which all will feelingly pay to the talent, integrity, and the finest accomplishments, and most engaging personal virtues, which rendered his society as acceptable, while his public services faintly sketched in the Address, place him amongst the first class of benefactors to this Colony: –


Painting by Charles Michell, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

To Lieut.-Colonel Charles Cornwallis Michell, K.II, and K.B.A., Surveyor-General of the Cape of Good Hope.

Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope. February, 1848

SIR, – On your retirement, we sincerely hope only for a time, from the active duties of your most important Department, we take this opportunity of conveying to you our grateful thanks for the many invaluable services you have rendered to this Colony, since your appointment in 1828, now twenty years ago.  The high caracter and reputation you had previously acquired, and which justified the Government in electing you for an office where first-rate abilities, great professional talents and aquirements, activity and zeal, were specially required in such a country as this then was, have been amply borne out and for ever established by the grand and useful works which, under successive Governors, devoted like yourself to the improvement of the Colony, you have planned, superintended, and accomplished, and which, both in conception and execution, conquering the most formidable natural obstacles, have secured the applause, as they excite the admiration of all classes of the inhabitants.  It is only necessary to name, out of many subsidiary achievements, the beautiful Line of Road through the shifting sands of the Cape Downs; the bold line across the front of the precipices at Hottentot’s Holland; the easy sweep round the difficult and hazardous crags at Houw Hoek; the magnificent and stupendous work by which the important districts on both sides of the Cradock Range of Mountains, have just been thrown open to mutual intercourse, and connexion with the sea coast; the second Pharos in Table Bay, with those destined for Cape L’Agulhas and Cape Receife, – when we would call to mind in how much better a condition you leave this Colony than you found it.  It will be a source of consolation to you, Sir, to reflect that it has pleased the Almighty to make you the instrument of so much good to a people neither insensible nor ungrateful.


Painting by Charles Michell, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

For such of us as have had the honour and happiness of your personal acquaintance and friendship, it is impossible at this moment to express the deep sympathy we feel with yourself and your much-beloved and ever-respected family, on the sudden failure of your health and strength under the pressure of official labor.  We would still cherish the hope that it may be the pleasure of the Great Giver of Life, to restore you to that society of which you were so long an ornament; but where you go, and whatever may be His supreme will concerning you and yours, accept the assurance that you will ever possess the highest consideration and most affectionate regards of,

SIR, Your most attached friends and faithful servants.