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Chapter 4


Reception of the annexation--Major Clarke and the Volunteers--
Effect of the annexation on credit and commerce--Hoisting of the Union
Jack--Ratification of the annexation by Parliament--Messrs. Kruger and
Jorissen's mission to England--Agitation against the annexation in the
Cape Colony--Sir T. Shepstone's tour--Causes of the growth of discontent
among the Boers--Return of Messrs. Jorissen and Kruger--The Government
dispenses with their services--Despatch of a second deputation to
England--Outbreak of war with Secocoeni--Major Clarke, R.A.--The Gunn
of Gunn plot--Mission of Captain Paterson and Mr. Sergeaunt
to Matabeleland--Its melancholy termination--The Isandhlwana
disaster--Departure of Sir T. Shepstone for England--Another Boer
meeting--The Pretoria Horse--Advance of the Boers on Pretoria--Arrival
of Sir B. Frere at Pretoria and dispersion of the Boers--Arrival of Sir
Garnet Wolseley--His proclamation--The Secocoeni expedition--Proceedings
of the Boers--Mr. Pretorius--Mr. Gladstone's Mid-Lothian speeches, their
effect--Sir G. Wolseley's speech at Pretoria, its good results--Influx
of Englishmen and cessation of agitation--Financial position of the
country after three years of British rule--Letter of the Boer leaders to
Mr. Courtney.


The news of the Annexation was received all over the country with a sigh
of relief, and in many parts of it with great rejoicings. At the Gold
Fields, for instance, special thanksgiving services were held, and "God
save the Queen" was sung in church. Nowhere was there the slightest
disturbance, but, on the contrary, addresses of congratulation and
thanks literally poured in by every mail, many of them signed by Boers
who have since been conspicuous for their bitter opposition to English
rule. At first, there was some doubt as to what would be the course
taken under the circumstances by the volunteers enlisted by the late
Republic. Major Clarke, R.A., was sent to convey the news, and to take
command of them, unaccompanied save by his Kafir servant. On arrival at
the principal fort, he at once ordered the Republican flag to be hauled
down and the Union Jack run up, and his orders were promptly obeyed. A
few days afterwards some members of the force thought better of it, and
having made up their minds to kill him, came to the tent where he was
sitting to carry out their purpose. On learning their kind intentions,
Major Clarke fixed his eye-glass in his eye, and, after steadily glaring
at them through it for some time, said, "You are all drunk, go back
to your tents." The volunteers, quite overcome by his coolness and
the fixity of his gaze, at once slipped off, and there was no further
trouble. About three weeks after the Annexation, the 1-13th Regiment
arrived at Pretoria, having been very well received all along the road
by the Boers, who came from miles round to hear the band play. Its entry
into Pretoria was quite a sight; the whole population turned out to meet
it; indeed the feeling of rejoicing and relief was so profound that when
the band began to play "God save the Queen" some of the women burst into

Meanwhile the effect of the Annexation on the country was perfectly
magical. Credit and commerce were at once restored; the railway bonds
that were down to nothing in Holland rose with one bound to par, and
the value of landed property nearly doubled. Indeed it would have been
possible for any one, knowing what was going to happen, to have realised
large sums of money by buying land in the beginning of 1877, and selling
it shortly after the Annexation.

On the 24th May, being Her Majesty's birthday, all the native chiefs
who were anywhere within reach, were summoned to attend the first formal
hoisting of the English flag. The day was a general festival, and the
ceremony was attended by a large number of Boers and natives in addition
to all the English. At mid-day, amidst the cheers of the crowd, the
salute of artillery, and the strains of "God save the Queen," the
Union Jack was run up a lofty flagstaff, and the Transvaal was formally
announced to be British soil. The flag was hoisted by Colonel Brooke,
R.E., and the present writer. Speaking for myself, I may say that it
was one of the proudest moments of my life. Could I have foreseen that
I should live to see that same flag, then hoisted with so much joyous
ceremony, within a few years shamefully and dishonourably hauled down
and buried,[*] I think it would have been the most miserable.

[*] The English flag was during the signing of the
Convention at Pretoria formally buried by a large crowd of
Englishmen and loyal natives.

The Annexation was as well received in England as it was in the
Transvaal. Lord Carnarvon wrote to Sir T. Shepstone to convey "the
Queen's entire approval of your conduct since you received Her Majesty's
commission, with a renewal of my own thanks on behalf of the Government
for the admirable prudence and discretion with which you have discharged
a great and unwonted responsibility." It was also accepted by Parliament
with very few dissentient voices, since it was not till afterwards, when
the subject became useful as an electioneering howl, that the Liberal
party, headed by our "powerful popular minister," discovered the deep
iniquity that had been perpetrated in South Africa. So satisfied were
the Transvaal Boers with the change that Messrs. Kruger, Jorissen,
and Bok, who formed the deputation to proceed to England and present
President Burgers' formal protest against the Annexation, found great
difficulty in raising one-half of the necessary expenses--something
under one thousand pounds--towards the cost of the undertaking. The
thirst for independence cannot have been very great when all the wealthy
burghers in the Transvaal put together would not subscribe a thousand
pounds towards retaining it. Indeed, at this time the members of the
deputation themselves seem to have looked upon their undertaking
as being both doubtful and undesirable, since they informed Sir T.
Shepstone that they were going to Europe to discharge an obligation
which had been imposed upon them, and if the mission failed, they would
have done their duty. Mr. Kruger said that if they did fail, he would be
found to be as faithful a subject under the new form of government as he
had been under the old; and Dr. Jorissen admitted with equal frankness
that "the change was inevitable, and expressed his belief that the
cancellation of it would be calamitous."

Whilst the Annexation was thus well received in the country immediately
interested, a lively agitation was commenced in the Western Province of
the Cape Colony, a thousand miles away, with a view of inducing the
Home Government to repudiate Sir T. Shepstone's act. The reason of this
movement was that the Cape Dutch party, caring little or nothing for
the real interests of the Transvaal, did care a great deal about their
scheme to turn all the white communities of South Africa into a
great Dutch Republic, to which they thought the Annexation would be a
deathblow. As I have said elsewhere, it must be borne in mind that the
strings of the anti-annexation agitation have all along been pulled in
the Western Province, whilst the Transvaal Boers have played the parts
of puppets. The instruments used by the leaders of the movement in
the Cape were, for the most part, the discontented and unprincipled
Hollander element, a newspaper of an extremely abusive nature called the
"Volkstem," and another in Natal known as the "Natal Witness," lately
edited by the notorious Aylward, which has an almost equally unenviable

On the arrival of Messrs. Jorissen and Kruger in England, they were
received with great civility by Lord Carnarvon, who was, however,
careful to explain to them that the Annexation was irrevocable. In this
decision they cheerfully acquiesced, assuring his lordship of their
determination to do all they could to induce the Boers to accept the
new state of things, and expressing their desire to be allowed to serve
under the new Government.

Whilst these gentlemen were thus satisfactorily arranging matters with
Lord Carnarvon, Sir T. Shepstone was making a tour round the country
which resembled a triumphal progress more than anything else. He was
everywhere greeted with enthusiasm by all classes of the community,
Boers, English, and natives, and numerous addresses were presented to
him couched in the warmest language, not only by Englishmen but also by

It is very difficult to reconcile the enthusiasm of a great number
of the inhabitants of the Transvaal for English rule, and the quite
acquiescence of the remainder, at this time, with the decidedly
antagonistic attitude assumed later on. It appears to me, however, that
there are several reasons that go far towards accounting for it. The
Transvaal, when we annexed it, was in the position of a man with a knife
at his throat, who is suddenly rescued by some one stronger than he, on
certain conditions which at the time he gladly accepts, but afterwards,
when the danger is passed, wishes to repudiate. In the same way the
inhabitants of the South African Republic, were in the time of need very
thankful for our aid, but after a while, when the recollection of their
difficulties had grown faint, when their debts had been paid and their
enemies defeated, they began to think that they would like to get rid of
us again, and start fresh on their own account, with a clean sheet. What
fostered agitation more than anything else, however, was the perfect
impunity in which it was allowed to be carried on. Had only a little
firmness and decision been shown in the first instance there would
have been no further trouble. We might have been obliged to confiscate
half-a-dozen farms, and perhaps imprison as many free burghers for a
few months, and there it would have ended. Neither Boers or natives
understand our namby-pamby way of playing at government; they put it
down to fear. What they want, and what they expect, is to be governed
with a just but a firm hand. Thus when the Boers found that they could
agitate with impunity, they naturally enough continued to agitate.
Anybody who knows them will understand that it was very pleasant to them
to find themselves in possession of that delightful thing, a grievance,
and, instead of stopping quietly at home on their farms, to feel obliged
to proceed, full of importance and long words, to a distant meeting,
there to spout and listen to the spouting of others. It is so much
easier to talk politics than to sow mealies. Some attribute the
discontent among the Boers to the postponement of the carrying out
of the annexation proclamation promises with reference to the free
institutions to be granted to the country, but in my opinion it had
little or nothing to do with it. The Boers never understood the question
of responsible government, and never wanted that institution; what
they did want was to be free of all English control, and this they said
twenty times in the most outspoken language. I think there is little
doubt the causes I have indicated are the real sources of the agitation,
though there must be added to them their detestation of our mode of
dealing with natives, and of being forced to pay taxes regularly, and
also the ceaseless agitation of the Cape wire-pullers, through their
agents the Hollanders, and their organs in the press.

On the return of Messrs. Kruger and Jorissen to the Transvaal, the
latter gentleman resumed his duties as Attorney-General, on which
occasion, if I remember aright, I myself had the honour of administering
to him the oath of allegiance to Her Majesty, that he afterwards kept
so well. The former reported the proceedings of the deputation to a
Boer meeting, when he took a very different tone to that in which he
addressed Lord Carnarvon, announcing that if there existed a majority of
the people in favour of independence, he still was Vice-President of the

Both these gentlemen remained for some time in the pay of the British
Government, Mr. Jorissen as Attorney-General, and Mr. Kruger as member
of the Executive Council. The Government, however, at length found it
desirable to dispense with their services, though on different
grounds. Mr. Jorissen had, like several other members of the Republican
Government, been a clergyman, and was quite unfit to hold the post of
Attorney-General in an important colony like the Transvaal, where legal
questions were constantly arising requiring all the attention of a
trained mind; and after he had on several occasions been publicly
admonished from the bench, the Government retired him on liberal terms.
Needless to say, his opposition to English rule then became very bitter.
Mr. Kruger's appointment expired by law in November 1877, and the
Government did not think it advisable to re-employ him. The terms of his
letter of dismissal can be found on page 135 of Blue Book (c. 144),
and involving as they do a serious charge of misrepresentation in
money matters, are not very creditable to him. After this event he also
pursued the cause of independence with increased vigour.

During the last months of 1877 and the first part of 1878 agitation
against British rule went on unchecked, and at last grew to alarming
proportions, so much so that Sir T. Shepstone, on his return from the
Zulu border in March 1878, where he had been for some months discussing
the vexed and dangerous question of the boundary line with the Zulus,
found it necessary to issue a stringent proclamation warning the
agitators that their proceedings and meetings were illegal, and would be
punished according to law. This document which was at the time vulgarly
known as the "Hold-your-jaw" proclamation, not being followed by action,
produced but little effect.

On the 4th April 1878 another Boer meeting was convened, at which it was
decided to send a second deputation to England, to consist this time of
Messrs. Kruger and Joubert, with Mr. Bok as secretary. This deputation
proved as abortive as the first, Sir M. Hicks Beach assuring it, in a
letter dated 6th August 1878, that it is "impossible, for many reasons,
. . . . that the Queen's sovereignty should now be withdrawn."

Whilst the Government was thus hampered by internal disaffection, it
had also many other difficulties on its hands. First, there was the Zulu
boundary question, which was constantly developing new dangers to the
country. Indeed, it was impossible to say what might happen in that
direction from one week to another. Nor were its relations with
Secocoeni satisfactory. It will be remembered that just before the
Annexation this chief had expressed his earnest wish to become a British
subject, and even paid over part of the fine demanded from him by the
Boer Government to the Civil Commissioner, Major Clarke. In March 1878,
however, his conduct towards the Government underwent a sudden
change, and he practically declared war. It afterwards appeared, from
Secocoeni's own statement, that he was instigated to this step by
a Boer, Abel Erasmus by name--the same man who was concerned in the
atrocities in the first Secocoeni war--who constantly encouraged him to
continue the struggle. I do not propose to minutely follow the course of
this long war, which, commencing in the beginning of 1878, did not come
to an end till after the Zulu war: when Sir Garnet Wolseley attacked
Secocoeni's stronghold with a large force of troops, volunteers, and
Swazi allies, and took it with great slaughter. The losses on our side
were not very heavy, so far as white men were concerned, but the Swazies
are reported to have lost 400 killed and 500 wounded.

The struggle was, during the long period preceding the final attack,
carried on with great courage and ability by Major Clarke, R.A., C.M.G.,
whose force, at the best of times, only consisted of 200 volunteers and
100 Zulus. With this small body of men he contrived, however, to keep
Secocoeni in check, and to take some important strongholds. It was
marked also by some striking acts of individual bravery, of which one,
performed by Major Clarke himself, whose reputation for cool courage and
presence of mind in danger is unsurpassed in South Africa, is worthy of
notice; and which, had public attention been more concentrated on the
Secocoeni war, would doubtless have won him the Victoria Cross. On one
occasion, on visiting one of the outlying forts, he found that a party
of hostile natives, who were coming down to the fort on the previous day
with a flag of truce, had been accidentally fired upon, and had at once
retreated. As his system in native warfare was always to try and inspire
his enemy with perfect faith in the honour of Englishmen, and their
contempt of all tricks and treachery even towards a foe, he was very
angry at this occurrence, and at once, unarmed and unattended save by
his native servant, rode up into the mountains to the kraal from which
the white flag party had come on the previous day, and apologised to
the Chief for what had happened. When I consider how very anxious
Secocoeni's natives were to kill or capture Clarke, whom they held in
great dread, and how terrible the end of so great a captain would in
all probability have been had he taken alive by these masters of refined
torture, I confess that I think this act of gentlemanly courage is one
of the most astonishing things I ever heard of. When he rode up those
hills he must have known that he was probably going to meet his death at
the hands of justly incensed savages. When Secocoeni heard of what Major
Clarke had done he was so pleased that he shortly afterwards released
a volunteer whom he had taken prisoner, and who would otherwise, in all
probability, have been tortured to death. I must add that Major Clarke
himself never reported to or alluded to this incident, but an account of
it can be found in a despatch written by Sir O. Lanyon to the Secretary
of State, dated 2d February 1880.

Concurrently with, though entirely distinct from, the political
agitation that was being carried on among the Boers having for object
the restoration of independence, a private agitation was set on foot
by a few disaffected persons against Sir T. Shepstone, with the view
of obtaining his removal from office in favour of a certain Colonel
Weatherley. The details of this impudent plot are so interesting, and
the plot itself so typical of the state of affairs with which Sir T.
Shepstone had to deal, that I will give a short account of it.

After the Annexation had taken place, there were naturally enough a good
many individuals who found themselves disappointed in the results so far
as they personally were concerned; I mean that they did not get so much
out of it as they expected. Among these was a gentleman called Colonel
Weatherley, who had come to the Transvaal as manager of a gold-mining
company, but getting tired of that had taken a prominent part in
the Annexation, and who, being subsequently disappointed about an
appointment, became a bitter enemy of the Administrator. I may say at
once that Colonel Weatherley seems to me to have been throughout the
dupe of the other conspirators.

The next personage was a good-looking desperado, who called himself
Captain Gunn of Gunn, and who was locally somewhat irreverently known as
the very Gunn of very Gunn. This gentleman, whose former career had been
of a most remarkable order, was, on the annexation of the country, found
in the public prison charged with having committed various offences, but
on Colonel Weatherley's interesting himself strongly on his behalf, he
was eventually released without trial. On his release, he requested the
Administrator to publish a Government notice declaring him innocent of
the charges brought against him. This Sir T. Shepstone declined to do,
and so, to use his own words, in a despatch to the High Commissioner on
the subject, Captain Gunn of Gunn at once became "what in this country
is called a patriot."

The third person concerned was a lawyer, who had got into trouble on the
Diamond Fields, and who felt himself injured because the rules of the
High Court did not allow him to practise as an advocate. The quartet
was made up by Mr. Celliers, the editor of the patriotic organ, the
"Volkstem," who, since he had lost the Government printing contract,
found that no language could be too strong to apply to the _personnel_
of the Government, more especially its head. Of course, there was a lady
in it; what plot would be complete without? She was Mrs. Weatherley,
now, I believe, Mrs. Gunn of Gunn. These gentlemen began operations by
drawing up a long petition to Sir Bartle Frere as High Commissioner,
setting forth a string of supposed grievances, and winding up with a
request that the Administrator might be "promoted to some other
sphere of political usefulness." This memorial was forwarded by the
"committee," as they called themselves, to various parts of the country
for signature, but without the slightest success, the fact of the matter
being that it was not the Annexor but the Annexation that the Boers
objected to.

At this stage in the proceedings Colonel Weatherley went to try and
forward the good cause with Sir Bartle Frere at the Cape. His letters to
Mrs. Weatherley from thence, afterwards put into Court in the celebrated
divorce case, contained many interesting accounts of his attempts in
that direction. I do not think, however, that he was cognisant of what
was being concocted by his allies in Pretoria, but being a very vain,
weak man, was easily deceived by them. With all his faults he was a
gentleman. As soon as he was gone a second petition was drawn up by the
"committee," showing "the advisability of immediately suspending our
present Administrator, and temporarily appointing and recommending for
Her Majesty's royal and favourable consideration an English gentleman of
high integrity and honour, in whom the country at large has respect and

The English gentleman of high integrity and honour of course proves to
be Colonel Weatherley, whose appointment is, further on, "respectfully
but earnestly requested," since he had "thoroughly gained the
affections, confidence, and respect of Boers, English, and other
Europeans in this country." But whilst it is comparatively easy to write
petitions, there is sometimes a difficulty in getting people to sign
them, as proved to be the case with reference to the documents under
consideration. When the "committee" and the employes in the office of
the "Volkstem" had affixed their valuable signatures it was found to
be impossible to induce anybody else to follow their example. Now, a
petition with some half dozen signatures attached would not, it was
obvious, carry much weight with the Imperial Government, and no more
could be obtained.

But really great minds rise superior to such difficulties, and so did
the "committee," or some of them, or one of them. If they could not
get genuine signatures to their petitions, they could at any rate
manufacture them. This great idea once hit out, so vigorously was it
prosecuted that they, or some of them, or one of them, produced in a
very little while no less than 3883 signatures, of which sixteen were
proved to be genuine, five were doubtful, and all the rest fictitious.
But the gentleman, whoever he was, who was the working partner in the
scheme--and I may state, by way of parenthesis, that when Gunn of Gunn
was subsequently arrested, petitions in process of signature were found
under the mattress of his bed--calculated without his host. He either
did not know, or had forgotten, that on receipt of such documents by a
superior officer, they are at once sent to the officer accused to report
upon. This course was followed in the present case, and the petitions
were discovered to be gross impostures. The ingenuity exercised by their
author or authors was really very remarkable, for it must be remembered
that not one of the signatures was forged; they were all invented, and
had, of course, to be written in a great variety of hands. The plan
generally pursued was to put down the names of people living in the
country, with slight variations. Thus "De _V_illiers" became "De
_W_illiers," and "Van Z_y_l" "Van Z_u_l." I remember that my own name
appeared on one of the petitions with some slight alteration. Some of
the names were evidently meant to be facetious. Thus there was a "Jan
Verneuker," which means "John the Cheat."

Of the persons directly or indirectly concerned in this rascally plot,
the unfortunate Colonel Weatherly subsequently apologised to Sir T.
Shepstone for his share in the agitation, and shortly afterwards died
fighting bravely on Kambula. Captain Gunn of Gunn and Mrs. Weatherley,
after having given rise to the most remarkable divorce case I ever
heard,--it took fourteen days to try--were, on the death of Colonel
Weatherley, united in the bonds of holy matrimony, and are, I believe,
still in Pretoria. The lawyer vanished I know not where, whilst Mr.
Celliers still continues to edit that admirably conducted journal the
"Volkstem;" nor, if I may judge from the report of a speech made by
him recently at a Boer festival, which, by the way, was graced by the
presence of our representative, Mr. Hudson, the British Resident: has
his right hand forgotten its cunning, or rather his tongue lost the use
of those peculiar and recherche epithets that used to adorn the columns
of the "Volkstem." I see that he, on this occasion, denounced the
English element as being "poisonous and dangerous" to a State, and
stated, amidst loud cheers, that "he despised" it. Mr. Cellier's lines
have fallen in pleasant places; in any other country he would long ago
have fallen a victim to the stern laws of libel. I recommend him to
the notice of enterprising Irish newspapers. Such is the freshness and
vigour of his style that I am confident he would make the fortune of any
Hibernian journal.

Some little time after the Gunn of Gunn frauds a very sad incident
happened in connection with the Government of the Transvaal. Shortly
after the Annexation, the Home Government sent out Mr. Sergeaunt,
C.M.G., one of the Crown Agents for the Colonies, to report on the
financial condition of the country. He was accompanied, in an unofficial
capacity, amongst other gentlemen, by Captain Patterson and his son,
Mr. J Sergeaunt; and when he returned to England, these two gentlemen
remained behind to go on a shooting expedition. About this time Sir
Bartle Frere was anxious to send a friendly mission to Lo Bengula,
king of the Matabele, a branch of the Zulu tribe, living up towards
the Zambesi. This chief had been making himself unpleasant by causing
traders to be robbed, and it was thought desirable to establish friendly
relations with him, so it was suggested to Captain Patterson and Mr.
Sergeaunt that they should combine business with pleasure, and go on
a mission to Lo Bengula, an offer which they accepted, and shortly
afterwards started for Matabeleland with an interpreter and a few
servants. They reached their destination in safety; and having concluded
their business with the king, started on a visit to the Zambesi Falls
on foot, leaving the interpreter with the wagon. The falls were about
twelve days' walk from the king's kraal, and they were accompanied
thither by young Mr. Thomas, the son of the local missionary, two Kafir
servants, and twenty native bearers supplied by Lo Bengula. The next
thing that was heard of them was that they had all died through drinking
poisoned water, full details of the manner of their deaths being sent
down by Lo Bengula.

In the first shock and confusion of such news it was not very
closely examined, at any rate by the friends of the dead men, but, on
reflection, there were several things about it that appeared strange.
For instance, it was well known that Captain Patterson had a habit, for
which indeed, we had often laughed at him, of, however thirsty he might
be, always having his water boiled when he was travelling, in order
to destroy impurities: and it seemed odd, that he should on this one
occasion, have neglected the precaution. Also, it was curious that the
majority of Lo Bengula's bearers appeared to have escaped, whereas all
the others were, without exception, killed; nor even in that district is
it usual to find water so bad that it will kill with the rapidity it had
been supposed to do in this case, unless indeed it had been designedly
poisoned. These doubts of the poisoning-by-water-story resolved
themselves into certainty when the waggon returned in charge of the
interpreter, when, by putting two and two together, we were able to
piece out the real history of the diabolical murder of our poor friends
with considerable accuracy, a story which shows what bloodthirsty
wickedness a savage is capable of when he fancies his interests are

It appeared that, when Captain Patterson first interviewed Lo Bengula,
he was not at all well received by him. I must, by way of explanation,
state that there exists a Pretender to his throne, Kruman by name, who,
as far as I can make out, is the real heir to the kingdom. This man
had, for some cause or other, fled the country, and for a time acted as
gardener to Sir T. Shepstone in Natal. At the date of Messrs. Patterson
and Sergeaunt's mission to Matabeleland he was living, I believe, in the
Transvaal. Captain Patterson, on finding himself so ill received by the
king, and not being sufficiently acquainted with the character of savage
chiefs, most unfortunately, either by accident or design, dropped some
hint in the course of conversation about this Kruman. From that moment,
Lo Bengula's conduct towards the mission entirely changed, and, dropping
his former tone, he became profusely civil; and from that moment, too,
he doubtless determined to kill them, probably fearing that they might
forward some scheme to oust him and place Kruman, on whose claim a large
portion of his people looked favourably, on the throne.

When their business was done, and Captain Patterson told the king that
they were anxious, before returning, to visit the Zambesi Falls, he
readily fell in with their wish, but, in the first instance, refused
permission to young Thomas, the son of the missionary, to accompany
them, only allowing him to do so on the urgent representation of
Captain Patterson. The reason for this was, no doubt, that he had
kindly feelings towards the lad, and did not wish to include him in the

Captain Patterson was a man of extremely methodical habits, and, amongst
other things, was in the habit of making notes of all that he did. His
note-book had been taken off his body, and sent down to Pretoria with
the other things. In it we found entries of his preparations for the
trip, including the number and names of the bearers provided by Lo
Bengula. We also found the chronicle of the first three days' journey,
and that of the morning of the fourth day, but there the record stopped.
The last entry was probably made a few minutes before he was killed; and
it is to be observed that there was no entry of the party having been
for several days without water, as stated by the messengers, and then
finding the poisoned water.

This evidence by itself would not have amounted to much, but now comes
the curious part of the story, showing the truth of the old adage,
"Murder will out." It appears that when the waggon was coming down to
Pretoria in charge of the interpreter, it was outspanned one day outside
the borders of Lo Bengula's country, when some Kafirs--Bechuanas, I
think--came up, asked for some tobacco, and fell into conversation with
the driver, remarking that he had come up with a full waggon, and now he
went down with an empty one. The driver replied by lamenting the death
by poisoned water of his masters, whereupon one of the Kafirs told him
the following story:--He said that a brother of his was out hunting, a
little while back, in the desert for ostriches, with a party of other
Kafirs, when hearing shots fired some way off, they made for the spot,
thinking that white men were out shooting, and that they would be able
to beg meat. On reaching the spot, which was by a pool of water, they
saw the bodies of three white men lying on the ground, and also those of
a Hottentot and a Kafir, surrounded by an armed party of Kafirs. They
at once asked the Kafirs what they had been doing killing the white men,
and were told to be still, for it was by "order of the king." They
then learned the whole story. It appeared that the white men had made a
mid-day halt by the water, when one of the bearers, who had gone to the
edge of the pool, suddenly shouted to them to come and look at a great
snake in the water. Captain Patterson ran up, and, as he leaned over the
edge, was instantly killed by a blow with an axe; the others were then
shot and assegaied. The Kafir further described the clothes that his
brother had seen on the bodies, and also some articles that had been
given to his party by the murderers, that left little doubt as to the
veracity of his story. And so ended the mission to Matabeleland.

No public notice was taken of the matter, for the obvious reason that
it was impossible to get at Lo Bengula to punish him; nor would it have
been easy to come by legal evidence to disprove the ingenious story
of the poisoned water, since anybody trying to reach the spot of the
massacre would probably fall a victim to some similar accident before
he got back again. It is devoutly to be hoped that the punishment he
deserves will sooner or later overtake the author of this devilish and
wholesale murder.

The beginning of 1879 was signalised by the commencement of operations
in Zululand and by the news of the terrible disaster at Isandhlwana,
which fell on Pretoria like a thunderclap. It was not, however, any
surprise to those who were acquainted with Zulu tactics and with the
plan of attack adopted by the English commanders. In fact, I know
that one solemn warning of what would certainly happen to him, if he
persisted in his plan of advance, was addressed to Lord Chelmsford,
through the officer in command at Pretoria, by a gentlemen whose
position and long experience of the Zulus and their mode of attack
should have carried some weight. If it ever reached him, he took, to the
best of my recollection, no notice of it whatever.

But though some such disaster was daily expected by a few, the majority
of both soldiers and civilians never dreamed of anything of the sort,
the general idea being that the conquest of Cetywayo was a very easy
undertaking: and the shock produced by the news of Isandhlwana was
proportionally great, especially as it reached Pretoria in a much
exaggerated form. I shall never forget the appearance of the town that
morning; business was entirely suspended, and the streets were filled
with knots of men talking, with scared faces, as well they might: for
there was scarcely anybody but had lost a friend, and many thought that
their sons or brothers were among the dead on that bloody field. Among
others, Sir T. Shepstone lost one son, and thought for some time that he
had lost three.

Shortly after this event Sir T. Shepstone went to England to confer with
the Secretary of State on various matters connected with the Transvaal,
carrying with him the affection and respect of all who knew him, not
excepting the majority of the malcontent Boers. He was succeeded by
Colonel, now Sir Owen Lanyon, who was appointed to administer the
Government during the absence of Sir T. Shepstone.

By the Boers, however, the news of our disaster was received with great
and unconcealed rejoicing, or at least by the irreconcilable portion of
that people. England's necessity was their opportunity, and one of which
they certainly meant to avail themselves. Accordingly, notices were sent
out summoning the burghers of the Transvaal to attend a mass meeting on
the 18th March, at a place about thirty miles from Pretoria. Emissaries
were also sent to native chiefs, to excite them to follow Cetywayo's
example, and massacre all the English within reach, of whom a man called
Solomon Prinsloo was one of the most active. The natives, however,
notwithstanding the threats used towards them, one and all declined the

It must not be supposed that all the Boers who attended these meetings
did so of their own free will; on the contrary, a very large number came
under compulsion, since they found that the English authorities were
powerless to give them protection. The recalcitrants were threatened
with all sorts of pains and penalties if they did not attend, a
favourite menace being that they should be made "biltong" of when the
country was given back (i.e., be cut into strips and hung in the sun to
dry). Few, luckily for themselves, were brave enough to tempt fortune by
refusing to come, but those who did, have had to leave the country
since the war. Whatever were the means employed, the result was an armed
meeting of about 3000 Boers, who evidently meant mischief.

Just about this time a corps had been raised in Pretoria, composed, for
the most part, of gentlemen, and known as the Pretoria Horse; for the
purpose of proceeding to the Zulu border, where cavalry, especially
cavalry acquainted with the country, was earnestly needed. In the
emergency of the times officials were allowed to join this corps,
a permission of which I availed myself, and was elected one of the
lieutenants.[*] The corps was not, after all, allowed to go to Zululand
on account of the threatening aspect adopted by the Boers, against whom
it was retained for service. In my capacity as an officer of the corps I
was sent out with a small body of picked men, all good riders and light
weights, to keep up a constant communication between the Boer camp and
the Administrator, and found the work both interesting and exciting. My
head-quarters were at an inn about twenty-five miles from Pretoria, to
which our agents in the meeting used to come every evening and report
how matters were proceeding, whereupon, if the road was clear,
I despatched a letter to head-quarters; or, if I feared that the
messengers would be caught _en route_ by Boer patrols and searched, I
substituted different coloured ribbons according to what I wished to
convey. There was a relief hidden in the trees or rocks every six
miles, all day and most of the night, whose business it was to take the
despatch or ribbon and gallop on with it to the next station, in which
way we used to get the despatches into town in about an hour and a

[*] It is customary in South African volunteer forces to
allow the members to elect their own officers, provided the
men elected are such as the Government approves. This is
done, so that the corps may not afterwards be able to
declare that they have no confidence in their officers in
action, or to grumble at their treatment by them.

On one or two occasions the Boers came to the inn and threatened to
shoot us, but as our orders were to do nothing unless our lives were
actually in danger, we took no notice. The officer who came out to
relieve me had not, however, been there more than a day or two before he
and all his troopers, were hunted back into Pretoria by a large mob of
armed Boers whom they only escaped by very hard riding.

Meanwhile the Boers were by degrees drawing nearer and nearer to the
town, till at last they pitched their laagers within six miles, and
practically besieged it. All business was stopped, the houses were
loopholed and fortified, and advantageous positions were occupied by the
military and the various volunteer corps. The building, normally in
the occupation of the Government mules, fell to the lot of the Pretoria
Horse, and, though it was undoubtedly a post of honour, I honestly
declare that I have no wish to sleep for another month in a mule stable
that has not been cleaned out for several years. However, by sinking
a well, and erecting bastions and a staging for sharp-shooters, we
converted it into an excellent fortress, though it would not have been
of much use against artillery. Our patrols used to be out all night,
since we chiefly feared a night attack, and generally every preparation
was made to resist the onset that was hourly expected, and I believe
that it was that state of preparedness that alone prevented it.

Whilst this meeting was going on, and when matters had come to a point
that seemed to render war inevitable, Sir B. Frere arrived at Pretoria
and had several interviews with the Boer leaders, at which they
persisted in demanding their independence, and nothing short of it.
After a great deal of talk the meeting finally broke up without any
actual appeal to arms, though it had, during its continuance, assumed
many of the rights of government, such as stopping post-carts and
individuals, and sending armed patrols about the country. The principal
reason of its break-up was that the Zulu war was now drawing to a close,
and the leaders saw that there would soon be plenty of troops available
to suppress any attempt at revolt, but they also saw to what lengths
they could go with impunity. They had for a period of nearly two months
been allowed to throw the whole country into confusion, to openly
violate the laws, and to intimidate and threaten Her Majesty's loyal
subjects with war and death. The lesson was not lost on them; but they
postponed action till a more favourable opportunity offered.

Sir Bartle Frere before his departure took an opportunity at a public
dinner given him at Potchefstroom of assuring the loyal inhabitants of
the country that the Transvaal would never be given back.

Meanwhile a new Pharaoh had arisen in Egypt, in the shape of Sir G.
Wolseley, and on the 29th June 1879 we find him communicating the fact
to Sir O. Lanyon in very plain language, telling him that he disapproved
of his course of action with regard to Secocoeni, and that "in future
you will please take orders only from me."

As soon as Sir Garnet had completed his arrangements for the
pacification of Zululand, he proceeded to Pretoria, and having caused
himself to be sworn in as Governor, set vigorously to work. I must say
that in his dealings with the Transvaal he showed great judgment and a
keen appreciation of what the country needed, namely, strong government;
the fact of the matter being, I suppose, that being very popular with
the Home authorities he felt that he could more or less command their
support in what he did, a satisfaction not given to most governors,
who never know but that they may be thrown overboard in emergency, in
lighten the ship.

One of his first acts was to issue a proclamation, stating that "Whereas
it appears that, notwithstanding repeated assurances of the contrary
given by Her Majesty's representatives in this territory, uncertainty or
misapprehension exists amongst some of Her Majesty's subjects as to
the intention of Her Majesty's Government regarding the maintenance of
British rule and sovereignty over the territory of the Transvaal:
and whereas it is expedient that all grounds for such uncertainty or
misapprehension should be removed once and for all beyond doubt or
question: now therefore I do hereby proclaim and make known, in the
name and on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, that it is the will and
determination of Her Majesty's Government that this Transvaal territory
shall be, _and shall continue to be for ever_, an integral portion of
Her Majesty's dominions in South Africa."

Alas! Sir G. Wolseley's estimate of the value of a solemn pledge thus
made in the name of Her Majesty, whose word has hitherto been held to be
sacred, differed greatly to that of Mr. Gladstone and his Government.

Sir Garnet Wolseley's operations against Secocoeni proved eminently
successful, and were the best arranged bit of native warfare that I have
yet heard of in South Africa. One blow was struck, and only one, but
that was crushing. Of course the secret of his success lay in the fact
that he had an abundance of force; but it was not ensured by that
alone, good management being very requisite in an affair of the sort,
especially where native allies have to be dealt with. The cost of the
expedition, not counting other Secocoeni war expenditure, amounted to
over 300,000 pounds, all of which is now lost to this country.

Another step in the right direction undertaken by Sir Garnet was the
establishment of an Executive Council and also of a Legislative Council,
for the establishment of which Letters Patent were sent from Downing
Street in November 1880.

Meanwhile the Boers, paying no attention to the latter proclamation, for
they guessed that it, like other proclamations in the Transvaal, would
be a mere _brutum fulmen_, had assembled for another mass meeting, at
which they went forward a step, and declared a Government which was to
treat with the English authorities. They had now learnt that they could
do what they liked with perfect impunity, provided they did not take
the extreme course of massacring the English. They had yet to learn that
they might even do that. At the termination of this meeting, a vote of
thanks was passed to "Mr. Leonard Courtney of London, and other members
of the British Parliament." It was wise of the Boer leaders to cultivate
Mr. Courtney of London. As a result of this meeting, Pretorius, one of
the principal leaders, and Bok, the secretary, were arrested on a
charge of treason, and underwent a preliminary examination; but as the
Secretary of State, Sir M. Hicks Beach, looked rather timidly on the
proceeding, and the local authorities were doubtful of securing a
verdict, the prosecution was abandoned, and necessarily did more harm
than good, being looked upon as another proof of the impotence of the

Shortly afterwards, Sir G. Wolseley changed his tactics, and, instead
of attempting to imprison Pretorius, offered him a seat on the Executive
Council, with a salary attached. This was a much more sensible way
of dealing with him, and he at once rose to the bait, stating his
willingness to join the Government after a while, but that he could
not publicly do so at the moment lest he should lose his influence with
those who were to be brought round through him. It does not, however,
appear that Mr. Pretorius ever did actually join the Executive, probably
because he found public opinion too strong to allow him to do so.

In December 1879, a new light broke upon the Boers, for, in the previous
month Mr. Gladstone had been delivering his noted attack on the policy
of the Conservative Government. Those Mid-Lothian speeches did harm, it
is said, in many parts of the world; but I venture to think that they
have proved more mischievous in South Africa than anywhere else; at any
rate, they have borne fruit sooner. It is not to be supposed that Mr.
Gladstone really cared anything about the Transvaal or its independence
when he was denouncing the hideous outrage that had been perpetrated
by the Conservative Government in annexing it. On the contrary, as he
acquiesced in the Annexation at the time (when Lord Kimberley stated
that it was evidently unavoidable), and declined to rescind it when he
came into power, it is to be supposed that he really approved of it, or
at the least looked on it as a necessary evil. However this may be, any
stick will do to beat a dog with, and the Transvaal was a convenient
point on which to attack the Government. He probably neither knew
nor cared what effect his reckless words might have on ignorant Boers
thousands of miles away; and yet, humanly speaking, many a man would
have been alive and strong to-day, whose bones now whiten the African
Veldt, had those words never been spoken. Then, for the first time,
the Boers learnt that, if they played their cards properly and put
on sufficient pressure, they would, in the event of the Liberal party
coming to office, have little difficulty in coercing it as they wished.

There was a fair chance at the time of the utterance of the Mid-Lothian
speeches that the agitation would, by degrees, die away; Sir G. Wolseley
had succeeded in winning over Pretorius, and the Boers in general
were sick of mass meetings. Indeed, a memorial was addressed to Sir G.
Wolseley by a number of Boers in the Potchefstroom district, protesting
against the maintenance of the movement against Her Majesty's rule,
which, considering the great amount of intimidation exercised by the
malcontents, may be looked upon as a favourable sign.

But when it slowly came to be understood among the Boers that a great
English Minister had openly espoused their cause, and that he would
perhaps soon be all-powerful, the moral gain to them was incalculable.
They could now go to the doubting ones and say,--we must be right about
the matter, because, putting our own feelings out of the question,
the great Gladstone says we are. We find the committee of the Boer
malcontents, at their meeting in March 1880, reading a letter to Mr.
Gladstone, "in which he was thanked for the great sympathy shown to
their fate," and a hope expressed that, if he succeeded in getting
power, he would not forget them. In fact, a charming unanimity prevailed
between our great Minister and the Boer rebels, for their interests were
the same, the overthrow of the Conservative Government. If, however,
every leader of the Opposition were to intrigue, or countenance
intrigues with those who are seeking to undermine the authority of Her
Majesty, whether they be Boers or Irishmen, in order to help himself to
power, the country might suffer in the long run.

But whatever feelings may have prompted Her Majesty's opposition, the
Home Government, and their agent, Sir Garnet Wolseley, blew no uncertain
blast, if we may judge from their words and actions. Thus we find
Sir Garnet speaking as follows at a banquet given in his honour at

"I am told that these men (the Boers) are told to keep on agitating in
this way, for a change of Government in England may give them again
the old order of things. Nothing can show greater ignorance of English
politics than such an idea; I tell you that there is no Government, Whig
or Tory, Liberal, Conservative, or Radical, _who would dare under any
circumstances to give back this country_. They would not dare, because
the English people would not allow them. To give back the country, what
would it mean? To give it back to external danger, to the danger of
attack by hostile tribes on its frontier, and who, if the English
Government were removed for one day, would make themselves felt the
next. Not an official of Government paid for months; it would mean
national bankruptcy. No taxes being paid, the same thing recurring again
which had existed before would mean danger without, anarchy and civil
war within, every possible misery; the strangulation of trade, and the
destruction of property."

It is very amusing to read this passage by the light of after events.
On other occasions Sir Garnet Wolseley will probably not be quite so
confident as to the future when it is to be controlled by a Radical

This explicit and straightforward statement of Sir Garnet's produced
a great effect on the loyal inhabitants of the Transvaal, which was
heightened by the publication of the following telegram from the
Secretary of State:--"You may fully confirm explicit statements made
from the time to time as to inability of Her Majesty's Government to
entertain _any proposal_ for withdrawal of the Queen's sovereignty."

On the faith of these declarations many Englishmen migrated to the
Transvaal and settled there, whilst those who were in the country now
invested all their means, being confident that they would not lose
their property through its being returned to the Boers. The excitement
produced by Mr. Gladstone's speeches began to quiet down and be
forgotten for the time, arrear taxes were paid up by the malcontents,
and generally the aspect of affairs was such, in Sir Garnet Wolseley's
opinion, as justified him in writing, in April 1880, to the Secretary of
State expressing his belief that the agitation was dying out.[*] Indeed,
so sanguine was he on that point that he is reported to have advised the
withdrawal of the cavalry regiment stationed in the territory, a piece
of economy that was one of the immediate causes of the revolt.

The reader will remember the financial condition of the country at the
time of the Annexation, which was one of utter bankruptcy. After three
years of British rule, however, we find, notwithstanding the constant
agitation that had been kept up, that the total revenue receipts for
the first quarter of 1879 and 1880 amounted to 22,773 pounds, and 44,982
pounds respectively. That is to say, that, during the last year of
British rule, the revenue of the country more than doubled itself, and
amounted to about 160,000 pounds a-year, taking the quarterly returns at
the low average of 40,000 pounds. It must, however, be remembered that
this sum would have been very largely increased in subsequent years,
most probably doubled. At any rate the revenue would have been amply
sufficient to make the province one of the most prosperous in South
Africa, and to have enabled it to shortly repay all debts due to the
British Government, and further to provide for its own defence. Trade
also, which in April 1877, was completely paralysed, had increased
enormously. So early as the middle of 1879, the Committee of the
Transvaal Chamber of Commerce pointed out, in a resolution adopted by
them, that the trade of the country had in two years, risen from almost
nothing to the considerable sum of two millions sterling per annum, and
that it was entirely in the hands of those favourable to British rule.
They also pointed out that more than half the land tax was paid by
Englishmen, or other Europeans adverse to Boer Government. Land, too,
had risen greatly in value, of which I can give the following instance.
About a year after the Annexation I, together with a friend, bought a
little property on the outskirts of Pretoria, which, with a cottage
we put up on it, cost some 300 pounds. Just before the rebellion we
fortunately determined to sell it, and had no difficulty in getting 650
pounds for it. I do not believe that it would now fetch a fifty pound

[*] In Blue Book No. (C. 2866) of September 1881, which is
descriptive of various events connected with the Boer
rising, is published, as an appendix, a despatch from Sir
Garnet Wolseley, dated October 1879. This despatch declares
the writer's opinion that the Boer discontent is on the
increase. Its publication thus--_apropos des bottes_--nearly
two years after it was written, is rather an amusing
incident. It certainly gives one the idea that Sir Garnet
Wolseley, fearing that his reputation for infallibility
might be attacked by scoffers for not having foreseen the
Boer rebellion, and perhaps uneasily conscious of other
despatches very different in tenor and subsequent in date:
and, mindful of the withdrawal of the cavalry regiment by
his advice, had caused it to be tacked on to the Blue Book
as a documentary "I told you so," and a proof that, whoever
else was blinded, he foresaw. It contains, however, the
following remarkable passage:--"Even were it not impossible,
for many other reasons, to contemplate a withdrawal of our
authority from the Transvaal, the position of insecurity in
which we should leave this loyal and important section of
the community (the English inhabitants), by exposing them to
the certain retaliation of the Boers, would constitute, in
my opinion, an insuperable obstacle to retrocession.
Subjected to the same danger, moreover, would be those of
the Boers, whose superior intelligence and courageous
character has rendered them loyal to our Government."

As the Government took the trouble to publish the despatch,
it is a pity that they did not think fit to pay more
attention to its contents.

I cannot conclude this chapter better than by drawing attention to a
charming specimen of the correspondence between the Boer leaders and
their friend Mr. Courtney. The letter in question, which is dated 26th
June, purports to be written by Messrs. Kruger and Joubert, but it is
obvious that it owes its origin to some member or members of the Dutch
party at the Cape, from whence, indeed, it is written. This is rendered
evident both by its general style, and also by the use of such terms
as "Satrap," and by references to Napoleon III. and Cayenne, about whom
Messrs. Kruger and Joubert know no more than they do of Peru and the

After alluding to former letters, the writers blow a blast of triumph
over the downfall of the Conservative Government, and then make a savage
attack on the reputation of Sir Bartle Frere. The "stubborn Satrap" is
throughout described as a liar, and every bad motive imputed to him.
Really, the fact that Mr. Courtney should encourage such epistles as
this is enough to give colour to the boast made by some of the leading
Boers, after the war, that they had been encouraged to rebel by a member
of the British Government.

At the end of this letter, and on the same page of the Blue Book, is
printed the telegram recalling Sir Bartle Frere, dated 1st August 1880.
It really reads as though the second document was consequent to the
first. One thing is very clear, the feelings of Her Majesty's new
Government towards Sir Bartle Frere differed only in the method of their
expression, from those set forth by the Boer leaders in their letter
to Mr. Courtney, whilst their object, namely, to be rid of him, was
undoubtedly identical with that of the Dutch party in South Africa.

H. Rider Haggard

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