A WOMAN'S PART IN A REVOLUTION
MRS. JOHN HAYS HAMMOND
Longmans, Green, and Co. 39 Paternoster Row London New York and Bombay
To the American Public, whose sympathy was my chief support through days of bitter trial, this book is gratefully dedicated. My personal experience forms the subject of my story. The causes of the Revolt in Johannesburg, and the ensuing political questions, are but lightly touched upon, in deference to the silence enforced upon my husband as one of the terms of his liberation by the Boer Government.
BOUGHTON: BICKLEY, KENT. February, 1897.
A WOMAN'S PART IN A REVOLUTION
I hope I may be able to tell the truth always, and to see it aright according to the eyes which God Almighty gives me.—THACKERAY.
Totsey the terrier lay blinking in the hot African sun, while Cecilia Rhodes, the house kitten, languished in a cigar box wrapped about with twine to represent bars of iron. Above her meek face was a large label marked 'African Lion.' Her captor, my young son Jack, was out again among the flower-beds in quest of other big game, armed with my riding-crop. The canvas awnings flapped gently in the cool breeze. Every now and then a fan-like arm of one of the large Madeira chairs would catch the impetus and go speeding down the wide red-tiled verandah. I looked up from the little garment which I was making, upon this quiet picture. It was the last restful moment I was to know for many long months—such months of suffering and agonised apprehension as God in His mercy sends to few women.
David, my husband's black coachman, drove rapidly through the gate, and, coming up to me, handed me a letter. It was from his master and briefly written. Jameson had crossed the Border; Johannesburg was filled with strange people, and he thought it wise for me to move with our family and servants into town. Rooms had been secured for us at Heath's Hotel, and he would meet us that night at dinner. This summons was not entirely unexpected. For many months the political kettle had been simmering. Johannesburg had grown tired of sending petitions in to the Government to be answered by promises which were never redeemed. An appalling death-rate of fifty-six in each thousand, directly traceable to lack of proper sanitation, resulting from bad government, spurred the general discontent, and a number of representative citizens, unwilling longer to wait upon gods and Government, finding all attempts to obtain redress of their grievances by constitutional means ineffectual, determined to enforce their demands for right by arms if necessary. As arms for the Uitlander under the law of the Transvaal could only be obtained by a permit, guns and ammunition were smuggled into the country, hidden away in oil tanks and coal cars.
My husband had vast interests in his charge; many million pounds sterling had been invested at his instance in the mining industry of the country, and, actuated by a sense of duty and responsibility to those who had confided in him, he felt in honour bound to take an active part in the movement, for the protection and preservation of the property placed under his control.
My leaving for the Cape, in case affairs should assume a dangerous phase, was frequently discussed between us, but I could not make up my mind to leave my husband, feeling that the separation would be more trying than if I remained, even should a conflict be forced upon us. In addition to my wish to be with him, I knew that many of his staff had their wives and children in Johannesburg, and would be unable to send them away, and for me, the wife of their chief, 'to bundle to the rear' would subject my husband, as well as myself, to harsh, and not unjust, criticism.
The Leonard Manifesto was published December 26th, setting forth the demands of the Uitlander.
'We want,' it reads:
'1. The establishment of this Republic as a true Republic.
'2. A Grondwet or constitution which shall be framed by competent persons selected by representatives of the whole people, and framed on lines laid down by them; a constitution which shall be safeguarded against hasty alteration.
'3. An equitable Franchise law and fair representation.
'4. Equality of the Dutch and English languages.
'5. Responsibility to the Legislature of the heads of the great departments.
'6. Removal of religious disabilities.
'7. Independence of the Courts of Justice, with adequate and secured remuneration of the judges.
'8. Liberal and comprehensive education.
'9. An efficient Civil Service, with adequate provision for pay and pension.
'10. Free Trade in South African products.'
It was further planned to hold another meeting of the 'National Union,' and afterward make a last demand upon the Government to redress our wrongs.
Arrangement meanwhile was made with Dr. Jameson, who was encamped on the western border of the Republic with a body of the Chartered Company's troops. In case of a disturbance he was to come to the aid of Johannesburg with at least a thousand men and 1,500 guns. It was also distinctly understood between him and the five gentlemen who were the recognised leaders of the movement, that he should not start until he had received instructions to do so directly from them.
I gathered my household about me, explained the situation, and gave the servants their choice, whether they would go into town or remain in the house. The four white servants decided to remain, but the native boys begged leave to depart under various pretexts. One to get his missis from Pretoria because he was afraid the Boers might kill her. Another to tell his mother in Natal that he was all right. Another frankly said, that as the white men were going to fight among themselves, this was no place for Kaffirs.
I arranged to leave Mr. Hammond's secretary in charge of the house. We hastily packed up a few of our most precious belongings, and left, to take possession of four tiny rooms at the hotel in town. With a full heart I looked back at my pretty home. The afternoon shadows were beginning to lengthen; I saw the broad verandah, the long easy chairs suggestive of rest; my books on the sill of the low bedroom window; the quiet flower garden, sweet with old-fashioned posies associated with peace and thrift. We were going to—WHAT?
My diary carries the story on:—
DECEMBER 30.—We find the town intensely excited, but there is no disorder. Men are hurrying about in cabs and on foot with determined-looking faces, but no other visible evidence of the day's tragedy.
My husband ran in to see how we were faring about 8 o'clock this evening. I had not seen him since early morning. He told me that a Reform Committee had been formed of the leading men of the city. Also that the Americans had called a meeting in the course of the afternoon to hear the results of a Special Deputation, consisting of Messrs. Hennen Jennings and Perkins, to President Kruger. Mr. Jennings reported the President as having listened to them attentively while they conveyed to him what they believed to be the sentiment of the Americans on the Rand. They assured him that, although the Americans recognised the rights of the Boers as well as those of the Uitlanders, unless he could in some way meet the demand of the unenfranchised people of the Transvaal he could not expect their support when the revolution came. They also told him that the Americans wanted to see the Republic preserved, but on a truer basis. And when questioned by the President if in case of rebellion the Americans would be with or against the Government, they answered bluntly, 'They would be against the Government.'
President Kruger dogmatically declared 'this was no time for discussion, but a time for the people to obey the law,' and with this they were dismissed.
A Committee of three is appointed to visit Pretoria to-morrow and again lay before the President a statement of the demands of the Uitlanders, the attitude of the Americans and their wish to preserve the integrity of the Republic, but also to warn him that, if the Government insists upon ignoring these just demands, and thus precipitates war, the Americans must array themselves on the side of the other Uitlanders.
A large mass meeting is called to receive these gentlemen on their return from Pretoria and to decide upon the Americans' future course of action.
The mail train to Cape Town was crowded with hundreds of terror-stricken women and children sent away by anxious husbands to a place of safety. The ordinary accommodation was far too inadequate to supply the sudden rush. They were crowded like sheep on cattle trucks. I fear the journey of a thousand miles will be one of great discomfort.
There are many anxious souls in Johannesburg to-night.
Betty and I are sitting up. The night is sultry, and we have dragged our chairs out on to the verandah which overhangs the street.
MIDNIGHT.—The town has quieted down. Once a wild horseman clattered down the street towards the 'Gold Fields' shouting, 'A despatch, men! a despatch. We've licked the Dutchmen!' A few heads peered out of windows—but that was all.
DECEMBER 31.—My husband came in at 4 o'clock this morning, looking very tired. He was on the point of going to bed, when a messenger came from the 'Gold Fields' and hurried him away.
The streets are alive at a very early hour, and the excitement increases. The Reform Committee sits in perpetual session in the offices of the 'Gold Fields.' They are appointing sub-committees for the safeguard and comfort of the town; 51,000l. for the relief of the poor has already been raised. Messengers are sent out to call in all the women and children from the mines. Arrangements are being made for the housing and feeding of these. Nothing is forgotten, and everything goes on with the utmost method and precision. It is like a great, splendid piece of machinery.
The merchants have sent up a deputation to try to bring the President to reason. He has temporarily removed the dues from food stuffs as a result of the interview. The Government has prohibited all telegraphic communication. We are cut off from the world.
The Reform Committee repudiates Dr. Jameson's inroad, but publishes its intention to adhere to the National Union Manifesto, and 'earnestly desires that the inhabitants should refrain from taking any action which can be construed as an overt act of hostility against the Government.' A certain tone of security and dignity pervades all the notices of the Reform Committee. The town is sure of success.
In order to silence rumours in regard to the hoisting of the English flag, Mr. Hammond after some difficulty secured a flag of the Transvaal, and took it into the committee room this morning. The entire body of men swore allegiance with uncovered heads and upraised hands. The flag now floats from the roof of the 'Gold Fields.' The merchants have closed their shops and battened up the windows with thick boards and plates of corrugated iron. Boer police are withdrawn from the town. Excitement at fever heat, but everything running smoothly. No drunkenness nor rioting. The streets are filled with earnest-looking men. Near the Court House arms are being distributed. At another point horses are given over to the newly-enrolled volunteers.
4 P.M.—I have driven from one end of the town to the other, through busy crowded streets, without seeing one disorderly person, or being regarded a second time by one of the thousands of men filing solemnly past my carriage. They would form into squads and march gravely to their posts of duty. A splendid-looking set of men, ranging in age from 25 to 35. Men from every walk in life, professional men, robust miners, and pale clerks, some among the faces being very familiar. My eyes filled when I thought of what the future might be bringing them. At the hotel dinner Mrs. Dodd, Betty and I were the only women present. The room was crowded with men who spoke excitedly of a possible war and exchanged specimen cartridges across the table. I hear that one thousand Lee-Metford rifles have been given out. The town is now policed by Uitlanders under Trimble.
The Americans have held another meeting. Five hundred men were present, and with only five dissenting votes determined to stand by the Manifesto. After this meeting, the George Washington Corps of 150 members was formed.
Following are the names of the various Brigades:—
Australian, Scotch, Africander, Cycle, Colonial, Natal, Irish, Northumbrian, Cornish, and Bettington's Horse and the Ambulance Corps. Most of the mines are closing down. Women and children are still flying from the town. Alas! some men, too, who are heartily jeered by the crowd at the railroad station.
St. John's Ambulance Society is advertising for qualified nurses or ladies willing to assist.
Natives are in a state of great panic. One of the Kaffir servants in the hotel gave me a tremendous shock this morning by rushing into my room to fling himself at my feet, sobbing and imploring me not to allow the Boers to kill him.
LATER.—The sultry day has cooled down into a calm, moonlit night.
This evening the Reform Committee received a deputation from the Government consisting of Messrs. Marais and Malan; these gentlemen showed their authority from the Government, and were duly accredited. They are both progressive Boers and highly respected by the Uitlanders. They stated that they had come with the olive branch, that the Government had sent them to the Reform Committee to invite a delegation of that Committee to meet in Pretoria a Commission of Government officials, with the object of arranging an amicable settlement of the political questions. They emphatically asserted that the Government would meet the Reform Committee half-way—that the Government was anxious to prevent bloodshed, &c. That they could promise that the Government would redress the Uitlander grievances upon the lines laid down in the Manifesto, but that of course all the demands would not be conceded at once, and both sides must be willing to compromise. The Reform Committee met to consider this proposal, and after long discussion decided to send a deputation to Pretoria. These gentlemen leave with Messrs. Malan and Marais on a special train to-night for Pretoria.
Johannesburg is quiet as ever was country town. The streets deserted. Nothing to suggest a city girt around by a cordon of soldiers, and yet such it is.
At midnight my husband ran in for a moment to see how we had stood the strain of the day.
'Is the news from Jameson really true?' I asked, still hoping it was rumour.
'I am afraid so.'
'And are those heavy wagons just going down the street carrying the big guns to the outskirts?'
'Yes. Good-night, dear.' He was gone.
[Footnote 1: The sufferings of this hapless crowd were acute. Provisions were hard to obtain at the way stations. The water supply gave out. A little child died of exposure, and the heart-broken mother held the lifeless body twenty-four hours on her lap. There was no room to lay it to one side. Another woman gave birth to an infant.]
[Footnote 2: The Cornish miners were politely presented at Kimberley and other places en route with bunches of white feathers by the howling mob. One Cornishman afterwards related that he was pulled out at every station and made to fight. After the fourth mauling he turned round and went back to Johannesburg, preferring to take his chances with the Boers.]
January 1, 1896.—With the dawn of day I am out of bed and at the window waiting for the cry of the newsboy.
What will the New Year bring us?
With nervous dread I opened the paper brought to my door. In large headlines it told of disaster.
The Natal train filled with refugee women and children has been wrecked, with great loss of life. The papers say forty have been killed outright, and many fearfully injured. Entire families have been wiped out in some cases. Mr. —— has lost his wife, his sister, and three little children. This is the result of a Boer concession. The accident was caused by the Netherlands carriages being poorly built and top-heavy. In rounding a curve they were swung off the track—collapsed at once like card-houses, crushing and mangling the helpless and crowded occupants.
The deputation to Pretoria did not leave last night, as was expected. They go this morning instead.
My husband is greatly disturbed at the delay. He says time is all important, and the Reform Committee's hands should not be tied while the Boers gain time.
Reports of Jameson's meeting the enemy have been amplified. Now it is said that fifty of his men have been killed and three hundred Boers. Sir John Willoughby is believed to be shot.
I drove out to my home to reassure my women, Mr. Sharwood having brought in word that the coachman Adams had almost caused a panic by his garish tipsy account of 'what was going on in town,' and 'the many risks he ran when taking the mistress out.'
Parker was overjoyed to see me, and so was Totsey. I found all staunch, and ready, not only to protect themselves, but to fight anything, particularly the valiant Adams.
On my way back to town I heard firing beyond the ridge east of us. Some men at practice probably, but it gave me a wrench and detracted from Adams's dignified bearing. More organising and drilling of troops. I hear there is much suffering among them. The book-keeper, clerks, and indoor men find the unaccustomed exposure and fatigue trying in the extreme. But they are a plucky lot, and stand for hours on guard in the scorching sun, and walk miles with their poor blistered feet with pathetic cheerfulness; swooning in many cases at their posts rather than give in; to a man, eager to fight.
Betty and I began our daily visits to the women and children at the Wanderers' and Tattersall's to-day. At the Wanderers' alone are nearly three hundred. The wonderful provision made for their health and comfort spoke well for the intelligence as well as heart of the Reform Committee, and Mr. Lingham, an American, who has that especial department in charge. We found the dancing-hall of the Wanderers' converted into a huge dormitory, the supper-room into a sick ward, and the skating-rink reserved for women newly confined—fright and excitement having brought on many premature births. There is a matron in charge of the sick, and a medical inspector, who comes twice a day to visit the different wards. I overheard him soundly berate a mother who kept her children too much indoors. The food was good, and there was plenty of it. Fresh cow's milk was supplied to the children. I noticed a large vessel of galvanised iron marked 'Boiled water for drinking purposes.' The little children were romping and tumbling about with great energy. The women were wonderfully patient, I thought, and firm in their adherence to the cause. This in some cases was but vaguely understood, but there was a general belief that there was 'goin' to be some fighten,' which was sure to make us all better off. I heard but one complaint, and that from a hulking slouch of a man who had sneaked in from duty to take a nap on the foot of his sick wife's pallet. He complained of the food, showing me the remains of dainties given out to the sick woman, and which he had helped her to eat. The woman looked up at me with haggard eyes: 'It ain't the vittles, but the pain that's worrying me, ma'am.'
A touching sight were the yelping dogs of every breed, family pets tethered to the fence outside. All canteens are closed by order of the Reform Committee as a precautionary measure, and where there was doubt of these precautions being observed, the liquors were bought and thrown away.
Hundreds of varying rumours are afloat, which rush and swirl along until lost in distorting eddies.
This afternoon a horseman went through the town distributing a Proclamation from the High Commissioner, Sir Hercules Robinson:—
His Excellency the Right Hon. Sir Hercules George Robinson, Bart., Member of Her Majesty's Most Hon. Privy Council, K.C.B., of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, Governor, Commander-in-Chief of Her Majesty's Colony of the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, and of the Territories, Dependencies thereof, Governor of the Territory of British Bechuanaland, and Her Majesty's Commissioner, &c., &c.
'Whereas it has come to my knowledge that certain British subjects, said to be under the leadership of Dr. Jameson, have violated the territory of the South African Republic, and have cut telegraph wires, and done various other illegal acts; and
'Whereas the South African Republic is a friendly State in amity with Her Majesty's Government; and whereas it is my desire to respect the independence of the said State:
'Now therefore I hereby command the said Dr. Jameson and all persons accompanying him, to immediately retire from the territory of the South African Republic, on pain of the penalties attached to their illegal proceedings; and I do further hereby call upon all British subjects in the South African Republic to abstain from giving the said Dr. Jameson any countenance or assistance in his armed violation of the territory of a friendly State.
'GOD SAVE THE QUEEN.
'Given under my hand and seal this 31st day of December, 1895.
'HERCULES ROBINSON, 'High Commissioner.
'By command of His Excellency the High Commissioner.'
Johannesburg is dumfounded!
The sixth edition of the 'Star' this evening says that Jameson is only fifteen miles away, and that he has had a second encounter with the Boers. The populace has recovered from the Proclamation, and their wild enthusiasm can scarcely be restrained. They want to go out to meet Jameson and bring him in with triumphal outcry. It is hard to be only a 'she-thing' and stay in the house with a couple of limber-kneed men, when such stirring happenings are abroad.
11 P.M.—Mr. Lionel Phillips has just addressed the crowd collected around the 'Gold Fields' waiting for news. He told them that the Reform Committee Delegation—of which he was one—had been received with courtesy by the Government Commission, the Chief Justice of the Republic acting as chairman.
They were assured that their proposals should be earnestly considered. Mr. Phillips then explained what was wanted, and reiterated the Reform Committee's determination to stand by the Manifesto. He also told the Commission that the leaders of the Reform Committee had arranged with Jameson to come to their assistance when necessary, but that unfortunately he had come before required, probably through some misunderstanding or false report. While the Reform Committee regretted Jameson's precipitate action, they would stand by him. And as they had no means of stopping him they offered to prove their good faith by giving their own persons as hostages that Jameson should leave Johannesburg peacefully if he were allowed to come in unmolested. This offer was rejected by the Commission, but a list of the names of the Reform Committee was asked for.
As a result of this interview the Government decided to accept the offer made by Her Majesty's High Commissioner to come to Pretoria to settle differences and avoid bloodshed. An armistice was then agreed upon pending the High Commissioner's arrival. Mr. Phillips was often interrupted by the crowd, some with cheers and others hooting. One voice called out, 'And how about Jameson?' Mr. Phillips answered, 'I am instructed by the Reform Committee to state to you, as I did to the Government, that we intend to stand by Jameson. Gentlemen, I now call upon you to give three cheers for Dr. Jameson.' There was prolonged and enthusiastic cheering.
The Reform Committee has sent out J.J. Lace to escort a messenger from the British Agent, who carries the Proclamation, and also to explain the situation to Dr. Jameson.
It is said that Lieutenant Eloff was captured by Jameson some miles beyond Krugersdorp. Eloff declaring he had official orders to obstruct his advance, Jameson expressed his determination to go on, but added that he had no hostile intentions against the Government.
JANUARY 2.—Betty and I sat up all night. The excitement is too intense to admit of hunger or fatigue. We know nothing beyond the rumours of the street. Jameson is said to be at Langlaagte, fighting his way into town, the Boers in hot pursuit.
Mademoiselle has asked leave to go to the Convent to make her will.
In the streets, private carriages, army wagons, Cape carts and ambulances graze wheels. Every hour or two a fresh edition of the 'Star' is published; public excitement climbing these bulletins, like steps on a stair. We sit a half-dozen women in the parlour at Heath's Hotel. Two sisters weep silently in a corner. Their father is manager of the 'George and May'; a battle has been fought there a couple of hours ago. No later news has come to them. A physician, with a huge red-cross badge around his arm, puts his head in at the door, and tells his wife that he is going out with an ambulance to bring in the wounded. At this we are whiter than before, if it were possible.
Poor Mademoiselle returned an hour ago and was obliged to go to bed, done up with the nervous tension.
Jacky is loose on the community; in spite of energetic endeavours (accompanied by the laying-on of hands in my case) his Aunt Betty and I cannot restrain his activity. He is intimate with the frequenters of the hotel bar, and on speaking terms with half the town. The day seems endless.
Things have gone so far, men want the issue settled, and perhaps the irresponsible are eager for a little blood-letting; there are certain primitive instincts which are latent in us all, and the thought of war is stimulating.
Mr. Lace returned this afternoon and reported that he had ridden through the lines to Jameson. He had had very little speech with the doctor, as the time was short, and the messenger bearing the proclamation of the High Commissioner was also present. Jameson asked where the troops were. Lace told him that he could not rely on any assistance from the Uitlanders, as they were unprepared, and an armistice had been declared between the Boer Government and the people of Johannesburg.
LATER.—News is brought of a battle fought at Doornkop this forenoon, and Jameson has surrendered. Johannesburg has gone mad.
MIDNIGHT.—My husband has just come in, his face as white and drawn as a death mask.
We talked earnestly, and then I insisted upon his going to bed, and for the first time in three days he drew off his clothes and lay down to rest. The exhausted man now sleeps heavily; I sit beside him writing by the spluttering candle. Now, while it is fresh in my mind, I am trying to put down all that I have just heard from my husband.
He told me the Reform Committee were greatly surprised when they received the report of Mr. Lace, as Jameson had no right to expect aid and succour from Johannesburg for the following reasons:—
First.—In answer to a telegram from Jameson, expressing restlessness at the delay, my husband wired him on December 27 a vigorous protest against his coming.
Second.—Strong and emphatic messages were taken by Major Heaney, one of Jameson's own officers, to the same effect, also by Mr. Holden. Major Heaney went by special train from Kimberley, and Mr. Holden on horseback across country.
These messages informed Dr. Jameson that the time had not arrived for his coming; that the people of Johannesburg were without arms, and that his coming would defeat the aim and purposes of the whole movement; and, further, that he could not expect any aid or co-operation from the people of Johannesburg.
Notwithstanding all this, Jameson left Pitsani Sunday night, and the first intimation which Johannesburg had of his advance was through telegrams received Monday afternoon.
The Reform Committee, thus informed of Jameson's coming, and knowing that he was fully aware of their unarmed condition, believed that he relied only on his own forces to reach Johannesburg; and the Committee were assured by Major Heaney and Captain White (two of Jameson's officers, the latter having two brothers with the invading force) that no Boer force could stop him in his march; and this was confirmed by one of Jameson's troopers, who came from him this morning of the surrender, and reported that he was getting along well; that, although his horses were tired, he would reach Johannesburg within a few hours, and that he needed no assistance.
The hope of the Committee was that, after receiving the proclamation of the High Commissioner, Jameson would retrace his steps instead of pushing on.
Monday, when we first heard of his starting, there were only 1,000 guns, and very little ammunition in the country, and these were hidden away at the different mines. One thousand five hundred more guns arrived next day. So desperate was the extremity, these guns were smuggled in at great risk of being discovered by the Boer Custom House officials, under a thin covering of coke on ordinary coal cars. But for the bold courage of several men, who rushed the coke through, they would have fallen into the hands of the Boers. The leaders had taken as few men as was possible into their confidence, so as to reduce to a minimum all liability of their plans being discovered by the Government. They had made almost no organisation, and Jameson's sudden oncoming placed them in a terrible position. To confess at this juncture that the Reform Committee was short of guns would have demoralised the people, and placed Johannesburg entirely at the mercy of the Boers. These leaders played a losing game with splendid courage. Realising that all would be lost if the true situation were suspected, and feeling the fearful responsibility of their position, they kept their counsel, and turned bold faces to the world, continuing to treat with Government with the independence of well-armed men, and men ready to fight.
When the news of Jameson's surrender was confirmed this evening, the surging crowd around the 'Gold Fields' became an excited and dangerous mob. Pressing thickly together, in their frenzy, they began to mutter threats against the Reform Committee, and demanded, 'Where is Jameson? We thought you promised to stand by Jameson! Why didn't you give us guns and let us go out to help Jameson?'
Plans were made to blow up the 'Gold Fields' where the Reformers sat in session. Several gentlemen of the Committee essayed to speak from the windows, but were received with howls and curses from the stormy tumult below. At last Mr. Samuel Jameson, brother to Dr. Jameson, made himself heard:—
'I beg you, for my brother's sake, to maintain a spirit of calm restraint. We have done everything in our power for him, and used our very best judgment. In face of the complicated circumstances, no other course could have been taken.'
It was as oil on the troubled waters.
FROM THE REFORM COMMITTEE.
The Reform Committee issued the following notice at noon:—
'Resolved: That in view of the declaration by the Transvaal Government to Her Majesty's Agent that the mediation of the High Commissioner has been accepted, and that no hostile action will be taken against Johannesburg pending the results of these negotiations, the Committee emphatically direct that under no circumstances must any hostile action be taken by the supporters of the Reform Committee, and that in the event of aggressive action being taken against them, a flag of truce be shown, and the position explained.
'In order to avoid any possibility of collision, definite orders have been given. The matter is now left with the mediation of the High Commissioner, and any breach of the peace in the meanwhile would be an act of bad faith.
'By order of the Committee.'
Deep and universal depression follows upon the great excitement. Jameson and his men are prisoners of war in Pretoria. Armed Boer troops encircle the town.
One man said to me to-day: 'If we do get the franchise after losing only thirty men, how much we will have gained and at how cheap a price.'
It was a man's view; birth and death could never mean so little to a woman!
JANUARY 4.—The High Commissioner has arrived at Pretoria.
They say poor Dr. Jameson is greatly dejected, and never speaks to a soul.
JANUARY 5.—This beautiful Sunday, quiet and serene, dawns upon us free of the sounds of the past week. No cries of newspaper boys nor hurry of wheels. A couple of bands of recruits drilled for a while sedately on Government Square, and then marched away. It is wonderful to an American woman, who still retains a vivid recollection of Presidential Elections, to see two warring factions at the most critical point of dispute mutually agree to put down arms and wait over the Sabbath, and more wonderful yet seems the self-restraint of going without the daily paper. The George Washington Corps attended a special service. The hymns were warlike and the sermon strong and anything but pacific.
JANUARY 6.—The Government issues an ultimatum: Johannesburg must lay down its arms.
The letter of invitation signed by Messrs. Charles Leonard, Francis Rhodes, Lionel Phillips, John Hays Hammond and George Farrar, inviting Dr. Jameson to come to the succour of Johannesburg under certain contingencies, was printed in this morning's paper. It was picked up on the battlefield, in a leathern pouch, supposed to be Dr. Jameson's saddle-bag. Why in the name of all that is discreet and honourable didn't he eat it!
Two messengers from the High Commissioner, Sir Jacobus de Wet, the British Agent, and Sir Sydney Shippard, were received by the Reform Committee this morning. De Wet told them that Johannesburg must lay down its arms to save Jameson and his officers' lives; that unless they complied with this appeal, which he made on behalf of the High Commissioner, who was in Pretoria ready to open negotiations, Johannesburg would be responsible for the sacrifice of Jameson and his fellow prisoners. It would be impossible for the Government to conduct negotiations with the High Commissioner for redress of grievances until arms were laid down. He urged them to comply with this appeal to prevent bloodshed, and promised that they could depend upon the protection of the High Commissioner, and that not 'a hair of their heads would be touched.' After much discussion, the Committee agreed to lay down their arms.
Betty and Mrs. Clement were busy all the morning giving out books and flowers which had been generously sent by various ladies and commercial firms for distribution among the women and children at the Wanderers' and Tattersall's. Betty says the women were most grateful. They are busy, hard-working women, and the enforced leisure is very trying to them. She spoke with the manager of Tattersall's; he thanked her for her gifts, remarking, with some weariness in his tone: 'You don't know, Miss, how hard it is to keep the women amused and contented—and several of them have been confined!' as if that, too, were a proof of insubordination.
My husband tells me that the Committee is to hold a meeting at midnight, and another at six to-morrow morning. He says that Lionel Phillips nearly fainted from exhaustion to-day. Mr. Phillips is consistent and brave, and George Farrar, too, is proving himself a hero. Dear old Colonel, with the kind thoughtfulness so characteristic of him, never fails to ask how we are bearing the trial.
JANUARY 7.—Sir Jacobus de Wet and Sir Sydney Shippard addressed the populace from the Band Club balcony, exhorting them to accept the ultimatum.
LATER.—I have had such a reassuring conversation with Sir Sydney Shippard this evening. He is a most intelligent man, and speaks with such fluent decisiveness that all he says carries conviction. I am told that Sir Jacobus's speech was a rambling, poor affair and weak; the crowd showed a restlessness that at one time threatened to become dangerous. He was fortunately pulled down by his coat-tails before the crowd lost self-control.
Sir Sydney's speech, on the contrary, was strong and full of feeling. He told the people that he sympathised deeply with them in their struggle for what he believed to be their just rights, but that being an English Government official he could take no part. He reminded them that Jameson was lying in prison, his life and the lives of his followers in great jeopardy. The Government had made one condition for his safety: the giving up of their arms. 'Deliver them up to your High Commissioner, and not only Jameson and his men will be safe, but also the welfare of those concerned in this movement—I mean the leaders.' He continued: 'I, whose heart and soul are with you, say again that you should follow the advice of the High Commissioner, and I beg you to go home and to your ordinary avocations; deliver up your arms to your High Commissioner, and if you do that you will have no occasion to repent it.'
JANUARY 8.—Arms are being delivered up. About 1,800 guns already handed in. The Government assert that we are not keeping our agreement and are holding back the bulk of the guns. My husband tells me that these are being given up as fast as possible, but that there are not over 2,700 among the entire Uitlander population. The Reform Committee has assured the High Commissioner that they are keeping good faith, but that they never had more than about 2,700. The disarmament is universally considered the first step to an amicable settlement. The Reform Committee has sent out orders and the guns are coming quietly in. Everybody feels a certain relief now that the strain is eased; the members of the Committee are dropping down into all sorts of odd places to make up for the lost sleep of the past week. Dozens are stretched on the floor of the club rooms. Some steady-going gentlemen of abstemious habit are unprejudiced enough to allow themselves to be found under the tables wrapped in slumber as profound as that of infancy.
In contrast to my feelings of yesterday I am almost joyous. But for poor impetuous Jameson and the newly dead and wounded of Doornkop, I could laugh again.
The women are going back to the mines. Many brave little men who have remained in the shade to comfort their wives now step boldly to the front and tell us what they would have done if it had really come to a question of fighting. There is so much talk of moral courage from these heroes, I fear it is the only kind of courage which they possess. One gentleman, not conspicuous for his bravery during the preceding days, gravely said to me: 'If there had been war, I wonder if I should have had the moral courage to keep out of the fight?' I looked into his face, and, seeing there his character, answered with dryness, 'Oh! I suspect you would.' He was too complaisant to appreciate the sarcasm. God made little as well as great things! I suppose we should love all humanity, even if it be in the spirit of a collector of curios.
The protracted excitement has caused several deaths from heart failure, and I heard of two cases of acute mania. There would doubtless have been a far greater mortality but for the fact that Johannesburg is populated by young and, for the most part, vigorous men and women.
I hear that Dr. Jameson answered, when asked after his first night in the Pretoria jail if there was anything he would like to have, 'Nothing, thank you, but flea powder.'
I sat on the verandah with Sir Sydney Shippard and Betty this evening and watched the 'Zarps' take control of the town. There was no remonstrance on the part of the populace.
LATER.—It is rumoured that a Commando of Boers will attack the town to-night. The place is practically defenceless; most of the men having returned to their work and the companies being disbanded.
JANUARY 9.—There is a fearful impression abroad this morning that the Reform Committee, or at least the leaders, will be arrested. My husband comforts me by saying the Government could not pursue such a course after having recognised the Reform Committee and offered not only to consider, but reform the grievances which have brought all this trouble about. He declares that Great Britain would not allow this after commanding her subjects to disarm and promising them her protection, and to see that their wrongs were righted.
'It would be the worst sort of faith,' he insists.
NOON.—The situation is very strained. I can see that my husband is trying to prepare me for his possible arrest. 'It will merely be a matter of form.' Ah me! I can read in his grave face another truth. May God in His mercy grant us a happy issue out of all our afflictions.
At a quarter to ten on the night of January 9, my husband, with two dozen others of the Reform Committee, was arrested and thrown into jail on the charge of rebellion and high treason. They had heard that this was probable several hours earlier in the day.
The four leaders were secretly offered a safe conduct over the border, but refused to forsake their comrades and the Cause. Leaving word where he was to be found, and with the further stipulation that no handcuffs were to be used in his arrest, or 'he would blow the brains out of the first man who approached him,' my husband hastened to break the news gently to us. I packed a tiny handbag with necessaries and filled his pockets with cakes of chocolate; chocolate was nourishing, and would sustain a hungry man hours, even days. We sat down hand in hand to wait for the officer, Betty in delicacy having left us alone together.
The Australians were giving a banquet below stairs, and as we clung to each other we could hear their shouts of boisterous mirth and hand-clapping. We started up at a tap on the door. A friend to tell us the officer was waiting at the street entrance. I helped my husband into his coat and we kissed each other good-bye. He was filled with solicitude for me. My thoughts were of the two thousand excited Boers laagered between Johannesburg and Pretoria, but recollection of my unborn child steadied me and gave me self-command.
Kind Mrs. Heath came to me, and, putting her arms about my shoulders, led me gently back into the bedroom, 'Mrs. Heath, will you please tell my sister-in-law that I am alone?' and Betty knew what had happened and came to me at once. Some time later Mr. John Stroyan brought a note from my husband:—
Johannesburg Jail—2 A.M.
'We are well—a couple of dozen—waiting for the train to Pretoria. Don't worry.
Then nature came to my relief. My overtaxed nerves refused to bear any more—they were paralysed. I threw myself across the foot of my little boy's bed, and lay like a dead woman until the morning broke....
Many days afterward I heard further details of the arrest. Some of the incidences were amusing, as was the polite borrowing and making use of Mr. King's carriage—he being one of the Reformers—for conveyance of the prisoners to the gaol. At the Rand Club there was so large a collection of Reformers, that the carriages, even over-crowded, could not carry them all. Lieuts. de Korte and Pietersen, the officers in charge, said in the most friendly manner, 'Very well, gentlemen, some of you must wait until we can come back for you.' And they did wait. Colonel Rhodes was taken from his own home; roused from his bed, he stood brushing his hair with martial precision, and expressing to the officer his regret at putting him to the trouble of waiting while he dressed, Mr. Seymour Fort meanwhile packing his valise. 'Fort, old man, put in some books,' said the Colonel, who is a great reader; 'all the books you can find;' and Mr. Fort threw in book after book—big ones and little ones; and for this lavish provision the poor Colonel paid dearly some hours later, in company with several husbands, whose wives in excess of tenderness had provided them with every known toilette luxury filled into silver-topped cut crystal bottles. The sight of these afflicted men carrying their heavy burdens from the station to the prison at Pretoria was both amusing and dramatic. At times their speech reached the epic.
The sad side was poor Sam Jameson, crippled and broken with rheumatism—a seriously ill man—accompanied to the very prison gates by his ever-faithful wife; and the second lot of Reformers, sent to Pretoria the following morning, met with an experience which some of them have never since been able to speak of without turning white. By the hour of their arrival the whole country round about Pretoria knew of their coming, and a large and violent mob was gathered at the railroad station to receive them. Through some misadventure, an inadequate guard was detailed to march them to the gaol. The prisoners were set upon by the mob, reviled, stoned, and spat upon, the officers in charge trampling them under their horses' hoofs, in their vain and excited endeavours to protect them. The poor prisoners reached the jail in a full run, bruised and breathless, but thankful for the asylum the prison door afforded them from their merciless pursuers. They were quickly locked into cells. For many hours they had not tasted food. The first Reformers imprisoned slipped in to them a part of their own provisions, but as it was quickly and stealthily done one cell would receive the pannikin of meat, another the tin of potatoes, &c. The cells were in a filthy condition. As has been truly said, a Boer prison is not built for gentlemen. It was an unavoidable misfortune that this prison, which had up to this time housed only refractory Kaffirs, should by force of circumstance become the domicile for six long dreary months, and through a hot tropical summer, of gentlemen nurtured in every decency. Captain Mein told me that he stood the greater part of that first night rather than sit upon the filthy floor, but exhaustion at length conquered his repugnance. These were times which proved men's natures. It distilled the very essence of a man, and if anywhere in his make-up was the salt of selfishness, it was pretty sure to appear. Many who before had appreciated Charlie Butter's open hospitality, realised now that it was more than kindliness which prompted him to give up his last swallow of whisky to a man who was older or weaker than himself. And they tell me that my own good man's cheery spirits helped along many a fellow of more biliary temperament.
The four leaders were put into a cell 11 feet by 11 feet, which was closed in by an inner court. There was no window, only a narrow grille over the door. The floor was of earth and overrun by vermin. Of the four canvas cots two were blood-stained, and all hideously dirty. They were locked in at 6 o'clock—one of them ill with dysentery—and there they remained sweltering and gasping through the tropical night until six of the morning. For two weeks they remained in this cell. Meanwhile, I knew nothing of my husband's plight, being mercifully deceived by both him and our friends, every day Mr. Heath bringing to Parktown telegrams from my husband assuring me of his good treatment by the Government, and imploring me not to worry.
The Reform Committee consisted of seventy-eight members; sixty-four were arrested. One of this number subsequently committed suicide in a temporary fit of insanity caused by protracted anxiety and prison hardship.
The Committee was composed of men of many nationalities and various professions—lawyers, doctors, and, with only one or two exceptions, all the leading mining men on the Rand. The Young Men's Christian Association was well represented, and a Sunday-school Superintendent was one of the list.
I returned to my home, and was in the doctor's care, and attended by a professional nurse.
By my Journal I see how good was Mr. Seymour Fort and how faithful Mr. Manion, the American Consular Agent, during this time of trial. From the flat of my back I listened to and took into consideration many plans suggested for the liberation of my husband. One lady proposed getting up a petition, which she would take to England to the Queen. It was to be headed with my name, as wife of one of the leaders: Mrs. Lionel Phillips being in Europe, and Mrs. George Farrar at the Cape; Colonel Rhodes a bachelor. I had small hopes of the success of things which had to be sent to Court, or placed before Courts. The subject was dismissed.
Then there was another plan thought out by a very shrewd man, and brought to my bedside, 'news which concerns your husband' being a passport to any one. I was to go at once to Cape Town, see Mr. Cecil Rhodes, and demand one hundred thousand dollars from him.
'What for?' I asked.
'You see,' said the gentleman, 'your husband and those other men are going to be tried sure, and we need money to lobby Pretoria.'
I was stupid—it was my first Revolution—and I hadn't the least idea what lobbying Pretoria meant. My friend gave me a sketchy view of its meaning, and assured me it was usually done in grave cases.
'But it will kill me to leave my bed and start for Cape Town to-morrow,' I exclaimed.
My adviser delicately hinted that my husband's life was of more value than my own. On this point we agreed. I was to make Mr. Rhodes understand that we didn't want any more 'tom-fool military men up here to ball up the game.'
He was to give the money to me unconditionally, to be disbursed as my friend saw fit. We rehearsed the part several times; I was hopelessly dull!
'And now,' he questioned, 'if Rhodes refuses to give you the money, what will you do?'
I thought of Jael and Charlotte Corday, and all the other women who had to do with history, and said, 'I suppose I'll have to shoot him.'
My preceptor looked discouraged. We went over the part once again.
It is but fair to say that he had made every provision for my comfort. Attendants were ready, and at the right moment I have no doubt but that a neat pine coffin could have been produced. Reflection, however, showed me the inadvisability of this project; but I was happily spared the embarrassment of drawing back from promised compliance.
There was a higher power ruling. The next morning's papers announced the sailing of C.J. Rhodes for England.
The morning of January 10th, Johannesburg disarmed, and the Reformers in prison, the President of the Transvaal Republic issued a proclamation offering pardon to all who should lay down their arms, and declaring them to be exempt from prosecution on account of what had occurred at Johannesburg—'with the exception of all persons or bodies who may appear to be principal criminals, leaders, instigators, or perpetrators of the troubles at Johannesburg and suburbs. Such persons or bodies will justify themselves before the legal and competent Courts of this Republic'
The principal criminals, leaders, instigators, or perpetrators were the same to whom was tendered the olive-branch brought from Pretoria by Messrs. Malan and Marais, acting envoys by the unanimous vote of the Executive; and three of these same principal criminals, leaders, instigators, or perpetrators were received seven days since, as representatives of the Reform Committee, in a conciliatory spirit by the Government's Special Commission, and told that their demands would be earnestly considered. During the intervening seven days Dr. Jameson had been conquered at Doornkop and made a prisoner of the State. The Reform Committee, in obedience to Sir Jacobus de Wet's long and prolix solicitation, and the strong appeal of Sir Sydney Shippard, assuring them that Jameson's life was in imminent danger, and the Government had made Johannesburg's disarmament the one condition of his safety, laid down their arms to preserve the life of a man already protected by the terms of his own surrender. 'Placing themselves,' cables the High Commissioner to Mr. Chamberlain, 'and their interests unreservedly in my hands, in the fullest confidence that I will see justice done them.' The sixty-four Reformers were then promptly driven into jail, and their property placed under an interdict.
Six months later, the four principal leaders were tried and sentenced to be hanged by their necks until they were dead, by a judge brought from a neighbouring Republic, the Orange Free State, for that purpose.
[Footnote 3: This list was used as a roll-call a week later in the arrest of the Sixty-four members.]
[Footnote 4: Abbreviated term for South African police.]
[Footnote 5: The following cablegram will show that there were very substantial grounds for the rumour:—
'Sir Hercules Robinson (Pretoria) to Mr. Chamberlain.—8th January—No. 3. Since my telegram No. 1 of this morning matters have not been going so smoothly. When the Executive Council met I received a message that only 1,814 rifles and three Maxim guns had been surrendered, which the Government of the South African Republic did not consider a fulfilment of the ultimatum, and orders would be immediately issued to a Commando to attack Johannesburg. I at once replied that the ultimatum required the surrender of guns and ammunition for which no permit of importation had been obtained, and that onus rested with the Transvaal Government to show that guns and ammunition were concealed for which no permit had been issued. If before this was done any hostile step were taken against Johannesburg I should consider it a violation of the undertaking for which I had made myself personally responsible to the people of Johannesburg, and I should leave the issue in the hands of Her Majesty's Government ...']
SUNDAY, JANUARY 12.—Mr. and Mrs. Perkins called this morning to advise Betty's not going immediately to Pretoria, as was her intention. Mr. Perkins said that the Boer feeling was very bitter, and foreign women were insulted in the streets. Advocate Wessels has also written to me, insisting upon my waiting two or three days, as my presence in Pretoria could do no good, and might prejudice my husband's cause. A little trunk was packed and sent to my husband last night. I got out of bed to superintend, and felt tragically tender as I watched the things laid in. A fresh suit of clothes, some personal and bed linen, towels, shoes, family photographs, flea powder, ginger-snaps, beef essence, soap, my little down pillow, and his beloved and well-read Shakespeare. I was able to sit up for an hour this afternoon to receive Sir Sydney Shippard, Mr. Seymour Fort, and Mr. Manion.
Yesterday the Governor of Natal, Sir Walter Hely Hutchinson, started for Pretoria to confer with the High Commissioner in regard to the transport of Dr. Jameson and his men through Natal. They are to be handed over to the English Government.
Search parties of mounted Boers are going about looking for hidden guns. The Robinson Mine seems to be the spot most suspected.
Yesterday's 'Volksstem'—a Government organ—recalled to the minds of the Boers the Slachter Nek affair of eighty years ago—a story of Boers hung by Englishmen for their insistence in punishing a negro slave according to established custom. What a cruel sinister suggestion underlies this!
Keen resentment is felt here against the young German Emperor and his indiscreet message to Kruger. I never dreamed years ago, when I used to see him, a tall, slender-legged boy in Berlin, that in maturity I should have so strong a desire to chastise him. England has commissioned a Flying Squadron, and the forces at Cape Town are to be strongly augmented.
JANUARY 13.—Mr. Manion showed me to-day a cable from the United States Secretary of State, Mr. Olney. 'Take instant measures to protect John Hays Hammond, and see that he has fair play.' It brought such a feeling of confidence and comfort! All he wants is fair play, and I pray to God that he may be protected until he gets it.
Many business meetings had to be postponed to-day on account of the large number of influential men in jail. I hear from Mr. —— that on Thursday and Friday it was most difficult to keep the Boers from storming the town. President Kruger dissuaded them by promising each a new suit of clothes. These they have since been seen carrying, tied to the cantle of their saddles.
Feeling is strong and bitter against the leaders; they are held responsible for all the trouble brought about by the Jameson invasion.
Commandant Cronje's Burgher force paraded the street this morning—they are the men who captured Jameson. Jameson is the god of the hour, and Johannesburg resented the intrusion; but for the sake of their hero, still in the power of the Government, there was no indication of intolerance beyond a few audible sarcasms; remarks which were answered in kind by the Burghers.
Betty says they were an interesting-looking body of men; strong-framed, heavy-featured, with long unkempt hair and beards. They rode shaggy, moth-eaten-looking little ponies, each man with a bundle of hay bound to his saddle and a sausage in his wallet. Fathers among them as hale as the brawny sons by their sides. They looked capable of any amount of fatigue.
Numbers of stray dogs and cats attest the many deserted homes.
JANUARY 15.—Every train brings women and children, hobby-horses and canary birds back to their homes in Johannesburg. Betty has returned, accompanied by Mr. Seymour Port, from Pretoria. She gives a very spirited account of her visit. Through Mr. Sauer, one of the advocates retained by the Reformers, a visiting permit was obtained. She and Mr. Fort were obliged to wait several hours, in company with a crowd of wives, at the prison gates, under a broiling sun. All were loaded down with offerings.
Betty's own donation was several green-lined umbrellas (a god-send in a whitewashed court beat upon by a tropical sun). After being admitted each lady was taken into a private room and 'felt all over by a Boer woman,' who was so fat, Betty declares, 'she must have grown up in the room, as she could not possibly have got through the door, even sideways.'
In the prison court the prisoners were sitting about in great diversity of costume, pyjamas predominating. The weather was suffocatingly hot. To while away the tedious time some were playing marbles, others reading, and a few of the most active brains on the Rand were caught dozing at midday, in a strip of shadow the width of one's hand, the sole shade in the whole enclosure. Colonel Bettington sat on a bench near the entrance in a peculiar and striking costume which proved to be, to those who had courage to linger and analyse, pyjama drawers rolled to the knees, a crash towel draped with happy blending of coolness and perfect propriety around body, noble Bedouin arrangement of wet crash towel on head, single eyeglass in eye, merry smile. Mr. Lace was the only one of the company who could suddenly have been set down in Piccadilly without confusion to himself and beholders. He wore a neat brown suit, pale pink shirt, and a stylish straw sailor hat. The prisoners showed a touching interest, Betty says, in the distribution of their gifts. One husband asked his wife almost before she was within arm's length what she had brought him. She had brought him a box of Pasta Mack tabloids, and unfortunately there was not at that time a bath in the whole prison. Another gentleman was presented with a Cologne spray. He was the envy of the jail; within twenty-four hours every Cologne spray in Pretoria was bought up and in the possession of the Reform Committee.
The four leaders are kept apart. After much ceremony my husband was allowed to see his sister at the door of the inner court where they are housed. Jameson and his men are in a tiny cottage by themselves, and no communication whatever is allowed between the prisoners. Arrangements have been made with the authorities to allow food to be served to the Reformers from the Pretoria Club at the prisoners' expense. The head jailer, Du Plessis, is a cousin of Kruger's. A ponderous man with a wild beard, a blood-shot eye, and a heavy voice. He is said to have gone to the President several days after the arrest and said, 'Those men are not like us, they are gentlemen, and cannot stand such hardships.' $250,000,000 are estimated as being represented by the men within the four walls of the Pretoria jail.
President Kruger suggests the adjournment of the Volksraad. Every one feels this to be a wise move while party spirit runs so high. The Hollanders in the Transvaal are much more rabid against the Reformers than the Boers.
Mr. Chamberlain has cabled to the High Commissioner respecting the leaders in the recent rising. He points out that their imprisonment may disorganise the mining industry, and inquires as to what will be the likely penalties.
America has asked Great Britain to protect Americans arrested in Johannesburg. I hear that a Burgher, who saw some of the great iron pipes of the Waterworks Company being put in the ground, reached Pretoria in a state of intense excitement, exclaiming that he had seen 'miles of big guns at Johannesburg.'
Mr. Andrew Trimble, chief detective and head of the Uitlander police, quitted Johannesburg the night of the arrest with much precipitation; unfortunately, before indeed he had filed away his most important private papers. Following his hasty flight his office was carefully guarded by Zarps; no one was allowed to enter—'Oh yes, the Kaffir boy might go in to clean up.' A good friend of Mr. Trimble's, with stern aspect, instructed the boy to make a 'good job' of the room and burn all the papers strewn over the floor and desks. This was faithfully done by the unconscious negro, to the entire satisfaction of all save the Zarps in charge.
It is said Dr. Jameson entered the Transvaal with his despatch-box filled with important papers in cypher, and the cypher code with it. I cannot believe this of any man in his sound senses.
The High Commissioner left Pretoria by special train yesterday. This was the man who offered his service as Mediator and was accepted by both Uitlander and Boer. To placate the Boer he refrained from visiting Dr. Jameson and his men imprisoned at Pretoria, nor did he permit Sir Jacobus de Wet to visit them. He never acquainted himself with the terms of Dr. Jameson's surrender. He commanded Johannesburg to disarm to appease the Boer, and this being successfully accomplished through the self-control of the Reform Committee, he departed with his gout and other belongings, leaving the unarmed betrayed Reformers to shift for themselves. Was this being a Mediator?
[Footnote 6: This affair was the result of an interference by the English. It arose out of the ill-treatment of a negro slave. The Boers resisted arrest, there was a clash of arms, and four of the Boers were hanged.]
JANUARY 21.—The Burghers are disbanding and returning to their homes.
Trade is thoroughly unsettled, and business of every kind is in an unsatisfactory condition. Great disorder prevails in the town. Scarcely a night but there is some sort of disturbance between citizens and police; the latter are mostly raw German recruits.
Dr. Jameson and his officers left Pretoria yesterday. Dr. Jameson looked very downcast, and sat gazing stolidly before him until the train started. They were cheered at many places along the route. The United States Government has thanked Mr. Chamberlain for his offer to protect Americans in the Transvaal.
All travellers coming into the country must submit to a rigorous personal search for firearms at Vereeniging. In one case even the infant of the party was overhauled for guns and ammunition before being handed over to the loving father, who had come down to meet his little family.
LATER.—I came up to Pretoria this afternoon with Betty and the sick nurse. We were stopped at the station while the officials examined our handbags for cannon. This delay would have been irritating, but the men were so universally good-natured—little dull-witted, with no appreciation of fitness, but good-natured. We drove at once to the Grand Hotel, and I went to bed that I might look rested when I saw my husband on the morrow. Lady de Wet and Dr. Messum, the prison physician, called to tell me the four men had been moved into the Jameson Cottage, but I was asleep, and not allowed to be roused. There is comfort in being this much nearer to my poor prisoner. The hotel is full of Reformers' wives, and there is much excitement and coming and going. We are warned to be cautious in what we say in public places, because of spies. Every woman has a nervous look on her face, and some of them shut the windows and doors before uttering even the most commonplace remarks.
Pretoria lies in a shallow basin in the heart of the hills—a fitting home for the Sleeping Princess. It is hushed and drowsy and overrun by a tangle of roses. Weeping willows edge the streets, which are wide and as neglected as a country road. Open gutters carry off, or rather contain, the sewage of the town. Its altitude is lower than that of Johannesburg, and the climate very relaxing. Every month or couple of months the town is full of stir and life. The Boers trek in from neighbouring farms with their long span of oxen, as many as eighteen and twenty being yoked to a wagon. They buy and sell, and partake of the Nacht Maal, or sacrament, laagered around the Dopper Church; and with their dogs, Kaffirs, and oxen make of that square a most unsavoury spot.
JANUARY 24.—I have been several times to the prison, and have seen my husband. He looks thin, but his face is much rested. He was greatly distressed on my first visit at the change in my appearance, which I declared was most ungrateful, as I had put on my best clothes for the occasion. His mouth showed a tendency to grow square at the corners; I had seen his children's do the same a thousand times in our nursery, and I turned away to conceal my emotion.
The leaders are still kept apart from the other Reformers, a chalked line showing the margin of their liberty. They are fairly comfortable in the Jameson Cottage. It contains two tiny rooms; in one all four sleep, and the other is used for a sitting-room. These are kept very clean and bright. Mr. Farrar is housekeeper, and 'tidies up' with such vigour that his three comrades threaten to give up their lodgings and decamp.
'Hang it all,' says Mr. Phillips, 'we never sit down to a meal that George does not begin to sweep the floor'; 'And he takes our cups away and begins washing them before we've finished our coffee,' complains the Colonel. Mr. Farrar reproaches me for my husband's want of order. He says I have not trained him at all, which is quite the truth. Each man has his chief treasures on a little shelf above his bed. The three husbands have photographs of wife and children; Colonel Rhodes, the bachelor, a sponge-bag and pin-cushion. Every day I find a short list of things which they want got for them. It is many a long year since they had such simple desires: bed-sheets and pillow-cases, a shade for their window, Dutch dictionary, and lead pencils.
JANUARY 25.—The Reformers, with the exceptions of Messrs. Lionel Phillips, George Farrar, Colonel Rhodes, John Hays Hammond, and Percy Fitzpatrick, are released to-day on bail of ten thousand dollars each. They are not permitted to leave Pretoria however.
JANUARY 27.—Dr. Jameson has sailed on the 'Victoria' for England. The Governor of Natal was hooted at Volksrust for congratulating President Kruger on his defeat of Jameson.
We are again in Pretoria. I have asked for an interview with the President.
* * * * *
My First Prison Pass
BEWIJS VAN TOEGANG
Aan den Cipier van de Gevangenis te Pretoria.
Verlof wordt verliend aan Mrs. Hammond en Miss Hammond en Lady de Wet
Om den gevangene genaamd Hammond, Phillips, Rhodes en Farrar te bezoeken in Uwe tegenwoordigheid.
Sir James Sivewright said, as I left my rooms for the President's house, 'I am glad that you are going. You will find a man with a rough appearance but a kind heart.' Mr. Sammy Marx accompanied me.
The home of the President of the South African Republic is an unpretentious dwelling, built of wood and on one floor. There is a little piazza running across the front, upon which he is frequently seen sitting, smoking his pipe of strong Boer tobacco, with a couple of his trusted burghers beside him. Two armed sentinels stood at the latch gate. I hurried through the entrance. A negro nurse was scurrying across the hall with a plump baby in her arms. A young man with a pleasant face met me at the sitting-room door and invited me to enter. It was an old-fashioned parlour, furnished with black horse-hair, glass globes, and artificial flowers. A marble-topped centre table supported bulky volumes bound in pressed leather with large gilt titles. There were several men already in the room, Boers. Those nearest the door I saw regard me with a scowl. I was a woman from the enemy's camp. At the further end of the long room sat a large sallow-skinned man with long grizzled hair swept abruptly up from his forehead. His eyes, which were keen, were partly obscured by heavy swollen lids. The nose was massive, but not handsome. The thin-lipped mouth was large and flexible, and showed both sweetness and firmness. A fine mouth! He wore a beard. It was President Kruger. He was filling his pipe from a moleskin pouch, and I noticed that his broad stooping shoulders ended in arms abnormally long. We shook hands, and he continued to fill and light his pipe. Mr. Grobler, the pleasant-faced young man, grandson and Secretary to the President, observing that I was trembling with fatigue and suppressed excitement, offered me a chair. We sat opposite each other, the President in the middle. I spoke slowly, Mr. Grobler interpreting. This was hardly necessary, President Kruger answering much that I said before it was interpreted. I could understand him perfectly from my familiarity with German and especially Platt-Deutsch.
I explained that I had not come to talk politics. 'No, no politics,' interrupted the President in a thick loud voice. Nor had I come to ask favour for my husband, as I felt assured that the honesty of his motives would speak for themselves at the day of his trial; but I had come as a woman and daughter of a Republic to ask him to continue the clemency which he had thus far shown, and to thank Mrs. Kruger for the tears which she had shed when Johannesburg was in peril.
President Kruger relaxed a little. 'That is true, she did weep.' He fixed me with his shrewd glance. 'Where were you?' he asked abruptly.
'I was in Johannesburg with my husband.'
'Were you not afraid?'
'Yes, those days have robbed me of my youth.'
'What did you think I was going to do?'
'I hoped that you would come to an understanding with the Reformers.'
His face darkened.
'I was disappointed that the Americans went against me,' he said.
Mr. Sammy Marx rose and left the room. I was seized with one of those sudden and unaccountable panics, and from sheer embarrassment—my mood was far too tragic to admit of flippancy—blurted out, 'You must come to America, Mr. President, as soon as all this trouble is settled, and see how we manage matters.'
Kruger's face lighted up with interest. 'I am too old to go so far.'
'No man is older than his brain, Mr. President'; and Kruger, who knew that in all the trouble he had shown the mental vigour of a man in his prime, accepted my praise with a hearty laugh. This was joined in by the Boers from the other end of the room.
Mrs. Kruger refused to see me, and I liked her none the less for her honest prejudice. I stood to go. President Kruger rose, removed the pipe from between his teeth, and, coughing violently, gave me his hand.
Mr. Grobler escorted me to the gate. 'Mrs. Hammond, I shall be glad to serve you in any way possible to me,' he said with courtesy.
'Then will you say to Mrs. Kruger that I am praying to the same God that peace may come?'
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 3.—The preliminary trial of the Reform Committee prisoners was called this morning. The hearing was in the second Raadzaal. Although the accommodation for the public was limited there was a large crowd of Johannesburgers present.
Shortly before ten o'clock an armed escort marched up to the jail for Messrs. Hammond, Phillips, Farrar, Fitz-Patrick, and Rhodes. The other Reformers stood in a bunch at the entrance of the hall. All the principal Government officials were present. Sir Jacobus de Wet appeared, accompanied by Mr. J. Rose Innes, Q.C., who had come from the Cape to watch the case on behalf of the Imperial Government.
Punctually at ten the State Attorney, Coster, took his seat, and, beginning with my husband's name, called the accused into Court.
The sixty-four prisoners were assigned to rows of cane-bottomed chairs in the north-west corner of the building. The proceedings were in Dutch, and continued throughout the day. With the exception of a few, none of the Reformers understood Dutch. The hall was without ventilation, and overcrowded, and sixty-four more bored and disconsolate-looking men, I believe, were never brought together. Some of them fanned vigorously with their hats, others gave themselves up to circumstance and sank into apathy. On the second day, profiting by experience, fans and paper-backed novels were brought into the Court room by the arraigned.
When the Reformers filed in I noticed my husband was not amongst them. Captain Mein caught my eye and beckoned me to come down from the ladies' gallery. I hurried to him in some alarm. He told me that my husband was not well, and handed me a permit which Advocate Sauer had procured for me. I went at once to the prison, and found my husband with acute symptoms of dysentery, a feeble pulse, and a heart which murmured when it beat.
'Jack,' I said, 'I am going to dig you out of this jail!'
He looked incredulous, and said despondently, 'I'd rather stay here than go to the prison hospital.'
'I'm not thinking of the prison hospital,' simply to reassure him, and with absolutely no plan of procedure in mind I smiled wisely.
On my way back to the hotel I was perplexed and uncertain which end to try first—the American Government or the Government of the Transvaal. I decided upon the latter, and, assisted by Advocate Scholtz, set to work with such good effect that by the end of the day I had received permission to remove my invalid into a private house and personally attend him. Captain Mein cabled to Mr. David Benjamin, who was in England, for the use of his cottage. An answer returned within a few hours, granting us cordial possession.
I was told that we should be kept under strict guard and that an officer would be lodged in the house with us. Colonel Bettington advised me to ask the Government that this officer might be Lieutenant de Korte, who was a gentleman, and a man of kindly instincts. This I did, and again my wishes were generously considered. My first act in the cottage home was to cable the United States Secretary of State of my privilege; Betty and my faithful housemaid, Parker, were allowed to be with us.
Thirteen men were stationed on guard around the tiny flower-covered cottage. No letters or telegrams were allowed to be sent or received without first being read by Lieutenant de Korte; visitors were obliged to obtain permits to see us, and many were the times I saw my best friends hang disconsolate faces over the garden gate, because the prescribed number of passes had already been distributed.
The ladies of the house were allowed to go out twice in the week. I never accepted this freedom. Betty did once, and returning after hours was refused entrance by the sentinel. Fortunately Mr. de Korte came to the rescue. Another time, in consequence of a change of guard, he himself was obliged to show his papers before being allowed to leave the premises. Lieutenant de Korte was excessively strict, as was his duty to the Government, but throughout the two weeks we were under his care he proved himself entirely worthy of Colonel Bettington's praise, 'A gentleman and a man of kindly instincts!' One piece of kindness I particularly appreciated. He never wore his uniform in the house. When he sat down to table it was in the usual evening dress of a man of the world, and our conversation was always on pleasant subjects. We never forgot, however, that we were prisoners. My husband and I slept like Royalty in the throne-room, with all the Court assembled. One guard sat at our bedroom door, gun in hand, and two others on the verandah just outside the low window. I could hear their breathing throughout the night. My husband and I could never exchange a private word; sometimes I would write a message which was hurriedly burnt in the bedroom candle. The day we moved into the cottage I saw a rose in the garden which I thought would please and refresh my patient. I stepped over the threshold to find my nose in conjunction with the highly-polished barrel of an unfriendly rifle. There was no necessity for me to understand the guttural speech of the guard, to appreciate that he desired me to return into the house at once. I did so. Efforts to induce Mr. Hammond to take a little exercise in the garden I soon gave over. After a few steps (a guard only two feet behind him) he would be utterly exhausted, and would almost faint away on reaching his chair again. Under these petty irritations my husband showed an angelic patience and fortitude that alarmed me. It was so unlike his normal self. I longed to hear him cuss a cosy swear; it would have braced us both. But he was gentle, and appreciative of little kindnesses; so, to keep from weakening tears, I took to swearing myself.
Pretoria was like a steam bath. Frequent thunderstorms were followed by a blazing sun. Vegetation grew inches in a day, and emitted a rank smell. People were sallow and languid, and went about with yellow-white lips. My husband was losing strength perceptibly.
I called upon Dr. Messum, and begged that he would summon Dr. Murray, our family physician, from Johannesburg, in consultation. He preferred a Hollander. I would have none of them! We haggled, and he gave in. Dr. Murray came to Pretoria. He was very grave when he came out of my husband's sick room. His report to the Government gained the allowance of a daily drive, but even for this slight exertion the sick man was soon too feeble. I wanted to take him to the bracing heights of Johannesburg, but lawyers and physicians advised me not to make this request. Johannesburg was still a red rag to the Government, and I would be sure to meet with a rebuff. Notwithstanding, I went one night at eleven o'clock, escorted by Lieutenant de Korte, carrying a glimmering lantern, to interview Dr. Schaagen van Leuwen, and laid the case before him.
My husband would surely die if kept in Pretoria; the Government physician who had been attending him could attest the truth of my statement. I begged to be allowed to take him to his home in Johannesburg, under whatever restrictions or guard the Government might choose to impose. Johannesburg was my desire, and I positively refused to accept any alternative. Dr. Schaagen van Leuwen was very kind, and promised to do all he could to help me, and he gave me good reason to hope that my request would be considered.
In the morning I went again to visit Dr. Messum, this time with Mr. Percy Farrar. I urged him to send in his report of my husband's case at once, as he seemed inclined to let the matter drift. Mr. Farrar and I also drew his attention to the condition of the Jameson Cottage. The walls were covered with mildew from the recent rains and the floor damp with seepage water. Mr. Phillips was suffering from lumbago, and Mr. Fitzpatrick with acute neuralgia.
Next day we were pleasantly surprised by a call at the cottage from Messrs. Phillips, Farrar, and Colonel Rhodes, liberated under the same conditions as was my husband—a bail of 50,000 dollars and a heavy guard. They were then on their way to a cottage at Sunnyside. Mrs. Farrar and I hugged each other with joy, and were quite ready to do the same to the lawyers who had been so successful in attaining this end. When I learned a little later that consent had been given for Mr. Hammond to be taken to Johannesburg my measure of happiness seemed indeed complete.
With all speed Parker and I tied up our belongings. Lieutenant de Korte, with nine guards, was to attend us as far as Johannesburg. A bed was made for the sick man on one of the seats, and frequent stimulants helped him bear the journey. The thought of going home did as much as the cordials to stay his strength, I shall always believe. A number of gentlemen of my husband's staff were at the station to meet us. Mr. Catlin's kind face I could see above all the others, and dear Pope Yeatman's. Before we could exchange greetings we were whisked off into our carriage by the officer whose duty it was to take us in charge. A soldier hopped up on the box, and another planted himself on the seat opposite to us—to my inconvenience, and Parker's intense indignation. Our home was alight. There was a good dinner on the table, and my husband, with his natural hospitality, invited the officer to share it with us. I think I should have shot him if he had accepted—but he did not accept.
There had been a fearful dynamite explosion at Fordsburg, a suburb of Johannesburg, late in the afternoon, and he was busied with bringing in the wounded. Very politely he asked me to take him through the house. This I did, grimly remarking, as I pointed to the window in my dressing-room, 'That is the one he will escape by when we have made up our minds to run.' This cheap wit cost me weeks of inconvenience, for the literal Hollander took me at my word, and posted a guard directly opposite this window. Being a Vrywilliger and a gentleman, this poor man suffered as sharply from his position as did I. That night two armed men stood at our chamber door. One was stationed at each of our bedroom windows. Another guarded the house entrance, and the remainder of the guard were dispersed around the yard. Their guns were loaded, and a bandolier of cartridges crossed their breasts. All this to restrain a poor, broken man, who could not walk a dozen yards!
[Footnote 7: A volunteer.]
ASH WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 19.—The dynamite explosion was something terrific. Fifty-five tons exploded at one time, wounding 700 people, killing 80, and leaving 1,500 homeless. It ripped a chasm in the earth deep enough to hold an Atlantic steamer with all her rigging. The Kaffirs thought the sun had burst. Betty says the noise of the report was something awful. Little Jacky was digging in the garden at the time. He returned to the house at once with a very troubled face. The coachman coming from town an hour later told of the dreadful catastrophe. Jacky took his aunt aside: 'Aunt Bet, I heard that great big noise when I was diggin' and I thought I had dug up hell.'