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There were more murders and acts of cruelty committed during the war
at Potchefstroom, where the behaviour of the Boers was throughout both
deceitful and savage, than at any other place.

When the fighting commenced a number of ladies and children, the wives
and children of English residents, took refuge in the fort. Shortly
after it had been invested they applied to be allowed to return to their
homes in the town till the war was over. The request was refused by the
Boer commander, who said that as they had gone there, they might stop
and "perish" there. One poor lady, the wife of a gentleman well known in
the Transvaal, was badly wounded by having the point of a stake, which
had been cut in two by a bullet, driven into her side. She was at the
time in a state of pregnancy, and died some days afterwards in great
agony. Her little sister was shot through the throat, and several other
women and children suffered from bullet wounds, and fever arising from
their being obliged to live for months exposed to rain and heat, with
insufficient food.

The moving spirit of all the Potchefstroom atrocities was a cruel wretch
of the name of Buskes, a well-educated man, who, as an advocate of the
High Court, had taken the oath of allegiance to the Queen.

One deponent swears that he saw this Buskes wearing Captain Fall's
diamond ring, which he had taken from Sergeant Ritchie, to whom it was
handed to be sent to England, and also that he had possessed himself
of the carriages and other goods belonging to prisoners taken by the
Boers.[*] Another deponent (whose name is omitted in the Blue Book for
precautionary reasons) swears, "That on the next night the patrol again
came to my house accompanied by one Buskes, who was secretary of the
Boer Committee, and again asked where my wife and daughter were. I
replied, in bed; and Buskes then said, 'I must see for myself.' I
refused to allow him, and he forced me, with a loaded gun held to my
breast, to open the curtains of the bed, when he pulled the bedclothes
half off my wife, and altogether off my daughter. I then told him if I
had a gun I would shoot him. He placed a loaded gun at my breast, when
my wife sprang out of bed and got between us."

[*] Buskes was afterwards forced to deliver up the ring.

I remember hearing at the time that this Buskes (who is a good musician)
took one of his victims, who was on the way to execution, into the
chapel and played the "Dead March in Saul," or some such piece, over him
on the organ.

After the capture of the Court House a good many Englishmen fell into
the hands of the Boers. Most of these were sentenced to hard labour and
deprivation of "civil rights." The sentence was enforced by making them
work in the trenches under a heavy fire from the fort. One poor fellow,
F. W. Finlay by name, got his head blown off by a shell from his own
friends in the fort, and several loyal Kafirs suffered the same fate.
After these events the remaining prisoners refused to return to the
trenches till they had been "tamed" by being thrashed with the butt end
of guns, and by threats of receiving twenty-five lashes each.

But their fate, bad as it was, was not so awful as that suffered by Dr.
Woite and J. Van der Linden.

Dr. Woite had attended the Boer meeting which was held before the
outbreak, and written a letter from thence to Major Clarke, in which he
had described the talk of the Boers as silly bluster. He was not a paid
spy. This letter was, unfortunately for him, found in Major Clarke's
pocket-book, and because of it he was put through a form of trial, taken
out and shot dead, all on the same day. He left a wife and large family,
who afterwards found their way to Natal in a destitute condition.

The case of Van der Linden is somewhat similar. He was one of Raaf's
Volunteers, and as such had taken the oath of allegiance to the Queen.
In the execution of his duty he made a report to his commanding officer
about the Boer meeting, and which afterwards fell into the hands of the
Boers. On this he was put through the form of trial, and, though in
the service of the Queen, was found guilty of treason and condemned to
death. One of his judges, a little less stony-hearted than the rest,
pointed out that "when the prisoner committed the crime martial law had
not yet been proclaimed, nor the State," but it availed him nothing. He
was taken out and shot.

A Kafir named Carolus was also put through the form of trial and shot,
for no crime at all that I can discover.

Ten unarmed Kafir drivers, who had been sent away from the fort, were
shot down in cold blood by a party of Boers. Several witnesses depose to
having seen their remains lying together close to Potchefstroom.

Various other Kafirs were shot. None of the perpetrators of these crimes
were brought to justice. The Royal Commission comments on these acts as

"In regard to the deaths of Woite, Van de Linden, and Carolus, the
Boer leaders do not deny the fact that those men had been executed, but
sought to justify it. The majority of your Commissioners felt bound to
record their opinion that the taking of the lives of these men was an
act contrary to the rules of civilised warfare. Sir H. de Villiers was
of opinion that the executions in these cases, having been ordered by
properly constituted Court Martial of the Boers' forces after due trial,
did not fall under the cognisance of your Commissioners.

"Upon the case of William Finlay the majority of your Commissioners felt
bound to record the opinion that the sacrifice of Finlay's life, through
forced labour under fire in the trenches, was an act contrary to the
rules of civilised warfare. _Sir H. de Villiers did not feel justified
by the facts of the case in joining in this expression of opinion_
(sic). As to the case of the Kafir Andries, your Commissioners decided
that, although the shooting of this man appeared to them, from the
information laid before them, to be not in accordance with the rules of
civilised warfare, under all the circumstances of the case, it was not
desirable to insist upon a prosecution.

"The majority of your Commissioners, although feeling it a duty to
record emphatically their disapproval of the acts that resulted in
the deaths of Woite, Van der Linden, Finlay, and Carolus, yet found it
impossible to bring to justice the persons guilty of these acts."

It will be observed that Sir H. de Villiers does not express any
disapproval, emphatic or otherwise, of these wicked murders.

But Potchefstroom did not enjoy a monopoly of murder.

In December 1880, Captain Elliot, who was a survivor from the Bronker
Spruit massacre, and Captain Lambart, who had been taken prisoner by the
Boers whilst bringing remounts from the Free State, were released from
Heidelberg on parole on condition that they left the country. An escort
of two men brought them to a drift of the Vaal river, where they refused
to cross, because they could not get their cart through, the river being
in flood. The escort then returned to Heidelberg and reported that the
officers would not cross. A civil note was then sent back to Captains
Elliot and Lambart, signed by P. J. Joubert, telling them "to pass the
Vaal river immediately by the road that will be shown to you." What
secret orders, if any, were sent with this letter has never transpired;
but I decline to believe that, either in this or in Barber's case, the
Boer escort took upon themselves the responsibility of murdering their
prisoners, without authority of some kind for the deed.

The men despatched from Heidelberg with the letter found Lambert and
Elliot wandering about and trying to find the way to Standerton. They
presented the letter, and took them towards a drift in the Vaal. Shortly
before they got there the prisoners noticed that their escort had been
reinforced. It would be interesting to know, if these extra men were not
sent to assist in the murder, how and why they turned up as they did and
joined themselves to the escort. The prisoners were taken to an old and
disused drift of the Vaal river and told to cross. It was now dark, and
the river was much swollen with rain; in fact, impassable for the cart
and horses. Captains Elliot and Lambart begged to be allowed to outspan
till the next morning, but were told that they must cross, which they
accordingly attempted to do. A few yards from the bank the cart stuck on
a rock, and whilst in this position the Boer escort poured a volley into
it. Poor Elliot was instantly killed, one bullet fracturing his skull,
another passing through the back, a third shattering the right thigh,
and a fourth breaking the left wrist. The cart was also riddled, but,
strange to say, Captain Lambert was untouched, and succeeded in swimming
to the further bank, the Boers firing at him whenever the flashes of
lightning revealed his whereabouts. After sticking some time in the mud
of the bank he managed to effect his escape, and next day reached the
house of an Englishman called Groom, living in the Free State, and from
thence made his way to Natal.

Two of the murderers were put through a form of trial, after the
conclusion of peace, and acquitted.

The case of the murder of Dr. Barber is of a somewhat similar character
to that of Elliot, except that there is in this case a curious piece of
indirect evidence that seems to connect the murder directly with Piet
Joubert, one of the Triumvirate.

In the month of February 1881, two Englishmen came to the Boer laager
at Lang's Nek to offer their services as doctors. Their names were Dr.
Barber, who was well known to the Boers, and his assistant, Mr. Walter
Dyas, and they came, not from Natal, but the Orange Free State. On
arrival at the Boer camp they were at first well received, but after
a little while seized, searched, and tied up all night to a disselboom
(pole of a waggon). Next morning they were told to mount their horses,
and started from the camp escorted by two men who were to take them over
the Free State line.

When they reached the Free State line the Boers told them to get off
their horses, which they were ordered to bring back to the camp. They
did so, bade good-day to their escort, and started to walk on towards
their destination. When they had gone about forty yards Dyas heard the
report of a rifle, and Barber called out, "My God, I am shot!" and fell

Dyas went down on his hands and knees and saw one of the escort
deliberately aim at him. He then jumped up, and ran dodging from right
to left, trying to avoid the bullet. Presently the man fired, and he
felt himself struck through the thigh. He fell with his face to the men,
and saw his would-be assassin put a fresh cartridge into his rifle and
aim at him. Turning his face to the ground he awaited his death, but the
bullet whizzed past his head. He then saw the men take the horses and go
away, thinking they had finished him. After waiting a while he managed
to get up, and struggled to a house not far off, where he was kindly
treated and remained till he recovered.

Some time after this occurrence a Hottentot, named Allan Smith, made
a statement at Newcastle, from which it appears that he had been taken
prisoner by the Boers and made to work for them. One night he saw Barber
and Dyas tied to the disselboom, and overheard the following, which I
will give in his own words:--

"I went to a fire where some Boers were sitting; among them was
a low-sized man, moderately stout, with a dark-brown full beard,
apparently about thirty-five years of age. I do not know his name. _He
was telling his comrades that he had brought an order from Piet Joubert_
to Viljoen, to take the two prisoners to the Free State line _and shoot
them there_. He said, in the course of conversation, 'Piet Joubert het
gevraacht waarom was de mensche neet dood geschiet toen hulle bijde
eerste laager gekom het.' ('Piet Joubert asked why were the men not shot
when they came to the first laager.') They then saw me at the fire, and
one of them said, 'You must not talk before that fellow; he understands
what you say, and will tell everybody.'

"Next morning Viljoen told me to go away, and gave me a pass into the
Free State. He said (in Dutch), 'you must not drive for any Englishmen
again. If we catch you doing so we will shoot you, and if you do not go
away quick, and we catch you hanging about when we bring the two men to
the line, we will shoot you too.'"

Dyas, who escaped, made an affidavit with reference to this statement in
which he says, "I have read the foregoing affidavit of Allan Smith,
and I say that the person described in the third paragraph thereof as
bringing orders from Piet Joubert to Viljoen, corresponds with one of
the Boers who took Dr. Barber and myself to the Free State, and to the
best of my belief he is the man who shot Dr. Barber."

The actual murderers were put on their trial in the Free State, and, of
course, acquitted. In his examination at the trial, Allan Smith says,
"It was a young man who said that Joubert had given orders that Barber
had to be shot. . . . It was not at night, but in the morning early,
when the young man spoke about Piet Joubert's order."

Most people will gather, from what I have quoted, that there exists a
certain connection between the dastardly murder of Dr. Barber (and the
attempted murder of Mr. Dyas), and Piet Joubert, one of that "able"
Triumvirate of which Mr. Gladstone speaks so highly.

I shall only allude to one more murder, though more are reported to have
occurred, amongst them--that of Mr. Malcolm, who was kicked to death by
Boers,--and that is Mr. Green's.

Mr. Green was an English gold-digger, and was travelling along the main
road to his home at Spitzcop. The road passed close by the military camp
at Lydenburg, into which he was called. On coming out he went to a Boer
patrol with a flag of truce, and whilst talking to them was shot dead.
The Rev. J. Thorne, the English clergyman at Lydenburg, describes this
murder in an affidavit in the following words:--

"That I was the clergyman who got together a party of Englishmen and
brought down the body of Mr. Green who was murdered by the Boers and
buried it. I have ascertained the circumstances of the murder, which
were as follows:--Mr. Green was on his way to the gold-fields. As he was
passing the fort, he was called in by the officers, and sent out again
with a message to the Boer commandant. Immediately on leaving the camp,
he went to the Boer guard opposite with a flag of truce in his hand;
while parleying with the Boers, who proposed to make a prisoner of him,
he was shot through the head."

No prosecution was instituted in this case. Mr. Green left a wife and
children in a destitute condition.



The following extracts from the speeches, despatches, and telegrams
of members of the present Government, with reference to the proposed
retrocession of the Transvaal, are not without interest:--

During the month of May 1880, Lord Kimberley despatched a telegram
to Sir Bartle Frere, in which the following words occur: "_Under
no circumstances can the Queen's authority in the Transvaal be

In a despatch dated 20th May, and addressed to Sir Bartle Frere, Lord
Kimberley says, "That the sovereignty of the Queen in the Transvaal
could not be relinquished."

In a speech in the House of Lords on the 24th May 1880, Lord Kimberley

"There was a still stronger reason than that for not receding; it was
impossible to say what calamities such a step as receding might not
cause. We had, at the cost of much blood and treasure, restored peace,
and the effect of our now reversing our policy would be to leave the
province in a state of anarchy, and possibly to cause an internecine
war. For such a risk he could not make himself responsible. The number
of the natives in the Transvaal was estimated at about 800,000, and
that of the whites less than 50,0000. Difficulties with the Zulus and
frontier tribes would again arise, and, looking as they must to South
Africa as a whole, the Government, after a careful consideration of
the question, came to the conclusion _that we could not relinquish
the Transvaal_. Nothing could be more unfortunate than uncertainty in
respect to such a matter."

On the 8th June 1880, Mr. Gladstone, in reply to a Boer memorial, wrote
as follows:--

"It is undoubtedly a matter for much regret that it should, since the
Annexation, have appeared that so large a number of the population of
Dutch origin in the Transvaal are opposed to the annexation of that
territory, but it is impossible now to consider that question as if it
were presented for the first time. We have to do with a state of things
which has existed for a considerable period, during which _obligations
have been contracted, especially, though not exclusively, towards
the native population, which cannot be set aside_. Looking to all the
circumstances, both of the Transvaal and the rest of South Africa, and
to the necessity of preventing a renewal of disorders, which might lead
to disastrous consequences, not only to the Transvaal but to the whole
of South Africa, _our judgment is that the Queen cannot be advised to
relinquish the Transvaal_."

Her Majesty's Speech, delivered in Parliament on the 6th January 1881,
contains the following words: "A rising in the Transvaal has recently
imposed upon me the duty of _vindicating my authority_."

These extracts are rather curious reading in face of the policy adopted
by the Government, after our troops had been defeated.



This is a case which came under my own notice. The complainant is now
a tenant of my own. When Indabezimbi appeared before Mr. Cochrane and
myself, his appearance fully bore out his description of the assault
made upon him. We did everything in our power to help him to recover his
son and his property, but without effect. The matter was fully reported
to Sir Hercules Robinson and Sir E. Wood, and a question was asked on
the subject in the House of Commons. I append Mr. Courtney's answer.
This case, which is perfectly authentic, will prove instructive reading,
as showing the treatment the Kafir must expect at the hands of the Boer,
now that he is no longer protected by us. It must be remembered that the
vast majority of such incidents are never heard of. The Kafirs suffer,
and are still. The assault and robbery of Indabezimbi took place in
Natal territory.

Statement of Indabezimbi

"I used to work on Mr. Robson's son's place, and on his death I went to
Meyer's (in the Utrecht district of the Transvaal) about a year ago. I
took all my property with me. There lived on the farm old Isaac Meyer,
Solomon Meyer, who died during the war, young Isaac Meyer, Jan Meyer,
Martinus Meyer, also a man called Cornelius, a 'bijwooner,' who loved in
Solomon's place after he died.

"According to custom, I sent my son to work for old Isaac Meyer, as
I lived on his place. When the war began all the Meyer family moved
further into the Transvaal, my son going with them as herd. I went up
to Klip River with them as driver, where the river forms the boundary
between the Free State and Transvaal. I returned at once, leaving my son
with the Meyers. He was a small boy about twelve years of age. At the
termination of the war the Meyers sent for me to drive them down. I met
them a day's journey this side of Klip River. I asked them where my son
was. Old Isaac Meyer told me he had sent him to look for horses; he did
not return; and another boy was sent who brought the horses. The horses
were found close by. No one went to look for my son. I asked old Isaac
Meyer for leave to go and offer a reward amongst the Kafirs for my son.
He refused, saying I must drive him home, and then he would give me a
pass to come back and look for him. On our arrival at the farm I and my
wife again applied to old Isaac Meyer to be allowed to go and see about
my son. He refused, saying I must first shear the sheep. I replied that
he well knew that I could not shear sheep. I said, 'How can I work when
my heart is sore for my son?' Meyer said again that I must wait awhile
as the rivers were full. I said how could that matter, seeing that both
in coming and going with the waggons we crossed no rivers? As he refused
me a pass, I started without one to seek my son. On arrival at Mavovo's
kraal I met my brother, who told me that I must go no further, or the
Boers would shoot me. Having no pass I returned. On my return my wives
told me that the Meyers had come every morning to look for me with
guns to shoot me, telling them that 'it was now no longer the days for
sjamboking (flogging with hide whips) the natives, but the days for
shooting them.' On hearing this I collected my goods, and by morning
had everything on the Natal side of the Buffalo River--on Natal ground.
About mid-day Martinus Meyer overtook us by Degaza's kraal and asked
me what I was doing on the Natal side of the river. I told him I was
leaving for Natal, because I found it altogether too hot for me in
the Transvaal. He said that if I came back he would make everything
comfortable. I refused. He then attacked me with a knobkerrie, and would
have killed me had not one of my wives, seeing that I was badly hurt,
knocked him down with a piece of iron. Martinus then mounted his
horse and galloped off. I then got on my horse and fled. My wives
hid themselves. In the afternoon there came to the waggon Jan Meyer,
Martinus Meyer, young Isaac Meyer, and the man called Cornelius. They
hunted all about for us with the object of shooting us, as they told
Degaza's Kafirs. My wives then saw them inspan the waggon and take
everything away. I had a waggon, twelve oxen, four cows, and a mare,
also a box containing two hundred pounds in gold, a telescope, clothes,
and other things. My wives found the box broken on the ground and all
the contents gone. Forty sacks of grain belonging to me were also taken.
I was robbed of everything I had, with the exception of the horse I
escaped on. The waggon was one I hired from my brother (a relation); the
oxen were my own brother's. Eighty pounds of the money I got from the
Standard Bank in Newcastle for oxen sold to the owner of the store on
the Ingagane Drift. The rest I had accumulated in fees from doctoring. I
am a doctor amongst my own people. I come now to ask you to allow me to
settle on your land as a refugee.

"(Signed) Indabezimbi, his X mark.

"This statement was made by Indabezimbi at Hilldrop, Newcastle, Natal,
on the Seventeenth of August, Eighteen hundred and eighty-one, in the
presence of the undersigned witnesses.

"(Signed) H. Rider Haggard.
A. H. D. Cochrane.
J. H. Gay Roberts.

"N.B.--The outrage of which Indabezimbi has here given an account
occurred within a week of the present date, August 17th, 1881."

Statement of the woman Nongena, Wife of Indabezimbi

"My master's name is Isaac Meyer; he lives in the Transvaal, south of
Utrecht. We have lived on the farm about a year. On the farm lived also
Jan Meyer, Martinus Meyer, and young Isaac Meyer, sons of old Isaac
Meyer. There was also another man on the farm, whose name I do not know.
When the waggon went up with the Meyers' family to the centre of the
Transvaal, when the late war broke out, my husband drove old Isaac
Meyer's waggon, and my son Ungazaan also went to drive on stock. After
my husband had driven the waggon to its destination in the Transvaal he
returned to the kraal, leaving his son Ungazaan with the Meyers. After
the war was over my husband was sent for by the Meyers to drive back
the waggons. On arrival of the Meyers at the farm I found my husband
had returned, but my son was left behind. I asked my master where my son
was; my master replied, 'He did not know, he had sent to boy to bring up
horses, but he had not brought them.' Another boy was sent who brought
the horses. He said he had not seen the boy Ungazaan since he left to
look for the horses, as they had left the place the morning after the
boy was missing. My husband asked for a pass to go back and look for
the boy; Meyer refused, and my husband went without one to look for
Ungazaan, my son. He returned without the boy, owing, he said, to the
want of a pass. My husband dared not go into the country without a pass.
During my husband's absence, the three sons of old Isaac Meyer, namely,
Martinus, Jan, and Isaac, came every morning to search for my husband,
saying, 'We will kill him, he leaves our work to go without our leave
for look for the boy.' They came once with sjamboks, but afterwards with
guns, saying they would kill him if they found him. On hearing this my
husband said, 'We cannot then stay here longer.' He then went at once
and borrowed a waggon and twelve oxen, and during the night we packed
the waggon three times, and took three loads across the Buffalo River
to Degaza's kraal, which is on Natal ground, forty sacks of grain, 200
pounds in a box, with clothes and other things, also mats and skins, and
four head of cattle and a horse. All these things were at Degaza's kraal
before sunrise the next morning. The Induna Kabane, at the magistrate's
office at Newcastle, knows of the money, and from whence it came. All
the money is our money.

"About mid-day on the day after the night we moved, Martinus came on
horseback to us at Degaza's kraal, and I saw him beating my husband with
a kerrie; he hit him also in the mouth with his fist. He hit my husband
on the head with a kerrie; he beat my husband on the foot when he was
trying to creep away in a hut, and would have killed him had not one of
his wives named Camgagaan hit Martinus on the head with a piece of iron.
Martinus, on recovery, rode away; my husband also fled on a horse.

"I with the other wives fled, and hid ourselves close by in the grass
and stones. Presently we saw from our own hiding-place three white men,
armed with guns, seeking for us. Their names were Martinus Meyer, Jan
Meyer, and Isaac Meyer, all three sons of old Isaac Meyer. They sought
us in vain. From our hiding-place we heard the waggon driven away; and
later, when we went back to Degaza's kraal, they told us that the Meyers
had inspanned the waggon, and had returned with it to the Transvaal side
of the Buffalo River. The names of those who saw the Boers go away with
the waggon are Gangtovo, Capaches, Nomatonga, Nomamane, and others.
The Boers took away on the waggon that night all the last load we had
brought over from the Transvaal, together with all our clothes; and
some of the sacks first brought over were loaded up, all our cattle were
taken, and our box was broken, and the 200 pounds taken away. We found
the pieces of the box on the ground when we came from our hiding-place.
We then fled. The people at Degaza's kraal told us that the Boers had
said that they would return, and take away that which they were forced
to leave behind when they took the first load. We have since heard from
Degaza that the Boers came back again and took what remained of our
property at Degaza's kraal. Degaza saw the Boers take the things

"This is all I know of the facts. The assaults and robbery took place,
as near as I can say, about fourteen days ago."

(Signed) Nongena, her X mark.

Gagaoola, also wife of Indabezimbi, states:--"I have heard all that
Nongena has told you. Her words are true; I was present when the assault
and robbery took place."

(Signed) Gagaoola, her X mark.

These statements were made to us at Hilldrop, Newcastle, Natal, on the
Twenty-second of August, Eighteen hundred and eighty-one.

A. H. D. Cochrane.

H. Rider Haggard.

(Signed) Ayah, her X mark,


"Mr. Alderman Fowler asked the Under Secretary of State for the
Colonies, whether the British Resident at Pretoria had brought under
the notice of the Transvaal Government the circumstances of an outrage
committed in August last, by a party of Boers, on the person and
property of a Kafir named Indabezimbi, who was at that time residing in
Natal; and whether any steps had been taken by the authorities of the
Transvaal either to institute a judicial inquiry into the matter, or to
surrender the offenders to the Government of Natal.

"Mr. Courtney.--On the 13th of October the British Resident reported
that, according to promise, the Government has caused an investigation
to be made at Utrecht, and informed him that the result was somewhat
to invalidate the statement of Indabezimbi; but that the documents
connected with the investigation at Utrecht would speedily be forwarded
to him with a view to correspondence through him with the Natal
Government. No further communication has been received. It must be
observed that, in the absence of any extradition convention, a judicial
inquiry in this case is practically impossible, the outrage, whatever
it was, having been committed in Natal, and the offenders being in
the Transvaal. Her Majesty's Government are taking active steps to
re-establish a system of extradition, in pursuance of Article 29, of the
Convention. The despatches on this subject will be given to Parliament
when the correspondence is completed."



It may be interesting to Englishmen to know what treatment is meted out
to such of their fellow-countrymen as have been bold enough, or forced
by necessity, to remain in the Transvaal since the retrocession. The
following is a translation of an advertisement recently published in the
"Volkstem," a Transvaal paper, and is a fair sample of what "loyalists"
have to expect.


"We, the undersigned Burghers of the Ward Aapies river, hereby warn all
loyal persons who have registered themselves with the British Resident,
that they are not to come into our houses, or into our farms, and still
less to offer to shake hands. They can greet us at a distance on the
road _like Kafirs_, and those who act contrary to this notice can expect
the result."

Presumably "the result" that the Englishman who takes the liberty
to offer to shake hands with a Boer can expect, is to be beaten or
murdered. This notice is signed by the Justice of the Peace or "Veld
Cornet" of the district. Anybody who knows the estimation in which a
Kafir is held by the Boers will understand its peculiar insolence.



The following letter appeared in the issue of the "Standard" of the 31st
May 1882, and is dated Pretoria, 27th April. It is signed "Transvaal,"
probably because the author, were he to put his name at the foot of so
candid a document, would find himself in much the same position as that
occupied at the present moment by an Irish landlord who has outraged the
susceptibilities of the Land League. He would be rigorously "boycotted,"
and might, in the event of any disturbance, be made into a target. The
Transvaal Boers are very sensitive to criticism, especially where their
native policy is concerned. I take the liberty to reprint the letter
here, partly because I feel sure that I will be forwarding the wishes
of the writer by assisting to give publicity to his facts, and partly
on account of the striking and recent confirmation it affords, on every
point, to my remarks on the same subject:--

"Sir,--In calling your attention to what is going on on the
south-western border of the Transvaal, I may possibly tell you of some
things which you may already have heard of, for in the present isolated
condition of the country, without telegraphs, and with a very imperfect
postal system, added to the jealousy of the Boer Government in keeping
their actions secret from the outside world, it is not only very
difficult to get at the truth of what is happening, but the people in
one portion of the country are in many cases totally ignorant of what is
going on in another. Nevertheless, I feel it incumbent on me to call
the attention of the English people, through your widely circulating
journal, to what has come under my observation with reference to the
disgraceful native war which is, and has been, raging on the south-west
border of this country.

"During the late Boer war, you may be aware of the fact that a very
large number, if not all, of the natives, were strongly in favour of
the English Government, and only awaited the signal from it to rush upon
their old oppressors. But the natives, although forbidden by the English
Government from joining with them against the Boers (it is hardly
necessary to say that had it not been for this the war would have had a
very different ending), nevertheless afforded an asylum and protection
to the lives and property of refugee Englishmen and loyalists. Notable
among these natives was a Chief named Montsiou, whose tribe is situated
just outside the borders of the Transvaal to the south-west. This
Chief and his people received numbers of refugees who fled to them for
protection from the rapacity of the Boers, and watched over them and
their property throughout the war. For this offence the Boers swore to
be revenged on him, and hardly was the war finished when they commenced
commandeering in the Potchefstroom district, under the pretence of
protecting their borders, but with the ostensible purpose of inflicting
chastisement on this loyal Chief; and, the better to effect their
purpose, they allied themselves with a neighbouring Chief, who had some
old grudge against him, and, by promises of assistance and hopes of
plunder, induced him to commence a war, under cover of which they could
join, and thus effect the purpose they had in view.

"The Chiefs whom the Boers had instigated to harass Montsiou got
the worst of it, and the action of the Boers, who were actively
commandeering in the Potchefstroom (district?), under Commandant Cronge,
was brought to the notice of the Royal Commission through complaints
made by loyal Boers, and resulted in an inquiry into the subject, which
showed that his opponent was the aggressor, and was acting under the
advice of and assistance from the Boers. The Royal Commission managed to
patch matters up, but no sooner were their labours over, and the country
fairly handed over to the Boers, than Moshete and Masouw, instigated by
the Boers, commenced again harassing Montsiou, with the avowed purpose
of bringing on a war, and so far succeeded as to oblige Montsiou to take
up arms in self-defence.

"From that time forward the war has gone on increasing in dimensions,
until other Chiefs have been drawn into it, and the Boer volunteers
fighting against Montsiou and Monkoroane are almost equal in numbers to
the natives. The Boers, while doing all they can to crush Montsiou on
account of the protection he afforded loyalists during the late war
against the English Government, are careful not to do it in an official
way, because that might cause trouble with England, whereas, by
aiding and assisting it privately, they could do quite as much without
incurring responsibility. You may naturally ask how I know all this, and
what proofs I can advance in support of it. Some time after the Royal
Commission had left the country, and the war had commenced again, Piet
Joubert, who is Commandant-General, went down to the border with the
object of putting an end to the war. This, I presume, he did for the
sake of appearances, for it is well known that he entertains a strong
hatred against those natives who in any way showed a partiality for
British rule; and when it is remembered that Piet Joubert's journey did
not result in a cessation of hostilities, but in an increase, and that
ever since his journey the war has increased in area and in numbers,
and that in no single instance has a Boer volunteer been prevented
from crossing the border, or ammunition for use against Montsiou been
stopped, the sincerity of his intentions may well be doubted.

"Then, again, officers in the Boer Jagers went about Pretoria
endeavouring to obtain volunteers to fight against Montsiou, saying
that they were to have some months' leave from the Government, and that
subscriptions would be raised to assist those men who had no private
means. This took place almost immediately after Piet Joubert's return
from the border, and while he was in Pretoria, and the general opinion
was that he was at the bottom of it; but as it became rather more public
than was intended, the British Resident was obliged to take notice of
it, and the result was that the Boers, though in general treating the
British Resident with little consideration, thought it wisest to carry
on their operations in a more private manner, more especially as their
object could be attained quite as effectually in this way.

"While the Boers are assisting Moshete and Masouw by every means in
their power, with the sole object of crushing Montsiou and Monkoroane,
another loyal Chief, the Colonial Government, no doubt under
instructions from home, are doing their best to prevent volunteers or
ammunition reaching them, and have already rested men in Kimberley, who
have been trying to raise volunteers to go to their assistance.

"The result of this is, that the loyal Chiefs are suffering under
a double disadvantage; for while their enemies are receiving every
assistance, they are blockaded on all sides, and, through the action
of the English Government in preventing them obtaining assistance, are
rapidly falling a prey to the Boers. Those only who know anything of the
Boer method of warfare against natives will know what this means; and in
spite of the Boer Government doing all they can to keep things
secret, horrible tales of the cruelties perpetrated by them leak out

"It seems to me a disgraceful thing, and a stain on the honour of
England, that these loyal Chiefs and their tribes should be robbed,
plundered, and shot down like dogs, simply because they afforded
protection to the lives and property of Englishmen during the late
war, and yet these things are going on and are being perpetrated on the
border of England's Colonies. If England will not step in and insist on
the Boers putting a stop to this murderous war, then in God's name
let her not prevent these poor natives from obtaining ammunition and
assistance to enable them to defend their country. They succoured our
countrymen, and if we cannot succour them, the least we can do is not to
interfere to prevent them from protecting themselves!

"Of course, it suits the Boer Government to make out that they have
nothing to do with the war, and cannot prevent Boer Volunteers from
fighting these Chiefs; and so long as the English Government rests
satisfied with these answers, so long will this disgraceful state of
things go on. Let the English Government be firm, however, and insist
on the Boers taking no part in this war, and it will cease--a sure proof
that the Boer Government have the power to stop it if they have the

"Not only are the Boers wreaking vengeance upon Montsiou and Monkoroane,
but a friend of theirs, a Chief of the name of Kalafin, whose tribe is
situated in the Zeerust district, Transvaal, has been robbed by them of
everything he possessed. This Chief had English sympathies; and as he
presumed to build a wall round his town he gave the Boers the excuse
they wanted. He was ordered to take the wall down, which he did, at the
same time proving that he only built it to prevent his cattle straying
among the huts. He was then ordered to come to Pretoria, which he did
accordingly. He was then ordered to pay a fine of three thousand cattle,
which fine he paid. No sooner was this done than the Boers, bent on
his ruin, raised the fine to ten thousand head. The poor Chief in vain
pleaded his inability to pay. It was the old story of the wolf and the
lamb. Because he couldn't pay, the Boers construed it into an act of
disobedience, and at once ordered their men to go in and take everything
he possessed. This tribe is small and weak, which the Boers well knew.
Eye-witnesses of what followed say it was a heartrending sight. The
women, with children in their arms, pleaded in vain to the Boers to
leave them something or they would starve, but the latter only jeered
at them. What these poor people will do God only knows, for the Boers
stripped them of every living thing they possessed, and with the
proceeds of this robbery the Boer Government intend to replenish their

"The British Resident, Mr. Hudson, it is believed, shuts his eyes to
many things. No doubt his is a difficult position to fill; and doubtless
he is aware that, if he reports everything to the English Government,
the Boers have it in their power to make his position anything but a
pleasant one. In any case, the English portion of the community here,
while admitting his good qualities socially, have little confidence in
him officially.

"My object in writing this letter, however, is not so much to show what
a disgraceful state the Government is in, as to try and awaken sympathy
in the breasts of my countrymen for the cause of these loyal Chiefs.
While the Government are writing despatches to the British Resident,
these Chiefs and their people are being ruined past remedying."



[*] This paper was written just before the Annexation of the
Transvaal in 1877.

Towards the end of March I had occasion to visit the Basuto chief
Secocoeni, in his native stronghold beyond the Loolu Berg, a range to
the north-east of Pretoria, about 250 miles away; and as this journey
was typical of travelling in the wilds of South Africa, an account of it
may prove interesting.

It is perhaps necessary to explain, for the benefit of those who are not
acquainted with South African politics, that Secocoeni is the chieftain
who has been at war with the late Transvaal Republic, who drove back its
forces, capturing some 7000 head of cattle. It is from this raid that
the present state of affairs has arisen; so that this obscure chief,
with his 9000 warriors, has materially affected the future destinies of
South Africa. Negotiations of peace had been set on foot, and it was
in connection with these delicate matters that the journey was to be

"Going to Secocoeni at this time of year! Ah!" said one gentleman.
"Well, look here. I sent five natives through that country in this same
month (March) last year; out of those five, three died of the fever, and
the other two just got through with their lives. I only tell you, you
know, that you may take precautions. This is a bad fever year." However,
fever or no fever, we had to go. As it was necessary to travel rapidly,
we could only take four riding-horses, three for ourselves and the
fourth for a Zulu named "Lankiboy," who also led a pack-horse,
and carried an enormous "knob-kerry," or shillelagh, stuck in his
button-hole, as though it were a wedding-bouquet.

Behind our saddles were fastened our saddle-bags, containing a change
of clothing, and in front we strapped a rug and a mackintosh.
Our commissariat consisted of four tins of potted ham, and our
medicine-chest of some quinine, Cockle's pills, and a roll of
sticking-plaster, which, with a revolver and a hunting-knife or two,
completed our equipment.

We knew little of our route save that our destination lay due east, so
due east we steered. After riding for about twenty miles, and crossing
the Mahaliesburg range, that stretches away north for hundreds of miles,
we came to a Boer's house, where we off-saddled to feed our horses. It
must be understood that the Boers were the one certain difficulty, and
one of the possible dangers, to be encountered on our road, for at no
time are they are pleasant people to deal with, and just now they are
remarkably unpleasant towards Englishmen.

For instance, at this first house, we managed to get some forage for our
horses, before our scowling host found out who we were, but not a bit
could we get to eat. "Have you no bread, myn Heer?" "We have no bread
to spare." "Have you any eggs?" "We have no eggs." "Can you let us
have some milk?" "Susan, have you got any milk to give these carles
(fellows)?" Finally, we succeeded in buying three cups of milk for a
shilling, "as a favour," and that is all we got from sunrise to sunset.

Riding, on empty stomachs, for another sixty miles over the plains, we
came to a Boer's house where we had to sleep. Just before we reached the
door, I noticed what I have often seen since, some graves in a row, with
heaps of stones piled over them. It appears that these people do not
care about bring buried in consecrated ground, their only anxiety being
to be put in a coffin, and they are generally laid to rest near to their
doors. There is neither railing nor headstone, and no trees or flowers,
those green emblematic garments with which civilised people try to hide
the ugliness of death. I remember once seeing several graves within two
or three yards of the public road, so that in a year or so the waggons
will be rumbling over the heads of those who lie beneath.

When you ride up to a Boer's house, the etiquette is to wait until some
member of the family asks you to off-saddle, and then you must go in
and shake hands with every one, a most disagreeable custom. None of the
women--who are very plain--rise to meet one, they just hold out their
hands. This house was a fair specimen of the sort of habitation indulged
in by the ordinary Boer. The main room was about eighteen feet square,
with that kind of door which allows the upper half to open whilst the
lower remains shut, such as is used in stables in England. The flooring
is made of cow-dung, into which peach stones are trodden at the
threshold, in order to prevent its wearing away. The furniture consists
of a deal table and some chairs, rather nearly made of strips of hide
fastened to a wooden frame. There is no ceiling, but only beams, to
which are fastened strips of "biltong," or game's flesh, dried in the
sun. Out of this room open one or two more, in which the whole family
sleep, without much attempt at privacy.

Sitting about the room were two or three young mothers, without
stockings and nursing babies; in the corner, on a chair, made twice as
large as any of the others, reposed the mother of the family, a woman of
large size. The whole house was pervaded by a sickly odour, like that of
a vault, whilst the grime and filth of it baffle description. And this
was the place we had to eat and sleep in. However, there was no help for
it; the only thing to do was to light one's pipe, and smoke. After an
hour or so, supper was put upon the table, consisting of a bowl full of
boiled bones, a small stack of mealie cobs, and, be it added, some good
bread-and-butter. The eating arrangements of these people are certainly
very trying. The other day we had to eat our dinner in a Boer's house,
with a reeking ox-hide, just torn from the animal, lying on the floor
beside us, together with portions of the poor beast's head whose flesh
we were eating. However, on this occasion we were spared the ox-hide,
and, being very hungry, managed to put up with the other discomforts.
After a long grace our suppers were served out to us. I remember I got
an enormous bone with but little flesh on it, which, if I may form an
opinion from its great size and from a rapid anatomical survey, must
have been the tibia of an ox. A young Boer sat opposite to me--a
wonderful fellow. He got through several mealie cobs (and large ones
too) whilst I was eating half a one. His method was peculiar, and shows
what practice can do. He shoved a mealie cob into his mouth, gave it
a bite and a wrench, just like one of those patent American threshing
machines, brought the cob out perfectly clear of grain, and took
another. After the supper was over, we had another long grace ending
with: "voor spijze en drunk de Heer ik dank" (for food and drink the
Lord I thank).

After supper we went outside in order to escape the feet-washing
ceremony (all in the same water) which this "simple pastoral people"
are said to indulge in, and which they might expect the "uitlander"
(stranger) to enter into with enthusiasm. When we came back, we
found that the women--who, by-the-by, do not eat till the men have
finished--had done their meal, and gone to bed, having first made us up
a luxurious couch on the floor, consisting of a filthy feather-bed, and
an equally filthy blanket. My heart misgave me when I looked at that
bed. It may have been fancy, but once or twice I thought it moved.
However, there was no choice, unless we chose to sit up all night; so in
we got, looking for all the world like three big sun-burned dolls put
to bed by some little girl. I, as the youngest, blew out the light, and
then!--from every side _they_ came. Up one's arms, up one's legs,
down one's back they scampered, till life became a burden. Sleep was
impossible; one could only lie awake and calculate the bites per minute,
and the quantity of blood one would lose before daybreak. Cold as it
was, I would have turned out and slept in the veldt, only my rug was
over my two companions as well as myself, so I could not take it. I have
slept in a good many different places, and in very fairly uncomfortable
places, but I never had such a night before.

At the first grey dawn of morning the old "frau" came stumbling out of
the bedroom, and sat down without ceremony in her big chair. Waiting
till she thought that we had reached a sufficiently advanced stage in
our toilette--and her idea of what that was must have been a strange
one--she shouted out to her daughters that they could "com," and in they
all came. Very glad were we when we had paid our bill, which was a heavy
one, and were in the saddle once more, riding through the cold morning
mist that lay in masses on all the ridges of the hills like snow on

It was needful to start early, for we had more than sixty miles to
cover, and our ponies had done a good journey the day before. The work
that one can get out of these ponies is marvellous. There was my pony,
"Mettle," who had my eleven stone to carry, to say nothing of the
saddle, heavy saddle-bags, and a roll of rugs, who came in at the end
of his journey as fresh as paint. We cantered easily over the great
high-veldt prairies, now and then passing clumps of trees, outposts
of the bush-veldt. These enormous plains, notwithstanding their dreary
vastness, have a wild beauty of their own. The grass is what is called
sour grass, and has a peculiar blue tinge, but stock do not like it so
well as the low-veldt grass, which is sweeter, and fattens them more
quickly, though it does not put them in such good fettle. The rock here
is all white sandstone, and thinly overlaps an enormous bed of coal,
cropping up from beneath the water-washed surface. At this time of year
there are very few beasts or birds of any sort to be seen, though in the
winter the veldt is one moving mass of "trek" or migratory game.

Our destination that day was Botsabelo, the most important
mission-station, and one of the very few successful ones, in
South-Eastern Africa. As we neared it, the country gradually broke into
hills of peculiar and beautiful formation, which rendered the last two
hours of our ride, in the dark, through an unknown country, rather a
difficult job. However, we stumbled through streams, and over boulders,
and about nine o'clock were lucky enough to come right upon the station,
where we were most kindly received by Dr. Merensky. The station itself
stands on the brow of a hill surrounded by gardens and orchards; beneath
it lie slope and mountain, stream and valley, over which are dotted
numbers of kraals, to say nothing of three or four substantial houses
occupied by the assistant missionary and German artisans. Near Dr.
Merensky's house stands the church, by far the best I have seen in the
Transvaal, and there is also a store with some well-built workshops
around it. All the neighbouring country belongs to the station, which
is, in fact, like a small independent State, 40,000 acres in extent.
On a hill-top overshadowing the station, are placed the fortifications,
consisting of thick walls running in a circle with upstanding towers,
in which stand one or two cannon; but it all reminds one more of an old
Norman keep, with its village clustered in its protecting shadow, than
of a modern mission establishment.

Dr. Merensky commenced his labours in Secocoeni's country, but was
forced to fly from thence by night, with his wife and new-born baby,
to escape being murdered by that Chief's orders, who, like most Kafir
potentates, has an intense aversion to missionaries. Twelve years ago he
established this station, and, gathering his scattered converts around
him, defied Secocoeni to drive him thence. Twice that Chief has sent out
a force to sweep him away, and murder his people, and twice they have
come and looked, and, like false Sextus, turned back again. The Boers,
too, have more than once threatened to destroy him, for it is unpleasant
to them to have so intelligent a witness in their midst, but they have
never dared to try. The place is really impregnable to Basutus and
Boers; Zulus might carry it, with their grand steady rush, but it would
be at a terrible sacrifice of life. In fact, Dr. Merensky has been
forced, by the pressure of circumstances, to teach his men the use of a
rifle, as well as the truths of Christianity; to trust in God, but also
to "keep their powder dry." At a few minutes' notice he can turn out 200
well-armed natives, ready for offence or defence; and the existence
of such a stronghold is of great advantage to the few English in the
neighbourhood, for the Boers know well that should they attack them
they might draw down the vengeance of Dr. Merensky's formidable body of
Christian soldiers.

We only passed one night at Botsabelo, and next morning went on to
Middelburg, or Nazareth, which is an hour's ride from the station. Here,
too, we met with a warm welcome from the handful of English residents,
but we were eager to push on as rapidly as possible, for our kind
friends told us that it would be impossible to proceed to Secocoeni's on
horseback, because of the deadly nature of the country for horses. So
we had to hire an ox-waggon, which they provisioned for us, and, much to
our disgust (as we were pressed for time), were obliged to fall back on
that dilatory method of travelling.

We decided that we would take the three oldest and least valuable horses
with us, in order to proceed with them from Fort Weeber, which was our
next point, to Secocoeni's town, whither waggons could not reach. Few
English readers are aware that there is a mysterious disease
among horses in South Africa, peculiar to the country, called
"horse-sickness." During the autumn season it carries off thousands of
horses annually, though some are good and others bad years--a bad fever
year being generally a bad horse-sickness year also, and _vice versa_.
A curious feature about it is, that as the veldt gets "tamed," that is,
fed off by domesticated animals, the sickness gradually disappears.
No cure has yet been discovered for it, and very few horses pull
through--perhaps, five per cent. These are called "salted horses," and
are very valuable; as, although they are not proof against the disease,
they are not so liable to take it. A salted horse may be known by the
peculiar looseness and roughness of his skin, and also by a
certain unmistakable air of depression, as though he felt that the
responsibilities of life pressed very heavily upon him. He is like a man
who has dearly bought his experience; he can never forget the terrible
lesson taught in the buying.

On the fourth day from our start we left Middelburg, and, taking a
north-east course from this outpost of civilisation, overtook the
waggon, and camped, after a twenty miles' trek, just on the edge of the
bush-veldt. We had two young Boers to drive our waggons--terrible louts.
However, they understood how to drive a waggon, and whilst one of them
drove, the other would sit for hours, with a vacant stare on his face,
thinking. It is a solemn fact that, from the time we left Middelburg
till the time we returned, neither of those fellows touched water, that
is, to wash themselves. The only luxury in the shape of comforts of the
toilette which they allowed themselves was a comb with a brass back,
carefully tied to the roof of the waggon with two strips of ox-hide
thick enough to have held a hundredweight of lead. I don't think they
ever used it--it was too great a luxury for general use--but they would
occasionally untie it and look at it. Our own outfit in the waggon was
necessarily scanty, consisting of a few iron pots and plates, a kettle,
some green blankets, a lantern, and an old anti-friction grease-can used
for water, which gave it a fine flavour of waggon-wheels. We also had
a "cartle," or wooden frame, across which were stretched strips of hide
fitted into the waggon about two feet above the floor, and intended to
sleep on; but the less said about that the better.

After we left the great high-veldt plains, over which the fresh breeze
was sweeping, we dropped down into a beautiful bush-clad valley with
mountains on either side. It was like making a sudden descent into the
tropics. Not a breath of wind stirred the trees, and the sun shone with
a steady burning heat. Scarcely a sound broke the silence, save the
murmur of the river we crossed and recrossed, the occasional pipe of a
bird, and the melancholy cry, half sigh, half bark, of an old baboon,
who was swinging himself along, indignant at our presence.

If the sights and sounds were beautiful, the sun was hot, and the road
fearful, and we were indeed glad when we reached "Whitehead's Cobalt
Mine," and were most kindly received by the gentlemen who superintend
the works. The house used to belong to some Boer, who had deserted
the place, but left behind him a beautiful orchard of orange and peach
trees. The place is very feverish and unhealthy, and the white ants
so troublesome that everything has to be stood in sardine tins full of

On our way from the house we went to see the cobalt mine, which is on
a hillside a mile away. It has only been established about three years,
and has existed hitherto under the greatest difficulties as regards
labour, transport, machinery, danger from surrounding native tribes,
&c.; but it has already, the proprietor informed me, reduced the price
of cobalt--the blue dye used to colour such things as the willow-pattern
plates--by one-half in the English market, bringing it down from
somewhere about 140 pounds to 80 pounds a ton. We were very much
astonished to see the amount of work which had been done, as we expected
to find a pit such as the Kafirs work for copper, but instead of that
there was a large slanting shaft quite a hundred yards long, to say
nothing of various openings out of it following branch leads of ore.
There is also a vertical shaft one hundred feet deep, through which the
ore comes up, and by which one can ascend and descend in a bucket. After
we emerged from this awful hole, we went into another, a drive running
straight into the mountain for more than three hundred feet, following a
vein of black oxide of cobalt, which is much more valuable than the ore;
and, though the vein is rarely more than a foot in thickness, pays
very well. Leaving the mine, we rode on past some old Kafir
copper-workings--circular pits--which must have been abandoned, to judge
from their appearance, a hundred years ago, till we came to the banks
of the great "Olifants'" or "Elephants'" river. This magnificent stream,
though it is unnavigable owing to frequent rapids, has stretches miles
long, down which a man-of-war could steam, and after its junction with
the Elands' River it grows larger and larger till, pursuing a north-east
course, it at length falls into the mighty Limpopo. It is a very
majestic but somewhat sluggish stream, and its water is not very good.
You cannot see the river till you are right upon it, owing to the great
trees with which its steep banks are fringed, and in the early morning
it is quite hidden from bank to bank by a dense mass of billows of white
mist, indescribably strange to look upon.

But, beautiful as this country is, it is most unhealthy for man and
beast. The close odour, the long creeping lines of mist, the rich rank
vegetation, the steady heat of day and night, all say one word, "fever,"
and fever of the most virulent type. The traveller through this sort of
country is conscious of a latent fear lest he should some day begin to
feel hot when he ought to be cold, and cold when he ought to be hot, and
so be stricken down, to rise prematurely old, or perhaps to die, and be
buried in a lonely grave covered with stones to keep off the jackals.
We were travelling in the very worst fever-month, March, when the summer
vegetation is commencing to rot, and throw off its poisonous steam. What
saved us here and afterwards, at Secocoeni's, was our temperate living,
hard exercise, and plenty of quinine and tobacco-smoke.

All the country through which we were passing is good game-veldt, but we
saw very little and killed nothing. This was chiefly owing to the fact
that we did not dare go out of hearing of the waggon-wheels, for fear
of getting lost in the bush, a thing very easily done. A few years back
this veldt swarmed with big game, with elephants and giraffes, and
they are even now occasionally seen. We managed now and again to get
a glimpse of some of the beautiful "Impala" buck, or of a small lot of
blue wilderbeestes vanishing between the trees, like a troop of wild
horses. There are still plenty of lions about, but we did not hear any:
whether it was that they had gone to the high-veldt after the cattle, or
that they do not roar so much in summer, I do not know. Perhaps it is as
well that we did not, for the roar of a lion is very generally followed
by what the Dutch call a "skrech." After roaring once or twice to wake
the cattle up, and make them generally uneasy, the lion stations himself
about twenty yards to the windward of the waggon. The oxen get wind of
him and promptly "skrech," that is, break their rims and run madly into
the veldt. This is just what the lion wants, for now he can pick out a
fat ox and quietly approach him from the other side till he is within
springing distance. He then jumps upon him, crushes his neck with one
bite, and eats him at his leisure.

And so we trekked on through the sunrise, through the burning mid-day
and glowing sunsets, steering by the sun and making our own road; now
through tambouki grass higher than the oxen, and now through dense bush,
till at length, one day, we said good-bye to the Olifants' just where
the Elands' River flows into it, and turned our faces eastward. This
course soon brought us on to higher ground and away from the mimosa,
which loves the low, hot valleys, into the region of the sugar bush,
which thrives upon the hill-sides. This sugar bush is a very handsome
and peculiar plant, with soft thick leaves, standing about twenty feet
high. It bears a brush-like flower, each of which in the Cape Colony
contains half a teaspoonful of delicious honey; but, curiously enough,
though in other respects the tree is precisely similar, this is not the
case in the Transvaal or Natal. At the proper season the Cape farmers
go out with buckets and shake the flowers till they have collected
sufficient honey to last them for the winter, a honey more fragrant than
that made by bees.

After a long ride over the open, which must once have been thickly
populated, to judge from the number of remains of kraals, we came at
length to Fort Weeber. The fort is very badly situated in the hollow of
a plain, and so surrounded by fine hills that it is entirely commanded.
It consists of a single sod wall about two feet thick and five high,
capped with loose stones, whilst at two of the corners stand, on raised
platforms, a six-pounder and a three-pounder Whitworth gun. Inside the
wall are built rows of mud huts, which are occupied by the garrison,
leaving an open square, in the midst of which is placed the magazine. We
found the garrison in a wretched condition. They have not received any
pay except Government "good-fors" (promissory notes, generally known as
"good-for-nothings"), so they are in a state of abject poverty; whilst
they are rendered harmless as regards offensive operations, by the
death, from horse-sickness, of eighty-two of the ninety horses
they owned. However, the officers and garrison gave us a very grand
reception. As we rode up, they fired a salute of twelve guns, and then,
after we had dismounted and been received by the officers, we were taken
through a lane made by the garrison drawn up in a double line, and, just
as we got to the middle, "bang" went the eighty rifles over our
heads. Then an address was read (the volunteers are great people for
addresses), but a more practical welcome soon followed in the shape of a
good dinner.

Next morning we started, a party of seven, including the interpreter,
to ride over the Loolu Berg to Secocoeni's, a distance of about
thirty-eight miles.

For the first five miles we passed through the most curious granite
formation, a succession of small hills entirely composed of rounded
boulders of granite, weighing from five to 1000 tons, and looking
exactly like piles of gigantic snow-balls hurled together by some mighty
hand. The granite formation prevails in all this part of the country,
and individual boulders sometimes take very curious shapes; for
instance, in the bush-veldt we passed a great column towering high above
the trees, composed of six boulders getting smaller and smaller from
the base up, and each accurately balanced on the one beneath it. Then
we crossed the range of hills which overlooks the fort, and passing
Secocoeni's old kraal where he used to live before he retreated to his
fastnesses, we arrived at a great alluvial valley nine miles broad, on
the other side of which rises the Loolu. It was on this plain that the
only real fight between the volunteers and Secocoeni's men took place,
when the former managed to get between the Basutus and the hills,
and shot them down like game, killing over 200 men. Leaving the
battle-field, where the skeletons still lie, a little to our right, we
crossed the plain and came to the foot of the Loolu, all along the base
of which stand neat villages inhabited by Secocoeni's people. Some of
these villages have been burnt by the volunteers, and the remainder are
entirely deserted, their inhabitants having built fresh huts among the
rocks in almost inaccessible places. The appearance of these white huts
peeping out all over the black rocks was very curious, and reminded one
of the Swiss chalets.

By the stream that runs along past the villages we off-saddled, as both
ourselves and our horses were nearly exhausted by the burning heat; but
as there was not much time to lose, after a short rest we started off
again, and rode on over a bed of magnetic iron lying on the ground in
great lumps of almost pure metal, until we came to a stretch of what
looked remarkably like gold-bearing quartz, and then to a limestone
formation. The whole country is evidently rich beyond measure in
minerals. All this time we were passing through scenery inexpressibly
wild and grand, and when we had arrived at the highest spot of the pass,
it reached a climax of savage beauty. About forty miles in front of us
towered up another magnificent range of blue-tinged mountains known as
the Blue Berg, whilst all around us rose great bush-clad hills, opening
away in every direction towards gorgeous-coloured valleys. The scene was
so grand and solemn that I do not think it lies in the power of words to
describe it.

Here we had to dismount to descend a most fearful precipitous path
consisting of boulders piled together in the wildest confusion, from
one to another of which we had to jump, driving the horses before us.
Half-way down we off-saddled to rest ourselves, and as we did so we
noticed that the gall was running from one of the horses' noses. We knew
too well what was the matter, and so left him there to die during the
night. This horse was by far the finest we had with us, and his owner
used to boast that the poor beast had often carried him, a heavy man,
from his house to Pretoria, a distance of nearly ninety miles, in
one day. He was also a "salted" horse. It is a curious thing that the
sickness generally kills the best horses first.

After a short rest we started on again, and at the end of another hour
reached the bottom of the pass. From thence we rode along a gulley, that
alternately narrowed and widened, till at length it brought us right on
to Secocoeni's beautiful, fever-stricken home.

All three of us had seen a good deal of scenery in different parts
of the world, and one of the party was intimately acquainted with the
finest spots in South Africa, but we were forced to admit that we had
never seen anything half so lovely as Secocoeni's valley. We had seen
grander views, indeed the scene from the top of the pass was grander,
but never anything that so nearly approached perfection in detail.
Beautiful it was, beautiful beyond measure, but it was the sort of
beauty under whose veil are hidden fever and death. And so we pushed on,
through the still hot eventide, till at length we came to the gates
of the town, where we found "Makurupiji," Secocoeni's "mouth" or prime
minister, who had evidently been informed of our coming by his spies
waiting to receive us.[*]

[*] Makurupiji committed suicide after the town had been stormed,
preferring death to imprisonment.

Conducted by this grandee, we went on past the Chief's kraals, down to
the town, whence flocked men, women, and children, to look on the white
lords; all in a primitive state of dress, consisting of a strip of skin
tied round the middle, and the women with their hair powdered with some
preparation of iron, which gave it a metallic blue tinge.

At length we stopped just opposite a beautiful fortified kopje[*]
perforated by secret caves where the ammunition of the tribe is hidden.
No stranger is allowed to enter these caves, or even to ascend the
kopje, though they do not object to one's inspecting some of the other
fortifications. Dismounting from our wearied horses, we passed through a
cattle kraal and came into the presence of "Swasi," Secocoeni's uncle,
a fat old fellow who was busily engaged in braying a skin. Nearly every
male Basutu one meets, be he high or low, is braying a hide of some
sort, either by rubbing or by masticating it. It is a curious sight to
come across some twenty of these fellows, every one of them twisting or
chewing away.

[*] Afterwards stormed in the attack on Secocoeni's town by
Sir Garnet Wolseley.

Swasi was a sort of master of the household; his duty it was to receive
strangers and see that they were properly looked after; so, after
shaking hands with us furiously (he was a wonderful fellow to shake
hands), he conducted us to our hut. It stood in a good-sized courtyard
beautifully paved with a sort of concrete of limestone which looked very
clean and white, and surrounded by a hedge of reeds and sticks tightly
tied together, inside which ran a slightly raised bench, also made of
limestone. The hut itself was neatly thatched, the thatch projecting
several feet, so as to form a covering to a narrow verandah that ran all
round it. Inside it was commodious, and ornamented after the Egyptian
style with straight and spiral lines, painted on with some kind of red
ochre, and floored with a polished substance. Certainly these huts are
as much superior to those of the Zulus as those who dwell in them are
inferior to that fine race. What the Basutus gain in art and handiness
they lose in manliness and gentlemanly feeling.

We had just laid ourselves down on the grass mats in the courtyard--for
it was too hot to go into the hut--thoroughly exhausted with our day's
work and the heat, when in came two men, each of them dragging a fine
indigenous sheep. They were accompanied by Makurupiji, who brought us a
message from Secocoeni to the effect that he, the Chief, sent to greet
us, the great Chiefs; that he sent us also a morsel to eat, lest we
should be hungry in his house. It was but a morsel--it should have been
an ox, for great Chiefs should eat much meat--but he himself was pinched
with hunger, his belt was drawn very tight by the Boers. He was poor,
and so his gift was poor; still, he would see if to-morrow he could find
a beast that had something besides the skin on its bones, that he might
offer it to us. After this magniloquent address the poor animals were
trundled out by the other gate to have their throats cut.

After getting some supper and taking our quinine, we turned in and
slept that night in the best way that the heat would let us, rising next
morning with the vain hope of getting a bathe. Of all the discomforts
we experienced at Secocoeni's, the scarcity and badness of the water was
the worst. Bad water, when you are in a hotbed of fever, is a terrible
privation. And so we had to go unwashed, with the exception of having a
little water poured over our hands out of gourds. We must have presented
a curious sight at breakfast that morning. Before us knelt a sturdy
Kafir, holding a stick in each hand, on which were respectively speared
a leg and a side of mutton, from which we cut off great hunks with our
hunting-knives, and, taking them in our fingers, devoured them like
beasts of prey. If we got a bit we did not like, our mode of dispensing
of it was simple and effective. We threw it to one of the natives
standing round us, among whom was the heir-apparent, who promptly
gobbled it up.

Breakfast finished, a message came from Secocoeni asking for spirits to
drink. But we were not to be taken in in this way, for we knew well that
if we sent the Chief spirits we should get no business done that day,
and we did not care to run the risk of fever by stopping longer than we
could help; so we sent back a message to the effect that business
must come first and spirits afterwards. The head men, who brought this
message, said that they could perfectly understand our objection, as far
as Secocoeni and ourselves were concerned, since we had to talk, but
as they had only to sit still and listen there could be no possible
objection to their having something to drink. This argument was
ingenious, but we did not see the force of it, as our stock of spirits,
which we had brought more for medicine than anything else, was very
limited. Still, we were obliged to promise them a "tot" after the
talking was over, in order to keep them civil.

Our message had the desired effect, for presently Secocoeni sent to say
that it was now time to talk, and that his head men would lead us
to him. So we started up, accompanied by "Makurupiji," "Swasi," and
"Galook," the general of his forces, a fat fellow with a face exactly
like a pig. The sun beat down with such tremendous force that, though
we had only three-quarters of a mile to walk, we felt quite tired by
the time we reached the Chief's kraals. Passing through several cattle
kraals, we came to a shed under which sat the heir-apparent dressed in
a gorgeous blanket with his court around him. Leaving him, we entered an
inner cattle kraal, where, in one corner, stood a large, roughly-built
shed, under the shade of which squatted over a hundred of the head men
of the tribe, gathered together by Secocoeni to "witness."[*]

[*] As each chief came up to the meeting-place he would pass
before the enclosure where Secocoeni was sitting and salute
him, by softly striking the hands together, and saying
something that sounded like "Marema."

Opening out of this kraal was the chief's private enclosure, where stood
his huts. As we drew near, Secocoeni, who had inspired such terror into
the bold Burghers of the Republic, the chief of nine thousand warriors,
the husband of sixty-four wives, the father of a hundred children, rose
from the ox-hide on which he was seated, under the shade of a tree, and
came to the gate to meet us. And a queer sight this potentate was as
he stood there shaking hands through the gate. Of middle age, about
forty-five years of age, rather fat, with a flat nose, and small,
twinkling, black eyes, he presented an entirely hideous and
semi-repulsive appearance. His dress consisted of a cotton blanket
over which was thrown a tiger-skin kaross, and on his head was stuck
an enormous old white felt hat, such as the Boers wear, and known as a
"wilderbeeste chaser."

After we had been duly introduced, he retreated to his ox-hide, and we
went and squatted down among the head men. Secocoeni took no active
part in the proceedings that followed; he sat in his enclosure and
occasionally shouted out some instructions to Makurupiji, who was
literally his "mouth," speaking for him and making use of the pronoun
"I." During the four hours or so that we were there Secocoeni never
stopped chewing an intoxicating green leaf, very much resembling that of
the pomegranate, of which he occasionally sent us some.

After the business of the Commission had come to an end, and some of our
party started on their homeward journey, we were detained by Secocoeni,
who wished to see us privately. He sent for us to his private enclosure,
and we sat down on his ox-hide with him and one or two head men. It was
very curious to see this wily old savage shoving a handful of leaves
into his mouth, and giving his head a shake, and then making some shrewd
remark which went straight to the bottom of whatever question was in
hand. At length we bade Secocoeni good-bye, having promised to deliver
all his respectful messages to our chief, and, thoroughly wearied,
arrived at our own hut. Tired as we were, we thought it would be better
to start for the fort at once, rather than risk the fever for another
night. So we made up our minds to a long moonlight ride, and, saddling
up, got out of Secocoeni's town about 3.30 P.M., having looked our last
upon this beautiful fever-trap, which only wants water scenery to make
it absolutely perfect. Half-way up, we saw the poor horse we had left
sick the day before, lying dead, with dry foam all round his mouth,
and half his skin taken off by some passing Basutu. A couple of hundred
yards farther on we found another dying, left by the party who had
started before us. It was in truth a valley of the shadow of death.
Luckily our horses lasted us back to the fort, but one died there, and
the other two are dead since.

Beautiful as was the scene by day, in the light of the full moon it was
yet more surpassingly lovely. It was solemn, weird. Every valley became
a mysterious deep, and every hill, stone, and tree shone with that cold
pale lustre which the moon alone can throw. Silence reigned, the silence
of the dead, broken only once or twice by the wild whistling challenge
of one of Secocoeni's warriors as he came bounding down the rocks,
to see who we were that passed. The effect of the fires by the huts,
perched among the rocks at the entrance to the pass, was very strange
and beautiful, reminding one of the midnight fires of the Gnomes in the
fairy tales.

And so we rode on, hour after hour, through the night, till we well-nigh
fell asleep in our saddles, and at length, about two o'clock in the
morning, we reached the waggons to find the young Boers fast asleep
in our bed. We kicked them out, and, after swallowing some biscuits,
tumbled in ourselves for the few hours' rest which we so sadly needed.

On the following morning, Thursday, two of the party bade farewell to
our hosts at the fort and started on one of the quickest possible treks,
leaving our companion to proceed across country to the fort established
by President Burgers, or "Porocororo," as the Basutus call him, at

We returned to Middelburg by an entirely different route from that
by which we came. Leaving the valley of the Olifants to our right, we
trekked along the high-veldt, and thus avoided all the fever country.
Roughly speaking, we had about 120 miles of country to get over to reach
Middelburg, and we determined to do this in three days and two nights,
so as to get in on the Saturday night, as we were much pressed for time.
Now, according to English ideas, it is no great thing to travel 120
miles in three days; but it is six days' journey in an ox-waggon over
bad country, and we were going to do it in half that time by doubling
the speed.

Of course, to do this we had to trek night and day. For instance, on the
first day we inspanned at 10.30 A.M. and trekked till within an hour
of sundown; at sundown we inspanned, and with one outspan trekked till
sunrise; outspanned for two hours, and on again, being seventeen and
a half hours under the yoke out of the twenty-four, and covering
fifty-five miles. Of course, one cannot do this sort of travelling for
more than two or three days without killing the oxen; as it was, towards
the end, as soon as the yokes were lifted off, the poor beasts dropped
down as though they were shot, and most of them went lame. Another
great disadvantage is that one suffers very much from want of sleep. The
jolting of the springless machine, as it lumbered over rocks a foot high
and through deep spruits or streams, brought our heads down with such a
fearful jar on the saddle-bags that we used for pillows, that all sleep
was soon knocked out of them; or, even if we were lucky enough to be
crossing a stretch of tolerably smooth ground, there was a swaying
motion that rubbed one's face up and down till the skin was nearly
worn through, polishing the saddle-bags to such an extent that we might
almost have used them for looking-glasses as well as pillows.

At Secocoeni's kraal we had engaged two boys to carry our packs as far
as the fort, who, on their arrival, were so well satisfied with the way
in which we treated them that they requested to be allowed to proceed
with us. These young barbarians, who went respectively by the names of
"Nojoke" and "Scowl," as being the nearest approach in English to their
Sisutu names, were the greatest possible source of amusement to us,
with their curious ways.[*] I never saw such fellows to sleep; it is
a positive fact that Nojoke used frequently to take his rest coiled up
like a boa constrictor in a box at the end of the waggon, in which box
stood three iron pots with their sharp legs sticking up. On those legs
he peacefully slumbered when the waggon was going over ground that
prohibited our even stopping in it. "Scowl" was not a nice boy to look
at, for his naked back was simply cut to pieces and covered with huge
weals, of which everybody, doubtless, thought we were the cause. On
inquiring how he came to get such a tremendous thrashing, it turned
out that these Basutus have a custom of sending young men of a certain
age[+] out in couples, each armed with a good "sjambok" (a whip cut from
the hide of a sea-cow), to thrash one another till one gives in, and
that it was in one of these encounters that the intelligent Scowl got
so lacerated; but, as he remarked with a grin, "_My_ back is nothing, the
chiefs should see that of the other boy."

[*] Of these two lads, Nojoke subsequently turned out
worthless, and went to the Diamond Fields, whilst Scowl
became an excellent servant, until he took to wearing a
black coat, and turned Christian, when he shortly afterwards
developed into a drunkard and a thief.

[+] The age of puberty.

We spent one night at Middelburg, and next morning, bidding adieu to our
kind English friends, started for Pretoria, taking care to end our first
day's journey at a house where an Englishman lived, so as to ensure a
clean shakedown. Here we discovered that the horse I was riding (the
sole survivor of the five we had started with) had got the sickness,
and so we had to leave him and hire another. This horse, by the by,
recovered, which is the only instance of an animal's conquering the
disease which has yet come under my observation. We hired the new horse
from a Boer, who charged us exactly three times its proper price,
and then preached us a sermon quite a quarter of an hour long on
his hospitality, his kindness of heart, and his willingness to help
strangers. I must tell you that, just as we were going to sleep the
night before, a stranger had come and asked for a shakedown, which was
given to him in the same room. We had risen before daybreak, and my
companion was expatiating to me, in clear and forcible language, on the
hypocrisy and scoundrelism of this Boer, when suddenly a sleepy voice
out of the darkness murmured thickly, "I say, stranger, guess you
shouldn't lose your temper; guess that 'ere Boer is acting after the
manner of human natur'." And then the owner of the voice turned over and
went to sleep again.

We had over sixty miles to ride that day, and it must have been about
eight o'clock at night, on the sixteenth day of our journey, when
we reached Pretoria and rode straight up to our camp, where we were
heartily greeted. I am sure that some of our friends must have felt a
little disappointed at seeing us arrive healthy and fat, without a sign
of fever, after all their melancholy predictions. It would not have been
"human natur'" if they had not. When we got to the camp, I called out
to Masooku, my Zulu servant, to come and take the horses. Next moment
I heard a rush and a scuttle in the tent like the scrimmage in a
rabbit-burrow when one puts in the ferrets, and Masooku shouted out in
Zulu, "He has come back! by Chaka's head, I swear it! It is his voice,
his own voice, that calls me; my father's, my chief's!"

And so ended one of the hardest and most interesting journeys
imaginable--a journey in which the risk only added to the pleasure.
Still, I should not care to make it again at the same time of year.



In all that world-wide empire which the spirit of the English
colonisation has conquered from out of the realms of the distant and
unknown, and added year by year to the English dominions, it is doubtful
whether there be any one spot of corresponding area, presenting so many
large questions, social and political, as the colony of Natal. Wrested
some thirty years ago from the patriarchal Boers, and peopled by a few
scattered scores of adventurous emigrants, Natal has with hard toil
gained for itself a precarious foothold hardly yet to be called an
existence. Known chiefly to the outside world as the sudden birthplace
of those tremendous polemical missiles which battered so fiercely,
some few years ago, against the walls of the English Church, it is now
attracting attention to the shape and proportion of that unsolved riddle
of the future, the Native Question. In those former days of rude and
hand-to-mouth legislation, when the certain evil of the day had to be
met and dealt with before the possible evil of the morrow, the seeds of
great political trouble were planted in the young colony, seeds whose
fruit is fast ripening before our eyes.

When the strong aggressive hand of England has grasped some fresh
portion of the earth's surface, there is yet a spirit of justice in
her heart and head which prompts the question, among the first of such
demands, as to how best and most fairly to deal by the natives of
the newly-acquired land. In earlier times, when steam was not, and
telegraphs and special correspondents were equally unknown agencies for
getting at the truth of things, this question was more easily answered
across a width of dividing ocean or continent. Then distant action might
be prompt and sharp on emergency, and no one would be the wiser. But of
late years, owing to these results of civilisation, harsh measures have,
by the mere pressure of public opinion, and without consideration
of their necessity in the eyes of the colonists, been set aside as
impracticable and inhuman. In the case of Natal, most of the early
questions of possession and right were settled, sword in hand, by the
pioneer Dutch, who, after a space of terrible warfare, drove back the
Zulus over the Tugela, and finally took possession of the land. But they
did not hold it long. The same hateful invading Englishman, with his new
ideas and his higher forms of civilisation, who had caused them to quit
the "Old Colony," the land of their birth, came and drove them, _vi
et armis_, from the land of their adoption. And it was not long before
these same English became lords of this red African soil, from the coast
up to the Drakensberg. Still there were difficulties; for although the
new-comers might be lords of the soil, there remained yet a remnant,
and a very troublesome remnant, of its original and natural masters:
shattered fragments of the Zulu power in Natal, men who had once swept
over the country in the army of Chaka the Terrible, Chaka of the Short
Spear, but who had remained behind in the fair new land, when Chaka's
raids had been checked by the white man and his deadly weapons.
Remnants, too, of conquered aboriginal tribes, who had found even
Chaka's rule easier than that of their own chieftains, swelled the
amount to a total of some 100,000 souls.

One of the first acts of the English Government, when it took up the
reins, was to allot to each of these constituent fragments a large
portion of the land. This might perhaps have been short-sighted
legislation, but it arose from the necessity of the moment. According
to even the then received ideas of colonisation and its duties, it
was hardly possible--danger apart--to drive all the natives over
the frontier, so they were allowed to stay and share the rights and
privileges of British subjects. But the evil did not stop there. Ere
long some political refugees, defeated in battle, fled before the
avenging hand of the conqueror, and craved place and protection from the
Government of Natal. It was granted; and the principle once established,
body after body of men poured in: for, in stepping over the boundary
line, they left the regions of ruin and terrible death, and entered
those of peace, security, and plenty.

Thus it is that the native population of Natal, fed from within and
without, has in thirty years increased enormously in number. Secluded
from the outside world in his location, the native has lived in peace
and watched his cattle grow upon a thousand hills. His wealth has become
great and his wives many. He no longer dreads swift "death by order
of the king," or by word of the witch-doctor. No "impi," or native
regiment, can now sweep down on him and "eat him up," that is, carry off
his cattle, put his kraal to the flames, and himself, his people, his
wives, and children to the assegai. For the first time in the story of
the great Kafir race, he can, when he rises in the morning, be sure that
he will not sleep that night, stiff, in a bloody grave. He has tasted
the blessings of peace and security, and what is the consequence? He has
increased and multiplied until his numbers are as grains of sand on the
sea-shore. Overlapping the borders of his location, he squats on private
lands, he advances like a great tidal wave, he cries aloud for room,
more room. This is the trouble which stares us in the face, looming
larger and more distinct year by year; the great over-growing problem
which thoughtful men fear must one day find a sudden and violent
solution. Thus it comes to pass that there hangs low on the horizon of
South Africa the dark cloud of the Native Question. How and when it will
burst no man can pretend to say, but some time and in some way burst it
must, unless means of dispersing it can be found.

There is now at work among the Kafir population the same motive power
which has raised in turn all white nations, and, having built them up
to a certain height, has then set to work to sap them until they have
fallen--the power of civilisation. Hand in hand the missionary and the
trader have penetrated the locations. The efforts of the teacher have
met with but a partial success. "A Christian may be a good man in his
way, but he is a Zulu spoiled," said Cetywayo, King of the Zulus, when
arguing the question of Christianity with the Secretary for Native
Affairs; and such is, not altogether wrongly, the general feeling of
the natives. With the traders it has been different. Some have dealt
honestly--and more, it is to be feared, dishonestly--not only with those
with whom they have had dealings, but with their fellow-subjects and
their Government. It is these men chiefly who have, in defiance of the
law, supplied the natives with those two great modern elements of danger
and destruction, the gin-bottle and the rifle. The first is as yet
injurious only to the recipients, but it will surely react on those who
have taught them its use; the danger of possessing the rifle may come
home to us any day and at any moment.

Civilisation, it would seem, when applied to black races, produces
effects diametrically opposite to those we are accustomed to observe
in white nations: it debases before it can elevate; and as regards the
Kafirs it is doubtful, and remains to be proved, whether it has much
power to elevate them at all. Take the average Zulu warrior, and it
will be found that, in his natural state, his vices are largely
counter-balanced by his good qualities. In times of peace he is a
simple, pastoral man, leading a good-humoured easy life with his wives
and his cattle, perfectly indolent and perfectly happy. He is a kind
husband and a kinder father; he never disowns his poor relations; his
hospitality is extended alike to white and black; he is open in his
dealings and faithful to his word, and his honesty is a proverb in the
land. True, if war breaks out and the thirst for slaughter comes upon
him, he turns into a different man. When the fierce savage spirit is
once aroused, blood alone will cool it. But even then he has virtues. If
he is cruel, he is brave in the battle; if he is reckless of the lives
of others, he regards not his own; and when death comes, he meets
it without fear, and goes to the spirits of his fathers boldly, as a
warrior should. And now reverse the picture, and see him in the dawning
light of that civilisation which, by intellect and by nature, he is some
five centuries behind. See him, ignoring its hidden virtues, eagerly
seize and graft its most prominent vices on to his own besetting sins.
Behold him by degrees adding cunning to his cruelty, avarice to his love
of possession, replacing his bravery by coarse bombast and insolence,
and his truth by lies. Behold him inflaming all his passions with the
maddening drink of the white man, and then follow him through many
degrees of degradation until he falls into crime and ends in a jail.
Such are, in only too many instances, the consequences of this
partial civilisation, and they are not even counterbalanced, except in
individual cases, by the attempt to learn the truths of a creed which
he cannot, does not, pretend to understand. And if this be the result
in the comparatively few individuals who have been brought under these
influences, it may be fair to argue that it will differ only in degree,
not in kind, when the same influences are brought to bear on the same
material in corresponding proportions. Whatever may or may not be the
effects of our partial civilisation when imperfectly and spasmodically
applied to the vast native population of South Africa, one thing must,
in course of time, result from it. The old customs, the old forms, the
old feelings, must each in turn die away. The outer expression of these
will die first, and it will not be long before the very memory of
them will fade out of the barbaric heart. The rifle must replace, and,
indeed, actually has replaced, the assegai and the shield, and portions
of the cast-off uniforms of all the armies of Europe are to be seen
where, until lately, the bronze-like form of the Kafir warrior went
naked as on the day he was born. But so long as native customs and
ceremonies still linger in some of the more distant locations, so long
will they exercise a certain attraction for dwellers amid tamer scenes.
It is therefore from a belief in the magnetism of contrast that the
highly-civilised reader is invited to come to where he can still meet
the barbarian face to face and witness that wild ceremony, half jest,
half grim earnest--a Zulu war dance.

It was the good fortune of the writer of this sketch to find himself,
some years ago, travelling through the up-country districts of Natal,
in the company of certain high officials of the English Government. The
journey dragged slowly enough by waggon, and some monotonous weeks had
passed before we pitched our camp, one drizzling gusty night, on a high
plateau, surrounded by still loftier hills. A wild and dismal place
it looked in the growing dusk of an autumn evening, nor was it more
suggestively cheerful when we rode away from it next morning in the
sunshine, leaving the waggons to follow slowly. Our faces were set
towards a great mountain, towering high above its fellows, called
Pagadi's Kop--Pagadi being a powerful chief who had fled from the Zulus
in the early days of the colony, and had ever since dwelt loyally and
peacefully here in this wild place, beneath the protection of the Crown.
Messengers had been duly sent to inform him that he was to receive
the honour of a visit, for your true savage never likes to be taken by
surprise. Other swift-footed runners had come back with the present of
a goat, and the respectful answer, so Oriental in its phraseology, that
"Pagadi was old, he was infirm, yet he would arise and come to greet his
lords." Every mile or so of our slow progress a fresh messenger would
spring up before us suddenly, as though he had started out of the earth
at our feet, and prefixing his greeting with the royal salute, given
with up-raised arm, "Bayete! Bayete!"--a salutation only accorded to
Zulu royalty, to the governors of the different provinces, and to Sir
T. Shepstone, the Secretary for Native Affairs--he would deliver his
message or his news and fall into the rear. Presently came one saying,
"Pagadi is very old and weak; Pagadi is weary; let his lords forgive him
if he meet them not this day. To-morrow, when the sun is high, he will
come to their place of encampment and greet his lords and hold festival
before them. But let his lords, the white lords of all the land from the
Great Mountain to the Black Water, go up to his kraal, and let them
take the biggest hut and drink of the strongest beer. There his son, the
chief that is to be, and all his wives, shall greet them; let his lords
be honoured by Pagadi, through them." An acknowledgment was sent, and we
still rode on, beginning the ascent of the formidable stronghold, on the
flat top of which was placed the chief's kraal. A hard and stiff climb
it was, up a bridle path with far more resemblance to a staircase than a
road. But if the road was bad, the scenery and the vegetation were wild
and beautiful in the extreme. Now we came to a deep "kloof" or cleft
in the steep mountain-side, at the bottom of which, half hidden by the
masses of ferns and rich rank greenery, trickled a little stream; now
to an open space of rough ground, covered only with huge, weather-washed
boulders. A little further on lay a Kafir mealie-garden, where the
tall green stalks were fairly bent to the ground by the weight of the
corn-laden heads, and beyond that, again, a park-like slope of grassy
veldt. And ever, when we looked behind us, the vast undulating plain
over which we had come stretched away in its mysterious silence, till it
blended at length with the soft blue horizon.

At last, after much hard and steady climbing, we reached the top and
stood upon a perfectly level space ten or twelve acres in extent,
exactly in the centre of which was placed the chief's kraal. Before we
dismounted we rode to the extreme western edge of the plateau, to look
at one of the most perfectly lovely views it is possible to imagine. It
was like coming face to face with great primeval Nature, not Nature
as we civilised people know her, smiling in corn-fields, waving in
well-ordered woods, but Nature as she was on the morrow of the Creation.
There, to our left, cold and grey and grand, rose the great peak,
flinging its dark shadow far beyond its base. Two thousand feet and more
beneath us lay the valley of the Mooi river, with the broad tranquil
stream flashing silver through its midst. Over against us rose another
range of towering hills, with sudden openings in their blue depths
through which could be seen the splendid distances of a champaign
country. Immediately at our feet, and seeming to girdle the great gaunt
peak, lay a deep valley, through which the Little Bushman's River forced
its shining way. All around rose the great bush-clad hills, so green, so
bright in the glorious streaming sunlight, and yet so awfully devoid of
life, so solemnly silent. It was indeed a sight never to be forgotten,
this wide panoramic out-look, with its towering hills, its smiling
valleys, its flashing streams, its all-pervading sunlight, and its deep
sad silence. But it was not always so lifeless and so still. Some few
years ago those hills, those plains, those rivers were teeming each with
their various creatures. But a short time since, and standing here
at eventide, the traveller could have seen herds of elephants cooling
themselves yonder after their day's travel, whilst the black-headed
white-tusked sea-cow rose and plunged in the pool below. That bush-clad
hill was the favourite haunt of droves of buffaloes and elands, and on
that plain swarmed thousands upon thousands of springbok and of quagga,
of hartebeest and of oribi. All alien life must cease before the white
man, and so these wild denizens of forest, stream, and plain have passed
away never to return.

Turning at length from the contemplation of a scene so new and so
surprising, we entered the stockade of the kraal. These kraals consist
of a stout outer palisade, and then, at some distance from the first,
a second enclosure, between which the cattle are driven at night, or in
case of danger. At the outer entrance we were met by the chief's eldest
son, a finely-built man, who greeted us with much respect and conducted
us through rows of huts to the dwelling-places of the chief's family,
fenced off from the rest by a hedge of Tambouki grass. In the centre
of these stood Pagadi's hut, which was larger and more finely woven and
thatched than the rest. It is impossible to describe these huts better
than by saying that they resemble enormous straw beehives of the
old-fashioned pattern. In front of the hut were grouped a dozen or so
of women clad in that airiest of costumes, a string of beads. They were
Pagadi's wives, and ranged from the first shrivelled-up wife of his
youth to the plump young damsel bought last month. The spokeswoman
of the party, however, was not one of the wives, but a daughter
of Pagadi's, a handsome girl, tall, and splendidly formed, with a
finely-cut face. This prepossessing young lady entreated her lords to
enter, which they did, in a very unlordly way, on their hands and knees.
So soon as the eye became accustomed to the cool darkness of the hut, it
was sufficiently interesting to notice the rude attempts at comfort with
which it was set forth. The flooring, of a mixture of clay and cow-dung,
looked exactly like black marble, so smooth and polished had it been
made, and on its shining, level surface couches of buckskin and gay
blankets were spread in an orderly fashion. Some little three-legged
wooden sleeping-pillows and a few cooking-pots made up its sole
furniture besides. In one corner rested a bundle of assegais and
war-shields, and opposite the door were ranged several large calabashes
full of "twala" or native beer. The chief's son and all the women
followed us into the hut. The ladies sat themselves down demurely in a
double row opposite to us, but the young chieftain crouched in a distant
corner apart and played with his assegais. We partook of the beer and
exchanged compliments, almost Oriental in their dignified courtesy, in
the soft and liquid Zulu language, but not for long, for we still had
far to ride. The stars were shining in southern glory before we reached
the place of our night's encampment, and supper and bed were even more
than usually welcome. There is a pleasure in the canvas-sheltered meal,
in the after-pipe and evening talk of the things of the day that has
been and those of the day to come, here, amid these wild surroundings,
which is unfelt and unknown in scenes of greater comfort and higher
civilisation. There is a sense of freshness and freedom in the
wind-swept waggon-bed that is not to be exchanged for the softest couch
in the most luxurious chamber. And when at length the morning comes,
sweet in the scent of flowers, and glad in the voice of birds, it finds
us ready to greet it, not hiding it from us with canopy and blind, as is
the way of cities.

The scene of the coming spectacle of this bright new day lies spread
before us, and certainly no spot could have been better chosen for
dramatic effect. In front of the waggons is a large, flat, open space,
backed by bold rising ground with jutting crags and dotted clumps of
luxuriant vegetation. All around spreads the dense thorn-bush, allowing
but of one way of approach, from the left. During the morning we could
hear snatches of distant chants growing louder and louder as time wore
on, and could catch glimpses of wild figures threading the thorns,
warriors hastening to the meeting-place. All through the past night the
farmers for miles around had been aroused by the loud insistent cries
of the chief's messengers as they flitted far and wide, stopping but a
moment wherever one of their tribe sojourned, and bidding him come, and
bring plume and shield, for Pagadi had need of him. This day, we may be
sure, the herds are left untended, the mealie-heads ungathered, for the
herdsmen and the reapers have come hither to answer to the summons of
their chief. Little reck they whether it be for festival or war; he
needs them, and has called them, and that is enough. Higher and higher
rose the fitful distant chant, but no one could be seen. Suddenly there
stood before us a creature, a woman, who, save for the colour of her
skin, might have been the original of any one of Macbeth's "weird
sisters." Little, withered, and bent nearly double by age, her activity
was yet past comprehension. Clad in a strange jumble of snake-skins,
feathers, furs, and bones, a forked wand in her outstretched hand, she
rushed to and fro before the little group of white men. Her eyes gleamed
like those of a hawk through her matted hair, and the genuineness of her
frantic excitement was evident by the quivering flesh and working face,
and the wild, spasmodic words she spoke. The spirit at least of her
rapid utterances may thus be rendered:--

"Ou, ou, ou, ai, ai, ai. Oh, ye warriors that shall dance before the
great ones of the earth, come! Oh, ye dyers of spears, ye plumed suckers
of blood, come! I, the Isanusi, I, the witch-finder, I, the wise woman,
I, the seer of strange sights, I, the reader of dark thoughts, call ye!
Come, ye fierce ones; come, ye brave ones, come, and do honour to the
white lords! Ah, I hear ye! Ah, I smell ye! Ah, I see ye; ye come, ye

Hardly had her invocation trailed off into the "Ou, ou, ou, ai, ai, ai,"
with which it had opened, when there rushed over the edge of the hill,
hard by, another figure scarcely less wild, but not so repulsive in
appearance. This last was a finely-built warrior arrayed in the full
panoply of savage war. With his right hand he grasped his spears, and
on his left hung his large black ox-hide shield, lined on its inner side
with spare assegais. From the "man's" ring round his head arose a single
tall grey plume, robbed from the Kafir crane. His broad shoulders were
bare, and beneath the arm-pits was fastened a short garment of strips of
skin, intermixed with ox-tails of different colours. From his waist hung
a rude kilt made chiefly of goat's hair, whilst round the calf of the
right leg was fixed a short fringe of black ox-tails. As he stood before
us with lifted weapon and outstretched shield, his plume bending to the
breeze, and his savage aspect made more savage still by the graceful,
statuesque pose, the dilated eye and warlike mould of the set features,
as he stood there, an emblem and a type of the times and the things
which are passing away, his feet resting on ground which he held on
sufferance, and his hands grasping weapons impotent as a child's
toy against those of the white man,--he who was the rightful lord of
all,--what reflections did he not induce, what a moral did he not teach!

The warrior left us little time, however, for either reflections or
deductions, for, striking his shield with his assegai, he rapidly poured
forth this salutation:--

"Bayete, Bayete, O chief from the olden times, O lords and chief of
chiefs! Pagadi, the son of Masingorano, the great chief, the leader of
brave ones, the son of Ulubako, greets you. Pagadi is humble before you;
he comes with warrior and with shield, but he comes to lay them at your
feet. O father of chiefs, son of the great Queen over the water, is
it permitted that Pagad' approach you? Ou, I see it is, your face is
pleasant; Bayete, Bayete!"

He ends, and, saluting again, springs forward, and, flying hither and
thither, chants the praises of his chief. "Pagadi," he says, "Pagad',
chief and father of the Amocuna, is coming. Pagad', the brave in battle,
the wise in council, the slayer of warriors; Pagad' who slew the tiger
in the night time; Pagadi, the rich in cattle, the husband of many
wives, the father of many children. Pagad' is coming, but not alone; he
comes surrounded with his children, his warriors. He comes like a king
at the head of his brave children. Pagadi's soldiers are coming; his
soldiers who know well how to fight; his soldiers and his captains who
make the hearts of brave men to sink down; his shakers of spears; his
quaffers of blood. Pagad' and his soldiers are coming; tremble all ye,
ou, ou, ou!"

As the last words die on his lips the air is filled with a deep,
murmuring sound like distant thunder; it swells and rolls, and finally
passes away to give place to the noise of the rushing of many feet. Over
the brow of the hill dashes a compact body of warriors, running swiftly
in lines of four, with their captain at their head, all clad in the same
wild garb as the herald. Each bears a snow-white shield carried on the
slant, and above each warrior's head rises a grey heron's plume. These
are the advance-guard, formed of the "greys" or veteran troops. As they
come into full view the shields heave and fall, and then from every
throat bursts the war-song of the Zulus. Passing us swiftly, they
take up their position in a double line on our right, and stand there
solemnly chanting all the while. Another rush of feet, and another
company flits over the hill towards us, but they bear coal-black
shields, and the drooping plumes are black as night; they fall into
position next the firstcomers, and take up the chant. Now they come
faster and faster, but all through the same gap in the bush. The red
shields, the dun shields, the mottled shields, the yellow shields,
follow each other in quick but regular succession, till at length there
stands before us a body of some five hundred men, presenting, in their
savage dress, their various shields and flashing spears, as wild a
spectacle as it is possible to conceive.

But it is not our eyes only that are astonished, for from each of those
five hundred throats there swells a chant never to be forgotten.
From company to company it passes, that wild, characteristic song, so
touching in its simple grandeur, so expressive in its deep, pathetic
volume. The white men who listened had heard the song of choirs ringing
down resounding aisles, they had been thrilled by the roll of oratorios
pealing in melody, beautiful and complex, through the grandest of man's
theatres, but never till now had they heard music of voices so weird,
so soft and yet so savage, so simple and yet so all-expressive of the
fiercest passions known to the human heart. Hark! now it dies; lower and
lower it sinks, it grows faint, despairing: "Why does he not come, our
chief, our lord? Why does he not welcome his singers? Ah! see, they
come, the heralds of our lord! our chief is coming to cheer his
praisers, our chief is coming to lead his warriors." Again it rises
and swells louder and louder, a song of victory and triumph. It rolls
against the mountains, it beats against the ground: "He is coming, he is
here, attended by his chosen. Now we shall go forth to slay; now shall
we taste of the battle." Higher yet and higher, till at length the
chief, Pagadi, swathed in war-garments of splendid furs, preceded by
runners and accompanied by picked warriors, creeps slowly up. He is
old and tottering, and of an unwieldy bulk. Two attendants support
him, whilst a third bears his shield, and a fourth (oh bathos!) a
cane-bottomed chair. One moment the old man stands and surveys his
warriors and listens to the familiar war-cry. As he stands, his face
is lit with the light of battle, the light of remembered days. The
tottering figure straightens itself, the feeble hand becomes strong once
more. With a shout, the old man shakes off his supporters and grasps his
shield, and then, forgetting his weakness and his years, he rushes to
his chieftain's place in the centre of his men. And as he comes the
chant grows yet louder, the time yet faster, till it rises, and rings,
and rolls, no longer a chant, but a war-cry, a paean of power. Pagadi
stops and raises his hand, and the place is filled with a silence that
may be felt. But not for long. The next moment five hundred shields
are tossed aloft, five hundred spears flash in the sunshine, and with a
sudden roar, forth springs the royal salute, "Bayete!"

The chief draws back and gives directions to his _indunas_, his
thinkers, his wise ones, men distinguished from their fellows by the
absence of shield and plume; the _indunas_ pass on the orders to the
captains, and at once the so-called dance begins. First they manoeuvre
a little in absolute silence, and changing their position with wonderful
precision and rapidity; but as their blood warms there comes a sound as
of the hissing of ten thousand snakes, and they charge and charge again.
A pause, and the company of "greys" on our right, throwing itself into
open order, flits past us like so many vultures to precipitate itself
with a wild, whistling cry on an opposing body which rushed to meet
it. They join issue, they grapple; on them swoops another company, then
another and another, until nothing is to be distinguished except a mass
of wild faces heaving; of changing forms rolling and writhing, twisting
and turning, and, to all appearances, killing and being killed, whilst
the whole air is pervaded with a shrill, savage sibillation. It is not
always the same cry; now it is the snorting of a troop of buffaloes, now
the shriek of the eagle as he seizes his prey, anon the terrible cry
of the "night-prowler," the lion, and now--more thrilling than all--the
piercing wail of a woman. But whatever the cry, the cadence rises and
falls in perfect time and unanimity; no two mix with one another so as
to mar the effect of each.

Again the combatants draw back and pause, and then forth from the ranks
springs a chosen warrior, and hurls himself on an imaginary foe. He
darts hither and thither with wild activity, he bounds five feet into
the air like a panther, he twists through the grass like a snake, and,
finally, making a tremendous effort, he seems to slay his airy opponent,
and sinks exhausted to the ground. The onlookers mark their approval
or disapproval of the dancer's feats by the rising and falling of the
strange whistling noise which, without the slightest apparent movement
of face or lip, issues from each mouth. Warrior after warrior comes
forth in turn from the ranks and does battle with his invisible foe, and
receives his meed of applause. The last warrior to spring forward with a
wild yell is the future chief, Pagadi's son and successor, our friend
of yesterday. He stands, with his shield in one hand and his lifted
battle-axe--borne by him alone--in the other, looking proudly around,
and rattling his lion-claw necklets, whilst from every side bursts forth
a storm of sibillating applause, not from the soldiers only, but from
the old men, women, and children. Through all his fierce pantomimic
dance it continues, and when he has ended it redoubles, then dies away,
but only to burst out again and again with unquenchable enthusiasm.

In order, probably, to give the warriors a brief breathing space,
another song is now set up, and it is marvellous the accuracy and
knowledge of melody with which the parts are sung, like a glee of catch,
the time being kept by a conductor, who rushes from rank to rank beating
time with a wand. Yet it is hardly like chanting, rather like a weird,
sobbing melody, with tones in it which range from the deepest bass to
the shrillest treble. It ends in a long sigh, and then follows a scene,
a tumult, a melee, which hardly admits of a description in words. The
warriors engage in a mimic combat, once more they charge, retreat,
conquer, and are defeated, all in turns. In front of them, exciting them
to new exertions, with word and gesture, undulate in a graceful dance
of their own the "intombis," the young beauties of the tribe, with green
branches in their hands, and all their store of savage finery glittering
on their shapely limbs. Some of these maidens are really handsome,
and round them again dance the children, armed with mimic spears and
shields. Wild as seems the confusion, through it all, even the moments
of highest excitement, some sort of rough order is maintained; more,
it would seem, by mutual sounds than by word of command or sense of

Even a Zulu warrior must, sooner or later, grow weary, and at length
the signal is given for the dance to end. The companies are drawn up in
order again, and receive the praise and thanks of those in whose honour
they had been called together. To these compliments they reply in a
novel and imposing fashion. At a given signal each man begins to softly
tap his ox-hide shield with the handle of his spear, producing a sound
somewhat resembling the murmur of the distant sea. By slow degrees it
grows louder and louder, till at length it rolls and re-echoes from the
hills like thunder, and comes to its conclusion with a fierce, quick
rattle. This is the royal war-salute of the Zulus, and is but rarely
to be heard. One more sonorous salute with voice and hand, and then the
warriors disappear as they came, dropping swiftly and silently over the
brow of the hill in companies. In a few moments no sign or vestige
of dance or dancers remained, save, before our eyes, the well-trodden
ground, a few lingering girls laden with large calabashes of beer, and
in our ears some distant dying snatches of chants. The singers were on
their joyful way to slay and devour the oxen provided as a stimulus and
reward for them by their chief's liberality.

When the last dusky figure had topped the rising ground over which the
homeward path lay, and had stood out for an instant against the flaming
background of the western sun, and then dropped, as it were, back into
its native darkness beyond those gates of fire, the old chief drew near.
He had divested himself of his heavy war-dress, and sat down amicably
amongst us.

"Ah," he said, taking the hand of Sir Theophilus Shepstone, and
addressing him by his native name, "Ah! t'Sompseu, t'Sompseu, the
seasons are many since first I held this your hand. Then we two were
young, and life lay bright before us, and now you have grown great, and
are growing grey, and I have grown very old! I have eaten the corn of my
time, till only the cob is left for me to suck, and, _ow_, it is bitter.
But it is well that I should grasp this your hand once more, oh, holder
of the Spirit of Chaka,[*] before I sit down and sleep with my fathers.
_Ow_, I am glad."

[*] The reader must bear in mind that the Zulu warrior is
buried sitting and in full war-dress. Chaka, or T'chaka, was
the founder of the Zulu power.

Imposing as was this old-time war-dance, it is not difficult to imagine
the heights to which its savage grandeur must have swelled when it was
held--as was the custom at each new year--at the kraal of Cetywayo,
King of the Zulus. Then 30,000 warriors took part in it, and a tragic
interest was added to the fierce spectacle by the slaughter of many men.
It was, in fact, a great political opportunity for getting rid of the
"irreconcilable" element from council and field. Then, in the moment of
wildest enthusiasm, the witch-finder darted forward and lightly touched
with a switch some doomed man, sitting, it may be, quietly among the
spectators, or capering with his fellow-soldiers. Instantly he was led
away, and his place knew him no more.

Throughout the whole performance there was one remarkable and genuine
feature, the strong personal attachment of each member of the tribe
to its chief--not only to the fine old chief, Pagadi, their leader in
former years, but to the head and leader for the years to come.

It must be remembered that this system of chieftainship and its
attendant law is, to all the social bearings of South African native
life, what the tree is to its branches; it has grown through long, long
ages amid a people slow to forget old traditions, and equally slow to
receive new ideas; dependent on it are all the native's customs, all his
keen ideas of right and justice; in it lies embodied his history of the
past, and from it springs his hope for the future. Surely even the most
uncompromising of those marching under the banner of civilisation
must hesitate before they condemn this deep-rooted system to instant
uprootal.[*] The various influences of the white man have eaten into the
native system as rust into iron, and their action will never cease till
all be destroyed. The bulwarks of barbarism, its minor customs and minor
laws, are gone, or exist only in name; but its two great principles,
polygamy and chieftainship, yet flourish and are strong. Time will undo
his work, and find for these also a place among forgotten things. And it
is the undoubted duty of us English, who absorb people and territories
in the high name of civilisation, to be true to our principles and our
aim, and aid the great destroyer by any and every safe and justifiable
means. But between the legitimate means and the rash, miscalculating
uprootal of customs and principles, which are not the less venerable and
good in their way because they do not accord with our own present ideas,
there is a great gulf fixed. Such an uprootal might precipitate an
outburst of the very evils it aims at destroying.

[*] I do not wish the remarks in this paper, which was
written some years ago, to be taken as representing my
present views on the Natal native question, formed after a
longer and more intimate acquaintance with its
peculiarities, for which I beg to refer the reader to the
chapter on Natal.--Author.

What the ultimate effect of our policy will be, when the leaven has
leavened the whole, when the floodgates are lifted, and this vast native
population (which, contrary to all ordinary precedent, does _not_
melt away before the sun of the white man's power) is let loose in its
indolent thousands, unrestrained, save by the bonds of civilised law,
who can presume to say? But this is not for present consideration.
Subject to due precautions, the path of progress must of necessity be
followed, and the results of such following left in the balancing hands
of Fate and the future.

H. Rider Haggard

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