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South African Memories - Social, Warlike & Sporting From Diaries Written At The Time
by Lady Sarah Wilson
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SOUTH AFRICAN MEMORIES

SOCIAL, WARLIKE & SPORTING

FROM DIARIES WRITTEN AT THE TIME

BY

LADY SARAH WILSON

LONDON EDWARD ARNOLD 1909



DEDICATION

TO THE MEMORY OF MY BELOVED SISTER, GEORGIANA, COUNTESS HOWE, TO WHOSE EFFORTS AND UNCEASING LABOURS IN CONNECTION WITH THE YEOMANRY HOSPITALS, DURING THE WAR IN SOUTH AFRICA, THE EARLY BREAKDOWN OF HER HEALTH, AND SUBSEQUENT DEATH, WERE UNDOUBTEDLY DUE, THIS BOOK, CONTAINING RECOLLECTIONS OF THAT GREAT AND MYSTERIOUS LAND, THE GRAVE OF SO MANY BRAVE ENGLISHMEN, IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED



PREFACE

Everything of interest that has happened to me in life chances to have been in connection with South Africa. In that land, where some of my happiest days have been spent, I have also experienced long periods of intense excitement and anxiety; there I have made acquaintance with all the charm of the veldt, in the vast country north of the great Zambesi River, hearing the roar of the lions at night, and following their "spoor" by day; and last, but not least, I have there made some very good friends. Only a few years ago, when peacefully spending a few weeks at Assouan in Egypt, I was nearly drowned by the capsizing of a boat in the Nile; again the spirit of the vast continent (on this occasion far away to the north) seemed to watch over me. For all these reasons I venture to claim the indulgence of the public and the kindness of my friends, for these recollections of days in South Africa, in which shade and sunshine have been strangely mingled, and which to me have never been dull. To sum up, I have always found that life is what you make it, and have often proved the truth of the saying, "Adventures to the adventurous."

I am indebted to Colonel Vyvyan for statistics respecting the Mafeking Relief Fund; and to Miss A. Fielding, secretary to the late Countess Howe, for a resume of the work of the Yeomanry Hospital during the Boer War.

S.I.W.

THE STUD HOUSE, HAMPTON COURT. September, 1909.



CONTENTS

I. FIRST VOYAGE TO SOUTH AFRICA—CAPE TOWN

II. KIMBERLEY AND THE JAMESON RAID

III. THE IMMEDIATE RESULTS OF THE RAID—THE RAIDERS THEMSELVES

IV. JOHANNESBURG AND PRETORIA IN 1896

V. THREE YEARS AFTER—LORD MILNER AT CAPE TOWN BEFORE THE WAR—MR. CECIL RHODES AT GROOT SCHUURR—OTHER INTERESTING PERSONAGES

VI. PREPARATIONS FOR WAR—MAFEKING, AND DEPARTURE THEREFROM

VII. IN A REBELLIOUS COLONY—VISIT TO VRYBURG DURING THE BOER OCCUPATION—I PASS OFF AS A DUTCHMAN'S SISTER

VIII. BETRAYED BY A PIGEON—THE BOERS COME AT LAST

IX. HOW I WAS MADE A PRISONER—IN A BOER LAAGER

X. EXCHANGED FOR A HORSE-THIEF—BACK TO MAFEKING AFTER TWO MONTHS' WANDERINGS

XI. LIFE IN A BESIEGED TOWN

XII. LIFE IN A BESIEGED TOWN (continued)

XIII. ELOFF'S DETERMINED ATTACK ON MAFEKING, AND THE RELIEF OF THE TOWN

XIV. ACROSS THE TRANSVAAL TO PRETORIA DURING THE WAR

XV. PRETORIA AND JOHANNESBURG UNDER LORD ROBERTS AND MILITARY LAW

XVI. MY RETURN TO CIVILIZATION ONCE MORE—THE MAFEKING FUND—LETTERS FROM THE KING AND QUEEN

XVII. THE WORK OF LADY GEORGIANA CURZON, LADY CHESHAM, AND THE YEOMANRY HOSPITAL, DURING THE WAR—THIRD VOYAGE TO THE CAPE, 1902

XVIII. FOURTH VOYAGE TO THE CAPE—THE VICTORIA FALLS AND SIX WEEKS NORTH OF THE ZAMBESI

APPENDIX I. MAFEKING RELIEF FUND

APPENDIX II. IMPERIAL YEOMANRY HOSPITALS, 1900-1902



CHAPTER I

FIRST VOYAGE TO SOUTH AFRICA—CAPE TOWN.

"Oh that mine adversary had written a book!"—JOB xxxi. 35.

The above words, written by one of the greatest philosophers of olden time, have often impressed me, and I have frequently quoted them when asked why I did not write an account of the interesting travels and adventures I have had in my life. It has therefore required a great deal of courage to take up my pen and record a few recollections of South Africa. I felt that, were they ever to be written at all, it must be before the rapidly passing years diminish the interest in that land, which in the past has been the object of such engrossing attention; and that at the present time, when the impending Federation of South Africa has at length crowned the hopes of those patriots who have laboured patiently and hopefully to bring about this great result, it might be appropriate to recall those days when Englishmen, who had made South Africa their home, had much to contend with, even before the fierce struggle to keep "the flag flying" in the years of 1899-1902.

During that period, which commenced after the disaster at Majuba Hill, "equal rights" were a golden dream which only the most optimistic ever hoped to see realized. From then onwards, as old colonists have so often told me, the Boers brought up the younger generation in the belief that the "Roinek"[1] was a coward, and in consequence their arrogance in the country districts became wellnigh intolerable, while at the Cape the Bond party grew so strong it bid fair to elbow out the English altogether. Now, while the country is still young, the fair prospect opens out of Briton and Boer living in amity and peace together, and mutually supplying, in the government of their vast inheritance, such elements as are wanting in the character of each.

My first visit to South Africa was a short one, and took place at the end of 1895. During the foregoing summer everyone's attention had been directed to the Transvaal, and more especially towards the Rand, by reason of the unprecedented and, as it turned out, totally unwarranted rise in the gold-mining shares of that district; in this boom, people both at home and in Johannesburg madly gambled, and large fortunes were quickly made by those who had foresight enough not to hold on too long. For already the political horizon was darkening, and the wrongs of the "Uitlanders," real and apparent as they were, became a parrot-cry, which waxed and waned, but never died away, till the ultimatum of President Kruger, in October, 1899, brought matters to a climax.

We sailed from Southampton in December, 1895, in the Tantallon Castle, then one of the most modern and up-to-date of the Castle liners. The ship was crowded to its utmost capacity, and among the passengers, as I afterwards learned, were many deeply concerned in the plotting which was known to be going on at Johannesburg, either to extort concessions from President Kruger, or, failing this, to remove him altogether. I knew very little about all this then, but before I had been many days on board it was not difficult to discover that much mystery filled the air, and I was greatly excited at arriving in South Africa in such stirring times. There is no such place for getting to know people well as on a sea-voyage of eighteen days. Somehow the sea inspires confidence, and one knows that information imparted cannot, anyway, be posted off by the same day's mail. So those who were helping to pull the strings of this ill-fated rebellion talked pretty freely of their hopes and fears during the long, dark tropical evenings.

I became familiar with their grievances—their unfair taxation; no education for their children except in Dutch; no representation in Parliament—and this in a population in which, at that time, the English and Afrikanders at Johannesburg and in the surrounding districts outnumbered the Dutch in the proportion of about 6 to 1. They laid stress on the fact that neither the Boers nor their children were, or desired to become, miners, and, further, that for the enormous sums spent on developing and working the mines no proper security existed. I must admit it was the fiery-headed followers who talked the loudest—those who had nothing to lose and much to gain. The financiers, while directing and encouraging their zeal, seemed almost with the same hand to wish to put on the brake and damp their martial ardour. In any case, all were so eloquent that by the time our voyage was ended I felt as great a rebel against "Oom Paul" and his Government as any one of them.

Before leaving the Tantallon Castle, however, I must pass in review some of those whose home it had been with ourselves for the best part of three weeks. First I remember the late Mr. Alfred Beit, interesting as the man who had made the most colossal fortune of all the South African magnates, and who was then already said to be the most generous of philanthropists and the kindest of friends; this reputation he fully sustained in the subsequent years of his life and in the generous disposition of his vast wealth. I have often been told that Mr. Cecil Rhodes owed the inspiration of some of his colossal ideas to his friend Mr. Beit, and when it came to financing the same, the latter was always ready to assist in carrying out projects to extend and consolidate the Empire. In these latter years, and since his comparatively early death, I have heard those who still bear the brunt of the battle lament his loss, and remark, when a railway was to be built or a new part of the country opened up, how much more expeditiously it would be done were Mr. Beit still alive.

Other names that occur to me are Mr. Abe Bailey, well known in racing circles to-day, and then reputed a millionaire, the foundation of whose fortune consisted in a ten-pound note borrowed from a friend. Mr. Wools Sampson,[2] who subsequently so greatly distinguished himself at Ladysmith, where he was dangerously wounded, had an individuality all his own; he had seen every side of life as a soldier of fortune, attached to different regiments, during all the fighting in South Africa of the preceding years. He was then a mining expert, associated with Mr. Bailey in Lydenburg, but his heart evidently lay in fighting and in pursuing the different kinds of wild animals that make their home on the African veldt. Dr. Rutherford Harris, then the Secretary of the Chartered Company; Mr. Henry Milner, an old friend; Mr. Geoffrey Glyn and Mr. F. Guest, are others whom I specially remember; besides many more, some of whom have joined the vast majority, and others whom I have altogether lost sight of, but who helped to make the voyage a very pleasant one.

We landed at Cape Town shortly before Christmas Day. As I have since learnt by the experience of many voyages, it is nearly always at dawn that a liner is brought alongside the quay at the conclusion of a long voyage; in consequence, sleep is almost out of the question the last night at sea, owing to the noisy manipulations of the mail-bags and luggage. However, one is always so glad to get on shore that it is of very little import, and on this occasion we were all anxious to glean the latest news after being cut off from the world for so many days. The papers contained gloomy accounts of the markets. "King Slump" still held his sway, and things abroad looked very unsettled; so most of our friends appeared, when we met later, with very long faces. After breakfast, leaving our luggage to the tender mercies of some officious agent, who professed to see it "through the Customs," we took a hansom and drove to the Grand Hotel, en route to the hotel, in the suburb of Newlands, where we had taken rooms. My first impressions of Cape Town certainly were not prepossessing, and well I remember them, even after all these years. The dust was blowing in clouds, stirred up by the "south-easter" one hears so much about—an icy blast which appears to come straight from the South Pole, and which often makes its appearance in the height of summer, which season it then was. The hansom, of the oldest-fashioned type, shook and jolted beyond belief, and threatened every moment to fall to pieces. The streets from the docks to the town were unfinished, untidy, and vilely paved, and I remember comparing them very unfavourably with Melbourne or Sydney. However, I soon modified my somewhat hasty judgment. We had seen the town's worst aspects, and later I noticed some attractive-looking shops; the imposing Houses of Parliament, in their enclosed grounds, standing out sharply defined against the hazy background of Table Mountain; and the Standard Bank and Railway-station, which would hold their own in any city. At the same time, as a place of residence in the summer months, I can well understand Cape Town being wellnigh deserted. Those who can boast of even the most moderate means have their residences in the attractive suburbs of Rondebosch, Newlands, or Wynberg, and innumerable are the pretty little villas and gardens one sees in these vicinities. There the country is beautifully wooded, thick arching avenues of oak extending for miles, interspersed with tracts of Scotch firs and pines, the latter exhaling a delicious perfume under the sun's powerful rays. Everywhere green foliage and abundant vegetation, which, combined with the setting of the bluest sky that can be imagined, make the drives round Cape Town some of the most beautiful in the world. At Newlands, the Governor's summer residence, a pretty but unpretentious abode, Sir Hercules and Lady Robinson then dispensed generous hospitality, only regretting their house was too small to accommodate visitors, besides their married daughters. We stayed at the Vineyard Hotel in the immediate neighbourhood—a funny old-fashioned hostelry, standing in its own grounds, and not in the least like an hotel as we understand the word. There whole families seemed to reside for months, and very comfortable it was, if somewhat primitive, appearing to keep itself far apart from the rush of modern improvements, and allowing the world to go by it unheeded. Only half a mile away, at Rondebosch, was situated then, as now, on the lower slopes of Table Mountain, the princely domain of the late Mr. Cecil Rhodes. At the moment of which I write the house itself was only approaching completion, and I must now record a few particulars of our introduction to this great Englishman and his world-famed home. We drove to Groot Schuurr, or "Great Barn," one afternoon with Mr. Beit. The house is approached by a long avenue of enormously high Scotch firs, which almost meet aloft, and remind one of the nave of some mighty cathedral, such is the subdued effect produced by the sunlight even on the brightest summer day. A slight rise in the road, a serpentine sweep, and the house itself comes into view, white, low, and rambling, with many gables and a thatched roof. The right wing was then hidden by scaffolding, and workmen were also busy putting in a new front-door, of which more anon; for a tall, burly gentleman in a homely costume of flannels and a slouch hat emerged from the unfinished room, where he would seem to have been directing the workmen, and we were introduced to Cecil John Rhodes, the Prime Minister of Cape Colony.

I looked at the man, of whom I had heard so much, with a great deal of curiosity. Shy and diffident with strangers, his manner even somewhat abrupt, one could not fail to be impressed with the expression of power, resolution, and kindness, on the rugged countenance, and with the keen, piercing glance of the blue eyes, which seemed to read one through in an instant. He greeted us, as he did every newcomer, most warmly, and under his guidance we passed into the completed portion of the house, the rooms of which were not only most comfortable, but also perfect in every detail as regards the model he wished to copy—viz., a Dutch house of 200 years ago, even down to the massive door aforementioned, which he had just purchased for L200 from a colonial family mansion, and which seemed to afford him immense pleasure. As a first fleeting memory of the interior of Groot Schuurr, I call to mind Dutch armoires, all incontestably old and of lovely designs, Dutch chests, inlaid high-backed chairs, costly Oriental rugs, and everywhere teak panelling—the whole producing a vision of perfect taste and old-world repose. It was then Mr. Rhodes's intention to have no electric light, or even lamps, and burn nothing but tallow candles, so as to keep up the illusion of antiquity; but whether he would have adhered to this determination it is impossible to say, as the house we saw was burnt to the ground later on, and is now rebuilt on exactly the same lines, but with electric light, every modern comfort, and lovely old red tiles to replace the quaint thatched roof.

Passing through the rooms, we came to the wide verandah, or stoep, on the other or eastern side. This ran the whole length of the edifice, and was used as a delightful lounge, being provided with luxurious settees and armchairs. From here Mr. Rhodes pointed out the view he loved so well, and which comes vividly to my mind to-day. In front three terraces rise immediately beyond the gravel courtyard, which is enclosed on three sides by the stoep. These, bright with flowers, lead to a great grass plateau, on which some more splendid specimens of Scotch firs rear their lofty heads; while behind, covered with trees and vegetation, its brilliant green veiled by misty heat, Table Mountain forms a glorious background, in striking contrast to the cobalt of the heavens. To the right of the terraces is a glade, entirely covered with vivid blue hydrangeas in full bloom, giving the appearance of a tract of azure ground. Lower down the hillside, in little valleys, amidst oak and other English forest trees, a carpet is formed of cannas of many hues, interspersed with masses of gleaming white arum lilies, which grow here wild in very great profusion.

Our time was too short on this occasion to see any portion of Mr. Rhodes's estate or the animals—antelope of many kinds, wildebeestes, elands, and zebras—which roamed through his woods. We lunched with him two days later on Christmas Eve, and then the weather was so hot that we only lazily enjoyed the shade and breezes on the stoep. Well do I remember on that occasion how preoccupied was our host, and how incessantly the talk turned to Johannesburg and the raging discontent there. In truth, Mr. Rhodes's position was then a very difficult one: he was Prime Minister of Cape Colony, and therefore officially neutral; but in his heart he remained the keen champion of the oppressed Uitlanders, having nominated his brother, Frank Rhodes, to be one of the leaders of the Reform Committee at Johannesburg. No wonder he was graver than was his wont, with many complications overshadowing him, as one afterwards so fully realized. His kindness as a host, however, suffered no diminution, and I remember how warmly he pressed us to stay with him when we returned from the north, though he did add, "My plans are a little unsettled." This suggested visit, however, was never paid; Mr. Rhodes a few weeks afterwards was starting for England, to, as he termed it, "face the music." I shall have occasion to describe him in his home, and the life at Groot Schuurr, more fully later on, when I passed many happy and never-to-be-forgotten weeks beneath his hospitable roof. As years went on, his kindness to both friends and political foes grew almost proverbial, but even in 1895 Groot Schuurr, barely finished, was already known to be one of the pleasantest places near Cape Town—a meeting-place for all the men of the colony either on their way to and from England, or on the occasion of their flying visits to the capital.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Red neck, or Englishman.

[2] Now Sir A. Wools Sampson, K.C.B.



CHAPTER II

KIMBERLEY AND THE JAMESON RAID

"Ex Africa semper aliquid novi."

In the last week of the old year we started on our journey to Kimberley, then a matter of thirty-six hours. The whole of one day we dawdled over the Great Karroo in pelting rain and mist, which reminded one of Scotland. This sandy desert was at that season covered with brown scrub, for it was yet too early for the rains to have made it green, and the only signs of life were a few ostriches, wild white goats, and, very rarely, a waggon piled with wood, drawn along the sandy road by ten or twelve donkeys. As to vegetation, there were huge clumps of mimosa-bushes, just shedding their yellow blossoms, through which the branches showed up with their long white thorns, giving them a weird and withered appearance. It must indeed have required great courage on behalf of the old Voor-trekker Boers, when they and their families left Cape Colony, at the time of the Great Trek, in long lines of white-tented waggons, to have penetrated through that dreary-waste in search of the promised land, of green veldt and running streams, which they had heard of, as lying away to the north, and eventually found in the Transvaal. I have been told that President Kruger was on this historical trek, a Voor-looper, or little boy who guides the leading oxen.

Round Kimberley the country presented a very different appearance, and here we saw the real veldt covered with short grass, just beginning to get burnt up by the summer's heat. Our host, Mr. J. B. Currey, a name well known in Diamond-Field circles, met us at the station. This is a good old South African custom, and always seems to me to be the acme of welcoming hospitality, and the climax to the kindness of inviting people to stay, merely on the recommendation of friends—quite a common occurrence in the colonies, and one which, I think, is never sufficiently appreciated, the entertainers themselves thinking it so natural a proceeding.

Kimberley itself and the diamond industry have both been so often and so well described that I shall beware of saying much of either, and I will only note a few things I remarked about this town, once humming with speculation, business, and movement, but now the essence of a sleepy respectability and visible prosperity. For the uninitiated it is better to state that the cause of this change was the gradual amalgamation of the diamond-mines and conflicting interests, which was absolutely necessary to limit the output of diamonds. As a result the stranger soon perceives that the whole community revolves on one axis, and is centred, so to speak, in one authority. "De Beers" is the moving spirit, the generous employer, and the universal benefactor. At that time there were 7,000 men employed in the mines, white and black, the skilled mechanics receiving as much as L6 a week. Evidence of the generosity of this company was seen in the model village built for the white workmen; in the orchard containing 7,000 fruit-trees, then one of Mr. Rhodes's favourite hobbies; and in the stud-farm for improving the breed of horses in South Africa. If I asked the profession of any of the smart young men who frequented the house where we were staying, for games of croquet, it amused me always to receive the same answer, "He is something in De Beers." The town itself boasts of many commodious public buildings, a great number of churches of all denominations, an excellent and well-known club; but whatever the edifice, the roofing is always corrugated iron, imported, I was told, from Wolverhampton. This roofing, indeed, prevails over the whole of new South Africa; and although it appears a very unsuitable protection from the burning rays of the African sun, no doubt its comparative cheapness and the quickness of its erection are the reasons why this style was introduced, and has been adhered to. By dint of superhuman efforts, in spite of locust-plagues, drought, and heavy thunderstorms, the inhabitants have contrived to surround their little one-storied villas with gardens bright with flowers, many creepers of vivid hues covering all the trellis-work of the verandahs.

The interest of Kimberley, however, soon paled and waned as the all-engrossing events of the Uitlander rebellion in Johannesburg rapidly succeeded each other. One sultry evening our host brought us news of tangible trouble on the Rand: some ladies who were about to leave for that locality had received wires to defer their departure. Instantly, I recollect, my thoughts flew back to the Tantallon Castle and the dark words we had heard whispered, so it was not as much of a surprise to me as to the residents at Kimberley; to them it came as a perfect bombshell, so well had the secret been kept. The next day the text of the Manifesto, issued by Mr. Leonard, a lawyer, in the name of the Uitlanders, to protest against their grievances, appeared in all the morning papers, and its eloquent language aroused the greatest enthusiasm in the town. Thus was the gauntlet thrown down with a vengeance, and an ominous chord was struck by the statement, also in the papers, that Mr. Leonard had immediately left for Cape Town, "lest he should be arrested." It must be remembered that any barrister, English or Afrikander, holding an official position in the Transvaal, had at that time to take the oath of allegiance to the Boer Government before being free to practise his calling. The explanation of the exceedingly acute feeling at Kimberley in those anxious days lay in the fact that nearly everyone had relations or friends in the Golden City. Our hosts themselves had two sons pursuing their professions there, and, of course, in the event of trouble with England, these young men would have been commandeered to fight for the Boer Government they served. One possibility, however, I noticed, was never entertained—viz., that, if fighting occurred, the English community might get the worst of it. Such a contingency was literally laughed to scorn. "The Boers were unprepared and lazy; they took weeks to mobilize; they had given up shooting game, hence their marksmen had deteriorated; and 200 men ought to be able to take possession of Johannesburg and Kruger into the bargain." This was what one heard on all sides, and in view of more recent events it is rather significant; but I remember then the thought flashed across my mind that these possible foes were the sons of the men who had annihilated us at Majuba and Laing's Nek, and I wondered whether another black page were going to be added to the country's history.

The next day, December 29, Kruger was reported in the papers to be listening to reason; but this hopeful news was short-lived, for on Monday, the 30th—as usual, a fiercely hot day—we received the astounding intelligence that Dr. Jameson, administrator of Mashonaland and Matabeleland, had entered the Transvaal at the head of the Chartered Company's Police, 600 strong, with several Maxim and Gardner guns. No upheaval of Nature could have created greater amazement, combined with a good deal of admiration and some dismay, than this sensational news. The dismay, indeed, increased as the facts were more fully examined. Nearly all the officers of the corps held Imperial commissions, and one heard perfect strangers asking each other how these officers could justify their action of entering a friendly territory, armed to the teeth; while the fact of Dr. Jameson himself being at their head heightened the intense interest. I did not know that gentleman then, but I must say he occupied in the hearts of the people at Kimberley, and, indeed, of the whole country, quite a unique position.

It was in the diamond-fields he had worked as a young doctor, usurping gradually almost the entire medical practice by his great skill as well as by his charm of manner. Then, as Mr. Rhodes's nominee, he had dramatically abandoned medicine and surgery, and had gone to the great unknown Northern Territory almost at a moment's notice. He had obtained concessions from the black tyrant, Lobengula, when all other emissaries had failed; backwards and forwards many times across the vast stretch of country between Bulawayo and Kimberley he had carried on negotiations which had finally culminated, five years previously, in his leading a column of 500 hardy pioneers to the promising country of Mashonaland, which up to that time had lain in darkness under the cruel rule of the dusky monarch. During three strenuous years Dr. Jameson, with no military or legal education, had laboured to establish the nucleus of a civilized government in that remote country; and during the first part of that period the nearest point of civilization, from whence they could derive their supplies, was Kimberley, a thousand miles away, across a practically trackless country. Added to this difficulty, the administrator found himself confronted with the wants and rights of the different mining communities into which the pioneers had gradually split themselves up, and which were being daily augmented by the arrival of "wasters" and others, who had begun to filter in as the country was written about, and its great mining and agricultural possibilities enlarged upon. Finally, goaded thereto and justified therein by Lobengula's continued cruelties, his raids on the defenceless Mashonas, and his threats to the English, Dr. Jameson had led another expedition against the King himself in his stronghold of Bulawayo. On that occasion sharp fighting ensued, but he at length brought peace, and the dawning of a new era to a vast native population in the country, which, with Mashonaland, was to be known as Rhodesia. In fact, up to then his luck had been almost supernatural and his achievements simply colossal. Added to all this was his capacity for attaching people to himself, and his absolutely fearless disposition; so it is easy to understand that Kimberley hardly dared breathe during the next momentous days, when the fate of "the Doctor," as he was universally called, and of his men, who were nearly all locally known, was in suspense.

During many an evening of that eventful week we used to sit out after dinner under the rays of a glorious full moon, in the most perfect climatic conditions, and hear heated discussions of the pros and cons of this occurrence, which savoured more of medieval times than of our own. The moon all the while looked down so calmly, and the Southern Cross stood out clear and bright. One wondered what they might not have told us of scenes being enacted on the mysterious veldt, not 300 miles away. It was not till Saturday, January 4, that we knew what had happened, and any hopes we had entertained that the freebooters had either joined forces with their friends in Johannesburg, or else had made good their escape, were dashed to the ground as the fulness of the catastrophe became known. For hours, however, the aghast Kimberleyites refused to believe that Dr. Jameson and his entire corps had been taken prisoners, having been hopelessly outnumbered and outmanoeuvred after several hours' fighting at Krugersdorp; and, when doubt was no longer possible, loud and deep were the execrations levelled at the Johannesburgers, who, it was strenuously reiterated, had invited the Raiders to come to their succour, and who, when the pinch came, never even left the town to go to their assistance. If the real history of the Raid is ever written, when the march of time renders such a thing possible, it will be interesting reading; but, as matters stand now, it is better to say as little as possible of such a deplorable fiasco, wherein the only points which stood out clearly appeared to be that Englishmen were as brave, and perhaps also as foolhardy, as ever; that President Kruger, while pretending to shut his eyes, had known exactly all that was going forward; that the Boers had lost nothing of their old skill in shooting and ambushing, while the rapid rising and massing of their despised forces was as remarkable in its way as Jameson's forced march.

It was said at the time that the proclamation issued by the Government at home, repudiating the rebels, was the factor which prevented the Johannesburgers from joining forces with the Raiders when they arrived at Krugersdorp, as no doubt had been arranged, and that this step of the Home Government had, curiously enough, not been foreseen by the organizers of this deeply-laid plot. There is no doubt that there were two forces at work in Johannesburg, as, indeed, I had surmised during our voyage out: the one comprising the financiers, which strove to attain its ends by manifesto and public meeting, with the hint of sterner measures to follow; and the other impatient of delay, and thus impelled to seek the help of those who undoubtedly became freebooters the moment they crossed the Transvaal border. Certainly Dr. Jameson's reported words seemed to echo with reproach and disappointment—the reproach of a man who has been deceived; but whatever his feelings were at that moment of despair, when his lucky star seemed at length to have deserted him with a vengeance, I happen to know he never bore any lasting grudge against his Johannesburg friends, and that he remained on terms of perfect friendship even with the five members of the Reform Committee, with whom all the negotiations had gone forward. These included Colonel Frank Rhodes,[3] always one of his favourite companions.

As an instance of how acute was the feeling suddenly roused respecting Englishmen, I remember that Mr. Harry Lawson, who was staying in the same house as ourselves, and had decided to leave for Johannesburg as special correspondent to his father's paper, the Daily Telegraph, was actually obliged to travel under a foreign name; and even then, if my memory serves me right, he did not succeed in reaching the Rand. In the meantime, as the daily papers received fuller details, harrowing accounts came to hand of the exodus from Johannesburg of men, women, and children travelling twenty in a compartment meant for eight, while others, not so fortunate, had to put up with cattle-trucks. The Boers were said to have shown themselves humane and magnanimous. Mr. Chamberlain, the papers wrote, was strengthening the hands of the President, to avert civil war, which must have been dangerously near; but the most important man of the moment in South Africa was grudgingly admitted to be "Oom Paul." His personal influence alone, it was stated, had restrained his wild bands of armed burghers, with which the land was simply bristling, and he was then in close confabulation with Her Majesty's High Commissioner, Sir Hercules Robinson, whom he had summoned to Pretoria to deal with such refractory Englishmen. The journals also took advantage of the occasion to bid Kruger remember this was the opportunity to show himself forgiving, and to strengthen his corrupt Government, thereby earning the gratitude of those Afrikanders, for whom, indeed, he was not expected to have any affection, but to whom he was indebted for the present flourishing financial state of his republic, which, it was called to mind, was next door to bankrupt when England declared its independence in 1884. If such articles were translated and read out to that wily old President, as he sipped his coffee on his stoep, with his bland and inscrutable smile, it must have added zest to his evening pipe. I read in Mr. Seymour Fort's "Life of Dr. Jameson" that the Raid cost the Chartered Company L75,000 worth of material, most of which passed into the hands of the Boer Government, while the confiscated arms at Johannesburg amounted to several thousand rifles and a great deal of ammunition. Respecting the guns taken from Jameson's force, curiously enough, we surmised during the siege of Mafeking, four years later, that some of these were being used against us. Their shells fired into the town, many of which did not explode, and of which I possess a specimen, were the old seven-pound studded M.L. type, with the Woolwich mark on them.

FOOTNOTES:

[3] Died at Groot Schuurr in September, 1905.



CHAPTER III

THE IMMEDIATE RESULTS OF THE RAID—THE RAIDERS THEMSELVES

"The fly sat on the axle-tree of the chariot-wheel, and said, 'What a dust do I raise!'"—AEsop.

Oom Paul was in the proud position of this fly in the weeks immediately following the Raid, as well as during many years to come. When we returned to Cape Town early in January, 1896, we found everything in a turmoil. Mr. Rhodes had resigned the premiership and had left for Kimberley, where he had met with a most enthusiastic reception, and Mr. Beit had been left in possession at Groot Schuurr. The latter gentleman appeared quite crushed at the turn events had taken—not so much on account of his own business affairs, which must have been in a critical state, as in regard to the fate of Mr. Lionel Philips, his partner; this gentleman, as well as the other four members of the Reform Committee,[4] and a few lesser lights besides, had all been arrested during the past week at Johannesburg, and charged with high treason. Even at Cape Town, Captain Bettelheim and Mr. S. Joel, who had left the Transvaal, had one forenoon been requested to accompany some mysterious gentleman, and, very much to their surprise, had found themselves lodged in Her Majesty's gaol before lunch. This occurrence came as a bombshell to the Cape Town community, it having been assumed that there was no extradition for political offences. Johannesburg was known to be disarming almost unconditionally "in consequence of a personal appeal from the Governor," and another telegram informed the world that the men in so doing were broken-hearted, but were making the sacrifice in order to save Dr. Jameson's life. Some unkind friends remarked that their grief must have been tempered with relief, in ridding themselves of the weapons that they had talked so much about, and yet did not use when the time for action came. However, the ways of Providence are wonderful, and this inglorious finale was probably the means of averting a terrible civil war. Sir Hercules Robinson was still at Pretoria, conferring with the President, who, it was opined, was playing with him, as nothing either regarding the fate of Dr. Jameson and his officers, or of the political prisoners, had been settled. It was even rumoured that there was a serious hitch in the negotiations, and that Lord Salisbury had presented an ultimatum to the effect that, unless the President ratified the Convention of 1884, and ceased intriguing with Germany, war with England would ensue. This story was never confirmed, and I think the wish was father to the thought. I remember, during those eventful days, attending with Mrs. Harry Lawson a garden-party at Newlands, given by Lady Robinson, who was quite a remarkable personality, and an old friend and admirer of the ex-Prime Minister's. The gardens showed to their greatest advantage in the brilliant sunshine, and an excellent band played charming tunes under the trees; but everyone was so preoccupied—and no one more than the hostess—that it was rather a depressing entertainment.

At last events began to shape themselves. We learnt that the Governor had left Pretoria on January 15, and that the military prisoners, including most of the troopers, were to be sent home to England immediately, for the leaders to stand their trial. The same morning I heard privately that Mr. Rhodes meant to leave by that very evening's mail-steamer for England, to face the inquiry which would certainly ensue, and, if possible, to save the Charter of that Company with which he had so indissolubly connected himself, and which was, so to speak, his favourite child. I remember everyone thought then that this Charter would surely be confiscated, on account of the illegal proceedings of its forces.

The fact of Mr. Rhodes's departure was kept a profound secret, as he wished to avoid any demonstration. The mail-steamer was the even then antiquated Moor of the Union Line, and she was lying a quarter of a mile away from the docks, awaiting her mail-bags and her important passengers. Besides Mrs. Harry Lawson and ourselves, Mr. Rhodes, Mr. Beit, and Dr. Rutherford Harris, the two latter of whom were also going to England, embarked quite unnoticed on a small launch, ostensibly to make a tour of the harbour, which as a matter of fact we did, whilst waiting for the belated mail. An object of interest was the chartered P. and O. transport Victoria, which had only the day before arrived from Bombay, with the Lancashire Regiment, 1,000 strong, on board, having been suddenly stopped here on her way home, pessimists at once declaring the reason to be possible trouble with Germany. A very noble appearance she presented that afternoon, with her lower decks and portholes simply swarming with red-coats, who appeared to take a deep interest in our movements. At last we boarded the mail-steamer, and then I had the chance of a few words with the travellers, and of judging how past events had affected them. Mr. Beit looked ill and worried; Mr. Rhodes, on the other hand, seemed to be in robust health, and as calm as the proverbial cucumber. I had an interesting talk to him before we left the ship; he said frankly that, for the first time in his life, during six nights of the late crisis he had not been able to sleep, and that he had been worried to death.

"Now," he added, "I have thought the whole matter out, I have decided what is best to be done, so I am all right again, and I do not consider at forty-three that my career is ended."

"I am quite sure it is not, Mr. Rhodes," was my reply; "and, what is more, I have a small bet with Mr. Lawson that in a year's time you will be in office again, or, if not absolutely in office, as great a factor in South African politics as you have been up to now."

He thought a minute, and then said:

"It will take ten years; better cancel your bet."[5] was careful not to ask him any questions which might be embarrassing for him to answer, but he volunteered that the objects of his visit to England were, first, to do the best he could for his friends at Johannesburg, including his brother Frank, who were now political prisoners, practically at the mercy of the Boers, unless the Imperial Government bestirred itself on their behalf; and, secondly, to save his Charter, if by any means it could be saved. This doubt seemed to haunt him. "My argument is," I remember he said, "they may take away the Charter or leave it, but there is one fact that no man can alter—viz., that a vast and valuable territory has been opened up by that Company in about half the time, and at about a quarter the cost, which the Imperial Government would have required for a like task; so that whether, in consequence of one bad blunder, and partly in order to snub me, Cecil Rhodes, the Company is to cease, or whether it is allowed to go on with its work, its achievements and their results must and will speak for themselves." With reference to the political prisoners, I recollect he repeated more than once:

"You see, I stand in so much stronger a position than they do, in that I am not encumbered with wife and children; so I am resolved to strain every nerve on their behalf." About six o'clock the last bell rang, and, cutting short our conversation, I hurriedly wished him good-bye and good luck, and from the deck of our little steamer we watched the big ship pass out into the night.

We had now been a month in South Africa, and had seen very little of the country, and it appeared that we had chosen a very unfavourable moment for our visit. We were determined, however, not to return home without seeing the Transvaal, peaceful or the reverse. The question was, how to get there. By train one had to allow three days and four nights, and, since the rebellion, to put up with insults into the bargain at the frontier, where luggage and even wearing apparel were subjected to a minute search, involving sometimes a delay of five hours. Our projected departure by sea via Natal was postponed indefinitely, by the non-arrival of the incoming mail-steamer from England, the old Roslin Castle, which was living up to her reputation of breaking down, by being days overdue, so that it was impossible to say when she would be able to leave for Durban. Under these circumstances Sir Hercules Robinson proved a friend in need; and, having admonished us to secrecy, he told us that the P. and O. Victoria, the troopship we had noticed in the harbour, was under orders to leave at once for Durban to pick up Dr. Jameson and the other Raiders at that port; and convey them to England; therefore, as we only wanted to go as far as Durban, he would manage, by permission of the Admiral at Cape Town, to get us passages on board this ship. Of course we were delighted, and early next morning we embarked. It was the first time I had ever been on a troopship, and every moment was of interest. As spick and span as a man-of-war, with her wide, roomy decks, it was difficult to imagine there were 2,000 souls on board the Victoria, and only in the morning, when the regiment paraded, appearing like ants from below, and stretching in unbroken lines all down both sides of the ship, did one realize how large was the floating population, and how strict must be the discipline necessary to keep so many men healthy, contented, and efficient. There were a few other civilians going home on leave, but we were the only so-called "indulgence passengers." The time passed all too quickly, the monotonous hours of all shipboard life, between the six-thirty dinner and bedtime, being whiled away by listening to an excellent military band.

We were told to be dressed and ready to disembark by 6 a.m. on the morning we were due at Durban, as the Admiral had given stringent instructions not to delay there any longer than was necessary. I was therefore horrified, on awaking at five o'clock, to find the engines had already stopped, and, on looking out of the porthole, to see a large tender approaching from the shore, apparently full of people. I scrambled into my clothes, but long before I was dressed the tug was alongside, or as nearly alongside as the heavy swell and consequent deep rolls of our ship would allow. Durban boasts of no harbour for large ships. These have to lie outside the bar, and a smooth sea being the exception on this part of the coast, disembarking is in consequence almost always effected in a sort of basket cage, worked by a crane, and holding three or four people. When I got on deck, the prisoners were still on the tender, being mercilessly rolled about, and they must indeed have been glad when, at six o'clock, the signal to disembark was given.

I shall never forget that striking and melancholy scene. The dull grey morning, of which the dawn had scarcely broken; the huge rollers of the leaden sea, which were lifting our mighty ship as if she had been but a cockleshell; and the tiny steamer, at a safe distance, her deck crowded with sunburnt men, many of whose faces were familiar to us, and who were picturesquely attired, for the most part, in the very same clothes they had worn on their ill-fated march—flannel shirts, khaki breeches, high boots, and the large felt hats of the Bechuanaland Border Police, which they were wearing probably for the last time. As soon as they came on board we were able to have a few hasty words with those we knew, and their faces seem to pass in front of me as I write: Sir John Willoughby and Captain C. Villiers, both in the Royal Horse Guards, apparently nonchalant and without a care in the world; Colonel Harry White—alas! dead—and his brother Bobby, who were as fit as possible and as cheery as ever, but inclined to be mutinous with their unwilling gaolers; Major Stracey,[6] Scots Guards, with his genial and courtly manners, apparently still dazed at finding himself a prisoner and amongst rebels; Mr. Cyril Foley, one of the few civilians, and Mr. Harold Grenfell,[7] 1st Life Guards, like boys who expect a good scolding when they get home; and last, but not least, Dr. Jameson, to whom we were introduced. "What will they do with us?" was the universal question, and on this point we could give them no information; but it can be imagined they were enchanted to see some friendly faces after a fortnight's incarceration in a Boer prison, during the first part of which time they daily expected to be led out and shot. I remember asking Dr. Jameson what I think must have been a very embarrassing question, although he did not seem to resent it. It was whether an express messenger from Johannesburg, telling him not to start, as the town was not unanimous and the movement not ripe, had reached him the day before he left Mafeking. He gave no direct answer, but remarked: "I received so many messages from day to day, now telling me to come, then to delay starting, that I thought it best to make up their minds for them, before the Boers had time to get together."

We were soon hurried on shore, as Mr. Beresford,[8] the 7th Hussars, who had brought the prisoners on board, had to return to the town to make some necessary purchases for them, in the way of clothes, for they possessed nothing but what they stood up in.

We left Durban immediately by train for Pietermaritzburg, where we were the guests of Sir Walter and Lady Hely Hutchinson, at Government House, a very small but picturesque residence where Lady Hely Hutchinson received us most kindly in the absence of her husband, who was in the Transvaal, superintending the departure of the remaining prisoners. Here we seemed to have left warlike conditions behind us, for the town was agog with the excitement of a cricket-match, between Lord Hawke's eleven and a Natal fifteen. On the cricket-field we met again two of our Tantallon Castle fellow-passengers, Mr. Guest and Mr. H. Milner, who had come down from Johannesburg with the cricketers. We were interested to compare notes and to hear Mr. Milner's adventures, which really made us smile, though they could hardly have been a laughing matter to him at the time. He told us that, after twice visiting Captain C. Coventry, who was wounded in the Raid, at the Krugersdorp Hospital without molestation, on the third occasion, when returning by train to Johannesburg, he was roughly pulled out of his carriage at ten o'clock at night, and told that, since he had no passport, he was to be arrested on the charge of being a spy. In vain did he tell them that only at the last station his passport had been demanded in such peremptory terms that he had been forced to give it up. They either would not or could not understand him. In consequence the poor man tasted the delights of a Boer gaol for a whole night, and, worst indignity of all, had for companions two criminals and a crowd of dirty Kaffirs. The following morning, he said, his best friend would not have known him, so swollen and distorted was his face from the visitations of the inseparable little companions of the Kaffir native. He was liberated on bail next day, and finally set free, with a scanty apology of mistaken identity. At any other time such an insult to an Englishman would have made some stir; as it was, everyone was so harassed that he was hardly pitied.

The Governor returned two days before our departure, and we had a gay time, between entertainments for the cricketers and festivities given by the 7th Hussars. Feeling in Durban, with regard to the Raiders, was then running high, and for hours did a vast crowd wait at the station merely in order to give the troopers of the Chartered Forces some hearty cheers, albeit they passed at midnight in special trains without stopping. Very loyal, too, were these colonists, and no German would have had a pleasant time of it there just then, with the Kaiser's famous telegram to Kruger fresh in everyone's memory.

From Pietermaritzburg to Johannesburg the railway journey was a very interesting one. North of Newcastle we saw a station bearing the name of Ingogo; later on the train wound round the base of Majuba Hill, and when that was felt behind it plunged into a long rocky tunnel which pierces the grassy slope on which the tragedy of Laing's Nek was enacted—all names, alas! too well known in the annals of our disasters. After leaving the Majuba district, we came to the Transvaal frontier, where we had been told we might meet with scanty courtesy. However, we had no disagreeable experiences, and then the train emerged on the endless rolling green plains which extend right up to and beyond the mining district of the Rand.

Now and then one perceived a trek waggon and oxen with a Boer and his family, either preceded or followed by a herd of cattle, winding their slow way along the dusty red track they call road. At the stations wild-looking Kaffir women, half naked and anything but attractive in appearance, came and stared at the train and its passengers. It is in this desolate country that Johannesburg, the Golden City, sprang up, as it were, like a fungus, almost in a night. Nine years previously the Rand—since the theatre of so much excitement and disappointment—the source of a great part of the wealth of London at the present day, was as innocent of buildings and as peaceful in appearance as those lonely plains over which we had travelled. As we approached Johannesburg, little white landmarks like milestones made their appearance, and these, we were told, were new claims pegged out. The thought suggested itself that this part of South Africa is in some respects a wicked country, with, it would almost seem, a blight resting on it: sickness, to both man and beast, is always stalking round; drought is a constant scourge to agriculture; the locust plagues ruin those crops and fruit that hailstones and scarcity of water have spared; and all the while men vie with and tread upon one another in their rush and eagerness after the gold which the land keeps hidden. Small wonder this district has proved such a whirlpool of evil influences, where everyone is always striving for himself, and where disillusions and bitter experiences have caused each man to distrust his neighbour.

FOOTNOTES:

[4] Colonel Frank Rhodes, Mr. G. Farrar, Mr. Hammond, and Mr. C. Leonard.

[5] Mr. Rhodes died in the spring of 1902.

[6] Now Colonel Stracey Clitheroe.

[7] Now Colonel Grenfell, 3rd Dragoon Guards.

[8] Now Major Beresford.



CHAPTER IV

JOHANNESBURG AND PRETORIA IN 1896

"Little white mice of chance, Coats of wool and corduroy pants, Gold and wine, women and sin, I'll give to you, if you let me in To the glittering house of chance." American Dice Incantation.

At Johannesburg we were the guests of Mr. Abe Bailey at Clewer Lodge. Our host, however, was unfortunately absent, "detained" in the precincts of the gaol at Pretoria, although allowed out on bail. In the same house he had entertained in 1891 my brother Randolph[9] and his friend Captain G. Williams, Royal Horse Guards, on their way to Mashonaland. One of my first visitors was another fellow-traveller of theirs, Mr. H.C. Perkins, the celebrated American mining expert. This gentleman was a great friend of Randolph's, and he spoke most touchingly of his great attachment to the latter, and of his grief at his death. For five years Mr. and Mrs. Perkins had lived in Johannesburg, where they both enjoyed universal respect, and their approaching departure, to settle once more in America, was deplored by all. Considered to be the highest mining expert of the day, Mr. Perkins had seen the rise of the Rand since its infancy, and he had been shrewd enough to keep out of the late agitation and its disturbances. Under his guidance we saw the sights of the towns: the far-famed Rand Club; the Market Square, crammed, almost for the first time since the so-called "revolution," with trek-waggons and their Boer drivers; the much-talked-of "Gold-fields" offices, barred and barricaded, which had been the headquarters of the Reform Committee; the Standard Bank, where the smuggled arms had been kept; and finally the Exchange and the street enclosed by iron chains, where the stock markets were principally carried on. We were also shown the interior of the Stock Exchange itself, though we were warned that it was scarcely worth a visit at that time of depression. We heard the "call of the shares," which operation only took twenty minutes, against nearly two hours during the time of the recent boom. Instead of the listless, bored-looking individuals below us, who only assumed a little excitement when the revolving, clock-like machine denoted any popular share, we were told that a few months ago every available space had been crowded by excited buyers and sellers—some without hats, others in their shirt-sleeves, almost knocking one another over in their desire to do business. Those must indeed have been palmy days, when the money so lightly made was correspondingly lightly spent; when champagne replaced the usual whisky-split at the Rand Club, and on all sides was to be heard the old and well-known formula, "Here's luck," as the successful speculator toasted an old friend or a newcomer.

However, to return to Johannesburg as we found it, after the 1895 boom. Even then it seemed to me that for the first time in South Africa I saw life. Cape Town, with its pathetic dullness and palpable efforts to keep up a show of business; Kimberley, with its deadly respectability—both paled in interest beside their younger sister, so light-hearted, reckless, and enterprising. Before long, in spite of gloomy reflections on the evils of gold-seeking, I fell under the fascination of what was then a wonderful town, especially wonderful from its youth. The ever-moving crowds which thronged the streets, every man of which appeared to be full of important business and in a desperate hurry, reminded one of the City in London. Smart carriages with well-dressed ladies drove rapidly past, the shops were cunningly arranged with tempting wares, and all this bustle and traffic was restored in little over a week. A fortnight previously a revolution was impending and a siege was looming ahead. Business had been at a complete standstill, the shops and houses barred and barricaded, and many of the inhabitants were taking a hurried departure; while bitterness, discord, and racial feeling were rampant. Now, after a few days, that cosmopolitan and rapidly changing population appeared to have buried their differences, and the uninitiated would never have guessed the town had passed, and was, indeed, still passing, through troublous times. Mr. Perkins, however, was pessimistic, and told us appearances were misleading. He rightly foresaw many lean years for those interested in the immediate future of the Rand, though even he, perhaps, hardly realized how lean those would become. Since those days much water has flown under the bridge, and the trade of the town, not to speak of the mining industry, has gone from bad to worse. Recently Federation, the dream of many a statesman connected with South Africa, has opened a new vista of political peace and prosperity to its chastened citizens. Many of these, in affluent circumstances in 1896, have since gone under financially; but some of the original inhabitants still remain to show in the future that they have learned wisdom from their past troubles, brought on principally by their mad haste to get rich too quickly.

During our stay at Johannesburg we made an expedition to Pretoria in order to see our host and other friends, who were still on bail there, awaiting their trial, and also to visit the seat of the Boer Government. By these remarkable State railways the short journey of thirty-two miles occupied three hours. We passed one very large Boer laager, or military camp, on the line, which looked imposing enough in the bright sunlight, with its shining array of white-tarpaulin-covered waggons; companies of mounted burghers, armed to the teeth, and sitting their ragged but well-bred ponies as if glued to the saddle, were to be seen galloping to and fro. Although the teeth of the enemy had been drawn for the present, the Boers were evidently determined to keep up a martial display. As Pretoria was approached the country became very pretty: low hills and many trees, including lovely weeping-willows, appeared on the landscape, and away towards the horizon was situated many a snug little farm; running streams caught the rays of the sun, and really rich herbage supplied the pasture for herds of fat cattle. The town itself did not prove specially interesting. An imposing space called Church Square was pointed out to us with great pride by the Dutch gentleman who kindly did cicerone. There we saw the little primitive "dopper" church where the President always worshipped, overshadowed and dwarfed by the magnificent Houses of Parliament, built since the Transvaal acquired riches, and by the no less grand Government Offices. As we were standing before the latter, after the fashion of tourists, our guide suddenly became very excited, and told us we were really in good luck, for the President was just about to leave his office on his return home for his midday meal. In a few minutes the old gentleman emerged, guarded by four armed burghers, and passed rapidly into his carriage. We took a good look at this remarkable personage. Stout in figure, with a venerable white beard, in a somewhat worn frock-coat and a rusty old black silk hat, President Kruger did not look the stern dictator of his little kingdom which in truth he was. Our Dutch friend told us Oom Paul was in the habit of commencing work at 5 a.m., and that he transacted business, either at his house or in the Government Offices, with short intermissions, until 5 p.m. Simply worshipped by his burghers, he was on a small scale, and in his ignorant fashion, a man of iron like Bismarck, notably in his strong will and in the way in which he imposed the same on his countrymen. The extent of his personal influence could be gauged when one considered that his mere orders had restrained his undisciplined soldier-burghers, who, irritated by being called away from their peaceful existences, maddened by the loss of some of their number who fell in the fighting, and elated by their easy victory, were thirsting to shoot down the leaders of the Raid, as they stood, in the market-square at Krugersdorp. The state of the Boer Government at that time added to the President's difficulties. He was hampered by the narrowest—minded Volksraad (Parliament) imaginable, who resented tooth and nail even the most necessary concessions to the Uitlanders; he was surrounded by corrupt officials, most of whom were said to be implicated in the late rebellion; he was the head of a community which was known to be split up into several sections, owing to acute religious disputes; and yet he contrived, at seventy-one years of age, to outwit the 60,000 Uitlanders at Johannesburg, and to present his rotten republic as a model of all that was excellent and high-minded to the world at large. At the same time he compelled his burghers to forget their own differences, as they hurled defiance at the common foe. It seems to be a truism that it requires a Boer to rule a Boer; and in some ways the mantle of President Kruger would appear to have descended in our days upon General Louis Botha. According to all accounts, his will is now law to the ignorant back Veldt Boers, although his guiding principles savour more of the big stick than of the spoon-feeding system. Undoubtedly loyal to England, he bids fair in the future to help found a nation, based upon the union of British and Boer, inheriting their traditions, cultivating their ideals, and pursuing their common ends.

But this Utopia seemed far away in 1896, and it was, alas! destined that many lives should be laid down, and much treasure expended, before its advent. For the moment lamentations were rife in Johannesburg, and at many a dinner-party unprofitable discussions raged as to what would have happened had Dr. Jameson entered the city. On this point no one could agree. Some people said the town could have been starved out in a few days, and the water-supply cut off immediately; others asserted that the Boers were in reality overawed by Dr. Jameson's name and prestige, and would have been glad to make terms. The practical spirits opined that the only thing which would have saved the inhabitants in any case was the tame ending which actually came about—namely, the High Commissioner's intervention coupled with President Kruger's moderation and wisdom in allowing England to punish her own irregular soldiers. The more one heard of the whole affair, the more it seemed to resemble a scene out of a comic opera. The only people at Johannesburg who had derived any advantage from the confusion were several hitherto unknown military commanders, who had proudly acquired the title of Colonel, and had promptly named a body of horse after themselves. During the days before the final fiasco these leaders used to make short detours round the town in full regimentals, and finally fill up the time by being photographed in groups. Mercifully, as it turned out, they were not ready for active service when Dr. Jameson was reported at Krugersdorp.

We made an excursion to the so-called battle-field before leaving for the South. We started in a covered waggonette with no springs to speak of, drawn by six mules, and a pair of horses as leaders. Two Kaffirs acted as charioteers, and kept up an incessant jabber in Dutch. The one who held the reins looked good-natured enough, but the other, whose duty it was to wield the enormously long whip, had a most diabolical cast of countenance, in which cruelty and doggedness were both clearly depicted. We found his face a true indication of his character before the end of the day. Bumping gaily along, we soon left the well-built houses behind, and after passing the Malay quarter of the town, remarkable by reason of the quaint houses these blacks make out of paraffin tins, flattened out and nailed together with wonderful neatness, we emerged on the open veldt. Of course the road was of the roughest description, and sometimes we had to hold on with all our might to avoid the concussion of our heads with the wooden roof. In spite of this, as soon as the Kaffirs saw an open space before them, the huge whip was cracked, and away went our team at full gallop, seemingly quite out of control, the driver leaning back in his seat with a contented grin, while his colleague manipulated the unwieldy whip. The tract ran parallel to the Rand for some distance, and we got a splendid view of Johannesburg and the row of chimney-shafts that so clearly define the reef.

On passing Langlaate village, we were stopped by a party of Boers, who had off-saddled by the side of the road. As they were fully armed and their appearance was not prepossessing, we expected to be ordered to alight while our conveyance was being searched. However, our fears were unfounded, and they were most polite. The driver muttered something in Dutch, whereupon the leader came to the door, and said in broken English: "Peeck neeck—I see all right." I am sorry to say one of the gentlemen of our party muttered "Brute" in an audible whisper; but, then, he had undergone a short, but a very unpleasant term of imprisonment, with no sort of excuse, at the instance of a Boer Veldtcornet, so no wonder he had vowed eternal vengeance. Luckily, this officer did not hear, or else did not understand, the ejaculation, so after a civil interchange of good-days we drove on.

After about three hours we reached a shallow ford over a wide stream, and our driver informed us that this was our destination. Leaving the carriage, we walked up to some rocks overlooking the stream, which seemed an inviting place for luncheon; but we were quickly driven away, as thereon were lying seven or eight carcasses of dead horses and mules. Curiously enough, the vultures, or "aas-vogels," had left the skins on these poor beasts, for I remember noticing how their coats glistened in the sunshine. This sight was not very conducive to a good appetite, and a little farther on we saw another pathetic spectacle: a very deep trench, made in the past by some gold-prospector, had been filled in with rocky boulders, and was covered with withered ferns. Here lay those who had fallen of the Chartered Company's Forces. No doubt by now the space is enclosed as a tiny part of God's acre, but at that time the rough stones in the deep grave, and the faded flowers, seemed to enhance the dreariness of the scene.[10] As to the locality of the final encounter and surrender of the Raiders, there was not much to interest any but military men. Standing on the top of the eminence before alluded to, one could see the Boer position and the sore strait of their foes. Whether the column had come purposely towards this drift, as being the only possible ford for many miles, or whether they had been guided thereto by a treacherous guide, no one knew. One thing was certain: destruction or surrender must have stared them in the face. The kopjes on the farther side of the stream were bristling with Boers, and away on the veldt beyond was drawn up the Staats artillery. And then one realized a most awful blunder of the Reform Committee, from their point of view. The Boer forces, arriving hereabouts in hot haste, from a rapid mobilization, had been almost entirely without ammunition. We were told on good authority that each burgher had but six rounds, and that the field-guns were without any shells at all. During the night the necessary supply was brought by rail from Pretoria, actually right through Johannesburg. Either by accident or mature reflection on the part of the conspirators in that city, this train was allowed to pass to its destination unmolested. It proved to be one of those small happenings that completely alter the course of events. If the burghers had not stopped the Raiders there, nothing could have prevented them from entering Johannesburg, for after another three miles the long-sought-for chimneys—the overhanging cloud of smoke—would have come into view. The very stars in their courses seemed to have fought for the Boers, and justified President Kruger's belief that his people were specially under the protection of Providence.[11] Neither will anyone ever determine the number of Boers killed at Krugersdorp. One Veldtcornet inserted in all the papers that he defied anyone to prove that more than four burghers were shot, and of these two were killed accidentally by their own rifles. Residents on the spot, however, averred that many more fell; but I think the point was not disputed in view of President Kruger's famous claim for "moral and intellectual damages," which was then already beginning to be mooted.

The lengthening shadows at last reminded us that we had to return to town for a dinner-party given in our honour. It usually takes some time to catch a team of six mules and two horses turned out to graze on the veldt; it is endless, however, when they are as frightened of their drivers as ours appeared to be. At length they were collected and we made a start, and then our adventures began. First the leader, a white horse, jibbed. Off jumped the Kaffir coachman, and commenced hammering the poor brute unmercifully over head, ears, and body, with what they called in Africa the shambok.[12] In consequence the team suddenly started off, but the long whip, left on the carriage roof, slipped down, and was broken in two by the wheel passing over it. Anyone who has driven behind mules knows how absolutely powerless the Jehu is without a long whip; so here we were face to face with a real misfortune: increasing darkness, jibbing leaders, no whip, and fifteen sandy miles to traverse before dinner-time. With every sort of ejaculation and yell, and a perfect rain of blows with the shambok from the Kaffir still on foot, we lurched forward at a gallop, escaping by a hair's-breadth another gold-prospector's trench. But the same leader jibbed again after another mile. I must admit he was a most irritating brute, whose obstinacy had been increased by the cruelty of the driver. It was now decided to put him in the "wheel," where he would be obliged to do his work. We crawled on again till our white friend literally threw himself down. I have related this incident to show how cruel Kaffirs can be, for now the rage of the evil-looking driver burst forth. He not only hammered the prostrate horse to any extent, but then made the rest of the team pull on, so as to drag him along on his side. Of course this could not be allowed, and Major —— jumped out and commanded him to desist, take out the useless horse, and tie him behind. At first the Kaffir was very mutinous, and it was only when a stick was laid threateningly across his back that he sulkily complied, looking the while as if he would like to murder the man he was forced to obey. One hears so much nowadays of the black population having equal rights with the white inhabitants, that it is well to remember how ferociously their lack of civilization occasionally comes out. Doubtless there are cruel men both white and black, but for downright brutality the nigger is hard to beat, and it is also quite certain that whom the latter does not fear he will not love. I have personally experienced great devotion and most attentive service on the part of natives, and they are deserving of the kindest and most considerate treatment; but it has often made me indignant to hear people, who have had little or no experience of living in the midst of a native population, prate of the rights of our "black brothers," and argue as if the latter thought, judged, amused themselves, or, in short, behaved, as the white men do, who have the advantage of hundreds of years of culture.

The day following our drive to Krugersdorp we left for Cape Town and England. We made the voyage on the old Roslin Castle. Always a slow boat, she had on this occasion, in sporting parlance, a "wing down," having broken a piston-rod on her way out from England, when we had vainly awaited her at Cape Town, and I think it was nearly three weeks before we landed at Plymouth. Again Randolph's African journey was brought back to my recollection. The captain of the Roslin Castle, Travers by name, had commanded the Scot, which brought his party home from Mashonaland, and he had very agreeable recollections of many an interesting conversation and of quiet rubbers of whist.

Numerous and exciting events had been crowded into the past six weeks, and in spite of revolutions and strife we had found our South African visit a very pleasant one. A curious thing about that continent is: you may dislike it or fall under its charm, but in any case it nearly always calls you back. It certainly did in my case; and while recalling the people we had met and the information we had acquired it was impossible not to think a little of the Boers themselves, their characteristics and their failings. At Johannesburg I had been specially struck by men, who knew them from long experience, telling me how fully they appreciated the good points of the burghers—for instance, their bravery, their love of their country, and their simple, unquestioning, if unattractive faith, which savoured of that of the old Puritans. Against these attributes their pig-headedness, narrow-mindedness, laziness, and slovenliness had to be admitted. All these defects militated against their living in harmony with a large, increasing, and up-to-date community like the Johannesburg Uitlanders. Still, one could not forget that the Transvaal was their country, ceded to them by the English nation. They left Cape Colony years ago, to escape our laws, which they considered unjust. It is certain we should never have followed them into the Transvaal but for the sudden discovery of the gold industry; it is equally true they had not the power or the wish to develop this for themselves, and yet without it they were a bankrupt nation. There is no doubt that the men who made the most mischief, and who for years embarrassed the President, were the "Hollanders," or officials sent out from the mother-country of the Dutch. They looked on the Transvaal only as a means for getting rich. Hence the fearful state of bribery and corruption among them, from the highest official downwards. But this very bribery and corruption were sometimes exceedingly convenient, and I remember well, when I revisited Johannesburg in 1902, at the conclusion of the war, hearing people inveigh against the hard bargains driven by the English Government; they even went so far as to sigh again for the good old days of Kruger's rule. Now all is changed once more, after another turn of the kaleidoscope of time, and yet it is well to remember that such things have indeed been.



CHAPTER V

THREE YEARS AFTER—LORD MILNER AT CAPE TOWN BEFORE THE WAR—MR. CECIL RHODES AT GROOT SCHUURR—OTHER INTERESTING PERSONAGES

"There are many echoes in the world, but few voices." GOETHE.

On May 6, 1899, we sailed from Southampton on the S.S. Norman. We purposed to spend a few months in Rhodesia, but such is the frailty of human plans that eventually we stayed in South Africa for one year and three months.

Dr. Jameson was our fellow-passenger to Cape Town, and with him we travelled up to Bulawayo, and passed five weeks there as the guests of Major Maurice Heaney.[13] Part of this time we spent on the veldt, far from civilization, sleeping in tents, and using riding ponies and mule waggons as transport. I can recommend this life as a splendid cure for any who are run down or overworked. The climate of Rhodesia in the month of June is perfection; rain is unknown, except as the accompaniment of occasional thunderstorms; and it is never too hot to be pleasant. Game was even then practically non-existent in Matabeleland, but our object was to inspect the mines of Major Heaney's various companies. The country was pretty and well wooded, and we crossed many river-beds, amongst them the wide Umzingwani. This stream is a mighty torrent during the rains, but, like many others in South Africa, it becomes perfectly dry during the winter season, a peculiarity of the continent, which caused a disappointed man to write that South Africa produced "birds without song, flowers without smell, and rivers without water."

While camped on the banks of this vanished river, we used to hear lions roaring as evening fell, and could distinguish their soft pads in the dry sand next morning; but they were so shy that we never caught a glimpse of one, nor could they be tempted into any ambush.

During these weeks the abortive Bloemfontein Conference had been holding its useless sessions; the political world seemed so unsettled, and war appeared so exceedingly likely, that we decided to return to Cape Town, especially as Mr. Rhodes, who was expected out from England almost immediately, had cabled asking us to stay at Groot Schuurr, where we arrived early in July. A few days afterwards I had a ticket given me to witness the opening of the Legislative Council, or Upper House, by Sir Alfred Milner. It was an imposing ceremony, and carried out with great solemnity. The centre of the fine hall was filled with ladies—in fact, on first arriving, it gave one the idea of a ladies' parliament; but in a few minutes the members filed in, shortly before the state entry of His Excellency the Governor. Then, for the first time, I saw the man of the hour; dignified without being stiff, and looking every inch his part, he went through his role to perfection. The speech was, as usual, utterly devoid of interest, and, contrary to the hope of excited partisans, Transvaal affairs were studiously avoided. A few days later we went to Government House to be introduced to Sir Alfred; he at once impressed a stranger as a man of intense strength of mind and purpose, underlying a somewhat delicate physique, which was at that time, perhaps, enhanced by a decidedly worn and worried expression of countenance. Later on I had many conversations with Mr. Rhodes about the Governor. He used to say—and no one was better qualified to judge—that Sir Alfred Milner was one of the strongest men he had ever met. "In the business I am constantly having to transact with him, connected with the Chartered Company," he remarked, "I find him, his mind once made up, unmovable—so much so that we tacitly agree to drop at once any subject that we do not agree on, for nothing could be gained by discussing it. I allow he makes his decisions slowly, but once made they are irrevocable."

Mr. Rhodes used also to say he admired beyond words Sir Alfred's behaviour and the line he adopted in that most difficult crisis before the war. "He assumes," said his appreciator, "an attitude of perfect frankness with all parties; he denies himself to no one who may give him any information or throw fresh light on the situation; to all he expresses his views, and repeats his unalterable opinions of what is required."

Other people told me how true these words were, and how ingeniously and yet ingenuously Sir Alfred Milner contrived to treat a unique position. Standing alone, the central isolated figure, surrounded by a young and inexperienced staff, his political advisers men for whom he could have but little sympathy, and whose opinions he knew to be in reality diametrically opposed to his and to the present policy at home, the Governor steered clear of intrigue and personal quarrels by his intensely straightforward and able conduct. He was in the habit of almost daily seeing Mr. Rhodes, financiers from Johannesburg, military men thirsting for war, who were commencing to arrive from England, as well as his Cabinet Ministers. To these latter he probably volunteered information about the other interviews he had had, thereby disarming their criticisms.

From one great man I must pass to another. A few days after our arrival at Groot Schuurr, Mr. Rhodes and Sir Charles Metcalfe arrived from England. Incidentally I may mention the former's marvellous reception, and the fact that nearly five miles of road between Cape Town and Groot Schuurr were decorated with flags and triumphal arches, while the day was observed as a general holiday. This had happened to him in a minor degree so often before that it did not arouse much comment. The same evening we attended a monster meeting at the Drill Hall, where thousands of faces were turned simultaneously towards the platform to welcome back their distinguished citizen. The cheering went on for ten minutes, and was again and again renewed, till the enthusiasm brought a lump to many throats, and certainly deeply affected the central figure of the evening. This meeting, at which no less than a hundred addresses were presented from every part of Africa—from the far-off Zambesi to the fruit-growing district of the Paarl, almost entirely populated by Dutch—even this great demonstration that one great man was capable of inspiring quickly faded from my memory in view of the insight which three weeks as his guest gave me of the many sides of his life, occupations, and character. The extraordinary strength of will and tenacity of purpose, points always insisted on in connection with him, seemed on nearer acquaintance to be merely but a small part of a marvellous whole.

It often used to occur to me, when with Mr. Rhodes, how desirable it would be to induce our sons and young men in general to imitate some of the characteristics which were the motive power of his life, and therefore of his success. I noticed especially the wonderful power of concentration of thought he possessed, and which he applied to any subject, no matter how trivial. The variety and scope of his many projects did not lessen his interest in any one of them. At that time he was building four railways in Rhodesia, which country was also pinning its faith to him for its development, its prosperity, and, indeed, its modus vivendi. Apart from this, Cape politics, although he then held no official position, were occupying a great deal of his time and thoughts in view of future Federation. It was, therefore, marvellous to see him putting his whole mind to such matters as his prize poultry and beasts at the home farm, to the disposing of the same in what he termed "my country," or to the arranging of his priceless collection of glass—even to the question of a domicile for the baby lioness lately presented to him. Again, one moment he might be talking of De Beers business, involving huge sums of money, the next discussing the progress of his thirty fruit-farms in the Drakenstein district, where he had no fewer than 100,000 fruit-trees; another time his horse-breeding establishment at Kimberley was engaging his attention, or, nearer home, the road-making and improvements at Groot Schuurr, where he even knew the wages paid to the 200 Cape boys he was then employing. Mr. Rhodes was always in favour of doing things on a large scale, made easy, certainly, by his millionaire's purse. Sometimes a gardener or bailiff would ask for two or three dozen rose or fruit trees. "There is no use," he would exclaim impatiently, "in two dozen of anything. My good man, you should count in hundreds and thousands, not dozens. That is the only way to produce any effect or to make any profit." Another of his theories was that people who dwelt in or near towns never had sufficient fresh air. During one of our morning rides I remember his stopping a telegraph-boy, and asking him where he lived. When the lad had told him, he said: "I suppose there are no windows in your cottage; you had better go to Rhodesia, where you will find space, and where you won't get cramped ideas." Then he rode on, leaving the boy staring at him with open eyes. An attractive attribute was his love of his early associations, his father especially being often the theme of his conversation. He used freely to express his admiration for the type the latter represented, now almost extinct, of the old-fashioned country clergyman-squire. He held with tenacity to the traditions of his childhood in having always a cold supper on Sunday evenings, instead of the usual elaborate dinner, also in having the cloth removed for dessert, to display the mahogany, of which, alas! few of our tables are now made. With stupidity, or anything thereto approaching, he was apt to be impatient; neither could he stand young men who affected indifference to, or boredom with, the events and sights of the day. I often used to think, however, he frightened people, and that they did not show to their best advantage, nor was their intelligence at its brightest when talking with him. I now refer especially to those in his employ.

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