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Chapter XXIII
South Africa

January 1st, 1896. We have begun the New Year badly! The hurricane blast I predicted has burst out in the form of a denunciatory message from President Cleveland upon the subject of the Venezuela claims. Though it was very unstatesmanlike of Cleveland to word his message with such violence, we have given some provocation.

Time after time have various Secretaries of State written, urging us to come to some agreement with the Venezuelan Government, and offered their friendly arbitration, or mediation, as it was not conducive to good — will between us and the Americans, to have such long-standing grievances acting as an irritant between the Americans and the English people. Secretary Bayard's letter of appeal ought to have moved us to instant action, on account of its undoubtedly friendly sentiments, written with such earnestness and kindly feeling. The turning of a deaf ear to such a letter as this no doubt made the Americans believe that nothing but a thunder-clap, such as Cleveland has given, would rouse us to consider the matter seriously.

The English papers have been quite taken aback by it; and, here and there, some fools are talking of resistance! One man, who holds a high office in the State, talked to me last night of the manner we should fight the Americans! Poor old soul, he did not expect the contempt with which I extinguished his martial ardour. Why! if Venezuela and Guiana were both wiped out of the map, America and England would suffer from it far less than from recent speculative dishonesty. In addition to this shock from America, we are considerably disturbed by the Armenian atrocities, and what action we might be urged to take in behalf of the oppressed Armenians. The Radicals are very bellicose, and would applaud Lord Salisbury if he sent a fleet up the Dardanelles. To-day, we have news that Dr. Jameson has invaded the Transvaal, with a [483] small force between four hundred and six hundred strong! The details are meagre, but the impression is that he is alone in this wild escapade. A “Sun” interviewer has asked me my opinion in the matter, and I have said frankly that it is our duty to drive him back quicker than he went in. It is not so very long ago that I entertained both Jameson and Rhodes here. I never suspected that either of them would have been concerned in such a harum-scarum act as this!

July 7th, Tuesday. Dined with Mr.Thompson and Mrs. Yates Thompson. The Jameson Raid was very much discussed; and I found myself, in this instance, quite in accord with the Radicals whom I met there.

July 9th. Dined with Lord James of Hereford. I was surprised at his saying that there were extenuating circumstances for Jameson's act, but it is evident that his legal acumen is awry. Under no circumstances would we profit by this Raid, however successful it might have been.

Stanley greatly rejoiced at the arrival of our little boy, Denzil, and bought picture-books for him, and toys suited to a child of four! In 1896, during a long and serious illness, what best pleased Stanley was to have the baby placed beside him on the bed. One day, when the child was there, Stanley looked up at me and said, “Ah, it is worth while now . . . to get well!”

It was these frequent attacks of gastralgia, or gastritis, complicated by malaria, which made me so dread his returning to Africa. After our marriage, I felt no security. He himself thought he would have to go back to the Congo, for a time, “ to put things right.” But I knew that he ought never to return there.

Stanley was constantly being attacked by fever and these internal pains, which came without any warning, and with such intensity, that breathing was impeded. The first attack was in the Forest of Central Africa, and he describes his illness in “Darkest Africa,” an illness attributable, possibly, to the poor diet, and, afterwards, to starvation.

Two days before our marriage he was taken ill, in the same way, an illness that lasted many weeks.

During Stanley's malaria attacks, the shivering preceding the hot stage was so violent that the bed he lay on would shake, and the glasses on the table vibrate and ring. I might come in from a walk, and, not seeing Stanley in his library, run upstairs to his room, and find him in bed, covered with blankets, quilts, even great-coats; with chattering teeth, and hurried speech, he would bid me get hot-water bottles to pack round him. Then, when the cold fit had passed, and the heat had reached its maximum, he would speak to me re-assuringly, [484] and tell me not to fear, that all would be well; that it was only “Africa in me,” and I must get the quinine ready. The terrible sweating over, he would take twenty to twenty-five grains of quinine, and . . . wait! So I came to know exactly what to do; but I vowed, in my heart, that he should never return to the country which had taken so much of his splendid vitality; for Stanley had had three attacks of haematuric fever, in Africa, and more severe malaria fevers than he could number.

In June, 1896, we arranged to visit Spain, as he wanted to show me Madrid, Toledo, etc., etc.; but, in the train, four hours before we got to Madrid, he was seized with one of these mysterious gastric attacks, and when we arrived, soon after midnight, he was hardly conscious, from extreme pain.

I could not speak Spanish, and knew no one in Madrid. We went to the principal hotel, on the Puerta del Sol; and there I waited till morning, when a clever Austrian doctor came to my assistance, but there seemed little we could do. Day by day, Stanley grew weaker; and, at last, in desperation, I decided, ill as he was, to get him back to England. By the time we reached Paris, Stanley was rather better, and, for two days, he was free from the pain and intermittent fever. But it was only a short lull, for the spasms returned, with redoubled violence, and it was with the greatest difficulty that I succeeded in getting him back to our home in London.

There, I nursed him for three months, until he gradually recovered. Thus he would enjoy spaces of perfect health, with intervals of the old trouble. I think Stanley feared nothing in the world as he feared those first ominous stabs of pain; but when the spasms were steadily recurrent, and no doctor could give him any relief, Stanley accepted the pain and weakness, silently and stoically. Here, for instance, is an entry in his Journal, in 1897:--

Pain has commenced — unable to take even milk without sickness; am resigned for a long illness — it is now inevitable; shall not be able to attend Parliament again this Session.

I knew by the sound of his voice, when he called me in the middle of the night, that the pain had come; sometimes it left quite suddenly, and we looked at each other, I, pale with fear, lest it should return. In 1897, the attack recorded above did not last, as he had feared, but, in 1898, at Cauterets, in the Pyrenees, he was again taken ill. He writes in his Journal, August 15th:--

Felt the first severe symptoms of a recurring attack. Have had two attacks of fever, and now have steady pain since Sunday night, but rose to-day.

August 17th, Luchon. On arriving, went to bed at once, for my pains threatened to become unbearable. [485]

September 11. Biarritz. All I know of Luchon is what I have gained during two short walks in the intervals of illness. On arriving here, I went straight to bed.

October 1st.--Left Biarritz for Paris; have been in bed the whole time.

October 10th.--Have been ill all the time in Paris; returned to London after the dreadful holidays.

When we returned to London, I felt very near despair, the starvation diet Stanley was kept on, had now reduced him to such a state of weakness he could not sit up in bed. Skilful massage, however, and an immediate, generous diet, restored Stanley, as by magic, to perfect health. I return now to the Journal for 1896.

December 21st, 1896. Brighton. Warmest greetings to darling little Denzil, our own cherub! Possibly, I think too much of him. If I were not busy with work and other things, I should undoubtedly dwell too much on him, for, as I take my constitutional, I really am scarce conscious that I am in Brighton. For, look where I may, his beautiful features, lightened up with a sunny smile, come before my eyes all the time! I see him in your arms, and I marvel greatly at my great happiness in possessing you two! Believe it or not, as you like, but my heart is full of thankfulness that I have been so blessed.

Denzil is now inseparable from you — and you from him.--Together, you complete the once vague figure of what I wished; and now the secret of my inward thoughts is realised, a pre-natal vision, embodied in actual existence.

Now take up Denzil, look full into his angelic face, and deep down into those eyes so blue, as if two little orbs formed out of the bluest heaven were there, and bless him with your clean soul, untainted by any other thought than that which wishes him the best God can give him. At present, he is of such as are the beings of God's heaven, purity itself.--May he grow to noble manhood and serve God zealously!

Stanley left Southampton on October 9, 1897, per Union steamer “Norman,” for South Africa, to assist in the opening of the Bulawayo Railway, by invitation of the citizens of Bulawayo.

October 13th, 1897, on Board. There are several wee things in arms on board, and I shake hands with them all in turns, [486] every morning, as my “devoir” to our Denzil. The white frocks remind me of him. A baby cries,--there is a child at home, with just such a voice, sometimes; and then he trots into memory's view, looks up brightly, and is gone. I can get a hundred views of him in a minute; it is, in fact, a mental kinematograph, and thus I see him continually floating in and out of my recollection. You are, alternately, recalled. My last thoughts on going to sleep are of you. I mutter a prayer; commit you to God, take another glance at the little baby-face, and am asleep.

S. S. Norman, October 25th, 1897. Ah — my dear! a little baby, nine months old, was buried yesterday morning at eight--she died from meningitis! She was perfectly well, until long after we passed Cape Verd. I had often encountered the father carrying his little girl, and dancing her gently up and down in his arms. He was a picture of happiness. Then the baby pined and sickened; for two days there was great anxiety; the third day there was but little hope left, and, in the night, the child died. The next morning the little body was consigned to the everlasting deep!

After visiting Rhodesia, Stanley took a short tour, through the Orange Free State, the Transvaal, and Natal. I can only give brief selections from his letters to me, giving, however, in full, his letter describing Kruger, which, for discernment of character, and political foresight, is certainly most remarkable, having been written to me two years before the war.

Johannesburg, November 20th, 1897. Dined at the Club, where I learnt several lessons. In Bulawayo, Englishmen had rather an exalted feeling, as of men who had suddenly been made rich, and whose prospects were delightful. In Johannesburg, the feeling is different. I find them subdued, querulous, and recriminatory. They blame everybody but themselves. They recapitulate their failures to obtain justice, the indifference of the English colonial policy. They tell instances of Boer oppression, corruption, tyranny, and hypocrisy, with grinding teeth, and do not forget to allude to the mistakes of Jameson, the tactlessness, folly, and unhappy consequences of the Raid; but they are silent as regards their own conduct, and seem to think they are as hardly dealt with by the British Government, as by Kruger and his handful of oligarchs. [487]

I wish I could repeat, word for word, what I have been told in very eloquent language; but, as I could not take my notebook out at the dinner-table, I can only say that I have been much impressed with all I have heard, and feel genuine sympathy for them, which makes me reluctant to wound them; but, the truth is, there are too many leaders, and each leader pulls a contrary way to his fellows; consequently, they have no concrete, well-considered policy. I quite agree with them that our Government is to blame for allowing the Convention to be broken so repeatedly; and that their action is not what that of the Germans would have been, for instance, had they so many subjects maltreated, and desired their Treaty rights.

But, though I would speak strongly of the weakness of England, I think that the Uitlanders are also to blame in not acting in concert, upon a well-arranged plan, compelling Kruger to come out of his shell, and force things quicker to an issue between England and the Transvaal.

I am assuming, of course, that the Johannesburgers feel all that they say, about oppression, tyranny, their feeling of desperation, etc., etc.; but all their pitiful tales of distresses endured, injuries inflicted on persons of property, audacious breaches of the Convention, and so on, will not induce England to wake up to her duty, nor move the Government to action. A Government, even that like the Salisbury-Chamberlain, at present in power, must have strong excuses to sanction an undertaking that may cost millions of money, and thousands of lives. It will certainly be no child's play to use compulsion on a man like Kruger. They would rather endure much than go to war; and yet, if the Uitlanders let the Unionists go out of office, without convincing them that they ought no longer to endure this state of things, they must try other things than mere telegraphic reports to the newspapers.

At the dinner-table, I told them all very frankly my opinion on the matter; and said, “I was reminded of the words, “It is expedient that one man should die for many.” ” “That is to say,” I explained, “English people cannot be moved by these reports of breaches of the Convention. You must convince them that the sense of your injuries is so great you are willing to brave death rather than bear with what you consider intolerable.” “But how can we do anything?” they asked. [488] “We are not allowed arms; not even a pistol is allowed to come to the Transvaal.”

“You do not want arms of any kind,” I said.

I have seen enough to know that you could not do much with arms. You do not even want a pen-knife, as a weapon of offence. You simply want to prove to England your grievances are real, and your patience exhausted. Let England see that you dare to resist this iniquitous rule under which you suffer; and that you are defying the powers that be, risking liberty and property; and her opinion will be swiftly changed. Let every instance wherein you think you are wronged — which you can prove is against the Convention — be marked by resistance, not active, but passive. You called the Convention just now the charter of your rights: on the strength of these rights, let your resistance be based. The Boer officials will demand why such conduct; you will calmly say. They will pooh-pooh, and threaten you; you will refuse compliance. They will use compulsion of a kind; they will imprison or expel you. There will be ten, twenty, forty, a hundred examples of this punishment. The Uitlanders should continue the same resolute attitude of resistance, yielding not a jot.

The Boers will soon perceive that this is serious; rather than expel a whole population, they must either come to terms, or try what violence can do. If the latter, some of you must become martyrs to your sense of what is right. Those martyrs will buy the freedom of the others, for England will be calling to arms. We all know that England ought to have acted as became her on the first breach of the Convention; but she resorted to discussion, and in discussion, at length, she has been beaten. Time, and time again, has the Convention been broken; and the answers England gave to all of them, are — a pile of Blue-books! The Boers can go on at that game for ever. The Boer head has become very big. The self-esteem of Kruger has grown intolerably large, to reduce which will require something more than reason. But you know, whether with an individual or a nation, how hard it is to suddenly change from courteous argument to the deadly arbitrament of force. Something is wanted to rouse the passions to that pitch. I know of nothing that will do it quicker than an act of violence by the Boers. When the Boers resort to violence, [489] it will be all up with them. If I know anything of the English character, the first act of violence will not be committed by them, etc., etc.

Colonel Saunderson, who was a fellow-guest, agreed with all I said.

As we walked to the Grand Central Hotel, it was the Colonel's opinion that the Uitlanders were not of that stuff from which martyrs are made. I agree, but, “even worms will turn.”

November 23rd, 1897. Took train for Pretoria. I had a letter of introduction to Mr. Marks, of Lewis & Marks, who took me to a kind of bachelor house he keeps.

November 24th. Mr. Marks took me to President Kruger's house at 5.30 A. M. It is an unusually early time to visit, but the old man is an early riser, and is at his best in the morning.

He was sitting on the stoep, with two old Members of the Rand, taking his coffee, before leaving on an electioneering journey. When Marks told him of my desire for an interview, he motioned my conductor to take me to the reception saloon, which opened out on the stoep. A grandson of Kruger's showed me a chair. It happened to be directly in front of a full-length portrait of the President, so I was forced to look with wonder at the bad painting, and libellous likeness of the man I had come to see.

Presently Kruger came in, and seated himself under his portrait. Now, as he was the man who held the destinies of South Africa in his hand, I regarded him with interest, in order to divine what the future would be, from what I could gather of his character, by studying his features, gestures, and talk. In the past, I have often made fair guesses at the real man. As reporter, special correspondent in several campaigns, and in various cities, and as traveller over five continents, I have had opportunities enough; I found, when in the presence of African chiefs of whose language I was ignorant, that, long before the interpreter had spoken, I had rightly guessed what the chiefs had said, and I could often correct the interpreter. When two civilized men meet, both being strangers, absolutely independent, unconcerned, uninterested in each other further than mere civility requires, the little points that betray [490] character, mood, or temper are not seen; and the disposition of human nature in general is to put the most civil construction possible upon one's fellow-creatures and their ways.

While the morning greetings were being interchanged, and my eyes kept glancing from Kruger's face to that of the portrait, the real man appeared loveable, compared with the portrait. His features, though terribly plain and worn, were amiable and human; and, if I had gone away after this, I would have carried with me the ordinary impression, which I have seen countless times in newspapers, that Kruger was not a bad kind of man ; a little obstinate, perhaps, but, on the whole, well-meaning, and so on. But, in order to get a glimpse of the possible future of the relations between him and the Uitlanders, I began to praise Johannesburg, its growth, and the enterprise of the people, and I asked Mr. Kruger whether or not things were settling down more peacefully now. This was the beginning of an interview which, while it lasted, revealed Kruger, the man, sufficiently to me; so that if he were an African chief, and I had dealings with him, it would have taught me exactly what to do, and how to provide against every eventuality.

In short, I soon saw that he was a choleric and passionate old man, uncommonly obstinate, determined within himself that his view was the right one, and that no peaceful issue could be expected, unless his demands were complied with, and most implicit trust given to his word. Now, if the welfare of my expedition were at stake, and I thought my force was equal to his, or enough to enable me to inflict severe punishment upon him should he attempt to carry out his passionate words, I should not have parted from him without some better guarantee than trust in his mere word; and, if the guarantee would not be given, I should have gone away with the feeling that the old man meant mischief, and that it was incumbent on me to take every precaution against him.

Mr. Kruger's manner changed immediately I had mentioned Johannesburg and its people. His voice and its varying intonations, every line in his face, betrayed the strongest resentment; and, when I suggested that the smallest concessions to their demands would modify that attitude of hostility to him which angered him, he became the incarnation of fury, [491] and his right hand went up and down like a sledge-hammer, and from his eyes, small and dull as they were, flashed forth the most implacable resolve that surrender must be on their side, not his!

When an old man like this,--he is seventy-four,--who, for the last sixteen years, at least, has had his own way, and been looked up to by Boer and Uitlander, as the “man of the situation,” --when he has made up his mind upon having something, it is not likely that any other course than his own can he believe to be the right one. When we think of what has happened these last sixteen years--his visits to London, his negotiations in Pretoria and London concerning the Convention, the way everyone, Englishman and Boer, has yielded to him, the adulation paid to him for his success, one cannot wonder that he believes that in this matter of the Uitlander's rights, as in the things that went before, his methods, his style, and his way are the best and safest!

This has begotten in him an arrogance so large that, before he can be made sensible that he is wrong, his fierce pride must be humbled; his head has grown so big with this vain belief in his prowess in battle. His victories over Gladstone, Lord Salisbury, and others of the same calibre, the implicit trust of the Boers in him, and in his unconquerability, have been such, that, I am convinced, there is no room in that brain for one grain of common-sense to be injected into it.

His whole behaviour seems to say very clearly to the observer, “What do I care for your Chamberlain, with his Milners and Greens? They shall yield to me first. I don't care a snap of the finger for them; let them do their worst; better men than they have tried and failed, and they will fail too.” The unmitigated contempt for people who try conciliation has only to be seen in Kruger, for one to know that the old man is an impossible creature; and that he is only made implacable and fierce by beseeching and conciliating.

A recollection of the telegram asking “How is Mrs. Kruger?” almost made me laugh aloud, in Kruger's presence. Such a telegram, to this kind of man!! Why! if a strong man, armed, and covered with impenetrable armour, were to suddenly rise in Kruger's sight, and boldly advance, and seize him by the scruff of the neck, and shake him, until a little of that [492] wind of vanity, that has so inflated him, escaped, he would not have long to wait before Kruger would be amenable to reason and decent conversation! But the fellow must find himself faced by force!

An exchange of opinions is now impossible, as he flies directly into a passion at the mere suggestion that a different kind of treatment to the Uitlanders would secure to him the Presidency for life, and remove all fear of friction. For it is something connected with his own self-interest, probably a fear that the votes of the Uitlanders would upset him from the Chair he fills, drive him out of the house he occupies, diminish his importance and his affluent income,--all this is at the bottom of his extreme irascibility and stormy impatience when the Uitlanders are mentioned.

The interview did not last twenty-five minutes, but I had seen enough, and heard more than enough, to convince me that this was an extreme case, which only force could remedy.

You ask me to describe Kruger minutely. Well, he is very like his photographs; I should know him among ten thousand in the street; but to see and talk with him reveals scores of little things no photographs can give. You have seen lots of stout-bodied old Parisian concierges; and I dare say you have seen them in their seedy black clothes, when going out on a visit; put a little top-hat on one of them, give him stooping shoulders, with a heavy, lumbering, biggish body, and you will know Kruger at once! Well! let him sit vis-à--vis to you; put much obstinacy into a face that is unusually large, with an inch of forehead and two small eyes; let the figure sink in his chair, with an attitude of determination in every line, and give him a big briarwood pipe, which is held in his left hand, and there you have him!

Aged statesmen are liable, at a certain age, to develop symptoms of the refractoriness and arbitrariness of disposition which eventually makes them unsuitable for the requirements of the country, and impossible to their colleagues in the Cabinet. Well, “ that's what's the matter ” with Kruger! He is quite past reasoning with. Neither Mr. Chamberlain, nor Sir Alfred Milner, nor Mr. Greene, will ever succeed with him; and I don't know any three men who so deserve to succeed as they. They are all capital fellows, brilliant, able, and deserving. Mr. [493] Chamberlain has a deal of perseverance and convictions of his own; but, ten minutes talk with Kruger would give him the knowledge, at first-hand, that one should have to be able to deal effectively with a political opponent; and, as Sir Alfred Milner has not seen Kruger either, these two able men are really dealing haphazard with the President.

What amazes me is the extraordinary hopefulness of the men I meet. Many residents here have seen and known Kruger intimately; and yet, no sooner has one project for getting their rights been baffled, than they have some new scheme afoot. They have tried everything but the right thing, and will continue to do so. If Englishmen on the spot hardly realise the Boer cunning and determination, how impossible it is for the Englishman at home to do so!

Well! much talk with all kinds of South Africans and my talk with Kruger has opened my eyes to the perplexities of the situation. I heartily pity the Colonial Secretary, and I foresee that the Transvaal will continue to disturb his office. The Boers of the Cape, the Boers of the Orange Free State, and the Boers of the Transvaal, will combine, if any inconsiderate step is taken by the Colonial Office.

What, then, is to be done? Keep still and be patient! Nothing more; for these people of South Africa, English and all, are exasperatingly contentious. The longer we are quiet, the more irascible they will get with each other; our cues must be obtained from South Africa, and if the Johannesburgers want us to help them, they must be braver, more united, and more convinced of the inutility of their unaided efforts; nay, were every Englishman and Afrikander in South Africa united, they could not alone, unaided, stand against the Boers.

Kruger will plod on his vindictive way, and he must, in time, wear out the Johannesburgers' patience. They will do something to rouse the Boer temper; there will be some attack by the Boers,--confiscation of property, of territory. We shall be asked if we are indifferent to our countrymen's distress, and so . . . the cup will be full, and the time will have come. That is the only way I see whereby the Transvaal is to be saved from King Kruger.

Mind you, this is Kruger's fourth term of office that he is seeking. Twenty years! Rule for so long a time makes for [494] Despotism; and, in an old man of his unbending nature, it makes for an accumulation of mistakes, caused by temper, arrogance, and conceit; it makes for the usual political calamity which precedes the salvation of a country or nation.

Marks and I left the house, and while Kruger hastened to get ready for his electioneering journey, I was being shewn the way to the Pretoria Club, where I was cordially received, and inducted into the opinions of other residents of the Boer capital.

I have met no one who can give me what I should call an intelligent idea of the outcome of this tension between the Boers and British. They all confine themselves to commonplace things and ideas. Kruger, Reitz, Joubert, whom I have seen to-day, are concerned only with what they want, and must have. Leyds, Kotze, Marks, are all afraid to engage in a discussion of any kind, and are really the most unlikely people to do so. The Club people, not knowing who may be listening, do not care to talk, and drop into monosyllables when politics are broached, though, with officious zeal, they allowed me to see, that, in their opinion, the Transvaal was ever so much better in many respects than England. Marks is a broker, who looks after certain interests of the President.

The population dwelling in the hollow below the dominating heights around, which are bristling with cannon, I presume have no thoughts worth anything, and are filled with content every time they look up at those defiant forts above their city.

I went to see Conyngham Greene, the English Political Resident here. He has a very nice house, situated in charming surroundings of green lawns and flowering shrubberies, and he is himself very agreeable and pleasant. He is too young to have any profound view into the meaning of things. I dare say he does his duty efficiently, which is to report, day after day, upon the state of affairs, as he believes it to be; but, though this may be satisfactory to his chief, the High Commissioner, Sir Alfred Milner, Mr. Greene's opinions appear to be far from being decided one way or the other. My impression is, that he thinks the present tension is not likely to last long, that it is a mere phase, consequent upon the sore feelings caused by the Jameson Raid; and, in short, [495] that, though Kruger appears somewhat unappeasable and unrelenting, at present, he is sure to come round, by and by. It is so like what I have heard in England and at the Cape. “Yes, Kruger is terribly obstinate, but he is a dear old fellow, you know, all the same; and he will be all right, give him time.”

But that is not my opinion. Kruger is not that sort of man at all! He must meet his master, and be overcome.

The week before I arrived at the Cape, that is to say, only a few weeks ago, Sir Alfred Milner made a speech in Cape Colony, wherein he is reported to have said that it was all “humbug and nonsense for anyone to say that reconciliation was impossible, and that to expect good feeling between the two races was hopeless.” It may be supposed that he was only re-echoing what Mr. Conyngham Greene had written in his reports.

Mr. Chamberlain has spoken in the same spirit, in the House of Commons, because of Sir Alfred Milner's views as conveyed to him in despatches. I feel positive that if Sir Alfred Milner and Mr. Chamberlain were to see Kruger, face to face, they would drop that sanguine, optimistic tone, and quickly and resolutely prepare for a storm.

Despite all the wish that Chamberlain, Milner, and Greene may be right, the good — will I feel to all three of them, and the belief in their abilities, an inner voice tells me that they are all three wrong, that the Johannesburgers who share their views are living in a fool's paradise. Kruger will never, no never, give way to anything that is no harder than mere words! The man must be made to bow that inflexible spirit to a temper that is more hardened, a spirit that is more unyielding, and a force capable of carving its way, undeviatingly, to its object. Whence that force will come, it is impossible to say. I feel very much afraid that it will not come from England. England is losing her great characteristics, she is becoming too effeminate and soft from long inactivity, long enfeeblement of purpose, brought about by indolence and ease, distrust of her own powers, and shaken nerves. It is at such times that nations listen to false prophets, cranks, faddists, and weak sentimentalists. [496]

It will take time, anyhow, to convince England that she ought to do anything; it will take her still longer to provide the means for doing her duty effectively; it will take longer still to understand the nature and bigness of the task which it is her bounden duty to undertake, and so be in a position to say with the necessary firmness of voice to Kruger, that he must come to terms, immediately!

People in England, for some reason, cannot be induced to believe in the reality of the Johannesburg grievances; they profess to regard them as a community of Jewish speculators in mines; and even the failure to assist Jameson in the Raid, etc., etc., has, unfortunately, rather deepened disbelief in their complaints, which they please to consider as nothing more than the usual methods resorted to by Stock-Exchange speculators to advertise their wares, and alarm investors, so that for their own ends they may make a “grand coup!” But both Jew and Christian now are of the same mind as to the hopelessness of their condition, unless Kruger can be made to conform to the terms of the Convention of 1884.

Of course, it is possible that England may be roused to action sooner than expected, by some act of the Uitlanders. I believe that if the English people were to hear that the Uitlanders in their desperate state had resolved upon braving Kruger and his Boers to the death, and would show the necessary courage to bear martyrdom, conviction would come quicker to English minds than from years of futile despatch-writing. If the Uitlanders thus braved him, I feel sure that Kruger would deal with them in the harshest and most summary way, and, in doing so, he would be simply setting every instrument at work required to open the eyes and ears of Englishmen to his obdurate, implacable, and cruel nature; and, once they were convinced of this, Kruger's downfall would not be far off.

Now, of course, after the insight I have gained into the heart of the question, I confess I am not free from feeling a large contempt for my countrymen for being so slow-witted and deaf to the cries of the Uitlanders; and, yet, as I write this, I cannot see why I should feel such contempt for them, for certainly my own sympathies were but sluggish when first I accepted this opportunity of coming to South Africa. [497] To speak the truth, they were not so keen as to wish England might go to war with the Transvaal. But now I see things in a different light, and I shall carry away with me from the Transvaal, a firm conviction that the English people have been systematically misled about Kruger and his Boers. Gladstonianism, and that gushing, teary tone adopted by the sentimental Peace-at-any-price section of our nation, are solely responsible for the persecutions and insults to which our people have been subject, since 1884, in the Transvaal. If it should come to fighting, there will be much killing done, and this will be entirely due to sentimentalists at home.

The self-interest of men, who would be self-seekers even under the heel of the tyrant, has also largely contributed to mislead the people. Cowardice actuates those who would coax Kruger out of his sulks, and prefer to fawn on him instead of resenting his cruel treatment of his fellow-countrymen. They profess to believe in the piety of the Boers, and their love of peace; they dwell on Kruger's attachment to the Bible, and believe him to be a “dear, good old fellow,” likely at any time to amaze the world by generous and just conduct.

Within a few hours, I believe I could carve a fair likeness of Kruger out of a piece of tough wood, because no Michael Angelo is needed to do justice to his rugged features and ungainly form, and I would be willing to guarantee that justice to the English would be sooner given by that wooden image than it will be by Mr. Kruger; on that I pin my faith in my perception of what is Kruger's true character.

Were either Russia, or Germany, in our position towards South Africa, things could not have come to this pass. Certainly the American Government would not have remained so long blind, not only to duty, but to the ordinary dictates of common-sense, as we have been.

A respectable third of the nation, I fancy, feel very much as I do upon the South African question; another third may be said to prefer letting Kruger do just what he pleases, on the ground that no South African question can be of sufficient importance to risk the danger of giving offence to the stubborn old fellow; and, if the question were put to them, point-blank, as to whether we should try and compel Kruger to abide by [498] the terms of the Convention, or fight him, I feel sure they would say let South Africa go, rather than fight!

The remaining third comprises the nobodies, the people of the street, the mob, people who have no opinion on any subject except their own immediate and individual interest, who follow the Peace Party to-day, because the other Party, the Party for Compulsion, have not condescended to explain to them why they should do otherwise. Now, should it happen that the people of Johannesburg, either after my advice, or after their own methods, take a resolute front and dare to defy the tyrant, the Party for Compulsion would then have a text to preach upon; the ever-varying third might be influenced to side with it, and the Government might then find it the proper thing to declare war.

I believe, therefore, it may come to war. But, as war is a serious thing, even with such a small state as the Transvaal, (and who knows whether the Orange Free State may not join them?) I would not precipitately engage in it. I would prefer to give Kruger a good excuse to descend from that lofty and unalterable decision not to give way to anybody or anything. I would send a Peace Commission of half a dozen of the noblest, wisest, and most moderate men we have got, who could discuss all matters between the Dutch and ourselves, who would know when to yield on questions that do not affect the supremacy of England, or touch on her vital interests,--men who could be firm with courtesy.

This method, of course, is only to set ourselves right with the world, which is rather bitter against England just now, and give ourselves time to prepare, in case of the failure of the Peace Commission.

A few millions spent on equipping a complete Army Corps, ready to set out at an instant's notice, and another ready to support it, might morally effect a change in Kruger's disposition.

He is, I believe, ready on his side for any contingency, or thinks he is; otherwise, why those armed forts at Pretoria, and at Johannesburg, those ninety thousand Mauser rifles, and those batteries of artillery? Why, in fact, this attitude of irreconcileability on his part, were it not that he has been preparing for war? [499]

My dear, I could go on for hours on this subject. I could tell you how I almost foresee war in this peaceful-looking country. The wise politicians at home would no doubt say, “Ah, Stanley is all very well as an explorer, but in politics, statesmanship, etc., he is altogether out of his element.” But I can read men, and the signs of what shall come are written on Kruger's face. My business through life has been to foresee, and if possible avert calamity . . . but enough is enough! Time flies, and the day of departure from this land will soon arrive, and every day that passes brings me nearer to you and that dear, blessed, little child of ours, whom the gods sent to cheer our hungry hearts. My whole soul is in my pen as I write. God bless you and keep you both!

November 26th, 1897. In my hurry to go to bed last night, I omitted to say anything about my impressions of Ladysmith, the Aldershot of Africa. It was but a short view I had of Ladysmith, but it was sufficient to make me exclaim to my fellow-passengers that the officer who selected that spot for a military camp ought to be shot! Anyone who looks at the map of Natal may see that it would scarcely do to make a permanent military station too far in that point of land that penetrates between the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, unless it was resolved that the defences should be elaborate, and the provisions ample enough for a year at least.

Dreading what might some day be a trap for a British force, the military authorities have chosen a basin-like hollow, south of, and near, a river called the Tugela. When we came round a bend from Newcastle, the white tents of the English soldiers were seen, away down in the hollow, some hundreds of feet below us.

With Majuba ever on one's mind, with Kruger and his Boers so defiant and bold in their stubbornness, I cannot imagine what possesses the commander to undertake the responsibility of pretending to defend a camp, utterly indefensible according to my notions.

Of course, an officer, in time of peace, may camp anywhere in a loyal colony like Natal, on the condition that it is only temporary; but the danger of such a camp as this is, that stores of all kinds soon become enormously valuable as they gather day after day, and their removal is very serious work. [500] Even if a camp be but temporary, I am of the opinion that it should be the best site in the vicinity and the easiest defensible, were it only to keep alive that alertness and discipline which is necessary in war; but this Ladysmith lies at the mercy of a band of raiders, and if a body of Englishmen can be found in time of peace raiding into a country at peace with us, it is not beyond possibility that a body of Boers may try some day to imitate us, when we least expect it.

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