Reminiscences of a South African Pioneer
by W. C. Scully
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E-text prepared by Charles Klingman


(1st Series Wanderjahre)



Author of "By Veldt and Kopje," "Kafir Stories," "The Ridge of the White Waters," "Between Sun and Sand," Etc., Etc.

With 16 Illustrations

T. Fisher Unwin London: Adelphi Terrace Leipsic: Inselstrasse 20

First published in 1913. (All rights reserved.)

"Ignoranti quern portum petat, nullus suus ventus est."









The reminiscences set down in this volume have been published serially in The State of South Africa, in a more or less abridged form, under the title of "Unconventional Reminiscences." They are mainly autobiographical. This has been inevitable; in any narrative based upon personal experience, an attempt to efface oneself would tend to weaken vitality.

Having lived for upwards of forty-five years in South Africa usually in parts remote from those settled areas which have attained a measure of civilization and having been a wide wanderer in my early days, it has been my fortune to witness many interesting events and to be brought into contact with many strong men. Occasionally, as in the case of the earlier discoveries of gold and diamonds, I have drifted, a pipkin among pots, close to the centre around which the immediate interests of the country seemed to revolve.

The period mainly dealt with is that magical one when South Africa unnoted and obscure was startled from the simplicity of her bucolic life by the discovery of gold and diamonds. This was, of course, some years before the fountains of her boundless potential wealth had become fully unsealed. I was one of that band of light-hearted, haphazard pioneers who, rejoicing in youthful energy and careless of their own interests, unwittingly laid the foundation upon which so many great fortunes have been built.

An ancient myth relates how the god Dionysus decreed that everything touched by Midas, the Phrygian king, should turn into gold, but the effect was so disastrous that Midas begged for a reversal of the decree. The prayer was granted, conditionally upon the afflicted king bathing in the River Pactolus.

South Africa may, in a sense, be paralleled with Midas both as regards the bane of gold and the antidote of bathing but her Pactolus has been one of blood.

Midas again got into trouble by, refusing to adjudge in the matter of musical merit between Pan and Apollo, and this time was punished by having his ears changed into those of an ass.

Our choice lies before us; may we avoid the ass's ears by boldly making a decision. May we evade a worse thing by unhesitatingly giving our award in favor of Apollo.

With this apologia I submit my humble gleanings from fields on which no more the sun will shine, to the indulgent sympathy of readers.

W. C. S.




Foreword—My father's family—"Old Body"—Dualla—A cruel experiment—"Old Body"—and the goose—Cook and kitchen-maid—Scull and monkey—My mother's family—Abbey view—The Bock of Cashel—Captain Meagher and early chess Sir Dominic Corrigan—"Old Mary" and the sugar—Naval ambitions—Harper Twelvetree and the burial agency


Improved health—Jimmy Kinsella—Veld food—I abscond—Father Healy on conversion—Father O'Dwyer and his whip—Confession—Construction of a volcano—The Fenian outbreak—Departure for South Africa—The tuneful soldier—Chess at sea—Madeira A gale—The Asia


Arrival at Cape Town—Port Elizabeth—First encounter with big game Grahamstown—Severe thunderstorm—King William's Town Natives and their ponies—Social peculiarities—Farming—The annual trek—Camp-life Surf-bathing—Self-sacrificing attitude of Larry O'Toole—Capture of an ant-bear—The coast scenery—A moral shock—School Chief Toise—Rainy seasons—Flooded rivers


Trip to the Transkei—Tiyo Soga and his family—Trip to the seaside—The Fynns—Wild dogs—Start as a sheep farmer—My camp burnt out—First commercial adventure—Chief Sandile—Discovery of diamonds—Start for Golconda—Traveling companions—Manslaughter narrowly escaped—Old De Beers—Life at the Diamond Fields—Scarcity of water—First case of diamond stealing—I nearly discover Kimberley Mine—The rush to Colesberg Kopje—My first diamond—Its loss and my humiliation—Kimberley claims dear at 10—Camp-life in early days—I. D. B.—Canteen burning.


My claim a disappointment—Good results attained elsewhere—A surprised Boer—"Kopje wallopers"—Thunderstorms—A shocking spectacle—"Old Moore" and his love affair—The morning market—Attack of enteric—I go to King William's Town to recruit Toby once more—A venture in onions—Return to Kimberley—The West End mess—The Rhodes brothers—Norman Garstin—H. C. Seppings Wright—"Schipka" Campbell—Cecil John Rhodes—A game of euchre The church bell—Raw natives—Alum diamonds—Herbert Rhodes and the cannon His terrible end.


Big gambling—Von Schlichmann—Norman Garstin—The painter of St. Michael's Mount—Start for the gold fields—"I am going to be hanged" Plentifulness of game—Snakes in an anthill—Nazareth—Game in the High Veld—Narrow escape from frost-bite—A shooting match—Lydenburg—Painful tramping—"Artful Joe"—Penalty for suicide—Pilgrim's Rest—Experiences of "a new chum"—Tent-making—Explorations—The Great Plateau—Prospect of the Low Country—Elands.


Extended rambles—View from the mountain top—An unknown land—The deadly fever—Gray's fate—Lack of nursing—Temperature rises after death Pilgrim's Rest in early days—The prison—The stocks—No color line—John Cameron in trouble—The creek "lead"—Plenty of gold—Wild peaches Massacres of natives in old days—Kameel—His expressions—Life on the creek—Major Macdonald—The parson—Boulders—Bad accidents—A quaint signboard—"Reefing Charlie".


Work on "the Reef"—Shaft-sinking in a swamp—Wolff and McGrath—A case of snake-bite—Tunneling—Humping green timber—John Mulcahy—His Gargantuan breakfast—His peculiar habits—His end—The rush to "the Reef" Cunningham's lead—My bad luck—Peter and his appetite—"Mr. William Bogis" Fabayne, the cave-dweller—A bellicose bridegroom—Knox and his revolver practice—A senseless toast and its sequel—A terrible accident Alick Dempster and the Police News.


Expedition to Delagoa Bay—A rencontre at Constantinople—Morisot and the lion—Game in the Low Country—The Barber encampment—Lion's attack by daylight—Lions in the donga—The lion's voice—Ways of the lion—The lion an eater of carrion—Tyrer and the buffalo—Veld fires—A piece of bad luck—The Low Country rivers—Snakes—Hyenas—Louren Marques—Funeral of Pat Foote—Discovery of gold near Blyde River—Anticipated affluence Disappointment


Prospectors start for Swaziland—Rumors as to their fate—MacLean and I decide to follow them—Precautions against lions—The Crocodile River—The Boer and the pessimist—Game and honey—Crocodiles—Difficulties in crossing the river—MacLean nearly drowned in the rapids—I go on alone First sight of De Kaap—A labyrinth of dongas—I reach Swaziland—Baboons On the trail of the prospectors—The mystery solved—'Ntshindeen's Kraal Swazi hospitality—How I became celebrated—A popular show—Repairing guns Character of the Swazis—Contempt for money and love of salt—Prospecting My welcome outstayed—A dangerous crisis—Return to the Crocodile River The rhinoceros—Our bearers decamp—We abandon our goods—Attacked by fever—Terror of partridges—Arrival at Mac Mac.


Weakness after fever—I engage in commerce—Bats—The commandeered cat—My commercial ineptitude—Tom Simpson surprises—Wolff—Close of my commercial career—Saulez—His thrashing of the bullies—Gardiner holds up the bank—Nicknames—Conferring a patent of nobility—"Old Nelly"—"A poor man's lead"—"Charlie Brown's Gully"—Swindled by my partner—My discovery on the mountain—A lonely time—Waiting for rain—Disappointment and despair—Abandonment of my work—Departure—Once more a tramp.


On the road—Heavy rain—Mosquitoes—Natal—Thunderstorms—A terrible night Maritzburg—My cash runs out—A halcyon day—Hospitality—D'Urban—Failure to get work—The Fighting Blacksmith and the eccentric old gentleman Narrow escape of the latter—East London—Experiences in a surfboat—A Perilous venture—I enter the Civil Service—Further reminiscences deferred—Au revoir.





PORTRAIT OF THE AUTHOR . . . . Frontispiece
















The views of Kimberley are published by the kind permission of the De Beers Company, who courteously supplied them.


Foreword—My father's family—"Old Body"—Dualla—A cruel experiment—"Old Body"—and the goose—Cook and kitchen-maid—Scull and monkey—My mother's family—Abbey view—The Bock of Cashel—Captain Meagher and early chess Sir Dominic Corrigan—"Old Mary" and the sugar—Naval ambitions—Harper Twelvetree and the burial agency

I was born on the 29th of October, 1855; at least I have been told so, but the register of my baptism cannot be traced. This circumstance placed me in a somewhat awkward position a few years since, when proof of my age was urgently required. The place of my birth is a house in Upper Gardiner Street, Dublin then the home of my maternal uncle-by-marriage, Richard Scott. Evil days have since fallen upon that part of Ireland's metropolis; the locality is now inhabited by a class of people to whom we should in this country apply the term "poor whites." When I recently visited the spot I found that the house had, like most of those in the vicinity, been divided into tenements. The upper portion of what had once been a frosted-glass partition was still in the hall, and on this my uncle's crest was visible. The premises were in a filthy condition, and the inhabitants looked more than ordinarily villainous. On the steps a red-faced crone sat pulling at a clay pipe, and a reek of stale porter came through the hall doorway.

My father's family, I am told, have been located in the County Tipperary for many generations. I believe they made a great deal of money as contractors to the army of King William in the campaign of which the Battle of the Boyne was the decisive event, but the greater part of this they dissipated about a century ago in lawsuits. I have heard that the costs in one case they lost amounted to over 100,000. The little I know of the family, has been told me by dear old Sir William Butler, with whom I became very intimate when he was in South Africa. He always said we were related that we were "Irish cousins" but we never were quite able to define what the relationship was. Sir William and Ray, father had been great friends in the old days.

I have been told by, a relative that the many, Scullys who are scattered over the south of Ireland fall into two categories the round-headed and the long-headed; that the former are, as a rule, fairly well off, but that the latter are usually poor. I regret to say that I belong to the long-headed branch.

My paternal grandfather was a soldier, and my father was brought up by Rodolph Scully, of Dualla. "Old Rody," who kept a pack of harriers which my father hunted, was a well-known character in South Tipperary. He departed this life when I was about six years old yet I seem to remember him very clearly. A small, wiry, dapper man with a clean-shaven red face, a cold, light-blue eye and fiercely beetling brows, he occasionally filled my early childhood with terror. He usually wore knee-breeches, buckled shoes, a frieze coat, and a white choker. He had a most furious temper, and was consequently dreaded by his relations and his domestics. I remember once seeing him administer a terrible thrashing with a hunting-crop to a stable-boy for some trivial fault.

My recollections of Dualla are very, faint; such fragmentary, ones as survive are almost solely connected with its kennels and stables. There was, I know, a turret at one end of the house. I believe the original idea was to build a castle, but on account of scarcity of funds the construction was continued on less ambitious architectural lines. An unpleasant story used to be told in connection with this turret, which was of considerable height. Old Rody, one night when in his cups, made a bet that a goat, thrown from the top, would land uninjured on its feet. The cruel experiment was tried. It may be some satisfaction to know that Old Rody had to pay the bet, but it would be more if we knew that he had been made to follow the poor animal. Once my people were on a visit to Dualla. Old Rody, who was much addicted to the pleasures of the table, was especially fond of roast goose. This, to satisfy him, had to be done to a particular turn. On the occasion in question the bird was brought to table slightly overdone, so Old Rody told the butler to retire and send up the cook. No sooner had the butler left the room than Old Rody picked up the goose by, its shanks and took his stand behind the door. A dreadful silence reigned; the guests were as though stiffened into stone. The cook, a stout, red-faced woman, entered the room in evident trepidation, wiping her face with her apron. As she passed her master, he lifted the goose and hit her over the head with it as hard as he could. The bird smashed to pieces, and the woman, covered with gravy and seasoning, fled back, wailing, to the kitchen.

On another occasion a neighbor, whose name happened to be Cook, came to spend the day at Dualla. He brought with him his two children, a boy and a girl, of whom he was inordinately proud. Old Rody and Cook were sitting on the terrace, drinking punch; the children were playing on the lawn.

"Now, Scully," said the proud parent, pointing to his boy, "isn't he a regular Cook?"

"Oh! begor' he is," replied Old Rody, "and the other's a regular kitchen-maid."

Near the close of a not at all reputable career Old Rody "found it most convenient" to marry his housemaid. He survived the ceremony only a few months. His widow, disappointed in her expectations of wealth for the estate cut up very badly, indeed emigrated to Australia, where, I believe, she soon married again.

There is a story told of Vincent Scully (father of the present owner of Mantlehill House, near Cashel), who was a Member of Parliament for, I think, North Cork, which I do not remember to have seen in print. Another M.P., whose name was Monk, had a habit of clipping, where possible, the last syllable from the surnames of his intimate friends. One day, he met Vincent Scully in the House of Commons, and addressed him.

"Well, Scull, how are you today?"

"Quite well, thank you, Monk," replied Scully; "but I cannot conceive why you should snip a syllable from my name, unless you wish to add it to your own."

My father quarreled with Old Rody, who went to Italy, where he had some relations. He meant to remain for a few months only, but it was upwards of six years before he returned. He then read law for a while. Getting tired of this, he went "back to the land."

My mother was a Creagh, from Clare. Creaghs used to be plentiful in both Clare and Limerick. The civic records of Limerick City show that for many generations they took a prominent part in local municipal affairs. My mother's father was a soldier too. The Creaghs have always favored the army. A few years ago eight of my mother's first-cousins were soldiers. At the Battle of Blaauwberg just before the capitulation of the Cape in January, 1806 a Lieutenant Creagh was slightly wounded. This was either my grandfather or my grand-uncle, Sir Michael Creagh. Both brothers were in the same regiment, the 86th Foot, or "Royal County Downs."*

*I have since writing the above ascertained that it was my grand-uncle who was wounded.

My earliest recollections are of Abbeyview, near Cashel, where we lived until the early sixties. The celebrated "Rock," with its many monuments and the grand ruins of its once-spacious abbey, were visible from our front windows. We had another place, not far off, called Clahalea. I remember that the ploughing there used to be done with Italian buffaloes.

In the early sixties we moved to a place called Springfield, situated just at the northern outlet of the "Scalp," a very rugged pass in the Wicklow Hills. The stream which divides Wicklow County from that of Dublin ran through a small portion of the place, the house being on the Dublin side.

As I suffered from weak health up to my twelfth year, I was not allowed to go to school; consequently I ran wild. I was seven years old when I learnt to read, but it was a long time before I could write. There was a small lake on the estate which was full of fish; every stream contained trout. The hills abounded in rabbits and hares; in a larch-forest, since cut away, were woodcock. Pheasants used often to stray over from Lord Powerscourt's demesne, which was separated from our ground by a much-broken fence. These my father strictly forbade me to snare, but I fear I did not always obey him. Pheasants roasted in the depths of the larch-wood, and flavored with the salt of secrecy, were appetizing indeed.

One ridiculous incident of my childhood suggests itself. For a boy, of eight I was a fair chess-player. A friend and distant relative of ours, Captain Meagher brother of Thomas Francis Meagher, who was a general in the Confederate Army during the American War stayed for a time at an inn in the village of Enniskerry, which was two or three miles away. He was a frequent visitor, and I used to continually worry him to play chess. One day he told me that he never played this game except very early in the morning, and that if I would come down some day at 5 a.m. he would have a game with me.

But poor Captain Meagher little knew who he was dealing with. Next morning, at a quarter to five, I was in the street in front of the inn. The season must have been early spring or late autumn, for it was pitch-dark and very cold. I trotted up and down the village street, chess-board and chessmen in hand, trying to keep myself warm until five o'clock struck. Then I went to the inn door and sounded a loud rat-tat with the knocker. No one answered, so I knocked still louder. At length I heard a slow and laborious shuffling of feet in the passage, and an old woman, wrapped in a patchwork quilt and wearing a white nightcap, opened the door. She regarded me with hardly subdued fury.

"Phwat d'ye want?" she asked.

"I've come to play chess with Captain Meagher," I replied.

"Oh! glory be to God!" she gasped, and tried to shut the door in my face. But I dodged under her elbow and fled up the stairs, for I knew my friend's room. The woman followed, ejaculating mixed prayers and curses. I tried the Captain's door, but it was locked, so I thundered on the panel and roared for admittance. I shall never forget the look of dismay on the poor man's face when I told him what I had come for. However, he was very nice over the matter; he made the old woman light a fire and provide me with hot milk and bread. But my disappointment was bitter when I found that he was quite ignorant of the game of chess.

The most celebrated physician in the Dublin of those days was Sir Dominic Corrigan, who, however, was as much famed for his brusqueness towards patients as for his skill. Being in weak health, I was often taken to him, but he invariably treated me with the utmost kindness. However, a highly, respectable maiden-aunt of mine had a somewhat different experience. She went to consult him. After sounding her none too gently and asking a few questions, he relapsed into silence. Then, after a pause of meditation, he said

"Well, ma'am, it's one of two things: either you drink or else you sit with your back to the fire."

In one of the outhouses at Springfield dwelt an old woman, a superannuated servant. I remember her under the name of "Old Mary." The room she occupied was small, and contained but little furniture. Yet it was always neat and as clean as a new pin. Old Mary used to sit all day long in a high armchair, knitting, and with a black cat asleep on her lap. She was a terrible tea-drinker, and was very fond of me, but I ill requited her kindness by continually plundering her sugar-bowl. The latter she took to hiding, but I, engaging her the time in airy conversation, used to ransack the premises until I found it. Eventually it became a game of skill between the hider and the seeker. I can now see the old woman's eyes over the rims of her spectacles as she laid her knitting down and ruefully regarded the development of the search. But at this game, owing to the restricted area, I always won.

I went away on a visit; soon after my return I went to call on Old Mary. To my surprise, there stood the brown earthenware sugar-bowl, half-full, unconcealed upon the table. After a few minutes I stretched forth my hand to help myself to its contents. Old Mary looked at me, and said in a deep, serious voice

"Masther Willie."

"Yes," I replied.

"I always spits in me sugar."

Horror-struck, I rose and fled.

It was, I think, in my tenth year that I determined to join the Royal Navy. An uncle of mine had presented me with Captain Marryat's novels complete in one immense volume. I felt that a life on the ocean wave was the only one worth living. Accordingly I offered my services to the Admiralty as a midshipman. As I could not write (a fact I felt myself justified in concealing from the First Lord), I got old Micky Nolan, who was employed as a clerk in the village bakery, to pen the application for me. Micky, who had seen better days, was quite a capable scribe when sober.

My qualifications for the post applied for were set forth in full. I was, I said, quite an expert navigator, my experience having been gained in a boat on the Springfield lake. But I candidly confessed that my parents were unaware of the step I had determined to take, and accordingly requested that a reply might be sent to Michael Nolan, Esq. For several weary weeks I trudged daily to the bakery, vainly hoping for an answer.

Having for some time felt the pinch of increasing poverty, I was keenly anxious to obtain some lucrative employment. One day I read an advertisement in the Freeman's Journal which seemed to offer an opening towards a competence. For the moderate sum of one shilling (which might be remitted in postage stamps if convenient to the sender) a plan for earning a liberal livelihood would be revealed. There was no room for any doubt; the thing was described as an absolute certainty. An easy, congenial, reputable employment, not requiring any special educational qualifications, why, the thing would have been cheap at hundreds of pounds. Yet here it was going begging for a shilling. In my case, however, the shilling was the great difficulty. My sole sources of pocket-money were the sale of holly-berries for Christmas festivities; florists used to send carts from Dublin and pay as much as three shillings per load and a royalty of a penny per head which I used to collect from rabbit snarers who worked with ferrets. But Christmas was far off, and rabbits were breeding, so my golden opportunity of acquiring an easy competence would probably be lost by delay.

My parents were unaccountably unsympathetic; they absolutely refused to provide the shilling. But a friend heard of my plight (not, however, from myself), and furnished the cash. He little knew the misery he was calling down on my unsophisticated head.

I posted the shilling's-worth of stamps to the specified address and awaited a reply in a fever of anticipation. Within a few days it arrived; we were sitting at breakfast when the letter was delivered. My heart swelled with joyous expectation. Now I would show my skeptical relations how wrong-headed they, had been in thwarting my legitimate ambitions towards making a start in life; now I was about to taste the sweets of independence.

The missive was bulky. As my trembling fingers tore open the envelope, a number of closely printed slips fell out. I read these, one by one, with a reeling brain. Then I laid my head on the table and burst into bitter tears. My stately castle of hope had tumbled to pieces, and I was buried beneath its ruins.

The circulars were signed by one "Harper Twelvetree"; the printed slips outlined a scheme for establishing a burial agency. I had to open an office at the nearest village and, when I heard of a death, direct the attention of the bereaved to one or other of the undertakers in the vicinity. For thus obtaining custom I was to claim a commission on the funeral expenses. This ghoulish suggestion was the sole outcome of my sanguine expectations.

It is hardly too much to say that this matter caused me deeper and more long-drawn-out misery than any other episode of a somewhat chequered career. I have dwelt on it at length because I think the relation reveals a moral. At that breakfast-table began a course of torture which lasted for several years. To say I was chaffed by everyone, from my father and mother down to old Larry Frane, an ex-soldier who occupied the lodge at our big gate, gives no idea of the true state of things. The ridicule was continuous, searching, and universal. I was the laughing-stock of the neighborhood. Anonymous letters from supposed persons in a moribund condition, offering to guarantee the delivery of their prospective remains in consideration of a small immediate advance, reached me from various quarters. If I went into a hayfield, one laborer would speak to another, somewhat in this fashion

"Jerry, have ye heerd that ould Biddy McGrath was prayed for on Sunday?"

This would be accompanied by a meaning look at me. I would stalk off with apparent unconcern, seeking some place where I could fall unseen to the ground and weep. I was afraid to go to Mass at the little upland chapel at Glencullen. It is usual in Roman Catholic churches to pray for the welfare of departed souls and for the recovery of those people afflicted with sickness who are thought to be in danger. I used to imagine that the priest glanced meaningly at me when he made announcements on these subjects. This, of course, was nonsense, but several times I noticed members of the congregation looking at me and tittering.

I became solitary in my habits, for I dreaded meeting a human being. For a time my health suffered to a serious degree. My tribulations increased to such an extent that I seriously contemplated suicide. I am convinced that this period left an indelible mark, and that not an improving one, on my character. Where sensitive children are concerned, chaff may be useful in hardening them, but it should not be carried beyond a certain point.


Improved health—Jimmy Kinsella—Veld food—I abscond—Father Healy on conversion—Father O'Dwyer and his whip—Confession—Construction of a volcano—The Fenian outbreak—Departure for South Africa—The tuneful soldier—Chess at sea—Madeira A gale—The Asia

My health having improved in my eleventh year, I was able to extend the range of my walks abroad. The surrounding country was full of interest; the scenery was lovely. The region through which the boundary common to Wicklow and Dublin runs is full of beauty spots, and the deeper one penetrates into Wicklow, the more delightful is the landscape. The Dargle, Powerscourt Waterfall, Bray Head, and the Sugarloaf Mountains were all within rambling distance of Springfield. A few miles away, on the Dublin side, were various ruins full of rusting machinery. These had been the sites of paper and flax mills, shut down owing to England's fiscal policy of the early nineteenth century days. Lead-smelting and shot-making was carried on at a spot a few miles to the eastward. It was a great delight to see the melted metal poured through a sieve at the top of a tower and raining down into an excavation with water at the bottom. I remember the manager of the works once showing me an immense ingot of silver. It was lying on a table in his office between two flannel shirts, the edges of which were just able to meet over its sides. There was a small lake and a trout stream close to the works; of these I had the run.

Many spots in the neighborhood of Springfield had legends attached to them. I remember one large rock in the Scalp which was known as the "Soggarth's Stone." It was said that a priest had been killed there in "ninety-eight." At a spot where two roads crossed, on the way to Enniskerry, could still be traced the outlines of the graves of several suicides; one of these had the remains of a very old oaken stake sticking diagonally from it. Every storied spot fascinated me, but although many of my friends among the peasantry tried hard to make me believe in the fairies or, as they called them, "the good people," I never placed the slightest credence in what was said on the subject.

I had a faithful henchman in Jimmy Kinsella, a lad of about my own age, who belonged to Springfield. Jimmy was the only one of my circle of acquaintances who refrained from persecuting me concerning the "burial agency" episode. Should these lines ever meet his eye, he will know that I still cherish grateful memories of his chivalrous forbearance. But I fear poor Jimmy could never have learnt to read; he was one of a sorely poverty-stricken family of about a dozen children. His ordinary costume consisted of a very ragged coat and breeches, the latter not quite reaching to his knees, and usually held at their proper altitude by a "suggan," or rope of hay. Jimmy was the only well-fleshed member of his family, and for being thus distinguished he had me to thank.

I must, as a child, have had the forager's instinct very strongly developed, for I very early noted the amount of more or less appetizing food lying about ungleaned in what, in South Africa, we would call "the veld." For instance, there was a large grove of hazel-trees from which vast stores of nuts could be collected in the season. This nut-grove was still standing when I visited Springfield a few years ago. These nuts we used to gather and, like the squirrels, hoard in various places.

The seasons brought forth other acceptable items of food. Mushrooms grew plentifully in the grassy hollows near the lake, and wild strawberries were to be found on almost every southern slope. There was one small area where the strawberries grew in wonderful profusion. A few years since I revisited this spot in spring. I found the fruit as plentiful as ever, but somehow the flavor of the strawberry did not seem to be so rich as it was five-and-forty years ago. Blackberries were abundant on the edge of every thicket; on the heights of the Scalp, over which we poached without restraint, haws and sloes grew plentifully. It must not be inferred that Jimmy and I did not lay the garden under levy, for we did. Apples, pears, gooseberries, and such common fruits, we helped ourselves to freely, but I had given my word not to touch any of the rare varieties such as plums and greengages. These were trained, vine-wise, along the walls.

But we seldom lacked animal food, for we could always snare rabbits or, except in the depths of winter, catch fish. The lake was full of perch, roach, and eels; every mountain stream contained trout. On rare occasions we would find Lord Powerscourt's pheasants in our snares. I am sorry to say that in winter we would eat blackbirds, which we caught in a crib made of elder-rods. This I always knew to be a disgraceful thing to do, and it was only when very hungry indeed that such a crime was committed.

Tired of the ways of society, Jimmy and I determined to have done with civilization, so we built, with infinite pains and some measure of skill, a large hut in the deepest and loneliest part of the larch-forest. Larch-boughs and bracken were the materials used. To this hut I surreptitiously conveyed a few utensils such as knives, mugs, etcetera, as well as a change of clothing and some cast-off garments as a fresh outfit for Jimmy. We disappeared early one afternoon, and, after a lordly feast of roast rabbit and mushrooms, sank to sleep on a fragrant bed of carefully selected fronds of dry bracken.

At about midnight I awoke with the glare of a lantern in my eyes. My father had come with a search party, and I was led, howling with wrath and disappointment, back to the haunts of conventional men. My absence had not been thought remarkable until ten o'clock had struck. Then a messenger was dispatched to make inquiries at the Kinsella cottage. Patsy, one of Jimmy's numerous brethren, betrayed us. He had, a few days previously, followed our tracks to the secret lair. Poor Patsy, subsequently had reason to regret his treachery.

One escapade of Jimmy's and mine nearly had serious consequences. I had been reading about volcanoes, so was filled with ambition to construct one. I unearthed a large powder-horn, belonging to my father, which must have contained nearly a pound of gunpowder. This I poured into a tin, which I punctured at the side. Into the puncture I inserted a fuse of rolled brown paper which had been soaked in a solution of saltpeter. The tin was placed on the floor in the middle of the tool-house; around it we banked damp clay in the form of a truncated cone, leaving a hollow for the crater. The latter we filled with dry sand and fragments of brick. We lit the fuse, and, as might have been expected, a frightful explosion resulted. The windows were blown completely out of the tool-house. Jimmy and I were flung against the wall and nearly blinded. Several fragments of brick had to be dug out of our respective faces.

Father Healy, celebrated as a wit, occasionally visited our house. His church at Little Bray was noted for the excellence of its choir. The following story, was told of this priest: He was one night dining with an Anglican clergyman, with whom he was on intimate terms. Just previously two Roman Catholic priests, one in England and the other in Ireland, had joined the Anglican communion. This double event, which came up as a topic of conversation at the dinner-table, was, naturally enough, the occasion of some satisfaction to the host. Various views as to the psychology of conversion or, according to one's point of view, perversion, were mooted. Various possible motives, spiritual and temporal, underlying such a change, were discussed. Eventually the host asked Father Healy for his opinion.

"Faith!" replied the latter, "I don't think there's any mystery about the thing at all."

"How do you mean?"

"Well, when one of our men goes over to you, it's always due to one of two causes."

"What are they?"

"Punch or Judy," replied Father Healy laconically.

Although Glencullen Chapel was the nearest to Springfield, the house was in the parish of Enniskerry. Here a certain Father O'Dwyer was the incumbent. Father O'Dwyer was a very irascible man of powerful physique; he was as much feared by the godly as by the ungodly.

He kept a big whip in the vestry, with which to chastise evil-doers; of this I had ocular demonstration.

One Sunday, when High Mass was being celebrated by another priest, a stranger, I was sitting in the carriage, which stood waiting for the conclusion of the ceremony, in the road outside. I had attended early Mass, and arranged to drive home with my people. A number of boys were playing marbles outside the church-yard wall, in a blind alley. The vestry door opened and Father O'Dwyer came out, clad in his soutane and carrying the well-known whip. He crouched and crept along the wall, out through the gate and to the entrance of the alley. The boys were so intent upon their game that they never noticed his approach until he was close upon them. Then they sprang up with wild yells, but the lash descended on them like a well-aimed flail; they rolled over and over in a writhing heap. After the heap had broken up and its shrieking units scattered, the irate priest calmly pocketed the marbles and, whip in hand, stalked back to the vestry.

Confession to Father O'Dwyer was an ordeal much dreaded by the younger members of our family. As we were his parishioners, he expected us to attend to our religious duties at his church, but we endeavored by every possible subterfuge to perform such at Glencullen, where the priest was more sympathetic.

My father used to tell a story of the confessional which always amused us. When a boy, he occasionally visited relations in Dublin who were exact in the matter of regular confession. It was, in fact, the rule of the household that not alone every member, but the stranger within its gates, should confess each Saturday night. As it is on Saturday night that most people confess, a number of penitents were usually sitting in church awaiting their respective turns. On one occasion my father was sitting near a cubicle into which a rather disreputable woman had just entered. He heard the muttering of the voices of the priest and the penitent alternately; once or twice the former emitted a long, low whistle, indicative of extreme surprise.

Another story was told me by a relative. The episode is said to have occurred at Cashel, but I do not guarantee it in any respect. Whether it is true or not does not much matter.

Part of the ritual of confession is this: The penitent repeats a formula of three sentences: "Mea culpa mea culpa mea maxima culpa," striking the breast with the closed hand as each sentence is uttered. On this occasion the words of the penitent, an old countrywoman, could be distinctly heard outside the cubicle. They were: "Mea culpa, mea oh! dammit I've bruk me poipe."

In 1867 befell the Fenian outbreak. At Glencullen, about a mile from the back of our house, was a police barrack. This was attacked one night, but not captured, although the valiant attackers forced some of their prisoners to stand in the line of fire, between them and the building. The police had closed the windows with feather beds and mattresses, and these the Fenian bullets could not penetrate. Within a few days the fiasco of a rising was at an end. I do not think any of the people in our neighborhood joined it. When the rebels retreated along the Wicklow road, they threw several pikes over the wall close to our lodge gates. The preference on the part of the Irishman of the last generation for the pike as a fighting implement was remarkable. He regarded it as quite superior to the rifle.

My father had never been well off; each passing year had left him more and more deeply involved. In 1867 a disastrous lawsuit with the Marquis of Bute over some mining rights in Wales almost brought ruin to our door. It was decided to emigrate. The advantages of New Zealand, Buenos Ayres, and South Africa were all considered. But a letter from Cardinal (then Bishop) Moran, of Grahamstown, decided our fate: the Cape Colony was to be our destination.

My three sisters were all senior to me. The eldest accompanied us to the Cape. The second had, the previous year, gone to India. The youngest, who was in delicate health, remained behind with an aunt. My brother, who was younger than I, stayed at school in Ireland.

So one lovely day, in early November of 1867 we embarked at Dublin on a small paddle-steamer called the Lady Eglinton. Our immediate destination was Falmouth; there we had to join the S.S. Asia, one of the old "Diamond Line." Memory is a curious thing; although I can recall minute details of most of my uneventful life between my sixth and twelfth years, the circumstances of this voyage, the first in my experience, have passed almost entirely away. The only memory that remains is connected with a ridiculous episode.

There was a drunken Irish soldier on board. He was a good-natured creature who made himself most embarrassingly friendly towards all and sundry of the passengers. Eventually he tried to embrace one of the ladies. For this misdemeanor, which I am persuaded was based on no evil intention, he was trussed and tied down on the hatch, close to the wheel. But the man must have been a philosopher, for his bonds distressed him not at all. For several hours he lifted up his voice in continuous song. His repertoire was extensive and varied. To this day I can clearly recall the words as well as the tune of two of his ditties. One related to the history of a pair of corduroy breeches, year by year, since the close of the last decade, each year being treated of in a couplet. The first verse ran thus:

"In eighteen hundred and sixty-one Those corduroy breeches were begun."

Eventually, in the then current year, 1867 "Those corduroy breeches went up to heaven."

But they must have come down again, for it was prophetically, related that, in 1868 "Those corduroy breeches lost their sate."

Following this came a lyric, having for its theme the pangs of despised love and the faithlessness of the fair. Its refrain ran:

"Oh, surely the wimmin is worse than the min, For they go to the Divil and come back agin."

Towards the afternoon the minstrel sank into slumber. To judge by the expression of his face his dreams must have been happy ones.

The Asia was awaiting us at Falmouth. By the light of subsequent experience I now know her to have been a very second-class craft even for the sixties but to me then she was an Argo bound for a Colchis, where a Golden Fleece awaited every seeker. There were a number of Cape colonists on board. Among them may be mentioned Mr. and Mrs. "Varsy" Van der Byl, the Rev. Mr. (now Canon) Woodrooffe and his wife, Mr. Templar Horne who was afterwards Surveyor-General and Mr. D. Krynauw, who still enjoys life in his comfortable home just off Wandel Street, Cape Town. Mr. Krynauw added to the gaiety of the community by making clever thumb-nail sketches of all and sundry. But Mr. Woodrooffe was the life and soul of the ship. He seemed to have as many accomplishments as the celebrated Father O'Flynn, with several more thrown in.

Among his other acquirements Mr. Woodrooffe had an excellent knowledge of chess; he was, in fact, by far the best player on board. I often challenged him to play, but he considered a small boy such as I was to be beneath his notice, so kept putting me off. However, one day I happened to be sitting in the saloon, with the chessmen in their places on the board, waiting for a victim. Mr. Woodrooffe chanced to come out of his cabin, so I captured him. But no sooner had we begun to play than two charming young ladies appeared and, one on each side, engaged my opponent in a conversation which, naturally enough, was more interesting than chess with me. Accordingly, he paid little or no attention to the game. I, on the other hand, was in deadly earnest.

I moved out my king's pawn; then the king's bishop; then the queen. My heart was in my mouth; surely so experienced a player was not going to walk open-eyed into such a booby-trap. But the sirens had lured his attention away. Next move I gave him "fool's mate." That moment was one of the proudest of my life; I had beaten the champion, the Admirable Crichton of games of skill, the man whose word was law in all matters relating to sport in our little community.

Unfortunately, however, I was too young and inexperienced to support my triumph with becoming dignity. I rushed up the companion stair shouting the news of my victory at the top of my voice. I told it to the captain, the officers, the passengers, and to such members of the crew as I was acquainted with. But I was astute enough never again to offer to play chess with Mr. Woodrooffe, and even to decline when he suggested our having a return game.

The Biscayan tides were kind; but no sooner had we passed Finisterre than a gale struck us, and for many woeful days the Asia behaved like a drunken porpoise. I do not think a single passenger escaped sea-sickness. The gale continued until the night before we reached Madeira. I shall never forget the enchanting prospect which Funchal afforded as we glided to our anchorage in the early morning. The misery of the previous week was forgotten in the rapture of a moment. The sky was cloudless and the contours of the lovely island were bathed in opaline light. What joy the first sight, smell, and taste of the tropical fruits brought. Cold storage, by bringing all descriptions of exotic fruit to Europe, has robbed travel towards the tropics of one of its keenest delights.

We passed to the westward of Teneriffe in perfectly clear weather. The recent storms encountered by us had extended far to the south; consequently the great peak was clothed in dazzling snow to an unusual distance below its summit. The impression left on my memory by that mountain mass, with the snow-mantle glowing in the rose-red light of sunset, will never fade. I can well remember being sadly disappointed at the first view of the Southern Cross. The voyage was uneventful until we reached the vicinity of the Cape, where we again encountered a most violent south-west gale. For two days we steamed against a tremendous sea. Wave after wave swept our decks; all the passengers had to remain below. I remember the ladies sitting huddled together at night in the companion, and the ship's doctor (I think his name was Williamson) regaling them with gruesome tales of shipwreck until the more nervous of the listeners began to wail aloud. So bad was the storm, that cooking was almost suspended. The menu consisted solely of "sea-pie" a comestible apparently composed of lumps of salt-beef stuck into slabs of very tough dough, and the result boiled in a hurried and perfunctory manner. Two days after the cessation of the storm, the Asia steamed into Table Bay.

The Asia, poor old tub, lies at the bottom of the Bay of Bengal, where she foundered with all hands when engaged in the cattle-trade. Peace to her iron bones. Most of my fellow Argonauts, long before this, must have sunk into that sleep from which there is no earthly waking. Few, if any of us, managed to find the Golden Fleece. Those who, like myself, are still seeking it, are treading that downhill path which grows steeper at every pace, and which leads to that valley, filled with grey shadow, out of which none return. To them I hold out a hand of greeting in the spirit. Perhaps, when the Great Cycle has been traversed, we may meet again. Perhaps in another Argo we may voyage from Sirius to Mazaroth, through seas of golden ether adventurers from world to world instead of from continent to continent.


Arrival at Cape Town—Port Elizabeth—First encounter with big game Grahamstown—Severe thunderstorm—King William's Town Natives and their ponies—Social peculiarities—Farming—The annual trek—Camp-life Surf-bathing—Self-sacrificing attitude of Larry O'Toole—Capture of an ant-bear—The coast scenery—A moral shock—School Chief Toise—Rainy seasons—Flooded rivers

It was about the middle of December when we reached Table Bay. With the exception of the old Slave Barracks, in which the Supreme Court sits, I do not think a single one of the present Adderley Street buildings existed. Bree Street is more or less unchanged, but immediately to the eastward of it modernization begins. The most interesting building to me was the old Fruit Market, facing the Parade. I think it stood on the present site of the Drill Hall. The variety of strange fruits there to be found, the grotesque dresses of the Malays, and the babel of uncouth speech exercised a fascination the memory of which has never faded.

The costume of the average Malay woman has remained unchanged; it is surely the most hideous of the many sumptuary hideosities for which fashion is responsible. This is the more deplorable for that the Malay women, when young, are often extremely pretty. The color scheme they affect is good; these women usually dress in light, flimsy silks of varied hue. Such materials are used at all events among the well-to-do for skirt, bodice, kerchief, and coiffure. But under the skirt, which hangs from just below the arm-pits, there must be at least a dozen petticoats. The result is a figure resembling a misshapen cone. I believe this costume is an exaggerated imitation of that of the "merchant's" wife of a little more than a century ago, and that it was adopted by the Malays when the Dutch sumptuary laws were repealed.

We were hospitably entertained by the families of some friends we had made on the voyage. One day we spent with the Hams, an old Cape family whose homestead, long since "improved" away, stood not far from the present site of the Mount Nelson Hotel. Constantia, also, we visited, and were presented with some of the famous wine there grown.

At this time the only railway in South Africa was a single line between Cape Town and Wynberg. It was said, but I do not know with how much truth, that the building of this line was due to the accidental circumstance that a ship, bound for Australia with railway material, was wrecked in the vicinity of the Cape.

After a delay of about a week we set sail for Port Elizabeth, the end of our voyage. We left considerably more than half of our passengers in Cape Town. The parting with some of these was a sad experience; during the course of the long voyage we had made many friends. We reached Port Elizabeth on Christmas Eve, and were carried ashore through the surf by natives. Immediately after landing, we passed a yard full of old lumber. Protruding from a chaos of ancient rubbish was a signboard, bearing in dingy letters the legend: "Joseph Scully, Coach Painter." This is the only occasion upon which I have come across my name in South Africa. We landed at once, but some of the passengers elected to remain on board the Asia until next morning. This they had ample cause to regret, for a severe south-easter set in during the night and rendered communication with the shore impossible for several days.

Port Elizabeth, although then a thriving town, had not yet earned the title "the Liverpool of South Africa." I doubt as to whether its commercial self-righteousness had developed to the extent of adopting the sobriquet "the Honest Port." My most salient memories are of hospitality, wool, hides, pumpkins, and sand. So far as I can recall, neither Main Street nor the Market Square was paved. That useful but ungainly ship of the southern deserts, the ox-wagon, was much in evidence. When the wind blew, as it did nearly all the time we were there, the dust arose in one continuous cloud, and grit reigned supreme.

But the hospitality of the Port Elizabethans was a thing to be remembered with great pleasure. No sooner had we landed than invitations poured in on us. This was not merely complimentary it was the outcome of genuine kindness and a desire to be helpful. There was no ostentation, but just the natural expression of a simple desire to welcome and assist the stranger newly arrived within the gates. Hospitality was one of the cardinal South African virtues in those days. It has been truly said that even a quarter of a century ago a man might ride from Cape Town to the Limpopo without a shilling in his pocket, and be well entertained all the way. Things have, however, much changed in this respect. I suppose this was inevitable; true hospitality is a plant which seldom survives the hot stress of the struggle for riches.

Grahamstown was our destination, so an ox-wagon of the largest size and with a team to match was hired to convey us and our belongings to the city, which has since become so celebrated as the abode of saints. Our first outspan was in the valley of the Zwartkops River, close to a big vlei, which was surrounded by dense, scrubby jungle. I had a small single-barreled rifle, so I loaded this and went off in search of big game. In anticipation of our translation to Africa I had done a good deal of rifle practice at Springfield, and had thus become a fair shot.

But now, to my great disappointment, I could find nothing on which to exercise my skill. After a long, hot, circular walk, in the course of which I had not seen a living thing, I found myself once more on the edge of the vlei, within a hundred yards of the wagon. I was so thirsty that I found it impossible to pass the water without drinking. The margin of the vlei was very muddy, so, placing my rifle against a tree, I stepped from one tussock to another, so as to get within reach of deeper and, therefore, clearer water. I bent down to drink, placing one hand on a tussock and the other on what I took to be a stone, about six inches in diameter. But when I touched it the supposed stone emitted a terrible "quor-r-rr-k," and squattered away. It was an immense bull frog I had tried to lean upon. I sprang up and fled. Such was my first experience of African big game.

After a six days' trek we reached Grahamstown. We failed to observe any, saints, but, on the other hand, met a number of very kind sinners, who did a lot towards making our stay a pleasant one. For a week we were the guests of Judge Fitzpatrick and his wife. The judge and my father had occupied chambers together as young men in Dublin. "Sir Percy" was then a boy I should say about three or four years my junior. The judge's orchard was all that could be desired by hungry boys; the flavor of the apricots there growing will never be forgotten by me.

We took a house as a temporary measure, my father in the meantime endeavoring to secure a suitable farm. In this he was unsuccessful, so after six weeks we hired another wagon and started for King William's Town. The rains had been heavy, and the drift of the Fish River on the direct road was consequently impassable, so we took the longer route and crossed by the old wooden military bridge at Fort Brown. This bridge was swept away by the great flood of 1874. A great iron girder structure has been put in its place.

Just before fording the Keiskamma River we encountered a most terrible thunderstorm. Whilst making all due allowance for inexperience, and having since sampled some heavy weather of various sorts in the tropics, I am of opinion that this storm was the worst I have ever seen. Early in the afternoon of a hot bright day, snow-white, solid-looking clouds began to collect around the peaks of the Amatole Mountains. These grew rapidly until they coalesced in a dense, compact mass. After remaining stationary, for some time, this began to move slowly towards us. It was black beneath, but dazzlingly white at the summit. It swept down with accelerating speed. The air throbbed with that most awe-inspiring sound, the guttural murmur of approaching hail. For some minutes the rain descended in drowning sheets. Then the hail smote us like a roaring cataract. The wind was so furious that the wagon tilt was almost torn to pieces. But, as terrifying agencies, these were as nothing to the lightning which appeared to stab the ground so closely and incessantly all around us that escape seemed an impossibility and to the thunder, which kept up a continuous bellow, punctuated by stunning crashes. The storm lasted far into the night; then the clouds rolled away, leaving an absolutely clear sky. Next morning was cloudless, and was followed by a lovely day. We searched far and near for evidence of damage, but all we found was a shattered mimosa-tree. The bark and the wood were lying about, frayed into their ultimate fibers; they looked like teased-out flax. Curiously enough they showed no sign of burning.

After a trek lasting eight days we reached King William's Town, which even then was a flourishing place. Three regiments were stationed there—the 9th and 11th Infantry and the old Imperial Cape Mounted Riflemen. Of the latter, the rank and file were principally Hottentots, but the officers were European. This regiment, an excellent one in every respect, was shortly afterwards disbanded.

We settled down for a stay in King William's Town, to enable us to take our bearings. My father made various trips throughout the district, looking for a suitable farm. Red-coated soldiers and red-blanketed natives were everywhere in evidence. The liquor-shops (canteens they were called) did a roaring trade. Every morning hundreds of natives, mounted on wiry ponies and clad in nothing but trousers and red blanket, would gallop into the town by every road. In the afternoon they would gallop back again, nearly ail more or less tipsy. The ponies were excellent animals; in breed they were identical with the famed "Basuto pony," for which long prices are given today. It is a great pity that these ponies have been allowed to become practically extinct in the Cape Colony. For hardiness and docility they were unequalled. Like so much else, they melted away in the coffers of the canteen-keeper.

Socially, King William's Town was in a most curious condition. The military absolutely ruled the roost. Trade, whether wholesale or retail, carried the Mark of the Beast, and no one connected therewith was recognized. Neither beauty, intellect, nor wealth was allowed to count against the disgrace involved in one being in any way connected with commerce. I will give an illustration showing how strong this preposterous feeling was.

My sister was very popular with the military set. (We were poor enough, in all conscience, but we had not disgraced ourselves by, contact with trade.) She struck up a friendship with the daughter of the proprietor of a large business. He belonged to an old and much-esteemed colonial family. The girl was pretty, accomplished, and amiable. But she was "left out" of everything. Dance after dance was given, but Miss X never received an invitation. My sister was distressed at this, and, when a large military dance was projected, used every ounce of her influence towards having her friend invited. But all her trouble was in vain.

What made the situation hopeless was the circumstance that the civilians accepted it with contemptible humility. It was almost pathetic to observe how people, just on the border-line, received with humble thankfulness such crumbs of recognition as were occasionally thrown to them. Snobbery increases in offensiveness when it is transplanted.

Living was exceedingly cheap. I think the price of meat was twopence per pound. I have seen hundreds of bags of excellent potatoes offered on the morning market and taken away unsold because no one would bid a shilling per bag for them. Most people were poor, but they seemed somehow to be comfortable enough. There was no such thing as pauperism. Even the poorest could afford to keep horses. Journeys were generally performed on horseback, luggage being carried on a pack-horse, led by an after-rider. I had a splendid pony, which cost only 3. He grazed on the town commonage; besides grass, he never got anything to eat but an occasional handful of mealies. Yet he always was in good condition. On this pony I regularly followed the hounds for some months for the military kept a pack of foxhounds with which duiker antelopes were hunted and was usually in at the death.

After a time my father managed to hire what was believed to be a suitable farm near MacLean Town. It was called "Sunny Slope" and it belonged to Mr. Benjamin Norton, who lived on the farm adjoining. Here we began farming with about eight hundred sheep, and a few head of cattle. The farm contained long, gentle, undulating slopes, divided by shallow kloofs full of forest. The pasturage was rich and water was plentiful. But our farming was not successful; it was hardly possible that it could have been so. Farming is a trade, and has to be learnt. Moreover, wool went down in price and the sheep contracted various diseases. However, the latter evil was overcome with the kind assistance of our neighbors.

In the days I write of, the whole of the coast of British Kaffraria between the Kei River and the Keiskamma, with the exception of the then insignificant town of East London and a small area in its vicinity, was almost uninhabited. It was the custom for practically, all Kaffrarian stock-farmers to trek down to the coast with their stock for the three winter months. Then the range of forest-clothed sandhills forming the coastline held a succession of camps. The scenery was enchanting; every valley brimmed with evergreen forest, and between the valleys sloped downs, clothed with rich grass.

Game was abundant, and the lagoon at the mouth of every stream piercing the line of sandhills teemed with fish. The trek period was looked upon as one of holiday. Care was thrown to the winds; picnics, hunting, and sea-bathing were the order of the day. Social gatherings took place alternately at the various camps not too distant from each other. More or less impassable estuaries, where the larger streams broke through to the sea, divided the coast tract into so many separate blocks.

Horses were plentiful; probably every individual, not too old or too young to ride, had at least one mount available. Young men and maidens thought nothing of riding ten miles to tea, and riding back in the starlight when the gathering broke up. Homely song and the strains of the now much despised concertina mingled with the softened thunder of the surf, and, borne by the mild breath of the sea wind, no doubt surprised the wild creatures whose sanctuaries we had invaded. I have since heard some of the greatest singers and instrumentalists, but no music has ever given me such joy as those rudimentary strains listened to at night in a clearing of the forest near the mouth of the Gonubie River, with the chastened resonance of the Indian Ocean surf as an accompaniment.

I often recall our bathing. The beach was level and sandy, not a reef nor even a rock was within sight. Immense rollers fugitives from the wrath of far-off tempests used to sweep in continuously. Just before breaking these would tower aloft, their fine-drawn crests poised for an instant in the sunlight. Our favorite sport was among these waves. We would buffet our way out to the breaking zone. Then, as the mighty, walls of glistening water swept up, we would drive through them, one by one, or else lie flat on the water in the hollow, side to the advancing wave. In the latter case the wave would pick the bather up with a sudden swing, poise him for an instant on its trembling crest, and then whirl him round and round as it swept restlessly shoreward. This whirling was so rapid that I have occasionally almost lost consciousness when in the grip of an unusually, powerful breaker. We never considered that we were doing anything venturesome; the sport described was followed by all and sundry, quite as a matter of course. Nevertheless, I think the boys used to venture out farther than the men. Sharks we never thought of. It was not considered possible that we could be carried out to sea, for the greatest difficulty lay in keeping oneself from being flung back on the shore by the rapidly advancing waves. I wonder whether bathers nowadays venture out as far as we did.

The friends with whom I usually stayed were the Barbers, who lived at Grey Park, a few miles from Sunny Slope. I mean Mr. Hilton Barber, now of Halesowen, near Cradock, and his brothers Guy and Graham. The latter, one of the truest friends I ever had, is, alas! long since dead. He fell a victim to pneumonia at Johannesburg in the early days. Related to or connected with the Barbers were the Atherstones, Cummings, McIntoshes, and Dicks, whose tents usually, stood in the vicinity of the Barber encampment.

I recall one incident which caused a great deal of laughter. Mr. Guy Barber was then engaged to his present wife, who was Miss McIntosh, a girl of remarkable beauty. A certain Mr. Larry O'Toole, who had come out in the Asia under my father's protection, was staying at a camp in the vicinity. One day a wild-duck shoot was in progress. Larry, who knew little or nothing about shooting, was of the party. The sportsmen took their stations around the margins of a large, sinuous vlei. The ducks, after being disturbed, flew up and down. Miss McIntosh, with her fiance, was on horseback opposite Larry, on the other side of the water. Some ducks flew past and Larry fired. The birds were untouched, but the horse ridden by, Miss McIntosh was severely peppered and began to plunge violently. In the course of a severe reproof for his carelessness, Larry was asked by Guy Barber:

"Now, supposing you had blinded or otherwise badly injured Miss McIntosh, what would you have done?"

"Oh! begor," replied Larry, "I suppose I'd have had to marry, her."

Poor Larry O'Toole! We met, years afterwards, in a remote mining-camp. He ventured into the Low Country beyond the Murchison Range at the wrong season, and contracted fever. In the delirium which supervened he blew his brains out. Larry had a brother, Edmund, who had been a sailor, and who joined Butler's Horse in the Zulu War. He gained the Victoria Cross the day before Ulundi. Together with the late Lord William Beresford ("Bill," as he liked to be called, alliteratively ) he saved a wounded man from the spears of the enemy. For this exploit the cross was offered to Lord William, but he refused to accept it unless a similar distinction were conferred on O'Toole.

The latter had a varied career. I once hailed a cab in Cape Town and found he was the driver. He told me he had saved 200 at cab driving. But I judge from what I subsequently heard that the money did him no good. He, like so many others of "the legion that never was listed" with whom I have foregathered, has long since closed his earthly account.

One occurrence I heard of among the seaside camps merits relation. It should be mentioned that the extraordinary, story reached me at second-hand. The incident is said to have taken place one season when I did not visit the coast.

At the end of the sixties no zoological garden contained a specimen of the South African anteater. I do not know whether any such institution contains one now. However, a very liberal price was offered for a live specimen. This extraordinary creature is almost strictly nocturnal in its habits, and is consequently extremely difficult to capture. One day a man with whom I was acquainted was riding through the veld a few miles from his camp. To his surprise he noticed a large ant-eater. Mindful of the reward offered, he sprang from his horse and seized the creature by one of its hind-legs.

The ant-eater has hardly any means of defense, its formidable claws being used solely for digging. But its strength and its digging powers are almost beyond belief. In sandy soil one will bury itself in a few seconds. In this instance the captor had to exert all his strength merely to keep the animal above ground. He was, in fact, only able to do this by means of continually shifting his position, a process involving constant and exhausting effort. He bethought him of the rein fastened to his pony's halter. With great difficulty he loosened this, and tied it in a noose around the ant-bear's loins. But matters were not improved; the digging went on more vigorously than ever.

At length he realized that it was impossible to prevent the animal from burrowing out of sight. One expedient remained. The pony, had a long and bushy tail. He doubled the end of this, and securely fastened the rein to it. Then he hastened to his camp for the purpose of fetching a spade and calling people to assist him.

On returning a strange spectacle met his view. The pony was sitting on the ground, erect, after the manner of a biped. Its head was in the air, its hind-legs were extended horizontally, its fore-legs were waving impotently up and down'. The ant-bear had carved its way deep into the bowels of the earth, gradually but relentlessly dragging the hapless pony down until its posterior parts hermetically sealed up the burrow. It was, in fact, only the smallness of the latter which prevented the animal from being completely buried. Eventually, however, the rein snapped, and the pony was thus released from a durance probably unique in equine experience. But I wish to make it quite clear that I guarantee nothing in connection with the foregoing remarkable tale, except that I have related it as it was told to me.

I often picture the rounded sandhills stretching from the Gonubie Mouth to the Nahoon, with the dark, olive-green boskage that clothed their curves with beauty, and the veil of orange tinted mystery that at dawn hung like a curtain across that region where sea and sky awaited, breathless, the advent of day. I suppose the placid lagoons still mirror the drifting pageants of cloudland, while the purple kingfishers flit from rock to rock, or poise, fluttering in the air, before they, plunge into the crystal water.

I imagine that at windless nightfall the rich, throbbing organ-tones of the Indian Ocean surf toll all the darkling glades. I wonder do the green, flame-winged loories today call hoarsely through the aisles of greenery, and the bushbucks bark their angry challenges from the deep and tangled hollows. I wonder do the monkeys, when the forenoon waxes sultry, swing chattering from bough to bough down the hillside, seeking their daily drink in the coolest depths of the kloof, and do the great Nymphalis butterflies, with wings of ochre and pearl, flit among the tree tops!

But so much I know that a part of my youth which in some strange way seems to have acquired an individuality, of its own dwells, and will for ever dwell, among these scenes. And I shall never be so ill-advised as to seek it, for the wraith, like a mocking dryad, would flit from tree to tree, as beautiful and as elusive as the rainbow.

While living at Sunny Slope I paid my first visit to East London, the occasion being an agricultural show. I accompanied the Norton family. We traveled in an ox-wagon through the loveliest imaginable country. Our course lay mainly down the valley of the Nahoon River, in which the vegetation was then much richer than it is today. The little town of East London was confined to the west bank of the Buffalo River mouth. Where the town now stands, on the east bank, there was not a single house in 1868. So far as I can recollect, Tapson's Hotel was the only building between Cambridge and the sea. This building was still in existence a few years ago. The Buffalo River had to be crossed by means of a pontoon; the road to this was cut through dense jungle. Judging by the spoors crossing the road this jungle must have been full of game.

After the show a large picnic was held in the forest at the well-known Second Creek. The guests were conveyed to the spot by a paddle tug, the Buffalo. This vessel now lies, a melancholy wreck, half-submerged, at the mouth of the Kowie River.

At the picnic I sustained a severe moral shock. A certain doctor with whom I was acquainted an elderly and much respected resident of King William's Town looked upon the wine when it was red, and became violently uproarious. My ethical orientation became disturbed; all my canons got confused. I had seen this man wearing the insignia of municipal dignity; he had been mayor of his town during the previous year. Now he was acting the mountebank, to the huge amusement of a lot of yokels.

I knew that disreputable Europeans and natives occasionally became intoxicated, but here was my first experience of a respectable person committing such a lapse. The shock was so painful that my enjoyment was completely spoilt. I crept to a thicket, from which I could see without being seen, and observed the old gentleman's antics with amazed horror. He insisted on making a long speech, interspersed with snatches of song. This only came to an end when some of his friends seized the tails of his frock-coat and hauled him down. Then he was carried, protesting loudly, to the tug.

It soon became abundantly clear that our farming could not prove a success, so Sunny Slope was given up, and we returned to King William's Town. Here my father, with the remainder of his capital, purchased a property in the Alexandra Road, close to the present railway-station. Sheep had fallen heavily in value; our flock could not be realized without incurring a ruinous loss, so it was kept for a time on the town commonage. Eventually, it was handed over to a native chief named Toise, who lived on the other side of the Buffalo River, about five miles away.

I was put to the grammar school, where I studied for something more than half a year. This, it may be remarked, is all the regular schooling I ever had. Mr. John Samuel, who afterwards became a school inspector, was the head master. Dr. Theal, the historian (then Mr. Theal), was in charge of the second division, or, as it was called, the lower school.

It was my duty to ride out every Saturday to Toise's kraal for the purpose of counting the sheep. So far as I can remember, none were ever stolen a fact of some significance considering that the whole country, almost as far as the eye could reach in every direction, was densely populated by "raw" natives. But the unhappy animals suffered from scab and various other diseases.

Toise, albeit addicted to strong drink, was a gentleman in all essentials. He was a tall, dignified, and remarkably handsome man; his hospitality and courtesy could not be surpassed. A calabash of delicious amaas (koumis) was always ready for me on my arrival, and a feed of mealies provided for the pony. I believe that subsequently Toise became ruined, morally and physically, through the drink habit. He was only another of the countless victims of "Cape Smoke."

In the days I write of, the climate of the Eastern Province was totally different from what it is today. From October to March thunderstorms, accompanied by torrential rain, were of frequent occurrence. Early in the afternoon clouds would appear over the mountains to the north-west; between three and four o'clock these clouds, now forming immense, towering masses of cumulus, would sweep down towards the sea, pouring out torrents of rain on their course. Between five and six o'clock all these meteorological alarums and excursions would be over, the sky would be again clear, and the sun again shining hotly, on the drenched earth.

Hailstorms occasionally happened. I recall a very remarkable one that passed over that portion of King William's Town known as "the German Village" in, I think, the summer of 1869. The hailstones, which were of immense size, did not fall very thickly. Moreover, the area of the town over which the storm passed contained no houses but thatched ones. Great lumps of ice, all of the same shape, but of various sizes, began to rain out of the sky. The shape was that of a full-blown rose; it suggested that each had been formed in a tiny vortex-mould. Some of the lumps measured four inches across. Dr. Egan, at the Grey Hospital, secured one monster which weighed a pound and three-quarters.

The throbbing roar heralding the approaching hail cataract was a thing never to be forgotten. I heard of no fatalities among human beings, but a flock of sheep was wiped out at a spot where the storm concentrated. This happened on a high, abrupt hill about twenty miles away.

In those days streams such as the Kat, the Koonap, the Buffalo, and the Keiskamma were really rivers; often they foamed down in mighty brown torrents. As there were no bridges, except the occasional military, ones, post carts would often be delayed for days at a time, and one's letters would sometimes arrive more or less in a state of pulp. The whole country was covered with rank vegetation up to June, when nearly all the grass would be burnt off. It is to the cessation of this immemorial practice one noted by, all the voyagers along the south-east coast that I attribute the enormous increase of the tick pest.

One of my favorite diversions, when the Buffalo was in flood, was to ride to a spot near the upper end of the town and there strip. I would tie my clothes into a bundle and entrust them, with my pony, to another boy. Then I would jump into the river and allow myself to be carried down by the torrent. All one had to do was to keep well in the middle of the stream and avoid contact with occasional uprooted trees.

Once or twice I found myself, when thus swimming, unpleasantly close to puff-adders and other snakes which had been washed by the flood out of their hiding-places in the holes piercing the river-banks. But such reptiles were always too much stiffened by the cold water to be capable of doing any injury.

Meanwhile the boy, with my clothes and the pony, would be waiting for me at a stated spot some distance below the wool-washing yards to the south-east of the town. I should not now care to venture on such an excursion.


Trip to the Transkei—Tiyo Soga and his family—Trip to the seaside—The Fynns—Wild dogs—Start as a sheep farmer—My camp burnt out—First commercial adventure—Chief Sandile—Discovery of diamonds—Start for Golconda—Traveling companions—Manslaughter narrowly escaped—Old De Beers—Life at the Diamond Fields—Scarcity of water—First case of diamond stealing—I nearly discover Kimberley Mine—The rush to Colesberg Kopje—My first diamond—Its loss and my humiliation—Kimberley claims dear at 10—Camp-life in early days—I. D. B.—Canteen burning.

It was in the June holidays of 1869 that I undertook my first real adventure. I then accompanied Mr. Samuel and two of my schoolfellows on an expedition to the Transkei, which at that time was still practically independent Kaffirland. The Fingoes were in a sense under British protection, and Mr. Fynn was resident with Sariii (usually known as "Kreli"), the celebrated Goaleka chief.

The Kei River was the colonial boundary. Traveling on horseback we crossed the river by a drift some distance below the site of the present Komgha Bridge. One of my companions was Tom Irvine, now a partner in the firm of Dyer and Dyer, of East London. The other was Alfred Longden, whose father was Wesleyan missionary near the site on which the town of Butterworth now stands, Richard Irvine had a trading station at the Incu Drift. The old building still exists. When we arrived there the tobacco crop had just been harvested, and the trader was kept busy from early morning until late at night buying tobacco at the rate of a penny per pound, the price being taken in the form of trade goods.

We moved on to Tutura, the mission station of that remarkable man Tiyo Soga. Mrs. Soga and her sister, Miss Burnside, received us with the best hospitality. Their dwelling consisted of a row of huts which were connected with each other by means of wattled passages. The huts had doors and ordinary windows.

The Sogas were just on the point of starting for the seaside on their annual holiday when we joined them. Their destination was the mouth of the Kobonqaba River. We decided to join the party. I rode most of the way, some forty miles, at Mr. Soga's side. He beguiled the time by reciting Wordsworth's poetry, which at that time I had never heard of. As each fresh aspect of the magnificent scenery unfolded itself he would pause and declaim some appropriate quotation from "The Excursion."

I have seldom been so impressed by any one as by this Kaffir, who, born in absolute barbarism, had acquired culture both deep and wide, and then returned to try and civilize his people. At the time I met him Mr. Soga was hard at work translating, for the benefit of the Natives, the Bible and "Pilgrim's Progress." The Kaffir language is eminently suited to the former; good Kaffir linguists will tell you that many of the Psalms sound better in Mr. Soga's version than in English. His rendering of "Pilgrim's Progress," too, is a masterpiece.

Tiyo Soga was a tall man of slender build and with a stooping figure. Even at the time I tell of a short, hacking cough gave evidence of the consumption which some years later caused his death. He was not alone a deeply cultivated scholar, but a Christian gentleman in the fullest sense of the term.

We passed Kreli's kraal, but the chief was in retirement under the hands of a witch-doctor, so we did not see him. The scenery along the watershed between the Kei and the Kobonqaba is wonderfully beautiful. The weather was calm and clear; the ocean like a world of sapphire fringed with snow. The populous villages of the Natives stood on every ledge; sleek cattle grazed in every valley. The people looked prosperous and contented. We met civility everywhere; milk was offered us at every kraal. I visited the same locality a few years ago and sojourned for a few weeks near the site of the old Soga camp, but the season was summer, and both ticks and snakes were in evidence to a most unpleasant degree. The natives also had changed; no longer were they so civil or so hospitable. Revisiting the scenes of one's youth is usually an unsatisfactory experience.

We spent a week with the Sogas, and then went to the camp of the Fynns, a few miles away. Here, also, we were hospitably entertained. There were three Fynn brothers, and their aggregate height was nineteen feet. Late one afternoon, when returning from a ride, I had my first sight of wild dogs. In crossing a deep, bushy kloof by a bridle-path I reached an open space. Here I saw five large, smoke-colored animals. Two were squatting on their haunches, the others were standing. I passed within about twenty-five yards of them. They made no hostile demonstration, neither did they attempt to run away. When I related my experience at the camp, I was told that the animals I had seen were wild dogs, a pack of which had for some time been marauding in the vicinity.

I returned to King William's Town via Tsomo and Tembani. We traveled mostly, by night. My companion for I had left Mr. Samuel's party was a trader. He carried four hundred sovereigns in a holster. We off-saddled at several kraals, and on each occasion the gold jingled audibly, yet we never felt the slightest uneasiness. In those days it was a common practice for traders to send large sums of money by native runners from the heart of Kaffirland, yet I do not think there is a single instance of such a trust having been betrayed.

When I reached King William's Town it was quite evident that our sheep were not flourishing. They were, in fact, dwindling daily. Something had to be done, so my father hired a farm about ten miles away, in the direction of Kabousie. I volunteered my services as caretaker of the flock, and to my intense gratification this offer was accepted. The farm had no homestead, so I was given an old bell-tent, purchased at a military rummage sale, to live in.

My assistant was a Kaffir lad named Toby, whose memory is kept green, so far as I am concerned, by his enormous lips. These resembled sausages strung across his face literally from ear to ear. I now considered myself to be a full-fledged farmer. An old sheep kraal was put into a state of repair. Toby and I built a wattle hut, and a shelter for the pony. The hut was so small that Toby, had to lie curled up in it; if he stretched himself, either head or heels had to be out in the cold.

After the novelty had worn off, the monotony of my life became appalling. There were no neighbors with whom to foregather; there was no game to shoot; the surrounding country was uninteresting to a degree. Far away, just peeping over the rim of the horizon, were the peaks of the Amatole and Kabousie Ranges regions of enchantment, cliff-crowned and forest-clothed towards which my soul vainly sighed. But an accident quickly brought this chapter of my life to a tragic close. One very, windy day I went out with the sheep, leaving Toby at the camp to cook the dinner. The blasts were so strong that it was impracticable to light a fire in the open. Toby, suggested lighting one in the tent, and to this I unwisely consented, warning him, however, to be very careful lest our dwelling should catch alight.

On my way home, a couple of hours later, I could not see either the tent or the hut. The country was level and quite bare, so the tent had always been a conspicuous landmark from any, spot within a mile or so. For a time I thought I must have lost my way. But no; there was the kraal. I came to the conclusion that the tent had been blown down. When I reached the spot all I found was two circles of ashes. The tent and the hut had been burnt down bedding, clothing, provisions everything except the gun, which I had taken with me, and the saddle which was in the pony's shelter down in the kloof had been consumed. Toby had bolted. I burst into tears and flung myself to the ground. Night fell; I could not endure the loneliness, so fled from the desolated spot. I was at the time not quite fourteen years old.

Shortly after this catastrophe I trekked with my flock to a small farm near what is now called Kei Road, but which was then known as Hangman's Bush. Here there was a homestead. But the place was surrounded by small fields cultivated by German peasants; consequently the sheep were continually trespassing and being sent to the pound. Before many months the flock had to be disposed of at a ruinous loss. Thus ingloriously ended my first and last adventure as a stock-farmer.

My next essay, towards wooing fortune was in the line of Kaffir trading. I hired myself to a trader, whose shop was in the Gaika Reserve, close to the kraal of the celebrated Chief Sandile, not far from Tembani. Sandile, who possessed enormous influence with his powerful and war-like tribe, was a man utterly wanting in dignity. He was club-footed, and consequently went very lame. I remember being once sent on a message to his kraal. He came to know that I had a threepenny piece, so began begging for this. He paid no heed to my refusal, but clung to my stirrup-leather and dragged himself after me for nearly half a mile, begging in the most abject terms. I am glad to be able to say that I kept the coin. But Sandile was a brave man; he died the death of a soldier in the Gaika Rebellion of 1878. He was killed in a skirmish in the Pirie Forest, near King William's Town.

My career as a trader was shorter and even more inglorious than that as a farmer. Within a month I was discharged as utterly incompetent. Although I resented this at the time, I am now convinced that the dismissal was well-merited.

It is difficult in these days when Cook & Son issue excursion tickets to the Zambezi, and beyond to realize the mystery and glamour that hung over the greater part of South Africa forty years ago. I can remember how as a child I used to pore over the maps of the period so poor in detail, occasionally with "elephants for want of towns" and wonder as to whether, after I had grown up, I might hope one day to reach the Orange River. Farther than that my wildest anticipatory dreams did not take me.

But at length the dazzling sheen of the diamonds unearthed on the banks of the distant Vaal, thrilled every one with a desire for adventure. Before we could realize the process, the caravan crowded road was open to all; thus one of the ramparts of mystery, had fallen.

We have all become more or less accustomed to diamonds nowadays, but forty, years ago a diamond stood rather for crystallized romance than for a form of carbon worth so much per carat. It stood for the making of history, for empire, and for unbounded wealth. We knew that wars had been waged for the possession of such gems, that blackest crime nor oceans of blood could dim their piercing luster. We felt that every celebrated stone, whether shining on the breast of a lovely woman or blazing in the scepter of a king, was a symbol of power, a nucleus of tragedy, a focus of human passion.

It is, therefore, no wonder that the disturbance of our uneventful South African life a life as simple and as serene as any lived on the face of the earth caused by the realization that diamonds had actually been discovered near the borders of the Cape Colony, raised a flood of wildest excitement. This flood soon swept in a wave of men over the wide, sun-scorched plains of the glamorous North.

Many of my friends had ventured to the new Golconda, and I was fired with desire to follow the gleam. At length I met a man who, after much persuasion, consented to let me accompany him on a contemplated trip to the Vaal River. This was William Brown, who will be remembered by most old Kaffrarians. Brown was a farmer of sorts, usually squatting on Government land, and occasionally occupying a hut on the fringe of the Isidengi Forest, not far from Kabousie Nek. I had now and then stayed with him there, and had spent many days wandering with my gun through the lovely woodland that surrounded his dwelling.

Living in another hut in the vicinity was a very strange character called "Jarge"; his surname has completely escaped me. Jarge was a very old man. Hailing originally from Somersetshire, he had never lost the dialect of his early years. Many an hour have I spent at his saw-pit, listening to recitals of his fifty-year-old adventures, some of which were most unedifying. I remember being much amused at an expression he used. He had met with a large leopard; the animal behaved in a threatening manner. On being questioned as to his feelings on the occasion, Jarge replied: "O, zur, I beed awful frowt."

Brown's preparations for departure were slow; my patience was severely tried. But at length everything was ready. The caravan consisted of two Scotch carts, each drawn by six oxen. With these we started on our long journey, crossing Kabousie Nek by a road of a gradient steeper than that of any other I have traversed in a vehicle. We were accompanied by another strange character a man named Dixon, who had lived for many years at the foot of the Kabousie Mountain. Dixon had been a military tailor at Gibraltar. He had a red face and fiercely protuberant eyebrows, a curled up moustache, and an imperial. When he became intoxicated, as he occasionally did, Dixon grew more solemn than any of the various judges it has been my privilege to meet. Twenty years afterwards I saw, him at the front in one of the Kaffir wars. He must then have been nearly seventy years of age, yet, literally, he did not look a day older than when we first met.

We struck a bad snowstorm on the top of the Stormberg; had we not been able to drive the oxen into a sheltered kloof they would assuredly have perished. We shivered sleepless all night under one of the carts in a freezing gale. Next morning was cloudless; the ranges far and near were heavily, covered with glistening snow. A few days later we picked up two men, who were tramping towards the diamond-fields. One was named Beranger; I believe he was the son of a former lessee of Covent Garden Opera House. His companion was a man named Hull, an ex-publican from Lambeth. With these two chance companions we entered into a sort of partnership; for some months after reaching the diggings we all worked together.

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