As soon as it was known in Johannesburg that he was on his way to rescue the women and children, the grateful people put the women and children in a train and rushed them for Australia. In fact, the approach of Johannesburg's saviour created panic and consternation; there, and a multitude of males of peaceable disposition swept to the trains like a sand-storm. The early ones fared best; they secured seats—by sitting in them—eight hours before the first train was timed to leave.
Mr. Rhodes lost no time. He cabled the renowned Johannesburg letter of invitation to the London press—the gray-headedest piece of ancient history that ever went over a cable.
The new poet laureate lost no time. He came out with a rousing poem lauding Jameson's prompt and splendid heroism in flying to the rescue of the women and children; for the poet could not know that he did not fly until two months after the invitation. He was deceived by the false date of the letter, which was December 20th.
Jameson was intercepted by the Boers on New Year's Day, and on the next day he surrendered. He had carried his copy of the letter along, and if his instructions required him—in case of emergency—to see that it fell into the hands of the Boers, he loyally carried them out. Mrs. Hammond gives him a sharp rap for his supposed carelessness, and emphasizes her feeling about it with burning italics: "It was picked up on the battle-field in a leathern pouch, supposed to be Dr. Jameson's saddle-bag. Why, in the name of all that is discreet and honorable, didn't he eat it!"
She requires too much. He was not in the service of the Reformers —excepting ostensibly; he was in the service of Mr. Rhodes. It was the only plain English document, undarkened by ciphers and mysteries, and responsibly signed and authenticated, which squarely implicated the Reformers in the raid, and it was not to Mr. Rhodes's interest that it should be eaten. Besides, that letter was not the original, it was only a copy. Mr. Rhodes had the original—and didn't eat it. He cabled it to the London press. It had already been read in England and America and all over Europe before, Jameson dropped it on the battlefield. If the subordinate's knuckles deserved a rap, the principal's deserved as many as a couple of them.
That letter is a juicily dramatic incident and is entitled to all its celebrity, because of the odd and variegated effects which it produced. All within the space of a single week it had made Jameson an illustrious hero in England, a pirate in Pretoria, and an ass without discretion or honor in Johannesburg; also it had produced a poet-laureatic explosion of colored fireworks which filled the world's sky with giddy splendors, and, the knowledge that Jameson was coming with it to rescue the women and children emptied Johannesburg of that detail of the population. For an old letter, this was much. For a letter two months old, it did marvels; if it had been a year old it would have done miracles.
First catch your Boer, then kick him. —Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.
Those latter days were days of bitter worry and trouble for the harassed Reformers.
From Mrs. Hammond we learn that on the 31st (the day after Johannesburg heard of the invasion), "The Reform Committee repudiates Dr. Jameson's inroad."
It also publishes its intention to adhere to the Manifesto.
It also earnestly desires that the inhabitants shall refrain from overt acts against the Boer government.
It also "distributes arms" at the Court House, and furnishes horses "to the newly-enrolled volunteers."
It also brings a Transvaal flag into the committee-room, and the entire body swear allegiance to it "with uncovered heads and upraised arms."
Also "one thousand Lee-Metford rifles have been given out"—to rebels.
Also, in a speech, Reformer Lionel Phillips informs the public that the Reform Committee Delegation has "been received with courtesy by the Government Commission," and "been assured that their proposals shall be earnestly considered." That "while the Reform Committee regretted Jameson's precipitate action, they would stand by him."
Also the populace are in a state of "wild enthusiasm," and "46 can scarcely be restrained; they want to go out to meet Jameson and bring him in with triumphal outcry."
Also the British High Commissioner has issued a damnifying proclamation against Jameson and all British abettors of his game. It arrives January 1st.
It is a difficult position for the Reformers, and full of hindrances and perplexities. Their duty is hard, but plain:
1. They have to repudiate the inroad, and stand by the inroader.
2. They have to swear allegiance to the Boer government, and distribute cavalry horses to the rebels.
3. They have to forbid overt acts against the Boer government, and distribute arms to its enemies.
4. They have to avoid collision with the British government, but still stand by Jameson and their new oath of allegiance to the Boer government, taken, uncovered, in presence of its flag.
They did such of these things as they could; they tried to do them all; in fact, did do them all, but only in turn, not simultaneously. In the nature of things they could not be made to simultane.
In preparing for armed revolution and in talking revolution, were the Reformers "bluffing," or were they in earnest? If they were in earnest, they were taking great risks—as has been already pointed out. A gentleman of high position told me in Johannesburg that he had in his possession a printed document proclaiming a new government and naming its president—one of the Reform leaders. He said that this proclamation had been ready for issue, but was suppressed when the raid collapsed. Perhaps I misunderstood him. Indeed, I must have misunderstood him, for I have not seen mention of this large incident in print anywhere.
Besides, I hope I am mistaken; for, if I am, then there is argument that the Reformers were privately not serious, but were only trying to scare the Boer government into granting the desired reforms.
The Boer government was scared, and it had a right to be. For if Mr. Rhodes's plan was to provoke a collision that would compel the interference of England, that was a serious matter. If it could be shown that that was also the Reformers' plan and purpose, it would prove that they had marked out a feasible project, at any rate, although it was one which could hardly fail to cost them ruinously before England should arrive. But it seems clear that they had no such plan nor desire. If, when the worst should come to the worst, they meant to overthrow the government, they also meant to inherit the assets themselves, no doubt.
This scheme could hardly have succeeded. With an army of Boers at their gates and 50,000 riotous blacks in their midst, the odds against success would have been too heavy—even if the whole town had been armed. With only 2,500 rifles in the place, they stood really no chance.
To me, the military problems of the situation are of more interest than the political ones, because by disposition I have always been especially fond of war. No, I mean fond of discussing war; and fond of giving military advice. If I had been with Jameson the morning after he started, I should have advised him to turn back. That was Monday; it was then that he received his first warning from a Boer source not to violate the friendly soil of the Transvaal. It showed that his invasion was known. If I had been with him on Tuesday morning and afternoon, when he received further warnings, I should have repeated my advice. If I had been with him the next morning—New Year's—when he received notice that "a few hundred" Boers were waiting for him a few miles ahead, I should not have advised, but commanded him to go back. And if I had been with him two or three hours later—a thing not conceivable to me—I should have retired him by force; for at that time he learned that the few hundred had now grown to 800; and that meant that the growing would go on growing.
For,—by authority of Mr. Garrett, one knows that Jameson's 600 were only 530 at most, when you count out his native drivers, etc.; and that the 530 consisted largely of "green" youths, "raw young fellows," not trained and war-worn British soldiers; and I would have told. Jameson that those lads would not be able to shoot effectively from horseback in the scamper and racket of battle, and that there would not be anything for them to shoot at, anyway, but rocks; for the Boers would be behind the rocks, not out in the open. I would have told him that 300 Boer sharpshooters behind rocks would be an overmatch for his 500 raw young fellows on horseback.
If pluck were the only thing essential to battle-winning, the English would lose no battles. But discretion, as well as pluck, is required when one fights Boers and Red Indians. In South Africa the Briton has always insisted upon standing bravely up, unsheltered, before the hidden Boer, and taking the results: Jameson's men would follow the custom. Jameson would not have listened to me—he would have been intent upon repeating history, according to precedent. Americans are not acquainted with the British-Boer war of 1881; but its history is interesting, and could have been instructive to Jameson if he had been receptive. I will cull some details of it from trustworthy sources mainly from "Russell's Natal." Mr. Russell is not a Boer, but a Briton. He is inspector of schools, and his history is a text-book whose purpose is the instruction of the Natal English youth.
After the seizure of the Transvaal and the suppression of the Boer government by England in 1877, the Boers fretted for three years, and made several appeals to England for a restoration of their liberties, but without result. Then they gathered themselves together in a great mass-meeting at Krugersdorp, talked their troubles over, and resolved to fight for their deliverance from the British yoke. (Krugersdorp—the place where the Boers interrupted the Jameson raid.) The little handful of farmers rose against the strongest empire in the world. They proclaimed martial law and the re-establishment of their Republic. They organized their forces and sent them forward to intercept the British battalions. This, although Sir Garnet Wolseley had but lately made proclamation that "so long as the sun shone in the heavens," the Transvaal would be and remain English territory. And also in spite of the fact that the commander of the 94th regiment—already on the march to suppress this rebellion—had been heard to say that "the Boers would turn tail at the first beat of the big drum."—["South Africa As It Is," by F. Reginald Statham, page 82. London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1897.]
Four days after the flag-raising, the Boer force which had been sent forward to forbid the invasion of the English troops met them at Bronkhorst Spruit—246 men of the 94th regiment, in command of a colonel, the big drum beating, the band playing—and the first battle was fought. It lasted ten minutes. Result:
British loss, more than 150 officers and men, out of the 246. Surrender of the remnant.
Boer loss—if any—not stated.
They are fine marksmen, the Boers. From the cradle up, they live on horseback and hunt wild animals with the rifle. They have a passion for liberty and the Bible, and care for nothing else.
"General Sir George Colley, Lieutenant-Governor and Commander-in-Chief in Natal, felt it his duty to proceed at once to the relief of the loyalists and soldiers beleaguered in the different towns of the Transvaal." He moved out with 1,000 men and some artillery. He found the Boers encamped in a strong and sheltered position on high ground at Laing's Nek—every Boer behind a rock. Early in the morning of the 28th January, 1881, he moved to the attack "with the 58th regiment, commanded by Colonel Deane, a mounted squadron of 70 men, the 60th Rifles, the Naval Brigade with three rocket tubes, and the Artillery with six guns." He shelled the Boers for twenty minutes, then the assault was delivered, the 58th marching up the slope in solid column. The battle was soon finished, with this result, according to Russell—
British loss in killed and wounded, 174.
Boer loss, "trifling."
Colonel Deane was killed, and apparently every officer above the grade of lieutenant was killed or wounded, for the 58th retreated to its camp in command of a lieutenant. ("Africa as It Is.")
That ended the second battle.
On the 7th of February General Colley discovered that the Boers were flanking his position. The next morning he left his camp at Mount Pleasant and marched out and crossed the Ingogo river with 270 men, started up the Ingogo heights, and there fought a battle which lasted from noon till nightfall. He then retreated, leaving his wounded with his military chaplain, and in recrossing the now swollen river lost some of his men by drowning. That was the third Boer victory. Result, according to Mr. Russell—
British loss 150 out of 270 engaged.
Boer loss, 8 killed, 9 wounded—17.
There was a season of quiet, now, but at the end of about three weeks Sir George Colley conceived the idea of climbing, with an infantry and artillery force, the steep and rugged mountain of Amajuba in the night—a bitter hard task, but he accomplished it. On the way he left about 200 men to guard a strategic point, and took about 400 up the mountain with him. When the sun rose in the morning, there was an unpleasant surprise for the Boers; yonder were the English troops visible on top of the mountain two or three miles away, and now their own position was at the mercy of the English artillery. The Boer chief resolved to retreat—up that mountain. He asked for volunteers, and got them.
The storming party crossed the swale and began to creep up the steeps, "and from behind rocks and bushes they shot at the soldiers on the skyline as if they were stalking deer," says Mr. Russell. There was "continuous musketry fire, steady and fatal on the one side, wild and ineffectual on the other." The Boers reached the top, and began to put in their ruinous work. Presently the British "broke and fled for their lives down the rugged steep." The Boers had won the battle. Result in killed and wounded, including among the killed the British General:
British loss, 226, out of 400 engaged.
Boer loss, 1 killed, 5 wounded.
That ended the war. England listened to reason, and recognized the Boer Republic—a government which has never been in any really awful danger since, until Jameson started after it with his 500 "raw young fellows." To recapitulate:
The Boer farmers and British soldiers fought 4 battles, and the Boers won them all. Result of the 4, in killed and wounded:
British loss, 700 men.
Boer loss, so far as known, 23 men.
It is interesting, now, to note how loyally Jameson and his several trained British military officers tried to make their battles conform to precedent. Mr. Garrett's account of the Raid is much the best one I have met with, and my impressions of the Raid are drawn from that.
When Jameson learned that near Krugersdorp he would find 800 Boers waiting to dispute his passage, he was not in the least disturbed. He was feeling as he had felt two or three days before, when he had opened his campaign with a historic remark to the same purport as the one with which the commander of the 94th had opened the Boer-British war of fourteen years before. That Commander's remark was, that the Boers "would turn tail at the first beat of the big drum." Jameson's was, that with his "raw young fellows" he could kick the (persons) of the Boers "all round the Transvaal." He was keeping close to historic precedent.
Jameson arrived in the presence of the Boers. They—according to precedent—were not visible. It was a country of ridges, depressions, rocks, ditches, moraines of mining-tailings—not even as favorable for cavalry work as Laing's Nek had been in the former disastrous days. Jameson shot at the ridges and rocks with his artillery, just as General Colley had done at the Nek; and did them no damage and persuaded no Boer to show himself. Then about a hundred of his men formed up to charge the ridge-according to the 58th's precedent at the Nek; but as they dashed forward they opened out in a long line, which was a considerable improvement on the 58th's tactics; when they had gotten to within 200 yards of the ridge the concealed Boers opened out on them and emptied 20 saddles. The unwounded dismounted and fired at the rocks over the backs of their horses; but the return-fire was too hot, and they mounted again, "and galloped back or crawled away into a clump of reeds for cover, where they were shortly afterward taken prisoners as they lay among the reeds. Some thirty prisoners were so taken, and during the night which followed the Boers carried away another thirty killed and wounded—the wounded to Krugersdorp hospital." Sixty per cent. of the assaulted force disposed of—according to Mr. Garrett's estimate.
It was according to Amajuba precedent, where the British loss was 226 out of about 400 engaged.
Also, in Jameson's camp, that night, "there lay about 30 wounded or otherwise disabled" men. Also during the night "some 30 or 40 young fellows got separated from the command and straggled through into Johannesburg." Altogether a possible 150 men gone, out of his 530. His lads had fought valorously, but had not been able to get near enough to a Boer to kick him around the Transvaal.
At dawn the next morning the column of something short of 400 whites resumed its march. Jameson's grit was stubbornly good; indeed, it was always that. He still had hopes. There was a long and tedious zigzagging march through broken ground, with constant harassment from the Boers; and at last the column "walked into a sort of trap," and the Boers "closed in upon it." "Men and horses dropped on all sides. In the column the feeling grew that unless it could burst through the Boer lines at this point it was done for. The Maxims were fired until they grew too hot, and, water failing for the cool jacket, five of them jammed and went out of action. The 7-pounder was fired until only half an hour's ammunition was left to fire with. One last rush was made, and failed, and then the Staats Artillery came up on the left flank, and the game was up."
Jameson hoisted a white flag and surrendered.
There is a story, which may not be true, about an ignorant Boer farmer there who thought that this white flag was the national flag of England. He had been at Bronkhorst, and Laing's Nek, and Ingogo and Amajuba, and supposed that the English did not run up their flag excepting at the end of a fight.
The following is (as I understand it) Mr. Garrett's estimate of Jameson's total loss in killed and wounded for the two days:
"When they gave in they were minus some 20 per cent. of combatants. There were 76 casualties. There were 30 men hurt or sick in the wagons. There were 27 killed on the spot or mortally wounded."
Total, 133, out of the original 530. It is just 25 per cent.—[However, I judge that the total was really 150; for the number of wounded carried to Krugersdorp hospital was 53; not 30, as Mr. Garrett reports it. The lady whose guest I was in Krugerdorp gave me the figures. She was head nurse from the beginning of hostilities (Jan. 1) until the professional nurses arrived, Jan. 8th. Of the 53, "Three or four were Boers"; I quote her words.]—This is a large improvement upon the precedents established at Bronkhorst, Laing's Nek, Ingogo, and Amajuba, and seems to indicate that Boer marksmanship is not so good now as it was in those days. But there is one detail in which the Raid-episode exactly repeats history. By surrender at Bronkhorst, the whole British force disappeared from the theater of war; this was the case with Jameson's force.
In the Boer loss, also, historical precedent is followed with sufficient fidelity. In the 4 battles named above, the Boer loss, so far as known, was an average of 6 men per battle, to the British average loss of 175. In Jameson's battles, as per Boer official report, the Boer loss in killed was 4. Two of these were killed by the Boers themselves, by accident, the other by Jameson's army—one of them intentionally, the other by a pathetic mischance. "A young Boer named Jacobz was moving forward to give a drink to one of the wounded troopers (Jameson's) after the first charge, when another wounded man, mistaking his intention; shot him." There were three or four wounded Boers in the Krugersdorp hospital, and apparently no others have been reported. Mr. Garrett, "on a balance of probabilities, fully accepts the official version, and thanks Heaven the killed was not larger."
As a military man, I wish to point out what seems to me to be military errors in the conduct of the campaign which we have just been considering. I have seen active service in the field, and it was in the actualities of war that I acquired my training and my right to speak. I served two weeks in the beginning of our Civil War, and during all that tune commanded a battery of infantry composed of twelve men. General Grant knew the history of my campaign, for I told it him. I also told him the principle upon which I had conducted it; which was, to tire the enemy. I tired out and disqualified many battalions, yet never had a casualty myself nor lost a man. General Grant was not given to paying compliments, yet he said frankly that if I had conducted the whole war much bloodshed would have been spared, and that what the army might have lost through the inspiriting results of collision in the field would have been amply made up by the liberalizing influences of travel. Further endorsement does not seem to me to be necessary.
Let us now examine history, and see what it teaches. In the 4 battles fought in 1881 and the two fought by Jameson, the British loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners, was substantially 1,300 men; the Boer loss, as far as is ascertainable, eras about 30 men. These figures show that there was a defect somewhere. It was not in the absence of courage. I think it lay in the absence of discretion. The Briton should have done one thing or the other: discarded British methods and fought the Boer with Boer methods, or augmented his own force until—using British methods—it should be large enough to equalize results with the Boer.
To retain the British method requires certain things, determinable by arithmetic. If, for argument's sake, we allow that the aggregate of 1,716 British soldiers engaged in the 4 early battles was opposed by the same aggregate of Boers, we have this result: the British loss of 700 and the Boer loss of 23 argues that in order to equalize results in future battles you must make the British force thirty times as strong as the Boer force. Mr. Garrett shows that the Boer force immediately opposed to Jameson was 2,000, and that there were 6,000 more on hand by the evening of the second day. Arithmetic shows that in order to make himself the equal of the 8,000 Boers, Jameson should have had 240,000 men, whereas he merely had 530 boys. From a military point of view, backed by the facts of history, I conceive that Jameson's military judgment was at fault.
Another thing.—Jameson was encumbered by artillery, ammunition, and rifles. The facts of the battle show that he should have had none of those things along. They were heavy, they were in his way, they impeded his march. There was nothing to shoot at but rocks—he knew quite well that there would be nothing to shoot at but rocks—and he knew that artillery and rifles have no effect upon rocks. He was badly overloaded with unessentials. He had 8 Maxims—a Maxim is a kind of Gatling, I believe, and shoots about 500 bullets per minute; he had one 12 1/2-pounder cannon and two 7-pounders; also, 145,000 rounds of ammunition. He worked the Maxims so hard upon the rocks that five of them became disabled—five of the Maxims, not the rocks. It is believed that upwards of 100,000 rounds of ammunition of the various kinds were fired during the 21 hours that the battles lasted. One man killed. He must have been much mutilated. It was a pity to bring those futile Maxims along. Jameson should have furnished himself with a battery of Pudd'nhead Wilson maxims instead, They are much more deadly than those others, and they are easily carried, because they have no weight.
Mr. Garrett—not very carefully concealing a smile—excuses the presence of the Maxims by saying that they were of very substantial use because their sputtering disordered the aim of the Boers, and in that way saved lives.
Three cannon, eight Maxims, and five hundred rifles yielded a result which emphasized a fact which had already been established—that the British system of standing out in the open to fight Boers who are behind rocks is not wise, not excusable, and ought to be abandoned for something more efficacious. For the purpose of war is to kill, not merely to waste ammunition.
If I could get the management of one of those campaigns, I would know what to do, for I have studied the Boer. He values the Bible above every other thing. The most delicious edible in South Africa is "biltong." You will have seen it mentioned in Olive Schreiner's books. It is what our plainsmen call "jerked beef." It is the Boer's main standby. He has a passion for it, and he is right.
If I had the command of the campaign I would go with rifles only, no cumbersome Maxims and cannon to spoil good rocks with. I would move surreptitiously by night to a point about a quarter of a mile from the Boer camp, and there I would build up a pyramid of biltong and Bibles fifty feet high, and then conceal my men all about. In the morning the Boers would send out spies, and then the rest would come with a rush. I would surround them, and they would have to fight my men on equal terms, in the open. There wouldn't be any Amajuba results.
—[Just as I am finishing this book an unfortunate dispute has sprung up between Dr. Jameson and his officers, on the one hand, and Colonel Rhodes on the other, concerning the wording of a note which Colonel Rhodes sent from Johannesburg by a cyclist to Jameson just before hostilities began on the memorable New Year's Day. Some of the fragments of this note were found on the battlefield after the fight, and these have been pieced together; the dispute is as to what words the lacking fragments contained. Jameson says the note promised him a reinforcement of 300 men from Johannesburg. Colonel Rhodes denies this, and says he merely promised to send out "some" men "to meet you."]
[It seems a pity that these friends should fall out over so little a thing. If the 300 had been sent, what good would it have done? In 21 hours of industrious fighting, Jameson's 530 men, with 8 Maxims, 3 cannon, and 145,000 rounds of ammunition, killed an aggregate of 1. Boer. These statistics show that a reinforcement of 300 Johannesburgers, armed merely with muskets, would have killed, at the outside, only a little over a half of another Boer. This would not have saved the day. It would not even have seriously affected the general result. The figures show clearly, and with mathematical violence, that the only way to save Jameson, or even give him a fair and equal chance with the enemy, was for Johannesburg to send him 240 Maxims, 90 cannon, 600 carloads of ammunition, and 240,000 men. Johannesburg was not in a position to do this. Johannesburg has been called very hard names for not reinforcing Jameson. But in every instance this has been done by two classes of persons—people who do not read history, and people, like Jameson, who do not understand what it means, after they have read it.]
None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain-pen, or half its cussedness; but we can try. —Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.
The Duke of Fife has borne testimony that Mr. Rhodes deceived him. That is also what Mr. Rhodes did with the Reformers. He got them into trouble, and then stayed out himself. A judicious man. He has always been that. As to this there was a moment of doubt, once. It was when he was out on his last pirating expedition in the Matabele country. The cable shouted out that he had gone unarmed, to visit a party of hostile chiefs. It was true, too; and this dare-devil thing came near fetching another indiscretion out of the poet laureate. It would have been too bad, for when the facts were all in, it turned out that there was a lady along, too, and she also was unarmed.
In the opinion of many people Mr. Rhodes is South Africa; others think he is only a large part of it. These latter consider that South Africa consists of Table Mountain, the diamond mines, the Johannesburg gold fields, and Cecil Rhodes. The gold fields are wonderful in every way. In seven or eight years they built up, in a desert, a city of a hundred thousand inhabitants, counting white and black together; and not the ordinary mining city of wooden shanties, but a city made out of lasting material. Nowhere in the world is there such a concentration of rich mines as at Johannesburg. Mr. Bonamici, my manager there, gave me a small gold brick with some statistics engraved upon it which record the output of gold from the early days to July, 1895, and exhibit the strides which have been made in the development of the industry; in 1888 the output was $4,162,440; the output of the next five and a half years was (total: $17,585,894); for the single year ending with June, 1895, it was $45,553,700.
The capital which has developed the mines came from England, the mining engineers from America. This is the case with the diamond mines also. South Africa seems to be the heaven of the American scientific mining engineer. He gets the choicest places, and keeps them. His salary is not based upon what he would get in America, but apparently upon what a whole family of him would get there.
The successful mines pay great dividends, yet the rock is not rich, from a Californian point of view. Rock which yields ten or twelve dollars a ton is considered plenty rich enough. It is troubled with base metals to such a degree that twenty years ago it would have been only about half as valuable as it is now; for at that time there was no paying way of getting anything out of such rock but the coarser-grained "free" gold; but the new cyanide process has changed all that, and the gold fields of the world now deliver up fifty million dollars' worth of gold per year which would have gone into the tailing-pile under the former conditions.
The cyanide process was new to me, and full of interest; and among the costly and elaborate mining machinery there were fine things which were new to me, but I was already familiar with the rest of the details of the gold-mining industry. I had been a gold miner myself, in my day, and knew substantially everything that those people knew about it, except how to make money at it. But I learned a good deal about the Boers there, and that was a fresh subject. What I heard there was afterwards repeated to me in other parts of South Africa. Summed up—according to the information thus gained—this is the Boer:
He is deeply religious, profoundly ignorant, dull, obstinate, bigoted, uncleanly in his habits, hospitable, honest in his dealings with the whites, a hard master to his black servant, lazy, a good shot, good horseman, addicted to the chase, a lover of political independence, a good husband and father, not fond of herding together in towns, but liking the seclusion and remoteness and solitude and empty vastness and silence of the veldt; a man of a mighty appetite, and not delicate about what he appeases it with—well-satisfied with pork and Indian corn and biltong, requiring only that the quantity shall not be stinted; willing to ride a long journey to take a hand in a rude all-night dance interspersed with vigorous feeding and boisterous jollity, but ready to ride twice as far for a prayer-meeting; proud of his Dutch and Huguenot origin and its religious and military history; proud of his race's achievements in South Africa, its bold plunges into hostile and uncharted deserts in search of free solitudes unvexed by the pestering and detested English, also its victories over the natives and the British; proudest of all, of the direct and effusive personal interest which the Deity has always taken in its affairs. He cannot read, he cannot write; he has one or two newspapers, but he is, apparently, not aware of it; until latterly he had no schools, and taught his children nothing, news is a term which has no meaning to him, and the thing itself he cares nothing about. He hates to be taxed and resents it. He has stood stock still in South Africa for two centuries and a half, and would like to stand still till the end of time, for he has no sympathy with Uitlander notions of progress. He is hungry to be rich, for he is human; but his preference has been for riches in cattle, not in fine clothes and fine houses and gold and diamonds. The gold and the diamonds have brought the godless stranger within his gates, also contamination and broken repose, and he wishes that they had never been discovered.
I think that the bulk of those details can be found in Olive Schreiner's books, and she would not be accused of sketching the Boer's portrait with an unfair hand.
Now what would you expect from that unpromising material? What ought you to expect from it? Laws inimical to religious liberty? Yes. Laws denying, representation and suffrage to the intruder? Yes. Laws unfriendly to educational institutions? Yes. Laws obstructive of gold production? Yes. Discouragement of railway expansion? Yes. Laws heavily taxing the intruder and overlooking the Boer? Yes.
The Uitlander seems to have expected something very different from all that. I do not know why. Nothing different from it was rationally to be expected. A round man cannot be expected to fit a square hole right away. He must have time to modify his shape. The modification had begun in a detail or two, before the Raid, and was making some progress. It has made further progress since. There are wise men in the Boer government, and that accounts for the modification; the modification of the Boer mass has probably not begun yet. If the heads of the Boer government had not been wise men they would have hanged Jameson, and thus turned a very commonplace pirate into a holy martyr. But even their wisdom has its limits, and they will hang Mr. Rhodes if they ever catch him. That will round him and complete him and make him a saint. He has already been called by all other titles that symbolize human grandeur, and he ought to rise to this one, the grandest of all. It will be a dizzy jump from where he is now, but that is nothing, it will land him in good company and be a pleasant change for him.
Some of the things demanded by the Johannesburgers' Manifesto have been conceded since the days of the Raid, and the others will follow in time, no doubt. It was most fortunate for the miners of Johannesburg that the taxes which distressed them so much were levied by the Boer government, instead of by their friend Rhodes and his Chartered Company of highwaymen, for these latter take half of whatever their mining victims find, they do not stop at a mere percentage. If the Johannesburg miners were under their jurisdiction they would be in the poorhouse in twelve months.
I have been under the impression all along that I had an unpleasant paragraph about the Boers somewhere in my notebook, and also a pleasant one. I have found them now. The unpleasant one is dated at an interior village, and says—
"Mr. Z. called. He is an English Afrikander; is an old resident, and has a Boer wife. He speaks the language, and his professional business is with the Boers exclusively. He told me that the ancient Boer families in the great region of which this village is the commercial center are falling victims to their inherited indolence and dullness in the materialistic latter-day race and struggle, and are dropping one by one into the grip of the usurer—getting hopelessly in debt—and are losing their high place and retiring to second and lower. The Boer's farm does not go to another Boer when he loses it, but to a foreigner. Some have fallen so low that they sell their daughters to the blacks."
Under date of another South African town I find the note which is creditable to the Boers:
"Dr. X. told me that in the Kafir war 1,500 Kafirs took refuge in a great cave in the mountains about 90 miles north of Johannesburg, and the Boers blocked up the entrance and smoked them to death. Dr. X. has been in there and seen the great array of bleached skeletons—one a woman with the skeleton of a child hugged to her breast."
The great bulk of the savages must go. The white man wants their lands, and all must go excepting such percentage of them as he will need to do his work for him upon terms to be determined by himself. Since history has removed the element of guesswork from this matter and made it certainty, the humanest way of diminishing the black population should be adopted, not the old cruel ways of the past. Mr. Rhodes and his gang have been following the old ways.—They are chartered to rob and slay, and they lawfully do it, but not in a compassionate and Christian spirit. They rob the Mashonas and the Matabeles of a portion of their territories in the hallowed old style of "purchase!" for a song, and then they force a quarrel and take the rest by the strong hand. They rob the natives of their cattle under the pretext that all the cattle in the country belonged to the king whom they have tricked and assassinated. They issue "regulations" requiring the incensed and harassed natives to work for the white settlers, and neglect their own affairs to do it. This is slavery, and is several times worse than was the American slavery which used to pain England so much; for when this Rhodesian slave is sick, super-annuated, or otherwise disabled, he must support himself or starve—his master is under no obligation to support him.
The reduction of the population by Rhodesian methods to the desired limit is a return to the old-time slow-misery and lingering-death system of a discredited time and a crude "civilization." We humanely reduce an overplus of dogs by swift chloroform; the Boer humanely reduced an overplus of blacks by swift suffocation; the nameless but right-hearted Australian pioneer humanely reduced his overplus of aboriginal neighbors by a sweetened swift death concealed in a poisoned pudding. All these are admirable, and worthy of praise; you and I would rather suffer either of these deaths thirty times over in thirty successive days than linger out one of the Rhodesian twenty-year deaths, with its daily burden of insult, humiliation, and forced labor for a man whose entire race the victim hates. Rhodesia is a happy name for that land of piracy and pillage, and puts the right stain upon it.
Several long journeys—gave us experience of the Cape Colony railways; easy-riding, fine cars; all the conveniences; thorough cleanliness; comfortable beds furnished for the night trains. It was in the first days of June, and winter; the daytime was pleasant, the nighttime nice and cold. Spinning along all day in the cars it was ecstasy to breathe the bracing air and gaze out over the vast brown solitudes of the velvet plains, soft and lovely near by, still softer and lovelier further away, softest and loveliest of all in the remote distances, where dim island-hills seemed afloat, as in a sea—a sea made of dream-stuff and flushed with colors faint and rich; and dear me, the depth of the sky, and the beauty of the strange new cloud-forms, and the glory of the sunshine, the lavishness, the wastefulness of it! The vigor and freshness and inspiration of the air and the sunwell, it was all just as Olive Schreiner had made it in her books.
To me the veldt, in its sober winter garb, was surpassingly beautiful. There were unlevel stretches where it was rolling and swelling, and rising and subsiding, and sweeping superbly on and on, and still on and on like an ocean, toward the faraway horizon, its pale brown deepening by delicately graduated shades to rich orange, and finally to purple and crimson where it washed against the wooded hills and naked red crags at the base of the sky.
Everywhere, from Cape Town to Kimberley and from Kimberley to Port Elizabeth and East London, the towns were well populated with tamed blacks; tamed and Christianized too, I suppose, for they wore the dowdy clothes of our Christian civilization. But for that, many of them would have been remarkably handsome. These fiendish clothes, together with the proper lounging gait, good-natured face, happy air, and easy laugh, made them precise counterparts of our American blacks; often where all the other aspects were strikingly and harmoniously and thrillingly African, a flock of these natives would intrude, looking wholly out of place, and spoil it all, making the thing a grating discord, half African and half American.
One Sunday in King William's Town a score of colored women came mincing across the great barren square dressed—oh, in the last perfection of fashion, and newness, and expensiveness, and showy mixture of unrelated colors,—all just as I had seen it so often at home; and in their faces and their gait was that languishing, aristocratic, divine delight in their finery which was so familiar to me, and had always been such a satisfaction to my eye and my heart. I seemed among old, old friends; friends of fifty years, and I stopped and cordially greeted them. They broke into a good-fellowship laugh, flashing their white teeth upon me, and all answered at once. I did not understand a word they said. I was astonished; I was not dreaming that they would answer in anything but American.
The voices, too, of the African women, were familiar to me sweet and musical, just like those of the slave women of my early days. I followed a couple of them all over the Orange Free State—no, over its capital —Bloemfontein, to hear their liquid voices and the happy ripple of their laughter. Their language was a large improvement upon American. Also upon the Zulu. It had no Zulu clicks in it; and it seemed to have no angles or corners, no roughness, no vile s's or other hissing sounds, but was very, very mellow and rounded and flowing.
In moving about the country in the trains, I had opportunity to see a good many Boers of the veldt. One day at a village station a hundred of them got out of the third-class cars to feed.
Their clothes were very interesting. For ugliness of shapes, and for miracles of ugly colors inharmoniously associated, they were a record. The effect was nearly as exciting and interesting as that produced by the brilliant and beautiful clothes and perfect taste always on view at the Indian railway stations. One man had corduroy trousers of a faded chewing gum tint. And they were new—showing that this tint did not come by calamity, but was intentional; the very ugliest color I have ever seen. A gaunt, shackly country lout six feet high, in battered gray slouched hat with wide brim, and old resin-colored breeches, had on a hideous brand-new woolen coat which was imitation tiger skin wavy broad stripes of dazzling yellow and deep brown. I thought he ought to be hanged, and asked the station-master if it could be arranged. He said no; and not only that, but said it rudely; said it with a quite unnecessary show of feeling. Then he muttered something about my being a jackass, and walked away and pointed me out to people, and did everything he could to turn public sentiment against me. It is what one gets for trying to do good.
In the train that day a passenger told me some more about Boer life out in the lonely veldt. He said the Boer gets up early and sets his "niggers" at their tasks (pasturing the cattle, and watching them); eats, smokes, drowses, sleeps; toward evening superintends the milking, etc.; eats, smokes, drowses; goes to bed at early candlelight in the fragrant clothes he (and she) have worn all day and every week-day for years. I remember that last detail, in Olive Schreiner's "Story of an African Farm." And the passenger told me that the Boers were justly noted for their hospitality. He told me a story about it. He said that his grace the Bishop of a certain See was once making a business-progress through the tavernless veldt, and one night he stopped with a Boer; after supper was shown to bed; he undressed, weary and worn out, and was soon sound asleep; in the night he woke up feeling crowded and suffocated, and found the old Boer and his fat wife in bed with him, one on each side, with all their clothes on, and snoring. He had to stay there and stand it—awake and suffering—until toward dawn, when sleep again fell upon him for an hour. Then he woke again. The Boer was gone, but the wife was still at his side.
Those Reformers detested that Boer prison; they were not used to cramped quarters and tedious hours, and weary idleness, and early to bed, and limited movement, and arbitrary and irritating rules, and the absence of the luxuries which wealth comforts the day and the night with. The confinement told upon their bodies and their spirits; still, they were superior men, and they made the best that was to be made of the circumstances. Their wives smuggled delicacies to them, which helped to smooth the way down for the prison fare.
In the train Mr. B. told me that the Boer jail-guards treated the black prisoners—even political ones—mercilessly. An African chief and his following had been kept there nine months without trial, and during all that time they had been without shelter from rain and sun. He said that one day the guards put a big black in the stocks for dashing his soup on the ground; they stretched his legs painfully wide apart, and set him with his back down hill; he could not endure it, and put back his hands upon the slope for a support. The guard ordered him to withdraw the support and kicked him in the back. "Then," said Mr. B., "'the powerful black wrenched the stocks asunder and went for the guard; a Reform prisoner pulled him off, and thrashed the guard himself."
The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice. —Pudd'nhead Wilsons's New Calendar.
There isn't a Parallel of Latitude but thinks it would have been the Equator if it had had its rights. —Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.
Next to Mr. Rhodes, to me the most interesting convulsion of nature in South Africa was the diamond-crater. The Rand gold fields are a stupendous marvel, and they make all other gold fields small, but I was not a stranger to gold-mining; the veldt was a noble thing to see, but it was only another and lovelier variety of our Great Plains; the natives were very far from being uninteresting, but they were not new; and as for the towns, I could find my way without a guide through the most of them because I had learned the streets, under other names, in towns just like them in other lands; but the diamond mine was a wholly fresh thing, a splendid and absorbing novelty. Very few people in the world have seen the diamond in its home. It has but three or four homes in the world, whereas gold has a million. It is worth while to journey around the globe to see anything which can truthfully be called a novelty, and the diamond mine is the greatest and most select and restricted novelty which the globe has in stock.
The Kimberley diamond deposits were discovered about 1869, I think. When everything is taken into consideration, the wonder is that they were not discovered five thousand years ago and made familiar to the African world for the rest of time. For this reason the first diamonds were found on the surface of the ground. They were smooth and limpid, and in the sunlight they vomited fire. They were the very things which an African savage of any era would value above every other thing in the world excepting a glass bead. For two or three centuries we have been buying his lands, his cattle, his neighbor, and any other thing he had for sale, for glass beads and so it is strange that he was indifferent to the diamonds—for he must have pickets them up many and many a time. It would not occur to him to try to sell them to whites, of course, since the whites already had plenty of glass beads, and more fashionably shaped, too, than these; but one would think that the poorer sort of black, who could not afford real glass, would have been humbly content to decorate himself with the imitation, and that presently the white trader would notice the things, and dimly suspect, and carry some of them home, and find out what they were, and at once empty a multitude of fortune-hunters into Africa. There are many strange things in human history; one of the strangest is that the sparkling diamonds laid there so long without exciting any one's interest.
The revelation came at last by accident. In a Boer's hut out in the wide solitude of the plains, a traveling stranger noticed a child playing with a bright object, and was told it was a piece of glass which had been found in the veldt. The stranger bought it for a trifle and carried it away; and being without honor, made another stranger believe it was a diamond, and so got $125 out of him for it, and was as pleased with himself as if he had done a righteous thing. In Paris the wronged stranger sold it to a pawnshop for $10,000, who sold it to a countess for $90,000, who sold it to a brewer for $800;000, who traded it to a king for a dukedom and a pedigree, and the king "put it up the spout." —[handwritten note: "From the Greek meaning 'pawned it.'" M.T.]—I know these particulars to be correct.
The news flew around, and the South African diamond-boom began. The original traveler—the dishonest one—now remembered that he had once seen a Boer teamster chocking his wagon-wheel on a steep grade with a diamond as large as a football, and he laid aside his occupations and started out to hunt for it, but not with the intention of cheating anybody out of $125 with it, for he had reformed.
We now come to matters more didactic. Diamonds are not imbedded in rock ledges fifty miles long, like the Johannesburg gold, but are distributed through the rubbish of a filled-up well, so to speak. The well is rich, its walls are sharply defined; outside of the walls are no diamonds. The well is a crater, and a large one. Before it had been meddled with, its surface was even with the level plain, and there was no sign to suggest that it was there. The pasturage covering the surface of the Kimberley crater was sufficient for the support of a cow, and the pasturage underneath was sufficient for the support of a kingdom; but the cow did not know it, and lost her chance.
The Kimberley crater is roomy enough to admit the Roman Coliseum; the bottom of the crater has not been reached, and no one can tell how far down in the bowels of the earth it goes. Originally, it was a perpendicular hole packed solidly full of blue rock or cement, and scattered through that blue mass, like raisins in a pudding, were the diamonds. As deep down in the earth as the blue stuff extends, so deep will the diamonds be found.
There are three or four other celebrated craters near by a circle three miles in diameter would enclose them all. They are owned by the De Beers Company, a consolidation of diamond properties arranged by Mr. Rhodes twelve or fourteen years ago. The De Beers owns other craters; they are under the grass, but the De Beers knows where they are, and will open them some day, if the market should require it.
Originally, the diamond deposits were the property of the Orange Free State; but a judicious "rectification" of the boundary line shifted them over into the British territory of Cape Colony. A high official of the Free State told me that the sum of $4,00,000 was handed to his commonwealth as a compromise, or indemnity, or something of the sort, and that he thought his commonwealth did wisely to take the money and keep out of a dispute, since the power was all on the one side and the weakness all on the other. The De Beers Company dig out $400,000 worth of diamonds per week, now. The Cape got the territory, but no profit; for Mr. Rhodes and the Rothschilds and the other De Beers people own the mines, and they pay no taxes.
In our day the mines are worked upon scientific principles, under the guidance of the ablest mining-engineering talent procurable in America. There are elaborate works for reducing the blue rock and passing it through one process after another until every diamond it contains has been hunted down and secured. I watched the "concentrators" at work big tanks containing mud and water and invisible diamonds—and was told that each could stir and churn and properly treat 300 car-loads of mud per day 1,600 pounds to the car-load—and reduce it to 3 car-loads of slush. I saw the 3 carloads of slush taken to the "pulsators" and there reduced to quarter of a load of nice clean dark-colored sand. Then I followed it to the sorting tables and saw the men deftly and swiftly spread it out and brush it about and seize the diamonds as they showed up. I assisted, and once I found a diamond half as large as an almond. It is an exciting kind of fishing, and you feel a fine thrill of pleasure every time you detect the glow of one of those limpid pebbles through the veil of dark sand. I would like to spend my Saturday holidays in that charming sport every now and then. Of course there are disappointments. Sometimes you find a diamond which is not a diamond; it is only a quartz crystal or some such worthless thing. The expert can generally distinguish it from the precious stone which it is counterfeiting; but if he is in doubt he lays it on a flatiron and hits it with a sledgehammer. If it is a diamond it holds its own; if it is anything else, it is reduced to powder. I liked that experiment very much, and did not tire of repetitions of it. It was full of enjoyable apprehensions, unmarred by any personal sense of risk. The De Beers concern treats 8;000 carloads —about 6,000 tons—of blue rock per day, and the result is three pounds of diamonds. Value, uncut, $50,000 to $70,000. After cutting, they will weigh considerably less than a pound, but will be worth four or five times as much as they were before.
All the plain around that region is spread over, a foot deep, with blue rock, placed there by the Company, and looks like a plowed field. Exposure for a length of time make the rock easier to work than it is when it comes out of the mine. If mining should cease now, the supply of rock spread over those fields would furnish the usual 8,000 car-loads per day to the separating works during three years. The fields are fenced and watched; and at night they are under the constant inspection of lofty electric searchlight. They contain fifty or sixty million dollars' worth' of diamonds, and there is an abundance of enterprising thieves around.
In the dirt of the Kimberley streets there is much hidden wealth. Some time ago the people were granted the privilege of a free wash-up. There was a general rush, the work was done with thoroughness, and a good harvest of diamonds was gathered.
The deep mining is done by natives. There are many hundreds of them. They live in quarters built around the inside of a great compound. They are a jolly and good-natured lot, and accommodating. They performed a war-dance for us, which was the wildest exhibition I have ever seen. They are not allowed outside of the compound during their term of service three months, I think it, is, as a rule. They go down the shaft, stand their watch, come up again, are searched, and go to bed or to their amusements in the compound; and this routine they repeat, day in and day out.
It is thought that they do not now steal many diamonds successfully. They used to swallow them, and find other ways of concealing them, but the white man found ways of beating their various games. One man cut his leg and shoved a diamond into the wound, but even that project did not succeed. When they find a fine large diamond they are more likely to report it than to steal it, for in the former case they get a reward, and in the latter they are quite apt to merely get into trouble. Some years ago, in a mine not owned by the De Beers, a black found what has been claimed to be the largest diamond known to the world's history; and, as a reward he was released from service and given a blanket, a horse, and five hundred dollars. It made him a Vanderbilt. He could buy four wives, and have money left. Four wives are an ample support for a native. With four wives he is wholly independent, and need never do a stroke of work again.
That great diamond weighs 97l carats. Some say it is as big as a piece of alum, others say it is as large as a bite of rock candy, but the best authorities agree that it is almost exactly the size of a chunk of ice. But those details are not important; and in my opinion not trustworthy. It has a flaw in it, otherwise it would be of incredible value. As it is, it is held to be worth $2,000,000. After cutting it ought to be worth from $5,000,000 to $8,000,000, therefore persons desiring to save money should buy it now. It is owned by a syndicate, and apparently there is no satisfactory market for it. It is earning nothing; it is eating its head off. Up to this time it has made nobody rich but the native who found it.
He found it in a mine which was being worked by contract. That is to say, a company had bought the privilege of taking from the mine 5,000,000 carloads of blue-rock, for a sum down and a royalty. Their speculation had not paid; but on the very day that their privilege ran out that native found the $2,000,000-diamond and handed it over to them. Even the diamond culture is not without its romantic episodes.
The Koh-i-Noor is a large diamond, and valuable; but it cannot compete in these matters with three which—according to legend—are among the crown trinkets of Portugal and Russia. One of these is held to be worth $20,000,000; another, $25,000,000, and the third something over $28,000,000.
Those are truly wonderful diamonds, whether they exist or not; and yet they are of but little importance by comparison with the one wherewith the Boer wagoner chocked his wheel on that steep grade as heretofore referred to. In Kimberley I had some conversation with the man who saw the Boer do that—an incident which had occurred twenty-seven or twenty-eight years before I had my talk with him. He assured me that that diamond's value could have been over a billion dollars, but not under it. I believed him, because he had devoted twenty-seven years to hunting for it, and was, in a position to know.
A fitting and interesting finish to an examination of the tedious and laborious and costly processes whereby the diamonds are gotten out of the deeps of the earth and freed from the base stuffs which imprison them is the visit to the De Beers offices in the town of Kimberley, where the result of each day's mining is brought every day, and, weighed, assorted, valued, and deposited in safes against shipping-day. An unknown and unaccredited person cannot, get into that place; and it seemed apparent from the generous supply of warning and protective and prohibitory signs that were posted all about, that not even the known and accredited can steal diamonds there without inconvenience.
We saw the day's output—shining little nests of diamonds, distributed a foot apart, along a counter, each nest reposing upon a sheet of white paper. That day's catch was about $70,000 worth. In the course of a year half a ton of diamonds pass under the scales there and sleep on that counter; the resulting money is $18,000,000 or $20,000,000. Profit, about $12,000,000.
Young girls were doing the sorting—a nice, clean, dainty, and probably distressing employment. Every day ducal incomes sift and sparkle through the fingers of those young girls; yet they go to bed at night as poor as they were when they got up in the morning. The same thing next day, and all the days.
They are beautiful things, those diamonds, in their native state. They are of various shapes; they have flat surfaces, rounded borders, and never a sharp edge. They are of all colors and shades of color, from dewdrop white to actual black; and their smooth and rounded surfaces and contours, variety of color, and transparent limpidity make them look like piles of assorted candies. A very light straw color is their commonest tint. It seemed to me that these uncut gems must be more beautiful than any cut ones could be; but when a collection of cut ones was brought out, I saw my mistake. Nothing is so beautiful as a rose diamond with the light playing through it, except that uncostly thing which is just like it—wavy sea-water with the sunlight playing through it and striking a white-sand bottom.
Before the middle of July we reached Cape Town, and the end of our African journeyings. And well satisfied; for, towering above us was Table Mountain—a reminder that we had now seen each and all of the great features of South Africa except Mr. Cecil Rhodes. I realize that that is a large exception. I know quite well that whether Mr. Rhodes is the lofty and worshipful patriot and statesman that multitudes believe him to be, or Satan come again, as the rest of the world account him, he is still the most imposing figure in the British empire outside of England. When he stands on the Cape of Good Hope, his shadow falls to the Zambesi. He is the only colonial in the British dominions whose goings and comings are chronicled and discussed under all the globe's meridians, and whose speeches, unclipped, are cabled from the ends of the earth; and he is the only unroyal outsider whose arrival in London can compete for attention with an eclipse.
That he is an extraordinary man, and not an accident of fortune, not even his dearest South African enemies were willing to deny, so far as I heard them testify. The whole South African world seemed to stand in a kind of shuddering awe of him, friend and enemy alike. It was as if he were deputy-God on the one side, deputy-Satan on the other, proprietor of the people, able to make them or ruin them by his breath, worshiped by many, hated by many, but blasphemed by none among the judicious, and even by the indiscreet in guarded whispers only.
What is the secret of his formidable supremacy? One says it is his prodigious wealth—a wealth whose drippings in salaries and in other ways support multitudes and make them his interested and loyal vassals; another says it is his personal magnetism and his persuasive tongue, and that these hypnotize and make happy slaves of all that drift within the circle of their influence; another says it is his majestic ideas, his vast schemes for the territorial aggrandizement of England, his patriotic and unselfish ambition to spread her beneficent protection and her just rule over the pagan wastes of Africa and make luminous the African darkness with the glory of her name; and another says he wants the earth and wants it for his own, and that the belief that he will get it and let his friends in on the ground floor is the secret that rivets so many eyes upon him and keeps him in the zenith where the view is unobstructed.
One may take his choice. They are all the same price. One fact is sure: he keeps his prominence and a vast following, no matter what he does. He "deceives" the Duke of Fife—it is the Duke's word—but that does not destroy the Duke's loyalty to him. He tricks the Reformers into immense trouble with his Raid, but the most of them believe he meant well. He weeps over the harshly—taxed Johannesburgers and makes them his friends; at the same time he taxes his Charter-settlers 50 per cent., and so wins their affection and their confidence that they are squelched with despair at every rumor that the Charter is to be annulled. He raids and robs and slays and enslaves the Matabele and gets worlds of Charter-Christian applause for it. He has beguiled England into buying Charter waste paper for Bank of England notes, ton for ton, and the ravished still burn incense to him as the Eventual God of Plenty. He has done everything he could think of to pull himself down to the ground; he has done more than enough to pull sixteen common-run great men down; yet there he stands, to this day, upon his dizzy summit under the dome of the sky, an apparent permanency, the marvel of the time, the mystery of the age, an Archangel with wings to half the world, Satan with a tail to the other half.
I admire him, I frankly confess it; and when his time comes I shall buy a piece of the rope for a keepsake.
I have traveled more than anyone else, and I have noticed that even the angels speak English with an accent. —Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.
I saw Table Rock, anyway—a majestic pile. It is 3,000 feet high. It is also 17,000 feet high. These figures may be relied upon. I got them in Cape Town from the two best-informed citizens, men who had made Table Rock the study of their lives. And I saw Table Bay, so named for its levelness. I saw the Castle—built by the Dutch East India Company three hundred years ago—where the Commanding General lives; I saw St. Simon's Bay, where the Admiral lives. I saw the Government, also the Parliament, where they quarreled in two languages when I was there, and agreed in none. I saw the club. I saw and explored the beautiful sea-girt drives that wind about the mountains and through the paradise where the villas are: Also I saw some of the fine old Dutch mansions, pleasant homes of the early times, pleasant homes to-day, and enjoyed the privilege of their hospitalities.
And just before I sailed I saw in one of them a quaint old picture which was a link in a curious romance—a picture of a pale, intellectual young man in a pink coat with a high black collar. It was a portrait of Dr. James Barry, a military surgeon who came out to the Cape fifty years ago with his regiment. He was a wild young fellow, and was guilty of various kinds of misbehavior. He was several times reported to headquarters in England, and it was in each case expected that orders would come out to deal with him promptly and severely, but for some mysterious reason no orders of any kind ever came back—nothing came but just an impressive silence. This made him an imposing and uncanny wonder to the town.
Next, he was promoted-away up. He was made Medical Superintendent General, and transferred to India. Presently he was back at the Cape again and at his escapades once more. There were plenty of pretty girls, but none of them caught him, none of them could get hold of his heart; evidently he was not a marrying man. And that was another marvel, another puzzle, and made no end of perplexed talk. Once he was called in the night, an obstetric service, to do what he could for a woman who was believed to be dying. He was prompt and scientific, and saved both mother and child. There are other instances of record which testify to his mastership of his profession; and many which testify to his love of it and his devotion to it. Among other adventures of his was a duel of a desperate sort, fought with swords, at the Castle. He killed his man.
The child heretofore mentioned as having been saved by Dr. Barry so long ago, was named for him, and still lives in Cape Town. He had Dr. Barry's portrait painted, and gave it to the gentleman in whose old Dutch house I saw it—the quaint figure in pink coat and high black collar.
The story seems to be arriving nowhere. But that is because I have not finished. Dr. Barry died in Cape Town 30 years ago. It was then discovered that he was a woman.
The legend goes that enquiries—soon silenced—developed the fact that she was a daughter of a great English house, and that that was why her Cape wildnesses brought no punishment and got no notice when reported to the government at home. Her name was an alias. She had disgraced herself with her people; so she chose to change her name and her sex and take a new start in the world.
We sailed on the 15th of July in the Norman, a beautiful ship, perfectly appointed. The voyage to England occupied a short fortnight, without a stop except at Madeira. A good and restful voyage for tired people, and there were several of us. I seemed to have been lecturing a thousand years, though it was only a twelvemonth, and a considerable number of the others were Reformers who were fagged out with their five months of seclusion in the Pretoria prison.
Our trip around the earth ended at the Southampton pier, where we embarked thirteen months before. It seemed a fine and large thing to have accomplished—the circumnavigation of this great globe in that little time, and I was privately proud of it. For a moment. Then came one of those vanity-snubbing astronomical reports from the Observatory-people, whereby it appeared that another great body of light had lately flamed up in the remotenesses of space which was traveling at a gait which would enable it to do all that I had done in a minute and a half. Human pride is not worth while; there is always something lying in wait to take the wind out of it.