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Title: Impressions of South Africa
Author: Bryce, James Bryce, Viscount, 1838-1922
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_With Three Maps._




_All rights reserved_


_First Edition, 8vo. November 1897_

_Reprinted, November 1897_

_Second Edition, January 1898_

_Third Edition, Crown 8vo. November 1899_

_Reprinted, December 1899_




This new edition has been carefully revised throughout, and, as far as
possible, brought up to date by noting, in their proper places, the
chief events of importance that have occurred since the book first
appeared. In the historical chapters, however, and in those which deal
with recent politics, no changes have been made save such as were needed
for the correction of one or two slight errors of fact, and for the
mention of new facts, later in date than the first edition. I have left
the statements of my own views exactly as they were first written, even
where I thought that the form of a statement might be verbally improved,
not only because I still adhere to those views, but also because I
desire it to be clearly understood that they were formed and expressed
before the events of the last few months, and without any reference to
the controversies of the moment.

When the first edition of the book was published (at the end of 1897)
there was strong reason to believe as well as to hope that a race
conflict in South Africa would be avoided, and that the political
problems it presents, acute as they had become early in 1896, would be
solved in a peaceable way. To this belief and hope I gave expression in
the concluding chapter of the book, indicating "tact, coolness and
patience, above all, patience," as the qualities needed to attain that
result which all friends of the country must unite in desiring.

Now, however, (October 1899), Britain and her South African Colonies and
territories find themselves at war with the South African Republic and
the Orange Free State. A new chapter is opened in the history of the
country which completely alters the situation, and must necessarily
leave things very different from what it found them. Readers of this new
edition may reasonably expect to find in it some account of the events
which have within the last two years led up to this catastrophe, or at
any rate some estimate of that conduct of affairs by the three
governments concerned which has brought about a result all three ought
to have sought to avert.

There are, however, conclusive reasons against attempting to continue
down to the outbreak of the war (October 11th) the historical sketch
given in Chapters II to XII. The materials for the historian are still
scanty and imperfect, leaving him with data scarcely sufficient for
judging the intention and motives with which some things were done.
Round the acts and words of the representatives of the three governments
concerned, there rages such a storm of controversy, that whoever places
a particular construction upon those acts and words must need support
his construction by citations from documents and arguments based on
those citations. To do this would need a space much larger than I can
command. The most serious difficulty, however, is that when events are
close to us and excite strong feelings, men distrust the impartiality of
a historian even when he does his best to be impartial. I shall not,
therefore, attempt to write a history of the last two fateful years, but
content myself first, with calling the reader's attention to a few
salient facts that have occurred since 1896, and to some aspects of the
case which have been little considered in England; and secondly, with
describing as clearly and estimating as cautiously as I can, the forces
that have worked during those years with such swift and deadly effect.

Some of these facts may be dismissed with a word or two, because they
lie outside the present crisis. One is the entrance of the Colony of
Natal into the South African Customs Union, an event which created one
uniform tariff system for the whole of British and Dutch South Africa
except the Transvaal. Another is the extension of the two great lines of
railway from the coast into the interior. This extension has given
Bulawayo and Matabililand a swift and easy communication with Cape Town,
thereby strengthening immensely the hold of Britain upon the interior,
and lessening any risk that might be feared of future native risings. It
has also opened up a new and quick route from the coast of the Indian
Ocean at Beira into the heart of Mashonaland, and brought the
construction of a railway from Mashonaland across the Zambesi to Lake
Tanganyika within the horizon of practicable enterprises. A scheme of
government has been settled for the territories of the British South
Africa Company south of the Zambesi (Southern Rhodesia), which is now
at work. The prospects of gold mining in that region are believed to
have improved, and the increase of gold production in the mines of the
Witwatersrand has proved even more rapid than was expected in 1896. An
agreement has been concluded between Britain and the German Empire
relating to their interests on the coast of the Indian Ocean, which,
though its terms have not been disclosed, is generally understood to
have removed an obstacle which might have been feared to the acquisition
by Britain of such rights at Delagoa Bay as she may be able to obtain
from Portugal, and to have withdrawn from the South African Republic any
hope that State might have cherished of support from Germany in the
event of a breach with Britain.

These events, however, great as is their bearing on the future, are of
less present moment than those which have sprung from Dr. Jameson's
expedition into the Transvaal in December, 1895, and the internal
troubles in that State which caused and accompanied his enterprise. It
rekindled race feeling all over South Africa, and has had the most
disastrous effects upon every part of the country. To understand these
effects it is necessary to understand the state of opinion in the
British Colonies and in the two Republics before it took place. Let us
examine these communities separately.

In Cape Colony and Natal there was before December, 1895, no hostility
at all between the British and the Dutch elements. Political parties in
Cape Colony were, in a broad sense, British and Dutch, but the
distinction was really based not so much on racial differences as on
economic interests. The rural element which desired a protective tariff
and laws regulating native labour, was mainly Dutch, the commercial
element almost wholly British. Mr. Rhodes, the embodiment of British
Imperialism, was Prime Minister through the support of the Dutch element
and the Africander Bond. Englishmen and Dutchmen were everywhere in the
best social relations. The old blood sympathy of the Dutch element for
the Transvaal Boers which had been so strongly manifested in 1881, when
the latter were struggling for their independence, had been superseded,
or at least thrown into the background, by displeasure at the
unneighbourly policy of the Transvaal Government in refusing public
employment to Cape Dutchmen as well as to Englishmen, and in throwing
obstacles in the way of trade in agricultural products. This displeasure
culminated when the Transvaal Government, in the summer of 1895, closed
the Drifts (fords) on the Vaal River, to the detriment of imports from
the Colony and the Orange Free State.

In the Orange Free State there was, as has been pointed out in Chapter
XIX., perfect good feeling and cordial co-operation in all public
matters between the Dutch and the English elements. There was also
perfect friendliness to Britain, the old grievances of the Diamond
Fields dispute (see page 144) and of the arrest of the Free State
conquest of Basutoland having been virtually forgotten. Towards the
Transvaal there was a political sympathy based partly on kinship, partly
on a similarity of republican institutions. But there was also some
annoyance at the policy which the Transvaal Government, and especially
its Hollander advisers, were pursuing; coupled with a desire to see
reforms effected in the Transvaal, and the franchise granted to
immigrants on more liberal terms.

Of the Transvaal itself I need say the less, because its condition is
fully described in Chapter XXV. There was of course much irritation
among the Uitlanders of English and Colonial stock, with an arrogant
refusal on the part of the ruling section and the more extreme
old-fashioned Boers to admit the claims of these new-comers. But there
was also a party among the burghers, important more by the character and
ability of its members than by its numbers, yet growing in influence,
which desired reform, perceived that the existing state of things could
not continue, and was ready to join the Uitlanders in agitating for
sweeping changes in the Constitution and in administration.

The events of December, 1895, changed the face of things swiftly and
decisively in all these communities.

In Cape Colony Dutch feeling, which as a political force was almost
expiring, revived at once. The unexpected attack on the Transvaal
evolved an outburst of sympathy for it, in which the faults of its
government were forgotten. Mr. Rhodes retired from office. The
reconstructed Ministry which succeeded fell in 1898, and a new Ministry
supported by the Africander Bond came into power after a general
election. Its majority was narrow, and was accused of not fairly
representing the country, owing to the nature of the electoral areas. A
Redistribution Bill was passed by a species of compromise, and in the
elections to the new constituencies which followed the Dutch party
slightly increased its majority, and kept its Cabinet (in which,
however, men of Dutch blood are a minority) in power. Party feeling,
both inside and outside the legislature, became, and has remained,
extremely strong on both sides. The English generally have rallied to
and acclaim Mr. Rhodes, whose connection with Dr. Jameson's expedition
has made him the special object of Dutch hostility. There is, according
to the reports which reach England, no longer any moderating third
party: all are violent partisans. Nevertheless--and this is a remarkable
and most encouraging fact--this violence did not diminish the warmth
with which the whole Assembly testified its loyalty and affection
towards the Queen on the occasion of the completion of the sixtieth year
of her reign in 1897. And the Bond Ministry of Mr. Schreiner proposed
and carried by a unanimous vote a grant of £30,000 per annum as a
contribution by the Colony to the naval defence of the Empire, leaving
the application of this sum to the unfettered discretion of the British

In the Orange Free State the explosion of Dutch sentiment was still
stronger. Its first result was seen in the election of a President. In
November, 1895, two candidates for the vacant office had come forward,
and their chances were deemed to be nearly equal. When the news of the
Jameson expedition was received, the chance of the candidate of British
stock vanished. Since then, though there was not (so far as I gather)
down till the last few weeks any indication of hostility to Britain,
much less any social friction within the State, a disposition to draw
closer to the threatened sister Republic showed itself at once. This
led to the conclusion of a defensive alliance between the Free State and
the Transvaal, whereby either bound itself to defend the other, if
unjustly attacked. (The Transvaal is believed to have suggested, and the
Free State to have refused, a still closer union.) As the Orange Free
State had no reason to fear an attack, just or unjust, from any quarter,
this was a voluntary undertaking on its part, with no corresponding
advantage, of what might prove a dangerous liability, and it furnishes a
signal proof of the love of independence which animates this little

We come now to the Transvaal itself. In that State the burgher party of
constitutional reform was at once silenced, and its prospect of
usefulness blighted. So, too, the Uitlander agitation was extinguished.
The Reform leaders were in prison or in exile. The passionate
anti-English feeling, and the dogged refusal to consider reforms, which
had characterized the extreme party among the Boers, were intensified.
The influence of President Kruger, more than once threatened in the
years immediately preceding, was immensely strengthened.

The President and his advisers had a golden opportunity before them of
using the credit and power which the failure of the Rising and the
Expedition of 1895 had given them. They ought to have seen that
magnanimity would also be wisdom. They ought to have set about a reform
of the administration and to have proposed a moderate enlargement of the
franchise such as would have admitted enough of the new settlers to give
them a voice, yet not enough to involve any sudden transfer of
legislative or executive power. Whether the sentiment of the Boers
generally would have enabled the President to extend the franchise may
be doubtful; but he could at any rate have tried to deal with the more
flagrant abuses of administration. However, he attempted neither. The
abuses remained, and though a Commission reported on some of them, and
suggested important reforms, no action was taken. The weak point of the
Constitution (as to which see p. 152) was the power which the
legislature apparently possessed of interfering with vested rights, and
even with pending suits, by a resolution having the force of law. This
was a defect due, not to any desire to do wrong, but to the inexperience
of those who had originally framed the Constitution, and to the want of
legal knowledge and skill among those who had worked it, and was
aggravated by the fact that the legislature consisted of one Chamber
only, which was naturally led to legislate by way of resolution
(besluit) because the process of passing laws in the stricter sense of
the term involved a tedious and cumbrous process of bringing them to the
knowledge of the people throughout the country. Upon this point there
arose a dispute with the Chief Justice which led to the dismissal of
that official and one of his colleagues, a dispute which could not be
explained here without entering upon technical details. There is no
reason to think that the President's action was prompted by any wish to
give the legislature the means of wronging individuals, nor has evidence
been produced to show that its powers have been in fact (at least to any
material extent) so used. The matter cannot be fairly judged without
considering the peculiar character of the Transvaal Constitution, for
which the President is nowise to blame, and the statements often made in
this country that the subjection of the judiciary to the legislature
destroys the security of property are much exaggerated, for property has
been, in fact, secure. It was, nevertheless, an error not to try to
retain a man so much respected as the Chief Justice, and not to fulfil
the promise given to Sir Henry de Villiers (who had been invoked as
mediator) that the judiciary should be placed in a more assured

The idea which seems to have filled the President's mind was that force
was the only remedy. The Republic was, he thought, sure to be again
attacked from within or from without; and the essential thing was to
strengthen its military resources for defence, while retaining political
power in the hands of the burghers. Accordingly, the fortifications
already begun at Pretoria were pushed on, a strong fort was erected to
command Johannesburg, and munitions of war were imported in very large
quantities, while the Uitlanders were debarred from possessing arms.
Such precautions were natural. Any government which had been nearly
overthrown, and expected another attack, would have done the like. But
these measures of course incensed the Uitlanders, who saw that another
insurrection would have less chance of success than the last, and
resented the inferiority implied in disarmament, as Israel resented the
similar policy pursued by the Philistine princes. The capitalists also,
an important factor by their wealth and by their power of influencing
opinion in Europe, were angry and restless, because the prospect of
securing reforms which would reduce the cost of working the gold reefs
became more remote.

This was the condition of things in the two Republics and the British
Colonies when the diplomatic controversy between the Imperial Government
and the South African Republic, which had been going on ever since 1895,
passed in the early summer of 1899 into a more acute phase. The
beginning of that phase coincided, as it so happened, with the expiry of
the period during which the leaders of the Johannesburg rising of 1895
had promised to abstain from interference in politics, and the incident
out of which it grew was the presentation to the Queen (in March 1899),
through the High Commissioner, of a petition from a large number of
British residents on the Witwatersrand complaining of the position in
which they found themselves. The situation soon became one of great
tension, owing to the growing passion of the English in South Africa and
the growing suspicion on the part of the Transvaal Boers. But before we
speak of the negotiations, let us consider for a moment what was the
position of the two parties to the controversy.

The position of the Transvaal Government, although (as will presently
appear) it had some measure of legal strength, was, if regarded from the
point of view of actual facts, logically indefensible and materially
dangerous. It was not, indeed, the fault of that Government that the
richest goldfield in the world had been discovered in its territory, nor
would it have been possible for the Boers, whatever they might have
wished, to prevent the mines from being worked and the miners from
streaming in. But the course they took was condemned from the first to
failure. They desired to have the benefit of the gold-mines while yet
retaining their old ways of life, not seeing that the two things were
incompatible. Moreover, they--or rather the President and his
advisers--committed the fatal mistake of trying to maintain a government
which was at the same time undemocratic and incompetent. If it had been
representative of the whole mass of the inhabitants it might have
ventured, like the governments of some great American cities, to
disregard both purity and efficiency. If, on the other hand, it had been
a vigorous and skilful government, giving to the inhabitants the
comforts and conveniences of municipal and industrial life at a
reasonable charge, the narrow electoral basis on which it rested would
have remained little more than a theoretic grievance, and the bulk of
the people would have cared nothing for political rights. An exclusive
government may be pardoned if it is efficient, an inefficient government
if it rests upon the people. But a government which is both inefficient
and exclusive incurs a weight of odium under which it must ultimately
sink; and this was the kind of government which the Transvaal attempted
to maintain. They ought, therefore, to have either extended their
franchise or reformed their administration. They would not do the
former, lest the new burghers should swamp the old ones, and take the
control out of Boer hands. They were unfit to do the latter, because
they had neither knowledge nor skill, so that even had private interests
not stood in the way, they would have failed to create a proper
administration. It was the ignorance, as well as the exclusive spirit
of the Transvaal authorities, which made them unwilling to yield any
more than they might be forced to yield to the demand for reform.

The position in which Britain stood needs to be examined from two sides,
its legal right of interference, and the practical considerations which
justified interference in this particular case.

Her legal right rested on three grounds. The first was the Convention of
1884 (printed in the Appendix to this volume), which entitled her to
complain of any infraction of the privileges thereby guaranteed to her

The second was the ordinary right, which every State possesses, to
complain, and (if necessary) intervene when its subjects are wronged,
and especially when they suffer any disabilities not imposed upon the
subjects of other States.

The third right was more difficult to formulate. It rested on the fact
that as Britain was the greatest power in South Africa, owning the whole
country south of the Zambesi except the two Dutch Republics (for the
deserts of German Damaraland and the Portuguese East-coast territories
may be practically left out of account), she was interested in
preventing any causes of disturbance within the Transvaal which might
spread beyond its borders, and become sources of trouble either among
natives or among white men. This right was of a vague and indeterminate
nature, and could be legitimately used only when it was plain that the
sources of trouble did really exist and were becoming dangerous.

Was there not also, it may be asked, the suzerainty of Britain, and if
so, did it not justify intervention? I will not discuss the question,
much debated by English lawyers, whether the suzerainty over the
"Transvaal State," mentioned in the preamble to the Convention of 1881,
was preserved over the "South African Republic" by the Convention of
1884, not because I have been unable to reach a conclusion on the
subject, but because the point seems to be one of no practical
importance. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that there is a
suzerainty, it is perfectly clear from an examination of the Conventions
and of the negotiations of 1884 that this suzerainty relates solely to
foreign relations, and has nothing whatever to do with the internal
constitution or government of the Transvaal. The significance of the
term--if it be carried over and read into the Convention of 1884--is
exhausted by the provision in Article IV of that instrument for the
submission of treaties to the British Government. No argument,
accordingly, for any right of interference as regards either the
political arrangements of the Transvaal or the treatment of foreigners
within its borders, can be founded on this real or supposed suzerainty.
This view had been too frequently and too clearly expressed by the
British Government before 1896, to make it possible for any British
official to attempt to put any such construction upon the term; and the
matter might therefore have been suffered to drop, since the right to
veto treaties was explicit, and did not need to be supported by an
appeal to the preamble of 1881. The term, however, though useless to
Britain, was galling to the Transvaal, which suspected that it would be
made a pretext for infringements upon their independence in internal
affairs; and these suspicions were confirmed by the talk of the
Uitlander spokesmen in Johannesburg, who were in the habit of appealing
to Britain as the Suzerain Power. It has played a most unfortunate part
in the whole controversy.

Suzerainty, which is a purely legal, though somewhat vague, conception,
has in many minds become confused with the practical supremacy, or
rather predominance, of Britain in South Africa, which is a totally
different matter. That predominance rests on the fact that Britain
commands the resources of a great empire, while the Dutch republics are
petty communities of ranchmen. But it does not carry any legal rights of
interference, any more than a preponderance of force gives Germany
rights against Holland.

As I have referred to the Convention of 1884, it may be well to observe
that while continuing to believe that, on a review of the facts as they
then stood, the British Government were justified in restoring
self-government to the Transvaal in 1881, they seem to me to have erred
in conceding the Convention of 1884. Though the Rand goldfields had not
then been discovered, Lord Derby ought to have seen that the relations
of the Transvaal to the adjoining British territories would be so close
that a certain measure of British control over its internal
administration might come to be needful. This control, which was indeed
but slight, he surrendered in 1884. But the improvidence of the act does
not in the least diminish the duty of the country which made the
Convention to abide by its terms, or relieve it from the obligation of
making out for any subsequent interference a basis of law and fact which
the opinion of the world might accept as sufficient.

It has not been sufficiently realised in England that although the
Transvaal may properly, in respect of British control over its foreign
relations, be described as a semi-dependent State, Britain was under the
same obligation to treat it with a strict regard to the recognised
principles of international law as if it had been a great power. She had
made treaties with it, and those treaties it was her duty to observe.
Apart from all moral or sentimental considerations, apart from the fact
that Britain had at the Hague Conference been the warm and effective
advocate of peaceful methods of settling disputes between nations, it is
her truest interest to set an example of fairness, legality and
sincerity. No country, not even the greatest, can afford to neglect that
reasonable and enlightened opinion of thoughtful men in other
countries--not to be confounded with the invective and misrepresentation
employed by the press of each nation against the others--which
determines the ultimate judgment of the world, and passes into the
verdict of history.

Did then the grievances of which the British residents in the Transvaal
complained furnish such a basis? These grievances are well known, and
will be found mentioned in chapter XXV. They were real and vexatious. It
is true that some of them affected not so much British residents as the
European shareholders in the great mining companies; true also that the
mining industry (as will be seen from the figures on p. 301) was
expanding and prospering in spite of them. Furthermore, they were
grievances under which, it might be argued, the immigrants had placed
themselves by coming with notice of their existence, and from which they
might escape by taking a train into the Free State or Natal. And they
were grievances which, however annoying, did not render either life or
property unsafe,[1] and did not prevent the Johannesburgers from
enjoying life and acquiring wealth. Nevertheless, they were such as the
British Government was entitled to endeavour to have redressed. Nor
could it be denied that the state of irritation and unrest which
prevailed on the Witwatersrand, the probability that another rising
would take place whenever a chance of success offered, furnished to
Britain, interested as she was in the general peace of the country, a
ground for firm remonstrance and for urging the removal of all
legitimate sources of disaffection, especially as these re-acted on the
whole of South Africa. The British authorities at the Cape seem indeed
to have thought that the unyielding attitude of the Transvaal Government
worked much mischief in the Colony, being taken by the English there as
a defiance to the power and influence of Britain, and so embittering
their minds.

Among the grievances most in men's mouths was the exclusion of the
new-comers from the electoral franchise. It must be clearly
distinguished from the other grievances. It was a purely internal
affair, in which Britain had no right to intermeddle, either under the
Convention of 1884 or under the general right of a state to protect its
subjects. Nothing is clearer than that every state may extend or limit
the suffrage as it pleases. If a British self-governing colony were to
restrict the suffrage to those who had lived fourteen years in the
colony, or a state of the American Union were to do the like, neither
the Home Government in the one case, nor the Federal Government in the
other would have any right to interfere. All therefore that Britain
could do was to call the attention of the South African Republic in a
friendly way to the harm which the restriction of the franchise was
causing, and point out that to enlarge it might remove the risk of a
collision over other matters which did fall within the scope of British

We are therefore, on a review of the whole position, led to conclude
that Britain was justified in requiring the Transvaal Government to
redress the grievances (other than the limited suffrage) which were
complained of. Whether she would be justified in proceeding to enforce
by arms compliance with her demand, would of course depend upon several
things, upon the extent to which the existence of the grievances could
be disproved, upon the spirit in which the Transvaal met the demand,
upon the amount of concessions offered or amendment promised. But before
the British Government entered on a course which might end in war, if
the Transvaal should prove intractable, there were some considerations
which it was bound seriously to weigh.

One of these was the time for entering on a controversy. The Jameson
invasion was only three years old; and the passions it evoked had not
subsided. In it British officers, and troops flying the British flag, if
not Britain herself, had been wrongdoers. Suspicions of British good
faith were known to pervade the Boer mind, and would give an ominous
colour to every demand coming from Britain. The lapse of time might
diminish these suspicions, and give to negotiations a better prospect of
success. Time, moreover, was likely to work against the existing system
of the Transvaal. Bad governments carry the seeds of their own
dissolution. The reforming party among the Transvaal burghers would gain
strength, and try to throw off the existing _régime_. The President was
an old man, whose retirement from power could not be long delayed; and
no successor would be able to hold together as he had done the party of
resistance to reform. In the strife of factions that would follow his
retirement reform was certain to have a far better chance than it could
have had since 1895. In fact, to put it shortly, all the natural forces
were working for the Uitlanders, and would either open the way for their
admission to a share in power, or else make the task of Britain easier
by giving her less united and therefore less formidable antagonists.
These considerations counselled a postponement of the attempt to bring
matters to a crisis.

In the second place the British Government had to remember the
importance of carrying the opinion of the Dutch in Cape Colony, and, as
far as possible, even of the Orange Free State, with them in any action
they might take. It has been pointed out how before December, 1895, that
opinion blamed the Transvaal Government for its unfriendly treatment of
the immigrants. The Dutch of both communities had nothing to gain and
something to lose by the maladministration of the Transvaal, so that
they were nowise disposed to support it in refusing reforms. The only
thing that would make them rally to it would be a menace to its
independence, regarding which they, and especially the Free State
people, were extremely sensitive. Plainly, therefore, unless the
colonial Dutch were to be incensed and the Free State men turned to
enemies, such a menace was to be avoided.

Finally, the British authorities were bound to make sure, not only that
they had an adequate _casus belli_ which they could present to their own
people and to the world, but also that the gain to be expected from
immediately redressing the grievances of the Uitlander outweighed the
permanent evils war would entail. Even where, according to the usage of
nations, a just cause for war exists, even where victory in the war may
be reckoned on, the harm to be expected may be greater than the fruits
of victory. Here the harm was evident. The cost of equipping a large
force and transporting it across many thousand miles of sea was the
smallest part of the harm. The alienation of more than half the
population of Cape Colony, the destruction of a peaceful and prosperous
Republic with which Britain had no quarrel, the responsibility for
governing the Transvaal when conquered, with its old inhabitants
bitterly hostile, these were evils so grave, that the benefits to be
secured to the Uitlanders might well seem small in comparison. A nation
is, no doubt, bound to protect its subjects. But it could hardly be said
that the hardships of this group of subjects, which did not prevent
others from flocking into the country, and which were no worse than they
had been for some time previously, were such as to forbid the exercise
of a little more patience. It was said by the war party among the
English in South Africa that patience was being mistaken for weakness,
and that the credit of Britain was being lowered all over the world, and
even among the peoples of India, by her forbearance towards the
Transvaal. Absurd as this notion may appear, it was believed by heated
partizans on the spot. But outside Africa, and especially in Europe, the
forbearance of one of the four greatest Powers in the world towards a
community of seventy thousand people was in no danger of being

Whether the force of these considerations, obvious to every unbiased
mind which had some knowledge of South Africa, was fully realized by
those who directed British policy, or whether, having realized their
force, they nevertheless judged war the better alternative, is a
question on which we are still in the dark. It is possible--and some of
the language used by the British authorities may appear to suggest this
explanation--that they entered on the negotiations which ended in war in
the belief that an attitude of menace would suffice to extort
submission, and being unable to recede from that attitude, found
themselves drawn on to a result which they had neither desired nor
contemplated. Be this as it may, the considerations above stated
prescribed the use of prudent and (as far as possible) conciliatory
methods in their diplomacy, as well as care in selecting a position
which would supply a legal justification for war, should war be found
the only issue.

This was the more necessary because the Boers were known to be intensely
suspicious. Every weak power trying to resist a stronger one must needs
take refuge in evasive and dilatory tactics. Such had been, such were
sure to be, the tactics of the Boers. But the Boers were also very
distrustful of the English Government, believing it to aim at nothing
less than the annexation of their country. It may seem strange to
Englishmen that the purity of their motives and the disinterestedness of
their efforts to spread good government and raise others to their own
level should be doubted. But the fact is--and this goes to the root of
the matter--that the Boers have regarded the policy of Britain towards
them as a policy of violence and duplicity. They recall how Natal was
conquered from them in 1842, after they had conquered it from the Zulus;
how their country was annexed in 1877, how the promises made at the time
of that annexation were broken. They were not appeased by the
retrocession of 1881, which they ascribed solely to British fear of a
civil war in South Africa. It should moreover be remembered,--and this
is a point which few people in England do remember--that they hold the
annexation to have been an act of high-handed lawlessness done in time
of peace, and have deemed themselves entitled to be replaced in the
position their republic held before 1877, under the Sand River
Convention of 1852. Since the invasion of December 1895, they have been
more suspicious than ever, for they believe the British Government to
have had a hand in that attempt, and they think that influential
capitalists have been sedulously scheming against them. Their passion
for independence is something which we in modern Europe find it hard to
realise. It recalls the long struggle of the Swiss for freedom in the
fourteenth century, or the fierce tenacity which the Scotch showed in
the same age in their resistance to the claim of England to be their
"Suzerain Power." This passion was backed by two other sentiments, an
exaggerated estimate of their own strength and a reliance on the
protecting hand of Providence, fitter for the days of the Maccabees or
of Cromwell than for our own time, but which will appear less strange if
the perils through which their nation had passed be remembered.

These were the rocks among which the bark of British diplomacy had to be
steered. They were, however, rocks above water, so it might be hoped
that war could be avoided and some valuable concession secured. To be
landed in war would obviously be as great a failure as to secure no

Instead of demanding the removal of the specific grievances whereof the
Uitlanders complained, the British Government resolved to endeavour to
obtain for them an easier acquisition of the electoral franchise and an
ampler representation in the legislature. There was much to be said for
this course. It would avoid the tedious and vexatious controversies that
must have arisen over the details of the grievances. It would (in the
long run) secure reform in the best way, viz., by the action of public
spirit and enlightenment within the legislature. It would furnish a
basis for union between the immigrants and the friends of good
government among the burghers themselves, and so conduce to the future
peace of the community. There was, however, one material condition, a
condition which might prove to be an objection, affecting the resort to
it. Since the electoral franchise was a matter entirely within the
competence of the South African Republic, Britain must, if she desired
to abide by the principles of international law, confine herself to
recommendation and advice. She had no right to demand, no right to
insist that her advice should be followed. She could not compel
compliance by force, nor even by the threat of using force. In other
words, a refusal to enlarge the franchise would not furnish any _casus

This course having been adopted, the negotiations entered on a new phase
with the Conference at Bloemfontein, where President Kruger met the
British High Commissioner. Such a direct interchange of views between
the leading representatives of two Powers may often be expedient,
because it helps the parties to get sooner to close quarters with the
substantial points of difference, and so facilitates a compromise. But
its utility depends on two conditions. Either the basis of discussion
should be arranged beforehand, leaving only minor matters to be
adjusted, or else the proceedings should be informal and private. At
Bloemfontein neither condition existed. No basis had been previously
arranged. The Conference was formal and (although the press were not
admitted) virtually public, each party speaking before the world, each
watched and acclaimed by its supporters over the country. The eyes of
South Africa were fixed on Bloemfontein, so that when the Conference
came to its unfruitful end, the two parties were practically further off
than before, and their failure to agree accentuated the bitterness both
of the Transvaal Boers and of the English party in the Colonies. To the
more extreme men among the latter this result was welcome. There was
already a war party in the Colony, and voices clamorous for war were
heard in the English press. Both then and afterwards every check to the
negotiations evoked a burst of joy from organs of opinion at home and in
the Cape, whose articles were unfortunately telegraphed to Pretoria.
Worse still, the cry of "Avenge Majuba" was frequently heard in the
Colonies, and sometimes even in England.

The story of the negotiations which followed during the months of July,
August and September, cannot be told fully here, because it is long and
intricate, nor summarized, because the fairness of any summary not
supported by citations would be disputed. There are, however, some
phenomena in the process of drifting towards war which may be concisely

One of these is that the contending parties were at one moment all but
agreed. The Transvaal Government offered to give the suffrage after five
years residence (which was what had been asked by the High Commissioner
at Bloemfontein) coupled with certain conditions, which had little
importance, and were afterwards so explained as to have even less. This
was, from their point of view, a great concession, one to which they
expected opposition from the more conservative section of their own
burghers. The British negotiators, though they have since stated that
they meant substantially to accept this proposal, sent a reply whose
treatment of the conditions was understood as a refusal, and which
appeared to raise further questions; and when the Transvaal went back to
a previous offer, which had previously been held to furnish a basis for
agreement, the British Government declined to recur to that basis, as
being no longer tenable after the later offer. The Boers, who had
expected (from informal communications) that the five years offer would
be readily accepted, seem to have thought that there was no longer any
chance of a settlement, because fresh demands would follow each
concession. They ought, however, to have persevered with their five
years offer, which they could the more easily have done because they had
tacitly dropped the unsustainable claim to be a "sovereign and
independent state," and expressed themselves ready to abide by the
Convention of 1884. The British Government, on its part, would seem to
have thought, when the five years offer was withdrawn because the
conditions attached to it were not accepted, that the Boers had been
trifling with them, and resolved to exact all they demanded, even though
less than all would have represented a diplomatic victory. Thus a
conflict was precipitated which a more cautious and tactful policy might
have avoided.

The controversy continued through three months to turn on the question
of the franchise, nor were any demands for the redress of Uitlander
grievances ever formulated and addressed to the Transvaal either under
the Convention of 1884 or in respect of the general rights at
international law which Britain possessed. When the franchise
negotiations came to an _impasse_, the British Government announced
(September 22nd) that their demands and scheme for a "final settlement
of the issues created by the policy of the Republic"--a phrase which
pointed to something more than the redress of grievances--would be
presented to the Republic. These demands, however, never were presented
at all. After an interval of seventeen days from the announcement just
mentioned, the Transvaal declared war (October 9th and 11th). The terms
of their ultimatum were offensive and peremptory, such as no Government
could have been expected to listen to. Apart, however, from the language
of the ultimatum, a declaration of war must have been looked for. From
the middle of July the British Government had been strengthening its
garrison in South Africa, and the despatch of one body of troops after
another had been proclaimed with much emphasis in the English
newspapers. Early in October it was announced that the Reserves would be
called out and a powerful force despatched. The Transvaal had meantime
been also preparing for war, so that the sending of British troops might
well, after the beginning of September, be justified as a necessary
precaution, since the forces then in South Africa were inferior in
numbers to those the Boers could muster. But when the latter knew that
an overwhelming force would soon confront them, and draw round them a
net of steel, whence they could not escape, they resolved to seize the
only advantage they possessed, the advantage of time, and to smite
before their enemy was ready. It was therefore, only in a technical or
formal sense that they can be said to have begun the war; for a weak
State, which sees its enemy approach with a power that will soon be
irresistible, has only two alternatives, to submit or to attack at once.
In such a quarrel the responsibility does not necessarily rest with
those who strike first. It rests with those whose action has made
bloodshed inevitable.

A singular result of the course things took was that war broke out
before any legitimate _casus belli_ had arisen. Some one has observed
that whereas many wars have been waged to gain subjects, none was ever
waged before to get rid of subjects by making it easier for them to pass
under another allegiance. The franchise, however, did not constitute a
legitimate cause of war, for the British Government always admitted they
had no right to demand it. The real cause of war was the menacing
language of Britain, coupled with her preparations for war. These led
the Boers also to arm, and, as happened with the arming and
counter-arming of Prussia and Austria in 1866, when each expected an
attack from the other, war inevitably followed. To brandish the sword
before a cause for war has been shown not only impairs the prospect of a
peaceful settlement, but may give the world ground for believing that
war is intended.

By making the concession of the franchise the aim of their efforts, and
supporting it by demonstrations which drove their antagonist to arms,
the British Government placed themselves before the world in the
position of having caused a war without ever formulating a _casus
belli_, and thereby exposed their country to unfavourable comment from
other nations. The British negotiators were, it may be said, placed in a
dilemma by the distance which separated their army from South Africa,
and which obliged them to move troops earlier than they need otherwise
have done, even at the risk (which, however, they do not seem to have
fully grasped) of precipitating war. But this difficulty might have been
avoided in one of two ways. They might have pressed their suggestion for
an extension of the franchise in an amicable way, without threats and
without moving troops, and have thereby kept matters from coming to a
crisis. Or, on the other hand, if they thought that the doggedness of
the Transvaal would yield to nothing but threats, they might have
formulated demands, not for the franchise, but for the redress of
grievances, demands the refusal or evasion of which would constitute a
proper cause of war, and have, simultaneously with the presentation of
those demands, sent to South Africa a force sufficient at least for the
defence of their own territory. The course actually taken missed the
advantages of either of these courses. It brought on war before the
Colonies were in a due state of defence, and it failed to justify war by
showing any cause for it such as the usage of civilized States

As Cavour said that any one can govern with a state of siege, so strong
Powers dealing with weak ones are prone to think that any kind of
diplomacy will do. The British Government, confident in its strength,
seems to have overlooked not only the need for taking up a sound legal
position, but the importance of retaining the good will of the Colonial
Dutch, and of preventing the Orange Free State from taking sides with
the Transvaal. This was sure to happen if Britain was, or seemed to be,
the aggressor. Now the British Government by the attitude of menace it
adopted while discussing the franchise question, which furnished no
cause for war, by the importance it seemed to attach to the utterances
of the body calling itself the Uitlander Council in Johannesburg (a body
which was in the strongest opposition to the Transvaal authorities), as
well as by other methods scarcely consistent with diplomatic usage, led
both the Transvaal and the Free State to believe that they meant to
press matters to extremities, and that much more than the franchise or
the removal of certain grievances was involved; in fact, that the
independence of the Republic itself was at stake.[2]

They cannot have intended this, and indeed they expressly disclaimed
designs on the independence of the Transvaal. Nevertheless the Free
State, when it saw negotiations stopped after September 22nd, and an
overwhelming British force ordered to South Africa while the proposals
foreshadowed in the despatch of September 22nd remained undisclosed,
became convinced that Britain meant to crush the Transvaal. Being bound
by treaty to support the Transvaal if the latter was unjustly attacked,
and holding the conduct of Britain in refusing arbitration and resorting
to force without a _casus belli_ to constitute an unjust attack, the
Free State Volksraad and burghers, who had done their utmost to avert
war, unhesitatingly threw in their lot with the sister Republic. The act
was desperate, but it was chivalric. The Free State, hitherto happy,
prosperous and peaceful, had nothing to gain and everything to lose. Few
of her statesmen can have doubted that Britain must prevail and that
their Republic would share the ruin which awaited the Transvaal Dutch.
Nevertheless honour and the sense of kinship prevailed. It is to be
hoped that the excited language in which the passionate feelings of the
Free State have found expression will not prevent Englishmen from
recognizing in the conduct of this little community a heroic quality
which they would admire if they met it in the annals of ancient Greece.

It has been suggested that the question of responsibility for the war is
really a trivial one, because the negotiations were all along, on one
side or on both, unreal and delusive, masking the conviction of both
parties that they must come to blows at last. It is said that a conflict
for supremacy between the English and Dutch races in South Africa was
inevitable, and it is even alleged that there was a long-standing
conspiracy among the Dutch, as well in the Colonies as in the Republics,
to overmaster the British element and oust Britain from the country.

On this hypothesis several observations may be made.

One is that it seems to be an afterthought, intended to excuse the
failure of diplomacy to untie the knot. No one who studies the
despatches can think that either the Transvaal Government or the British
Government regarded war as inevitable when the one made, and the other
sent a reply intended to accept, the proposals of August 19th. Nothing
is easier than to bring charges of bad faith, but he who peruses these
despatches with an impartial mind will find little or nothing to justify
any such imputation on either party. Another is, that the allegation
that a calamity was inevitable is one so easy to make and so hard to
refute that it is constantly employed to close an embarrassing
discussion. You cannot argue with a fatalist, any more than with a
prophet. Nations whose conscience is clear, statesmen who have foresight
and insight, do not throw the blame for their failures upon Destiny. The
chieftain in Homer, whose folly has brought disaster, says, "It is not I
who am the cause of this: it is Zeus, and Fate, and the Fury that
walketh in darkness." "It could not have been helped anyhow," "It was
bound to come"--phrases such as these are the last refuge of despairing

The hypothesis that the Dutch all over South Africa were leagued for the
overthrow of British power is so startling that it needs to be supported
by wide and weighty evidence. Is such evidence forthcoming? It has not
been produced. One who has not been in South Africa since 1895 dare not
rely on his own observation to deny the allegation. But neither can
Englishmen at home accept the assertions of partisans in South Africa,
the extravagance of whose language shows that they have been carried
away by party passion.

The probabilities of the case are altogether against the hypothesis, and
support the view of a temperate writer in the _Edinburgh Review_ for
October, who describes it as "a nightmare." What are these

The Dutch in the Cape had been loyal till December 1895, and had indeed
been growing more and more loyal during the last fifteen years. The
Africander Bond had shaken itself free from the suspicions once
entertained of its designs. Its leader, Mr. Hofmeyr, was conspicuously
attached to the Imperial connection, and was, indeed, the author of a
well-known scheme for an Imperial Customs Union. Even after December,
1895, its indignation at the attack on the Transvaal had not affected
the veneration of the Dutch party for the British Crown, so warmly
expressed in 1897. In 1898 the Cape Assembly, in which there was a Dutch
majority led by a Ministry supported by the Bond, voted unanimously a
large annual contribution to Imperial naval defence. Every effort was
made by Mr. Hofmeyr and by the Prime Minister of the Cape to induce the
Transvaal to make concessions which might avert war. As regards the Free
State, its Dutch burghers had been for many years on the best terms with
their English fellow-burghers and with the British Government. They had
nothing to gain by a racial conflict, and their President, who is
understood to have suggested the Bloemfontein Conference, as well as Mr.
Fischer, one of their leading statesmen, strove hard to secure peace
till immediately before war broke out.

There was, moreover, no prospect of success for an effort to overthrow
the power of Britain. The Dutch in the Colony were not fighting men
like their Transvaal brethren, and were, except for voting purposes,
quite unorganized. Those of the Free State were a mere militia, with no
experience of war, and had possessed, at least down to 1895, when I
remember to have seen their tiny arsenal, very little in the way of war
munitions. The Transvaal Boers were no doubt well armed and good
fighters, but there were after all only some twenty or twenty-five
thousand of them, a handful to contend against the British Empire. The
Transvaal Government was, moreover, from its structure and the capacity
of the men who composed it, if not indisposed to indulge in day-dreams,
at any rate unfit to prosecute so vast an enterprise.

There seems therefore to be no foundation in any facts which have so far
been made public for the belief in this "conspiracy of the Dutch race,"
or for the inevitableness of the imagined conflict.

The truth would appear to be that the Transvaal people did at one time
cherish the hope of extending their Republic over the wide interior.
They were stopped on the west in 1884. They were stopped on the north in
1890. They were stopped in their effort to reach the sea in 1894. After
that year British territory surrounded them on all sides except where
they bordered the Portuguese on the north-east. Many of them, including
the President, doubtless cherished the hope of some time regaining a
complete independence such as that of the Free State. Some ardent
spirits dreamt of a Dutch South African Republic with Pretoria for its
future capital; and there were probably a few men of the same visionary
type in the Colony and the Free State who talked in the same wild way,
especially after the Jameson invasion had stirred Dutch feeling to its
depths. But from such dreams and such talk it is a long step to a
"conspiracy of the Dutch over all South Africa." The possibility that
the Dutch element would some day or other prevail, a possibility to
which the slowness of British immigration and the natural growth of the
Dutch population gave a certain substance in it down to 1885, was in
that year destroyed by the discovery of gold in the Witwatersrand, which
brought a new host of English-speaking settlers into South Africa, and
assured the numerical and economic preponderance of the English in the
progressive and expanding regions of the country. It is also true that
the Transvaal Government made military preparations and imported arms on
a large scale. They expected a rising even before 1895; and after 1895
they also expected a fresh invasion. But there is not, so far as the
public know, any shred of evidence that they contemplated an attack upon
Britain. The needs of defence, a defence in which they doubtless counted
on the aid of the Free State and of a section of their own Uitlanders,
sufficiently explain the accumulation of warlike munitions on which so
much stress has been laid.

The conclusion to which an examination of the matter leads is that no
evidence whatever has been produced either that there was any such
conspiracy as alleged, or that a conflict between Dutch and English was
inevitable. Such a conflict might, no doubt, have possibly some day
arisen. But it is at least equally probable that it might have been
avoided. The Transvaal people were not likely to provoke it, and every
year made it less likely that they could do so with any chance of
success. The British element was increasing, not only around their
State, but within it. The prospect of support from a great European
Power had vanished. When their aged President retired from the scene,
their old dissensions, held in check only by the fear of Britain, would
have reappeared, and their vicious system of government would have
fallen to pieces. So far as Britain was concerned, the way to avert a
conflict was to have patience. Haste had been her bane in South Africa.
It was haste which annexed the Transvaal in 1877, when a few months'
delay might have given her the country. It was haste which in 1880
wrecked the plan of South African Confederation. It was haste which
brought about that main source of recent troubles, the invasion by the
South Africa Company's police in 1895.

In these reflections upon recent events nothing has been said, because
nothing could now be profitably said, upon two aspects of the
matter--the character and conduct of the persons chiefly concerned, and
the subterranean forces which are supposed to have been at work on both
sides. These must be left to some future historian, and they will form
an interesting chapter in his book. He will have proof positive of many
things which can now only be conjectured, and of some things which,
though they may be known to a few, ought not to be stated until proof of
them can be produced.

It is right, however, even while war is raging, to consider the
circumstances that have led to war, so far as these can be discussed
from the information which we all possess, because a fair consideration
of those circumstances ought to influence the view which Englishmen take
of their antagonists, and ought to affect their judgment of the measures
proper to be taken when war comes to its end, and arrangements have to
be made for the resettlement of the country. Those who have read the
historical chapters of this book, and have reflected on the history of
other British colonies, and particularly of Canada, will have drawn the
moral, which I have sought to enforce in the concluding chapter, that
what South Africa most needs is the reconcilement and ultimate fusion of
the two white races. Reconcilement and fusion have now, to all
appearances, been thrown back into a dim and distant future. That man
must be sanguine indeed who expects, as some persons say they do expect,
to see the relations of the two races placed on a better footing by a
bitter war between them, a war which has many of the incidents of a
civil war, and is waged on one side by citizen soldiers. To most
observers it seems more likely to sow a crop of dragon's teeth which
will produce a harvest, if not of armed men, yet of permanent hatred and
disaffection. Nevertheless, even at the darkest moment, men must work
with hope for the future, and strive to apply the principles of policy
which experience has approved. The first principle which governs the
relation of Britain to her self-governing colonies is that she must do
all she can to keep them contented and loyal. She cannot hope
permanently to retain any which have become disloyal, and the defection
of one may be the signal for the loosening of the tie which binds the
others. The gift of self-government practically makes the maintenance of
the Imperial connection dependent on the will of the colony; and where
self-government exists, voting is more powerful than arms. The Transvaal
Republic has been often troublesome, but an unfriendly neighbour is less
dangerous than a disaffected colony. A wise policy will therefore use
with moderation the opportunities which the conclusion of the present
war will afford for resettling the political arrangements of the
country, remembering that the Dutch and British races have got to live
together, looking forward to a time, probably less than a century
distant, when the exhaustion of mineral wealth will have made South
Africa again a pastoral and agricultural country, and thereby increased
the importance, relatively to the town-dwelling English, of that Dutch
element which is so deeply rooted in the soil. To reconcile the races by
employing all the natural and human forces which make for peace and
render the prosperity of each the prosperity of both, and so to pave the
way for the ultimate fusion of Dutchman and Englishman in a common
Imperial as well as a common Africander patriotism--this should be the
aim of every government that seeks to base the world-wide greatness of
Britain on the deepest and surest foundations.

_October 23rd, 1899._

[Footnote 1: Whatever may be thought as to the much controverted Edgar
case, the fact that such special stress has been laid on it, and that
few, if any, other cases have been instanced in which crimes against
Uitlanders went unpunished, goes to show that life was exposed only to
those dangers which threaten it in all new mining communities.]

[Footnote 2: The language of the English newspapers in Cape Colony, and
of some in London, did as much to strengthen this belief as the language
of the Transvaal papers did to inflame minds there. Seldom has the press
done more to destroy the prospects of peace.]


I have to thank Sir Donald Currie and Messrs. A.S. and G.G. Brown for
the permission kindly given me to use the maps in the excellent "Guide
to South Africa" (published by the Castle Mail Packets Company) in the
preparation of the three maps contained in this volume; and I trust that
these maps will prove helpful to the reader, for a comprehension of the
physical geography of the country is essential to a comprehension of its

The friends in South Africa to whom I am indebted for many of the facts
I have stated and views I have expressed are too numerous to mention:
but I cannot deny myself the pleasure of returning thanks for the genial
hospitality and unfailing kindness which I received in every part of the

_September 13th, 1897._





PREFATORY CHAPTER                                                    vii

NOTE (1897)                                                          xlv

IN SOUTH AFRICA                                                       lv


INTRODUCTION                                                         lix





THE COAST STRIP AND THE GREAT PLATEAU                                  4
MOUNTAIN-RANGES                                                        6
CLIMATE                                                                8
THE ABSENCE OF RIVERS                                                  9



TEMPERATURE                                                           12
DRYNESS OF THE AIR                                                    13
MALARIAL FEVERS                                                       13



ORIGINAL ABUNDANCE OF WILD CREATURES                                  17
RECENT ATTEMPTS AT PROTECTION                                         22



CHARACTER OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN FLORA                                  24
NATIVE AND IMPORTED TREES                                             26
CHANGES MADE BY MAN IN THE LANDSCAPE                                  32



CAPE COLONY                                                           33
NATAL                                                                 35
GERMAN AND PORTUGUESE AFRICA                                          36






INFLUENCE OF SCENERY ON CHARACTER                                     57





THE ABORIGINES: BUSHMEN AND HOTTENTOTS                                63
THE BANTU OR KAFIR TRIBES                                             67



DHLODHLO: CHIPADZI'S GRAVE                                            71
THE GREAT ZIMBABWYE                                                   75



CAREERS OF DINGISWAYO AND TSHAKA                                      84
RESULTS OF THE ZULU CONQUESTS                                         85
KAFIR INSTITUTIONS                                                    87
WAR, RELIGION, SORCERY                                                89



THE PORTUGUESE AT SOFALA                                              99
THE DUTCH AT THE CAPE: THE FRENCH HUGUENOTS                          102
THE AFRICANDER TYPE OF LIFE AND CHARACTER                            104
DISAFFECTION OF THE DUTCH SETTLERS                                   108
BRITISH OCCUPATION OF THE CAPE                                       109
FEATURES OF BRITISH ADMINISTRATION                                   110
BOER DISCONTENT AND ITS CAUSES                                       112
THE GREAT TREK OF 1836                                               115
ADVENTURES OF THE EMIGRANT BOERS                                     117
THE BOERS AND THE BRITISH IN NATAL                                   119
BOERS                                                                130
STATE                                                                132



GRANT OF RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT IN 1872                              139
RENEWED BRITISH ADVANCE: BASUTOLAND                                  140
THE DELAGOA BAY ARBITRATION                                          146
THE ZULU WAR OF 1879                                                 149
FORMATION OF THE TRANSVAAL REPUBLIC                                  151
ANNEXATION OF THE TRANSVAAL                                          154
BOERS AND BRITISH IN BECHUANALAND                                    165
THE CONVENTIONS OF 1884 AND 1894: SWAZILAND                          168
GERMAN OCCUPATION OF DAMARALAND                                      169
MATABILILAND                                                         170





COMMUNICATIONS ALONG THE COAST                                       179
LINES OF RAILROAD                                                    180
TRAVELLING BY OX-WAGGON                                              182



THE VOYAGE TO THE CAPE                                               188
CAPE TOWN AND ITS ENVIRONS                                           190
THE JOURNEY INLAND: SCENERY OF THE KARROO                            193
KIMBERLEY AND ITS DIAMOND-FIELDS                                     196
NORTHWARD THROUGH BECHUANALAND                                       201
KHAMA: HIS TOWN AND HIS PEOPLE                                       207
MANGWE AND THE MATOPPO HILLS                                         212



BULAWAYO AND LO BENGULA                                              216
THE NATIVES: CAUSES OF THE RISING OF 1896                            223
THE NATIVE LABOUR QUESTION                                           224
DHLODHLO: SCENERY OF THE HILL-COUNTRY                                227
GWELO AND THE TRACK TO FORT VICTORIA                                 232
RUINS OF GREAT ZIMBABWYE                                             234
FORT SALISBURY                                                       240



SCENERY OF EASTERN MASHONALAND                                       242
ANTIQUITIES AT THE LEZAPI RIVER                                      245
MTALI AND THE PORTUGUESE BORDER                                      251
CHIMOYO AND THE EASTERN SLOPE                                        257
DESCENT OF THE PUNGWE RIVER TO BEIRA                                 261



HEALTH, WEALTH, AND PEACE                                            269
FORM OF GOVERNMENT RECENTLY ESTABLISHED                              277
RESULTS OF BRITISH EXTENSION IN THE NORTH                            279



DELAGOA BAY                                                          281
DURBAN AND PIETERMARITZBURG                                          283
THE GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS OF NATAL                                 284
LAING'S NEK AND MAJUBA HILL                                          291
THE WITWATERSRAND AND ITS GOLD-FIELDS                                296
JOHANNESBURG AND PRETORIA                                            304



BLOEMFONTEIN                                                         313



ACROSS THE FREE STATE TO THE CALEDON RIVER                           319
THE MISSIONARIES AND THE CHIEFS: LEROTHODI                           322
THE ASCENT OF MOUNT MACHACHA                                         325
THABA BOSIYO AND ITS HISTORY                                         330





RELATIVE NUMBERS AND INFLUENCE OF EACH                               345
SOCIAL CONDITION AND HABITS OF THE BLACKS                            350
AVERSION OF THE WHITES FOR THE BLACKS                                353
CIVIL AND LEGAL RIGHTS OF THE BLACKS                                 355
WHAT THE FUTURE OF THE BLACKS IS LIKELY TO BE                        365



HOW THE NATIVES RECEIVE THE MISSIONARIES                             371
SLOW PROGRESS OF MISSION WORK                                        373
WHAT MAY BE HOPED FOR                                                377



PLACIDITY OF SOUTH AFRICAN LIFE                                      383
LITERATURE, JOURNALISM, EDUCATION                                    386
THE CHURCHES                                                         389



THE FRAME OF COLONIAL GOVERNMENT                                     392
ABSENCE OF SOME FAMILIAR POLITICAL ISSUES                            396
REAL ISSUES: RACE AND COLOUR QUESTIONS                               399
GENERAL CHARACTER OF CAPE POLITICS                                   400



THE OLD BOERS AND THE NEW IMMIGRANTS                                 405
PRESIDENT KRUGER AND HIS POLICY                                      420



MATERIAL RESOURCES: TILLAGE AND PASTURE                              433
WILL MANUFACTURES BE DEVELOPED?                                      442
SOUTH AFRICA AS A MARKET FOR GOODS                                   446



SOURCES OF THE TROUBLES OF SOUTH AFRICA                              453
INTERNATIONAL POSITION OF SOUTH AFRICA                               467
PROSPECTS OF SOUTH AFRICAN CONFEDERATION                             472
SOUTH AFRICA AND BRITAIN                                             474


THE TRANSVAAL CONVENTION OF 1881                                     479
THE TRANSVAAL CONVENTION OF 1884                                     488

INDEX                                                                495


|                                   |                                     |
|                                   |        POPULATION IN 1891.          |
|       AREA IN SQUARE MILES.       |_____________________________________|
|                                   |           |             |           |
|                                   | European. |  Coloured.  |   Total.  |
|                       |           |           |             |           |
|  _British_--          |           |           |             |           |
|Cape Colony (including |           |           |             |           |
|  Walfish Bay)         | 277,000   | 382,198   | 1,383,762   | 1,765,960 |
|                       |           |           |             |           |
|Basutoland             |  10,293   |     578   |   218,624   |   219,202 |
|                       |           |           |             |           |
|Bechuanaland           |           |           |             |           |
|  (Protectorate)       | 200,000(?)|     800(?)|   200,000(?)|    ---    |
|                       |           |           |             |           |
|Natal                  |  20,461   |  46,788   |   497,125   |   543,913 |
|                       |           |           |             |           |
|Zululand               |  12,500(?)|   1,100   |   179,270(?)|   180,370 |
|                       |           |           |             |           |
|Tongaland (British)    |   2,000(?)|   none    |    20,000(?)|    ---    |
|                       |           |           |             |           |
|Territories of British |           |           |             |           |
|  South Africa Company,|           |           |             |           |
|  south of the         |           |           |             |           |
|  Zabesi (Matabililand |           |           |             |           |
|  and Mashonaland)     | 142,000   |   7,000(?)|    unknown  |    ---    |
|                       |           |   (1899)  |             |           |
|                       |           |           |             |           |
|  _Independent_--      |           |           |             |           |
|South African Republic |           |           |             |           |
|  (Transvaal)          | 119,139   | 245,397(?)|   622,500(?)|   867,897 |
|                       |           |           |             |           |
|Swaziland (dependent   |           |           |             |           |
|  on South African     |           |           |             |           |
|  Republic)            |   8,500   |     900(?)|    55,000(?)|    ---    |
|                       |           |           |             |           |
|Orange Free State      |  48,326   |  77,716   |   129,787   |   207,503 |
|                       |           |           |             |           |
|Portuguese East Africa | 300,000(?)|  10,000(?)| 3,100,000(?)|    ---    |
|                       |           |           |             |           |
|German South West      |           |   2,025   |             |           |
|  Africa               | 320,000(?)|   (1896)  |   200,000(?)|    ---    |


Bartholomew Diaz discovers the Cape of Good Hope           1486
Vasco da Gama explores the East Coast of Africa            1497-8
The Dutch appear in the South African Seas                 1595
First Dutch settlement in Table Bay                        1652
Arrival of French Huguenot settlers                        1689
Beginning of the Exploration of the Interior               1700
First Kafir War                                            1779
First British occupation of the Cape                       1795-1803
Second British occupation of the Cape                      1806
Cession of Cape Colony to Britain                          1814
Conquests of Tshaka, the Zulu King                         1812-1828
Arrival of a body of British settlers                      1820
First British settlement in Natal                          1824
English made the official language in Cape Colony          1825-1828
Equal Rights ordinance in favour of the Natives            1828
Emancipation of the Slaves                                 1834
Sixth Kafir War                                            1834
Emigration of the discontented Boers (the Great Trek)      1836-7
Conquest of Matabililand by Mosilikatze                    1837
The emigrant Boers occupy Natal                            1838
British occupation and annexation of Natal                 1843
Two native "buffer States" created in the interior         1843
Seventh Kafir War; province of British Kaffraria created   1847
Orange River Sovereignty created                           1848
Recognition of the Independence of the Transvaal Boers
(Sand River Convention)                                    1852
Recognition of the Independence of the Orange River Boers
(Bloemfontein Convention)                                  1854
Representative Government established in Cape Colony       1854
Establishment of a Constitution for the South African
Republic                                                   1855-1858
Proclamation of a Protectorate over Basutoland             1868
Discovery of diamonds on the Lower Vaal River              1869
British occupation and annexation of Griqualand West       1871
Responsible Government granted to Cape Colony              1872
Delagoa Bay arbitration                                    1872-1875
British annexation of the Transvaal                        1877
War with Cetewayo and conquest of Zululand                 1879
Retrocession of the Transvaal                              1881
Annexation of Southern and Protectorate over Northern
Bechuanaland                                               1884-1885
German occupation of Damaraland                            1884
Convention of London with the Transvaal Republic           1884
Discovery of the Witwatersrand gold field                  1885
Foundation of the British South Africa Company             1889
Conquest of Matabililand by the Company                    1893
Responsible Government granted to Natal                    1893
Protectorate declared over the Tonga Chiefs                1894
Rising at Johannesburg and expedition of Dr. Jameson from
Pitsani                                                    1895
Outbreak of war between Britain and the two Dutch
Republics                                                  Oct. 1899


In the latter part of the year 1895 I travelled across South Africa from
Cape Town to Fort Salisbury in Mashonaland, passing through Bechuanaland
and Matibililand. From Fort Salisbury, which is only two hundred miles
from the Zambesi, I returned through Manicaland and the Portuguese
territories to Beira on the Indian Ocean, sailed thence to Delagoa Bay
and Durban, traversed Natal, and visited the Transvaal, the Orange Free
State, Basutoland, and the eastern province Cape Colony. The country had
long possessed a great interest for me, and that interest was increased
by studying on the spot its physical character as well as the peculiar
economic and industrial conditions which have made it unlike the other
newly settled countries of the world. Seeing these things and talking
with the leading men in every part of the country, I began to comprehend
many things that had previously been obscure to me, and saw how the
political troubles of the land were connected with the life which nature
imposed on the people. Immediately after my return to Europe, fresh
political troubles broke out, and events occurred in the Transvaal which
fixed the eyes of the whole world upon South Africa. I had not travelled
with the view of writing a book; but the interest which the events just
mentioned have aroused, and which is likely to be sustained for a good
while to come, leads me to believe that the impressions of a traveller
who has visited other new countries may be useful to those who desire to
know what South Africa is really like, and why it makes a noise and
stir in the world disproportionate to its small population.

I have called the book "Impressions" lest it should be supposed that I
have attempted to present a complete and minute account of the country.
For this a long residence and a large volume would be required. It is
the salient features that I wish to describe. These, after all, are what
most readers desire to know: these are what the traveller of a few weeks
or months can give, and can give all the better because the details have
not become so familiar to him as to obscure the broad outlines.

Instead of narrating my journey, and weaving into the narrative
observations on the country and people, I have tried to arrange the
materials collected in a way better fitted to present to the reader in
their natural connection the facts he will desire to have. Those facts
would seem to be the following: (1) the physical character of the
country, and the aspects of its scenery; (2) the characteristics of the
native races that inhabit it; (3) the history of the natives and of the
European settlers, that is to say the chief events which have made the
people what they now are; (4) the present condition of the several
divisions of the country, and the aspects of life in it; (5) the
economic resources of the country, and the characteristic features of
its society and its politics.

These I have tried to set forth in the order above indicated. The first
seven chapters contain a very brief account of the physical structure
and climate, since these are the conditions which have chiefly
determined the economic progress of the country and the lines of
European migration, together with remarks on the wild animals, the
vegetation, and the scenery. Next follows a sketch of the three
aboriginal races, and an outline of the history of the whites since
their first arrival, four centuries ago. The earlier events are lightly
touched on, while those which have brought about the present political
situation are more fully related. In the third part of the book, asking
the reader to accompany me on the long journey from Cape Town to the
Zambesi Valley and back again, I have given in four chapters a
description of the far interior as one sees it passing from barbarism to
civilization--its scenery, the prospects of its material development,
the life which its new settlers lead. These regions, being the part of
the country most lately brought under European administration, seem to
deserve a fuller treatment than the older and better-known regions.
Three other chapters give a more summary account of Natal, of the
Transvaal gold-fields, of that model republic the Orange Free State, and
of Basutoland, a native state under British protection which possesses
many features of peculiar interest. In the fourth and last division of
the book several questions of a more general character are dealt with
which could not conveniently be brought into either the historical or
the descriptive parts. I have selected for discussion those topics which
are of most permanent importance and as to which the reader is most
likely to be curious. Among them are the condition of the natives, and
their relations to the white people; the aspects of social and political
life; the situation of affairs in the Transvaal in 1895, and the causes
which brought about the Reform rising and the expedition of Dr. Jameson;
and finally, the economic prospects of the country, and the political
future of its colonies and republics.

In these concluding chapters, as well as in the historical sketch, my
aim has been to set forth and explain facts rather than to pass
judgments upon the character and conduct of individuals. Whoever desires
to help others to a fair view of current events must try not only to be
impartial, but also to avoid expressing opinions when the grounds for
those opinions cannot be fully stated; and where controversy is raging
round the events to be described, no judgment passed on individual
actors could fail to be deemed partial by one set of partizans or by the
other. Feeling sure that the present problems will take some time to
solve, I have sought to write what those who desire to understand the
country may find useful even after the next few years have passed. And,
so far from wishing to champion any view or to throw any fresh logs on
the fire of controversy that has been blazing for the last few years, I
am convinced that the thing now most needed in the interests of South
Africa is to let controversies die out, to endeavour to forget the
causes of irritation, and to look at the actual facts of the case in a
purely practical spirit.

Altogether apart from its recent troubles, South Africa is an
interesting, and indeed fascinating subject of study. There are, of
course, some things which one cannot expect to find in it. There has not
yet been time to evolve institutions either novel or specially
instructive, nor to produce new types of character (save that of the
Transvaal Boer) or new forms of social life. There are no ancient
buildings, except a few prehistoric ruins; nor have any schools of
architecture or painting or literature been as yet developed. But
besides the aspects of nature, often weird and sometimes beautiful,
there are the savage races, whose usages and superstitions open a wide
field for research, and the phenomena of whose contact with the whites
raise some grave and gloomy problems. There are the relations of the two
European races--races which ought long ago to have been happily blended
into one, but which have been kept apart by a train of untoward events
and administrative errors. Few of the newer countries have had a more
peculiar or more chequered history; and this history needs to be studied
with a constant regard to the physical conditions that have moulded it.
Coming down to our own time, nowhere are the struggles of the past seen
to be more closely intertwined with the troubles of the present; nor
does even Irish history furnish a better illustration of the effect of
sentiment upon practical politics. Few events of recent times have
presented more dramatic situations, and raised more curious and
intricate issues of political and international morality, than those
which have lately been set before us by the discovery of the Transvaal
gold-fields and the rush of nineteenth-century miners and speculators
into a pastoral population which retains the ideas and habits of the
seventeenth-century. Still more fascinating are the problems of the
future. One can as yet do little more than guess at them; but the world
now moves so fast, and has grown so small, and sees nearly every part of
itself so closely bound by ties of commerce or politics to every other
part, that it is impossible to meditate on any great and new country
without seeking to interpret its tendencies by the experience of other
countries, and to conjecture the rôle it will be called on to play in
the world-drama of the centuries to come. I have sought, therefore, not
only to make South Africa real to those who do not know it, and to give
them the materials for understanding what passes there and following its
fortunes with intelligence, but also to convey an impression of the kind
of interest it awakens. It is still new: and one sees still in a fluid
state the substance that will soon crystallize into new forms. One
speculates on the result which these mingled forces, these ethnic habits
and historical traditions, and economic conditions, will work out. And
reflecting on all these things, one feels sure that a country with so
commanding a position, and which has compressed so much history into the
last eighty years of its life, will hold a conspicuous place in that
southern hemisphere which has in our own times entered into the
political and industrial life of the civilized world.





To understand the material resources and economic conditions of South
Africa, and, indeed, to understand the history of the country and the
political problems which it now presents, one must first know something
of its physical structure. The subject may seem dry, and those readers
who do not care for it may skip this chapter. But it need not be
uninteresting, and it is certainly not uninstructive. For myself, I can
say that not only South African history, but also the prospects of South
African industry and trade, were dark matters to me till I had got, by
travelling through the country, an idea of those natural features of the
southern part of the continent which have so largely governed the course
of events and have stamped themselves so deeply upon the habits of the
people. Some notion of these features I must now try to convey.
Fortunately, they are simple, for nature has worked in Africa, as in
America, upon larger and broader lines than she has done in Europe. The
reader will do well to keep a map beside him, and refer[3] constantly to
it, for descriptions without a map avail little.

Africa south of the Zambesi River consists, speaking broadly, of three
regions. There is a strip of lowland lying along the coast of the Indian
Ocean, all the way round from Cape Town, past Durban and Delagoa Bay and
Beira, till you reach the mouth of the Zambesi. On the south, between
Cape Town and Durban, this strip is often very narrow, for in many
places the hills come, as they do at Cape Town, right down to the sea.
But beyond Durban, as one follows the coast along to the north-east, the
level strip widens. At Delagoa Bay it is some fifteen or twenty miles
wide; at Beira it is sixty or eighty miles wide, so that the hills
behind cannot be seen from the coast; and farther north it is still
wider. This low strip is in many places wet and swampy, and, being
swampy, is from Durban northward malarious and unhealthful in the
highest degree. Its unhealthfulness is a factor of prime importance in
what may be called the general scheme of the country, and has had, as we
shall presently see, the most important historical consequences.

Behind the low coast strip rise the hills whose slopes constitute the
second region. They rise in most places rather gradually, and they
seldom (except in Manicaland, to be hereafter described) present
striking forms. The neighbourhood of Cape Town is almost the only place
where high mountains come close to the shore--the only place, therefore,
except the harbour of St. John's far to the east, where there is
anything that can be called grand coast scenery. As one travels inland
the hills become constantly higher, till at a distance of thirty or
forty miles from the sea they have reached an average height of from
3000 to 4000 feet, and sixty miles from 5000 to 6000 feet. These hills,
intersected by valleys which grow narrower and have steeper sides the
farther inland one goes, are the spurs or outer declivity of a long
range of mountains which runs all the way from Cape Town to the Zambesi
Valley, a distance of sixteen hundred miles, and is now usually called
by geographers (for it has really no general name) the Drakensberg or
Quathlamba Range. Their height varies from 3000 to 7000 feet, some of
the highest lying not far to the north-east of Cape Town. In one region,
however, several summits reach to 11,000 feet. This is Basutoland, the
country that lies at the corner where Cape Colony, Natal, and the Orange
Free State meet. It is a region remarkable in several respects, for its
scenery as well as for its history, and for the condition of the native
race that inhabits it, and I shall have to give some account of it in a
later chapter. These mountains of Basutoland are the loftiest in Africa
south of Kilimandjaro, and keep snow on their summits for several months
in the year.

Behind the Quathlamba Range the country spreads out to the north and
west in a vast tableland, sometimes flat, sometimes undulating,
sometimes intersected by ridges of rocky hills. This is the third
region. Its average height above the sea varies from 3000 to 5000 feet,
and the hills reach in places nearly 6000. Thus the Quathlamba Range may
be regarded as being really the edge of the tableland, and when in
travelling up from the coast one reaches the water-shed, or "divide" (an
American term which South Africans have adopted), one finds that on the
farther or northerly side there is very little descent. The peaks which
when seen from the slopes towards the coast looked high and steep are on
this inner side insignificant, because they rise so little above the
general level of the plateau. This plateau runs away inland to the west
and north-west, and occupies seven-eighths of the surface of South
Africa. It dips gently on the north to the valley of the Zambesi; but on
the west spreads out over the Kalahari Desert and the scarcely less arid
wastes of Damaraland, maintaining (except along the lower course of the
Orange River) an altitude of from 3000 to 4000 feet above the sea, until
within a comparatively short distance of the Atlantic Ocean.

The physical structure of the country is thus extremely simple. There is
only one considerable mountain-chain, with a vast table-land filling the
interior behind it, and a rough, hilly country lying between the
mountains and the low belt which borders on the Indian Ocean. Let the
reader suppose himself to be a traveller wishing to cross the continent
from east to west. Starting from a port, say Delagoa Bay or Beira, on
the Portuguese coast, the traveller will in a few hours, by either of
the railways which run westward from those ports, traverse the low strip
which divides them from the hill-country. To ascend the valleys and
cross the water-shed of the great Quathlamba Range on to the plateau
takes a little longer, yet no great time. Then, once upon the plateau,
the traveller may proceed steadily to the west for more than a thousand
miles over an enormous stretch of high but nearly level land, meeting no
considerable eminence and crossing no perceptible water-shed till he
comes within sight of the waves of the Atlantic. Or if he turns to the
north-west he will pass over an undulating country, diversified only by
low hills, till he dips slowly into the flat and swampy ground which
surrounds Lake Ngami, itself rather a huge swamp than a lake, and
descends very gradually from that level to the banks of the Zambesi, in
the neighbourhood of the great Victoria Falls. In fact, this great
plateau is South Africa, and all the rest of the country along the
sea-margin a mere appendage to it. But so large a part of the plateau
is, as we shall see presently, condemned by its dryness to remain
sterile and very thinly peopled, that the interior has not that
preponderating importance which its immense area might seem to give it.

It is not worth while to describe the minor ridges,--though some of
them, especially in Cape Colony, are abrupt and high enough to be called
Mountains,--for none has any great importance as affecting either
material or historical conditions. The longest are those which run
parallel to the dreary and almost uninhabited west coast, and form the
terraces by which the great plateau sinks down to the margin of the
Atlantic. Neither can I touch on the geology, except to observe that a
great part of the plateau, especially in the northern part and towards
the north-east end of the Quathlamba Range, consists of granite or
gneiss, and is believed to be of very great antiquity, _i.e._, to have
stood, as it now stands, high above the level of the sea from a very
remote period of the earth's history. The rocks of the Karroo region are
more recent. Nowhere in South Africa has any area of modern volcanic
action, much less any active volcano, been discovered. More ancient
eruptive rocks, such as greenstones and porphyries, are of frequent
occurrence, and are often spread out in level sheets above the
sedimentary beds of the Karroo and of the Basutoland and Free State

Finally, it must be noted that the coast has extremely few harbours.
From Cape Town eastward and north-eastward there is no sheltered
deep-water haven till one reaches that of Durban, itself troubled by a
bar, and from Durban to the Zambesi no good ports save Delagoa Bay and
Beira. On the other side of the continent, Saldanha Bay, twenty miles
north of Cape Town, is an excellent harbour. After that the Atlantic
coast shows none for a thousand miles.

So much for the surface and configuration of the country. Now let us
come to the climate, which is a not less important element in making
South Africa what it is.

The heat is, of course, great, though less great than a traveller from
North Africa or India expects to find in such a latitude. Owing to the
vast mass of water in the southern hemisphere, that hemisphere is cooler
in the same latitude than is the northern. Cape Town, in latitude 34°
S., has a colder winter and not so hot a summer as Gibraltar and
Aleppo, in latitude 36° N. Still the summer temperature is high even at
Durban, in latitude 30° S., while the northern part of the Transvaal
Republic, and all the territories of the British South Africa Company,
including Matabililand and Mashonaland, lie within the tropic of
Capricorn, that is to say, correspond in latitude to Nubia and the
central provinces of India between Bombay and Calcutta.

The climate is also, over most of the country, extremely dry. Except in
a small district round Cape Town, at the southern extremity of the
continent, there is no proper summer and winter, but only a dry season,
the seven or eight months when the weather is colder, and a wet season,
the four or five months when the sun is highest. Nor are the rains that
fall in the wet season so copious and continuous as they are in some
other hot countries; in many parts of India, for instance, or in the
West Indies and Brazil. Thus even in the regions where the rainfall is
heaviest, reaching thirty inches or more in the year, the land soon
dries up and remains parched till the next wet season comes. The air is
therefore extremely dry, and, being dry, it is clear and stimulating in
a high degree.

Now let us note the influence upon the climate of that physical
structure we have just been considering. The prevailing wind, and the
wind that brings most of the rain in the wet season, is the east or
south-east. It gives a fair supply of moisture to the low coast strip
which has been referred to above. Passing farther inland, it impinges
upon the hills which run down from the Quathlamba Range, waters them,
and sometimes falls in snow on the loftiest peaks. A certain part of the
rain-bearing clouds passes still farther inland, and scatters showers
over the eastern part of the tableland, that is to say, over the
Transvaal, the Orange Free State, eastern Bechuanaland, and the
territories still farther north, toward the Zambesi. Very little
humidity, however, reaches the tracts farther to the west. The northern
part of Cape Colony as far as the Orange River, the western part of
Bechuanaland, and the wide expanse of Damaraland have a quite trifling
rainfall, ranging from four or five to ten inches in the whole year.
Under the intense heat of the sun this moisture soon vanishes, the
surface bakes hard, and the vegetation withers. All this region is
therefore parched and arid, much of it, in fact, a desert, and likely
always to remain so.

These great and dominant physical facts--a low coast belt, a high
interior plateau, a lofty, rugged mountain-range running nearly parallel
to, and not very far from, the shore of the ocean, whence the rainclouds
come, a strong sun, a dry climate--have determined the character of
South Africa in many ways. They explain the very remarkable fact that
South Africa has, broadly speaking, no rivers. Rivers are, indeed,
marked on the map--rivers of great length and with many tributaries; but
when in travelling during the dry season you come to them you find
either a waterless bed or a mere line of green and perhaps unsavoury
pools. The streams that run south and east from the mountains to the
coast are short and rapid torrents after a storm, but at other times
dwindle to feeble trickles of mud. In the interior there are, to be
sure, rivers which, like the Orange River or the Limpopo, have courses
hundreds of miles in length. But they contain so little water during
three-fourths of the year as to be unserviceable for navigation, while
most of their tributaries shrink in the dry season to a chain of pools,
scarcely supplying drink to the cattle on their banks. This is one of
the reasons why the country remained so long unexplored. People could
not penetrate it by following waterways, as happened both in North and
in South America; they were obliged to travel by ox-waggon, making only
some twelve or sixteen miles a day, and finding themselves obliged to
halt, when a good bit of grass was reached, to rest and restore the
strength of their cattle. For the same reason the country is now forced
to depend entirely upon railways for internal communication. There is
not a stream (except tidal streams) fit to float anything drawing three
feet of water.

It is a curious experience to travel for hundreds of miles, as one may
do in the dry season in the north-eastern part of Cape Colony and in
Bechuanaland, through a country which is inhabited, and covered in some
places with wood, in others with grass or shrublets fit for cattle, and
see not a drop of running water, and hardly even a stagnant pond. It is
scarcely less strange that such rivers as there are should be useless
for navigation. But the cause is to be found in the two facts already
stated. In those parts where rain falls it comes at one season, within
three or four months. Moreover, it comes then in such heavy storms that
for some hours, or even days, the streams are so swollen as to be not
only impassable by waggons, but also unnavigable, because, although
there is plenty of water, the current is too violent. Then when the
floods have ceased the streams fall so fast, and the channel becomes so
shallow, that hardly even a canoe will float. The other fact arises from
the proximity to the east coast of the great Quathlamba chain of
mountains. The rivers that flow from it have mostly short courses, while
the few that come down from behind and break through it, as does the
Limpopo, are interrupted at the place where they break through by rapids
which no boat can ascend.

[Footnote 3: In particular I will ask the reader to refer to the two
maps showing the physical features of the country which have been
inserted in this volume.]



The physical conditions just described determine the healthfulness of
the country, and this is a matter of so much moment, especially to those
who think of settling in South Africa, that I take the earliest
opportunity of referring to it.

The sun-heat would make the climate very trying to Europeans, and of
course more trying the farther north toward the Equator they live, were
it not for the two redeeming points I have dwelt on--the elevation and
the dryness of the interior. To be 3000, 4000, or 5000 feet above the
sea is for most purposes the same thing as being in a more temperate
latitude, and more than five-sixths in area of the districts which are
now inhabited by Europeans have an elevation of fully 3000 feet. Not
merely the tablelands of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal, but
also by far the larger part of Cape Colony and nearly the whole of Natal
(excluding a small strip along the coast), attain this elevation. Thus
even in summer, when the heat is great during the day, the coolness of
the night refreshes the system. The practical test of night temperature
is whether one wishes for a blanket to sleep under. In Madras and Bombay
all the year round, in New York through several months of summer, in
Paris or sometimes even in London for a few days in July or August, a
light blanket is oppressive, and the continuance of the high day
temperature through the hours of darkness exhausts and enfeebles all but
vigorous constitutions. But in South Africa it is only along the coast,
in places like Durban, Delagoa Bay, or Beira, that one feels inclined to
dispense with a woollen covering at night, while in Johannesburg or
Bloemfontein a good thick blanket is none too much even in November,
before the cooling rains begin, or in December, when the days are
longest. In fact, the fall of temperature at sunset is often a source of
risk to those who, coming straight from Europe, have not yet learned to
guard against sudden changes, for it causes chills which, if they find a
weak organ to pounce upon, may produce serious illness. These rapid
variations of temperature are not confined to the passage from day to
night. Sometimes in the midst of a run of the usual warm, brilliant
weather of the dry season there will come a cold, bitter south east
wind, covering the sky with gray clouds and driving the traveller to put
on every wrap he possesses. I remember, toward the end of October, such
a sudden "cold snap" in Matabililand, only twenty degrees from the
equator. One shivered all day long under a thick greatcoat, and the
natives lit fires in front of their huts and huddled round them for
warmth. Chills dangerous to delicate people are apt to be produced by
these changes, and they often turn into feverish attacks, not malarial,
though liable to be confounded with malarial fevers. This risk of
encountering cold weather is a concomitant of that power of the
south-east wind to keep down the great heats, which, on the whole, makes
greatly for the salubrity of the country; so the gain exceeds the loss.
But new comers have to be on their guard, and travellers will do well,
even between the tropic and the equator, to provide themselves with warm

Strong as the sun is, its direct rays seem to be much less dangerous
than in India or the eastern United States. Sunstroke is unusual, and
one sees few people wearing, even in the tropical north, those hats of
thick double felt or those sun-helmets which are deemed indispensable in
India. In fact, Europeans go about with the same head-gear which they
use in an English summer. But the relation of sun-stroke to climate is
obscure. Why should it be extremely rare in California, when it is very
common in New York in the same latitude? Why should it be almost unknown
in the Hawaiian Islands, within seventeen degrees of the equator? Its
rarity in South Africa is a great point in favour of the healthfulness
of the country, and also of the ease and pleasantness of life. In India
one has to be always mounting guard against the sun. He is a formidable
and ever-present enemy, and he is the more dangerous the longer you live
in the country. In South Africa it is only because he dries up the soil
so terribly that the traveller wishes to have less of him. The born
Africander seems to love him.

The dryness of the climate makes very strongly for its salubrity. It is
the absence of moisture no less than the elevation above sea-level that
gives to the air its fresh, keen, bracing quality, the quality which
enables one to support the sun-heat, which keeps the physical frame in
vigour, which helps children to grow up active and healthy, which
confines to comparatively few districts that deadliest foe of Europeans,
swamp-fever. Malarial fever in one of its many forms, some of them
intermittent, others remittent, is the scourge of the east coast as well
as of the west coast. To find some means of avoiding it would be to
double the value of Africa to the European powers which have been
establishing themselves on the coasts. No one who lives within thirty
miles of the sea nearly all the way south from Cape Guardafui to
Zululand can hope to escape it. It is frequent all round the great
Nyanza lakes, and particularly severe in the valley of the Nile from the
lakes downward to Khartoum. It prevails through the comparatively low
country which lies along the Congo and the chief tributaries of that
great stream. It hangs like a death-cloud over the valley of the
Zambesi, and is found up to a height of 3000 or 4000 feet, sometimes
even higher, in Nyassaland and the lower parts of the British
territories that stretch to Lake Tanganyika. The Administrator of German
East Africa has lately declared that there is not a square mile of that
vast region that can be deemed free from it. Even along the generally
arid shores of Damaraland there are spots where it is to be feared. But
Cape Colony and Natal and the Orange Free State are almost exempt from
it. So, too, are all the higher parts of the Transvaal, of Bechuanaland,
of Matabililand, and of Mashonaland. Roughly speaking, one may say that
the upper boundary line of malarial fevers in these countries is about
4500 feet above the sea, and where fevers occur at a height above 3000
feet they are seldom of a virulent type. Thus, while the lower parts of
the Transvaal between the Quathlamba Mountains and the sea are terribly
unhealthy, while the Portuguese country behind Delagoa Bay and Beira as
far as the foot of the hills is equally dangerous,--Beira itself has the
benefit of a strong sea-breeze,--by far the larger part of the recently
occupied British territories north and west of the Transvaal is
practically safe. It is, of course, proper to take certain precautions,
to avoid chills and the copious use of alcohol and it is specially
important to observe such precautions during and immediately after the
wet season, when the sun is raising vapours from the moist soil, when
new vegetation has sprung up, and when the long grass which has grown
during the first rains is rotting under the later rains. Places which
are quite healthful in the dry weather, such as Gaberones and the rest
of the upper valley of the rivers Notwani and Limpopo in eastern
Bechuanaland, then become dangerous, because they lie on the banks of
streams which inundate the lower grounds. Much depends on the local
circumstances of each spot. To illustrate the differences between one
place and another, I may take the case of the three chief posts in the
territories of the British South Africa Company. Buluwayo, nearly 4000
feet above the sea, is always practically free from malaria, for it
stands in a dry, breezy upland with few trees and short grass. Fort
Victoria, 3670 feet above the sea, is salubrious enough during the dry
season, but often feverish after the rains, because there is some wet
ground near it. Fort Salisbury, 4900 feet above the sea, is now
healthful at all times, but parts of it used to be feverish at the end
of the rainy season, until they were drained in the beginning of 1895.
So Pretoria, the capital of the Transvaal Republic, is apt to be
malarious during the months of rain, because (although 4470 feet above
the sea) it lies in a well-watered hollow; while at Johannesburg, thirty
miles off, on the top of a high, bare, stony ridge, one has no occasion
to fear fever, though the want of water and proper drainage, as well as
the quantity of fine dust from the highly comminuted ore and "tailings"
with which the air is filled, had until 1896 given rise to other
maladies, and especially to septic pneumonia. These will diminish with a
better municipal administration, and similarly malaria will doubtless
vanish from the many spots where it is now rife when the swampy grounds
have been drained and the long grass eaten down by larger herds of

It is apparently the dryness and the purity of the air which have given
South Africa its comparative immunity from most forms of chest disease.
Many sufferers from consumption, for whom a speedy death, if they
remained in Europe, had been predicted, recover health, and retain it
till old age. The spots chiefly recommended are on the high grounds of
the interior plateau, where the atmosphere is least humid. Ceres,
ninety-four miles by rail from Cape Town, and Beaufort West, in the
Karroo, have been resorted to as sanatoria; and Kimberley, the city of
diamonds, has an equally high reputation for the quality of its air.
However, some of the coast districts are scarcely less eligible, though
Cape Town has too many rapid changes of weather, and Durban too sultry a
summer, to make either of them a desirable place of residence for

Apart from all questions of specific complaints, there can be no doubt
as to the general effect of the climate upon health. The aspect of the
people soon convinces a visitor that, in spite of its heat, the country
is well fitted to maintain in vigour a race drawn from the cooler parts
of Europe. Comparatively few adult Englishmen sprung from fathers
themselves born in Africa are as yet to be found. But the descendants of
the Dutch and Huguenot settlers are Africanders up to the sixth or
seventh generation, and the stock shows no sign of losing either its
stature or its physical strength. Athletic sports are pursued as eagerly
as in England.



When first explored, South Africa was unusually rich in the kinds both
of plants and of animals which it contained; and until forty or fifty
years ago the number, size, and beauty of its wild creatures were the
things by which it was chiefly known to Europeans, who had little
suspicion of its mineral wealth, and little foreboding of the trouble
that wealth would cause. Why it was so rich in species is a question on
which geology will one day be able to throw light, for much may depend
on the relations of land and sea in earlier epochs of the earth's
history. Probably the great diversities of elevation and of climate
which exist in the southern part of the continent have contributed to
this profuse variety; and the fact that the country was occupied only by
savages, who did little or nothing to extinguish any species nature had
planted, may have caused many weak species to survive when equally weak
ones were perishing in Asia and Europe at the hands of more advanced
races of mankind. The country was therefore the paradise of hunters.
Besides the lion and the leopard, there were many other great cats, some
of remarkable beauty. Besides the elephant, which was in some districts
very abundant, there existed two kinds of rhinoceros, as well as the
hippopotamus and the giraffe. There was a wonderful profusion of
antelopes,--thirty-one species have been enumerated,--including such
noble animals as the eland and koodoo, such beautiful ones as the
springbok and klipspringer, such fierce ones as the blue wildebeest or
gnu. There were two kinds of zebra, a quagga, and a buffalo, both huge
and dangerous. Probably nowhere in the world could so great a variety of
beautiful animals be seen or a larger variety of formidable ones be

All this has changed, and changed of late years with fatal speed, under
the increasing range and accuracy of firearms, the increasing
accessibility of the country to the European sportsman, and the
increasing number of natives who possess guns. The Dutch Boer of eighty
years ago was a good marksman and loved the chase, but he did not shoot
for fame and in order to write about his exploits, while the
professional hunter who shot to sell ivory or rare specimens had hardly
begun to exist. The work of destruction has latterly gone on so fast
that the effect of stating what is still left can hardly be to tempt
others to join in that work, but may help to show how urgent is the duty
of arresting the process of extermination.

When the first Dutchmen settled at the Cape the lion was so common as to
be one of the every-day perils of life. Tradition points out a spot in
the pleasure-ground attached to the Houses of Parliament at Cape Town
where a lion was found prowling in what was then the commandant's
garden. In 1653 it was feared that lions would storm the fort to get at
the sheep within it, and so late as 1694 they killed nine cows within
sight of the present castle. To-day, however, if the lion is to be found
at all within the limits of Cape Colony, it is only in the wilderness
along the banks of the Orange River. He was abundant in the Orange Free
State when it became independent in 1854, but has been long extinct
there. He survives in a few spots in the north of the Transvaal and in
the wilder parts of Zululand and Bechuanaland, and is not unfrequent in
Matabililand and Mashonaland. One may, however, pass through those
countries, as I did in October, 1895, without having a chance of seeing
the beast or even hearing its nocturnal voice, and those who go hunting
this grandest of all quarries are often disappointed. In the strip of
flat land between the mountains and the Indian Ocean behind Sofala and
Beira, and in the Zambesi valley, there remain lions enough; but the
number diminishes so fast that even in that malarious and thinly peopled
land none may be left thirty years hence.

The leopard is still to be found all over the country, except where the
population is thickest; and as the leopard haunts rocky places, it is,
though much hunted for the sake of its beautiful skin, less likely to be
exterminated. Some of the smaller carnivora, especially the pretty
lynxes, have now become very rare. There is a good supply of hyenas, but
they are ugly.

Elephants used to roam in great herds over all the more woody districts,
but have now been quite driven out of Cape Colony, Natal, and the two
Dutch republics, save that in a narrow strip of forest country near the
south coast, between Mossel Bay and Algoa Bay, some herds are preserved
by the Cape government. So, too, in the north of the Transvaal there are
still a few left, also specially preserved. It is only on the east coast
south of the Zambesi, and here and there along that river, that the wild
elephant can now be found. From these regions it will soon vanish, and
unless something is done to stop the hunting of elephants the total
extinction of the animal in Africa may be expected within another
half-century; for the foolish passion for slaughter which sends
so-called sportsmen on his track, and the high price of ivory, are
lessening its numbers day by day. A similar fate awaits the rhinoceros,
once common even near the Cape, where he overturned one day the coach of
a Dutch governor. The white kind, which is the larger, is now all but
extinct, while the black rhinoceros has become scarce even in the
northern regions between the Limpopo and the Zambesi. The hippopotamus,
protected by his aquatic habits, has fared better, and may still be seen
plunging and splashing in the waters of the Pungwe, the Limpopo, and
other rivers in Portuguese East Africa. But Natal will soon know this
great amphibian no more; and within Cape Colony, where the creature was
once abundant even in the swamps that bordered Table Bay, he is now to
be found only in the pools along the lower course of the Orange River.
The crocodile holds his ground better, and is still a serious danger to
oxen who go down to drink at the streams. In Zululand and all along the
east coast, as well as in the streams of Mashonaland and Matabililand,
there is hardly a pool which does not contain some of these formidable
saurians. Even when the water shrinks in the dry season till little but
mud seems to be left, the crocodile, getting deep into the mud,
maintains a torpid life till the rains bring him back into activity. Lo
Bengula sometimes cast those who had displeased him, bound hand and
foot, into a river to be devoured by these monsters, which he did not
permit to be destroyed, probably because they were sacred to some

The giraffe has become very scarce, though a herd or two are left in the
south of Matabililand, and a larger number in the Kalahari Desert. So,
also, the zebra and many of the species of antelopes, especially the
larger kinds, like the eland and the sable, are disappearing, while the
buffalo is now only to be seen (except in a part of the Colony where a
herd is preserved) in the Portuguese territories along the Zambesi and
the east coast. The recent cattle-plague has fallen heavily upon him.
So the ostrich would probably now remain only in the wilds of the
Kalahari had not large farms been created in Cape Colony, where young
broods are reared for the sake of the feathers. On these farms,
especially near Graham's Town and in the Oudtshorn district, one may see
great numbers; nor is there a prettier sight than that of two parent
birds running along, with a numerous progeny of little ones around them.
Though in a sense domesticated, they are often dangerous, for they kick
forward and claw downward with great violence, and the person whom they
knock down and begin to trample on has little chance of escape with his
life. Fortunately, it is easy to drive them off with a stick or even an
umbrella; and we were warned not to cross an ostrich-farm without some
such defence.

Snakes, though there are many venomous species, seem to be less feared
than in India or the wilder parts of Australia. The python grows to
twenty feet or more, but is, of course, not poisonous, and never assails
man unless first molested. The black _momba_, which is nearly as large
as a rattlesnake, is, however, a dangerous creature, being ready to
attack man without provocation, and the bite may prove fatal in less
than an hour. One sees many skins of this snake in the tropical parts of
South Africa, and hears many thrilling tales of combats with them. They
are no longer common in the more settled and temperate regions.

Although even in Cape Colony and the Dutch republics there is still more
four-footed game to be had than anywhere in Europe, there remain only
two regions where large animals can be killed in any considerable
numbers. One of these is the Portuguese territory between Delagoa Bay
and the Zambesi, together with the adjoining parts of the Transvaal,
where the lower spurs of the Quathlamba Range descend to the plain. This
district is very malarious during and after the rains, and most of it
unhealthy at all seasons. The other region is the Kalahari Desert and
the country north of it between Lake Ngami and the Upper Zambesi. The
Kalahari is so waterless as to offer considerable difficulties to
European hunters, and the country round Lake Ngami is swampy and
feverish. So far the wild creatures have nature in their favour; yet the
passion for killing is in many persons so strong that neither thirst nor
fever deters them, and if the large game are to be saved, it will
clearly be necessary to place them under legal protection. This has been
attempted so far as regards the elephant, rhinoceros, giraffe, and
eland. In German East Africa Dr. von Wissmann, the Administrator of that
territory, has recently (1896) gone further, and ordained restrictions
on the slaughter of all the larger animals, except predatory ones. The
governments of the two British colonies and the two Boer republics,
which have already done well in trying to preserve some of the rarest
and finest beasts, ought to go thoroughly into the question and enact a
complete protective code. Still more necessary is it that a similar
course should be taken by the British South Africa Company and by the
Imperial Government, in whose territories there still survive more of
the great beasts. It is to be hoped that even the lion and some of the
rare lynxes will ultimately receive consideration. Noxious as they are,
it would be a pity to see them wholly exterminated. When I was in India,
in the year 1888, I was told that there were only seven lions then left
in that vast area, all of them well cared for. The work of slaughter
ought to be checked in South Africa before the number gets quite so low
as this, and though there may be difficulties in restraining the natives
from killing the big game, it must be remembered that as regards many
animals it is the European rather than the native, who is the chief
agent of destruction.

The predatory creatures which are now most harmful to the farmer are
the baboons, which infest rocky districts and kill the lambs in such
great numbers that the Cape government offers bounties for their
slaughter. But no large animal does mischief for a moment comparable to
that of the two insect plagues which vex the eastern half of the
country, the white ants and the locusts. Of these I shall have something
to say later.



The flora of South Africa is extremely rich, showing a number of genera,
and of species which, in proportion to its area, exceeds the number
found in most other parts of the world. But whether this wealth is due
to the diversity of physical conditions which the country presents, or
rather to geological causes, that is, to the fact that there may at some
remote period have been land connections with other regions which have
facilitated the immigration of plants from various sides, is a matter on
which science cannot yet pronounce, for both the geology and the flora
of the whole African continent have been very imperfectly examined. It
is, however, worth remarking that there are marked affinities between
the general character of the flora of the south-western corner of South
Africa and that of the flora of south-western Australia, and similar
affinities between the flora of south-eastern and tropical Africa and
the flora of India, while the relations to South America are fewer and
much less marked. This fact would seem to point to the great antiquity
of the South Atlantic Ocean.

To give in such a book as this even the scantiest account of the plants
of South Africa would obviously be impossible. All I propose is to
convey some slight impression of the part which its vegetation, and
particularly its trees, play in the landscape and in the economic
conditions of the country. Even this I can do but imperfectly, because,
like most travellers, I passed through large districts in the dry
season, when three-fourths of the herbaceous plants are out of flower.

No part of the country is richer in beautiful flowers than the immediate
neighbourhood of Cape Town. This extreme south-western corner of Africa
has a climate of the south temperate zone; that is to say, it has a real
summer and a real winter, and gets most of its rain in winter, whereas
the rest of South Africa has only a wet season and a dry season, the
latter coming in winter. So, too, this corner round Cape Town has a
vegetation characteristically its own, and differing markedly from that
of the arid Karroo regions to the north, and that of the warm
subtropical regions in the east of the Colony and in Natal. It is here
that the plants flourish which Europeans and Americans first came to
know and which are still to them the most familiar examples of the South
African flora. Heaths, for instance, of which there are said to be no
less than three hundred and fifty species in this small district, some
of extraordinary beauty and brilliance, are scarcely found outside of
it. I saw two or three species on the high peaks of Basutoland, and
believe some occur as far north as the tropic on the tops of the
Quathlamba Range; but in the lower grounds, and even on the plateau of
the Karroo they are absent. The general aspect of the vegetation on the
Karroo, and eastward over the plateau into Bechuanaland and the
Transvaal, is to the traveller's eye monotonous--a fact due to the
general uniformity of the geological formations and the general dryness
of the surface. In Natal and in Mashonaland types different from those
of either the Cape or the Karroo appear, and I have never seen a more
beautiful and varied alpine flora than on a lofty summit of Basutoland
which I ascended in early summer. But even in Mashonaland, and in
Matabililand still more, the herbaceous plants make, at least in the
dry season, comparatively little show. I found the number of conspicuous
species less than I had expected, and the diversity of types from the
types that prevail in the southern part of the plateau (in Bechuanaland
and the Orange Free State) less marked. This is doubtless due to the
general similarity of the conditions that prevail over the plateau.
Everywhere the same hot days and cold nights, everywhere the same

However, I must avoid details, especially details which would be
interesting only to a botanist, and be content with a few words on those
more conspicuous features of the vegetation which the traveller notes,
and which go to make up his general impression of the country.

Speaking broadly, South Africa is a bare country, and this is the more
remarkable because it is a new country, where man has not had time to
work much destruction. There are ancient forests along the south coast
of Cape Colony and Natal, the best of which are (in the former colony)
now carefully preserved and administered by a Forest Department of
Government. Such is the great Knysna forest, where elephants still roam
wild. But even in these forests few trees exceed fifty or sixty feet in
height, the tallest being the so-called yellow-wood, and the most useful
the sneeze-wood. On the slopes of the hills above Graham's Town and King
William's Town one finds (besides real forests here and there) immense
masses of dense scrub, or "bush," usually from four to eight feet in
height, sometimes with patches of the prickly-pear, an invader from
America, and a formidable one; for its spines hurt the cattle and make
passage by men a troublesome business. It was this dense, low scrub
which constituted the great difficulty of British troops in the fierce
and protracted Kafir wars of fifty years ago; for the ground which the
scrub covers was impassable except by narrow and tortuous paths known
only to the natives, and it afforded them admirable places for ambush
and for retreat. Nowadays a large part of the bush-covered land is used
for ostrich-farms, and it is, indeed, fit for little else. The scrub is
mostly dry, while the larger forests are comparatively damp, and often
beautiful with flowering trees, small tree-ferns, and flexile climbers.
But the trees are not lofty enough to give any of that dignity which a
European forest, say in England or Germany or Norway, often possesses,
and as the native kinds are mostly evergreens, their leaves have
comparatively little variety of tint. One of the most graceful is the
curious silver-tree, so called from the whitish sheen of one side of its
leaves, which grows abundantly on the slopes of Table Mountain, but is
found hardly anywhere else in the Colony.

If this is the character of the woods within reach of the coast rains,
much more conspicuous is the want of trees and the poorness of those
scattered here and there on the great interior plateau. In the desert
region, that is to say, the Karroo, the northern part of Cape Colony to
the Orange River, western Bechuanaland, and the German territories of
Namaqualand and Damaraland, there are hardly any trees, except small,
thorny mimosas (they are really acacias, the commonest being _Acacia
horrida_), whose scanty, light-green foliage casts little shade. On the
higher mountains, where there is a little more moisture, a few other
shrubs or small trees may be found, and sometimes beside a watercourse,
where a stream runs during the rains, the eye is refreshed by a few
slender willows; but speaking generally, this huge desert, one-third of
South Africa, contains nothing but low bushes, few of which are fit even
for fuel. Farther east, where the rainfall is heavier, the trees, though
still small, are more frequent and less thorny. Parts of the great plain
round Kimberley were tolerably well wooded thirty years ago, but the
trees have all been cut down to make mine props or for fire-wood. North
of Mafeking the rolling flats and low hills of Bechuanaland are pretty
fairly wooded, and so to a less degree are the adjoining parts of the
Transvaal and Matabililand. The road going north from Mafeking passes
through some three hundred miles of such woodlands, but a less beautiful
or interesting woodland I have never seen. The trees are mostly the
thorny mimosas I have mentioned. None exceed thirty, few reach
twenty-five, feet. Though they grow loosely scattered, the space between
them is either bare or occupied by low and very prickly bushes. The
ground is parched, and one can get no shade, except by standing close
under a trunk somewhat thicker than its neighbours. Still farther north
the timber is hardly larger, though the general aspect of the woods is
improved by the more frequent occurrence of flowering trees, some
sweet-scented, with glossy leaves and small white flowers, some with
gorgeous clusters of blossoms. Three are particularly handsome. One,
usually called the Kafir-boom, has large flowers of a brilliant crimson.
Another (_Lonchocarpus speciosus_[4]), for which no English name seems
to exist, shows lovely pendulous flowers of a bluish lilac, resembling
in colour those of the _wistaria_. The third is an arboraceous St.
John's wort (_Hypericum Schimperi_[4]), which I found growing in a
valley of Manicaland, at a height of nearly 4000 feet above the sea. All
three would be great ornaments to a south European shrubbery could they
be induced to bear the climate, which, in the case of the two latter
(for I hardly think the Kafir-boom would suit a colder air), seems not
impossible. In Manicaland, among the mountains which form the eastern
edge of the plateau, the trees are taller, handsomer, and more tropical
in their character, and palms, though of no great height, are sometimes
seen. But not even in the most humid of the valleys and on the lower
spurs of the range, where it sinks into the coast plain, nor along the
swampy banks of the Pungwe River, did I see any tree more than sixty
feet high, and few more than thirty. Neither was there any of that
luxuriant undergrowth which makes some tropical forests, like those at
the foot of the Nilghiri Hills in India or in some of the isles of the
Pacific, so impressive as evidences of the power and ceaseless activity
of nature.

The poverty of the woods in Bechuanaland and Matabililand seems to be
due not merely to the dryness of the soil and to the thin and sandy
character which so often marks it, but also to the constant grass-fires.
The grass is generally short, so that these fires do not kill the trees;
nor does one hear of such great forest conflagrations as are frequent
and ruinous in Western America and by no means unknown in the south of
Cape Colony. But these fires doubtless injure the younger trees
sufficiently to stunt their growth, and this mischief is, of course, all
the greater when an exceptionally dry year occurs. In such years the
grass-fires, then most frequent, may destroy the promise of the wood
over a vast area.

The want of forests in South Africa is one of the greatest misfortunes
of the country, for it makes timber costly; it helps to reduce the
rainfall, and it aggravates the tendency of the rain, when it comes, to
run off rapidly in a sudden freshet. Forests have a powerful influence
upon climate in holding moisture,[5] and not only moisture, but soil
also. In South Africa the violent rain-storms sweep away the surface of
the ground, and prevent the deposition of vegetable mould. Nothing
retains that mould or the soil formed by decomposed rock as well as a
covering of wood and the herbage which the neighbourhood of
comparatively moist woodlands helps to support. It is much to be desired
that in all parts of the country where trees will grow trees should be
planted, and that those which remain should be protected. Unfortunately,
most of the South African trees grow slowly, so where planting has been
attempted it is chiefly foreign sorts that are tried. Among these the
first place belongs to the Australian gums, because they shoot up faster
than any others. One finds them now everywhere, mostly in rows or groups
round a house or a hamlet, but sometimes also in regular plantations.
They have become a conspicuous feature in the landscape of the veldt
plateau, especially in those places where there was no wood, or the
little that existed has been destroyed. Kimberley, for instance, and
Pretoria are beginning to be embowered in groves of eucalyptus; Buluwayo
is following suit; and all over Matabililand and Mashonaland one
discovers in the distance the site of a farm-steading or a store by the
waving tops of the gum-trees. If this goes on these Australian
immigrants will sensibly affect the aspect of the country, just as
already they have affected that of the Riviera in south-eastern France,
of the Campagna of Rome, of the rolling tops of the Nilghiri Hills in
Southern India, from which, unhappily, the far more beautiful ancient
groves ("sholas") have now almost disappeared. Besides those gums,
another Australasian tree, the thin-foliaged and unlovely, but
quick-growing "beefwood," has been largely planted at Kimberley and some
other places. The stone-pine of Southern Europe, the cluster-pine
(_Pinus Pinaster_), and the Aleppo or Jerusalem pine (_Pinus
Halepensis_), have all been introduced and seem to do well. The
Australian wattles have been found very useful in helping to fix the
soil on sandy flats, such as those near Cape Town, and the bark of one
species is an important article of commerce in Natal, where (near
Maritzburg, for instance) it grows profusely. But of all the immigrant
trees none is so beautiful as the oak. The Dutch began to plant it round
Cape Town early in the eighteenth century, and it is now one of the
elements which most contribute to the charm of the scenery in this
eminently picturesque south-west corner of the country. Nothing can be
more charming than the long oak avenues which line the streets of
Stellenbosch, for instance; and they help, with the old-fashioned Dutch
houses of that quaint little town, to give a sort of Hobbema flavour to
the foregrounds.

The changes which man has produced in the aspect of countries, by the
trees he plants and the crops he sows, are a curious subject for inquiry
to the geographer and the historian. These changes sometimes take place
very rapidly. In the Hawaiian Islands, for instance, discovered by
Captain Cook little more than a century ago, many of the shrubs which
most abound and give its tone to the landscape have come (and that
mostly not by planting, but spontaneously) from the shores of Asia and
America within the last eighty years. In Egypt most of the trees which
fill the eye in the drive from Cairo to the pyramids were introduced by
Mehemet Ali, so that the banks of the Nile, as we see them, are
different not only from those which Herodotus saw, but even from those
which Napoleon saw. In North Africa the Central American prickly-pear
and the Australian gum make the landscape quite different from that of
Carthaginian or even of Roman times. So South Africa is
changing--changing all the more because many of the immigrant trees
thrive better than the indigenous ones, and are fit for spots where the
latter make but little progress; and in another century the country may
wear an aspect quite unlike that which it now presents.

[Footnote 4: I owe these names to the kindness of the authorities at the
Royal Gardens at Kew, who have been good enough to look through
fifty-four dried specimens which I collected and preserved as well as I
could while travelling through Mashonaland and Basutoland. Eleven of
these fifty-four were pronounced to be species new to science, a fact
which shows how much remains to be done in the way of botanical

[Footnote 5: It has been plausibly suggested that one reason why many
English rivers which were navigable in the tenth century (because we
know that the Northmen traversed them in vessels which had crossed the
German Ocean) but are now too shallow to let a row-boat pass, is to be
found in the destruction of the forests and the draining of the marshes
which the forests sheltered.]



Hitherto I have spoken of South Africa as a natural whole, ignoring its
artificial division into Colonies and States. It may be well to complete
the account of the physical characteristics of the country by giving the
reader some notion of the aspects of each of the political divisions,
and thereby a notion also of their relative importance and resources as
wealth-producing regions.


Cape Colony is a huge territory more than twice as large as the United
Kingdom. But very little of it is available for tillage, and much of it
is too arid even for stock-keeping. The population, including natives,
is only seven to the square mile. Nearly the whole of it is high
country. All along its westerly coast and its southerly coast there is a
strip of low ground bordering the ocean, which in some places is but a
mile or two wide, and in others, where a broad valley opens spreads
backward, giving thirty or forty square miles of tolerably level or
undulating ground. The rich wine and corn district round Stellenbosch
and Paarl and northward towards Malmesbury is such a tract. Behind this
low strip the country rises, sometimes in steep acclivities, up which a
road or railway has to be carried in curves and zigzags, sometimes in
successive terraces, the steps, so to speak, by which the lofty interior
breaks down towards the sea.

Behind these terraces and slopes lies the great tableland described in a
preceding chapter. Though I call it a tableland, it is by no means flat,
for several long, though not lofty, ranges of hills, mostly running east
and west, intersect it. Some tracts are only 2000 feet, others as much
as 5000 feet, above the sea, while the highest hilltops approach 8000
feet. The part of this high country which lies between longitude 20° and
25° E., with the Nieuweld and Sneeuwberg mountains to the north of it,
and the Zwarte Berg to the south, is called the Great Karroo. (The word
is Hottentot, and means a dry or bare place.) It is tolerably level,
excessively dry, with no such thing as a running stream over its huge
expanse of three hundred miles long and half as much wide, nor, indeed,
any moisture, save in a few places shallow pools which almost disappear
in the dry season. The rainfall ranges from five to fifteen inches in
the year. It is therefore virtually a desert, bearing no herbage (except
for a week or two after a rainstorm), and no trees, though there are
plenty of prickly shrubs and small bushes, some of these succulent
enough, when they sprout after the few showers that fall in the summer,
to give good browsing to sheep and goats. The brilliancy of the air, the
warmth of the days, and the coldness of the nights remind one who
traverses the Karroo of the deserts of Western America between the Rocky
Mountains and the Sierra Nevada, though the soil is much less alkaline,
and the so-called "sage-brush" plants characteristic of an alkaline
district are mostly absent. To the north of the Karroo and of the
mountains which bound it, a similar district, equally arid, dreary, and
barren, stretches away to the banks of the Orange River, which here in
its lower course has less water than in its upper course, because, like
the Nile, it receives no affluents and is wasted by the terrible sun. In
fact, one may say that from the mountains dividing the southern part of
the Karroo from the coast lands all the way north to the Orange River, a
distance of nearly four hundred miles, nature has made the country a
desert of clay and stone (seldom of sand), though man has here and there
tried to redeem it for habitation.

The north-eastern part of the interior of Cape Colony is more generally
elevated than the south-western. From Graaf-Reinet northward to
Kimberley and Mafeking, and north-eastward to the borders of Basutoland,
the country is 4000 feet or more above sea-level; much of it is nearly
level, and almost all of it bare of wood. It is better watered than the
western districts, enjoying a rainfall of from ten to twenty-five inches
in the year, and is therefore mostly covered with grass after the rains,
and not merely with dry thorny bushes. Nevertheless, its general aspect
in the dry season is so parched and bare that the stranger is surprised
to be told that it supports great quantities of cattle, sheep, and
goats. The south-eastern part, including the Quathlamba Range, and the
hilly country descending from that range to the sea, has a still heavier
rainfall and is in some places covered with forest. Here the grass is
richer, and in the valleys there is plenty of land fit for tillage
without irrigation.


Much smaller, but more favoured by nature, is the British colony of
Natal, which adjoins the easternmost part of Cape Colony, and now
includes the territories of Zululand and Tonga land. Natal proper and
Zululand resemble in their physical conditions the south-eastern corner
of Cape Colony. Both lie entirely on the sea slope of the Quathlamba
Range, and are covered by mountains and hills descending from that
range. Both are hilly or undulating, with a charming variety of surface;
and they are also comparatively well watered, with a perennial stream in
every valley. Hence there is plenty of grass, and towards the coast
plenty of wood also, while the loftier interior is bare. The climate is
much warmer than that of Cape Colony, and in the narrow strip which
borders the sea becomes almost tropical. Nor is this heat attributable
entirely to the latitude. It is largely due to the great Mozambique
current, which brings down from the tropical parts of the Indian Ocean a
vast body of warm water which heats the adjoining coast just as the Gulf
Stream heats the shores of Georgia and the Carolinas; and the effect of
this mass of hot water upon the air over it would doubtless be felt much
more in Natal were it not for the rapid rise of the ground from the sea
in that colony. Pietermaritzburg, the capital, is only some fifty miles
from the coast as the crow flies. But though it lies in a valley, it is
2225 feet above sea-level, and from it the country steadily rises
inland, till at Laing's Nek (the watershed between the Indian Ocean and
the Atlantic), the height of 5300 feet is reached, and the winter cold
is severe. Nearly the whole of Natal and four-fifths of Zululand may
thus be deemed a temperate country, where Europeans can thrive and
multiply. So far as soil goes it is one of the richest as well as one of
the fairest parts of South Africa. Tongaland, a smaller district, lies
lower and is less healthy.


Very different is the vast German territory (322,000 square miles) which
stretches northward from Cape Colony, bounded on the south by the Orange
River, on the north by the West African territories of Portugal, on the
east by Bechuanaland. Great Namaqualand and Damaraland constitute an
enormous wilderness, very thinly peopled, because the means of life are
very scanty. This wilderness is, except the narrow and sandy coast
strip, a high country (3000 to 4500 feet above sea-level) and a dry
country, drier even than the Karroo, and far too dry for any kind of
cultivation. Some parts, especially those in the south-west, are
hopelessly parched and barren; others have small bushes or grass; while
on the higher grounds and generally in the far northern parts, where the
Ovampo tribe dwell, grass is abundant, and as cattle can thrive there is
also population. Copper has been discovered in considerable quantities,
and other minerals (including coal) are believed to exist. But the
country, taken all in all, and excepting the little explored districts
of the north-east, toward the Upper Zambesi,--districts whose resources
are still very imperfectly known,--is a dreary and desolate region,
which seems likely to prove of little value. Germany now owns the whole
of it, save the port of Walfish Bay, which has been retained for and is
administered by Cape Colony.


On the opposite side of the continent Portugal holds the country which
lies along the Indian Ocean from British Tongaland northward to the
Zambesi. Close to the sea it is level, rising gently westward in hills,
and in some places extending to the crest of the Quathlamba Mountains.
Thus it has considerable variety of aspect and climate, and as the rain
falls chiefly on the slopes of the mountains, the interior is generally
better watered than the flat seaboard, which is often sandy and
worthless. Much of this region is of great fertility, capable of
producing all the fruits of the tropics. But much of it, including some
of the most fertile parts, is also very malarious, while the heat is far
too great for European labour. When plantations are established
throughout it, as they have been in a few--but only a few--spots by the
Portuguese, it will be by natives that they will be cultivated. The
Kafir population is now comparatively small, but this may be due rather
to the desolating native wars than to the conditions of the soil.

So much for the four maritime countries. There remain the two Dutch
republics and the British territories which have not yet been formed
into colonies.


The Orange Free State (48,000 square miles) lies entirely on the great
plateau, between 4000 and 5000 feet above sea-level. It is in the main a
level country, though hills are scattered over it, sometimes reaching a
height of nearly 6000 feet. A remarkable feature of most of these hills,
as of many all over the plateau, is that they are flat-topped, and have
often steep, even craggy escarpments. This seems due to the fact that
the strata (chiefly sandstone) are horizontal; and very often a bed of
hard igneous rock, some, kind of trap or greenstone, or porphyry,
protects the summit of the hill from the disintegrating influences of
the weather. It is a bare land, with very little wood, and that small
and scrubby, but is well covered with herbage, affording excellent
pasture during two-thirds of the year. After the first rains, when these
wide stretches of gently undulating land are dressed in their new
vesture of brilliant green, nothing can be imagined more exhilarating
than a ride across the wide expanse; for the air is pure, keen, and
bracing, much like that of the high prairies of Colorado or Wyoming.
There are fortunately no blizzards, but violent thunderstorms are not
uncommon, and the hailstones--I have seen them as big as bantams'
eggs--which fall during such storms sometimes kill the smaller animals,
and even men. Dry as the land appears to the eye during the winter, the
larger streams do not wholly fail, and water can generally be got. The
south-eastern part of the Free State, especially along the Caledon
River, is extremely fertile, one of the best corn-growing parts of
Africa. The rest is fitter for pasture than for tillage, except, of
course, on the alluvial banks of the rivers, and nearly the whole region
is in fact occupied by huge grazing farms. As such a farm needs and
supports only a few men, the population grows but slowly. The Free State
is nearly as big as England and just as big as the State of New York;
but it has only 77,000 white inhabitants and about 130,000 natives.


Somewhat larger,--about as large as Great Britain and nearly two-thirds
the size of France--is the South African Republic, which we commonly
talk of as the Transvaal. Of its white population, which numbers some
170,000, two-thirds are in the small mining district of the
Witwatersrand. All the Transvaal, except a strip on the eastern and
another strip on the northern border along the river Limpopo, also
belongs to the great plateau and exhibits the characteristic features of
the plateau. The hills are, however, higher than in the Free State, and
along the east, where the Quathlamba Range forms the outer edge of the
plateau, they deserve to be called mountains, for some of them reach
7000 feet. These high regions are healthy, for the summer heats are
tempered by easterly breezes and copious summer rains. The lower parts
lying toward the Indian Ocean and the Limpopo River are feverish, though
drainage and cultivation may be expected to reduce the malaria and
improve the conditions of health. Like the Free State, the Transvaal is
primarily a pasture land, but in many parts the herbage is less juicy
and wholesome than in the smaller republic, and belongs to what the
Dutch Boers call "sour veldt." There are trees in the more sheltered
parts, but except in the lower valleys, they are small, and of no
economic value. The winter cold is severe, and the fierce sun dries up
the soil, and makes the grass sear and brown for the greater part of the
year. Strong winds sweep over the vast stretches of open upland, checked
by no belts of forest. It is a country whose aspect has little to
attract the settler. No one would think it worth fighting for so far as
the surface goes; and until sixteen years ago nobody knew that there was
enormous wealth lying below the surface.


Of one British territory outside the two colonies, viz., Basutoland, I
shall have to speak fully hereafter. A second, Bechuanaland, including
the Kalahari Desert, is of vast extent, but slender value. It is a level
land lying entirely on the plateau between 3,000 and 4000 feet above the
sea, and while some of its streamlets drain into the Limpopo, and so to
the Indian Ocean, others flow westward and northward into marshes and
shallow lakes, in which they disappear. One or two, however, succeed, in
wet seasons, in getting as far as the Orange River, and find through it
an outlet to the sea. It is only in the wet season that the streamlets
flow, for Bechuanaland is intensely dry. I travelled four hundred miles
through it without once crossing running water, though here and there in
traversing the dry bed of a brook one was told that there was water
underneath, deep in the sand. Notwithstanding this superficial aridity,
eastern Bechuanaland is deemed one of the best ranching tracts in South
Africa, for the grass is sweet, and the water can usually be obtained by
digging, though it is often brackish. There is also plenty of wood--thin
and thorny, but sufficiently abundant to diversify the aspect of what
would otherwise be a most dreary and monotonous region.


North of Bechuanaland and the Transvaal, and stretching all the way to
the Zambesi, are those immense territories which have been assigned to
the British South Africa Company as the sphere of its operations, and to
which the name of Rhodesia has been given. Matabililand and Mashonaland,
the only parts that have been at all settled, are higher, more
undulating, and altogether more attractive than Bechuanaland, with great
swelling downs somewhat resembling the Steppes of Southern Russia or the
prairies of Kansas. Except in the east and south-east, the land is
undulating rather than hilly, but in the south-west, towards the Upper
Limpopo, there lies a high region, full of small rocky heights often
clothed with thick bush--a country difficult to traverse, as has been
found during the recent native outbreak; for it was there that most of
the Kafirs took shelter and were found difficult to dislodge. Towards
the south-east, along the middle course of the Limpopo, the country is
lower and less healthy. On the northern side of the central highlands,
the ground sinks towards the Zambesi, and the soil, which among the
hills is thin or sandy, becomes deeper. In that part and along the river
banks there are great possibilities of agricultural development, while
the uplands, where the subjacent rock is granite or gneiss, with
occasional beds of slate or schist, are generally barer and more dry,
fit rather for pasture than for tillage. More rain falls than in
Bechuanaland, so it is only at the end of the dry season, in October,
that the grass begins to fail on the pastures. The climate, though very
warm,--for here we are well within the tropics,--is pleasant and
invigorating, for nowhere do brighter and fresher breezes blow, and the
heat of the afternoons is forgotten in the cool evenings. It is
healthy, too, except along the swampy river banks and where one descends
to the levels of the Zambesi, or into the Limpopo Valley.

The reader will have gathered from this general sketch that there are no
natural boundaries severing from one another the various political
divisions of South Africa. The north-eastern part of Cape Colony is
substantially the same kind of country as the Orange Free State and
Eastern Bechuanaland; the Transvaal, or at least three-fourths of its
area, is physically similar to the Free State; the boundary between Cape
Colony and Natal is an artificial one; while Matabililand and
Mashonaland present features resembling those of the Northern Transvaal,
differing only in being rather hotter and rather better watered. So far
as nature is concerned, the conditions she prescribes for the life of
man, the resources she opens to his energies, are very similar over
these wide areas, save, of course, that some parts are much richer than
others in mineral deposits. It is only along the frontier line which
divides Natal and the Portuguese dominions from the Transvaal and the
territories of the British South Africa Company that a political
coincides with a physical line of demarcation. Even German South-west
Africa differs scarcely at all from the Kalahari Desert, which adjoins
it and which forms the western part of Bechuanaland, and differs little
also from the north-western regions of Cape Colony. If the reader will
compare the two physical maps contained in this volume with the map
which shows the political divisions of the country he will notice that
these political divisions do not correspond with the areas where more or
less rain falls, or where the ground is more or less raised above the
sea or traversed by mountain chains. The only exception is to be found
in the fact that the boundary of Natal towards Basutoland and the Orange
Free State has been drawn along the watershed between the Indian Ocean
and the Atlantic, and that the boundary line between the Portuguese
territories and those of the Transvaal Republic and of the British South
Africa Company, is in many places the line of division between the
mountains and the low country. The Orange River and the Limpopo have, in
parts of their courses, been taken as convenient political frontiers.
But rivers, though convenient for this purpose to the statesman and the
geographer, are not natural boundaries in the true sense of the term.
And thus we may say that the causes which have cut up South Africa into
its present Colonies and States have been (except as aforesaid)
historical causes, rather than differences due to the hand of nature.



Now that some general idea of how nature has shaped and moulded South
Africa has been conveyed to the reader, a few pages may be devoted to
considering what influence on the fortunes of the country and its
inhabitants has been exerted by its physical character. The history of
every country may be regarded as the joint result of three factors--the
natural conditions of the country itself, the qualities of the races
that have occupied it, and the circumstances under which their
occupation took place. And among savage or barbarous people natural
conditions have an even greater importance than they have in more
advanced periods of civilisation, because they are more powerful as
against man. Man in his savage state is not yet able to resist such
conditions or to turn them to serve his purposes, but is condemned to
submit to the kind of life which they prescribe.

This was the case with the first inhabitants of South Africa. They seem
to have entered it as savages, and savages they remained. Nature was
strong and stern; she spread before them no such rich alluvial plains as
tempted cultivation in the valleys of the Nile and the Euphrates.
Intellectually feeble, and without the patience or the foresight to
attempt to till the soil in a land where droughts are frequent and
disastrous, the Bushmen were content with killing game, and the
Hottentots with living on the milk of their cattle. Such a life, which
was one of uncertainty and often of hardship, permitted no accumulation
of wealth, gave no leisure, suggested no higher want than that of food,
and was in all respects unfavourable to material progress. Even the
Bantu people, who probably came later and were certainly more advanced,
for they carried on some little cultivation of the soil, remained at a
low level. Nature gave them, except in dry years, as much corn as they
needed in return for very little labour. Clothing they did not need, and
their isolation from the rest of the world left them ignorant of
luxuries. When the European voyagers found them at the end of the
fifteenth century, they were making little or no advance in the arts of

Upon the growth of European settlements the influence of the physical
structure of the country has been very marked. When the Portuguese had
followed the long line of coast from the mouth of the Orange River to
that of the Zambesi, and from the mouth of the Zambesi northward to
Zanzibar, they settled only where they heard that gold and ivory could
be obtained. Their forts and trading stations, the first of which dates
from 1505, were therefore planted on the coast northward from the
Limpopo River. Sofala, a little south of the modern port of Beira, was
the principal one. Here they traded, and twice or thrice they made,
always in search of the gold-producing regions, expeditions inland.
These expeditions, however, had to traverse the flat and malarious strip
of ground which lies along the Indian Ocean. A large part of the white
troops died, and the rest arrived at the higher ground so much weakened
that they could achieve no permanent conquests, for they were opposed by
warlike tribes. In the course of years a small population speaking
Portuguese, though mixed with native blood, grew up along the coast. The
climate, however, destroyed what vigour the whites had brought from
Europe, and by degrees they ceased to even attempt to conquer or occupy
the interior. The heat and the rains, together with fever, the offspring
of heat and rains, checked further progress. Three centuries passed,
during which the knowledge of south-eastern Africa which the civilised
world had obtained within the twenty years that followed the voyages of
Vasco da Gama, was scarcely increased.

During those three centuries, America, which had not been discovered
till six years after Bartholomew Diaz passed the Cape of Good Hope, had
been, all except a part of the north-west, pretty thoroughly explored
and partitioned out among five European powers. Large and prosperous
colonies had sprung up and before the end of the eighteenth century one
great independent state had established itself. The discovery of
Australia and New Zealand came much later than that of America; but
within one century from the first European settlement in Australia (A.D.
1787) the whole continent, though its interior is uninviting, had been
traversed along many lines, and five prosperous European colonies had
grown to importance. The slow progress of exploration and settlement in
South Africa during so long a period is therefore a noteworthy
phenomenon which deserves a few observations.

As regards the Portuguese part of the East African coast, the
explanation just given is sufficient. As regards that part of the West
coast which lies south of the Portuguese colony of Angola, the natural
features of the country make no explanation needed. No more arid or
barren coast is to be found anywhere, and in its whole long stretch
there is but one tolerable port, that of Walfish Bay. The inland region
is scarcely better. Much of it is waterless and without herbage. No gold
nor ivory nor other article of value was obtainable. Accordingly, nobody
cared to settle or explore, and the land would probably be still lying
unclaimed had not the settlement of Herr Lüderitz and a vague desire
for territorial expansion prompted Germany to occupy it in 1884.

The south coast, from the Cape to the Tugela River, was much more
attractive. Here the climate was salubrious, the land in many places
fertile, and everywhere fit for sheep or cattle. Here, accordingly, a
small European community, first founded in 1652, grew up and spread
slowly eastward and northward along the shore during the century and a
half from its first establishment. The Dutch settlers did not care to
penetrate the interior, because the interior seemed to offer little to a
farmer. Behind the well-watered coast belt lay successive lines of steep
mountains, and behind those mountains the desert waste of the Karroo,
where it takes six acres to keep a sheep. Accordingly, it was only a few
bold hunters, a few farmers on the outskirts of the little maritime
colony, and a few missionaries, who cared to enter this wide wilderness.

When exploration began, it began from this south-west corner of Africa.
It began late. In 1806, when the British took the Cape from the Dutch,
few indeed were the white men who had penetrated more than one hundred
miles from the coast, and the farther interior was known only by report.
For thirty years more progress was slow; and it is within our own time
that nearly all the exploration, and the settlement which has followed
quickly on the heels of exploration, has taken place. Just sixty years
ago the Dutch Boers passed in their heavy waggons from Cape Colony to
the spots where Bloemfontein and Pretoria now stand. In 1854-56 David
Livingstone made his way through Bechuanaland to the falls of the
Zambesi and the west coast at St. Paul de Loanda. In 1889 the vast
territories between the Transvaal Republic and the Zambesi began to be
occupied by the Mashonaland pioneers. All these explorers, all the
farmers, missionaries, hunters, and mining prospectors, came up into
South Central Africa from the south-west extremity of the continent
over the great plateau. They moved north-eastward, because there was
more rain, and therefore more grass and game in that direction than
toward the north. They were checked from time to time by the warlike
native tribes; but they were drawn on by finding everywhere a country in
which Europeans could live and thrive. It was the existence of this high
and cool plateau that permitted their discoveries and encouraged their
settlement. And thus the rich interior has come to belong, not to the
Portuguese, who first laid hold of South Africa, but to the races who
first entered the plateau at the point where it is nearest the sea, the
Dutch and the English. Coming a thousand miles by land, they have seized
and colonised the country that lies within sixty or eighty miles of the
ocean behind the Portuguese settlements, because they had good healthy
air to breathe during all those thousand miles of journey; while the
Portuguese, sunk among tropical swamps, were doing no more than maintain
their hold upon the coast, and were allowing even the few forts they had
established along the lower course of the Zambesi to crumble away.

The same natural conditions, however, which have made the plateau
healthy, have kept it sparsely peopled. Much of this high interior,
whose settlement has occupied the last sixty years, is a desert unfit,
and likely to be always unfit, for human habitation. Even in those parts
which are comparatively well watered, the grazing for sheep and cattle
is so scanty during some months of the year that farms are large, houses
are scattered far from one another, and the population remains extremely
thin. The Wilderness of the Karroo cuts off Cape Town and its
comparatively populous neighbourhood from the inhabited, though thinly
inhabited, pastoral districts of the Orange Free State. Between these
two settled districts there are only a few villages, scattered at
intervals of many miles along a line of railway four hundred miles in
length. In the Free State and the Transvaal the white population is
extremely sparse, save in the mining region of the Witwatersrand,
because ranching requires few hands, and only a few hundred square miles
out of many thousands have been brought under cultivation. Thus, while
the coolness of the climate has permitted Europeans to thrive in these
comparatively low latitudes, its dryness has kept down their numbers and
has retarded not only their political development, but their progress in
all those arts and pursuits which imply a tolerably large and varied
society. The note of South African life, the thing that strikes the
traveller with increasing force as he visits one part of the country
after another, is the paucity of inhabitants, and the isolated life
which these inhabitants, except in six or seven towns, are forced to
lead. This is the doing of nature. She has not severed the country into
distinct social or political communities by any lines of physical
demarcation, but she has provided such scanty means of sustenance for
human life and so few openings for human industry unaided by capital,
that the settlers (save where capital has come to their aid) remain few
indeed, and one may call the interior of South Africa a vast solitude,
with a few oases of population dotted here and there over it.



The sketch I have given of the physical character of South Africa will
doubtless have conveyed to the reader that the country offers
comparatively little to attract the lover of natural scenery. This
impression is true if the sort of landscape we have learned to enjoy in
Europe and in the eastern part of the United States be taken as the type
of scenery which gives most pleasure. Variety of form, boldness of
outline, the presence of water in lakes and running streams, and, above
all, foliage and verdure, are the main elements of beauty in those
landscapes; while if any one desires something of more imposing
grandeur, he finds it in snow-capped mountains like the Alps or the
Cascade Range, or in majestic crags such as those which tower over the
fiords of Norway. But the scenery of South Africa is wholly unlike that
of Europe or of most parts of America. It is, above all things, a dry
land, a parched and thirsty land, where no clear brooks murmur through
the meadow, no cascade sparkles from the cliff, where mountain and plain
alike are brown and dusty except during the short season of the rains.
And being a dry land, it is also a bare land. Few are the favoured spots
in which a veritable forest can be seen; for though many tracts are
wooded, the trees are almost always thin and stunted. In Matabililand,
for instance, though a great part of the surface is covered with wood,
you see no trees forty feet high, and few reaching thirty; while in the
wilderness of the Kalahari Desert and Damaraland nothing larger than a
bush is visible, except the scraggy and thorny mimosa.

These features of South Africa--the want of water and the want of
greenness--are those to which a native of Western Europe finds it
hardest to accustom himself, however thoroughly he may enjoy the
brilliant sun and the keen dry air which go along with them. And it must
also be admitted that over very large areas the aspects of nature are so
uniform as to become monotonous. One may travel eight hundred miles and
see less variety in the landscape than one would find in one-fourth of
the same distance anywhere in Western Europe or in America east of the
Alleghany Mountains. The same geological formations prevail over wide
areas, and give the same profile to the hilltop, the same undulations to
the plain; while in travelling northward toward the Equator the flora
seems to change far less between 34° and 18° south latitude than it
changes in the journey from Barcelona to Havre, through only half as
many degrees of latitude.

There are, nevertheless, several interesting bits of scenery in South
Africa, which, if they do not of themselves repay the traveller for so
long a journey, add sensibly to his enjoyment. The situation of Cape
Town, with a magnificent range of precipices rising behind it, a noble
bay in front, and environs full of beautiful avenues and
pleasure-grounds, while bold mountain-peaks close the more distant
landscape, is equalled by that of few other cities in the world.
Constantinople and Naples, Bombay and San Francisco, cannot boast of
more perfect or more varied prospects. There are some fine pieces of
wood and water scenery along the south coast of Cape Colony, and one of
singular charm in the adjoining colony of Natal, where the suburbs of
Durban, the principal port, though they lack the grandeur which its
craggy heights give to the neighbourhood of Cape Town have, with a
warmer climate, a richer and more tropically luxuriant vegetation. In
the great range of mountains which runs some seventeen hundred miles
from Cape Town almost to the banks of the Zambesi, the scenery becomes
striking in three districts only. One of these is Basutoland, a little
native territory which lies just where Cape Colony, the Orange Free
State, and Natal meet. Its peaks are the highest in Africa south of
Mount Kilimanjaro, for several of them reach 11,000 feet. On the
south-east this mountain-land, the Switzerland of South Africa, faces
Natal and East Griqualand with a long range of formidable precipices,
impassable for many miles. The interior contains valleys and glens of
singular beauty, some wild and rugged, some clothed with rich pasture.
The voice of brooks, a sound rare in Africa, rises from the hidden
depths of the gorges, and here and there torrents plunging over the edge
of a basaltic cliff into an abyss below make waterfalls which are at all
seasons beautiful, and when swollen by the rains of January majestic.
Except wood, of which there is unhappily nothing more than a little
scrubby bush in the sheltered hollows, nearly all the elements of beauty
are present; and the contrast between the craggy summits and the soft
rich pasture and cornlands which lie along their northern base, gives
rise to many admirable landscapes.

Two hundred miles north-north-east of Basutoland the great Quathlamba
Range rises in very bold slopes from the coast levels behind Delagoa
Bay, and the scenery of the valleys and passes is said to be extremely
grand. Knowing it, however, only by report, I will not venture to
describe it. Nearly five hundred miles still farther to the north, in
the district called Manicaland, already referred to, is a third mountain
region, less lofty than Basutoland, but deriving a singular charm from
the dignity and variety of its mountain forms. The whole country is so
elevated that summits of 7000 or even 8000 feet do not produce any
greater effect upon the eye than does Ben Lomond as seen from Loch
Lomond, or Mount Washington from the Glen House. But there is a boldness
of line about these granite peaks comparable to those of the west coast
of Norway or of the finest parts of the Swiss Alps. Some of them rise in
smooth shafts of apparently inaccessible rock; others form long ridges
of pinnacles of every kind of shape, specially striking when they stand
out against the brilliantly clear morning or evening sky. The valleys
are well wooded, the lower slopes covered with herbage, so the effect of
these wild peaks is heightened by the softness of the surroundings which
they dominate, while at the same time the whole landscape becomes more
complex and more noble by the mingling of such diverse elements. No
scenery better deserves the name of romantic. And even in the tamer
parts, where instead of mountains there are only low hills, or "kopjes"
(as they are called in South Africa), the slightly more friable rock
found in these hills decomposes under the influence of the weather into
curiously picturesque and fantastic forms, with crags riven to their
base, and detached pillars supporting loose blocks and tabular masses,
among or upon which the timid Mashonas have built their huts in the hope
of escaping the raids of their warlike enemies, the Matabili.

Though I must admit that South Africa, taken as a whole, offers far less
to attract the lover of natural beauty than does Southern or Western
Europe or the Pacific States of North America, there are two kinds of
charm which it possesses in a high degree. One is that of colour.
Monotonous as the landscapes often are, there is a warmth and richness
of tone about them which fills and delights the eye. One sees
comparatively little of that whitish-blue limestone which so often gives
a hard and chilling aspect to the scenery of the lower ridges of the
Alps and of large parts of the coasts of the Mediterranean. In Africa
even the grey granite or gneiss has a deeper tone than these limestones,
and it is frequently covered by red and yellow lichens of wonderful
beauty. The dark basalts and porphyries which occur in many places, the
rich red tint which the surface of the sandstone rocks often takes under
the scorching sun, give depth of tone to the landscape; and though the
flood of midday sunshine is almost overpowering, the lights of morning
and evening, touching the mountains with every shade of rose and crimson
and violet, are indescribably beautiful. It is in these morning and
evening hours that the charm of the pure dry air is specially felt.
Mountains fifty or sixty miles away stand out clearly enough to enable
all the wealth of their colour and all the delicacy of their outlines to
be perceived; and the eye realises, by the exquisitely fine change of
tint between the nearer and the more distant ranges, the immensity and
the harmony of the landscape. Europeans may think that the continuous
profusion of sunlight during most of the year may become wearisome. I
was not long enough in the country to find it so, and I observed that
those who have lived for a few years in South Africa declare they prefer
that continuous profusion to the murky skies of Britain or Holland or
North Germany. But even if the fine weather which prevails for eight
months in the year be monotonous, there is compensation in the
extraordinary brilliancy of the atmospheric effects throughout the rainy
season, and especially in its first weeks. During nine days which I
spent in the Transvaal at that season, when several thunderstorms
occurred almost every day, the combinations of sunshine, lightning, and
cloud, and the symphonies--if the expression may be permitted--of light
and shade and colour which their changeful play produced in the sky and
on the earth, were more various and more wonderful than a whole year
would furnish forth for enjoyment in Europe.

The other peculiar charm which South African scenery possesses is that
of primeval solitude and silence. It is a charm which is differently
felt by different minds. There are many who find the presence of what
Homer calls "the rich works of men" essential to the perfection of a
landscape. Cultivated fields, gardens, and orchards, farmhouses dotted
here and there, indications in one form or another of human life and
labour, do not merely give a greater variety to every prospect, but also
impart an element which evokes the sense of sympathy with our
fellow-beings, and excites a whole group of emotions which the
contemplation of nature, taken by itself, does not arouse. No one is
insensible to these things and some find little delight in any scene
from which they are absent. Yet there are other minds to which there is
something specially solemn and impressive in the untouched and primitive
simplicity of a country which stands now just as it came from the hands
of the Creator. The self-sufficingness of nature, the insignificance of
man, the mystery of a universe which does not exist, as our ancestors
fondly thought, for the sake of man, but for other purposes hidden from
us and for ever undiscoverable--these things are more fully realised and
more deeply felt when one traverses a boundless wilderness which seems
to have known no change since the remote ages when hill and plain and
valley were moulded into the forms we see to-day. Feelings of this kind
powerfully affect the mind of the traveller in South Africa. They affect
him in the Karroo, where the slender line of rails, along which his
train creeps all day and all night across wide stretches of brown desert
and under the crests of stern dark hills, seems to heighten by contrast
the sense of solitude--a vast and barren solitude interposed between the
busy haunts of men which he has left behind on the shores of the ocean
and those still busier haunts whither he is bent, where the pick and
hammer sound upon the Witwatersrand, and the palpitating engine drags
masses of ore from the depths of the crowded mine. They affect him still
more in the breezy highlands of Matabililand, where the eye ranges over
an apparently endless succession of undulations clothed with tall grass
or waving wood, till they sink in the blue distance toward the plain
through which the great Zambesi takes its seaward course.

The wilderness is indeed not wholly unpeopled. Over the wide surface of
Matabililand and Mashonaland--an area of some two hundred thousand
square miles--there are scattered natives of various tribes, whose
numbers have been roughly estimated at from 250,000 to 400,000 persons.
But one rarely sees a native except along a few well-beaten tracks, and
still more rarely comes upon a cluster of huts in the woods along the
streamlets or half hidden among the fissured rocks of a granite kopje.
The chief traces of man's presence in the landscape are the narrow and
winding footpaths which run hither and thither through the country, and
bewilder the traveller who, having strayed from his waggon, vainly hopes
by following them to find his way back to the main track, or the wreaths
of blue smoke which indicate the spot where a Kafir has set the grass on
fire to startle and kill the tiny creatures that dwell in it.

Nothing is at first more surprising to one who crosses a country
inhabited by savages than the few marks of their presence which strike
the eye, or at least an unpractised eye. The little plot of ground the
Kafirs have cultivated is in a few years scarcely distinguishable from
the untouched surface of the surrounding land, while the mud-built hut
quickly disappears under the summer rains and the scarcely less
destructive efforts of the white ants. Here in South Africa the native
races seem to have made no progress for centuries, if, indeed, they have
not actually gone backward; and the feebleness of savage man
intensifies one's sense of the overmastering strength of nature. The
elephant and the buffalo are as much the masters of the soil as is the
Kafir, and man has no more right to claim that the land was made for him
than have the wild beasts of the forest who roar after their prey and
seek their meat from God.

These features of South African nature, its silence, its loneliness, its
drear solemnity, have not been without their influence upon the mind and
temper of the European settler. The most peculiar and characteristic
type that the country has produced is the Boer of the eastern plateau,
the offspring of those Dutch Africanders who some sixty years ago
wandered away from British rule into the wilderness. These men had, and
their sons and grandsons have retained, a passion for solitude that even
to-day makes them desire to live many miles from any neighbour, a sturdy
self-reliance, a grim courage in the face of danger, a sternness from
which the native races have often had to suffer. The majesty of nature
has not stimulated in them any poetical faculty. But her austerity,
joined to the experiences of their race, has contributed to make them
grave and serious, closely bound to their ancient forms of piety, and
prone to deem themselves the special objects of divine protection.





By far the most interesting features in the history of South Africa have
been the relations to one another of the various races that inhabit it.
There are seven of these races, three native and four European. The
European races, two of them, especially the Dutch and the English, are,
of course, far stronger, and far more important as political factors,
than are the natives. Nevertheless, the natives have an importance too,
and one so great that their position deserves to be fully set forth and
carefully weighed. For, though they are inferior in every point but one,
they are in that point strong. They are prolific. They already greatly
outnumber the whites, and they increase faster.

The cases of conflict or contact between civilized European man and
savage or semi-civilized aboriginal peoples, which have been very
numerous since the tide of discovery began to rise in the end of the
fifteenth century, may be reduced to three classes.

The first of these classes includes the cases where the native race,
though perhaps numerous, is comparatively weak, and unable to assimilate
European civilization, or to thrive under European rule (a rule which
has often been harsh), or even to survive in the presence of a European
population occupying its country. To this class belong such cases as the
extinction of the natives of the Antilles by the Spaniards, the
disappearance of the natives of Southern Australia and Tasmania before
British settlement, the dying out, or retirement to a few reserved
tracts, of the aborigines who once occupied all North America east of
the Rocky Mountains. The Russian advance in Siberia, the advance of
Spanish and Italian and German colonists in the territories of La Plata
in South America, may be added to this class, for though the phenomena
are rather those of absorption than of extinction, the result is
practically the same. The country becomes European and the native races

An opposite class of cases arises where Europeans have conquered a
country already filled by a more or less civilized population, which is
so numerous and so prolific as to maintain itself with ease in their
presence. Such a case is the British conquest of India. The Europeans in
India are, and must remain, a mere handful among the many millions of
industrious natives, who already constitute, in many districts, a
population almost too numerous for the resources of the country to
support. Moreover, the climate is one in which a pure European race
speedily dwindles away. The position of the Dutch in Java, and of the
French in Indo-China, is similar; and the French in Madagascar will
doubtless present another instance.

Between these two extremes lies a third group of cases--those in which
the native race is, on the one hand, numerous and strong enough to
maintain itself in the face of Europeans, while, on the other hand,
there is plenty of room left for a considerable European population to
press in, climatic conditions not forbidding it to spread and multiply.
To this group belong such colonizations as those of the Spaniards in
Mexico and Peru, of the Russians in parts of Central Asia, of the French
in Algeria and Tunis, of the Spaniards in the Canary Isles, and of the
English and Americans in Hawaii. In all these countries the new race and
the old race can both live and thrive, neither of them killing off or
crowding out the other, though in some, as in Hawaii, the natives tend
to disappear, while in others, as in Algeria, the immigrants do not much
increase. Sometimes, as in the Canary Isles and Mexico, the two elements
blend, the native element being usually more numerous, though less
advanced; and a mixed race is formed by intermarriage. Sometimes they
remain, and seem likely to remain, as distinct as oil is from water.

South Africa belongs to this third class of cases. The Dutch and the
English find the country a good one and become fond of it. There is
plenty of land for them. They enjoy the climate. They thrive and
multiply. But they do not oust the natives, except sometimes from the
best lands, and the contact does not reduce the number of the latter.
The native--that is to say, the native of the Kafir race--not merely
holds his ground, but increases far more rapidly than he did before
Europeans came, because the Europeans have checked intertribal wars and
the slaughter of the tribesmen by the chiefs and their wizards, and also
because the Europeans have opened up new kinds of employment. As,
therefore, the native will certainly remain, and will, indeed, probably
continue to be in a vast majority, it is vital to a comprehension of
South African problems to know what he has been and may be expected to

The native races are three, and the differences between them are marked,
being differences not only of physical appearance and of language, but
also of character, habits, and grade of civilization. These three are
the Bushmen, the Hottentots, and those Bantu tribes whom we call Kafirs.

The Bushmen were, to all appearance, the first on the ground, the real
aborigines of South Africa. They are one of the lowest races to be found
anywhere, as low as the Fuegians or the "black fellows" of Australia,
though perhaps not quite so low as the Veddahs of Ceylon or the now
extinct natives of Tasmania. They seem to have been originally
scattered over all South Africa, from the Zambesi to the Cape, and so
late as eighty years ago were almost the only inhabitants of Basutoland,
where now none of them are left. They were nomads of the most primitive
type, neither tilling the soil nor owning cattle, but living on such
wild creatures as they could catch or smite with their poisoned arrows,
and, when these failed, upon wild fruits and the roots of plants. For
the tracking and trapping of game they had a marvellous faculty, such as
neither the other races nor any European could equal. But they had no
organization, not even a tribal one, for they wandered about in small
groups; and no religion beyond some vague notion of ghosts, and of
spirits inhabiting or connected with natural objects; while their
language was a succession of clicks interrupted by grunts. Very low in
stature, and possibly cognate to the pygmies whom Mr. H.M. Stanley found
in Central Africa, they were capable of enduring great fatigue and of
travelling very swiftly. Untamably fierce unless caught in childhood,
and incapable of accustoming themselves to civilized life, driven out of
some districts by the European settlers, who were often forced to shoot
them down in self-defence, and in other regions no longer able to find
support owing to the disappearance of the game, they are now almost
extinct, though a few remain in the Kalahari Desert and the adjoining
parts of northern Bechuanaland and western Matabililand, toward Lake
Ngami. I saw at the Kimberley mines two or three dwarf natives who were
said to have Bushmen blood in them, but it is no longer easy to find in
the Colony a pure specimen. Before many years the only trace of their
existence will be in the remarkable drawings of wild animals with which
they delighted to cover the smooth surfaces of sheltered rocks. These
drawings, which are found all the way from the Zambesi to the Cape, and
from Manicaland westward, are executed in red, yellow, and black
pigments, and are often full of spirit. Rude, of course, they are, but
they often convey the aspect, and especially the characteristic
attitude, of the animal with great fidelity.

The second native race was that which the Dutch called Hottentot, and
whom the Portuguese explorers found occupying the maritime region in the
south-west corner of the continent, to the east and to the north of the
Cape of Good Hope. They are supposed to have come from the north and
dispossessed the Bushmen of the grassy coast lands, driving them into
the more arid interior. But of this there is no evidence; and some have
even fancied that the Hottentot race itself may have been a mixed one,
produced by intermarriage between Bushmen and Kafirs. Be this as it may,
the Hottentots were superior to the Bushmen both physically and
intellectually. They were small men, but not pygmies, of a reddish or
yellowish black hue, with no great muscular power in their slender
frames. Their hair, very short and woolly, grew, like that of the
Bushmen, in small balls or tufts over the skull, just as grass tufts
grow separate from one another in the drier parts of the veldt. They
possessed sheep and also cattle, lean beasts with huge horns; and they
roved hither and thither over the country as they could find pasture for
their animals, doing a little hunting, but not attempting to till the
soil, and unacquainted with the metals. Living in tribes under their
chiefs, they fought a little with one another, and a great deal with the
Bushmen, who tried to prey upon their cattle. They were a thoughtless,
cheerful, good-natured, merry sort of people, whom it was not difficult
to domesticate as servants, and their relations with the Dutch settlers,
in spite of two wars, were, on the whole, friendly. Within a century
after the foundation of Cape Colony, their numbers, never large, had
vastly diminished, partly from the occupation by the colonists of their
best grazing-grounds, but still more from the ravages of small-pox and
other epidemics, which ships touching on their way from the East Indies
brought into the country. In A.D. 1713 whole tribes perished in this
way. I speak of the Hottentots in the past tense, for they are now, as a
distinct race, almost extinct in the Colony, although a good deal of
their blood has passed into the mixed coloured population of Cape Town
and its neighbourhood--a population the other elements of which are
Malays from the Dutch East Indies, and the descendants of slaves brought
from the West Coast of Africa in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries. From unions between Hottentot women and the Dutch sprang the
mixed race whom the Dutch call Bastards and the English Griquas, and
who, though now dying out, like the French and Indian half-breeds of
Western Canada, played at one time a considerable part in colonial
politics. Along the south bank of the Orange River and to the north of
it, in Great Namaqualand, small tribes, substantially identical with the
Hottentots, still wander over the arid wilderness. But in the settled
parts of the Colony the Hottentot, of whom we used to hear so much, and
whom the Portuguese remembering the death of the viceroy D'Almeida (who
was killed in a skirmish in A.D. 1510), at one time feared so much, has
vanished more completely than has the Red Indian from the Atlantic
States of North America. And the extinction or absorption of the few
remaining nomads will probably follow at no distant date.

Very different have been the fortunes, very different are the prospects,
of the third and far more numerous South African race, those whom we
call Kafirs, and who call themselves Abantu or Bantu ("the people"). The
word "Kafir" is Arabic. It has nothing to do with Mount Kaf (the
Caucasus), but means an infidel (literally, "one who denies"), and is
applied by Mussulmans not merely to these people, but to other heathen
also, as, for instance, to the idolaters of Kafiristan, in the
Hindu-Kush Mountains. The Portuguese doubtless took the name from the
Arabs, whom they found established at several points on the East African
coast northward from Sofala, and the Dutch took it from the Portuguese,
together with such words as "kraal" (corral), and "assagai." The Bantu
tribes, if one may include under that name all the blacks who speak
languages of the same general type, occupy the whole of East Africa
southward from the Upper Nile, where that river issues from the great
Nyanza lakes, together with the Congo basin and most of South-west
Africa. They include various groups, such as the Ama-Kosa tribes (to
which belong the Tembus and Pondos), who dwell on the coast of Cape
Colony eastward from the Great Fish River; the Ama-Zulu group,
consisting of the Zulus proper (in Natal and Zululand), the Swazis, the
Matabili, farther to the north, and the Angoni, in Nyassaland, beyond
the Zambesi River; the Amatonga group, between Zululand and Delagoa Bay;
the Bechuana group, including the Bamangwato, the Basuto and the
Barolongs, as well as the Barotse, far off on the middle course of the
Zambesi; the Makalaka or Maholi, and cognate tribes, inhabiting
Mashonaland and Manicaland. The linguistic and ethnical affinities of
these groups and tribes are still very imperfectly known, but their
speech and their habits are sufficiently similar to enable us to refer
them to one type, just as we do the Finnic or the Slavonic peoples in
Europe. And they are even more markedly unlike the Hottentots or the
Bushmen than the Slavs are to the Finns, or both of these to those
interesting aborigines of northern Europe, the Lapps.

The Bantu or Kafirs--I use the term as synonymous--who dwell south of
the Zambesi are usually strong and well-made men, not below the average
height of a European. In colour they vary a good deal; some are as black
as the Gulf of Guinea negro, some rather brown than black. All have the
thick lips, the woolly hair, and the scanty beard of the negro, and
nearly all the broad, low nose; yet in some the nose is fairly high,
and the cast of features suggests an admixture of Semitic blood--an
admixture which could be easily explained by the presence, from a pretty
remote time, of Arab settlers, as well as traders, along the coast of
the Indian Ocean. As the Bantu vary in aspect, so do they also in
intelligence. No tribe is in this respect conspicuously superior to any
other, though the Zulus show more courage in fight than most of the
others, the Fingos more aptitude for trade, the Basutos more disposition
to steady industry. But, while the general level of intellect is below
that of the Red Indians or the Maoris or the Hawaiians (if rather above
that of the Guinea negroes), individuals are now and then found of
considerable talents and great force of character. Three such men as the
Zulu Tshka, the Basuto Moshesh, and the Bechuana Khama, not to speak of
those who, like the eloquent missionary Tiyo Soga, have received a
regular European education, are sufficient to show the capacity of the
race for occasionally reaching a standard which white men must respect.
And in one regard the Bantu race shows a kind of strength which the Red
Indians and Polynesians lack. They are a very prolific people, and under
the conditions of peace which European rule secures they multiply with a
rapidity which some deem alarming.

How long the various Bantu tribes have been in South Africa is a
question on which no light has yet been thrown, or can, indeed, be
expected. Some of them have a vague tradition that they came from the
north; but the recollections of savages seldom go back more than five or
six generations, and retain little except the exploits or the genealogy
of some conspicuous chief. When the Portuguese arrived in the end of the
fifteenth century, they found Kafirs already inhabiting the country from
Natal northward. But apparently they did not then extend as far to the
west of Natal as they do now; and there is no reason to think that
considerable parts of the interior, such as the region which is now the
Orange Free State and Basutoland, were not yet occupied, but left to the
wandering Bushmen. The Kafirs were then, and continued down to our own
time, in a state of incessant tribal warfare; and from time to time one
martial tribe, under a forceful chief, would exterminate or chase away
some weaker clan and reduce wide areas to a wilderness. Of any large
conquests, or of any steady progress in the arts either of war or of
peace, there is no record, and indeed, in the general darkness, no
trace. The history of the native races, so far as ascertainable, begins
with the advent of the whites, and even after their advent remains
extremely shadowy until, early in this century, the onward march of
settlement gave the Dutch and English settlers the means of becoming
better acquainted with their black neighbours.

Across this darkness there strikes one ray of light. It is a very faint
ray, but in the absence of all other light it is precious. It is that
which is supplied by the prehistoric ruins and the abandoned
gold-workings of Mashonaland.



The ruined buildings of Mashonaland and Matabililand have excited in
recent years an amount of interest and curiosity which is
disproportionate to their number, size, and beauty, but by no means
disproportionate to their value as being the only record, scant as it
is, we possess of what has been deemed an early South African
civilization. I will describe in the fewest words such of these
buildings as I saw, leaving the reader of archæological tastes to find
fuller details in the well-known book of that enterprising explorer, the
late Mr. Theodore Bent. Some short account of them seems all the more
needed, because the first descriptions published gave the impression
that they were far more considerable than they really are.

Scattered over the plateau of southern Mashonaland and Matabililand,
from its mountainous edge on the east to the neighbourhood of Tati on
the west, there are to be found fragments of walls built of small blocks
of granite resembling paving stones (usually about a foot long by six
inches high), but often larger, not cut smooth, but chipped or trimmed
to a fairly uniform size. These walls are without mortar or other
cementing material, but the stones are so neatly set together, and the
wall usually so thick, that the structure is compact and cohesive. The
walls are mostly thinner at the top than at the base. The only
ornamentation consists in placing some of the layers at an acute angle
to the other layers above and below, so as to produce what is called the
herring-bone pattern. Occasionally a different pattern is obtained by
leaving spaces at intervals between the horizontal stones of certain
layers, making a kind of diaper. In some cases this ornamentation,
always very simple, occurs only on one part of the wall, and it has been
said that it occurs usually if not invariably on the part which faces
the east. I heard of ten or twelve such pieces of wall in different
parts of the plateau, and saw photographs of most of these. Probably
others exist, for many districts, especially in the hills, have been
imperfectly explored, and trees easily conceal these low erections. One
was described to me, where the walls are the facings of seven terraces,
rising one above another to a sort of platform on the top. This I have
not seen; but it is probably similar to one which I did see and examine
at a place called Dhlodhlo, about fifty miles south-east of Bulawayo.
This group of ruins, one of the most interesting in the country, stands
high among rocky hills, from which a superb view is gained over the wide
stretches of rolling table-land to the north and north-west, a charming
situation which might have attracted the old builders did they possess
any sense of beauty. On a low eminence there has been erected such a
wall of such hewn, or rather trimmed, stones as I have just described.
It is now about twenty feet in height, and may have originally been
higher. On the eastern side this wall consists of three parts, each
about six feet high, with two narrow terraces, each from five to six
feet wide, between them, the second wall rising from the first terrace,
and the third or highest wall from the second terrace. On this side some
of the stone courses have the simple forms of ornamental pattern already
mentioned. On the opposite, or western and north-western, side only one
terrace and a low, unornamented wall of trimmed stones are now
discernible. To the north, still within what seems to have been the main
inclosing wall, are small inclosures built of trimmed stone, which may
have been chambers originally roofed with wood or bushes. At the top of
the highest wall there is at the north-north-west end a small level
platform of earth or rubble, which seems to have been filled in behind
the terraced walls. This platform is approached by a narrow passage
between walls of trimmed stone, at one point in which there appears to
have been a sort of narrow gateway barely wide enough for two persons to
pass. There is no trace of any stone building on the top of the
platform, and the remains of clay huts which one finds there may well be
quite modern. To the south of this principal structure there is a second
small hill or boss of granite, protected on three sides by steep sheets
of granite rock. Its top is inclosed by a low wall of trimmed stones,
now in places quite broken away, with no trace of any stone building
within. All round on the lower ground are large inclosures rudely built
of rough stones, and probably intended for cattle-kraals. They may be
quite modern, and they throw no light on the purpose of the ancient
buildings. Nor is much light to be obtained from the objects which have
been found in the ruins. When I was there they were being searched by
the Mashonaland Ancient Ruins Exploration Company, a company authorized
by the British South Africa Company to dig and scrape in the ancient
buildings of the country for gold or whatever else of value may be there
discoverable, an enterprise which, though it may accelerate the progress
of archæological inquiry, obviously requires to be conducted with great
care and by competent persons. So far as I could observe, all due care
was being used by the gentleman in charge of the work at Dhlodhlo; but
considering how easy it is to obliterate the distinctive features of a
ruin and leave it in a condition unfavourable to future examination, it
seems desirable that the company should, as a rule, await the arrival of
trained archæologists rather than hurry on explorations by amateurs,
however zealous and well intentioned. Of the objects found, which were
courteously shown to me, some are modern, such as the bits of pottery,
apparently Indian or Chinese, the bits of glass, the bullets and
fragments of flint-lock muskets, a small cannon, and an iron hammer.
These are doubtless of Portuguese origin, though it does not follow that
any Portuguese expedition ever penetrated so far inland, for they may
have been gifts or purchases from the Portuguese established on the
coast four or five hundred miles away. So, too, the silver and copper
ornaments found, and some of the gold ones (occasionally alloyed with
copper), which show patterns apparently Portuguese, may be recent. There
are also, however, some gold ornaments, such as beads, bangles (a
skeleton was found with bangles on the legs and a bead necklace), and
pieces of twisted gold wire, which may be far more ancient, and indeed
as old as the structure itself. A small crucible with nuggets and small
bits of gold goes to indicate that smelting was carried on, though the
nearest ancient gold-workings are six miles distant. Probably here, as
at Hissarlik and at Carthage, there exist remains from a long succession
of centuries, the spot having been occupied from remote antiquity.[6] At
present it is not only uninhabited, but regarded by the natives with
fear. They believe it to be haunted by the ghosts of the departed, and
are unwilling, except in the daytime and for wages paid by the
Exploration Company, to touch or even to enter the ruins. They can
hardly be persuaded even to relate such traditions as exist regarding
the place. All that has been gathered is that it was the dwelling of a
line of _mambos_, or chiefs, the last of whom was burned here by
Mosilikatze, the Matabili king, when he conquered the country sixty
years ago. (The place does show marks of fire.) But the buildings were
here long before the mambos reigned, and who built them, or why, no one
knows. The natives come sometimes to make offerings to ancestral ghosts,
especially when they ask for success in hunting; and if the hunt be
successful, strips of meat are cut off and placed in cleft sticks for
the benefit of the ghosts.

Three hypotheses have been advanced regarding the Dhlodhlo building. One
regards them as a fortress. The objection to this is that the terraced
and ornamented wall is so far from contributing to defence that it
actually facilitates attack; for, by the help of the terraces and of the
interstices among the stones which the ornamental pattern supplies, an
active man could easily scale it in front. Moreover, there is hard by,
to the north, a higher and more abrupt hill which would have offered a
far better site for a fort. The second view is that Dhlodhlo was a
mining station, where slaves were kept at work; but if so, why was it
not placed near the old gold-workings instead of some miles off, and of
what use were the terraced walls? The inquirer is therefore led to the
third view--that the building was in some way connected with religious
worship, and that the ornament which is seen along the eastern wall was
placed there with some religious motive. There is, however, nothing
whatever to indicate the nature of that worship, nor the race that
practised it, for no objects of a possibly religious character (such as
those I shall presently mention at Zimbabwye) have been found here.

I visited a second ruin among the mountains of Mashonaland, near the
Lezapi River, at a place called Chipadzi's grave, a mile from the kraal
of a chief named Chipunza. Here a rocky granite kopje, almost
inaccessible on two sides, is protected on one of the other sides by a
neatly built wall of well-trimmed stones, similar to that of Dhlodhlo,
but without ornament. The piece that remains is some fifty yards long,
five feet thick at the base, and eleven feet high at its highest point.
It is obviously a wall of defence, for the only erections within are
low, rough inclosures of loose stones, and three clay huts, one of which
covers the grave of Chipadzi, a chief who died some twenty years ago,
and who was doubtless interred here because the place was secluded and
already in a fashion consecrated by the presence of the ancient wall.
That the wall is ancient hardly admits of doubt, for it is quite unlike
any of the walls--there are not many in the country--which the Kafirs
now build, these being always of stones entirely untrimmed and very
loosely fitted together, though sometimes plastered with mud to make
them hold.[7] There is nothing to see beyond the wall itself, and the
only interest of the place is in its showing that the race who built
Dhlodhlo and other similar walls in Matibililand were probably here

Much larger and more remakable is the group of ruins (situated seventeen
miles from Fort Victoria, in southern Mashonaland) which goes by the
name of the Great Zimbabwye. This Bantu word is said to denote a stone
building, but has often been used to describe the residence of a great
chief, whatever the materials of which it is constructed. It is a common
noun, and not the name of one particular place. Europeans, however,
confine it to this one ruin, or rather to two ruined buildings near
each other. One of these is on the top of a rocky and in parts
precipitous hill, the other in a valley half a mile from the foot of the

The first, which we may call the Fort, consists of a line of wall, in
parts double, defending the more accessible parts of the eastern and
south-eastern end of the hill or kopje, which is about 500 feet high,
and breaks down on its southern side in a nearly vertical sheet of
granite. The walls, which in some places are thirty feet high, are all
built of small trimmed blocks of granite such as I have already
described, without mortar, but neatly fitted together. They are in
excellent preservation, and are skilfully constructed in a sort of
labyrinth, so as to cover all the places where an enemy might approach.
From the openings in the wall, where doors were probably placed,
passages are carried inward, very narrow and winding, so that only one
person at a time can pass, and completely commanded by the high wall on
either side. Everything speaks of defence, and everything is very well
adapted, considering the rudeness of the materials, for efficient
defence. There is no sort of ornament in the walls, except that here and
there at the entrances some stones are laid transversely to the others,
and that certain long, thin pieces of a slaty stone, rounded so that one
might call them stone poles--they are about five to seven feet
long--project from the top of the wall. Neither is there any trace of an
arch or vaulted roof. None of what look like chambers has a roof. They
were doubtless covered with the branches of trees. Very few objects have
been found throwing any light on the object of the building or its
builders, and these have been now removed, except some small pieces of
sandstone, a rock not found in the neighbourhood, which (it has been
conjectured) may have been brought for the purposes of mining.

The other building is much more remarkable. It stands on a slight
eminence in the level ground between the hill on which the Fort stands
and another somewhat lower granite hill, and is about a third of a mile
from the Fort. It consists of a wall, rather elliptical than circular in
form, from thirty to forty feet high, fourteen feet thick near the
ground, and from six to nine thick at the top, where one can walk along
a considerable part with little difficulty. This wall is built of the
same small, well-trimmed blocks of granite, nicely fitted together, and
for more than half the circumference is in excellent preservation,
although shrubs and climbing vines have here and there rooted themselves
in it. The rest of it is more or less broken, and in one place quite
overthrown. There are two gates, at the west and the north. The wall is
quite plain, except for about one-third (or perhaps a little less) of
the outer face, where there is such an ornament as I have already
described, of two courses of stones set slantingly at an acute angle to
the ordinary flat courses above and below. These two courses are the
fifth and seventh from the top. In the space surrounded by the wall,
which is about three-quarters of an acre, are some small inclosures of
trimmed stone, apparently chambers. There is also a singular wall
running parallel to the inner face of the great inclosing wall for some
twenty yards, leaving between it and that inner face a very narrow
passage, which at one point must have been closed by a door (probably of
stone), for at that point steps lead up on either side, and hollow
spaces fit for receiving a door remain. At one end this passage opens
into a small open space, where the most curious of all the erections are
to be found, namely, two solid towers of trimmed stones. One of these is
quite low, rising only some five feet from the ground. The other is more
than forty feet high, overtopping the great inclosing wall (from which
it is eight feet distant) by about five feet, and has a bluntly conical
top. It reminds one a little of an Irish round tower, though not so
high, save that the Irish towers are hollow and this solid, or of a
Buddhist tope, save that the topes which are solid, are very much
thicker. There is nothing whatever to indicate the purpose of this
tower, but the fact that the space in which it and the smaller tower
stand is cut off from the rest of the enclosed area by a pretty high
wall seems to show that it was meant to be specially protected or was
deemed to be specially sacred.

Outside the main inclosing wall are several small inclosures of
irregular shape, surrounded by similar walls of trimmed stones, but all
low and broken and with nothing inside. One of these joins on to the
main wall of the great inclosure.

This is all that there is to see at Zimbabwye. What I have described
seems little, and that little is simple, even rude. The interest lies in
guessing what the walls were built for, and by whom. Comparatively
little has been discovered by digging. No inscriptions whatever have
been found. Some figures of birds rudely carved in a sort of soapstone
were fixed along the top of the walls of the Fort, and have been removed
to the Cape Town museum. It is thought that they represent vultures, and
the vulture was a bird of religious significance among some of the
Semitic nations. Fragments of soapstone bowls were discovered, some with
figures of animals carved on them, some with geometrical patterns, while
on one were marks which might possibly belong to some primitive
alphabet. There were also whorls somewhat resembling those which occur
so profusely in the ruins of Troy, and stone objects which may be
phalli, though some at least of them are deemed by the authorities of
the British Museum (to whom I have shown them) to be probably pieces
used for playing a game like that of fox-and-geese. The iron and bronze
weapons which were found may have been comparatively modern, but the
small crucibles for smelting gold, with tools and a curious ingot-mould
(said to resemble ancient moulds used at tin workings) were apparently

What purpose were these buildings meant to serve? That on the hill was
evidently a stronghold, and a stronghold of a somewhat elaborate kind,
erected against an enemy deemed formidable. The large building below can
hardly have been a place of defence, because it stands on level ground
with a high, rocky hill just above it, which would have afforded a much
stronger situation. Neither was it a mining station, for the nearest
place where any trace of gold has been found is seven miles away, and in
a mining station, even if meant to hold slave workers, there would have
been no use for a wall so lofty as this. Two hypotheses remain: that
this was the residence of a chief, or that it was erected for the
purposes of religious worship. It may have been both--a palace, so to
speak, with a temple attached. The presence of the inner inclosure,
guarded by its separate wall, and with its curious tower, is most
plausibly explained by supposing a religious purpose; for as religion is
the strangest of all human things, and that in which men most vary, so
it is naturally called in to explain what is otherwise inexplicable.

What, then, was the religion of those who built this shrine, if shrine
it was? The ornamentation of that part of the outer wall which faces the
rising sun suggests sun-worship. The phalli (if they are phalli) point
to one of the Oriental forms of the worship of the forces of nature. The
birds' heads may have a religious significance, and possibly the
significance which it is said that vultures had in the Syrian
nature-worship. These data give some slight presumptions, yet the field
for conjecture remains a very wide one, and there is nothing in the
buildings to indicate the particular race who erected the Fort and the
Temple (if it was a temple). However, the tower bears some resemblance
to a tower which appears within a town wall on an ancient coin of the
Phoenician city of Byblus; and this coincidence, slight enough, has,
in the dearth of other light, been used to support the view that the
builders belonged to some Semitic race.

Had we nothing but the ruined walls of Zimbabwye, Dhlodhlo, and the
other spots where similar ruins have been observed, the problem would be
insoluble. We could only say that the existing native races had at some
apparently distant time been more civilized than they are now and
capable of building walls they do not now build, or else we should
suppose that some now extinct race had built these. But there are other
facts known to us which suggest, though they do not establish, an
hypothesis regarding the early history of the country.

In very remote times there existed, as is known from the Egyptian
monuments, a trade from South-east Africa into the Red Sea. The
remarkable sculptures at Deir el Bahari, near Luxor, dating from the
time of Queen Hatasu, sister of the great conqueror Thothmes III. (B.C.
1600?), represent the return of an expedition from a country called
Punt, which would appear, from the objects brought back, to have been
somewhere on the East African coast.[8] Much later the Book of Kings (1
Kings ix. 26-28; x. 11, 15, 22) tells us that Solomon and Hiram of Tyre
entered into a sort of joint adventure trade from the Red Sea port of
Ezion-geber to a country named Ophir, which produced gold. There are
other indications that gold used to come from East Africa, but so far as
we know it has never been obtained in quantity from any part of the
coast between Mozambique and Cape Guardafui. Thus there are grounds for
believing that a traffic between the Red Sea and the coast south of the
Zambesi may have existed from very remote times. Of its later existence
there is of course no doubt. We know from Arabian sources that in the
eighth century an Arab tribe defeated in war established itself on the
African coast south of Cape Guardafui, and that from the ninth century
onward there was a considerable trade between South-east Africa and the
Red Sea ports--a trade which may well have existed long before. And when
the Portuguese began to explore the coast in 1496 they found Arab
chieftains established at various points along it as far south as
Sofala, and found them getting gold from the interior. Three things,
therefore, are certain--a trade between South-east Africa and the Red
Sea, a certain number of Arabs settled along the edge of the ocean, and
an export of gold. Now all over Mashonaland and Matabililand ancient
gold-workings have been observed. Some are quite modern,--one can see
the wooden supports and the iron tools not yet destroyed by rust,--and
it would seem from the accounts of the natives that the mining went on
to some small extent down to sixty years ago, when the Matabili
conquered the country. Others, however, are, from the appearance of the
ground, obviously much more ancient. I have seen some that must have
been centuries old, and have been told of others apparently far older,
possibly as old as the buildings at Zimbabwye. I was, moreover, informed
by Mr. Cecil Rhodes (who is keenly interested in African archæology)
that he had seen on the high plateau of Inyanga, in eastern Mashonaland,
some remarkable circular pits lined with stone, and approached in each
case by a narrow subterranean passage, which can best be explained by
supposing them to have been receptacles for the confinement of slaves
occupied in tilling the soil, as the surrounding country bears mark, in
the remains of ancient irrigation channels, of an extensive system of
tillage where none now exists. The way in which the stones are laid in
these pit-walls is quite unlike any modern Kafir work, and points to the
presence of a more advanced race. Putting all these facts together, it
has been plausibly argued that at some very distant period men more
civilized than the Kafirs came in search of gold into Mashonaland,
opened these mines, and obtained from them the gold which found its way
to the Red Sea ports, and that the buildings whose ruins we see were
their work. How long ago this happened we cannot tell, but if the
strangers came from Arabia they must have done so earlier than the time
of Mohammed, for there is nothing of an Islamic character about the
ruins or the remains found, and it is just as easy to suppose that they
came in the days of Solomon, fifteen centuries before Mohammed. Nor can
we guess how they disappeared: whether they were overpowered and
exterminated by the Kafirs, or whether, as Mr. Selous conjectures, they
were gradually absorbed by the latter, their civilization and religion
perishing, although the practice of mining for gold remained. The
occasional occurrence among the Kafirs of faces with a cast of features
approaching the Semitic has been thought to confirm this notion, though
nobody has as yet suggested that we are to look here for the lost Ten
Tribes. Whoever these people were, they have long since vanished. The
natives seem to have no traditions about the builders of Zimbabwye and
the other ancient walls, though they regard the ruins with a certain
awe, and fear to approach them at twilight.

It is this mystery which makes these buildings, the solitary
archæological curiosities of South Africa, so impressive. The ruins are
not grand, nor are they beautiful; they are simple even to rudeness. It
is the loneliness of the landscape in which they stand, and still more
the complete darkness which surrounds their origin, their object, and
their history, that gives to them their unique interest. Whence came the
builders? What tongue did they speak? What religion did they practise?
Did they vanish imperceptibly away, or did they fly to the coast, or
were they massacred in a rising of their slaves? We do not know;
probably we shall never know. We can only say, in the words of the
Eastern poet:

    "They came like water, and like wind they went."

[Footnote 6: Mr. Neal, managing director of the Company, has been good
enough to inform me that since my visit he satisfied himself that there
had been occupations by different races and probably at widely distant
dates. Many skeletons have been found, with a good deal of gold jewelry,
and some bronze implements.]

[Footnote 7: This place is described by Mr. Selous in his interesting
book, _A Hunter's Wanderings in Africa_, pp. 339-341. He thinks the wall
as well built as those at the Great Zimbabwye. To me it seemed not so
good, and a little rougher even than the work at Dhlodhlo. Hard by is a
modern Kafir fort, Chitikete, with a plastered and loop-holed rough
stone wall, quite unlike this wall at Chipadzi's grave. This place is
further described in Chapter XVI.]

[Footnote 8: Maspero (_Histoire ancienne des Peuples d'Orient_, p. 169)
conjectures Somaliland]



The curtain rises upon the Kafir peoples when the Portuguese landed on
the east coast of Africa in the beginning of the sixteenth century. Arab
sheiks then held a few of the coast villages, ruling over a mixed race,
nominally Mohammedan, and trading with the Bantu tribes of the interior.
The vessels of these Arabs crossed the Indian Ocean with the monsoon to
Calicut and the Malabar coast, and the Indian goods they carried back
were exchanged for the gold and ivory which the natives brought down.
The principal race that held the country between the Limpopo and the
Zambesi was that which the Portuguese called Makalanga or Makaranga, and
which we call Makalaka. They are the progenitors of the tribes who, now
greatly reduced in numbers and divided into small villages and clans,
occupy Mashonaland. Their head chief was called the Monomotapa, a name
interpreted to mean "Lord of the Mountain" or "Lord of the Mines." This
personage was turned by Portuguese grandiloquence into an emperor, and
by some European geographers into the name of an empire; so Monomotapa
came to figure on old maps as the designation of a vast territory.

When, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Dutch at the Cape
began to learn something of the Kafirs who dwelt to the eastward, they
found that there was no large dominion, but a great number of petty
tribes, mostly engaged in war with one another. Some were half nomad,
none was firmly rooted in the soil; and the fact that tribes who spoke
similar dialects were often far away from one another, with a tribe of a
different dialect living between, indicated that there had been many
displacements of population of which no historical record existed. Early
in the present century events occurred which showed how such
displacements might have been brought about. In the last years of the
eighteenth century Dingiswayo, the exiled son of the chief of the
Abatetwa tribe, which lived in what is now Zululand, found his way to
the Cape, and learned to admire the military organization of the British
troops who were then holding the Colony. Returning home and regaining
his throne, he began to organise and drill his warriors, who before that
time had fought without order or discipline, like other savages. His
favourite officer was Tshaka, a young chief, also exiled, who belonged
to the then small tribe of Zulus. On the death of Dingiswayo, Tshaka was
chosen its chief by the army, and the tribes that had obeyed Dingiswayo
were thenceforward known under the name of Zulus. Tshaka, who united to
his intellectual gifts a boundless ambition and a ruthless will, further
improved the military system of his master, and armed his soldiers with
a new weapon, a short, broad-bladed spear, fit for stabbing at close
quarters, instead of the old light javelin which had been theretofore
used. He formed them into regiments, and drilled them to such a
perfection of courage that no enemy could withstand their rush, and the
defeated force, except such as could escape by fleetness of foot, was
slaughtered on the spot. Quarter had never been given in native wars,
but the trained valour of the Zulus, and their habit of immediately
engaging the enemy hand to hand, not only gave them an advantage like
that which suddenly made the Spartan infantry superior to all their
neighbours, but rendered their victories far more sanguinary than native
battles had previously been Tshaka rapidly subjected or blotted out the
clans that lived near, except the Swazis, a kindred tribe whose
difficult country gave them some protection. He devastated all the
region round that of his own subjects, while the flight before his
warriors of the weaker tribes, each of which fell upon its neighbours
with the assagai, caused widespread slaughter and ruin all over
South-east Africa. Natal became almost a desert, and of the survivors
who escaped into the mountains, many took to human flesh for want of
other food. To the north of the Vaal River a section of the Zulu army,
which had revolted under its general, Mosilikatze, carried slaughter and
destruction through the surrounding country for hundreds of miles, till
it was itself chased away beyond the Limpopo by the emigrant Boers, as
will be related in the following chapter.

To trace the history of these various native wars would occupy far more
space than I can spare. I will sum up their general results.

A new and powerful kingdom, far stronger than any other native monarchy
we know to have existed before or since, was formed by the Zulus. It
remained powerful under Dingaan (who murdered his half brother Tshaka in
1828), Panda (brother of Tshaka and Dingaan), and Cetewayo (son of
Panda), till 1879, when it was overthrown by the British.

Various offshoots from the Zulu nation were scattered out in different
directions. The Matabili occupied Matabililand in 1838. The Angoni had
before that year crossed the Zambesi and settled in Nyassaland, where
they are still formidable to their native neighbours and troublesome to
the whites.

Kafir tribes from the north-east were chased southward into the mountain
country now called Basutoland, most of which had been previously
inhabited only by Bushmen, and here the Basuto kingdom was built up out
of fugitive clans, by the famous chief Moshesh, between 1820 and 1840.

Some of the Bechuana tribes were driven from the east into their present
seats in Bechuanaland, some few far north-west to the banks of the
Zambesi, where Livingstone found them.

Not only what is now Natal, but most of what is now the Orange Free
State, with a part of the Transvaal, was almost denuded of inhabitants.
This had the important consequence of inducing the emigrants from Cape
Colony, whose fortunes I shall trace in the following chapter, to move
toward these regions and establish themselves there.

The Gaza tribe, of Zulu race, but revolters from Tshaka, broke away from
that tyrant, and carried fire and sword among the Tongas and other
tribes living to the west and north-west of Delagoa Bay. In 1833 they
destroyed the Portuguese garrison there. In 1862 a chief called Mzila
became their king, and established his dominion over all the tribes that
dwell on the eastern slope of the Quathlamba Mountains, between the
Limpopo and the Zambesi. He and his son Gungunhana, who in 1896 was
seized and carried off by the Portuguese, were for a time at the head of
the third great native power in South Africa, the other two being that
of Cetewayo, which perished in 1879, and that of Lo Bengula, overthrown
in 1893. All three chiefs were Zulus in blood. Originally small in
number, this race has played by far the greatest part in the annals of
the native peoples.

The career of Tshaka has deserved some description, because it changed
the face of South Africa in a somewhat similar way, allowing for the
difference of scale, to that in which the career of Tshaka's
contemporary, Napoleon Bonaparte, changed the face of Europe. But in
1836, eight years after Tshaka's death, the white man, who had hitherto
come in contact with the Kafirs only on the Zambesi and at a few points
on the south-eastern and southern coast, began that march into the
interior which has now brought him to the shores of Lake Tanganyika.
Thenceforward the wars of the natives among themselves cease to be
important. It is their strife with the European conqueror that is of
consequence, and the narrative of that strife belongs to the history of
the European colonies and republics, which will be given in the two
succeeding chapters. This, however, seems the right place for some
remarks on the government and customs of the Kafir tribes, intended to
explain the conditions under which these tribes have met and attempted
to resist the white strangers who have now become their rulers.

The Kafirs were savages, yet not of a low type, for they tilled the
soil, could work in metals, spoke a highly developed language, and had a
sort of customary law. The south-east coast tribes, Zulus, Pondos,
Tembus, Kosas, inhabiting a fairly well-watered and fertile country,
were, as a rule, the strongest men and the fiercest fighters; but the
tribes of the interior were not inferior in intellect, and sometimes
superior in the arts. Lower in every respect were the west-coast tribes.
They dwelt in a poor and almost waterless land, and their blood was
mixed with that of Hottentots and Bushmen. In every race the
organization was by families, clans, and tribes, the tribe consisting of
a number of clans or smaller groups, having at its head one supreme
chief, belonging to a family whose lineage was respected. The power of
the chief was, however, not everywhere the same. Among the Zulus, whose
organization was entirely military, he was a despot whose word was law.
Among the Bechuana tribes, and their kinsfolk the Basutos, he was
obliged to defer to the sentiment of the people, which (in some tribes)
found expression in a public meeting where every freeman had a right to
speak and might differ from the chief.[9] Even such able men as the
Basuto Moshesh and the Bechuana Khama had often to bend to the wish of
their subjects, and a further check existed in the tendency to move away
from a harsh and unpopular chief and place one's self under the
protection of some more tactful ruler. Everywhere, of course, the old
customs had great power, and the influence of the old men who were most
conversant with them was considerable. The chief of the whole tribe did
not interfere much with affairs outside his own particular clan, and was
a more important figure in war-time than during peace. Aided by a
council of his leading men, each chief administered justice and settled
disputes; and it was his function to allot land to those who asked for a
field to till, the land itself belonging to the tribe as a whole. The
chiefs act gave a title to the piece allotted so long as it was
cultivated, for public opinion resented any arbitrary eviction; but
pasture-land was open to all the cattle of the clansmen. It was in
cattle that the wealth of a chief or a rich man lay, and cattle, being
the common measure of value, served as currency, as they serve still
among the more remote tribes which have not learned to use British coin.
Polygamy was practised by all who could afford it, the wife being
purchased from her father with cattle, more or fewer according to her
rank. This practice, called _lobola_, still prevails universally, and
has caused much perplexity to the missionaries. Its evil effects are
obvious, but it is closely intertwined with the whole system of native
society. A chief had usually a head wife, belonging to some important
house, and her sons were preferred in succession to those of the
inferior wives. In some tribes the chief, like a Turkish sultan, had no
regular wife, but only concubines. Among the coast tribes no one, except
a chief, was suffered to marry any one of kin to him. There was great
pride of birth among the head chiefs, and their genealogies have in not
a few cases been carefully kept for seven or eight generations.

Slavery existed among some of the tribes of the interior, and the
ordinary wife was everywhere little better than a slave, being required
to do nearly all the tillage and most of the other work, except that
about the cattle, which, being more honourable, was performed by men.
The male Kafir is a lazy fellow who likes talking and sleeping better
than continuous physical exertion, and the difficulty of inducing him to
work is the chief difficulty which European mine-owners in South Africa
complain of. Like most men in his state of civilization, he is fond of
hunting, even in its lowest forms, and of fighting. Both of these
pleasures are being withdrawn from him, the former by the extinction of
the game, the latter by the British Government; but it will be long
before he acquires the habits of steady and patient industry which have
become part of the character of the inhabitants of India.

War was the natural state of the tribes toward one another, just as it
was among the Red Indians and the primitive Celts, and indeed generally
everywhere in the early days of Europe. Their weapons were the spear or
assagai, and a sort of wooden club, occasionally a crescent-shaped
battle-axe, and still less frequently the bow. Horses were unknown, for
the ox, sheep, goat and dog were over all South Africa the only
domesticated quadrupeds. One tribe, however, the Basutos, now breeds
horses extensively, and has turned them to account in fighting. The
rapid movement of their mounted warriors was one of the chief
difficulties the colonial forces had to deal with in the last Basuto
war. The courage in war which distinguished the tribes of Zulu and Kosa
race was all the more creditable because it had not, like that of the
Mohammedan dervishes of the Sudan, or of Mohammedans anywhere engaged in
a _jehad_, a religious motive and the promise of future bliss behind it.
The British army has encountered no more daring or formidable enemies.
Nine wars were needed to subjugate the Kafirs of the southern coast,
although till recently they had few firearms. But the natives had no
idea of the tactics needed in facing a civilized foe. As in their
battles with the Boers they were destroyed by the fire of horsemen
riding up, delivering a volley, and riding off before an assagai could
reach them, so in the great war with Cetewayo in 1879 they fought in the
open and were mowed down by British volleys; and in 1893 the Matabili
perished in the same way under the fire of riflemen and Maxim guns
sheltered behind a laager of wagons.

Religion was a powerful factor in Kafir life; but religion did not mean
the worship of any deity, for there was no deity. Still less had it any
moral significance. To the Kafirs, as to most savage races, the world
was full of spirits--spirits of the rivers, the mountains, and the
woods. Most important were the ghosts of the dead, who had power to
injure or to help the living, and who were therefore propitiated by
offerings at stated periods, as well as on occasions when their aid was
specially desired. This kind of worship, the worship once most generally
diffused throughout the world, and which held its ground among the
Greeks and Italians in the most flourishing period of ancient
civilization, as it does in China and Japan to-day, was and is virtually
the religion of the Kafirs. It was chiefly rendered to the ghosts of the
chiefs, who retained in the spirit world the exceptional importance they
had held among the living; and it had much weight in maintaining loyalty
to a chief, because revolt against him was an insult to a powerful set
of ghosts. The ghost dwelt at the spot where the body was buried, and it
was therefore at the grave that the offerings, mostly of cakes and Kafir
beer, were made. Occasionally animals were killed, not so much by way of
sacrifice as for the sake of providing the ghost with a specially
precious kind of food, though the two ideas run close together in most
primitive worships.[10] Among the Matabili, for instance, there was once
a year a great feast in honour of the king's ancestors, who were
supposed to come and join in the mirth. It was also to the grave that
those who wished to call up the ghost by spells went to effect their
nefarious purpose, and the real place of interment of a great chief was
for this reason sometimes concealed, I found at Thaba Bosiyo, the famous
stronghold of the Basuto chief Moshesh, that his body had been secretly
removed from the place where he was buried to baffle the wizards, who
might try to use his ghost against the living. The ghost is, of course,
apt to be spiteful, that of an uncle (I was told) particularly so; and
if he is neglected he is extremely likely to bring some evil on the
family or tribe. Sometimes the spirit of an ancestor passes into an
animal, and by preference into that of a snake, not that it lives in the
snake, but that it assumes this form when it wishes to visit men. A
particular kind of green snake is revered by the Matabili for this
reason. And most, if not all, tribes had an animal which they deemed to
be of kin to them, and which they called their "_siboko_," a term
apparently corresponding to the totem of the North American Indians.
Creatures of this species they never killed, and some tribes took their
name from it. Thus the Ba-Taung are the people of the lion; the
Ba-Mangwato have the duyker antelope for their totem; and in the Basuto
_pitso_ (public meeting) an orator will begin by addressing his audience
as "sons of the crocodile." Of human sacrifices there seems to be no
trace. Men were killed for all possible reasons, but never as offerings.
And, indeed, to have so killed them would have been to treat the ghosts
as cannibals, a view foreign to native habits, for though human flesh
has been resorted to in times of severe famine, it has never been
regularly eaten, and the use of it excites disgust.

Whether the Kafirs had any idea of a supreme being is a question which
has been much discussed. In several tribes the word, differently spelled
"Umlimo" or "Mlimo" or "Molimo" (said to mean "hidden" or "unseen"), is
used to denote either a power apparently different from that of the
nature sprites or ghosts of the dead, or else the prophet or soothsayer
who delivers messages or oracles supposed to emanate from this power.
The missionaries have in their native versions of the Bible used the
term to translate the word "God." Sometimes, among the Tongas at least,
the word _tilo_ (sky) is used to describe a mysterious force; as, for
instance, when a man dies without any apparent malady, he is said to be
killed by the _tilo_.[11] On the whole, after many inquiries from
missionaries and others who know the natives well, I was led to the
conclusion that the Kafirs have a vague notion of some power
transcending that of common ghosts, and able to affect the operations of
nature (as, for instance, to send rain), but far too dimly conceived to
be properly describable as a divine being.[12] Or to put the thing in
other words, the ordinary and familiar nature-sprites and ghosts of the
departed do not exhaust the possibilities of super-human agency; for
there remains, as among the Athenians whose altar St. Paul found (Acts
xvii. 23), an "Unknown God," or rather unknown power, probably
associated with the heavens above, whose interference may produce
results not attainable through inferior spiritual agencies. One of the
difficulties in reaching any knowledge of the real belief of the people
is that they are usually examined by leading questions, and are apt to
reply affirmatively to whatever the querist puts to them. Their thoughts
on these dark subjects are either extremely vague and misty or extremely
material; the world of abstract thought, in which European minds have
learned to move with an ease and confidence produced by the possession
of a whole arsenal of theological and metaphysical phrases, being to
them an undiscovered country.

Since there were no deities and no idols, there were no priests; but the
want of a priesthood was fully compensated by the presence of wizards;
for among the Kafirs, as among other primitive peoples, there was and is
an absolute belief in the power of spells, and of sorcery generally.
These wizards, like the medicine men among the Red Indians, were an
important class, second only to the chiefs. They were not a caste,
though very often the son of a wizard would be brought up to the
profession. The practitioners were on the lookout for promising boys,
and would take and train one to witchcraft, imparting their secrets,
which included a remarkable knowledge of the properties of various
plants available for poison or healing. Sometimes the wizard acted as a
physician; sometimes he would attempt to make rain; sometimes he would
profess to deliver messages from the unseen world, and in these cases he
might become a terrible power for mischief. Such a revelation made to
the Kosa clans on the south coast in 1856-57, directing them to kill
their cattle and destroy their grain, because the ghosts of their
ancestors were coming to drive out the whites, led to the death by
famine of more than 30,000 people. Such a revelation proceeding from a
soothsayer, occasionally called the Mlimo, who dwelt in a cavern among
granite rocks in the Matoppo Hills at a place called Matojeni,
south-east of Bulawayo[13] (oracles have always tended to come from
caves), had much to do with the rising of the Matabili in 1896. But the
most frequent and most formidable work done by the wizard was that of
"smelling out" persons who were bewitching others so as to cause
sickness or misfortune. In this branch of his profession the wizard
often became the engine of the jealousy or rapacity of the chief, who
would secretly prompt him to denounce a prominent or a wealthy man.
Suspicion being once roused, the victim had little chance: he was
despatched, and his property seized by the chief. Witchcraft, and the
murders it gave rise to, have been the darkest side of native life. The
sorcerer has usually been the enemy of the missionary, who threatens his
gains; but his power is now generally declining, and the British
Government forbids the practice of smelling out witches, as well as many
other shocking and disgusting rites which used to accompany the
admission of boys and girls to the status of adults, or were practised
at sundry festivals. Of the faith in minor and harmless spells one finds
instances everywhere. In Matabililand, for instance, a boy was pointed
out to me who had just been occupied in putting a charm into the
footprint of a lion, in order to prevent the unwelcome visitor from
returning; and nearly every native wears some kind of amulet.[14] These
beliefs will take a long time to die, but the missionaries have now
usually the good sense to see that they do little harm.

As their religious customs were rather less sanguinary than those of the
Guinea Coast negroes, so the Kafirs themselves were, when the whites
first saw them, somewhat more advanced in civilization. Compared with
the Red Indians of America, they stood at a point lower than that of the
Iroquois or Cherokees, but superior to the Utes or to the Diggers of the
Pacific coast. They could work in iron and copper, and had some notions
of ornament. Their music is rude, but not wholly devoid of melody, and
they use instruments of stone, wood, and iron, by striking which a kind
of tune can be played. Some tribes, such as the Tongas, have good
voices, and a marked taste for music. They have some simple games, and a
folk-lore which consists chiefly in animal tales, resembling those
collected by Mr. Harris in his _Uncle Remus_, save that the hare plays
among the Bantu peoples the part of Br'er Rabbit.[15] To poetry, even in
its most rudimentary forms, they do not seem to have attained. Yet they
are by no means wanting in intelligence, and have, with less gaiety,
more sense of dignity and more persistence in their purposes than the
Guinea negro.

When the Portuguese and Dutch first knew the Kafirs, they did not appear
to be making any progress toward a higher culture. Human life was held
very cheap; women were in a degraded state, and sexual morality at a low
ebb. Courage, loyalty to chief and tribe, and hospitality were the three
prominent virtues. War was the only pursuit in which chieftains sought
distinction, and war was mere slaughter and devastation, unaccompanied
by any views of policy or plans of administration. The people were--and
indeed still are--passionately attached to their old customs, which
even a king rarely ventured to disturb (though Tshaka is said to have
abolished among his subjects the rite of circumcision, which is
generally practised by the Kafirs); and it was probably as much the
unwillingness to have their customs disturbed as the apprehension for
their land that made many of the tribes oppose to the advance of the
Europeans so obstinate a resistance. Though they feared the firearms of
the whites, whom they called wizards, it was a long time before they
realized their hopeless inferiority, and the impossibility of prevailing
in war. Their minds were mostly too childish to recollect and draw the
necessary inferences from previous defeats, and they never realized that
the whites possessed beyond the sea an inexhaustible reservoir of men
and weapons. Even the visit of Lo Bengula's envoys to England in 1891,
when they were shown all the wonders of London, in order that through
them the Matabili nation might be deterred from an attack on the whites,
failed to produce any effect upon the minds of the young warriors, who
were fully persuaded that they could destroy the few strangers in their
country as easily as they had overthrown the Mashonas. The only chiefs
who seem to have fully grasped the relative strength of the Europeans,
and thus to have formed schemes of policy suitable to their inferior
position, were Moshesh, who profited by the advice of the French
missionaries, and Khama, who was himself a Christian and the pupil of
missionaries. Nor did any chief ever rise to the conception of forming a
league of blacks against whites.

The natives, as we shall see, have had harsh treatment from the
Europeans. Many unjust things, many cruel things, many things which
would excite horror if practised in European warfare, have been done
against them. But whoever tries to strike the balance of good and evil
due to the coming of the whites must remember what the condition of the
country was before the whites came. As between the different tribes
there was neither justice nor pity, but simply the rule of the
strongest, unmitigated by any feeling of religion or morality. In war
non-combatants as well as combatants were ruthlessly slaughtered, or
reserved only for slavery; and war was the normal state of things.
Within each tribe a measure of peace and order was maintained. But the
weak had a hard time, and those who were rich, or had roused the enmity
of some powerful man, were at any moment liable to perish on the charge
of witchcraft. In some tribes, such as the Matabili, incessant slaughter
went on by the orders of the king. Nothing less than the prolific
quality of the race could have kept South Africa well peopled in the
teeth of such a waste of life as war and murder caused.

Of the character of the individual native as it affects his present
relations with the whites and the probable future of the race, I shall
have to speak in a later chapter (Chapter XXI), as also of the condition
and prospects of the Christian missions which exist among them, and
which form the main civilizing influence now at work.

[Footnote 9: See further as to this primary assembly the remarks on the
Basuto _Pitso_ in Chapter XX.]

[Footnote 10: Those who are curious on this subject may consult Mr.
Frazer's _Golden Bough_, and the late Mr. Robertson Smith's _Religion of
the Semites_, where many interesting and profoundly suggestive facts
regarding it are collected.]

[Footnote 11: As in Homer's day sudden deaths were attributed to the
arrows of Apollo or Artemis.]

[Footnote 12: M. Junod, a Swiss missionary at Delagoa Bay, who made a
careful study of the Tonga tribes, told me that they sometimes use the
word _shikimbo_, which properly denotes the ghost of an ancestor, to
denote a higher unseen power. And I was informed that the Basutos will
pray to the "lesser Molimos," the ghost of their ancestors, to ask the
great Molimo to send rain.]

[Footnote 13: This Mlimo--whether the name is properly applicable to the
divinity, whatever it was, or to the prophet, seems doubtful--belonged
to the Makalakas, but was revered by the Matabili, who conquered them.]

[Footnote 14: It need hardly be said that they have a full belief in the
power of certain men to assume the forms of beasts. I was told that a
leading British official was held to be in the habit, when travelling in
the veldt, of changing himself, after his morning tub, into a rat, and
creeping into his waggon, whence he presently re-emerged in human

[Footnote 15: Several collections have been made of these tales. The
first is that of Bishop Callaway, the latest that of my friend Mr.
Jacottet, a Swiss missionary in Basutoland, who has published a number
of Basuto stories in his _Contes Populaires des Bassoutos_, and of
Barotse stories in another book.]



It is no less true of South Africa than it is of the old countries of
Europe that to understand the temper of the people, the working of their
government, the nature of the political problems which they have to
solve, one must know something of their history. South Africa has had a
great deal of history, especially in the present century, and there are
few places in which recollections of the past are more powerful factors
in the troubles of the present. In the short sketch I propose to give I
shall advert only to the chief events, and particularly to those whose
importance is still felt and which have done most to determine the
relations of the European races to one another. The constitutional and
parliamentary history of the two British colonies and the two Boer
republics has been short and not specially interesting. The military
history has been on a small scale. The economic and industrial history
has been simple and remarkable only so far as the mines are concerned.
But the history of the dealings of the white races with one another and
with the blacks is both peculiar and instructive, and well deserves a
fuller narrative and more elaborate treatment than I have space to give.

Four European races have occupied the country. Of those, however, who
came with Vasco da Gama from Lisbon in 1497 we shall have little to say,
and of the handful who followed Herr Lüderitz from Bremen in 1883 still
less. The interest of the tale lies in the struggles of two branches of
the same Low-German stock, the Dutch and the English.

The first to appear on the scene were the men of Portugal, then in the
fresh springtime of its power and with what seemed a splendid career of
discovery and conquest opening before it.[16] Bartholomew Diaz, whose
renown has been unjustly obscured by that of Vasco da Gama, discovered
the Cape of Storms, as he called it,--the name of Good Hope was given by
King John II.,--in 1486, and explored the coast as far as the mouth of
the Great Fish River. In 1497-98 Da Gama, on his famous voyage to India,
followed the southern and eastern coast to Melinda; and in 1502, on his
second voyage, after touching at Delagoa Bay, he visited Sofala, which
was then the port to which most of the gold and ivory came from the
interior. Here he found Arabs established in the town, as they were in
other maritime trading places all the way north to Mombasa. At what date
they first settled there is unknown; probably they had traded along the
coast from times long before Mohammed. They were superior to the native
blacks, though mixed in blood, but of course far inferior to the
Portuguese, who overthrew their power. In 1505 the Portuguese built a
fort at Sofala, and from there and several other points along the coast
prosecuted their trade with the inland regions, using the conquered
Arabs as their agents. For a century they remained the sole masters not
only of the South-east African seaboard, but of the Indian Ocean, no
vessel of any other European country appearing to dispute their
pre-eminence. They might, had they cared, have occupied and appropriated
the whole southern half of the continent; but in the sixteenth century
it was not of colonization, nor even so much of conquest, that monarchs,
governors, and navigators thought, but of gold. Portugal had no surplus
population to spare for settling her new territories, and--not to speak
of Brazil--she had a far richer trade to develop in western India than
anything which Africa could offer. It may now excite surprise that she
should have taken no step to claim the long stretch of country whose
shores her sailors had explored, from the mouth of the Orange River on
the west to that of the Limpopo on the east. But there was no gold to be
had there, and a chance skirmish with the Hottentots in Table Bay, in
which the viceroy D'Almeida, returning from India, was killed in 1510,
gave them a false notion of the danger to be feared from that people,
who were in reality one of the weakest and least formidable among
African races.

Accordingly, the Portuguese, who might have possessed themselves of the
temperate and healthy regions which we now call Cape Colony and Natal,
confined their settlements to the malarious country north of the tropic
of Capricorn. Here they made two or three attempts, chiefly by moving up
the valley of the Zambesi, to conquer the native tribes, or to support
against his neighbours some chieftain who was to become their vassal.
Their numbers were, however, too small, and they were too feebly
supported from home, to enable them to secure success. When they
desisted from these attempts, their missionaries, chiefly Dominican
friars, though some Jesuits were also engaged in the work, maintained an
active propaganda among the tribes, and at one time counted their
converts by thousands. Not only missionaries, but small trading parties,
penetrated the mysterious interior; and one or two light cannons, as
well as articles which must have come to Africa from India, such as
fragments of Indian and Chinese pottery, have been found many hundred
miles from the sea.[17]

But on the whole the Portuguese exerted very little permanent influence
on the country and its inhabitants. The missions died out, most of the
forts crumbled away or were abandoned, and all idea of further conquest
had been dropped before the end of last century. There were, indeed, two
fatal obstacles to conquering or civilising work. One was the extreme
unhealthiness both of the flat country which lies between the sea and
the edge of the great interior plateau, and of the whole Zambesi Valley,
up which most of the attempts at an advance had been made. Fever not
only decimated the expeditions and the garrisons of the forts, but
enervated the main body of settlers who remained on the coast, soon
reducing whatever enterprise or vigour they had brought from Europe. The
other was the tendency of the Portuguese to mingle their blood with that
of the natives. Very few women were brought out from home, so that a
mixed race soon sprang up, calling themselves Portuguese, but much
inferior to the natives of Portugal. The Portuguese, even more than the
Spaniards, have shown both in Brazil and in Africa comparatively little
of that racial contempt for the blacks, and that aversion to intimate
social relations with them, which have been so characteristic of the
Dutch and the English. There have, of course, been a good many mulattos
born of Dutch fathers in Africa, as of Anglo-American fathers in the
West Indies and in the former slave States of North America. But the
Dutch or English mulatto was almost always treated as belonging to the
black race, and entirely below the level of the meanest white, whereas
among the Portuguese a strong infusion of black blood did not
necessarily carry with it social disparity.[18]

In the beginning of the seventeenth century the Dutch, prosecuting their
war against the Spanish monarchy, which had acquired the crown of
Portugal in 1581 and held it till 1640, attacked the Portuguese forts on
the East African coast, but after a few years abandoned an enterprise in
which there was little to gain, and devoted their efforts to the more
profitable field of the East Indies. With this exception, no European
power troubled the Portuguese in Africa. They had, however, frequent
conflicts with the natives, and in 1834 were driven from their fort at
Inhambane, between Sofala and Delagoa Bay, and in 1836 from Sofala
itself, which, however, they subsequently recovered. It was not till the
progress of inland discovery, and especially the establishment of a Boer
republic in the Transvaal had made the coast seem valuable, that two new
and formidable rivals appeared on the scene.

Under the combined operation of these causes such power as Portugal
possessed on this coast declined during the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries. Except on the deadly banks of the Zambesi, she never had a
permanent settlement more than fifty miles from the sea, and very few so
far inland. The population that spoke Portuguese and professed
Christianity did not exceed a few thousands, and of these the large
majority were at least half Kafir in blood. It became plain that such
life and force as the nation once possessed had, at any rate in Africa,
died out, and that if ever the continent was to be developed it would
not be by the race that had first explored it. Here, therefore, we may
leave the eastern coast and the feeble settlers who shivered with ague
in its swamps, and turn our eyes to the far south, where a new and more
vigorous race began, a century and a half after the time of Vasco da
Gama, to lay the foundations of a new dominion.

The first Teutonic people that entered the African continent were the
Vandals in the fifth century. They came across the Straits of Gibraltar
as conquerors, but they soon established a powerful fleet and acquired a
maritime empire in the western Mediterranean. The second band of Teutons
to enter were the Dutch. They were already a sea power active in the far
East, whither they had been led by their war with Spain. But it was not
as conquerors that they came, nor even as settlers intending to build up
a colonial community. They came to establish a place of call for their
vessels trading to India, where fresh water and vegetables might be
obtained for their crews, who suffered terribly from scurvy on the
voyage of six months or more from the Netherlands to the ports of
Farther India. From the early years of the seventeenth century both
Dutch and English vessels had been in the habit of putting in to Table
Bay to refit and get fresh water. Indeed, in 1620 two English commanders
had landed there and proclaimed the sovereignty of King James I, though
their action was not ratified either by the king or by the English East
India Company. In 1648 a shipwrecked Dutch crew spent six months in
Table Valley, behind the spot where Cape Town now stands, and having
some seeds with them, planted vegetables and got a good crop. They
represented on their return to Holland the advantages of the spot, and
in 1652 three vessels despatched by the Dutch East India Company
disembarked a body of settlers, under the command of Jan van Riebeek,
who were directed to build a fort and hospital, and, above all, to raise
vegetables and obtain from the Hottentots supplies of fresh meat for
passing ships. It is from these small beginnings of a kitchen-garden
that Dutch and British dominion in South Africa has grown up.

The history of this Dutch settlement presents a singular contrast to
that of the Portuguese. During the first quarter of a century the few
settlers kept themselves within the narrow limits of the Cape peninsula.
In 1680 an outlying agricultural community was planted at Stellenbosch,
twenty-five miles from Cape Town, but not till the end of the century
was the first range of mountains crossed. Meantime the population began
to grow. In 1658 the first slaves were introduced,--West African
negroes,--a deplorable step, which has had the result of making the
South African whites averse to open-air manual work and of practically
condemning South Africa to be a country of black labour. Shortly
afterwards the Company began to bring in Asiatic convicts, mostly
Mohammedan Malays, from its territories in the East Indian Archipelago.
These men intermarried with the female slaves, and to a less extent with
Hottentot women, and from them a mixed coloured race has sprung up,
which forms a large part of the population of Cape Town and the
neighbouring districts. The influx of these inferior elements was
balanced by the arrival in 1689 of about three hundred French Huguenots,
a part of those who had taken refuge in Holland after the revocation of
the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV. They were persons of a high stamp,
more intelligent and educated than most of the previous settlers had
been, and they brought with them a strong attachment to their Protestant
faith and a love of liberty. From them many of the best colonial
families are sprung. At first they clung to their language, and sought
to form a distinct religious community; but they were ultimately
compelled to join the Dutch Reformed Church, and the use of French was
forbidden in official documents or religious services. Before the middle
of the eighteenth century that language had disappeared, and the
newcomers had practically amalgamated with their Dutch neighbours. The
Company's government was impartially intolerant, and did not until 1780
permit the establishment of a Lutheran church, although many German
Lutherans had settled in the country.

From the time when the settlers began to spread out from the coast into
the dry lands of the interior a great change came upon them, and what we
now call the distinctive South African type of character and habits
began to appear. The first immigrants were not, like some of the English
settlers in Virginia, men of good social position in their own country,
attached to it by many ties, nor, like the English settlers in the New
England colonies, men of good education and serious temper, seeking the
freedom to worship God in their own way. They came from the humbler
classes, and partly because they had few home ties, partly because the
voyage to Holland was so long that communication with it was difficult,
they maintained little connection with the mother country and soon lost
their feeling for it. The Huguenot immigrants were more cultivated, and
socially superior to the rude adventurers who had formed the bulk of the
Dutch settlers, but they had of course no home country to look to.
France had cast them out; Holland was alien in blood and speech. So it
befell that of all the colonists that Europe had sent forth since the
voyage of Columbus, the South African whites were those who soonest lost
their bond with Europe, and were the first set of emigrants to feel
themselves a new people, whose true home lay in the new land they had
adopted. Thus early in South African annals were the foundations laid of
what we now call the Africander sentiment--a sentiment which has become
one of the main factors in the history of the country.

Nor was this all. When the comparatively small area of fertile land
which could be cultivated without irrigation had been taken up, the
keeping of cattle suggested itself as an easy means of livelihood. The
pasture, however, was so thin that it was necessary to graze the cattle
over wide stretches of ground, and the farther they went into the
interior the scantier was the pasture and the larger therefore did the
area of land become over which a farmer let his oxen or sheep run. This
process of extending cattle-farms--if farms they can be called--over the
interior was materially accelerated through the destruction of the
nearer Hottentot tribes by the frightful outbreak of smallpox which
begun in A.D. 1713, followed by another not less virulent in 1755. The
Europeans suffered severely from it, the negroes, slave and free, still
more, but the Hottentots most of all. In fact, it cleared them away from
all the southern and western parts of the Colony and left these regions
open to Europeans. Only the Bushmen remained, whose more solitary life
gave them comparative immunity from contagion. Thus from the beginning
of the eighteenth century, and during the whole of it, there was a
constant dispersion of settlers from the old nucleus into the
circumjacent wilderness. They were required to pay a sum amounting to
five pounds a year for the use of three thousand _morgen_ (a little more
than six thousand acres) of grazing ground, and were accustomed at
certain seasons to drive their herds up into the deserts of the Karroo
for a change of feed, just after the time when the summer rains
stimulate the scrubby vegetation of that desert region. These settlers
led a lonely and almost nomadic life. Much of their time was passed in
their tent-waggons, in which, with their wives and children, they
followed the cattle from spot to spot where the pasture was best. They
became excellent marksmen and expert in the pursuit of wild beasts. Some
made a living by elephant-hunting in the wilderness, and those who
tended cattle learned to face the lion. They were much molested by the
Bushmen, whose stealthy attacks and poisoned arrows made them dangerous
enemies, and they carried on with the latter a constant war, in which no
quarter was given. Thus there developed among them that courage,
self-reliance, and passion for independence which are characteristic of
the frontiersman everywhere, coupled with a love of solitude and
isolation which the conditions of western America did not produce. For
in western America the numbers and ferocity of the Red Indians, and
those resources of the land which encouraged the formation of
agricultural and timber-producing communities, made villages follow the
march of discovery and conquest, while in pastoral Africa villages were
few and extremely small. Isolation and the wild life these ranchmen led
soon told upon their habits. The children grew up ignorant; the women,
as was natural where slaves were employed, lost the neat and cleanly
ways of their Dutch ancestors; the men were rude, bigoted, indifferent
to the comforts and graces of life. But they retained their religious
earnestness, carrying their Bibles and the practice of daily family
worship with them in their wanderings; and they retained also a passion
for freedom which the government vainly endeavoured to restrain. Though
magistrates, called _landdrosts_, were placed in a few of the outlying
stations, with assessors taken from the people, called _heemraden_, to
assist them in administering justice, it was found impossible to
maintain control over the wandering cattle-men, who from their habit of
"trekking" from place to place were called Trek Boers.[19] The only
organization that brought them together was that which their ceaseless
strife with the Bushmen enjoined. Being all accustomed to the use of
arms, they formed war-parties, which from time to time attacked and
rooted out the Bushmen from a disturbed area; and the government
recognized these military needs and methods by appointing
field-commandants to each district, and subordinate officers, called
field-cornets, to each sub-district. These functionaries have become the
basis of the system of local government among the South African Dutch,
and the war-bands, called commandos, have played a great part in the
subsequent military history of the country.

The eastward progress of expansion presently brought the settlers into
contact with more formidable foes in the Bantu tribes, who dwelt beyond
the Great Fish River. In 1779 some Kafir clans of the Kosa race crossed
that river and drove off the cattle off the farmers to the west of it,
and a war, the first of many fiercely fought Kafir wars, followed, which
ended in the victory of the colonists.

All this while the Colony had been ruled by the Dutch East India Company
through a governor and council, appointed by the directors in Holland,
and responsible to them only--a system roughly similar to that which the
English established in India during the eighteenth century. The
administration was better or worse according to the character and
capacity of the governor for the time being, but it was on the whole
unpopular with the colonists, not merely because they were excluded from
all share in it (except to some small extent in the courts of justice),
but also because the Company kept in its own hands a monopoly of the
trade, and managed trade with a view to its own commercial interests
rather than to those of the community. Thus discontent grew, and this
discontent was one of the causes which led to the dispersion of the
people into the wilderness, whose remoteness secured to them a practical
freedom. In 1779 disaffection had been so much stimulated by the
maladministration of a weak governor, and by the news of the revolt of
the American colonies against Great Britain, that delegates were sent to
Holland to demand redress for their commercial and other grievances, as
well as a share in the government of the Colony. The Company was by this
time in financial straits, and less powerful with the States-general of
the Netherlands than it had formerly been. Long negotiations followed,
reforms were promised, and at last, in 1792, two commissioners were sent
out to investigate and frame measures of reform. The measures they
promulgated were, however, deemed inadequate by the more ardent spirits,
and by those especially who dwelt in the outlying districts, where the
government had exerted, and could exert, little control. In 1795, first
at Graaf-Reinet and then at Swellendam, the people rose in revolt, not,
as they stated, against the mother country, but against the Company.
They turned out the landdrosts, and set up miniature republics, each
with a representative assembly.

It would not have been difficult for the government to have reduced
these risings by cutting off supplies of food. But now South Africa was
suddenly swept into the great whirlpool of European politics, and events
were at hand which made these petty local movements insignificant, save
in so far as they were evidences of the independent spirit of the

From 1757, when the battle of Plassey was fought, the English power in
India had been rapidly growing, and the Cape, which they had not cared
to acquire in 1620, had now become in their eyes a station of capital
importance. When war broke out between Britain and Holland in 1781, the
English had attempted to seize the Colony, but retired when they found a
strong French force prepared to aid the Dutch in its defence. Now they
were again at war with Holland, which, over-run by the armies of
revolutionary France, had become the Batavian Republic. In 1795 an
English expedition, bearing orders from the Stadholder of the
Netherlands, then a refugee in England, requiring the Company's officers
to admit them, landed at Simon's Bay, and after some slight resistance
obliged Cape Town and its castle to capitulate. Within a few months the
insurgents at Swellendam and Graaf-Reinet submitted, and British troops
held the Colony till 1802, when it was restored to the Batavian Republic
on the conclusion of the peace of Amiens. Next year, however, war broke
out afresh; and the English government, feeling the extreme importance,
in the great struggle which they were waging with Napoleon, of
possessing a naval stronghold as a half-way house to India, resolved
again to occupy the Cape. In 1806 a strong force was landed in Table
Bay, and after one engagement the Dutch capitulated. In 1814 the English
occupation was turned into permanent sovereignty by a formal cession of
the Colony on the part of the then restored Stadholder, who received for
it and certain Dutch possessions in South America the sum of £6,000,000.

The European population of the Colony, which was thus finally
transferred to the rule of a foreign though a cognate nation, consisted
in 1806 of about 27,000 persons, mostly of Dutch, with a smaller number
of German or French descent. They had some 30,000 black slaves, and of
the aboriginal Hottentots about 17,000 remained. Nearly all spoke Dutch,
or rather the rude local dialect into which the Dutch of the original
settlers (said to have been largely Frieslanders), had degenerated. The
descendants of the Huguenots had long since lost their French.

No people find it agreeable to be handed over to the government of a
different race, and the British administration in the Colony in those
days was, though restrained by the general principles of English law,
necessarily autocratic, because representative institutions had never
existed at the Cape. Still things promised well for the peace and
ultimate fusion of the Dutch and English races. They were branches of
the same Low-German stock, separated by fourteen hundred years of
separate history, but similar in the fundamental bases of their
respective characters. Both were attached to liberty, and the British
had indeed enjoyed at home a much fuller measure of it than had the
Dutch in the settled parts of the Colony. Both professed the Protestant
religion, and the Dutch were less tolerant toward Roman Catholics than
the English. The two languages retained so much resemblance that it was
easy for an Englishman to learn Dutch and for a Dutchman to learn
English. An observer might have predicted that the two peoples would
soon, by intercourse and by intermarriage, melt into one, as Dutch and
English had done in New York. For a time it seemed as if this would
certainly come to pass. The first two British governors were men of high
character, whose administration gave little ground for complaint to the
old inhabitants. The Company's restrictions on trade had been abolished,
and many reforms were introduced by the new rulers. Schools were
founded, the administration of justice was reorganised under new courts,
the breed of cattle and horses was improved, the slave-trade was
forbidden, and missions to the natives were largely developed. Meanwhile
local institutions were scarcely altered, and the official use of the
Dutch language was maintained. The Roman-Dutch law, which had been in
force under the Company's rule, was permitted to remain, and it is
to-day the common law of all the British colonies and territories, as
well as of the Boer Republics, in South Africa. Intermarriage began, and
the social relations of the few English who had come in after 1806, with
the many Dutch were friendly. In 1820 the British government sent out
about five thousand emigrants from England and Scotland, who settled in
the thinly occupied country round Algoa Bay on the eastern border of the
Colony; and from that time on there was a steady, though never copious,
influx of British settlers, through whose presence the use of the
English language increased, together with a smaller influx of Germans,
who soon lost their national individuality and came to speak either
English or the local Dutch.

Before long, however, this fair promise of peace and union was
overclouded, and the causes which checked the fusion of the races in the
Colony, and created two Dutch Republics beyond its limits, have had such
momentous results that they need to be clearly stated.

The first was to be found in the character of the Dutch population. They
were farmers, a few dwelling in villages and cultivating the soil, but
the majority stock-farmers, living scattered over a wide expanse of
country, for the thinness of the pasture had made and kept the
stock-farms very large. They saw little of one another, and nothing of
those who dwelt in the few towns which the Colony possessed. They were
ignorant, prejudiced, strongly attached to their old habits, impatient
of any control. The opportunities for intercourse between them and the
British were thus so few that the two races acquired very little
knowledge of one another, and the process of social fusion, though easy
at Capetown and wherever else the population was tolerably dense, was
extremely slow over the country at large. A deplorable incident which
befell on the eastern border in 1815 did much to create bad blood. A
slight rising, due to the attempted arrest of a farmer on a charge of
maltreating his native servant, broke out there. It was soon suppressed,
but of the prisoners taken six were condemned to death and five were
hanged. This harsh act, which was at the time justified as a piece of
"necessary firmness," produced wide-spread and bitter resentment, and
the mention of Slagter's Nek continued for many years to awaken an
outburst of anti-British feeling among the Boers.

A second cause was the unwisdom of the British authorities in altering
(between 1825 and 1828) the old system of local government (with the
effect of reducing the share in it which the citizens had enjoyed), and
in substituting English for Dutch as the language to be used in official
documents and legal proceedings. This was a serious hardship, for
probably not more than one-sixth of the people understood English. A
third source of trouble arose out of the wars with the Kafirs on the
eastern border. Since the first hostilities of 1779 there had been four
serious struggles with the tribes who lived beyond the Fish River, and
in 1834 a host of savages suddenly burst into the Colony, sweeping off
the cattle and killing the farmers. After some hard fighting the Kafirs
were reduced to sue for peace, and compelled by the governor to withdraw
beyond the Keiskama River. But the British government at home,
considering that the natives had been ill-treated by the colonists, and
in fact provoked to war, overruled the governor, and allowed them to
return to their old seats, where they were, no doubt, a source of danger
to the border farmers. Thinking the home authorities either weak or
perverse, the farmers bitterly resented this action, and began to look
on the British Colonial Office as their enemy.

But the main grievance arose out of those native and colour questions
which have ever since continued to trouble South Africa. Slavery had
existed in the Colony since 1658, and had produced its usual
consequences, the degradation of labour, and the notion that the black
man has no rights against the white. In 1737 the first Moravian mission
to the Hottentots was frowned upon, and a pastor who had baptized
natives found himself obliged to return to Europe. The current of
feeling in Europe, and especially in England, which condemned the
"domestic institution" and sought to vindicate the human rights of the
negro, had not been felt in this remote corner of the world, and from
about 1810 onward the English missionaries gave intense offence to the
colonists by espousing the cause of the natives and the slaves, and
reporting every case of cruel or harsh treatment which came to their
knowledge. It is said that they often exaggerated, or made charges on
insufficient evidence, and this is likely enough. But it must also be
remembered that they were the only protectors the blacks had; and where
slavery exists, and a weak race is dominated by a strong one, there are
sure to be many abuses of power. When, in 1828, Hottentots and other
free coloured people were placed by governmental ordinance on an equal
footing with whites as regards private civil rights, the colonists were
profoundly disgusted, and their exasperation was increased by the
enactment of laws restraining their authority over their slaves, as well
as by the charges of ill-treating the natives which continued to be
brought against them by the missionaries. Finally, in 1834, the British
Parliament passed a statute emancipating the slaves throughout all the
British colonies, and awarding a sum of twenty million pounds sterling
as compensation to the slave-owners. The part of this sum allotted to
Cape Colony (a little more than three millions sterling) was
considerably below the value of the slaves (about 39,000) held there,
and as the compensation was made payable in London, most slave owners
sold their claims at inadequate prices. Many farmers lost the bulk of
their property, and labour became in many districts so scarce that
agriculture could hardly be carried on. The irritation produced by the
loss thus suffered, intensifying the already existing discontent, set up
a ferment among the Dutch farmers. Their spirit had always been
independent, and the circumstances of their isolated life had enabled
them to indulge it. Even under the government of their Dutch kinsfolk
they had been restless, and now they received, as they thought, one
injustice after another at the hands of alien rulers. To be watched and
denounced by the missionaries, to have black people put on a level with
them, to lose the fruits of their victory over the Kafirs--all these
things had been bad enough. Now, however, when their property itself was
taken away and slavery abolished on grounds they could neither
understand nor approve, they determined to endure no longer, and sought
for some means of deliverance. Rebellion against so strong a power as
that of Britain was evidently foredoomed to failure. But to the north
and east a great wild country lay open before them, where they could
lead that solitary and half-nomadic life which they loved, preserve
their old customs, and deal with the natives as they pleased, unvexed by
the meddlesome English. Accordingly, many resolved to quit the Colony
altogether and go out into the wilderness. They were the more disposed
to this course, because they knew that the wars and conquests of Tshaka,
the ferocious Zulu king, had exterminated the Kafir population through
parts of the interior, which therefore stood open to European
settlement. Thus it was that the Great Trek, as the Dutch call it,--the
great emigration, or secession, as we should say,--of the Dutch Boers
began in 1836, twenty-five years before another question of colour and
slavery brought about a still greater secession on the other side of the

If the reader will here refer to the map, and measure from Cape Town a
distance of about four hundred and fifty miles to the east (to the mouth
of the Great Fish River), and about the same distance to the
north-north-east (to where the towns of Middelburg and Colesberg now
stand), he will obtain a pretty fair idea of the limits of European
settlement in 1836. The outer parts of this area toward the north and
east were very thinly peopled, and beyond them there was a vast
wilderness, into which only a few hunters had penetrated, though some
farmers had, during the last decade or two, been accustomed to drive
their flocks and herds into the fringe of it after the rains, in search
of fresh pastures. The regions still farther to the north and east were
almost entirely unexplored. They were full of wild beasts, and occupied
here and there by native tribes, some, like the various branches of the
Zulu race, eminently fierce and warlike. Large tracts, however, were
believed to be empty and desolate, owing to the devastations wrought
during his twenty years of reign by Tshaka, who had been murdered eight
years before. Of the existence of mineral wealth no one dreamed. But it
was believed that there was good grazing land to be found on the upland
that lay north of the great Quathlamba Range (where now the map shows
the Orange Free State and the Transvaal Republic). More to the south lay
the territory we now call Natal. It was described by those very few
persons who had explored it as fertile and well-watered, a country fit
both for tillage and for pasture; but wide plains and high mountains had
to be crossed to reach it by land from the north-west, and close to it
on the north-east was the main body of the Zulu nation, under King
Dingaan, the brother and sucessor of Tshaka.

Into this wilderness did the farmers set forth, and though some less
laudable motives may have been mingled with the love of independence and
the resentment at injustice which mainly prompted their emigration, it
is impossible not to admire their strenuous and valiant spirit. They
were a religious people, knowing no book but the Bible, and they deemed
themselves, like many another religious people at a like crisis of their
fortunes, to be under the special protection of Heaven, as was Israel
when it went out of Egypt into a wilderness not so vast nor so full of
perils as was that which the Boers were entering. Escaping from a sway
which they compared to that of the Egyptian king, they probably expected
to be stopped or turned back. But Pharaoh, though he had turned a deaf
ear to their complaints, was imbued with the British spirit of legality.
He consulted his attorney-general, and did not pursue them. The colonial
government saw with concern the departure of so many useful subjects.
But it was advised that it had no legal right to stop them, so it stood
by silently while party after party of emigrants--each householder with
his wife and his little ones, his flocks and his herds and all his
goods--took its slow way from the eastern or northern parts of the
Colony, up the slopes of the coast range, and across the passes that
lead into the high plateau behind. Within two years from 6,000 to 10,000
persons set forth. They travelled in large covered wagons drawn by ten
or twelve yoke of oxen, and they were obliged to travel in parties of no
great size, lest their cattle should exhaust the pasture along the track
they followed. There was, however a general concert of plan among them,
and most of the smaller groups united at spots previously fixed upon for
a rendezvous. All the men were armed, for the needs of defence against
the Bushmen, and the passion for killing game, had made the farmers
expert in the use of the rifle. As marksmen they were unusually steady
and skilful, and in the struggles that followed nothing but their
marksmanship saved them. Few to-day survive of those who took part in
this Great Trek, but among those few is Paul Kruger, now President of
the South African Republic, who followed his father's cattle as they
were driven forward across the prairie, being then a boy of ten.

I have not space to tell, save in the briefest outline, the striking and
romantic story of the wanderings of the emigrant Boers and their
conflicts with the native tribes. The first party, like the first host
of Crusaders that started for the East in the end of the eleventh
century, perished miserably. It consisted of ninety-eight persons
travelling with thirty wagons. They penetrated far to the north-east,
into what is now the territory of the Transvaal Republic. Some were cut
off by the natives; some, reduced to a mere handful by fever and by the
loss of their cattle,--for they had ventured into the unhealthy lower
country to the south-east of the mountains, where the tsetse-fly
abounds,--made their way to the coast at Delagoa Bay. Another party,
formed by the union of a number of smaller bodies at Thaba 'Ntshu, a
rocky peak in the Orange Free State, visible on the eastern horizon from
the present town of Bloemfontein, advanced thence to the north, and
presently came in contact with a redoubtable branch of the Zulu race,
famous in later history under the name of Matabili. This tribe was then
ruled by the chief Umzilikazi, or Mosilikatze, a warrior of great energy
and talent. He had been one of Tshaka's favourite generals, but, having
incurred that king's displeasure, had fled, about A.D. 1817, with his
regiment to the north-west, and established his headquarters near a
place called Mosega (between Pretoria and Mafeking), in what is now the
Transvaal Republic. Thence he raided and massacred the Bechuanas and
other tribes of this region, though himself unable to withstand the main
Zulu nation, which, under Dingaan, was living farther to the south. The
Matabili provoked war by falling upon and destroying a detachment of the
emigrants. Intruders the latter doubtless were, but, as the Matabili
themselves had slaughtered without mercy the weaker Kafir tribes, the
Boers might think they need not feel any compunction in dealing out the
like measure to their antagonists. And, in point of fact, the emigrants
seem all through to have treated the natives much as Israel treated the
natives of Canaan, and to have conceived themselves to have Old
Testament authority for occupying the territories of the heathen, and
reducing them by the sternest methods to serfdom or submission. Here
they had an unprovoked massacre to avenge, and they showed equal
promptitude and courage. Pouncing upon Mosilikatze, they defeated his
vastly superior force with so great a slaughter that he fled
north-westward far away beyond the Limpopo River, and fell like a
thunderbolt upon the tribes who dwelt between that stream and the
Zambesi, killing many and making slaves of the rest. Here, with the
king's kraal of Buluwayo for its capital, was established the kingdom of
the Matabili, which remained as a terror to its neighbours till, in its
turn, destroyed by Dr. Jameson and the British South Africa Company in
1893. It was a curious chain of events that brought fire and slaughter
so suddenly, in 1837, upon the peoples of the Zambesi Valley. As the
conflicts of nomad warriors along the great wall of China in the fourth
century of our era set a-going a movement which, propagated from tribe
to tribe, ended by precipitating the Goths upon the Mediterranean
countries, and brought Alaric to the Salarian Gate of Rome, so the
collapse of the French monarchy, inducing the Revolution and the
consequent war with England, carried the English to the Cape, brought
the Boers into collision with the Matabili, and at last hurled the
savage host of Mosilikatze on the helpless Makalakas.

The defeat and expulsion of the Matabili left the vast territories
between the Orange River and the Limpopo in the hands of the Boer
immigrants. Within these territories, after much moving hither and
thither, those small and rude communities began to grow up which have
ripened, as we shall presently see, into the two Dutch republics of our
own time. But, meanwhile, a larger and better organized body of Boers,
led by a capable and much-respected man named Pieter Retief, marched
first eastward and then southward across the Quathlamba watershed, and
descended from the plateau into the richer and warmer country between
those mountains and the Indian Ocean. This region had been in 1820
almost depopulated by the invasions of Tshaka, and now contained scarce
any native inhabitants. A few Englishmen had since 1824 been settled on
the inlet then called Port Natal, where now the prosperous town of
Durban lies beneath the villas and orchards of Berea, and (having
obtained a cession of the maritime slip from King Tshaka) were
maintaining there a sort of provisional republic. In 1835 they had asked
to be recognised as a colony under the name of Victoria, in honour of
the young princess who two years afterwards mounted the throne, and to
have a legislature granted them. The British government, however, was
still hesitating whether it should occupy the port, so the emigrants did
not trouble themselves about its rights or wishes. Thinking it well to
propitiate the Zulu king, Dingaan, whose power over-shadowed the
country, the Boer leaders proceeded to his kraal to obtain from him a
formal grant of land. The grant was made, but next day the treacherous
tyrant, offering them some native beer as a sort of stirrup-cup before
their departure, suddenly bade his men fall upon and "kill the wizards."
The excellent Retief perished with his whole party, and a body of
emigrants not far distant was similarly surprised and massacred by a
Zulu army of overwhelming strength. These cruelties roused the rest of
the emigrants to reprisals, and in a fierce battle, fought on December
16, 1838, the anniversary of which is still celebrated by the people of
the Transvaal, a handful of Boers overthrew Dingaan's host. Like the
soldiers of Cortes in Mexico, they owed this, as other victories, not
merely to their steady valour, but to their horses. Riding up to the
line of savage warriors, they delivered a volley, and rode back before
an assagai could reach them, repeating this manoeuvre over and over
again till the hostile ranks broke and fled. Ultimately their forces,
united with those of a brother of Dingaan, who had rebelled against him
and had detached a large part of the Zulu warriors, drove Dingaan out of
Zululand in 1840. Panda, the rebel brother, was installed king in his
stead, as a sort of vassal to the Boer government, which was now
entitled the republic of Natalia, and the Boers founded a city,
Pietermaritzburg, and began to portion out the land. They deemed the
British authorities to have abandoned any claim to the country by the
withdrawal of a detachment of troops which had been landed at Port Natal
in 1838. But their action, and in particular their ejection from the
country of a mass of Kafirs whom they proposed to place in a district
already occupied by another tribe, had meanwhile excited the
displeasure of the government of Cape Colony. That government, though it
had not followed them into the deserts of the interior, had never
renounced, and indeed had now and then reasserted its right to consider
them British subjects. They, however, repudiated all idea of subjection,
holding British sovereignty to be purely territorial, so that when they
had passed out of the region which the British crown claimed they had
become a free and independent people, standing alone in the world. Their
attempt to establish a new white state on the coast was a matter of
serious concern, because it might affect trade with the interior, and
plant in a region which Britain deemed her own the germ of what might
become a new maritime power. And as the colonial government considered
itself the general protector of the natives, and interested in
maintaining the Kafirs between the Boer state and Cape Colony, the
attacks of the Boers on the Kafirs who lived to the west of them toward
the Colony, could not be permitted to pass unchecked. The British
government, though still unwilling to assume fresh responsibilities, for
in those days it was generally believed that the colonial possessions of
Britain were already too extensive, nevertheless ultimately concluded,
for the reasons given above, to assert its authority over Port Natal and
the country behind as far as the crest of the mountains. A small force
was accordingly sent to Port Natal in 1842. It was there besieged by the
Boer levies, and would have been forced to surrender but for the daring
ten days' ride through the whole breadth of Kaffraria of a young
Englishman, Richard King, who brought the news to Graham's Town, six
hundred miles distant. A force sent by sea relieved the starving
garrison after a siege of twenty-six days. The Boer forces dispersed,
but it was not till a year later that the territory of Natal was
formally declared a British colony. Lord Stanley, then colonial
secretary, was reluctant to take over the responsibilities of a new
dominion with a disaffected white population and a mass of savage
inhabitants, and only yielded to the urgent arguments of Sir George
Napier, then governor of the Cape. In 1843, after long and angry debates
(sometimes interrupted by the women, who passionately denounced the
British government), the Volksraad, or popular assembly of the tiny
republic, submitted to the British crown, having delivered a warm but
ineffectual protest against the principle of equal civil rights for
whites and blacks laid down by the British government. The colony of
Natal was then constituted, first (1845) as a dependency of Cape Colony,
afterward (1856) as a separate colony. A part of the Boers, estimated at
five hundred families, remained in it; but the majority, including all
the fiercer spirits, recrossed the mountains (some forthwith, some five
years later), with their cattle, and joined the mass of their
fellow-emigrants who had remained on the plateaus of the interior.
Meanwhile an immense influx of Kafirs, mostly from Zululand, although
many belonged to other tribes whom the Zulus had conquered, repopulated
the country, and in it the blacks have since been about ten times as
numerous as the whites. Thus ended the Dutch republic of Natalia, after
six years of troubled life. While it was fighting with the Zulus on the
east, and other Kafirs on the west, it was torn by incessant intestine
quarrels, and unable either to levy taxes, or to compel for any other
purpose the obedience of its own citizens. But its victories over
Dingaan's armies were feats of arms as remarkable as any South Africa
has seen. The English are not generally slow to recognize the fine
qualities of their adversaries, but they have done less than justice to
the resolution and the daring which the Boers displayed in these early
campaigns against the natives.[20]

With the British annexation of Natal ended the first of the attempts
which the emigrant Boers have made to obtain access to the sea. It was a
turning-point in the history of South Africa, for it secured to Great
Britain that command of the coast which has ever since been seen to be
more and more vital to her predominance, and it established a new centre
of English settlement in a region till then neglected, from whence large
territories, including Zululand and, recently, Southern Tongaland, have
been acquired. Although Britain purported to act, and, indeed, in a
certain sense did act, in self-defence, one cannot repress a feeling
that the Boer settlers, who had occupied a territory they found vacant
and had broken the power of the savage Zulu king, were hardly used. They
ought, at any rate, to have had earlier notice of British intentions.
But against this may be set the fact that the internal dissensions which
rent the infant republic would have sooner or later brought it to the
ground, compelling British intervention, and that the native races have
fared better under British control than they seemed likely to do under
that of the Boers, whose behaviour towards them, though little more
harsh than that of the English colonists, has been much less considerate
than that of the Imperial Government.

Hardly less troubled was the lot of the emigrants who had scattered
themselves over the wide uplands that lie between the Orange River and
the Limpopo. They, too, were engaged in incessant wars with the native
tribes, who were, however, less formidable than the Zulus, and much
cattle lifting went on upon both sides. Only one native tribe and one
native chief stand out from the confused tangle of petty raids and
forays which makes up (after the expulsion of the Matabili) the earlier
annals of the Boer communities. This chief was the famous Moshesh, to
speak of whose career I may digress for a moment from the thread of this
narrative. The Kafir races have produced within this century three
really remarkable men--men who, like Toussaint l'Ouverture in Hayti, and
Kamehameha I. in Hawaii, will go down in history as instances of the
gifts that sometimes show themselves even among the most backward races.
Tshaka, the Zulu, was a warrior of extraordinary energy and ambition,
whose power of organization enabled him to raise the Zulu army within a
few years to a perfection of drill and discipline and a swiftness of
movement which made them irresistible, except by Europeans. Khama, the
chief who still reigns among the Bechuanas, has been a social reformer
and administrator of judgment, tact, and firmness, who has kept his
people in domestic peace and protected them from the dangerous
influences which white civilization brings with it, while at the same
time helping them onward toward such improvements as their character
admits. Moshesh, chief of the Basutos, was born in the end of the
eighteenth century. He belonged to a small clan which had suffered
severely in the wars caused by the conquest of Tshaka, whose attacks
upon the tribes nearest him had driven them upon other tribes, and
brought slaughter and confusion upon the whole of South-eastern Africa.
Though only a younger son, his enterprise and courage soon made him a
leader. The progress of his power was aided by the skill he showed in
selecting for his residence and stronghold a flat topped hill called
Thaba Bosiyo, fenced round by cliffs, with pasture for his cattle, and
several springs of water. In this impregnable stronghold, from which he
drew his title of "chief of the mountain," he resisted repeated sieges
by his native enemies and by the emigrant Boers. The exploits of Moshesh
against his native foes soon brought adherents round him, and he became
the head of that powerful tribe, largely formed out of the fragments of
other tribes scattered and shattered by war, which is now called the
Basuto. Unlike most Kafir warriors, he was singularly free from
cruelty, and ruled his own people with a mildness which made him liked
as well as respected. In 1832 he had the foresight to invite
missionaries to come and settle among his people, and the following year
saw the establishment of the mission of the Evangelical Society of
Paris, whose members, some of them French, some Swiss, a few Scotch,
have been the most potent factors in the subsequent history of the
Basuto nation. When the inevitable collision between the Basutos and the
white men arrived, Moshesh, partly through counsels of the missionaries,
partly from his own prudence, did his best to avoid any fatal breach
with the British Government. Nevertheless, he was several times engaged
in war with the Orange River Boers, and once had to withstand the attack
of a strong British force led by the governor of Cape Colony. But his
tactful diplomacy made him a match for any European opponent, and
carried him through every political danger. Moshesh died, full of years
and honour, about twenty-eight years ago, having built up, out of the
dispersed remnants of broken tribes, a nation which has now, under the
guiding hand of the missionaries, and latterly of the British Government
also, made greater progress in civilization and Christianity than any
other Kafir race. Of its present condition I shall speak in a later

We may now turn back to pursue the story of the fortunes of the emigrant
Boers who had remained on the landward or northerly side of the
Quathlamba Range, or had returned thither from Natal. In 1843 they
numbered not more than 15,000 persons all told, possibly less; for,
though after 1838 fresh emigrants from the Colony had joined them, many
had perished in the native wars. Subsequently, down to the end of 1847,
these numbers were increased by others, who returned from Natal,
displeased at the land settlement made there; and while these Natalians
settled, some to the south-west, round Winburg, others farther north,
in the region between Pretoria and the Vaal River, the earlier Boer
occupants of the latter region moved off still farther north, some to
Lydenburg, some to the Zoutpansberg and the country sloping to the
Limpopo River. Thus the emigrant Dutch were now scattered over an area
seven hundred miles long and three hundred miles wide, an area bounded
on the south-east by the Quathlamba mountain-chain, but on the north and
west divided by no natural limit from the great plain which stretches
west to the Atlantic and north to the Zambesi. They were practically
independent, for the colonial government did not attempt to interfere
with their internal affairs. But Britain still claimed that they were,
in strict intendment of law, British subjects,[21] and she gave no
recognition to the governments they set up. To have established any kind
of administration over so wide a territory would have been in any case
difficult for so small a body of people, probably about four thousand
adult males; but the characteristics which had enabled them to carry out
their exodus from Cape Colony and their campaigns of conquest against
the natives with so much success made the task of organization still
more difficult. They had in an eminent degree "the defects of their
qualities." They were self-reliant and individualistic to excess; they
loved not only independence, but isolation; they were resolved to make
their government absolutely popular, and little disposed to brook the
control even of the authorities they had themselves created. They had,
in fact, a genius for disobedience; their ideal, if one can attribute
any ideals to them, was that of Israel in the days when every man did
that which was right in his own eyes. It was only for warlike
expeditions, which they had come to enjoy not only for the sake of the
excitement, but also because they were able to enrich themselves by the
capture of cattle, that they could be brought together, and only to
their leaders in war that they would yield obedience. Very few had taken
to agriculture, for which, indeed, the dry soil was seldom fitted, and
the half-nomadic life of stock-farmers, each pasturing his cattle over
great tracts of country, confirmed their dissociative instincts.
However, the necessities of defence against the natives, and a common
spirit of hostility to the claims of sovereignty which the British
government had never renounced, kept them loosely together. Thus several
small republican communities grew up. Each would have preferred to
manage its affairs by a general meeting of the citizens, and sometimes
tried to do so. But as the citizens dispersed themselves over the
country, this became impossible, so authority, such slight authority as
they could be induced to grant, was in each vested in a small elective
assembly called the Volksraad or Council of the People.

These tiny republics were held together by a sort of faintly federative
tie, which rested rather in a common understanding than upon any legal
instrument, and whose observance was always subject to the passion of
the moment. The communities which dwelt to the north-east, beyond the
Vaal River, while distracted by internal feuds chiefly arising from
personal or family enmities, were left undisturbed by the colonial
government. They lived hundreds of miles from the nearest British
outpost, and their wars with the Kafirs scarcely affected those tribes
with whom the British authorities came in contact. Those authorities, as
I have already observed, were in those days, under orders received from
home, anxious rather to contract than to extend the sphere of imperial
influence, and cared little for what happened far out in the wilderness,
except whenever the action of the Boers induced troubles among the

It was otherwise with the emigrants who lived to the south-west, between
the Vaal River and the frontier of Cape Colony, which was then at the
village of Colesberg, between what is now De Aar Junction and the upper
course of the Orange River. Here there were endless bickerings between
the Boers, the rapidly growing native tribe of the Basutos, and the
half-breeds called Griquas, hunting clans sprung from Dutch fathers and
Hottentot women, who, intermixed with white people, and to some extent
civilized by the missionaries, were scattered over the country from
where the town of Kimberley now stands southward to the junction of the
Orange and Caledon rivers. These quarrels, with the perpetual risk of a
serious native war arising from them, distressed a succession of
governors at Cape Town and a succession of colonial secretaries in
Downing Street. Britain did not wish (if I may use a commercial term not
unsuited to her state of mind) "to increase her holding" in South
Africa. She regarded the Cape as the least prosperous and promising of
her colonies, with an arid soil, a population largely alien, and an
apparently endless series of costly Kafir wars. She desired to avoid all
further annexations of territory, because each annexation brought fresh
responsibilities, and fresh responsibilities involved increased
expenditure. At last a plan was proposed by Dr. Philip, a prominent
missionary who had acquired influence with the government. The
missionaries were the only responsible persons who knew much about the
wild interior, and they were often called on to discharge functions
similar to those which the bishops performed for the barbarian kings in
western Europe in the fifth and sixth centuries of our era. The
societies which they represented commanded some influence in Parliament;
and this fact also disposed the Colonial Office to consult them. Dr.
Philip suggested the creation along the north-eastern border of a line
of native states which should sever the Colony from the unsettled
districts, and should isolate the more turbulent emigrant Boers from
those who had remained quietly in the Colony. This plan was adopted.
Treaties were made in 1843 with Moshesh, the Basuto chief, and with Adam
Kok, a Griqua captain living on the Orange River, as a treaty had been
made nine years before with another Griqua leader named Waterboer, who
lived farther north (near the present site of Kimberley); and these
three states, all recognized by Britain, were intended to cover the
Colony on the side where troubles were most feared. But the arrangement
soon broke down, for the whites would not recognize a Griqua captain,
while the whole troubles between them and the natives continued.
Accordingly, a forward step was taken in 1846 by placing a few British
troops under a military resident at Bloemfontein, half-way between the
Orange and Vaal rivers, to keep order there. And in 1848 the whole
region from the Orange to the Vaal was formally annexed under the name
of the Orange River Sovereignty. The country had been without any
government, for the emigrants who dwelt in it had no organization of
their own, and did not recognize the republics beyond the Vaal.

This formal assertion of British authority provoked an outbreak among
those of the emigrants, all, or nearly all, of Boer stock, who clung to
their independence. Roused and reinforced by their Boer brethren from
beyond the Vaal, who were commanded by Andries Pretorius, the most
energetic and capable of the emigrant leaders, and the same who had
besieged the British troops at Port Natal, they attacked Bloemfontein,
obliged the Resident's small force to capitulate, and advanced south to
the Orange River. Sir Harry Smith, then Governor of the Cape, promptly
moved forward a small force, defeated the Boers in a sharp skirmish at
Boomplats (August 29, 1848), and re-established British authority over
the Sovereignty, which was not, however, incorporated with Cape Colony.
The Boers beyond the Vaal were left to themselves.

Peace, however, was not yet assured. Fresh quarrels broke out among the
native tribes, ending in a war between the Basutos and the British
Resident. Unsupported by a large section of the local farmers, who
remained disaffected to the government, and preferred to make their own
terms with the Basutos, and having only a trifling armed force at his
command, the Resident fared ill; and his position became worse when
Pretorius, still powerful beyond the Vaal, threatened to move in and
side with the Basutos. Cape Colony was at that moment involved in a
serious war with the Kafirs of the south coast, and could spare no
troops for these northern troubles. So when Pretorius intimated that he
and the northern Boers wished to make some permanent and pacific
arrangement with Britain, which, though it did not claim their
territory, still claimed their allegiance, commissioners were sent to
negotiate with him and those of the northern or Transvaal group of
emigrants who recognized his leadership, for there were other factions
who stood apart by themselves. Thus in 1852 a convention was concluded
at Sand River with "the commandant and delegates of the Boers living
beyond the Vaal," by which the British government "guaranteed to the
emigrant farmers beyond the Vaal River the right to manage their own
affairs, and to govern themselves according to their own laws without
any interference on the part of the British government," with provisions
"disclaiming all alliances with any of the coloured nations north of the
Vaal River," permitting the emigrants to purchase ammunition in the
British colonies, and declaring that "no slavery is or shall be
permitted or practised by the farmers in the country north of the Vaal

From this Sand River convention the South African Republic, afterward
slowly formed out of the small communities which then divided the
country, dates its independence; and by the same instrument it
practically severed itself from the Boer emigrants who were left in the
Orange River Sovereignty south of the Vaal, conduct which the republican
party among these emigrants deemed a betrayal. That Sovereignty remained
British, and probably would have so continued but for an unexpected
incident. It was still vexed by the war with the Basutos, and when
General Cathcart, who had now come out as Governor of the Cape, attacked
Moshesh with a considerable force of British regulars, he was drawn into
a sort of ambush in their difficult country, suffered a serious reverse,
and would have been compelled to invade Basutoland afresh with a larger
army had not Moshesh prudently asked for peace. Peace was concluded. But
the British government was weary of these petty and apparently unending
native wars, and soon after the news of the battle with Moshesh reached
London, the Duke of Newcastle, and Lord Aberdeen's government, in which
he was colonial secretary, resolved to abandon the Sovereignty

To those who look back on 1853 with the eyes of 1899 this seems a
strange determination, for the British crown had ruled the country for
eight years and recently given it a regular new constitution. Moreover,
whereas the farmers beyond the Vaal were nearly all of pure Boer stock,
those in the Orange River Sovereignty were mixed with English settlers,
and from their proximity to the Colony were much less averse to the
British connection. In fact, a large part of them--though it is not now
easy to discover the exact proportion--warmly resisted the proposal of
the British government to retire, and independence had to be forced on
them against their will. In Cape Colony, too, and among the
missionaries, there was a strong repugnance to the policy of withdrawal.
The authorities of the Colony and the Colonial Office at home were,
however, inexorable. They saw no use in keeping territories which were
costly because they had to be defended against native raids, and from
which little benefit was then expected. Hardly any notice had been taken
in Britain of the Sand River convention, which the Conservative ministry
of that day had approved, and when, at the instance of delegates sent
home by those who, in the Orange River territory, desired to remain
subject to the British crown, a motion was made in the House of Commons
asking the Queen to reconsider the renunciation of her sovereignty over
that territory, the motion found no support and had to be withdrawn.
Parliament, indeed, went so far as to vote forty-eight thousand pounds
by way of compensation, in order to get rid of this large territory and
a great number of attached subjects. So little did Englishmen then care
for that South African dominion which they have subsequently become so
eager to develop and extend.

By the convention signed at Bloemfontein on February 23, 1854, the
British government "guaranteed the future independence of the country
and its government," and its inhabitants were "declared, to all intents
and purposes, a free and independent people." No slavery or trade in
slaves was to be permitted north of the Orange River. The Orange River
government was to be free to purchase ammunition in the British
colonies, and liberal privileges in connection with import duties were
to be granted to it.

These two conventions of 1852 and 1854 are epochs of supreme importance
in South African history, for they mark the first establishment of
non-British independent states, whose relations with the British
colonies were thereafter to constitute the central thread in the annals
of the country. As that of 1852 recognised the Transvaal State, so from
that of 1854, which is a more explicit and complete declaration of
independence than had been accorded to the Transvaal people two years
before, dates the beginning of the second Boer republic, the Orange
Free State, which, subsequently increased by the conquest from the
Basutos of a strip of fertile territory in the south, has ever since
remained perfectly independent and at peace with the British colonies.
Its only serious troubles have arisen from native wars, and these have
long ago come to an end. In 1854 an assembly of delegates enacted for it
the republican constitution under which it has ever since been quietly
and peaceably governed. It had the good fortune to elect, as its
president, in 1865, a lawyer from Cape Colony, of Dutch extraction, Mr.
(afterwards Sir) John Brand, who guided its course with great tact and
wisdom for twenty-four years, and whose favourite expression, "All shall
come right," now inscribed on his tombstone at Bloemfontein, has become
throughout South Africa a proverbial phrase of encouragement in moments
of difficulty.[22]

Beyond the Vaal river things have gone very differently. The farmers of
that region were more scattered, more rude and uneducated, and more
prone to factious dissensions than those of the Free State proved to be
after 1854; and while the latter were compressed within definite
boundaries on three sides, the Transvaal Boers were scattered over a
practically limitless area. During the next twenty-five years the
Transvaal people had very little to do with the British government. But
they were distracted by internal feuds, and involved in almost incessant
strife with the natives. These two sources of trouble brought their
government, in 1877, to a condition of virtual collapse. But that
collapse and the annexation which followed it belong to a later phase of
South African history, and we must now turn from them to trace the
progress of events in other parts of the country between 1852 and 1877.

[Footnote 16: The best recent account of the doings of the Portuguese is
to be found in Dr. Theal's book, _The Portuguese in South Africa_,
published in 1896.]

[Footnote 17: I have heard from Lord Wolseley that in his expedition
against Sikukuni, a Kafir chief in the north-east of the Transvaal, he
was told by a German trader who acted as guide that the natives had
shown to him (the trader) fragments of ancient European armour which
were preserved in a cave among the mountains. The natives said that this
armour had been worn by white men who had come up from the sea many,
many years ago, and whom their own ancestors had killed.]

[Footnote 18: Maceo, the well-known leader of the Cuban insurgents who
was killed in 1896, was a half-breed, in whose band there were plenty of
pure whites. In no Southern State of North America would white men have
followed a mulatto.]

[Footnote 19: The word Boer means farmer or peasant (German _Bauer_).]

[Footnote 20: A clear and spirited account of these events may be found
in Mr. R. Russell's book, _Natal, the Land and its Story_, published in

[Footnote 21: Sir P. Maitland's proclamation of August 21, 1845,
expressly reserved the rights of the crown to consider those who had
gone beyond Natal as being still its subjects, notwithstanding the
establishment of a settled government in that Colony. (See Bird's
_Annals of Natal_, vol. ii., p. 468.)]

[Footnote 22: Some further account of the Orange Free State will be
found in Chapter XIX.]



Between the years 1852 and 1856 the history of Anglo-Dutch South Africa
breaks up into four distinct streams. The Transvaal and South African
Republic pursues its own course from 1852 onward, the Orange Free State
from 1854, and Natal from 1856, in which year that district was
separated from the Cape and constituted as a distinct colony. Between
1876 and 1880 the South African Republic and Natal are again brought
into close relations with the march of events in Cape Colony. But before
we trace the three last mentioned streams in their several courses it is
well to return to the Cape, by far the largest and most populous of the
four communities, and sketch in outline the chief events that mark the
development of that Colony down to the memorable epoch of 1877-81.

These events group themselves into three divisions--the material
progress of Cape Colony, the changes in the form of its government, and
those wars with the Kafir tribes which, while they retarded its growth
in population, steadily increased its area.

The departure of some eight or ten thousand Boers, the most discontented
part of the population, in the years following 1835, not only removed an
element which, excellent in other respects, was politically at once
unrestful and old-fashioned, but left plenty of vacant space to be
occupied by new immigrants from Europe. New immigrants, however, came
slowly, because at that time the tide of British emigration was setting
mainly to America, while German emigration had hardly begun. The Kafir
wars had, moreover, given South Africa a bad name, and the settlers of
1820 (see above, p. 111) had suffered several years of hardship before
prosperity came to them. However, between 1845 and 1850 four or five
thousand British immigrants were brought in, with the aid of the
government, and a little later a number of Germans who had served
England in the German Legion during the Crimean War. Again, in 1858,
more than two thousand German peasants were settled on the south coast
in lands which had been previously held by Kafirs. These people made
good colonists, and have now become merged in the British population,
which began to predominate in the eastern province as the Dutch still
does in the western. As the country filled there was a steady, though
slow, progress in farming and in export trade. The merino sheep had been
introduced in 1812 and 1820, and its wool had now become a source of
wealth; so, too, had ostrich farming, which began about 1865 and
developed rapidly after the introduction of artificial incubation in
1869. The finances, which had been in disorder, were set right, roads
began to be made, churches and schools were established, and though the
Kafir raids caused much loss of life and of cattle on the eastern
border, the cost of these native wars, being chiefly borne by the home
government, did not burden the colonial revenue. In 1859 the first
railway was constructed, and by 1883 more than one thousand miles of
railway were open for traffic. There were, however, no industries except
stock-keeping and tillage until 1869-70, when the discovery of diamonds
(of which more anon) brought a sudden rush of immigrants from Europe,
stimulated trade so powerfully that the revenue of the Colony doubled
within five years, and began that surprising development of mineral
resources which has been the most striking feature of recent years.

With the growth of population, which had risen under British rule from
about 26,000 Europeans in 1805 to 182,000 in 1865 and 237,000 in 1875,
there came also changes in the form of government. At first the Governor
was an autocrat, except so far as he was controlled by the fear that the
colonists might appeal to the Colonial Office in London against him: and
the administration was therefore wise or foolish, liberal or severe,
according to the qualities of the individual Governor. Some serious
mistakes were committed, and one Governor, Lord Charles Somerset, has
left the reputation of arbitrary rule; but the officials sent out seem,
on the whole, to have pursued a more judicious policy and shown more
respect to local opinion than the representatives of the Dutch East
India Company had (with one or two brilliant exceptions) done in the
previous century. The blunders which preceded the Great Trek of 1836
were attributable rather to the home government than to its agents on
the spot, and in the years that followed colonial feeling complained
more often of Downing-street than it did of Government House at Cape
Town. The irritation which from time to time broke out sprang chiefly
from questions connected with the natives. Like all Europeans dwelling
among inferior races, the mass of the colonists, English as well as
Dutch, looked upon the native population as existing for their benefit,
and resented the efforts which the home government made to secure for
the blacks equal civil rights and adequate protection. Their wrath was
specially kindled by the vehemence with which a few among the
missionaries denounced any wrongs deemed to have been suffered by the
natives within the Colony, and argued the case of the Kafir tribes who
were from time to time in revolt. I do not attempt to apportion the
blame in these disputes; but any one who has watched the relations of
superior and inferior races in America or India or the Pacific islands
will think it probable that many harsh and unjust things were done by
the colonists, as every one who knows how zeal tends to mislead the
judgment of well-intentioned men will think it no less probable that
there was some exaggeration on the part of the philanthropic friends of
the blacks, and that some groundless charges were brought against the
colonists. The missionaries, especially those of the London Society, had
a certain influence with the Colonial Office, and were supposed to have
much more than they had. Thus from 1820 to about 1860 there was a
perpetual struggle between the colonists and the missionaries, in which
struggle the Governor tended to side with the colonists, whose public
opinion he felt round him, while the Colonial Office leaned to the
philanthropists, who could bring political pressure to bear through the
House of Commons. Unfortunate as these bickerings were, they had at
least the result of tending to unite the Dutch and English elements in
the population, for on native questions there was little difference of
attitude between those elements.

In 1834 a Legislative Council was created, consisting, however, of
officials and of members nominated by the Governor, and not, as the
colonists had petitioned, chosen by election. Twenty years later, when
the population had greatly increased and the demand for representative
institutions could no longer be resisted, a regular two-chambered
legislature was set up, consisting of a Legislative Council and a House
of Assembly, both elected on a wide franchise, with no distinction of
race or colour, though of course the coloured voters were comparatively
few, because the tribal Kafirs living under their chiefs were excluded,
while of other blacks there was only a small proportion who held
property even to the limited extent required for the suffrage. This
legislature met for the first time in 1854. Four years previously an
event had occurred which showed how desirable it was that
constitutional means should be provided for the expression of the
people's wishes. The home government had sent out a vessel carrying a
number of convicts to be landed and kept in the Colony, where no
convicts had been seen since the days of the Dutch Company. A strong and
unanimous feeling arose at once against this scheme, which was regarded
as likely to prove even more harmful in South Africa than it had proved
in Australia, because there was at the Cape a large native population,
among whom the escaped or released convict, possessing the knowledge and
capacity of a white man, but unrestrained by any responsibility or sense
of a character to lose, would be able to work untold mischief. The
inhabitants of Cape Town and its neighbourhood held meetings of protest,
sent remonstrances to England, and mutually pledged themselves to supply
no food to the convict ship. This pledge they carried out, and during
the five months that the convict ship lay in Simon's Bay, it was from
the naval squadron there that she had to receive provisions. The
Colonial Office at last yielded; and the people, while rejoiced at the
success they had achieved, and at the heartiness with which Dutch and
English had co-operated for a common object, were more than ever
disposed to desire some control over their own affairs.

Although after 1854 the sole power of legislation was vested in the
colonial Parliament, subject to the right of the British crown to
disallow an act,--a right which is of course very rarely used,--the
executive power still remained with the Governor and his council, who
were appointed by the home government, and not responsible to the Cape
legislature. It has, however, become a settled principle of British
colonial policy to grant to each and every colony not only legislative
power, but responsible executive government so soon as the white
population of the Colony has become relatively large enough and settled
enough to enable that kind of constitution to be properly worked. In
1872 the whites of Cape Colony had come to exceed 200,000, and the need
for a change had been emphasized shortly before by a conflict of opinion
between the Governor and the legislature as to the best means of setting
right the finances of the Colony. Parliament having been dissolved, the
new houses declared for responsible government, and the home government
wisely assented to their wish. Accordingly, the "cabinet system" of
Britain was established, the Governor's executive council being turned
into a ministry responsible to the legislature, and the Governor himself
becoming a sort of local constitutional sovereign on the model of the
British crown, that is to say a sovereign who reigns but does not
govern, the executive acts done in his name being done by the advice and
on the responsibility of the ministry, who hold office at the pleasure
of the legislature. Thus from 1872 onward the Colony has enjoyed
complete self-government, and has prospered under it despite the
antagonism which has frequently shown itself between the eastern and
western provinces, an antagonism due partly to economic causes, partly
to the predominance of the English element in the former and of the
Dutch in the latter region. The working of the cabinet system has been
even smoother than in most of the other British colonies; but while
setting this to the credit of the good sense and moderation of the
people, it must also be noted that the most exciting crises which have
arisen in South Africa have lain outside the scope of the colonial
ministry and legislature, being matters which have touched the two Dutch
republics or the relations of British territories to foreign Powers.
These matters, being international, belong to the British crown, and to
its local representative, the Governor, in his capacity of High
Commissioner for South Africa; and in that capacity he is not required
to consult the Cape ministry and legislature, but acts under the
directions of the Colonial Office in London.

The grant of cabinet government tended to stimulate political life among
the Dutch farmers, hitherto the more backward part of the population,
and in 1882 their wishes secured a reversal of the ordinance made sixty
years before for the exclusive use of English in official documents and
legal proceedings. Dutch was now placed on a level with English as an
official language in Parliament and the law courts. But this assertion
of Dutch sentiment was due to causes which will be better understood
when we come to the events of 1880 and 1881.

Most of the peaceful growth which has been described would have been
more rapid but for the frequent vexation of native wars. Twice under the
rule of the Dutch Company and seven times under the British crown have
there been sanguinary conflicts with the fierce Kafir tribes of the Kosa
group, who dwell in the east of the Colony. On the north there had been
only Hottentots, a weak nomad race, who soon vanished under the attacks
of smallpox and the pressure of the whites. On the north-east the
deserts of the Karroo lay between the colonists and the Kafirs who
inhabited the plains of the Upper Orange and Vaal rivers. But on the
east the country was comparatively well watered, and supported a large
Kafir population full of courage and fighting spirit. Collisions between
them and the whites were inevitable. The country they occupied was
mostly rugged, and covered with a dense low wood, or rather scrub,
traversed by narrow and winding tracks, which were of course familiar to
them, and difficult for white troops. They had always the advantage in
point of numbers, and though they were usually beaten and compelled to
sue for peace, the obvious anxiety of the colonial government to
conclude a peace emboldened them to fresh outbreaks. To civilized men,
who know the enormous superiority of discipline and of firearms, it
seems strange that these natives, who in the earlier wars had no
firearms, should have so often renewed what we can see was a hopeless
struggle. But it must be remembered that the natives, who saw only small
white forces brought against them, and knew that the whole number of
whites in the Colony was small, have never realized, and do not realize
even to-day, the enormous reserve of the white population in Europe.
Their minds cannot take in large numbers, cannot look far forward,
cannot grasp large issues, and are swayed by sudden gusts of feeling
which overcome all calculation of results. Accordingly, the Kafirs
returned over and over again to the contest, while the colonial
government, not wishing to extend its frontiers, and hating the expense
of this unprofitable strife, never grappled with the problem in a large
way, but tried on each occasion to do just enough to restore order for
the time being. It would probably have been better to have spent once
for all a large sum in a thorough conquest of the Kosas, planting strong
forts here and there through their country, and organizing a regular
gendarmerie. But until the annexation of Natal in 1843 placed British
power on the other side of these turbulent tribes, the process of
conquest might well seem interminable, for it was plain that as soon as
one clan had been brought to submission troubles would break out with
the next that lay beyond it, and fresh wars have to be undertaken to
reduce each of these in its turn. Some allowance must therefore be made
for the tendency of the government to take short views and do no more
than was needed for the moment, especially as nearly every new war
brought upon the Governor for the time being the displeasure of the
Colonial Office, and brought upon the Colonial Office the censure of
economists and philanthropists at home.

The theatre of these wars was the country along the south coast between
Algoa Bay and the Kei River, and an important step forward was made
when, after the wars of 1846-47 and 1851-53, the province of British
Kaffraria, extending to the Kei River, was created, placed under
imperial officials, and garrisoned by British regiments. Four years
afterwards, in 1857, the Kafirs of this province, at the bidding of
their chiefs, prompted by a wizard who professed to have received
messages from the world of spirits, destroyed their cattle and their
stores of grain, in the belief that the dead ancestors of the tribe
would reappear and join them in driving out the white men, while herds
of cattle would issue from the ground and crops would suddenly spring up
and cover the soil. Many of the clans were already on the verge of
famine when the promised day arrived, and when it had passed starvation
began, and within a few months, despite the efforts of the colonial
authorities to supply food, some 30,000 Kafirs perished of hunger or
disease. This frightful catastrophe, which carried many thousands
westward into Cape Colony in search of work, and left large tracts
vacant, led to the establishment in those tracts of white settlers, and
ultimately, in 1865, to the union of British Kaffraria with the Colony.
It also so much weakened the Kosas that for the unprecedentedly long
period of twenty years there was no Kafir war. In 1877 and 1880 some
risings occurred which were suppressed with no great difficulty; and in
1894 the boundaries of the Colony, which had been advancing by a series
of small annexations, were finally rounded off on the eastern side by
the addition of the territory of the Pondos, which made it conterminous
in that direction with the Colony of Natal.

To complete the chronicle of native wars, we ought now to turn to Natal,
on whose borders there arose, in 1879, a conflict with the greatest
native power--that of the Zulus--which the British had yet encountered.
Before that year, however, a momentous change in British colonial policy
had occurred, and I must go a little way back to describe the events
which gave rise to it.

The reader will recollect that in 1852 and 1854 Britain had abjured all
purpose of extending the boundaries of her dominion towards the interior
by recognizing the independence of the two Dutch republics, which date
their legal rise from the two conventions concluded in those years. She
had done so quite honestly, desiring to avoid the expense and
responsibility which further advances must entail, and with the wish of
leaving the two new republics to work out their own salvation in their
own way. For some years nothing occurred to create fresh difficulties.
But in 1858 a war broke out between the Orange Free State and the Basuto
chief Moshesh, who claimed land which the Free State farmers had
occupied. The Free State commandos attacked him, and had penetrated
Basutoland as far as the stronghold of Thaba Bosiyo, when they were
obliged to return to protect their own farms from the roving bands of
horsemen which Moshesh had skilfully detached to operate in their rear.
Being hard pressed they appealed to the Governor of Cape Colony to
mediate between them and Moshesh. Moshesh agreed, and a new frontier was
settled by the Governor. However, in 1865 fresh troubles broke out, and
there was again war between Moshesh and the Free State. The Governor of
Cape Colony was again invoked, but his decision was not respected by the
Basutos, whom Moshesh could not always control,--for they are much less
submissive to their chiefs than are the Zulus,--and hostilities having
recommenced after a brief interval of peace, the Free State made a
supreme effort, and in 1868 was on the point of destroying the Basuto
power, though it had never been able to capture Thaba Bosiyo, when
Moshesh appealed to the High Commissioner to extend British protection
to his people. Unwilling to see Basutoland annexed by the Free State,
and fearing injury to the Colony from the dispersion of Basuto fugitives
through it, the High Commissioner consented, and declared the Basutos
British subjects. The Free State was suffered to retain a large tract
of fertile land along the north bank of the Caledon River, which it had
conquered; but it was mortified by seeing British authority established
to the south of it, all the way from Natal to the borders of Cape
Colony, and by the final extinction of the hopes which it had cherished
of extending its territories to the sea and acquiring a harbour at the
mouth of the St. John's River.

These events, which befell in 1869, mark the recommencement of British
advance toward the interior. Still more momentous was another occurrence
which belongs to the same year. In 1869 and 1870 a sudden rush began
from all parts of South Africa to a small district between the Modder
and the Vaal rivers (where the town of Kimberley now stands), in which
diamonds had been discovered. Within a few months thousands of diggers
from Europe and America, as well as from the surrounding countries, were
at work here, and the region, hitherto neglected, became a prize of
inestimable value. A question at once arose as to its ownership. The
Orange Free State claimed it, but it was also claimed by a Griqua
(half-breed) captain, named Nicholas Waterboer, son of old Andries
Waterboer, and by a native Batlapin chief, while parts were claimed by
the Transvaal Republic. The claims of the last-named state were disposed
of by the decision of the Governor of Natal, who had been recognized as
arbitrator by the Griquas, the Batlapin, and the President of the
Republic. He awarded the tract in dispute to Waterboer, including in his
award the part claimed by the Free State, which had refused arbitration
so far as regarded the district lying south of the Vaal, holding that
district to have been indubitably part of the old Orange River
sovereignty, which was in 1854 turned into the Orange Free State. As
Waterboer had before the award offered his territory to the British
government, the country was forthwith erected into a Crown Colony under
the name of Griqualand West. This was in 1871. The Free State, whose
case had not been stated, much less argued, before the umpire,
protested, and was after a time able to appeal to a judgment delivered
by a British court, which found that Waterboer had never enjoyed any
right to the territory. However, the new Colony had by this time been
set up and the British flag displayed. The British government, without
either admitting or denying the Free State title, declared that a
district in which it was difficult to keep order amid a turbulent and
shifting population ought to be under the control of a strong power, and
offered the Free State a sum of ninety thousand pounds in settlement of
whatever claim it might possess. The acceptance by the Free State in
1876 of this sum closed the controversy, though a sense of injustice
continued to rankle in the breasts of some of the citizens of the
Republic. Amicable relations have subsisted ever since between it and
Cape Colony, and the control of the British government over the Basutos
has secured for it peace in the quarter which was formerly most

These two cases show how various are the causes and how mixed the
motives which press a great power forward even against the wishes of its
statesmen. The Basutos were declared British subjects partly out of a
sympathetic wish to rescue and protect them, partly because policy
required the acquisition of a country naturally strong and holding an
important strategical position. Griqualand West, taken in the belief
that Waterboer had a good title to it, was retained after this belief
had been dispelled, partly perhaps because a population had crowded into
it which consisted mainly of British subjects, and was not easily
controllable by a small state, but mainly because colonial feeling
refused to part with a region of such exceptional mineral wealth. And
the retention of Griqualand West caused, before long, the acquisition of
Bechuanaland, which in its turn naturally led to that northward
extension of British influence which has carried the Union Jack to the
shores of Lake Tanganyika. The wish to restrict responsibility, which
had been so strong twenty years before, had now died out of the British
public at home, and had grown feebler even in the minds of the statesmen
whose business it was to find the money needed for these increasing
charges on the imperial treasury; while the philanthropic interest in
the native races, stimulated by the discoveries of Livingstone, now took
the form not of proposing to leave them to themselves, but of desiring
to protect them against the adventurers, whether of Boer or of English
blood, whom it was found impossible to prevent from pressing forward
into the wilderness.

It is remarkable that the change, as yet only an incipient change, in
the public opinion of the English people, who now began to feel the
desire not merely to retain but to expand their colonial dominion,
should have become apparent just at the time when there occurred that
discovery of diamonds which showed that this hitherto least progressive
of the larger Colonies possessed unsuspected stores of wealth. The
discovery brought a new stream of enterprising and ambitious men into
the country, and fixed the attention of the world upon it. It was a
turning point in South African history.

That change in the views of the British Government on which I have been
commenting found at this moment a fresh expression in another quarter.
In 1869 the Portuguese Government concluded a commercial treaty with the
South African Republic, under which it seemed probable that a
considerable trade might spring up between the Portuguese coast of the
Indian Ocean and the interior. This called attention to the port of
Lourenço Marques, on the shore of Delagoa Bay, the best haven upon that
coast. Great Britain claimed it under a cession which had been obtained
from a native chief of the country by a British naval exploring
expedition in 1822. Portugal, however, resisted the claim. In 1872 it
was referred to the arbitration of Marshal MacMahon, then President of
the French Republic, and in 1875 he awarded the territory in dispute to
Portugal. Both cases were weak, and it is not easy to say which was the
weaker, for, although the Portuguese had undoubtedly been first on the
ground, their occupation, often disturbed by the native tribes, had been
extremely precarious. The decision was a serious blow to British hopes,
and has become increasingly serious with the further development of the
country. Yet it was mitigated by a provision contained in the agreement
for arbitration that the Power against whom the decision might go should
have thereafter from the successful Power a right of preëmption as
against any other state desiring to purchase the territory.[23] This
provision is momentous as giving Britain the right to prevent not only
the South African Republic, but any European power, from acquiring a
point of the utmost importance both commercial and strategical. Rumours
have often been circulated that Britain would gladly acquire by purchase
the harbour of Delagoa Bay, but the sensitive patriotism of the
Portuguese people is at present so strongly opposed to any sale of
territory that no Portuguese ministry is likely to propose it.[24]

At the very time when the attempt to acquire Delagoa Bay revealed the
new purposes which had begun to animate Great Britain, another scheme
was suggested to the Colonial Office by the success which had lately
attended its efforts in Canada. In 1867 the passing of the British North
America Act drew the theretofore isolated provinces of the Dominion
into a confederation, relieving the home government of some grave
responsibilities, and giving to the whole country the advantages of
common administration and legislation in matters of common concern. Lord
Carnarvon, then colonial secretary, threw himself into the idea of
similarly uniting the different Colonies and States of South Africa. It
had been advocated by Sir George Grey, when Governor in 1858, and had
even received the support of the Orange Free State, whose Volksraad
passed a resolution favouring it in that year. Many considerations of
practical convenience suggested this scheme, chief among them the
desirability of having both a uniform policy in native affairs (the
absence of which had recently caused trouble) and a common commercial
policy and tariff system. Accordingly, in 1875 Lord Carnarvon addressed
a despatch to the Governor of Cape Colony, recommending such a scheme as
fit to be adopted by that Colony, which three years before had received
responsible government, and Mr. J.A. Froude was sent out to press it
upon the people. The choice did not prove a fortunate one, but even a
more skilful emissary would probably have failed, for the moment was
inopportune. The Cape people were not ready for so large and
far-reaching a proposal. The Orange Free State was exasperated at the
loss of Griqualand West. The Transvaal people, though, as we shall see
presently, their republic was in sore straits, were averse to anything
that could affect their independence. However, Sir Bartle Frere, the
next Governor of the Cape, who went out in 1877, entered heartily into
Lord Carnarvon's plan, which continued to be pressed till 1880, when it
was rejected by the Cape Parliament, largely at the instance of envoys
from the Transvaal Boers, who urged the Cape Dutch not to accept it
until the Transvaal (which, as shall be presently set forth, had been
annexed in 1877) should have regained its independence. This failure of
the proposals of the home government seriously damaged the prospects of
future federation schemes, and is only one of several instances in South
African history that show how much harm impatience may do, even when the
object is itself laudable.

The next step in the forward march of British rule took place far to the
south-west, on the borders of Natal. That territory had, in 1856, become
a separate Colony, distinct from the Cape, and with a legislative
council three-fourths of whose members were elective. It had still a
relatively small white population, for many of the Boer immigrants had
quitted it between 1843 and 1848, and though a body of English settlers
arrived soon after the latter year, there were in 1878 only some 25,000
white residents, while the natives numbered fully 300,000. The Zulu
kingdom, which adjoined it on the east, had passed (in 1872) from the
sluggish Panda to his more energetic son Cetewayo (pronounced
"Ketshwayo"), whose ambitious spirit had revived the military
organization and traditions of his uncle Tshaka. Cetewayo had been
installed as king by a British official, and had lived ever since at
peace with the Colony; but the powerful army which he possessed roused
disquiet among the Natalians, and alarmed the then Governor of the Cape
and High Commissioner for South Africa, Sir Bartle Frere. Differences
had arisen between him and Cetewayo, and when the latter refused to
submit to the demands which the High Commissioner addressed to him,
including a requirement that he should disband his regiments and receive
a British resident, war was declared against him. This act was justified
at the time on the ground that the Zulu military power constituted a
standing menace to Natal and to South Africa in general, and that the
vast majority of the natives living in Natal itself might join the Zulu
king were he to invade the colony. Whether this risk was sufficiently
imminent to warrant such a step was then, and has been since, warmly
debated in England. Most of those who have given impartial study to the
subject, and have studied also the character and earlier career of the
High Commissioner, are disposed to think that war might have been and
ought to have been avoided, and that Sir Bartle Frere, in declaring it,
committed a grave error; but it is right to add that there are persons
in South Africa who still defend his action. The invasion of Zululand
which followed began with a disaster--the surprise at Isandhlwana
(January, 1879) of a British force, which was almost annihilated by a
vastly superior native army. Ultimately, however, Cetewayo was defeated
and made prisoner. Zululand was divided among thirteen petty chiefs
under a British resident, and subsequently, in 1887, annexed to the
British crown as a dependency, to be administered by the Governor of
Natal. Except for some disturbances in 1888, its people have since
remained peaceful, prosperous, and to all appearance contented. It has
now (1897) been decided to annex Zululand to Natal.

We may now return to follow the fortunes of the emigrant Boers of the
far north-eastern interior whose republic, recognized by the Imperial
Government in 1852, was at length, after twenty-five years, to be
brought into a closer connection than ever with the British Colonies by
events which are still fresh in men's memories, and which are exerting a
potent influence on the politics of our own time. The scale of these
events was small, but the circumstances are full of instruction, and
many years may yet elapse before their consequences have been fully
worked out.

The Dutch farmers who had settled beyond the Vaal River were more rude
and uneducated than those of the Free State, had no admixture of English
blood, and remained unaffected by intercourse with the more civilized
people of Cape Colony. Their love of independence was accompanied by a
tendency to discord. Their warlike spirit had produced a readiness to
take up arms on slight occasions, and had degenerated into a fondness
for predatory expeditions. They were, moreover, always desirous of
enlarging the area of their stock farms by the annexation of fresh
territory to the north and west, and thus were constantly brought into
collision with the native occupants of the country. Scattered thinly
over a wide area of pasture land, they were practically exempt from the
control of law courts or magistrates, while at the same time the
smallness of their numbers, and the family ties which linked them into
jealous and mutually distrustful groups, gave rise to personal rivalries
among the leaders and bitter feuds among the adherents of each faction,
resembling those which used to distract a city republic in ancient
Greece or medieval Italy. The absence of any effective government had
attracted many adventurers from various parts of South Africa, who
wandered as traders or hunters through the wilder parts of the country
and along its borders, men often violent and reckless, who ill-treated
the natives, and constituted not only a public scandal, but, by the
provocations which they gave to the Kafir chiefs, a danger to the peace
of the adjoining British territories, as well as to that of the
Transvaal itself.

From their first settlement beyond the Vaal in the years immediately
following the Great Trek of 1836, the farmers, though considering
themselves to form one people, had been grouped in several small
communities. In 1852 there were four such, those of Potchefstroom,
Utrecht, Lydenburg, and Zoutpansberg, each having its Volksraad
(people's council) and president or executive head, while a sort of
loosely federative tie linked them together for the purposes, not of
internal administration, but of defence against common foes.

In 1857 the Potchefstroom people tried to conquer the Orange Free State,
then in the third year of its life, but desisted on finding that the
infant Republic was prepared to defend itself. A single Volksraad for
all the communities beyond the Vaal had been chosen as far back as 1849;
but respect for authority grew very slowly, and for a time it could not
be said to represent more than a party. In 1852, however, it ratified
the Sand River Convention, and in 1855 it appointed a commission to
draft a complete body of law. Finally, in 1858, an instrument called the
"Grondwet," or Fundamental Law, was drawn up by a body of delegates
named (by a "Krygsraad," or War Council) for that purpose. This
instrument was revised and adopted by the Volksraad, and presently
received the adhesion of two of the semi-independent communities, those
of Potchestroom and Zoutpansberg, and in 1860 also of those at Lydenburg
and Utrecht, which had by that time united. It has been since several
times modified, and the question whether it is to be deemed a truly
rigid constitution, like that of the United States or that of the Swiss
Confederation, has given rise to much controversy.[25] A civil war broke
out in 1862, and the country can hardly be said to have reached one
united government till 1864, when the then president, Mr. M. W.
Pretorius (son of the old antagonist of the English), was recognized by
all the communities and factions as their executive head.

Even in 1864 the white population of the South African Republic was very
small, probably not more than 30,000 all told, giving an average of less
than one person to three square miles. There were, however, hundreds of
thousands of natives, a few of whom were living as servants, under a
system of enforced labour which was sometimes hardly distinguishable
from slavery, while the vast majority were ruled by their own chiefs,
some as tributaries of the Republic, some practically independent of it.
With the latter wars were frequently raging--wars in which shocking
cruelties were perpetrated on both sides, the Kafirs massacring the
white families whom they surprised, the Boer commandos taking a savage
vengeance upon the tribes when they captured a kraal or mountain
stronghold. It was the sight of these wars which drove Dr. Livingstone
to begin his famous explorations to the north. The farmers were too few
to reduce the natives to submission, though always able to defeat them
in the field, and while they relished an expedition, they had an
invincible dislike to any protracted operations which cost money. Taxes
they would not pay. They lived in a sort of rude plenty among their
sheep and cattle, but they had hardly any coined money, conducting their
transactions by barter, and they were too rude to value the benefits
which government secures to a civilized people. Accordingly the treasury
remained almost empty, the paper money which was issued fell till in
1870 it was worth only one-fourth of its face value, no public
improvements were made, no proper administration existed, and every man
did what was right in his own eyes. In 1872 Mr. M. W. Pretorius was
obliged to resign the presidency, owing to the unpopularity he had
incurred by accepting the arbitration mentioned above (p. 144), which
declared the piece of territory where diamonds had been found not to
belong to the Republic, and which the Volksraad thereupon repudiated.
His successor was Mr. Burgers, a Cape Dutchman who had formerly been a
clergyman of the Dutch Reformed Church and afterwards an advocate at the
Cape, a man of energy, integrity, and eloquence, but deficient in
practical judgment, and who soon became distrusted on account of his
theological opinions. It used to be jestingly said that the Boers
disliked him because he denied that the devil possessed that tail which
is shown in the pictures that adorn the old Dutch Bibles; but his
deviations from orthodoxy went much further than this, and were deemed
by the people to be the cause of the misfortunes they experienced under
his guidance. He formed large plans for the development of the country
and the extension of Boer power over South Africa, plans which his
citizens were unable to appreciate and the resources at his disposal
were quite unfit to accomplish. Disorganization, aggravated by intestine
faction, grew worse and worse. The State was practically bankrupt; trade
had ceased, money could not be raised. In 1876, in a war which had
broken out with Sikukuni, a Kafir chief who lived in the mountains of
the north-east, the Boers were repulsed, and ultimately returned in
confusion to their homes. On the south, Cetewayo, then in the zenith of
his power, was unfriendly, and seemed likely to pour in his Zulu hordes.
The weakness and disorders of the Republic had become a danger not only
to the British subjects who had begun to settle in it, especially at the
Lydenburg gold mines, but also to the neighbouring British territories,
and especially to Natal; so a British commissioner was sent to examine
into the condition of the country, with secret instructions empowering
him to proclaim, if he should deem it necessary, and if he was satisfied
that the majority of the inhabitants would approve, its annexation to
the British crown. After three months' inquiry the commissioner, Sir
Theophilus Shepstone, exercised this power upon April 12, 1877, and his
act was approved by the High Commissioner at the Cape and by the
Colonial Secretary in England. President Burgers had endeavoured to
rouse his people by pointing out that only through reforms could they
preserve their independence. They agreed to the reforms, but would not
help him to carry them out, and obstinately refused to pay taxes. He was
helpless, for while the more rigidly Calvinistic section of the
population supported Paul Kruger, his opponent in the approaching
presidential election, others (especially the English who had settled in
the spots where a little gold had been found) favoured annexation to
Great Britain, and most of the Boers had been repelled by his unorthodox
opinions. Accordingly, after entering a protest against the annexation,
he returned to Cape Colony, and received a pension, his private means
having been entirely spent in the service of his country.[26] The
Vice-President (Mr. Kruger) and the executive council of the Republic
also protested, and sent delegates to London to remonstrate. By the mass
of the Boer people--for the few English, of course, approved--little
displeasure was shown and no resistance made. Had a popular vote been
taken it would doubtless have been adverse to annexation, for a memorial
circulated shortly afterwards, praying for a reversal of Sir T.
Shepstone's act, received the signatures of a large majority of the Boer
citizens.[27] But while they regretted their independence, they had been
so much depressed by their disasters, and were so much relieved to know
that the strong arm of Britain would now repel any Kafir invasion, as to
take the change more quietly than any one who remembered their earlier
history would have expected.

On the English public, which knew little and cared less about South
African affairs, the news that their empire had been extended by a
territory nearly as large as the United Kingdom, though it came as a
complete surprise, produced little impression. They were then excited
over the outbreak of the war between Russia and the Turks, and absorbed
in the keen party struggles which Lord Beaconsfield's apparent desire to
help the Turks had caused in England, so that scant attention was given
to a distant colonial question. A motion condemning the annexation which
was brought forward in the House of Commons received no support. Nearly
all of those few persons who cared about South Africa had been alienated
from the Boers by their treatment of the natives. Scarcely any one
foresaw the long series of troubles, not yet ended, to which the
annexation was destined to give rise. Neither did it arouse any serious
opposition in Cape Colony, though the Dutch element there regarded with
misgivings the withdrawal of independence from their emigrant kinsfolk.

To those who now look back at the act, in the light of the events which
followed, it seems a high-handed proceeding to extinguish a Republic
which had been formally recognized twenty-five years before, and to do
this without giving the people an opportunity of declaring their wishes.
Yet the act was not done in a spirit of rapacity. Neither the British
government nor the British people had the least idea of the wealth that
lay hidden beneath the barren and desolate ridges of the Witwatersrand.
No one in England talked (though the notion had crossed a few ambitious
minds) of pushing British dominion up to the Zambesi. The Transvaal
Republic was bankrupt and helpless, distracted by internal quarrels,
unable to collect any taxes, apparently unable to defend itself against
its Kafir enemies, and likely to be the cause of native troubles which
might probably spread till they affected all Europeans in South Africa.
There was some reason to believe that the citizens, though they had not
been consulted, would soon acquiesce in the change, especially when they
found, as they soon did find, that the value of property rose with the
prospect of security and of the carrying out of internal improvements by
a strong and wealthy power. Such was certainly the belief of Sir T.
Shepstone and of Lord Carnarvon, and it seemed to be confirmed by the
apparent tranquillity which the Boers exhibited.

So, indeed, they might have acquiesced notwithstanding their strenuous
love of independence, had they been wisely dealt with. But the British
government proceeded forthwith to commit three capital blunders.

The first of these, and the least excusable, was the failure to grant
that local autonomy which Sir T. Shepstone had announced when he
proclaimed annexation. The Volksraad which the people were promised was
never convoked; the constitution under which they were to enjoy
self-government was never promulgated. There was no intention to break
these promises, but merely a delay, culpable, indeed, but due to
ignorance of the popular Boer sentiment, and to the desire of the
Colonial Office to carry out its pet scheme of South African
confederation before conceding to the Transvaal such a representative
assembly as would have had the power to reject, on behalf of the people,
the scheme when tendered to them. Nor were matters mended when at last a
legislature was granted, to consist of some officials, and of six
members nominated by the Governor, for this made the people fear that a
genuine freely elected Volksraad would never be conceded at all.

The second blunder was the selection of the person who was to administer
the country. Sir T. Shepstone, who knew it well and was liked by the
Boers, was replaced by a military officer who had shown vigour in
dealing with local disturbances in Griqualand West, but was totally
unfit for delicate political work. As representative government had not
yet been introduced, his administration was necessarily autocratic in
form, and became autocratic in spirit also. He was described to me by
some who knew him as stiff in mind and arrogant in temper, incapable of
making allowances for the homely manners of the Boers and of adapting
himself to the social equality which prevailed among them. A trifling
cause aggravated their dislike. His complexion was swarthy, and they
suspected that this might be due to some tinge of negro blood. He
refused to listen to their complaints, levied taxes strictly, causing
even the beloved ox-waggon to be seized when money was not forthcoming,
and soon turned their smouldering discontent into active disaffection.

Finally, the British government removed the two native dangers which the
Boers had feared. In 1879 Sir Bartle Frere's war with Cetewayo destroyed
the Zulu power, the dread of which might have induced the Boers to
resign themselves to British supremacy, and an expedition under Sir
Garnet Wolseley reduced Sikukuni's strongholds and established peace in
the north-east. It was probably necessary to deal with Sikukuni, though
the British government seems to have forgotten its former doubts as to
the right of the Boers to the territory of that chief; but in
extinguishing the Zulu kingdom the High Commissioner overlooked the fact
that he was also extinguishing the strongest motive which the
republicans had for remaining British subjects. The British government
were doubly unfortunate. It was the annexation of the Transvaal in 1877
that had alarmed Cetewayo and helped to precipitate the war of 1879. It
was now the overthrow of Cetewayo, their formidable enemy, that helped
to precipitate a revolt of the Boers.

At this time, however, everybody in British South Africa, and nearly
everybody in England, supposed the annexation to be irrevocable. Leading
members of the parliamentary Opposition had condemned it. But when that
Opposition, victorious in the general election of 1880, took office in
April of that year, the officials in South Africa, whose guidance they
sought, made light of Boer discontent, and declared that it would be
impossible now to undo what had been done in 1877. Thus misled, the new
Cabinet refused to reverse the annexation, saying by the mouth of the
Under Secretary for the Colonies, "_Fieri non debuit, factum valet_."
This decision of the British government, which came as a surprise upon
the recalcitrant republicans in the Transvaal, precipitated an outbreak.
In December, 1880, a mass-meeting of the Boers was held at a place
called Paardekraal (now Krugersdorp). It was resolved to rise in arms;
and a triumvirate was elected, consisting of Messrs. M.W. Pretorius,
Kruger and Joubert, which proclaimed the re-establishment of the South
African Republic, and hoisted the national flag on Dingaan's day,
December 16.[28] The Boers, nearly every man of whom was accustomed to
fighting, now rose _en masse_ and attacked the small detachments of
British troops scattered through the country, some of which were cut
off, while the rest were obliged to retire to posts which they
fortified. The Governor of Natal, General Sir George Colley, raised what
troops he could in that Colony, and marched northward; but before he
could reach the Transvaal border a strong force of Boers, commanded by
Commandant-General Joubert, crossed it and took up a position at Laing's
Nek, a steep ridge close to the watershed between the upper waters of
the Klip River, a tributary of the Vaal, and those of the Buffalo River,
which joins the Tugela and flows into the Indian Ocean. Here the British
general, on January 28, 1881, attacked the Boers, but was repulsed with
heavy loss, for the ridge behind which they were posted protected them
from his artillery, while their accurate rifle fire cut down his column
as it mounted the slope. A second engagement, eleven days later, on the
Ingogo heights, caused severe loss to the British troops. Finally, on
the night of February 26, General Colley, with a small detachment,
seized by night Majuba Hill, a mountain which rises about 1500 feet
above Laing's Nek, and completely commands that pass.[29] Unfortunately
he omitted to direct the main force, which he had left behind at his
camp, four miles south of the Nek, to advance against the Boers and
occupy their attention; so the latter, finding no movement made against
them in front, and receiving no artillery fire from Majuba Hill above
them, checked the first impulse to retire, which the sight of British
troops on the hilltop had produced, and sent out a volunteer party to
scale the hill. Protected by the steep declivities from the fire of the
soldiers above them, they made their way up, shooting down those whom
they saw against the sky-line, and finally routed the British force,
killing General Colley, with ninety-one others, and taking fifty-nine
prisoners. By this time fresh troops were beginning to arrive in Natal,
and before long the British general who had succeeded to the command had
at his disposal a force which the Boers could not possibly have
resisted. The home government, however, had ordered an armistice to be
concluded (March 5), and on March 23 terms were agreed to by which the
"Transvaal State" (as it was called) was again recognized as a
quasi-independent political community, to enjoy complete self-government
under the suzerainty of the British crown. These terms were developed in
a more formal convention, signed at Pretoria in August, 1881, which
recognized the Transvaal as autonomous, subject, however, to the
suzerainty of the Queen, to British control in matters of foreign
policy, to the obligation to allow British troops to pass through the
Republic in time of war, and to guarantees for the protection of the
natives.[30] The position in which the Transvaal thus found itself
placed was a peculiar one, and something between that of a
self-governing Colony and an absolutely independent State. The nearest
legal parallel is to be found in the position of some of the great
feudatories of the British crown in India, but the actual circumstances
were of course too unlike those of India to make the parallel

Few public acts of our time have been the subjects of more prolonged and
acrimonious controversy than this reversal in 1881 of the annexation of
1877. The British government were at the time accused, both by the
English element in the South African Colonies, and by their political
opponents at home, of an ignominious surrender. They had, so it was
urged, given way to rebellion. They had allowed three defeats to remain
unavenged. They had weakly yielded to force what they had repeatedly and
solemnly refused to peaceful petitions. They had disregarded the pledges
given both to Englishmen and to natives in the Transvaal. They had done
all this for a race of men who had been uniformly harsh and unjust to
the Kafirs, who had brought their own Republic to bankruptcy and chaos
by misgovernment, who were and would remain foes of the British empire,
who were incapable of appreciating magnanimity, and would construe
forbearance as cowardice. They had destroyed the prestige of British
power in Africa among whites and blacks, and thereby sowed for
themselves and their successors a crop of future difficulties.

To these arguments it was replied that the annexation had been made, and
the earlier refusals to reverse it pronounced, under a complete
misapprehension as to the facts. The representatives of the Colonial
Office in South Africa had reported, partly through insufficient
knowledge, partly because their views were influenced by their feelings,
that there was no such passion for independence among the Boers as
events had shown to exist.[31] Once the true facts were known, did it
not become not merely unjust to deprive the Transvaal people of the
freedom they prized so highly, but also impolitic to retain by force
those who would have been disaffected and troublesome subjects? A free
nation which professes to be everywhere the friend of freedom is
bound--so it was argued--to recognize the principles it maintains even
when they work against itself; and if these considerations went to show
that the retrocession of the Transvaal was a proper course, was it
either wise or humane to prolong the war and crush the Boer resistance
at the cost of much slaughter, merely in order to avenge defeats and
vindicate a military superiority which the immensely greater forces of
Britain made self-evident? A great country is strong enough to be
magnanimous, and shows her greatness better by justice and lenity than
by a sanguinary revenge. These moral arguments, which affect different
minds differently, were reinforced by a strong ground of policy. The
Boers of the Orange Free State had sympathised warmly with their
kinsfolk in the Transvaal, and were with difficulty kept from crossing
the border to join them. The President of the Free State, a sagacious
man, anxious to secure peace, had made himself prominent as a mediator,
but it was not certain that his citizens might not, even against his
advice, join in the fighting. Among the Africander Dutch of Cape Colony
and Natal the feeling for the Transvaal Boers was hardly less strong,
and the accentuation of Dutch sentiment, caused by the events of 1880
and 1881, has ever since been a main factor in the politics of Cape
Colony. The British government were advised from the Cape that the
invasion of the Transvaal might probably light up a civil war through
the two Colonies. The power of Great Britain would of course have
prevailed, even against the whole Dutch-speaking population of South
Africa; but it would have prevailed only after much bloodshed, and at
the cost of an intense embitterment of feeling, which would have
destroyed the prospects of the peace and welfare of the two Colonies
for many years to come. The loss of the Transvaal seemed a slight evil
in comparison.

Whether such a race conflict would in fact have broken out all over
South Africa is a question on which opinion is still divided, and about
which men may dispute for ever. The British government, however, deemed
the risk of it a real one, and by that view their action was mainly
governed. After careful inquiries from those best qualified to judge, I
am inclined to think that they were right. It must, however, be admitted
that the event belied some of their hopes. They had expected that the
Transvaal people would appreciate the generosity of the retrocession, as
well as the humanity which was willing to forgo vengeance for the
tarnished lustre of British arms. The Boers, however, saw neither
generosity nor humanity in their conduct, but only fear. Jubilant over
their victories, and (like the Kafirs in the South Coast wars) not
realizing the overwhelming force which could have been brought against
them, they fancied themselves entitled to add some measure of contempt
to the dislike they already cherished to the English, and they have ever
since shown themselves unpleasant neighbours. The English in South
Africa, on their part, have continued to resent the concession of
independence to the Transvaal, and especially the method in which it was
conceded. Those who had recently settled in the Republic, relying on the
declarations repeatedly made that it would for ever remain British,
complained that no proper compensation was made to them, and that they
had much to suffer from the Boers. Those who live in the two Colonies
hold that the disgrace (as they term it) of Majuba Hill ought to have
been wiped out by a march to Pretoria, and that the Boers should have
been made to recognize that Britain is, and will remain, the paramount
power in fact as well as in name. They feel aggrieved to this day that
the terms of peace were settled at Laing's Nek, within the territory of
Natal, while it was still held by the Boers. Even in Cape Colony, where
the feeling is perhaps less strong than it is in Natal, the average
Englishman has neither forgotten nor forgiven the events of 1881.

I have dwelt fully upon these events because they are, next to the Great
Trek of 1836, the most important in the internal history of South
Africa, and those which have most materially affected the present
political situation. The few years that followed may be more briefly
dismissed. The Transvaal State emerged from its war of independence
penniless and unorganized, but with a redoubled sense of Divine favour
and a reinvigorated consciousness of national life. The old constitution
was set to work; the Volksraad again met; Mr. Stephen John Paul Kruger,
who had been the leading figure in the triumvirate, was chosen by the
people to be President, and has subsequently been thrice re-elected to
that office. Undismayed by the scantiness of his State resources, he
formed bold and far-reaching plans of advance on the three sides which
lay open to him. To the north a trek was projected, and some years later
was nearly carried out, for the occupation of Mashonaland. To the south
bands of Boer adventurers entered Zululand, the first of them as
trekkers, the rest as auxiliaries to one of the native chiefs, who were
at war with one another. These adventurers established a sort of
republic in the northern districts, and would probably have seized the
whole had not the British government at last interfered and confined
them to a territory of nearly three thousand square miles, which was
recognized in 1886 under the name of the New Republic, and which in 1888
merged itself in the Transvaal. To the west, other bands of Boer raiders
entered Bechuanaland, seized land or obtained grants of land by the
usual devices, required the chiefs to acknowledge their supremacy, and
proceeded to establish two petty republics, one called Stellaland,
round the village of Vryburg, north of Kimberley, and the other,
farther north, called Goshen. These violent proceedings, which were not
only injurious to the natives, but were obviously part of a plan to add
Bechuanaland to the Transvaal territories, and close against the English
the path to those northern regions in which Britain was already
interested, roused the British Government. In the end of 1884 an
expedition led by Sir Charles Warren entered Bechuanaland. The
freebooters of the two Republics retired before it, and the districts
they had occupied were erected into a Crown Colony under the name of
British Bechuanaland. In 1895 this territory was annexed to Cape Colony.
In order to prevent the Boers from playing the same game in the country
still farther north, where their aggressions had so far back as 1876 led
Khama, chief of the Bamangwato, to ask for British protection, a British
protectorate was proclaimed (March, 1885) over the whole country as far
as the borders of Matabililand; and a few years later, in 1888, a treaty
was concluded with Lo Bengula, the Matabili king, whereby he undertook
not to cede territory to, or make a treaty with, any foreign power
without the consent of the British High Commissioner. The west was thus
secured against the further advance of the Boers, while on the eastern
shore the hoisting of the British flag at St. Lucia Bay in 1884 (a spot
already ceded by Panda in 1843), followed by the conclusion (in 1887) of
a treaty with the Tonga chiefs, by which they undertook not to make any
treaty with any other power, announced the resolution of the British
crown to hold the coast line up to the Portuguese territories.

This policy of preventing the extension of Boer dominion over the
natives was, however, accompanied by a willingness to oblige the
Transvaal people in other ways. Though they had not observed the
conditions of the Convention of 1881, the Boers had continued to
importune the British government for an ampler measure of independence.
In 1884 they succeeded in inducing Lord Derby, then Colonial Secretary,
to agree to a new Convention, which thereafter defined the relations
between the British crown and the South African Republic, a title now at
last formally conceded. By this instrument (called the Convention of
London),[32] whose articles were substituted for the articles of the
Convention of 1881, the control of foreign policy stipulated for in the
Pretoria Convention of 1881 was cut down to a provision that the
Republic should "conclude no treaty with any State or nation other than
the Orange Free State, nor with any native tribe to the eastward or
westward of the Republic," without the approval of the Queen. The
declarations of the two previous Conventions (of 1852 and 1881) against
slavery were renewed, and there was a "most favoured nation" clause with
provisions for the good treatment of strangers entering the Republic.
Nothing was said as to the "suzerainty of her Majesty" mentioned in the
Convention of 1881. The Boers have contended that this omission is
equivalent to a renunciation, but to this it has been (among other
things) replied that as that suzerainty was recognized not in the
"articles" of the instrument of 1881, but in its introductory paragraph,
it has not been renounced, and still subsists.[33]

A few years later, the amity which this Convention was meant to secure
was endangered by the plan formed by a body of Boer farmers and
adventurers to carry out an idea previously formed by Mr. Kruger, and
trek northward into the country beyond the Limpopo River, a country
where the natives were feeble and disunited, raided on one side by the
Matabili and on the other by Gungunhana. This trek would have brought
the emigrants into collision with the English settlers who had shortly
before entered Mashonaland. President Kruger, however, being pressed by
the imperial government, undertook to check the movement, and so far
succeeded that the waggons which crossed the Limpopo were but few and
were easily turned back. Prevented from expanding to the north, the
Boers were all the more eager to acquire Swaziland, a small but rich
territory which lies to the east of their Republic, and is inhabited by
a warlike Kafir race, numbering about 70,000, near of kin to the Zulus,
but for many years hostile to them. Both the Boers and Cetewayo had
formerly claimed supremacy over this region. The British government had
never admitted the Boer claim, but when the head chief of the Swazis
had, by a series of improvident concessions, granted away to
adventurers, most of them Boers, nearly all the best land and minerals
the country contained, it was found extremely difficult to continue the
system of joint administration by the High Commissioner and the
Transvaal government which had been provisionally established, and all
the more difficult because by the concession to the New Republic (which
had by this time become incorporated with the Transvaal) of the part of
Zululand which adjoined Swaziland, direct communication between Natal
and Swaziland had become difficult, especially in the malarious season.
Accordingly, after long negotiations, an arrangement was concluded, in
1894, which placed the Swazi nation and territory under the control of
the South African Republic, subject to full guarantees for the
protection of the natives. A previous Convention (of 1890) had given the
South African Republic certain rights of making a railway to the coast
at Kosi Bay through the low and malarious region which lies between
Swaziland and the sea, and the earlier negotiations had proceeded on the
assumption that these rights were to be adjusted and renewed in the same
instrument which was destined to settle the Swaziland question. The
Boer government, however, ultimately declined to include such an
adjustment in the new Convention, and as this new Convention superseded
and extinguished the former one of 1890, those provisions for access to
the sea necessarily lapsed. The British government promptly availed
itself of the freedom its rivals had thus tendered to it, and with the
consent of the three chiefs (of Tonga race) who rule in the region
referred to, proclaimed a protectorate over the strip of land which lies
between Swaziland and the sea, as far north as the frontiers of
Portuguese territory. Thus the door has been finally closed on the
schemes which the Boers have so often sought to carry out for the
acquisition of a railway communication with the coast entirely under
their own control. It was an object unfavourable to the interests of the
paramount power, for it would not only have disturbed the commercial
relations of the interior with the British coast ports, but would also
have favoured the wish of the Boer government to establish political
ties with other European powers. The accomplishment of that design was
no doubt subjected by the London Convention of 1884 to the veto of
Britain. But in diplomacy facts as well as treaties have their force,
and a Power which has a seaport, and can fly a flag on the ocean, is in
a very different position from one cut off by intervening territories
from those whose support it is supposed to seek. Thus the establishment
of the protectorate over these petty Tonga chiefs may be justly deemed
one of the most important events in recent South African history.

Down to 1884 Great Britain and Portugal had been the only European
powers established in South Africa. For some time before that year there
had been German mission stations in parts of the region which lies
between the Orange River and the West African possessions of Portugal,
and in 1883 a Bremen merchant named Lüderitz established a trading
factory at the bay of Angra Pequeña, which lies on the Atlantic coast
about one hundred and fifty miles north of the mouth of that river, and
obtained from a neighbouring chief a cession of a piece of territory
there, which the German government a few months later recognized as a
German Colony. Five years earlier, in 1878, Walfish Bay, which lies
farther north, and is the best haven (or rather roadstead) on the coast,
had been annexed to Cape Colony; but though it was generally understood
both in the Colony and in England, that the whole of the west coast up
to the Portuguese boundary was in some vague way subject to British
influence, nothing had been done to claim any distinct right, much less
to perfect that right by occupation. The Colony had always declined or
omitted to vote money for the purpose, and the home government had not
cared to spend any. When the colonists knew that Germany was really
establishing herself as their neighbour on the north, they were much
annoyed; but it was now too late to resist, and in 1884, after a long
correspondence, not creditable to the foresight or promptitude of the
late Lord Derby, who was then Colonial Secretary, the protectorate of
Germany was formally recognized, while in 1890 the boundaries of the
German and British "spheres of influence" farther north were defined by
a formal agreement--the same agreement which settled the respective
"spheres of influence" of the two powers in Eastern Africa, between the
Zambesi and the upper Nile. Although the people of Cape Colony continue
to express their regret at having a great European power conterminous
with them on the north, there has been really little or no practical
contact between the Germans and the colonists, for while the northern
part of the Colony, lying along the lower course of the Orange River, is
so arid as to be very thinly peopled, the southern part of the German
territory, called Great Namaqualand, is a wilderness inhabited only by
wandering Hottentots (though parts of it are good pasture land), while,
to the east, Namaqualand is separated from the habitable parts of
British Bechuanaland by the great Kalahari Desert.

The new impulse for colonial expansion which had prompted the Germans to
occupy Damaraland and the Cameroons on the western, and the Zanzibar
coasts on the eastern, side of Africa was now telling on other European
powers, and made them all join in the scramble for Africa, a continent
which a few years before had been deemed worthless. Italy and France
entered the field in the north-east, France in the north-west; and
Britain, which had in earlier days moved with such slow and wavering
steps in the far south, was roused by the competition to a swifter
advance. Within nine years from the assumption of the protectorate over
British Bechuanaland, which the action of the Boers had brought about in
1885, the whole unappropriated country up to the Zambesi came under
British control.

In 1888 a treaty made with Lo Bengula extended the range of British
influence and claim not only over Matabililand proper, but over
Mashonaland and an undefined territory to the eastward, whereof Lo
Bengula claimed to be suzerain. Next came, in 1889, the grant of a royal
charter to a company, known as the British South Africa Company, which
had been formed to develop this eastern side of Lo Bengula's dominion,
and to work the gold mines believed to exist there, an undertaking
chiefly due to the bold and forceful spirit of Mr. Cecil Rhodes, who
perceived that if Britain did not speedily establish some right to the
country, the Transvaal Boers would trek in and acquire it. In 1890 the
pioneer British settlers moved up through Bechuanaland into Mashonaland,
and the Company, which, like the East India Company of the eighteenth
century, was to be a ruling and administering power as well as a trading
association, established itself along the eastern part of the great
plateau and began to build forts. Here it came into collision with the
Portuguese, who, stimulated by the activity of other nations, had been
re-asserting their dormant claims to the interior and sending up
expeditions to occupy the country. A skirmish which occurred near
Massikessi, in Manicaland, ended in the repulse of the Portuguese, and
the capture of their commanders, who were, however, soon after released
by Dr. Jameson, the newly appointed administrator of the Company; and
another conflict in May, 1891, in which the Portuguese again suffered
severely, hastened the conclusion of a treaty (June, 1891) between Great
Britain and Portugal, by which the boundary between the Portuguese
territories and those included in the British "sphere of influence" was
fixed. By this treaty a vast region in the interior which lies along the
Upper Zambesi west of Portuguese territory and south of the Congo Free
State was recognized by Portugal as within the British sphere. An
agreement of the preceding year between Germany and Great Britain (July
1, 1890) had defined the limits of German and British influence on the
east side of the continent; and as Germany, Portugal, and the Congo
State were the only civilized powers conterminous with Great Britain in
this part of the world, these treaties, together with the instrument--to
which Great Britain had been a party--that determined the limits of the
Congo State, settled finally all these questions of the interior, and
gave to Great Britain a legal title to her share of it.

That title, however, like the other titles by which the European powers
held their new African possessions, was a paper title, and valid only as
against other neighbouring European powers. It had nothing whatever to
do with the Kafir tribes who dwelt in the country. What are called the
rights of a civilized Power as against the natives rests in some cases
upon treaties made with the chiefs, treaties of whose effect the chiefs
are often ignorant, and in others on the mere will of the European power
which proclaims to the world that it claims the country; and it is held
that the Power which makes the claim must, at least in the latter class
of cases, perfect its claim by actual occupation. In the case of these
new British territories treaties were made with a certain number of
chiefs. One already existed with Lo Bengula, king of the Matabili; but
it merely bound him not to league himself with any other power, and did
not make him a British vassal. It was clear, however, that with so
restless and warlike a race as the Matabili this state of things could
not last long. Lo Bengula had been annoyed at the march of the pioneers
into Mashonaland, and tried to stop them, but was foiled by the
swiftness of their movements. Once they were established there he seems
to have desired to keep the peace; but his young warriors would not
suffer him to do so. They had been accustomed to go raiding among the
feeble and disunited Mashonas, whom they slaughtered and plundered to
their hearts' content. When they found that the Company resented these
attacks, collisions occurred, and the reluctance to fight which Lo
Bengula probably felt counted for little. What he could do he did: he
protected with scrupulous care not only the missionaries, but other
Europeans at his kraal, and, after the war had broken out, he sent
envoys to treat, two of whom, by a deplorable error, were killed by the
advancing column of Bechuanaland imperial police, for as the Company's
officers were not at the moment prepared, either in money or in men, for
a conflict, the imperial government sent a force northward from
Bechuanaland to co-operate with that which the Company had in
Mashonaland. A raid by Matabili warriors on the Mashonas living near
Fort Victoria, whom they called their slaves, precipitated hostilities
(July to October, 1893). The Matabili, whose vain confidence in their
own prowess led them to attack in the open when they ought to have
resorted to bush fighting, were defeated in two battles by the Company's
men. Lo Bengula fled towards the Zambesi and died there (January, 1894)
of fever and despair, as Shere Ali Khan had died when chased out of
Kabul by the British in 1878; while his indunas and the bulk of the
Matabili people submitted with little further resistance. Matabililand
was now occupied by the Company, which shortly afterwards took
possession of the northern part of its sphere of operations by running a
telegraph wire across the Zambesi and by placing officers on the shore
of Lake Tanganyika. In March, 1896, the Matabili and some of the Mashona
chiefs revolted, but after five months' fighting, in which many lives
were lost, peace was restored, and the subsequent construction of two
railways into the heart of the country of these tribes has given a
great, if not complete, security against a renewal of like troubles.[34]

By the establishment of the British South Africa Company to the north of
the Transvaal that State had now become inclosed in British territory on
every side except the east; nor could it advance to Delagoa Bay, because
Portugal was bound by the Arbitration Treaty of 1872 to allow Great
Britain a right of pre-emption over her territory there. Meantime new
forces had begun to work within the Republic. Between 1867 and 1872 gold
had been found in several places on the eastern side of the country, but
in quantities so small that no one attached much importance to the
discovery. After 1882, however, it began to be pretty largely worked. In
1885 the conglomerate or _banket_ beds of the Witwatersrand were
discovered,[35] and the influx of strangers, which had been considerable
from 1882 onward, increased immensely, till in 1895 the number of recent
immigrants, most of whom were adult males, had risen to a number
(roughly estimated at 100,000) largely exceeding that of the whole Boer
population. Although the first result of the working of the gold mines
and the growth of the towns had been to swell the revenues of the
previously impecunious Republic, President Kruger and the Boers
generally were alarmed at seeing a tide of aliens from the British
colonies and Europe and the United States, most of them British
subjects, and nearly all speaking English, rise up around and threaten
to submerge them. They proceeded to defend themselves by restricting the
electoral franchise, which had theretofore been easily acquirable by
immigrants. Laws were passed which, by excluding the newcomers, kept the
native Boer element in a safe majority; and even when in 1890 a
concession was made by the creation of a second Legislative Chamber,
based on a more extended franchise, its powers were carefully
restricted, and the election not only of the First Raad (the principal
Chamber), but also of the President and Executive Council, remained
confined to those who had full citizenship under the previous statutes.
Discontent spread among the new-comers, who complained both of their
exclusion from political rights and of various grievances which they and
the mining industry suffered at the hands of the government. A reform
association was formed in 1892. In 1894 the visit of the British High
Commissioner, who had come from the Cape to negotiate with the President
on Swaziland and other pending questions, led to a vehement pro-British
and anti-Boer demonstration at Pretoria, and thenceforward feeling ran
high at Johannesburg, the new centre of the Rand mining district and of
the immigrant population. Finally, in December, 1895, a rising took
place at Johannesburg, the circumstances attending which must be set
forth in the briefest way, for the uncontroverted facts are fresh in
every one's recollection, while an attempt to discuss the controverted
ones would lead me from the field of history into that of contemporary
politics.[36] It is enough to say while a large section of the
Uitlanders (as the new alien immigrants are called) in Johannesburg were
preparing to press their claims for reforms upon the government, and to
provide themselves with arms for that purpose, an outbreak was
precipitated by the entry into Transvaal territory from Pitsani in
Bechuanaland of a force of about five hundred men, mostly in the service
of the British South Africa Company as police, and led by the Company's
Administrator, with whom (and with Mr. Rhodes, the managing director of
the Company) a prior arrangement had been made by the reform leaders,
that in case of trouble at Johannesburg he should, if summoned, come to
the aid of the Uitlander movement. A question as to the flag under which
the movement was to be made caused a postponement of the day previously
fixed for making it. The leaders of the force at Pitsani, however,
became impatient, thinking that the Boer government was beginning to
suspect their intentions; and thus, though requested to remain quiet,
the force started on the evening of December 29. Had they been able, as
they expected, to get through without fighting, they might probably have
reached Johannesburg in three or four days' march, for the distance is
only 170 miles. But while the High Commissioner issued a proclamation
disavowing their action and ordering them to retire, they found
themselves opposed by the now rapidly gathering Boer levies, were
repulsed at Krugersdorp, and ultimately forced to surrender on the
forenoon of January 1, 1896, at a place called Doornkop. The
Johannesburg Uitlanders, who, though unprepared for any such sudden
movement, had risen in sympathy at the news of the inroad, laid down
their arms a few days later.[37]

I have given the bare outline of these latest events in South African
history for the sake of bringing the narrative down to the date when I
began to write. But as I was at Pretoria and Johannesburg immediately
before the rising of December 1895 took place, and had good
opportunities of seeing what forces were at work, and in what direction
the currents of opinion were setting, I propose to give in a subsequent
chapter (Chapter XXV) a somewhat fuller description of the state of
things in the Transvaal at the end of 1895, and to reserve for a still
later chapter some general reflections on the course of South African

[Footnote 23: It has been stated (see Mr. Molteno's _Federal South
Africa_, p. 87) that Portugal was then prepared to sell her rights for a
small sum--according to report, for £12,000.]

[Footnote 24: In 1891 the southern boundary of Portuguese territory was
fixed by a treaty with Great Britain at a point on the coast named Kosi
Bay, about seventy miles south of Lourenço Marques.]

[Footnote 25: See especially the case of Brown _vs._ Leyds, decided in
January, 1897 by the High Court of the South African Republic. An
English translation of the Grondwet has been published by Mr. W. A.
Macfadyen of Pretoria, in a little volume entitled _The Political Laws
of the South African Republic_.]

[Footnote 26: Some extracts from the narrative, vindicating his conduct,
which he had prepared and which was published after his death (in 1882),
may be found in Mr. John Nixon's _Complete Story of the Transvaal_, an
interesting book, though written in a spirit far from judicial.]

[Footnote 27: Although there is some reason to think that if Sir T.
Shepstone had waited a few weeks or months, the Boers would have been
driven by their difficulties to ask to be annexed.]

[Footnote 28: See above, p. 120.]

[Footnote 29: A description of Majuba Hill will be found in Chapter

[Footnote 30: The Convention of 1881 will be found in the Appendix to
this volume.]

[Footnote 31: Sir B. Frere reported after meeting the leaders of the
discontented Boers in April, 1879, that the agitation, though more
serious than he supposed, was largely "sentimental," and that the
quieter people were being coerced by the more violent into opposition.]

[Footnote 32: This Convention will be found in the Appendix to this

[Footnote 33: Arguments on this question may be found in a Parliamentary

[Footnote 34: See further as to this rising some remarks in Chapter XV.]

[Footnote 35: See Chapter XVIII. for an account of these beds.]

[Footnote 36: The salient facts may be found in the evidence taken by
the committee of inquiry appointed by the Cape Assembly in 1896. The
much more copious evidence taken by a Select Committee of the British
House of Commons in 1897 adds comparatively little of importance to what
the Cape Committee had ascertained.]

[Footnote 37: Of the many accounts of the incidents that led to this
rising which have appeared, the clearest I have met with is contained in
the book of M. Mermeix, _La Revolution de Johannesburg_. A simple and
graphic sketch has been given by an American lady (Mrs. J. H. Hammond),
in her little book entitled _A Woman's Part in a Revolution_.]





There is nothing one more desires to know about a country, and
especially a new country, than how one can travel through it. There was
nothing about which, when contemplating a journey to South Africa, I
found it more difficult to get proper information in England; so I hope
that a few facts and hints will be useful to those who mean to make the
tour, while to others they may serve to give a notion of the conditions
which help or obstruct internal communication.

First, as to coast travel. There is no line of railway running along the
coast, partly because the towns are small, as well as few and far
between, partly because the physical difficulties of constructing a
railway across the ridges which run down to the sea are considerable,
but chiefly, no doubt, because the coasting steamers are able to do what
is needed. The large vessels of the Castle Line and the Union Line run
once a week between Cape Town and Durban (the port of Natal), calling at
Port Elizabeth and East London, sometimes also at Mossel Bay. Thus one
can find two opportunities every week of getting east or west in
powerful ocean steamers, besides such chances as smaller vessels,
designed for freight rather than for passengers, supply. From Durban
there is one weekly boat as far as Delagoa Bay, a voyage of about
twenty-four hours. From Delagoa Bay northward to Beira and Mozambique
the traveller must rely either on the steamers of the German East Africa
Line, which run from Hamburg through the Red Sea all the way to Durban
making the entire voyage in about seven weeks, or on Messrs. Rennie's
line, which ply from Durban to Delagoa Bay, Beira and Chinde. The
drawback to these coast voyages is that the sea is apt to be rough
between Cape Town and Durban, less frequently so between Durban and
Beira, and that there is no sheltered Port between Cape Town and Delagoa
Bay. At Port Elizabeth and at East London the large steamers lie out in
the ocean, and passengers reach the land by a small tender, into which
they are let down in a sort of basket, if there is a sea running, and
are occasionally, if the sea be very high, obliged to wait for a day or
more until the tender can take them off. Similar conditions have
prevailed at Durban, where a bar has hitherto prevented the big liners,
except under very favourable conditions of tide and weather, from
entering the otherwise excellent port. Much, however, has recently been
done to remove the Durban bar, and it is expected that the largest
steamers will soon be able to cross it at high tide. At Delagoa Bay the
harbour is spacious and sheltered, though the approach requires care and
is not well buoyed and lighted. At Beira the haven is still better, and
can be entered at all states of the tide. There is now a brisk goods
trade, both along the coast between the ports I have mentioned, and from
Europe to each of them.

Secondly, as to the railways. The railway system is a simple one. A
great trunk-line runs north-eastward from Cape Town to a place called De
Aar Junction, in the eastern part of the Colony. Here it bifurcates. One
branch runs first east and then north-north-east through the Orange Free
State and the Transvaal to Pretoria; the other runs north by east to
Kimberley and Mafeking, and thence through Bechuanaland to
Bulawayo.[38] The distance from Cape Town to Pretoria is ten hundred and
forty miles, and the journey takes (by the fastest train) fifty-two
hours. From Cape Town to Mafeking it is eight hundred and seventy-five
miles, the journey taking about fifty hours; and from Mafeking to
Bulawayo it is a little over five hundred more. From this trunk-line two
important branches run southward to the coast, one to Port Elizabeth,
the other to East London; and by these branches the goods landed at
those ports, and destined for Kimberley or Johannesburg, are sent up.
The passenger traffic on the branches is small, as people who want to go
from the Eastern towns to Cape Town usually take the less fatiguing as
well as cheaper sea voyage.

Three other lines of railway remain. One, opened in the end of 1895,
connects Durban with Pretoria and Johannesburg; another, opened in 1894,
runs from Delagoa Bay to Pretoria; a third, opened part of it in 1894
and the last part in 1899, connects Beira with Fort Salisbury, in the
territory of the British South Africa Company.[39]

Of these railways the trunk-line with its branches was constructed by
and is (except the parts which traverse the Orange Free State and the
Transvaal) owned by the government of Cape Colony. It has latterly paid
very well. The line from Durban to the Transvaal border at Charlestown
belongs to the Natal government, and is also a considerable source of
revenue. The rest of this line, from Charlestown northward through the
Transvaal, is the property of a Dutch company, which also owns the line
from Delagoa Bay to Pretoria and from Pretoria to the frontier of the
Free State. The Beira railway belongs to a company controlled by the
British South Africa Company, and is virtually a part of that great

All these railways, except the Beira line, have the same gauge, one of
three feet six inches. The Beira line has a two-foot gauge, but is now
(1899) being enlarged to the standard gauge. Throughout South Africa the
lines of railway are laid on steeper gradients than is usual in Europe:
one in forty is not uncommon, and on the Natal line it is sometimes one
in thirty, though this is being gradually reduced. Although the
accommodation at the minor stations is extremely simple, and sometimes
even primitive, the railways are well managed, and the cars are arranged
with a view to sleep on the night journeys; so that one can manage even
the long transit from Cape Town to Pretoria with no great fatigue.
Considering how very thinly peopled the country is, so that there is
practically no local passenger and very little local goods traffic, the
railway service is much better than could have been expected, and does
great credit to the enterprise of the people.

Railways have made an enormous difference, not to travel only, but to
trade and to politics; for before the construction of the great
trunk-line (which was not opened to Pretoria till 1892) the only means
of conveyance was the ox-waggon. The ox-waggon needs a few words of
description, for it is the most characteristic feature of South African
travel. It is a long low structure, drawn by seven, eight, nine, or even
ten yoke of oxen, and is surmounted (when intended to carry travellers)
by a convex wooden frame and canvas roof. The animals are harnessed by a
strong and heavy chain attached to the yoke which holds each pair
together. The oxen usually accomplish about twelve miles a day, but can
be made to do sixteen, or with pressure a little more. They walk very
slowly, and they are allowed to rest and feed more hours than those
during which they travel. The rest-time is usually the forenoon and
till about four P.M. with another rest for part of the night. It was in
these waggons that the Boers carried with them their wives and children
and household goods in the great exodus of 1836. It was in such waggons
that nearly all the explorations of South Africa have been made, such as
those by the missionaries, and particularly by Robert Moffat and by
Livingstone (in his earlier journeys), and such as those of the hunting
pioneers, men like Anderson, Gordon-Cumming, and Selous. And to this day
it is on the waggon that whoever traverses any unfrequented region must
rely. Horses, and even mules, soon break down; and as the traveller must
carry his food and other necessaries of camp life with him, he always
needs the waggon as a basis of operations, even if he has a seasoned
horse which he can use for two or three days when speed is required.
Waggons have, moreover, another value for a large party; they can be
readily formed into a laager, or camp, by being drawn into a circle,
with the oxen placed inside and so kept safe from the attacks of wild
beasts. And where there are hostile Kafirs to be feared, such a laager
is an efficient fortress, from within which a few determined marksmen
have often successfully resisted the onslaught of hordes of natives. An
immense trade has been carried on by means of ox-waggons between the
points where the railways end and the new settlements in Matabililand
and Mashonaland. When I passed from Mafeking to Bulawayo in October,
1895, thousands of oxen were drawing hundreds of waggons along the track
between those towns. When, a month later, I travelled from Fort
Salisbury to Chimoyo, then the terminus of the Beira line, I passed
countless waggons standing idle along the track, because owing to the
locusts and the drought which had destroyed most of the grass, the oxen
had either died or grown too lean and feeble to be able to drag the
loads. Hence the cattle-plague which in 1896 carried off the larger part
of the transport-oxen was a terrible misfortune, not only to the
natives who owned these animals, but also to the whole northern region,
which largely depends upon cattle transport for its food, its comforts,
its building materials, and its mine machinery.

It is the character of the country that has permitted the waggon to
become so important a factor in South African exploration, politics, and
commerce. The interior, though high, is not generally rugged. Much of
it--indeed, all the eastern and northern parts--is a vast rolling plain,
across which wheeled vehicles can pass with no greater difficulty than
the beds of the streams, sometimes deeply cut through soft ground,
present. The ranges of hills which occur here and there are generally
traversed by passes, which, though stony, are not steep enough to be
impracticable. Over most of the southern half of the plateau there is no
wood, and where forests occur the trees seldom grow thick together, and
the brushwood is so dry and small that it can soon be cut away to make a
passage. Had South Africa been thickly wooded, like the eastern parts of
North America or some parts of Australia, waggon-travelling would have
been difficult or impossible; but most of it is, like the country
between the Missouri River and the Great Salt Lake, a dry open country,
where the waggon can be made a true ship of the desert. This explains
the fact, so surprising to most European readers of African travel and
adventure, that wherever man can walk or ride he can take his moving
home with him.

For rapid transit, however, the traveller who has passed beyond the
railway is now not wholly dependent on the ox. Coaches, drawn sometimes
by mules, sometimes by horses, run from some points on the railways to
outlying settlements; they are, however, always uncomfortable and not
always safe. They travel night and day, usually accomplishing from six
to eight miles an hour on good ground, but much less where the surface
is sandy or rugged. In the north and north-east of Cape Colony and in
the Transvaal, as well as in Matabililand, horses are very little used
either for riding or for driving, owing to the prevalence of a disease
called horse-sickness, which attacks nearly every animal, and from which
only about a quarter recover. This is one reason why so little
exploration has been done on horseback; and it is a point to be noted by
those who desire to travel in the country, and who naturally think of
the mode by which people used to make journeys in Europe, and by which
they make journeys still in large parts of South and of North America,
as well as in Western Asia.

I have spoken of the "tracks" used by waggons and coaches; the reader
must not suppose that these tracks are roads. There are few made roads
in South Africa, except in the neighbourhood of Cape Town, Durban,
Maritzburg, Graham's Town, and one or two other towns. Those in Natal
are among the best. Neither are there (except as aforesaid) any bridges,
save here and there rude ones of logs thrown across a stream bed.
Elsewhere the track is merely a line across the veldt (prairie), marked
and sometimes cut deep by the wheels of many waggons, where all that man
has done has been to remove the trees or bushes. Here and there the
edges of the steep stream banks have been cut down so as to allow a
vehicle to descend more easily to the bottom, where during the rains the
stream flows, and where during the rest of the year the ground is sandy
or muddy. After heavy rain a stream is sometimes impassable for days
together, and the waggons have to wait on the bank till the torrent
subsides. At all times these water channels are troublesome, for the
oxen or mules are apt to jib or get out of hand in descending the steep
slope, and it is no easy matter to get them urged up the steep slope on
the other side. Accidents often occur, and altogether it may be said
that the _dongas_--this is the name given to these hollow stream
channels--form the most exciting feature of South African travel (in
places where wild beasts and natives are no longer dangerous) and afford
the greatest scope for the skill of the South African driver.

Skilful he must be, for he never drives less than six span of oxen, and
seldom less than three pairs of horses or mules (the Bulawayo coach had,
in 1895, five pairs). It takes two men to drive. One wields an immensely
long whip, while the other holds the reins. Both incessantly
apostrophise the animals. It is chiefly with the whip that the team is
driven; but if the team is one of mules, one of the two drivers is for a
large part of the time on his feet, running alongside the beasts,
beating them with a short whip and shouting to them by their names, with
such adjectives, expletives, and other objurgations as he can command.
Many Dutchmen do drive wonderfully well.

I have said nothing of internal water travel by river or lake, because
none exists. There are no lakes, and there is not a river with water
enough to float the smallest steamboat, except some reaches of the
Limpopo River in the wet season. The only steamer that plies anywhere on
a river is that which ascends the Pungwe River from Beira to
Fontesvilla; it goes only as far as the tide goes, and on most of its
trips spends fully half its time sticking on the sand-banks with which
the Pungwe abounds. So far as I know, no one has ever proposed to make a
canal in any part of the country.

From what has been said it will be gathered that there is no country
where railways are and will be more needed than South Africa. They are
the chief need of the newly settled districts, and the best means, next
to a wise and conciliatory administration, of preventing fresh native
outbreaks. Unfortunately, they will for a great while have no local
traffic, because most of the country they pass through has not one white
inhabitant to the square mile. Their function is to connect the coast
with the distant mining centres, in which population has begun to grow.
To lay them is, however, comparatively cheap work. Except in the
immediate neighbourhood of a town, nothing has to be paid for the land.
The gradients all through the interior plateau are comparatively easy,
and the engineers have in Africa cared less for making their ascents
gentle than we do in older countries. Even in the hilly parts of the
Transvaal and Matabililand the ranges are not high or steep, and one can
turn a kopje instead of cutting or tunnelling through it. Few bridges
are needed, because there are few rivers.

A word as to another point on which any one planning a tour to South
Africa may be curious--the accommodation obtainable. Most travellers
have given the inns a bad name. My own experience is scanty, for we were
so often the recipient of private hospitality as to have occasion to
sleep in an inn (apart from the "stores" of Bechuanaland and
Mashonaland, of which more hereafter) in four places only, Mafeking,
Ladybrand, Durban, and Bloemfontein. But it seemed to us that,
considering the newness of the country and the difficulty in many places
of furnishing a house well and of securing provisions, the entertainment
was quite tolerable, sometimes much better than one had expected. In the
two Colonies, and the chief places of the two Republics, clean beds and
enough to eat can always be had; in the largest places there is nothing
to complain of, though the prices are sometimes high. Luxuries are
unprocurable, but no sensible man will go to a new country expecting

[Footnote 38: At the time of my visit it went no further than Mafeking.]

[Footnote 39: There is also a line of railway from Port Elizabeth to
Graaf-Reinet, some short branch lines near Cape Town, and a small line
from Graham's Town to the coast at Port Alfred.]



In this and the four following chapters I propose to give some account
of the country through which the traveller passes on his way from the
coast to the points which are the natural goals of a South African
journey, Kimberley and Johannesburg, Bulawayo and Fort Salisbury, hoping
thereby to convey a more lively impression of the aspects of the land
and its inhabitants than general descriptions can give, and incidentally
to find opportunities for touching upon some of the questions on which
the future of the country will turn.

First, a few words about the voyage. You can go to South Africa either
by one of the great British lines across the Atlantic to the ports of
Cape Colony and Natal, or by the German line through the Red Sea and
along the East African coast to Beira or Delagoa Bay. The steamers of
the German line take thirty days from Port Said to Beira, and two days
more to Delagoa Bay. They are good boats, though much smaller than those
of the two chief English lines to the Cape (the Castle and the Union),
and the voyage from Port Said has the advantage of being, at most times
of the year, a smooth one pretty nearly the whole way. They touch at
Aden, Zanzibar, Dar-es-Salaam, and Quilimane, and give an opportunity of
seeing those places. But all along the East African coast the heat is
excessive--a damp, depressing heat. And the whole time required to reach
Beira from England, even if one travels by rail from Calais to
Marseilles, Brindisi, or Naples, and takes a British steamer thence to
Port Said, joining the German boat at the latter port, is more than five
weeks. Nearly everybody, therefore, chooses the Atlantic route from
Southampton or London to the Cape. The Atlantic voyage, which lasts from
sixteen to twenty days, is, on the whole, a pleasant and healthful one.
The steamers, both those of the Castle Line and those of the Union
Line--and the same may be said for the New Zealand Line and the Aberdeen
Line which plies to Australia, both of these touching at the Cape--are
comfortable and well appointed, and I cannot imagine any navigation more
scrupulously careful than that which I saw on board the _Hawarden
Castle_, by which I went out and returned. During the winter and spring
months there is often pretty rough weather from England as far as
Madeira. But from that island onward, or at any rate from the Canaries
onward, one has usually a fairly smooth sea with moderate breezes till
within two or three days of Cape Town, when head winds are frequently
encountered. Nor is the heat excessive. Except during the two days
between Cape Verde and the equator, it is never more than what one can
enjoy during the day and tolerate during the night. One sees land only
at Madeira, where the steamer coals for a few hours; at the picturesque
Canary Islands, between which she passes, gaining, if the weather be
clear, a superb view of the magnificent Peak of Teneriffe; and at Cape
Verde, where she runs (in the daytime) within a few miles of the African
coast. Those who enjoy the colours of the sea and of the sea skies, and
to whom the absence of letters, telegrams, and newspapers is welcome,
will find few more agreeable ways of passing a fortnight. After Cape
Finisterre very few vessels are seen. After Madeira every night reveals
new stars rising from the ocean as our own begin to vanish.

    Tutte le stolle già dell' altro polo
    Vedea la notte, e il nostro tanto basso
    Che non sorgeva fuor del marin suolo,[40]

as Ulysses says, in Dante's poem, of his voyage to the southern
hemisphere. The pleasure of watching unfamiliar constellations rise from
the east and sweep across the sky, is a keen one, which often kept us
late from sleep.

For a few hours only before reaching Cape Town does one discern on the
eastern horizon the stern grey mountains that rise along the barren
coast. A nobler site for a city and a naval stronghold than that of the
capital of South Africa can hardly be imagined. It rivals Gibraltar and
Constantinople, Bombay and San Francisco. Immediately behind the town,
which lies along the sea, the majestic mass of Table Mountain rises to a
height of 3600 feet, a steep and partly wooded slope capped by a long
line of sheer sandstone precipices more than 1000 feet high, and flanked
to right and left by bold, isolated peaks. The beautiful sweep of the
bay in front, the towering crags behind, and the romantic pinnacles
which rise on either side, make a landscape that no one who has seen it
can forget. The town itself is disappointing. It has preserved very
little of its old Dutch character. The miniature canals which once
traversed it are gone. The streets, except two, are rather narrow, and
bordered by low houses; nor is there much to admire in the buildings,
except the handsome Parliament House, the new post office, and the
offices of the Standard Bank. The immediate suburbs, inhabited chiefly
by Malays and other coloured people, are mean. But the neighbourhood is
extremely attractive. To the north-west Table Mountain and its spurs
descend steeply to the sea, and the road which runs along the beach past
the village of Sea Point offers a long series of striking views of shore
and crag. It is on the east, however, that the most beautiful spots lie.
Five miles from Cape Town and connected with it by railway, the village
of Rondebosch nestles under the angle of Table Mountain, and a mile
farther along the line is the little town of Wynberg. Round these
places, or between them and Cape Town, nearly all the richer, and a
great many even of the poorer, white people of Cape Town live. The roads
are bordered by pretty villas, whose grounds, concealed by no walls, are
filled with magnolias and other flowering trees and shrubs. Avenues of
tall pines or of superb oaks, planted by the Dutch in the last century,
run here and there along the by-roads. Immediately above, the grey
precipices of Table Mountain tower into the air, while in the opposite
direction a break in the woods shows in the far distance the sharp
summits, snow-tipped during the winter months, of the lofty range of the
Hottentots Holland Mountains. It would be hard to find anywhere, even in
Italy or the Pyrenees, more exquisite combinations of soft and
cultivated landscape with grand mountain forms than this part of the
Cape peninsula presents. Perhaps the most charming nook of all is where
the quaint old Dutch farmhouse of Groot Constantia[41] stands among its
vineyards, about ten miles from Cape Town. Behind it is the range which
connects the hills of Simon's Bay with Table Mountain; its declivities
are at this point covered with the graceful silver-tree, whose
glistening foliage shines brighter than that of the European olive.
Beneath the farmhouse are the vineyards which produce the famous sweet
wine that bears the name of Constantia, sloping gently towards the
waters of False Bay, whose farther side is guarded by a wall of
frowning peaks, while the deep blue misty ocean opens in the distance.
It is a landscape unlike anything one can see in Europe, and though the
light in sea and sky is brilliant, the brilliance is on this coast soft
and mellow, unlike the clear sharp radiance of the arid interior.

No one who cares for natural scenery quits Cape Town without ascending
Table Mountain, whose summit affords not only a very beautiful and
extensive prospect over the surrounding country, but a striking ocean
view. Looking down the narrow gullies that descend from the top, one
sees the intensely blue sea closing them below, framed between their
jutting crags, while on the other side the busy streets and wharves of
Cape Town lie directly under the eye, and one can discover the vehicles
in the streets and the trees in the Governor's garden. The heaths and
other flowers and shrubs that grow profusely over the wide top, which is
not flat, as he who looks at it from the sea fancies, but cut up by
glens, with here and there lake reservoirs in the hollows, are very
lovely, and give a novel and peculiar charm to this ascent.[42] Nor is
the excursion to Cape Point, the real Cape of Storms of Bartholomew
Diaz, and the Cape of Good Hope of Vasco da Gama, less beautiful. An
hour in the railway brings one to Simon's Bay, the station of the
British naval squadron, a small but fairly well sheltered inlet under
high hills. From this one drives for four hours over a very rough track
through a lonely and silent country, sometimes sandy, sometimes thick
with brushwood, but everywhere decked with brilliant flowers, to the
Cape, a magnificent headland rising almost vertically from the ocean to
a height of 800 feet. Long, heavy surges are always foaming on the
rocks below and nowhere, even on this troubled coast, where the hot
Mozambique current meets a stream of cold Antarctic water, do gales more
often howl and shriek than round these rocky pinnacles. One can well
understand the terror with which the Portuguese sailors five centuries
ago used to see the grim headland loom up through the clouds driven by
the strong south-easters, that kept them struggling for days or weeks to
round the cape that marked their way to India. But Sir Francis Drake,
who passed it coming home westward from his ever-famous voyage round the
world, had a more auspicious experience: "We ran hard aboard the Cape,
finding the report of the Portuguese to be most false, who affirm that
it is the most dangerous cape of the world, never without intolerable
storms and present danger to travellers who come near the same. This
cape is a most stately thing, and the finest cape we saw in the whole
circumference of the earth."

A third excursion, which well repays the traveller, is to the quaint
little town of Stellenbosch, founded by Adrian van der Stel (Governor of
the Colony) in 1680, and called after himself and his wife, whose name
was Bosch. It is built in genuine Dutch style, with straight streets of
two-storied white houses, the windows nearly flush with the walls as in
Holland, the wood-work and the green shutters those of Holland, and long
lines of dark-green oaks shading the foot-walks on each side the street.
Soft, rich pastures all round--for there is plenty of water brought down
from the hills--complete the resemblance to a Hobbema landscape; and it
is only when one looks up and sees rocky mountains soaring behind into
the sky that the illusion is broken. It is here, and in the town of
Swellendam, farther east, and in some of the villages that lie northward
of Stellenbosch in the western province, that the Dutch element has
remained strongest and has best retained its ancient ways and customs.

We have, however, delayed long enough round the capital, and it is time
to plunge into the interior by the railway. Sixty miles to the north of
Cape Town, the trunk-line, which has threaded its way through the
valleys of an outlying range of mountains, reaches the foot of the great
inner table-land at a place called Hex River, and in an hour climbs by
zigzags up an incline which is in some places as steep as one in
thirty-five, mounting 1600 feet into a desert land. Rugged brown
mountains, sometimes craggy, sometimes covered with masses of loose
stone, rise above the lower ground, now a valley, now an open plain,
through which the railway takes its eastward way. The bushes, which had
been tall and covered with blossoms on the ascent, are now stunted,
bearing small and usually withered flowers. Hardly an herb, and not a
blade of grass, is to be seen on the ground, which is sometimes of clay,
baked hard by the sun, sometimes of sand, without a drop of water
anywhere. Yet water flows when, now and then in the summer, a storm
breaks, or a few showers come; and then nature revives, and for a week
or two flowers spring from the soil and a fresher green comes upon the
bushes. In a landscape so arid one hears with surprise that the land is
worth ten shillings an acre for one or two of the smallest shrubs give
feed for sheep, and there are wells scattered about sufficient for the
flocks. The farms are large, usually of at least six thousand acres, so
one seldom sees a farmhouse. The farmers are all of Boer stock. They
lead a lonely life in a silent and melancholy nature, but their habitual
gravity has not made them unsocial, for they are fond of riding or
driving in their waggons to visit one another on all occasions of
festivity or mourning. Every ten or fifteen miles there is a station,
and here the British element in the population appears, chiefly occupied
in store-keeping. At Matjesfontein one finds an hotel and a number of
small villas built to serve as a health resort. Wells surrounded by
Australian gums planted for shade, make a little oasis in the desert.
Farther east the village of Beaufort West, the only place along the line
that aspires to be called a town, boasts a church with a spire, and has
one or two streets, though most of its houses are stuck down irregularly
over a surface covered with broken bottles and empty sardine and
preserved meat tins. Here, too, there is a large, shallow pond of water,
and here people with weak lungs come to breathe the keen, dry,
invigorating air. Of its efficacy there is no doubt, but one would think
that the want of society and of variety would be almost as depressing as
the air is stimulating. The prospects have a certain beauty, for beyond
the wide, bare, greyish-brown plain to the south sharp mountains stand
up, which take at sunrise and sunset delightful tints of blue and
purple, and the sense of a vast expanse on earth beneath and in heaven
above has something strange and solemn. But the monotony of perpetual
sunlight upon a landscape which has no foregrounds and never changes,
save in colour, must be trying to those who have no occupation except
that of getting well.

This Karroo scenery continues, with little variation, for hundreds of
miles. To the north of the railway, which runs mostly from west to east,
the aspect of the country is much the same, dry, stony, and forbidding,
for full three hundred miles to the Orange River, and beyond that into
Namaqualand. Except for the few houses at some of the stations, it seems
a wilderness; yet here and there stand tiny villages, connected by lines
of coach with the railway, whither the neighbouring farmers come to
supply their household needs. But as the train moves farther and farther
eastward the features of nature grow less austere. The mountains by
degrees recede or sink; the country becomes more of an open plain,
though with isolated hills visible here and there over its expanse. It
is also slightly greener, and after the rains some little grass springs
up, besides the low, succulent shrub which the sheep eat. At De Aar
Junction, five hundred miles from Cape Town, the line to Bloemfontein
and the Transvaal branches off to the right. We follow the western
branch over a vast slightly undulating plain to the Orange River, here a
perennial stream, and at six hundred and forty-six miles from Cape Town
find ourselves once more in the haunts of men at Kimberley.

Kimberley, the city of diamonds, has had a curious history. In 1869-70
the precious crystals, first found in 1867 near the Orange River, were
discovered here in considerable quantity. A sudden rush of adventurers
from all parts of South Africa, as well as from Europe, gave it in three
or four years a population of many thousands. The mining claims were
then and for some years afterwards in the hands of a large number of
persons and companies who had opened them or purchased them. The
competition of these independent miner-workers was bringing down the
price of the stones, and the waste or leakage arising from the theft of
stones by the native work-people, who sold them to European I.D.B.
(illicit diamond-buyers), seriously reduced the profits of mining. It
was soon seen that the consolidation of the various concerns would
effect enormous savings and form the only means of keeping up the price
of diamonds. The process of amalgamating the claims and interests and
merging them in one huge corporation was completed in 1885, chiefly by
the skill and boldness of Mr. Cecil J. Rhodes, who had gone to Natal for
his health shortly before 1870, and came up to Kimberley in the first
months of the rush. Since the amalgamation, the great corporation called
the De Beers Consolidated Mining Company (which now owns nearly all the
mines), has reduced the output of diamonds to just such an annual amount
as experience has proved that Europe and America--the United States is
the chief market--are able to take at a price high enough to leave a
large profit. By this means the price has been well maintained. This
policy, however, has incidentally reduced the population of Kimberley.
One powerful corporation, with its comparatively small staff of
employees, has taken the place of the crowd of independent adventurers
of the old days, and some of the mines have been closed because the rest
are sufficient to produce as many diamonds as it is deemed prudent to
put upon the market. Thus there are now only about 10,000 people in the
town, and some of the poorer quarters are almost deserted, the stores
and taverns, as well as the shanty dwellings, empty and falling to
pieces. In the better quarters, however, the old roughness has been
replaced by order and comfort. Many of the best villas are embowered in
groves of tall Australian gum-trees, while the streets and roads are
bordered either by gum-trees or by hedges of prickly-pear or agave. The
streets are wide, and most of the houses are detached and of one story,
built like Indian bungalows; so the town covers an area quite
disproportionate to its population, and gives the impression of an
extensive city. For the residence of the Europeans employed in the two
great mines which the Company works, a suburb called Kenilworth has been
built by Mr. Rhodes, where neat houses of four, five, or six rooms each
stand in handsome avenues planted with Australian trees, the so-called
"beefwood" and the red gum. They are not beautiful trees, but they have
the merit of growing very fast, and any shade is welcome.

The diamonds are found in beds of clay, of which there are two: a yellow
and softish clay, lying on or near the surface, and a hard blue clay,
lying deeper. These clays, which are usually covered by a thin layer of
calcareous rock, are supposed to be the remains of mud-pits due to
volcanic action, such as the so-called mud-volcanoes of Iceland, near
Námaskard, on the banks of Lake Myvatn, or such as the similar boiling
mud-pits of the Yellowstone Park country, called from their brilliant
colours the "Paint-pots." It is, at any rate, from circular clay basins,
inclosed within a harder rock (basalt, black shale, and quartzite) that
the stones are obtained. Some of the mines are worked even to a depth of
1200 feet by shafts and subterranean galleries. Some are open, and
these, particularly that called the Wesselton Mine, are an interesting
sight. This deep hollow, one-third of a mile in circumference and 100
feet deep, inclosed by a strong fence of barbed wire, is filled by a
swarm of active Kafir workmen, cleaving the "hard blue" with pickaxes,
piling it up on barrows, and carrying it off to the wide fields; where
it is left exposed to the sun, and, during three months, to the rain.
Having been thus subjected to a natural decomposition, it is the more
readily brought by the pickaxe into smaller fragments before being sent
to the mills, where it is crushed, pulverized, and finally washed to get
at the stones. Nowhere in the world does the hidden wealth of the soil
and the element of chance in its discovery strike one so forcibly as
here, where you are shown a piece of ground a few acres in extent, and
are told, "Out of this pit diamonds of the value of £12,000,000 have
been taken." Twenty-six years ago the ground might have been bought for

The most striking sight at Kimberley, and one unique in the world, is
furnished by the two so-called "compounds" in which the natives who work
in the mines are housed and confined. They are huge inclosures,
unroofed, but covered with a wire netting to prevent anything from being
thrown out of them over the walls, and with a subterranean entrance to
the adjoining mine. The mine is worked on the system of three eight-hour
shifts, so that the workman is never more than eight hours together
underground. Round the interior of the wall there are built sheds or
huts, in which the natives live and sleep when not working. A hospital
is also provided within the inclosure, as well as a school where the
work-people can spend their leisure in learning to read and write. No
spirits are sold--an example of removing temptation from the native
which it is to be wished that the legislature of Cape Colony would
follow. Every entrance is strictly guarded, and no visitors, white or
native, are permitted, all supplies being obtained from the store
within, kept by the Company. The De Beers mine compound contained at the
time of my visit 2600 natives, belonging to a great variety of tribes,
so that here one could see specimens of the different native types, from
Natal and Pondoland on the south, to the shores of Lake Tanganyika in
the far north. They come from every quarter, attracted by the high
wages, usually eighteen to thirty shillings a week, and remain for three
months or more and occasionally even for long periods, knowing, of
course, that they have to submit to the precautions which are absolutely
needed to prevent them from appropriating the diamonds they may happen
to find in the course of their work. To encourage honesty, ten per cent,
of the value of any stone which a workman may find is given to him if he
brings it himself to the overseer, and the value of the stones on which
this ten per cent, is paid is estimated at £400,000 in each year.
Nevertheless, a certain number of thefts occur. I heard from a
missionary an anecdote of a Basuto who, after his return from Kimberley,
was describing how, on one occasion, his eye fell on a valuable diamond
in the clay he was breaking into fragments. While he was endeavouring to
pick it up he perceived the overseer approaching, and, having it by this
time in his hand, was for a moment terribly frightened, the punishment
for theft being very severe. The overseer, however, passed on. "And
then," said the Basuto, "I knew that there was indeed a God, for He had
preserved me."

When the native has earned the sum he wants--and his earnings accumulate
quickly, since he can live upon very little--he takes his wages in
English sovereigns, a coin now current through all Africa as far as
Tanganyika, goes home to his own tribe, perhaps a month's or six weeks'
journey distant, buys two oxen, buys with them a wife, and lives
happily, or at least lazily, ever after. Here in the vast oblong
compound one sees Zulus from Natal, Fingos, Pondos, Tembus, Basutos,
Bechuanas, Gungunhana's subjects from the Portuguese territories, some
few Matabili and Makalaka, and plenty of Zambesi boys from the tribes on
both sides of that great river--a living ethnological collection such as
can be examined nowhere else in South Africa. Even Bushmen, or at least
natives with some Bushman blood in them, are not wanting. They live
peaceably together, and amuse themselves in their several ways during
their leisure hours. Besides games of chance we saw a game resembling
"fox and geese," played with pebbles on a board; and music was being
discoursed on two rude native instruments, the so-called "Kafir piano,"
made of pieces of iron of unequal length fastened side by side in a
frame, and a still ruder contrivance of hard bits of wood, also of
unequal size, which when struck by a stick emit different notes, the
first beginnings of a tune. A very few were reading or writing letters,
the rest busy with their cooking or talking to one another. Some tribes
are incessant talkers, and in this strange mixing-pot of black men one
may hear a dozen languages spoken as one passes from group to group.

The climate of Kimberley is healthy, and even bracing, though not
pleasant when a north-west wind from the Kalahari Desert fills the air
with sand and dust. Its dryness recommends it as a resort for
consumptive patients, while the existence of a cultivated, though small,
society, makes it a less doleful place of residence than are the
sanatoria of the Karroo. The country round is, however, far from
attractive. Save on the east, where there rises a line of hills just
high enough to catch the lovely lights of evening and give colour and
variety to the landscape, the prospect is monotonous in every direction.
Like the ocean, this vast plain is so flat that you cannot see how vast
it is. Except in the environs of the town, it is unbroken by tree or
house, and in a part of those environs the masses of bluish-grey mine
refuse that strew the ground give a dismal and even squalid air to the
foreground of the view. One is reminded of the deserted coal-pits that
surround Wigan, or the burnt-out and waste parts of the Black Country in
South Staffordshire, though at Kimberley there is, happily, no
coal-smoke or sulphurous fumes in the air, no cinder on the surface, no
coal-dust to thicken the mud and blacken the roads. Some squalor one
must have with that disturbance of nature which mining involves, but
here the enlightened activity of the Company and the settlers has done
its best to mitigate these evils by the planting of trees and orchards,
by the taste which many of the private houses show, and by the provision
here and there of open spaces for games.

From Kimberley the newly-opened railway runs one hundred and fifty miles
farther north to Vryburg, till lately the capital of the Crown Colony of
British Bechuanaland, annexed in 1895 to Cape Colony, and thence to
Mafeking. After a few miles the line crosses the Vaal River, here a
respectable stream for South Africa, since it has, even in the dry
season, more water than the Cam at Cambridge, or the Cherwell at
Oxford--perhaps as much as the Arno at Florence. It flows in a wide,
rocky bed, about thirty feet below the level of the adjoining country.
The country becomes more undulating as the line approaches the
frontiers, first of the Orange Free State, and then of the Transvaal
Republic, which bounds that State on the north. Bushes are seen, and
presently trees, nearly all prickly mimosas, small and unattractive, but
a pleasant relief from the bare flats of Kimberley, whence all the wood
that formerly grew there has been taken for mine props and for fuel.
There is more grass, too, and presently patches of cultivated land
appear, where Kafirs grow maize, called in South Africa "mealies." Near
the village of Taungs[43] a large native reservation is passed, where
part of the Batlapin tribe is settled, and here a good deal of ground is
tilled, though in September, when no crop is visible, one scarcely
notices the fields, since they are entirely unenclosed, mere strips on
the veldt, a little browner than the rest, and with fewer shrublets on
them. But the landscape remains equally featureless and monotonous,
redeemed only, as evening falls, by the tints of purple and violet which
glow upon the low ridges or swells of ground that rise in the distance.
Vryburg is a cheerful little place of brick walls and corrugated-iron
roofs; Mafeking another such, still smaller and, being newer, with a
still larger proportion of shanties to houses. At Mafeking the railway
ended in 1895. It has since been opened all the way to Bulawayo. Here
ends also the territory of Cape Colony, the rest of Bechuanaland to the
north and west forming the so-called Bechuanaland Protectorate, which in
October, 1895, was handed over by the Colonial Office, subject to
certain restrictions and provisions for the benefit of the natives, to
the British South Africa Company, within the sphere of whose operations
it had, by the charter of 1890, been included. After the invasion of the
Transvaal Republic by the expedition led by Dr. Jameson, which started
from Pitsani, a few miles north of Mafeking, in December, 1895, this
transfer was recalled, and Bechuanaland is now again under the direct
control of the High Commissioner for South Africa as representing the
British Crown. It is administered by magistrates, who have a force of
police at their command, and by native chiefs, the most powerful and
famous of whom is Khama.

Close to Mafeking itself there was living a chieftain whose long career
is interwoven with many of the wars and raids that went on between the
Boers and the natives from 1840 to 1885--Montsioa (pronounced
"Montsiwa"), the head of a tribe of Barolongs. We were taken to see him,
and found him sitting on a low chair under a tree in the midst of his
huge native village, dressed in a red flannel shirt, a pair of corduroy
trousers, and a broad grey felt hat with a jackal's tail stuck in it for
ornament. His short woolly hair was white, and his chocolate-coloured
skin, hard and tough like that of a rhinoceros, was covered with a
fretwork of tiny wrinkles, such as one seldom sees on a European face.
He was proud of his great age (eighty-five), and recalled the names of
several British governors and generals during the last seventy years.
But his chief interest was in inquiries (through his interpreter)
regarding the Queen and events in England, and he amused his visitors by
the diplomatic shrewdness with which, on being told that there had been
a change of government in England, and a majority in favour of the new
government, he observed "They have made a mistake; they could not have
had a better government than the old one." He was a wealthy man, owning
an immense number of the oxen which then carried on (for the cattle
plague soon after destroyed most of them) the transport service between
Mafeking and Bulawayo; and, from all I could learn, he ruled his people
well, following the counsels of the British government, which in 1885
delivered him out of the hands of the Boers. He died in the middle of

At Mafeking we bade farewell to the railway, and prepared to plunge into
the wilderness. We travelled in a light American waggon, having a Cape
Dutchman as driver and a coloured "Cape boy" to help him, but no other
attendants. The waggon had a small iron tank, which we filled with water
that had been boiled to kill noxious germs, and with this we made our
soup and tea. For provisions we carried biscuits, a little tinned soup
and meat, and a few bottles of soda-water. These last proved to be the
most useful part of our stores, for we found the stream-or well-water
along the route undrinkable, and our mouths were often so parched that
it was only by the help of sips of soda-water that we could manage to
swallow the dry food. At the European stores which occur along the road,
usually at intervals of thirty or forty miles, though sometimes there is
none for sixty miles or more, we could often procure eggs and sometimes
a lean chicken; so there was enough to support life, though seldom did
we get what is called in America "a square meal."

Northward from Mafeking the country grows pretty. At first there are
trees scattered picturesquely over the undulating pastures and sometimes
forming woods--dry and open woods, yet welcome after the bareness which
one has left behind. Here we passed the tiny group of houses called
Pitsani, little dreaming that three months later it would become famous
as the place where the Matabililand police were marshalled, and from
which they started on their ill-starred march into the Transvaal, whose
bare and forbidding hills we saw a few miles away to the east. Presently
the ground becomes rougher, and the track winds among and under a
succession of abrupt kopjes (pronounced "koppies"), mostly of granitic
or gneissose rock. One is surprised that a heavy coach, and still
heavier waggons, can so easily traverse such a country, for the road is
only a track, for which art has done nothing save in cutting a way
through the trees. It is one of the curious features of South Africa
that the rocky hills have an unusual faculty for standing detached
enough from one another to allow wheeled vehicles to pass between them,
and the country is so dry that morasses, the obstacle which a driver
chiefly fears in most countries, are here, for three-fourths of the
year, not feared at all. This region of bold, craggy hills, sparsely
wooded, usually rising only some few hundred feet out of the plateau
itself, which is about 4000 feet above the sea, continues for about
thirty miles. To it there succeeds a long stretch of flat land along the
banks of the sluggish Notwani, the only perennial river of these parts;
for the stream which on the map bears the name of Molopo, and runs away
west into the desert to lose nearly all of its water in the sands, is in
September dry, and one crosses its channel without noticing it. This
Notwani, whose course is marked by a line of trees taller and greener
than the rest, is at this season no better than a feeble brook, flowing
slowly, with more mud than water. But it contains not only good-sized
fish, the catching of which is the chief holiday diversion of these
parts, but also crocodiles, which, generally dormant during the season
of low water, are apt to obtrude themselves when they are least
expected, and would make bathing dangerous, were there any temptation to
bathe in such a thick green fluid. That men as well as cattle should
drink it seems surprising, yet they do,--Europeans as well as
natives,--and apparently with no bad effects. Below Palla, one hundred
and ninety-five miles north of Mafeking, the Notwani joins the Limpopo,
or Crocodile River, a much larger stream, which has come down from the
Transvaal hills, and winds for nearly a thousand miles to the north and
east before it falls into the Indian Ocean. It is here nearly as wide as
the Thames at Henley, fordable in some places, and flowing very gently.
The country all along this part of the road is perfectly flat, and just
after the wet season very feverish, but it may be traversed with
impunity from the end of May till December. It is a dull
region--everywhere the same thin wood, through which one can see for
about a quarter of a mile in every direction, consisting of two or three
kinds of mimosa, all thorny, and all so spare and starved in their
leafage that one gets little shade beneath them when at the midday halt
shelter has to be sought from the formidable sun. On the parched ground
there is an undergrowth of prickly shrubs, among which it is necessary
to move with as much care as is needed in climbing a barbed-wire fence.
When at night, camping out on the veldt, one gathers brushwood to light
the cooking-fire, both the clothes and the hands of the novice come
badly off. Huge ant-hills begin to appear, sometimes fifteen to twenty
feet high and as many yards in circumference; but these large ones are
all dead and may be of considerable age. In some places they are so high
and steep, and stand so close together, that by joining them with an
earthen rampart a strong fort might be made. When people begin to till
the ground more largely than the natives now do, the soil heaped up in
these great mounds will be found most serviceable. It consists of good
mould, very friable, and when spread out over the service ought to prove
fertile. In pulverizing the soil, the ants render here much the same
kind of service which the earthworms do in Europe. There are no flowers
at this season (end of September), and very little grass; yet men say
that there is no better ranching country in all South Africa, and the
oxen which one meets all the way, feeding round the spots where the
transport-waggons have halted, evidently manage to pick up enough
herbage to support them. The number of ox-waggons is surprising in so
lonely a country, till one remembers that most of the food and drink, as
well as of the furniture, agricultural and mining tools, and wood for
building,--indeed, most of the necessaries and all the luxuries of life
needed in Matabililand,--have to be sent up along this road, which is
more used than the alternative route through the Transvaal from Pretoria
_via_ Pietersburg. No wonder all sorts of articles are costly in
Bulawayo, when it has taken eight or ten weeks to bring them from the
nearest railway terminus. The waggons do most of their journeying by
night, allowing the oxen to rest during the heat of the day. One of the
minor troubles of travel is the delay which ensues when one's vehicle
meets a string of waggons, sometimes nearly a quarter of a mile long,
for each has eight, nine, or even ten, span of oxen. They move very
slowly, and at night, when the track happens to be a narrow one among
trees, it is not easy to get past. Except for these waggons the road is
lonely. One sees few natives, though the narrow footpaths crossing the
wheel-track show that the country is inhabited. Here and there one
passes a large native village, such as Ramoutsie and Machudi, but small
hamlets are rare, and solitary huts still rarer. The country is of
course very thinly peopled in proportion to its resources, for, what
with the good pasture nearly everywhere and the fertile land in many
places, it could support eight or ten times the number of Barolongs,
Bamangwato, and other Bechuanas who now live scattered over its vast
area. It is not the beasts of prey that are to blame for this, for, with
the disappearance of game, lions have become extremely scarce, and
leopards and lynxes are no longer common. Few quadrupeds are seen, and
not many kinds of birds. Vultures, hawks, and a species something like a
magpie, with four pretty white patches upon the wings and a long tail,
are the commonest, together with bluish-grey guinea-fowl, pigeons and
sometimes a small partridge. In some parts there are plenty of bustards,
prized as dainties, but we saw very few. Away from the track some buck
of the commoner kinds may still be found, and farther to the west there
is still plenty of big game in the Kalahari Desert. But the region which
we traversed is almost as unattractive to the sportsman as it is to the
lover of beauty. It is, indeed, one of the dullest parts of South

The next stage in the journey is marked by Palapshwye, Khama's capital.
This is the largest native town south of the Zambesi, for it has a
population estimated at over 20,000. It came into being only a few years
ago, when Khama, having returned from the exile to which his father had
consigned him on account of his steadfast adherence to Christianity, and
having succeeded to the chieftainship of the Bamangwato, moved the tribe
from its previous dwelling-place at Shoshong, some seventy miles to the
south-west, and fixed it here. Such migrations and foundations of new
towns are not uncommon in South Africa, as they were not uncommon in
India in the days of the Pathan and Mogul sovereigns, when each new
occupant of the throne generally chose a new residence to fortify or
adorn. Why this particular site was chosen I do not know. It stands
high, and is free from malaria, and there are springs of water in the
craggy hill behind; but the country all round is poor, rocky in some
places, sandy in others, and less attractive than some other parts of
Bechuanaland. We entered the town late at night, delayed by the deep
sand on the track, and wandered about in the dark for a long while
before, after knocking at one hut after another, we could persuade any
native to come out and show us the way to the little cluster of European
dwellings. The Kafirs are terribly afraid of the night, and fear the
ghosts, which are to them the powers of darkness, more than they care
for offers of money.

Khama was absent in England, pressing upon the Colonial Office his
objections to the demand made by the British South Africa Company that
his kingdom should be brought within the scope of their administration
and a railway constructed through it from Mafeking to Bulawayo. Besides
the natural wish of a monarch to retain his authority undiminished, he
was moved by the desire to keep his subjects from the use of
intoxicating spirits, a practice which the establishment of white men
among them would make it difficult, if not impossible, to prevent. The
main object of Khama's life and rule has been to keep his people from
intoxicants. His feelings were expressed in a letter to a British
Commissioner, in which he said: "I fear Lo Bengula less than I fear
brandy. I fought against Lo Bengula and drove him back. He never gives
me a sleepless night. But to fight against drink is to fight against
demons and not men. I fear the white man's drink more than the assagais
of the Matabili, which kill men's bodies. Drink puts devils into men and
destroys their souls and bodies." Though a Christian himself, and giving
the missionaries in his dominions every facility for their work, he has
never attempted to make converts by force. A prohibition of the use of
alcohol, however, has seemed to him to lie "within the sphere of
governmental action," and he has, indeed, imperilled his throne by
efforts to prevent the Bamangwato from making and drinking the stronger
kind of Kafir beer, to which, like all natives, they were much
addicted.[44] This beer is made from the so-called "Kafir-corn" (a grain
resembling millet, commonly cultivated by the natives), and, though less
strong than European-made spirits, is more intoxicating than German or
even English ale. Khama's prohibition of it had, shortly before my
visit, led to a revolt and threatened secession of a part of the tribe
under his younger brother, Radiclani, and the royal reformer, (himself a
strict total abstainer), had been compelled to give way, lamenting, in a
pathetic speech, that his subjects would not suffer him to do what was
best for them. Just about the same time, in England, the proposal of a
measure to check the use of intoxicating liquors led to the overthrow of
a great party and clouded the prospects of any temperance legislation.
Alike in Britain and in Bechuanaland it is no light matter to interfere
with a people's favourite indulgences. European spirits are, however, so
much more deleterious than Kafir beer that Khama still fought hard
against their introduction. The British South Africa Company forbids the
sale of intoxicants to natives in its territory, but Khama naturally
felt that when at railway stations and stores spirits were being freely
consumed by whites, the difficulty of keeping them from natives would be
largely increased. The Colonial Office gave leave for the construction
of the railway, and brought Khama into closer relations with the
Company, while securing to him a large reserve and establishing certain
provisions for his benefit and that of his people. However, a few months
later (in the beginning of 1896) the extension of the Company's powers
as to Bechuanaland was recalled, and Khama is now under the direct
protection of the Imperial Government.

His kingdom covers on the map a vast but ill-defined area, stretching on
the west into the Kalahari Desert, and on the north-west into the thinly
peopled country round Lake Ngami, where various small tribes live in
practical independence. Sovereignty among African natives is tribal
rather than territorial. Khama is the chief of the Bamangwato, rather
than ruler of a country, and where the Bamangwato dwell there Khama
reigns. A large proportion of them dwell in or near Palapshwye. Born
about 1830, he is by far the most remarkable Kafir now living in South
Africa, for he has shown a tact, prudence, and tenacity of purpose which
would have done credit to a European statesman. He was converted to
Christianity while still a boy, and had much persecution to endure at
the hands of his heathen father, who at last banished him for refusing
to take a second wife. What is not less remarkable, he has carried his
Christianity into practice, evincing both a sense of honour as well as a
humanity which has made him the special protector of the old and the
weak, and even of the Bushmen who serve the Bamangwato. Regarded as
fighters, his people are far inferior to the Matabili, and he was often
in danger of being overpowered by the fierce and rapacious Lo Bengula.
As early as 1862 he crossed assagais with and defeated a Matabili _impi_
(war-band), earning the praise of the grim Mosilikatze, who said, "Khama
is a man. There is no other man among the Bamangwato." Though frequently
thereafter threatened and sometimes attacked, he succeeded, by his
skilful policy, in avoiding any serious war until the fall of Lo Bengula
in 1893. Seeing the tide of white conquest rising all round him, he has
had a difficult problem to face, and it is not surprising that he has
been less eager to welcome the Company and its railway than those who
considered him the white man's friend had expected. The coming of the
whites means not only the coming of liquor, but the gradual occupation
of the large open tracts where the natives have hunted and pastured
their cattle, with a consequent change in their mode of life, which,
inevitable as it may be, a patriotic chief must naturally wish to delay.

Palapshwye, the largest native town south of the Zambesi, is an immense
mass of huts, planted without the smallest attempt at order over the
sandy hill slope, some two square miles in extent. The huts are small,
with low walls of clay and roofs of grass, so that from a distance the
place looks like a wilderness of beehives. Each of the chief men has his
own hut and those of his wives inclosed in a rough fence of thorns, or
perhaps of prickly-pear, and between the groups of huts lie open spaces
of sand or dusty tracks. In the middle of the town close to the huts of
Khama himself, who, however, being a Christian, has but one wife, stands
the great kraal or _kothla_. It is an inclosure some three hundred yards
in circumference, surrounded by a stockade ten feet high, made of dry
trunks and boughs of trees stuck in the ground so close together that
one could not even shoot a gun, or hurl an assagai through them. The
stockade might resist the first attack of native enemies if the rest of
the town had been captured, but it would soon yield to fire. In the
middle of it stands the now dry trunk of an old tree, spared when the
other trees were cut down to make the kraal, because it was supposed to
have magical powers, and heal those who touched it. A heap of giraffe
skins lay piled against it, but its healing capacity now finds less
credit, at least among those who wish to stand well with the chief.
Within this inclosure Khama holds his general assemblies when he has
some address to deliver to the people or some ordinance to proclaim. He
administers criminal justice among his subjects, and decides their civil
disputes, usually with the aid of one or two elderly counsellors. He has
tried to improve their agricultural methods, and being fond of horses
has formed a good stud. Unhappily, in 1896, the great murrain descended
upon the Bamangwato, and Khama and his tribe lost nearly all the cattle
(said to have numbered eight hundred thousand) in which their wealth

The British magistrate--there are about seventy Europeans living in the
town--described these Bechuanas as a quiet folk, not hard to manage.
They have less force of character and much less taste for fighting than
Zulus or Matabili. The main impression which they leave on a stranger is
that of laziness. Of the many whom we saw hanging about in the sun,
hardly one seemed to be doing any kind of work. Nor do they. They grow a
few mealies (maize), but it is chiefly the women who hoe and plant the
ground. They know how to handle wire and twist it round the handles of
the _sjamboks_ (whips of hippopotamus hide). But having few wants and no
ambition, they have practically no industries, and spend their lives in
sleeping, loafing, and talking. When one watches such a race, it seems
all the more strange that a man of such remarkable force of character as
Khama should suddenly appear among them.[45]

For about sixty miles north-eastward from Palapshwye the country
continues dull, dry, and mostly level. After that rocky hills appear,
and in the beds of the larger streams a little water is seen. At Tati,
ninety miles from Palapshwye (nearly four hundred from Mafeking), gold
reefs have been worked at intervals for five and twenty years, under a
concession originally granted (1869), by Lo Bengula, and a little
European settlement has grown up. Here one passes from Bechuanaland into
the territories which belonged to the Matabili, and now to the British
South Africa Company. The country rises and grows more picturesque. The
grass is greener on the pastures. New trees appear, some of them bearing
beautiful flowers, and the air is full of tales of lions. For, in
Africa, where there is more grass there is more game, and where there is
more game there are more beasts of prey. Lions, we were told, had last
week dragged a Kafir from beneath a waggon where he was sleeping. Lions
had been seen yester eve trotting before the coach. Lions would probably
be seen again to-morrow. But to us the beast was always a lion of
yesterday or a lion of to-morrow, never a lion of to-day. The most
direct evidence we had of his presence was when, some days later, we
were shown a horse on which that morning a lion had sprung, inflicting
terrible wounds. The rider was not touched, and galloped the poor animal
back to camp. At Mangwe, a pretty little station with exceptionally bad
sleeping quarters, the romantic part of the country may be said to
begin. All round there are rocky kopjes, and the track which leads
northward follows a line of hollows between them, called the Mangwe
Pass, a point which was of much strategical importance in the Matabili
war of 1893, and became again of so much importance in the recent native
rising (1896) that one of the first acts of the British authorities was
to construct a rough fort in it and place a garrison there. Oddly
enough, the insurgents did not try to occupy it, and thereby cut off the
English in Matabililand from their railway base at Mafeking, the reason
being, as I was informed, that the _Molimo_, or prophet, whose
incitements contributed to the insurrection, had told them that it was
by the road through this pass that the white strangers would quit the
country for ever.

A more peaceful spot could not be imagined than the pass was when we
passed through it at 5 A.M., "under the opening eyelids of the dawn."
Smooth green lawns, each surrounded by a fringe of wood, and filled with
the songs of awakening birds, lay beneath the beetling crags of
granite,--granite whose natural grey was hidden by brilliant red and
yellow lichens,--and here and there a clear streamlet trickled across
the path. Climbing to the top of one of these rocky masses, I enjoyed a
superb view to north, west, and east, over a wilderness of rugged hills,
with huge masses of grey rock rising out of a feathery forest, while to
the north the undulating line, faintly blue in the far distance, marked
the point where the plateau of central Matabililand begins to decline
toward the valley of the Zambesi. It was a beautiful prospect both in
the wild variety of the foreground and in the delicate hues of ridge
after ridge melting away towards the horizon, and it was all waste and
silent, as it has been since the world began.

The track winds through the hills for some six or eight miles before it
emerges on the more open country. These kopjes, which form a sort of
range running east-south-east and west-north-west, are the Matoppo
Hills, in which the main body of the Matabili and other insurgent
natives held their ground during the months of April, May and June,
1896. Although the wood is not dense, by no means so hard to penetrate
as the bush or low scrub which baffled the British troops in the early
Kafir wars, waged on the eastern border of Cape Colony, still the
ground is so very rough, and the tumbled masses of rock which lie round
the foot of the granite kopjes afford so many spots for hiding, that the
agile native, who knows the ground, had a far better chance against the
firearms of the white men than he could have had in the open country
where the battles of 1893 took place. Seeing such a country one can well
understand that it was quite as much by famine as by fighting that the
rising of 1896 was brought to an end.

From the northern end of the Mangwe Pass it is over forty miles to
Bulawayo, the goal of our journey, and the starting-point for our return
journey to the coast of the Indian Ocean. But Bulawayo is too important
a place to be dealt with at the end of a chapter already sufficiently

[Footnote 40: "Already night saw all the stars of the other pole, and
ours brought so low that it rose not from the surface of the sea."]

[Footnote 41: Called after Constance, wife of Governor Adrian van der

[Footnote 42: Nimble climbers will do well to descend from the top down
a grand cleft in the rocks, very narrow and extremely steep, which is
called the Great Kloof. At its bottom, just behind Cape Town, one sees
in a stream-bed the granite rock on which the horizontal strata of
sandstone that form Table Mountain rest.]

[Footnote 43: Here, in December, 1896, the natives rose in revolt,
exasperated by the slaughter of their cattle, though that slaughter was
the only method of checking the progress of the cattle plague.]

[Footnote 44: There is also a weaker kind made, intoxicating only if
consumed in very large quantity.]

[Footnote 45: For most of what is here stated regarding Khama I am
indebted to an interesting little book by the late Bishop Knight-Bruce,
entitled _Khama, an African Chief_.]



Bulawayo means, in the Zulu tongue, the place of slaughter, and under
the sway of Lo Bengula it deserved its name. Just sixty years ago
Mosilikatze, chief of the Matabili, driven out of what is now the
Transvaal Republic by the Dutch Boers who had emigrated from Cape
Colony, fled four hundred miles to the north-west and fell like a sudden
tempest upon the Makalakas and other feeble tribes who pastured their
cattle in this remote region. His tribe was not large, but every man was
a tried warrior. The Makalakas were slaughtered or chased away or
reduced to slavery, and when Mosilikatze died in 1870, his son Lo
Bengula succeeded to the most powerful kingdom in South Africa after
that of Cetewayo, chief of the Zulus. Of the native town which grew up
round the king's kraal there is now not a trace--all was destroyed in
1893. The kraal itself, which Lo Bengula fired when he fled away, has
gone, and only one old tree marks the spot where the king used to sit
administering justice to his subjects. A large part of this justice
consisted in decreeing death to those among his _indunas_ or other
prominent men who had excited his suspicions or whose cattle he desired
to appropriate. Sometimes he had them denounced--"smelt out," they
called it--by the witch-doctors as guilty of practising magic against
him. Sometimes he dispensed with a pretext, and sent a messenger to the
hut of the doomed man to tell him the king wanted him. The victim, often
ignorant of his fate, walked in front, while the executioner, following
close behind, suddenly dealt him with the _knob-kerry_, or heavy-ended
stick, one tremendous blow, which crushed his skull and left him dead
upon the ground. Women, on the other hand, were strangled.[46] No one
disputed the despot's will, for the Matabili, like other Zulus, show to
their king the absolute submission of soldiers to their general, while
the less martial tribes, such as the Bechuanas and Basutos, obey the
chief only when he has the sentiment of the tribe behind him. One thing,
however, the king could not do. He owned a large part of all the cattle
of the tribe, and he assumed the power to grant concessions to dig for
minerals. But the land belonged to the whole tribe by right of conquest,
and he had no power to alienate it.

Moved by the associations of the ancient capital, Mr. Rhodes directed
the residence of the Administrator, Government House, as it is called,
to be built on the site of Lo Bengula's kraal. But the spot was not a
convenient one for the creation of a European town, for it was a good
way from any stream, and there was believed to be a valuable gold-reef
immediately under it. Accordingly, a new site was chosen, on somewhat
lower ground, about two miles to the south-west. Here new Bulawayo
stands, having risen with a rapidity rivalling that of a mining-camp in
Western America. The site has no natural beauty, for the landscape is
dull, with nothing to relieve its monotonous lines except the hill of
Tsaba Induna, about fifteen miles distant to the east. The ground on
which the town stands, sloping gently to the south, is bare, dusty, and
wind-swept, like the country all round. However, the gum-trees, planted
in the beginning of 1894, when the streets were laid out, had already
shot up to twelve or fifteen feet in height and began to give some
little shade. Brick houses were rising here and there among the wooden
shanties and the sheds of corrugated iron. An opera house was talked of,
and already the cricket-ground and racecourse, without which Englishmen
cannot be happy, had been laid out. Town lots, or "stands," as they are
called in South Africa, had gone up to prices which nothing but a career
of swift and brilliant prosperity could justify. However, that
prosperity seemed to the inhabitants of Bulawayo to be assured. Settlers
kept flocking in. Storekeepers and hotel-keepers were doing a roaring
trade. Samples of ore were every day being brought in from newly
explored gold-reefs, and all men's talk was of pennyweights, or even
ounces, to the ton. Everybody was cheerful, because everybody was
hopeful. It was not surprising. There is something intoxicating in the
atmosphere of a perfectly new country, with its undeveloped and
undefined possibilities: and the easy acquisition of this spacious and
healthful land, the sudden rise of this English town, where two years
before there had been nothing but the huts of squalid savages, had
filled every one with a delightful sense of the power of civilized man
to subjugate the earth and draw from it boundless wealth. Perhaps
something may also be set down to the climate. Bulawayo is not
beautiful. Far more attractive sites might have been found among the
hills to the south. But it has a deliciously fresh, keen brilliant air,
with a strong breeze tempering the sun-heat, and no risk of fever.
Indeed, nearly all this side of Matabililand is healthful, partly
because it has been more thickly peopled of late years than the eastern
side of the country, which was largely depopulated by the Matabili

Next to the prospects of the gold-reefs (a topic to which I shall
presently return), the question in which a visitor in 1895 felt most
interest was the condition of the natives. It seemed too much to expect
that a proud and warlike race of savages should suddenly, within less
than two years from the overthrow of their king, have abandoned all
notion of resistance to the whites and settled down as peaceable
subjects. The whites were a mere handful scattered over an immense area
of country, and the white police force did not exceed four or five
hundred men. Nevertheless, the authorities of the British South Africa
Company were of opinion that peace had been finally secured, and that no
danger remained from the natives. They observed that, while the true
Matabili who remained in the country--for some had fled down to or
across the Zambesi after the defeats of 1893--were comparatively few in
number, the other natives, mostly Makalakas,[47] were timid and
unwarlike. They held that when a native tribe has been once completely
overcome in fight, it accepts the inevitable with submission. And they
dwelt on the fact that Lo Bengula's tyranny had been a constant source
of terror to his own subjects. After his flight some of his leading
indunas came to Dr. Jameson and said, "Now we can sleep." This
confidence was shared by all the Europeans in the country. English
settlers dwelt alone without a shade of apprehension in farms, six,
eight, or ten miles from another European. In the journey I am
describing from Mafeking to Fort Salisbury, over eight hundred miles of
lonely country, my wife and I were accompanied only by my driver, a
worthy Cape Dutchman named Renske, and by a native "Cape boy." None of
us was armed, and no one of the friends we consulted as to our trip even
suggested that I should carry so much as a revolver, or that the
slightest risk was involved in taking a lady through the country. How
absolutely secure the Administrator at Bulawayo felt was shown by his
sending the Matabililand mounted police (those who afterwards marched
into the Transvaal) to Pitsani, in southern Bechuanaland, in November,
leaving the country denuded of any force to keep order.

It is easy to be wise after the event. The confidence of the Europeans
in the submissiveness of the natives is now seen to have been ill
founded. Causes of discontent were rife among them, which, at first
obscure, became subsequently clear. Two of these causes were already
known at the time of my visit, though their seriousness was
under-estimated. In Mashonaland the natives disliked the tax of ten
shillings for each hut, which there, as in the Transvaal Republic,[48]
they have been required to pay; and they complained that it was apt to
fall heavily on the industrious Kafir, because the idle one escaped,
having nothing that could be taken in payment of it. This tax was
sometimes levied in kind, sometimes in labour, but by preference in
money when the hut-owner had any money, for the Company desired to
induce the natives to earn wages. If he had not, an ox was usually taken
in pledge. In Matabililand many natives, I was told, felt aggrieved that
the Company had claimed the ownership of and the right to take to itself
all the cattle, as having been (in the Company's view) the property of
Lo Bengula, although many of these had, in fact, been left in the hands
of the indunas, and a large part were, in December, 1895, distributed
among the natives as their own property. Subsequent inquiries have shown
that this grievance was deeply and widely felt. As regards the land,
there was evidently the material out of which a grievance might grow,
but the grievance did not seem to have yet actually arisen. The land was
being sold off in farms, and natives squatting on a piece of land so
sold might be required by the purchaser to clear out. However, pains
were taken, I was told, to avoid including native villages in any farm
sold. Often it would not be for the purchaser's interest to eject the
natives, because he might get labourers among them, and labour is what
is most wanted. Two native reservations had been laid out, but the
policy of the Company was to keep the natives scattered about among the
whites rather than mass them in the reservations. Under Lo Bengula there
had been no such thing as private ownership of land. The land was
"nationalized," and no individual Kafir was deemed to have any permanent
and exclusive right even to the piece of it which he might be at the
time cultivating. While he actually did cultivate he was not disturbed,
for the simple reason that there was far more land than the people could
or would cultivate. The natives, although they till the soil, are still
half-nomads. They often shift their villages, and even when the village
remains they seldom cultivate the same patch for long together. Though
Europeans had been freely buying the land, they bought largely to hold
for a rise and sell again, and comparatively few of the farms bought had
been actually stocked with cattle, while, of course, the parts under
tillage were a mere trifle. Hence there did not seem to have been as yet
any pressure upon the natives, who, though they vastly outnumber the
Europeans, are very few in proportion to the size of the country. I
doubt if in the whole territory of the Company south of the Zambesi
River there are 1,000,000. To these possible sources of trouble there
was added one now perceived to have been still graver. Native labour was
needed not only for public works, but by private persons for mining
operations. As the number of Kafirs who came willingly was insufficient,
the indunas were required to furnish stout young men to work; and
according to Mr. Selous,[49] who was then living in the country, force
was often used to bring them in. Good wages were given; but the
regulations were irksome, and the native police, who were often employed
to bring in the labourers, seem to have abused their powers. To the
genuine Matabili, who lived only for war and plunder, and had been
accustomed to despise the other tribes, work, and especially mine work,
was not only distasteful, but degrading. They had never been really
subdued. In 1893 they hid away most of the firearms they possessed,
hoping to use them again. Now, when their discontent had increased, two
events hastened an outbreak. One was the removal of the white police to
Pitsani. Only forty-four were left in Matabililand to keep order. The
other was the appearance of a frightful murrain among the cattle, which
made it necessary for the Company to order the slaughter even of healthy
animals in order to stop the progress of the contagion. The plague had
come slowly down through German and Portuguese East Africa, propagated,
it is said, by the wild animals, especially buffaloes. Some kinds of
wild game are as liable to it as domesticated oxen are, and on the Upper
Zambesi in September, 1896, so large a part of the game had died that
the lions, mad with hunger, were prowling round the native kraals and
making it dangerous to pass from village to village. This new and
unlooked for calamity created a ferment in the minds of the natives. The
slaughter of their cattle seemed to them an act of injustice. Just when
they were terrified at this calamity (which, it was reported, had been
sent up among them by Lo Bengula, or his ghost, from the banks of the
Zambesi) and incensed at this apparent injustice, coming on the top of
their previous visitation, the news of the defeat and surrender of the
Company's police force in the Transvaal spread among them. They saw the
white government defenceless, and its head, Dr. Jameson, whose
kindliness had impressed those who knew him personally, no longer among
them. Then, under the incitements of a prophet, came the revolt.

This, however, is a digression. In October, 1895, we travelled, unarmed
and unconcerned, by night as well as by day, through villages where five
months later the Kafirs rose and murdered every European within reach.
So entirely unsuspected was the already simmering disaffection.

The native question which occupied Bulawayo in September, 1895, was
that native-labour question which, in one form or another, is always
present to South African minds. All hard labour, all rough and unskilled
labour, is, and, owing to the heat of the climate as well as the
scarcity of white men, must be, done by blacks; and in a new country
like Matabililand the blacks, though they can sometimes be induced to
till the land, are most averse to working under ground. They are only
beginning to use money, and they do not want the things which money
buys. The wants of a native living with his tribe and cultivating
mealies or Kafir corn are confined to a kaross (skin cloak) or some
pieces of cotton cloth. The prospect of leaving his tribe to go and work
in a mine, in order that he may earn wages wherewith he can buy things
he has no use for, does not at once appeal to him. The white men,
anxious to get to work on the gold-reefs, are annoyed at what they call
the stupidity and laziness of the native, and usually clamour for
legislation to compel the natives to come and work, adding, of course,
that regular labour would be the best thing in the world for the
natives. Some go so far as to wish to compel them to work at a fixed
rate of wages, sufficient to leave a good profit for the employer.
Others go even further, and as experience has shown that the native does
not fear imprisonment as a penalty for leaving his work, desire the
infliction of another punishment which he does fear--that is, the lash.
Such monstrous demands seem fitter for the mouths of Spaniards in the
sixteenth century than for Englishmen in the nineteenth. The difficulty
of getting labour is incident to a new country, and must be borne with.
In German East Africa it has been so much felt that the Administrator of
that region has proposed to import Indian labour, as the sugar-planters
of Natal, and as those of Trinidad and Demerara in the West Indies, have
already done. But it is to some extent a transitory difficulty. The
mines at Kimberley succeed in drawing plenty of native labour; so do
the mines on the Witwatersrand; so in time the mine-owners in
Matabililand may hope to do also. They must, however, be prepared, until
a regular afflux of labourers has been set up, to offer, as the
Kimberley people do, wages far in excess of anything the Kafirs could
possibly gain among their own people, in order to overcome the distaste
of the native--a very natural distaste, due to centuries of indolence in
a hot climate--to any hard and continuous toil. This is no great
compensation to make to those whose land they have taken and whose
primitive way of life they have broken up and for ever destroyed. But
once the habit of coming to work for wages has been established in these
northern regions,--and it need not take many years to establish it,--the
mining companies will have no great difficulty in getting as much labour
as they want, and will not be obliged, as they now are, to try to
arrange with a chief for the despatch of some of his "boys."

Bulawayo is the point from which one starts to visit the Victoria Falls
on the Zambesi, the only very grand natural object which South Africa
has to show. The expedition, however, is a much longer one than a glance
at the map would suggest. Owing to the prevalence of the tsetse-fly in
the valley of the great river, one cannot take oxen without the prospect
of losing them, and must therefore travel on foot or with donkeys. The
want of a waggon makes camping out much more troublesome and involves a
large force of native porters. Thus elaborate preparations are needed,
and though the distance, as the crow flies, from Bulawayo to the Falls
is only some two hundred miles, at least six weeks are needed for the
trip, a space of time we could not spare.

I have described in the last chapter the route from Cape Town to the
capital of Matabililand which persons coming from England would
naturally take. It is not, however, by any means the shortest route to
the sea, and is therefore not the route along which the bulk of the
European trade is likely in future to pass. From Cape Town to Bulawayo
it is fourteen hundred miles; but from Bulawayo to the port of Beira, on
the Indian Ocean, it is only six hundred and fifty miles _via_ Fort
Salisbury and Mtali, and will be only about five hundred if a more
direct railway line should ever be laid out. I propose to take the
reader back to the sea at Beira by this Fort Salisbury and Mtali route,
and in following it he will learn something about Mashonaland and the
mountains which divide British from Portuguese territory.

Bulawayo is distant from Fort Salisbury two hundred and eighty miles.
The journey takes by coach four days and four nights, travelling night
and day, with only short halts for meals. An ox-waggon accomplishes it
in about three weeks. The track runs nearly all the way along high
ground, open, breezy, and healthful, because dry, but seldom
picturesque. It is a land of rolling downs, the tops of which are
covered with thin grass, while better pastures, and sometimes woods
also, are found in the valleys of the streams and on the lower slopes of
the hills. The first part of the way, from Bulawayo to the little town
of Gwelo, is rather dull. One crosses the Bimbezi River, where the
Matabili were finally overthrown in the war of 1893, and the
Shangani[50] River, where they suffered their first defeat. The
Company's force was advancing along the high open ground to attack
Bulawayo, and the native army met them on the road. Both battlefields
are bare and open, and one wonders at the folly of the natives who
advanced over such ground, exposed to the rifle-fire and the still more
deadly Maxim guns of the invaders. Armed in large part only with
assagais, they were mown down before they could even reach the front of
the British line, and their splendid courage made their destruction all
the more complete. Had they stuck to the rocky and woody regions they
might have made the war a far longer and more troublesome business than
it proved to be. No stone marks either battle-field.

From a spot between the two rivers we turned off to the south to visit
the prehistoric remains at Dhlodhlo. It was an extremely lonely track,
on which we did not meet a human being for some thirty miles. No house,
not even a Kafir hut, was to be found, so we bivouacked in the veldt, to
the lee of a clump of thorn-bushes. The earlier part of the nights is
delightful at this season (October), but it is apt to get cold between 2
and 4 A.M., and as there is usually a south-east wind blowing, the
shelter of a bush or a tall ant-hill is not unwelcome. Whoever enjoys
travelling at all cannot but enjoy such a night alone under the stars.
One gathers sticks to make the fire, and gets to know which wood burns
best. One considers how the scanty supply of water which the waggon
carries may be most thriftily used for making the soup, boiling the eggs
and brewing the tea. One listens (we listened in vain) for the roar of a
distant lion or the still less melodious voice of the hyena. The
brilliance of the stars is such that only the fatigue of the long
day--for one must always start by or before sunrise to spare the animals
during the sultry noon--and the difficulty of sitting down in a great,
bare, flat land, where there is not a large stone and seldom even a
tree, can drive one into the vehicle to sleep. The meals, consisting of
tinned meat and biscuits, with eggs and sometimes a small, lean, and
desiccated chicken, are very scanty and very monotonous, but the air is
so dry and fresh and bracing that one seems to find meat and drink in

Next day we came, at the foot of the Matoppo Hills, to a solitary farm,
where we found a bright young Englishman, who, with only one white
companion, had established himself in this wilderness and was raising
good crops on fields to which he brought water from a neighbouring
streamlet. Even the devastation wrought by a flight of locusts had not
dispirited him nor diminished his faith in the country. It is not the
least of the pleasures of such a journey that one finds so many cheery,
hearty, sanguine young fellows scattered about this country, some of
them keeping or helping to keep stores, some of them, like our friend
here, showing what the soil may be made to do with skill and
perseverance, and how homes may be reared upon it. One is always
hospitably received; one often finds in the hard-working pioneer or the
youth behind the store counter a cultivated and thoughtful mind; one
has, perhaps, a glimpse of an attractive personality developing itself
under simple yet severe conditions, fitted to bring out the real force
of a man. After half an hour's talk you part as if you were parting with
an old friend, yet knowing that the same roof is not likely ever to
cover both of you again. There are, of course, rough and ill-omened
explorers and settlers in South Africa, as in other new countries: but
having wandered a good deal, in different countries, on the outer edge
of civilization, I was struck by the large proportion of well-mannered
and well-educated men whom one came across in this tropical wilderness.

From the young Englishman's farm we turned in among the hills, following
the course of the brook, and gently rising till we reached a height from
which a superb view to the north unrolled itself. The country was
charming, quite unlike the dull brown downs of yesterday. On each side
were steep hills, sometimes rocky, sometimes covered thick with wood;
between them in the valley a succession of smooth, grassy glades, each
circled round by trees. It was rural scenery--scenery in which one could
wish to build a cottage and dwell therein, or in which a pastoral drama
might be laid. There was nothing to suggest Europe, for the rocks and,
still more, the trees were thoroughly African in character, and the air
even drier and keener than that of Sicily. But the landscape was one
which any lover of Theocritus might have come to love; and some day,
when there are large towns in Matabililand, and plenty of Englishmen
living in them, the charm of these hills will be appreciated. The valley
rises at last to a grassy table-land, where, on a boss of granite rock,
stand the ancient walls of Dhlodhlo, which we had come to see. I have
already described the ruins (see Chapter IX), which are scanty enough,
and interesting, not from any beauty they possess, but because we have
so few data for guessing at their purpose or the race that built them.
The country is now very solitary, and the natives fear to approach the
ruins, especially at night, believing them to be haunted. Having spent
some hours in examining them, we were just starting when a swarm of
locusts passed, the first we had seen. It is a strange sight, beautiful
if you can forget the destruction it brings with it. The whole air, to
twelve or even eighteen feet above the ground, is filled with the
insects, reddish brown in body, with bright gauzy wings. When the sun's
rays catch them it is like the sea sparkling with light. When you see
them against a cloud they are like the dense flakes of a driving
snow-storm. You feel as if you had never before realized immensity in
number. Vast crowds of men gathered at a festival, countless tree-tops
rising along the slope of a forest ridge, the chimneys of London houses
from the top of St. Paul's,--all are as nothing to the myriads of
insects that blot out the sun above and cover the ground beneath and
fill the air whichever way one looks. The breeze carries them swiftly
past, but they come on in fresh clouds, a host of which there is no end,
each of them a harmless creature which you can catch and crush in your
hand, but appalling in their power of collective devastation. Yet here
in southern Matabililand there had been only a few swarms. We were to
see later on, in the eastern mountain region, far more terrible
evidences of their presence.

From Dhlodhlo we drove to the store on the Shangani River, a distance of
twenty miles or more, right across the open veldt, finding our way, with
the aid of a native boy, over stony hills and thick shrubs, and even
here and there across marshy stream beds, in a way which astonishes the
European accustomed to think that roads, or at least beaten tracks, are
essential to four-wheeled vehicles. I have driven in an open cart across
the central watershed of the Rocky Mountains; but the country there,
rough as it is, is like a paved road compared with some parts of the
veldt over which the South African guides his team. Once or twice we
missed the way in the deepening twilight, and began to prepare ourselves
for another night under the stars, with a nearly exhausted food-supply.
But at last, just as darkness fell, we reached a native village, and
obtained (with difficulty) a native guide for the last few miles of the
drive. These miles were lighted by a succession of grass-fires. Such
fires are much commoner here than in the prairies of Western America,
and, happily, much less dangerous, for the grass is usually short and
the fire moves slowly. They are sometimes accidental, but more
frequently lighted by the natives for the sake of getting a fresh growth
of young grass on the part burned and thereby attracting the game.
Sometimes the cause is even slighter. The Kafirs are fond of eating the
mice and other small inhabitants of the veldt, and they fire the grass
to frighten these little creatures, and catch them before they can reach
their holes, with the further convenience of having them ready roasted.
Thus at this season nearly half the land on these downs is charred, and
every night one sees the glow of a fire somewhere in the distance. The
practice strikes a stranger as a wasteful one, exhausting to the soil,
and calculated to stunt the trees, because, though the grass is too
short to make the fire strong enough to kill a well-grown tree, it is
quite able to injure the younger ones and prevent them from ever
reaching their due proportions.

The term "store," which I have just used, requires some explanation.
There are, of course, no inns in the country, except in the three or
four tiny towns. Outside these, sleeping quarters are to be had only in
small native huts, built round a sort of primitive "general shop" which
some trader has established to supply the wants of those who live within
fifty miles or who pass along the road. The hut is of clay, with a roof
of thatch, which makes it cooler than the store with its roof of
galvanised iron. White ants are usually at work upon the clay walls,
sending down little showers of dust upon the sleeper. Each hut contains
two rough wooden frames, across which there is stretched, to make a bed,
a piece of coarse linen or ticking. Very prudent people turn back the
dirty rug or bit of old blanket which covers the bed, and cast a glance
upon the clay floor, to see that no black _momba_ or other venomous
snake is already in possession. Such night quarters may seem
unattractive, but we had many a good night's rest in them. When they are
unattainable one camps out.

From the Shangani River to Gwelo the track leads again over a succession
of huge, swelling ridges, separated from one another by the valleys of
_spruits_, or streams, now nearly dry, but in the wet season running
full and strong. The descent to the spruit, which is often a short,
steep pitch and is then called a donga, needs careful driving, and the
ascent up the opposite bank is for a heavy waggon a matter of great
difficulty. We passed waggons hardly advancing a step, though eight or
nine span of oxen were tugging at them, and sometimes saw two three span
detached from another team and attached to the one which had failed,
unaided, to mount the slope. No wonder that, when the difficulty of
bringing up machinery is so great, impatient mine-owners long for the

The first sign that we were close upon Gwelo came from the sight of a
number of white men in shirt-sleeves running across a meadow--an unusual
sight in South Africa, which presently explained itself as the English
inhabitants engaged in a cricket match. Nearly the whole town was either
playing or looking on. It was a hot afternoon, but our energetic
countrymen were not to be scared by the sun from the pursuit of the
national game. They are as much Englishmen in Africa as in England, and,
happily for them and for their country, there is no part of the national
character that is more useful when transplanted than the fondness for
active exercise. Gwelo, a cheerful little place, though it stands in a
rather bleak country, with a wooded ridge a little way off to the south,
interested me as a specimen of the newest kind of settlement. It is not
in strictness a mining camp, for there are no reefs in the immediate
neighbourhood, but a mining centre, which proposes to live as the local
metropolis of a gold-bearing district, a place of supply and seat of
local administration. In October, 1895, it had about fifteen houses
inhabited by Europeans and perhaps thirty houses altogether; but the
materials for building other houses were already on the ground, and the
usual symptoms of a "boom" were discernible. Comparing it with the many
similar "new cities" I had seen in Western America, I was much struck
with the absence of the most conspicuous features of those cities--the
"saloons" and "bars." In California or Montana these establishments, in
which the twin deities of gambling and drinking are worshipped with
equal devotion, form half the houses of a recent settlement in a mining
region. In South Africa, except at and near Johannesburg, one scarcely
sees them. Drinking rarely obtrudes itself. What gambling there may be I
know not, but at any rate there are no gambling-saloons. Nothing can be
more decorous than the aspect of these new African towns, and the
conduct of the inhabitants seldom belies the aspect. There is, of
course, a free use of alcohol. But there is no shooting, such as goes on
in American mining towns: crimes of violence of any kind are extremely
rare; and the tracks are safe. No one dreams of taking the precautions
against "road-agents" (_i.e._ highwaymen) which are still far from
superfluous in the Western States and were far from superfluous in
Australia. Trains are not stopped and robbed; coaches are not "held up."
Nothing surprised me more, next to the apparent submissiveness of the
native Kafirs, than the order which appeared to prevail among the
whites. A little reflection shows that in this northerly part of the
country, where travelling is either very slow or very costly and
difficult, malefactors would have few chances of escape. But I do not
think this is the chief cause of the orderly and law-abiding habits of
the people. There have never been any traditions of violence, still less
of crime, in South Africa, except as against the natives. The Dutch
Boers were steady, solid people, little given to thieving or to killing
one another. The English have carried with them their respect for law
and authority. In some respects their ethical standard is not that of
the mother country. But towards one another and towards those set in
authority over them, their attitude is generally correct.

The night we spent at Gwelo gave a curious instance of the variability
of this climate. The evening had been warm, but about midnight the S.E.
wind rose, bringing a thin drizzle of rain, and next morning the cold
was that of Boston or Edinburgh in a bitter north-easter. Having
fortunately brought warm cloaks and overcoats, we put on all we had and
fastened the canvas curtains round the vehicle. Nevertheless, we
shivered all day long, the low thick clouds raining at intervals, and
the malign blast chilling one's bones. Gwelo, of course, declared that
such weather was quite exceptional; but those can have travelled little
indeed who have not remarked how often they encounter "exceptional
weather," and Gwelo, having existed for eighteen months only, had at
best a small experience to fall back upon. The moral for travellers is:
"Do not forget to take your furs and your ulsters to tropical South

Some forty miles beyond Gwelo there is a mountain called Iron Mine Hill,
where the Mashonas have for generations been wont to find and work iron.
All or nearly all the Kafir tribes do this, but the Mashonas are more
skilful at it than were their conquerors the Matabili. Here a track
turns off to the south-east to Fort Victoria, the first military post
established by the Company in its territories, and for a time the most
important. It has fallen into the background lately, partly because the
gold-reefs have not realized the hopes once formed of them, partly
because it suffers from fever after the rains. I went to it because from
it one visits the famous ruins at Zimbabwye, the most curious relic of
prehistoric antiquity yet discovered in tropical Africa. The journey,
one hundred miles from Iron Mine Hill to Victoria, is not an easy one,
for there are no stores on the way where either provisions or
night-quarters can be had, and the track is a bad one, being very little
used. The country is well wooded and often pretty, with fantastic, rocky
hills rising here and there, but presenting few striking features. Two
views, however, dwell in my recollection as characteristic of South
Africa. We had slept in a rude hut on the banks of the Shashi River,
immediately beneath a rocky kopje, and rose next morning before dawn to
continue the journey. Huge rocks piled wildly upon one another towered
above the little meadow--rocks covered with lichens of brilliant hues,
red, green, and yellow, and glowing under the rays of the level sun.
Glossy-leaved bushes nestled in the crevices and covered the mouths of
the dens to which the leopards had retired from their nocturnal prowls.
One tree stood out against the clear blue on the top of the highest
rock. Cliff-swallows darted and twittered about the hollows, while high
overhead, in the still morning air, two pairs of large hawks sailed in
wide circles round and round the summit of the hill. A few miles farther
the track crossed a height from which one could gaze for thirty miles in
every direction over a gently rolling country covered with wood, but
with broad stretches of pasture interposed, whose grass, bleached to a
light yellow, made one think it a mass of cornfields whitening to
harvest. Out of these woods and fields rose at intervals what seemed the
towers and spires of cities set upon hills. We could have fancied
ourselves in central Italy, surveying from some eminence like Monte
Amiata the ancient towns of Tuscany and Umbria rising on their rocky
heights out of chestnut woods and fields of ripening corn. But the city
towers were only piles of grey rock, and over the wide horizon there was
not a sign of human life--only the silence and loneliness of an
untouched wilderness.

From Fort Victoria, where the war of 1893 began by a raid of the young
Matabili warriors upon the Mashona tribes, who were living under the
protection of the Company, it is seventeen miles to Zimbabwye. The track
leads through a pretty country, with alternate stretches of wood and
grass, bold hills on either side, and blue peaked mountains in the
distance. Crossing a low, bare ridge of granite, one sees nearly a mile
away, among thick trees, a piece of grey wall, and when one comes
nearer, what seems the top of a tower just peeping over the edge of the
wall. It is Zimbabwye--a wall of loose but well trimmed and neatly
fitted pieces of granite surrounding an elliptical inclosure; within
this inclosure other half-ruined walls over-grown by shrubs and trees,
and a strange solid tower or pillar thirty feet high, built, without
mortar, of similar pieces of trimmed granite.[51] This is all that
there is to see. One paces to and fro within the inclosure and measures
the width and length of the passages between the walls. One climbs the
great inclosing wall at a point where part of it has been broken down,
and walks along the broad top, picking one's way over the stems of
climbing shrubs, which thrust themselves across the wall from beneath or
grow rooted in its crevices. One looks and looks again, and wonders. But
there is nothing to show whether this grey wall is three centuries or
thirty centuries old. There is no architectural style, no decoration
even, except a rudely simple pattern on the outside of the wall which
faces the east; so there is nothing by which one can connect this
temple, if it is a temple, with the buildings of any known race or
country. In this mystery lies the charm of the spot--in this and in the
remoteness and silence of a country which seems to have been always as
it is to-day. One mark of modern man, and one only, is to be seen. In
the middle of the valley, some three hundred yards from the great
building, Mr. Cecil Rhodes has erected a monument to Major Wilson and
the thirty-seven troopers who fell with him on the Lower Shangani River
in December, 1893, fighting gallantly to the last against an
overwhelming force of Matabili. The monument stands on an eminence
surrounded by the broken wall of some ancient stronghold. It has been
wisely placed far enough from the great ruin not to form an incongruous
element in the view of the latter, and it was an imaginative thought to
commemorate, at a spot in this new land which bears witness to a race of
prehistoric conquerors, the most striking incident in the history of the
latest conquest.

We climbed the rocky height, where the skilfully constructed walls of
the ancient fort show that those who built Zimbabwye lived in fear of
enemies. We sat beside the spring, a clear though not copious spring,
which rises a little to the south of the great building from a fissure
in the rock. Fountains so clear are rare in this country, and the
existence of this one probably determined the site of the great building
itself. It flows into a small pool, and is then lost, being too small to
form a rivulet. No trace of man's hand is seen round it or on the margin
of the pool, but those who worshipped in the temple of Zimbabwye
doubtless worshipped this fountain also, for that is one of the oldest
and most widely diffused forms of worship in the world. Restless nature
will some day overthrow the walls of the temple, which she is piercing
with the roots of shrubs and entwining with the shoots of climbing wild
vines, and then only the fountain will be left.

From Fort Victoria to Fort Salisbury it is nearly two hundred miles, the
country generally level, though studded, like parts of southern India,
with isolated rocky hills, whose crags of granite or gneiss break under
the sun and rain into strange and fantastic shapes. A people
sufficiently advanced to erect fortifications might have made for
themselves impregnable strongholds out of the tops of these kopjes. The
timid Makalakas have in many places planted their huts in the midst of
the huge detached masses into which the kopjes are cleft; but they have
not known how to make their villages defensible, and have been content
with piling up a few loose stones to close some narrow passage between
the rocks, or surrounding their huts with a rough fence of thorn-bushes.
We found one deserted village where upon each loose block there had been
placed a rude erection of clay, covered at the top, and apparently
intended for the storing of grain. Thus raised from the ground it was
safer from wild beasts and from rain. All the dwelling huts but two had
been burned. We entered these, and found the walls covered with the
rudest possible representations of men and animals, drawn with charcoal,
more coarsely than an average child of ten would draw, and far inferior
in spirit to the figures which the Lapps of Norway will draw on a
reindeer horn spoon, or the Red Indians of Dakota upon a calico cloak.
Whether the village had perished by an accidental fire, or whether its
inhabitants, relieved from that terror of the Matabili which drove them
to hide amongst the rocks, had abandoned it for some spot in the plain
below, there was no one to tell us. One curious trace of insecurity
remained in a dry and light tree-trunk, which had been left standing
against the side of a flat-topped rock some thirty feet high, with the
lowest dozen feet too steep to be climbed. It had evidently served as a
sort of ladder. By it the upper part of the rock might be gained, and
when it had been pulled up, approach was cut off and the fugitives on
the flat top might be safe, while the Matabili were plundering their
stores of grain and killing their friends beneath.

All this eastern side of the country was frequently raided by the
Matabili, whose home lay farther west towards Bulawayo. The Makalakas
could offer no resistance, not only because they were poor fighters, but
also because they were without cohesion. The clans were small and obeyed
no common overlord. Most of the villages lived quite unconnected with
one another, yielding obedience, often a doubtful obedience, to their
own chief, but caring nothing for any other village. Among savages the
ascendency of a comparatively numerous tribe which is drilled to fight,
and which renders implicit obedience to its chief, is swift and
complete. The Matabili when they entered this country had probably only
ten or twelve thousand fighting men; but they conquered it without the
slightest difficulty, for the inhabitants, though far more numerous,
were divided into small communities, and did not attempt to offer any
collective resistance. Then for more than half a century slaughter and
pillage reigned over a tract of some ninety thousand square miles. Much
of this tract, especially the eastern part, which we call Mashonaland,
was well peopled by tribes who lived quietly, had plenty of cattle,
tilled the soil, and continued to dig a little gold, as their
forefathers had done for centuries. They were now mercilessly raided by
the Matabili all the way from Lake Ngami on the west to the edge of the
great plateau on the east, till large districts were depopulated and
left desolate, the grown men having been all killed or chased away, the
children either killed, or made slaves of, or taken as recruits into the
Matabili army. Constant war and the sanguinary government of Lo Bengula
reduced the number of the true Matabili, so that such recruiting became
a necessity. Their successes filled the Matabili with an overweening
confidence in their power. Through all South Africa they despised every
native tribe, except that martial one which was ruled by Gungunhana on
the eastern frontier of Mashonaland, and despised even the white men,
thinking them but a handful. The indunas, who had visited London in
1891, endeavoured to warn them of the resources of the whites, and Lo
Bengula himself was opposed to war. But the young braves, who, like
Cetewayo's Zulus, desired to "wash their spears," overbore the
reluctance of the monarch, only to perish in the war of 1893.

Towards Fort Salisbury the country rises and grows prettier as it shows
signs of a more copious rainfall. New flowers appear, and the grass is
greener. About twelve miles before the town is reached one crosses a
considerable stream with a long, deep, clear pool among rocks, and is
told of the misadventure of an English doctor who, after a hasty plunge
into the pool, was drying himself on a flat stone just above the water
when a crocodile suddenly raised its hideous snout, seized his leg in
its jaws, and dragged him down. Fortunately his companions were close at
hand and succeeded after a struggle in forcing the beast to drop its

The town itself is built at the foot of a low, wooded hill, on the top
of which stood the original fort, hastily constructed of loose stones in
1890, and occupied in serious earnest for defence during the Matabili
war. It spreads over a wide space of ground, with houses scattered here
and there, and has become, since the draining of the marshy land on the
banks of a streamlet which runs through it, free from malaria and quite
healthy. Though the sun heat was great in the end of October (for one is
only eighteen degrees from the equator), the air was so fresh and dry
that I could walk for miles in the full blaze of noon, and the nights
were too cool to sit out on the _stoep_ (the wooden verandah which one
finds at the front of every South African house) without an overcoat.
Just round the town the country is open and grassy, but the horizon in
every direction is closed by woods. The views are far prettier than
those from Bulawayo, and the position of the town makes it a better
centre for the administration as well as the commerce of the Company's
territories. It is only two hundred and twenty miles from the Zambesi at
Tete, and only three hundred and seventy from the port of Beira. The
Company did well to encourage the growth of Bulawayo immediately after
the conquest of 1893, because it was necessary to explore and to
establish order in the newest parts of its territory. But in the long
run, and especially when the regions north of the Zambesi begin to be
practically occupied, Bulawayo, standing in a corner of the country,
will have to yield to the more imperial site of Fort Salisbury. The
district which lies round the latter town is better watered than western
Matabililand, and the soil richer both for pasture and for tillage. The
rainfall for the year ending April, 1890, reached fifty-three inches,
and the average is about forty.

Fort Salisbury is three years older than Bulawayo, and therefore much
more advanced. It has even several churches. There is a colony of East
Indians, who grow vegetables and get very high prices for them; and a
considerable trade is done in supplying the needs of the mining
districts to the north and west. Many gold-reefs lie out in those
directions, and great hopes are entertained of their future, though at
the time of my visit people were much busier in floating new companies
to develop the mines than in taking steps for their actual development.
Some very pretty country residences, in the style of Indian bungalows,
have been built on the skirts of the wood a mile or two from the town;
and street-lamps now light people to their homes along paths where four
years ago lions were still encountered. The last lion recoiling in
dismay from the first street lamp would be a good subject for a picture
to illustrate the progress of Mashonaland.

[Footnote 46: A singular story was told me regarding the death of Lo
Bengula's sister. She had enjoyed great influence with him, but when he
took to wife the two daughters of Gungunhana, the great chief (of Zulu
stock) who lived to the eastward beyond the Sabi River, she resented so
bitterly the precedence accorded to them as to give the king constant
annoyance. At last, after several warnings, he told her that if she
persisted in making herself disagreeable he would have her put to death.
Having consulted the prophet of the Matoppo Hills, who told her she
would be killed, she cheerfully accepted this way out of the difficulty,
and was accordingly sent away and strangled.]

[Footnote 47: The original inhabitants of the country, belonging to the
tribes which we, following the Portuguese, call Makalanga or Makalaka,
are called by the Matabili (themselves Zulus) Masweni. The name Maholi,
often also applied to them, is said to mean "outsiders," _i.e._,
non-Zulus. Though many had been drafted as boys into the Matabili
regiments, and others were used as slaves, many more dwelt in the
country west and north-west of Bulawayo. Mashonaland, to the east, is
peopled by cognate tribes.]

[Footnote 48: A hut is usually allotted to each wife, and thus this
impost falls heavily on the polygamist chief, being, in fact, a tax upon
luxuries. I was told that in the Transvaal some of the richer natives
were trying to escape it by putting two wives in the same hut.]

[Footnote 49: See his book, published in the end of 1896, entitled
_Sunshine and Storm in Rhodesia_. I do not gather from it how far, in
his opinion, what went on was known to the higher officials.

In a Report presented to Parliament in 1897, Sir Richard Martin states
that although there was no regulation allowing forced labour, force was,
in fact, used to bring the natives from their kraals to work, and that
the irritation thus caused did much to provoke the outbreak. The Company
in a reply which they have published do not admit this. I have no data,
other than the Report, for pronouncing an opinion on the responsibility
of the officials; but there seems to be no doubt that, both in this and
in other respects, many of the native police behaved badly, and that the
experiment of employing them, which seemed to have much to recommend it,
did in fact fail.]

[Footnote 50: The Shangani is here a very small stream. It was far away
to the north, on the lower course of the same stream, that Major Wilson
and his party perished later in the war.]

[Footnote 51: These ruins have been described in Chapter IX.]



In Africa, moisture is everything. It makes the difference between
fertility and barrenness; it makes the difference between a cheerful and
a melancholy landscape. As one travels north-eastward from Palapshwye to
Bulawayo, and from Bulawayo to Fort Salisbury, one passes by degrees
from an arid and almost rainless land to a land of showers and flowing
waters. In Bechuanaland there are, except for three months in the year,
no streams at all. In Matabililand one begins to find perennial brooks.
In Mashonaland there are at last rivers, sometimes with rocky banks and
clear deep pools, which (like that just mentioned) tempt one to bathe
and risk the terrible snap of a crocodile's jaws. Thus eastern
Mashonaland is far more attractive than the countries which I have
described in the last two chapters. It has beautiful and even striking
scenery. The soil, where the granitic rocks do not come too near the
surface, is usually fertile, and cultivation is easier than in the
regions to the south-west, because the rains are more copious. There are
many places round Fort Salisbury and on the way thence to Mtali and
Massikessi where a man might willingly settle down to spend his days, so
genial and so full of beauty is the nature around him. And as the land
is high, it is also healthy. Except in a few of the valley bottoms,
fever need not be feared, even after the rains.

From Fort Salisbury to the Indian Ocean at Beira it is a journey of
three hundred and seventy miles, of which the first one hundred and
fifty-five are in British, the rest in Portuguese, territory. Before the
railway, which now (1899) runs all the way, had been completed, this
distance required eight to ten days' travel. It may now be despatched in
a day and a half. But those who hurry through this picturesque region
behind the locomotive lose much of the charm which the journey, by far
the most attractive part of a South African tour, formerly had for the
lover of nature.

For the first forty miles south-eastward from Fort Salisbury the track
runs through a wooded country, diversified by broad stretches of
pasture. Here and there we found a European farm, marked in the distance
by the waving tops of the gum-trees, with the low wooden house festooned
by the brilliant mauve blossoms of the climbing bougainvillea, and the
garden enclosed by hedges of grenadilla, whose fruit is much eaten in
South Africa. Vegetables raised on these farms fetch enormous prices in
the town, so that a man who understands the business may count on making
more by this than he will do by "prospecting" for gold mines, or even by
floating companies. We found the grass generally fresh and green, for
some showers had fallen, and the trees, though still small, were in new
leaf with exquisite tints of red. Now and then, through gaps between the
nearer hills, there are glimpses of dim blue mountains. As one gets
farther to the south-east the hills are higher, and on either side there
rise fantastic kopjes of granite. Their tops are cleft and riven by deep
fissures, and huge detached blocks are strewn about at their base, or
perched like gigantic tables upon the tops of pillars of rock, poised so
finely that one fancies a blast of wind might overthrow them. These
"perched blocks," however, have not, like the _blocs perchés_ of
Western Europe, been left by ancient glaciers or icebergs, for it seems
still doubtful whether there has been a glacial period in South Africa,
and neither here nor in the mountains of Basutoland could I discover
traces of ancient moraines. They are due to the natural decomposition of
the rock on the spot. The alternate heat of the day and cold of the
night--a cold which is often great, owing to the radiation into a
cloudless sky--split the masses by alternate expansion and contraction,
make great flakes peel off them like the coats of an onion, and give
them these singularly picturesque shapes. All this part of the country
is as eminently fit for a landscape painter as Bechuanaland and the more
level parts of Matabililand are unfit, seeing that here, one has
foregrounds as well as backgrounds, and the colours are as rich as the
forms are varied. For I must add that in this region, instead of the
monotonous thorny acacias of the western regions, there is much variety
in the trees; no tropical luxuriance,--the air is still too dry for
that,--but many graceful outlines and a great diversity of foliage.
Besides, the wood has a way of disposing itself with wonderful grace.
There is none of the monotony either of pine forests, like those of
Northern and Eastern Europe, or of such forests of deciduous trees as
one sees in Michigan and the Alleghanies, but rather what in England we
call "park-like scenery," though why nature should be supposed to do
best when she imitates art, I will not attempt to inquire. There are
belts of wood inclosing secluded lawns, and groups of trees dotted over
a stretch of rolling meadow, pretty little bits of detail which enhance
the charm of the ample sweeps of view that rise and roll to the far-off
blue horizon.

Beyond Marandella's--the word sounds Italian, but is really the
Anglicized form of the name of a native chief--the country becomes still
more open, and solitary peaks of gneiss begin to stand up, their sides
of bare, smooth, grey rock sometimes too steep to be climbed. Below and
between them are broad stretches of pasture, with here and there, on the
banks of the streams, pieces of land which seem eminently fit for
tillage. On one such piece--it is called Lawrencedale--we found that two
young Englishmen had brought some forty acres into cultivation, and
admired the crops of vegetables they were raising partly by irrigation,
partly in reliance on the rains. Almost anything will grow, but garden
stuff pays best, because there is in and round Fort Salisbury a market
clamorous for it. The great risk is that of a descent of locusts, for
these pests may in a few hours strip the ground clean of all that covers
it. However, our young farmers had good hopes of scaring off the swarms,
and if they could do so their profits would be large and certain. A few
hours more through driving showers, which made the weird landscape of
scattered peaks even more solemn, brought us to the halting place on
Lezapi River, a pretty spot high above the stream, where the store which
supplies the neighbourhood with the necessaries of life has blossomed
into a sort of hotel, with a good many sleeping huts round it. One finds
these stores at intervals of about twenty or thirty miles; and they,
with an occasional farm like that of Lawrencedale, represent the
extremely small European population, which averages less than one to a
dozen square miles, even reckoning in the missionaries that are
scattered here and there.

From Lezapi I made an excursion to a curious native building lying some
six miles to the east, which Mr. Selous had advised me to see. The heat
of the weather made it necessary to start very early, so I was awakened
while it was still dark. But when I stood ready to be off just before
sunrise, the Kafir boy, a servant of the store, who was to have guided
me, was not to be found. No search could discover him. He had apparently
disliked the errand, perhaps had some superstitious fear of the spot he
was to lead me to, and had vanished, quite unmoved by the prospect of
his employer's displeasure and of the sum he was to receive. The
incident was characteristic of these natives. They are curiously
wayward. They are influenced by motives they cannot be induced to
disclose, and the motives which most affect a European sometimes fail
altogether to tell upon them. With great difficulty I succeeded in
finding another native boy who promised to show me the way, and followed
him off through the wood and over the pastures, unable to speak a word
to him, and of course, understanding not a word of the voluble bursts of
talk with which he every now and then favoured me. It was a lovely
morning, the sky of a soft and creamy blue, dewdrops sparkling on the
tall stalks of grass, the rays of the low sun striking between the
tree-tops in the thick wood that clothed the opposite hill, while here
and there faint blue smoke-wreaths rose from some Kafir hut hidden among
the brushwood. We passed a large village, and just beyond it overtook
three Kafirs all talking briskly, as is their wont, one of them carrying
a gun and apparently going after game. A good many natives have
firearms, but acts of violence seem to be extremely rare. Then passing
under some rocky heights we saw, after an hour and a half's fast
walking, the group of huts where the Company's native Commissioner, whom
I was going to find, had fixed his station. Some Kafirs were at work on
their mealie-plots, and one of them, dropping his mattock, rushed across
and insisted on shaking hands with me, saying "Moragos," which is said
to be a mixture of Dutch and Kafir, meaning "Good-morning, sir." The
Commissioner was living alone among the natives, and declared himself
quite at ease as to their behaviour. One chief dwelling near had been
restive, but submitted when he was treated with firmness; and the
natives generally--so he told me--seem rather to welcome the
intervention of a white man to compose their disputes. They are, he
added, prone to break their promises, except in one case. If an object,
even of small value, has been delivered to them as a token of the
engagement made, they feel bound by the engagement so long as they keep
this object, and when it is formally demanded back they will restore it
unharmed. The fact is curious, and throws light on some of the features
of primitive legal custom in Europe.

The Commissioner took me to the two pieces of old building--one can
hardly call them ruins--which I had come to see. One (called Chipadzi's)
has been already mentioned (see p. 75, _ante_). It is a bit of ancient
wall of blocks of trimmed granite, neatly set without mortar, and
evidently meant to defend the most accessible side of a rocky kopje,
which in some distant age had been a stronghold. It has all the
appearance of having been constructed by the same race that built the
walls of Dhlodhlo (see p. 71) and Zimbabwye (see p. 75) (though the work
is not so neat), and is called by the natives a Zimbabwye. Behind it, in
the centre of the kopje, is a rude low wall of rough stones enclosing
three huts, only one of which remains roofed. Under this one is the
grave of a famous chief called Makoni,--the name is rather an official
than a personal one, and his personal name was Chipadzi,--the uncle of
the present Makoni, who is the leading chief of this district.[52] On
the grave there stands a large earthenware pot, which used to be
regularly filled with native beer when, once a year, about the
anniversary of this old Makoni's death, his sons and other descendants
came to venerate and propitiate his ghost. Some years ago, when the
white men came into the country, the ceremony was disused, and the poor
ghost is now left without honour and nutriment. The pot is broken, and
another pot, which stood in an adjoining hut and was used by the
worshippers, has disappeared. The place, however, retains its awesome
character, and a native boy who was with us would not enter it. The
sight brought vividly to my mind the similar spirit-worship which went
on among the Romans and which goes on to-day in China; but I could not
ascertain for how many generations back an ancestral ghost receives
these attentions--a point which has remained obscure in the case of
Roman ghosts also.

The other curiosity is much more modern. It is a deserted native village
called Tchitiketi ("the walled town"), which has been rudely fortified
with three concentric lines of defence, in a way not common among the
Kafirs. The huts which have now totally disappeared, stood on one side
of a rocky eminence, and were surrounded by a sort of ditch ten feet
deep, within which was a row of trees planted closely together, with the
intervals probably originally filled by a stockade. Some of these trees
do not grow wild in this part of the country, and have apparently been
planted from shoots brought from the Portuguese territories. Within this
outmost line there was a second row of trees and a rough stone wall,
forming an inner defence. Still farther in one finds a kind of citadel,
formed partly by the rocks of the kopje, partly by a wall of rough
stones, ten feet high and seven to eight feet thick, plastered with mud,
which holds the stones together like mortar. This wall is pierced by
small apertures, which apparently served as loopholes for arrows, and
there is a sort of narrow gate through it, only four and a half feet
high, covered by a slab of stone. Within the citadel, several chiefs are
buried in crevices of the rock, which have been walled up, and there are
still visible the remains of the huts wherein, upon a wicker stand, were
placed the pots that held the beer provided for their ghosts. Having
ceased to be a royal residence or a fortress, the spot remains, like the
Escurial, a place of royal sepulture. The natives remember the names of
the dead chiefs, but little else, and cannot tell one when the fortress
was built nor why it was forsaken. Everything is so rude that one must
suppose the use of loopholes to have been learned from the Portuguese,
who apparently came from time to time into these regions; and the
rudeness confirms the theory that the buildings at the Great Zimbabwye
were not the work of any of the present Bantu tribes, but of some less
barbarous race.

It is not easy to find one's way alone over the country in these parts,
where no Kafir speaks English or even Dutch, and where the network of
native foot-paths crossing one another soon confuses recollection.
However, having a distant mountain-peak to steer my course by, I
succeeded in making my way back alone, and was pleased to find that,
though the sun was now high in heaven and I had neither a sun-helmet nor
a white umbrella, its rays did me no harm. A stranger, however, can take
liberties with the sun which residents hold it safer not to take.
Europeans in these countries walk as little as they can, especially in
the heat of the day. They would ride, were horses attainable, but the
horse-sickness makes it extremely difficult to find or to retain a good
animal. All travelling for any distance is of course done in a waggon or
(where one can be had) in a Cape cart.

From the Lezapi River onward the scenery grows more striking as one
passes immediately beneath some of the tall towers of rock which we had
previously admired from a distance. They remind one, in their generally
grey hue and the extreme boldness of their lines, of some of the
gneissose pinnacles of Norway, such as those above Naerodal, on the
Sogne Fiord. One of them, to which the English have given the name of
the Sugar Loaf, soars in a face of smooth sheer rock nearly 1000 feet
above the track, the lichens that cover it showing a wealth of rich
colours, greens and yellows, varied here and there by long streaks of
black raindrip. Behind this summit to the north-east, eight to twelve
miles away, rose a long range of sharp, jagged peaks, perfectly bare,
and showing by their fine-cut lines the hardness of their rock. They
were not lofty, at most 2000 feet above the level of the plateau, which
is here from 4000 to 5000 feet above sea-level. But the nobility of
their forms, and their clear parched sternness as they stood in the
intense sunshine, made them fill and satisfy the eye beyond what one
would have expected from their height. That severe and even forbidding
quality which is perceptible in the aspect of the South African
mountains, as it is in those of some other hot countries, seems to be
due to the sense of their aridity and bareness. One feels no longing to
climb them, as one would long to climb a picturesque mountain in Europe,
because one knows that upon their scorching sides there is no verdure
and no fountain breaks from beneath their crags. Beautiful as they are,
they are repellent; they invite no familiarity; they speak of the
hardness, the grimness, the silent aloofness of nature. It is only when
they form the distant background of a view, and especially when the
waning light of evening clothes their stern forms with tender hues, that
they become elements of pure delight in the landscape.

Some fifteen miles east of this range we came upon a natural object we
had given up hoping to see in South Africa, a country where the element
necessary to it is so markedly deficient. This was the waterfall on the
Oudzi River, one of the tributaries of the great Sabi River, which falls
into the Indian Ocean. The Oudzi is not very large in the dry season,
nor so full as the Garry at Killiecrankie or the stream which flows
through the Yosemite Valley. But even this represents a considerable
volume of water for tropical East Africa; and the rapid--it is really
rather a rapid than a cascade--must be a grand sight after heavy rain,
as it is a picturesque sight even in October. The stream rushes over a
ridge of very hard granite rock, intersected by veins of finer-grained
granite and of greenstone. It has cut for itself several deep channels
in the rock, and has scooped out many hollows, not, as usually,
circular, but elliptical in their shape, polished smooth, like the
little pockets or basins which loose stones polish smooth as they are
driven round and round by the current in the rocky bed of a Scotch
torrent. The brightness of the clear green water and the softness of the
surrounding woods, clothing each side of the long valley down which the
eye pursues the stream till the vista is closed by distant mountains,
make these falls one of the most novel and charming bits of scenery even
in this romantic land. Another pleasant surprise was in store for us
before we reached Mtali. We had descried from some way off a mass of
brilliant crimson on a steep hillside. Coming close under, we saw it to
be a wood whose trees were covered with fresh leaves. The locusts had
eaten off all the first leaves three weeks before, and this was the
second crop. Such a wealth of intense yet delicate reds of all hues,
pink, crimson, and scarlet, sometimes passing into a flushed green,
sometimes into an umber brown, I have never seen, not even in the autumn
woods of North America, where, as on the mountain that overhangs
Montreal, the forest is aflame with the glow of the maples. The spring,
if one may give that name to the season of the first summer rains, is
for South Africa the time of colours, as is the autumn in our temperate

Mtali--it is often written "Umtali" to express that vague half-vowel
which comes at the beginning of so many words in the Bantu languages--is
a pretty little settlement in a valley whose sheltered position would
make it oppressive but for the strong easterly breeze which blows nearly
every day during the hot weather. There is plenty of good water in the
hills all round, and the higher slopes are green with fresh grass. The
town, like other towns in these regions, is constructed of corrugated
iron,--for wood is scarce and dear,--with a few brick-walled houses and
a fringe of native huts, while the outskirts are deformed by a thick
deposit of empty tins of preserved meat and petroleum. All the roofs are
of iron, and a prudent builder puts iron also into the foundation of the
walls beneath the brick, in order to circumvent the white ants. These
insects are one of the four plagues of South Central Africa. (The other
three are locusts, horse-sickness, and fever; some add a fifth--the
speculators in mining shares.) They destroy every scrap of organic
matter they can reach, and will even eat their way through brick to
reach wood or any other vegetable matter. Nothing but metal stops them.
They work in the dark, constructing a kind of tunnel or gallery if they
have to pass along an open space, as, for instance, to reach books upon
a shelf. (I was taken to see the public library at Mtali, and found they
had destroyed nearly half of it.) They are less than half an inch long,
of a dull greyish white, the queen, or female, about three times as
large as the others. Her quarters are in a sort of nest deep in the
ground, and if this nest can be found and destroyed, the plague will be
stayed, for a time at least. There are several other kinds of ants. The
small red ant gets among one's provisions and devours the cold chicken.
We spent weary hours in trying to get them out of our food-boxes, being
unable to fall in with the local view that they ought to be eaten with
the meat they swarm over, as a sort of relish to it. There is also the
large reddish-black ant, which bites fiercely, but is regarded with
favour because it kills the white ants when it can get at them. But the
white ant is by far the most pernicious kind, and a real curse to the

At the end of 1896, when the construction of the Beira railway from
Chimoyo to Fort Salisbury began to be energetically prosecuted, it was
found that to take the line past Mtali would involve a detour of some
miles and a heavy gradient in crossing a ridge at the Christmas Pass.
Mr. Rhodes promptly determined, instead of bringing the railway to the
town, to bring the town to the railway. Liberal compensation was
accordingly paid to all those who had built houses at old Mtali, and new
Mtali was in 1897 founded on a carefully selected site seven miles away.

In 1895 there were about one hundred Europeans in the town of Mtali,
all, except the Company's officials and the storekeepers, engaged in
prospecting for or beginning to work gold-mines; for this is the centre
of one of the first-explored gold districts, and sanguine hopes have
been entertained of its reefs. We drove out to see some of the most
promising in the Penha Longa Valley, six miles to the eastward. Here
three sets of galleries have been cut, and the extraction of the metal
was said to be ready to begin if the machinery could be brought up from
the coast. As to the value and prospects of the reefs, over which I was
most courteously shown by the gentlemen directing the operations, I
could of course form no opinion. They are quartz-reefs, occurring in
talcose and chloritic schistose rocks, and some of them maintain their
direction for many miles. There is no better place than this valley[53]
for examining the ancient gold-workings, for here they are of great
size. Huge masses of alluvial soil in the bottom of the valley had
evidently been turned over, and indeed a few labourers were still at
work upon these. But there had also been extensive open cuttings all
along the principal reefs, the traces of which are visible in the deep
trenches following the line of the reefs up and down the slopes of the
hills, and in the masses of rubbish thrown out beside them. Some of
these cuttings are evidently recent, for the sides are in places steep
and even abrupt, which they would not be if during many years the rains
had been washing the earth down into the trenches. Moreover, iron
implements have been found at the bottom, of modern shapes and very
little oxidized. Probably, therefore, while some of these workings may
be of great antiquity, others are quite recent--perhaps less than a
century old. Such workings occur in many places over Mashonaland and
Matabililand. They are always open; that is to say, the reef was worked
down from the surface, not along a tunnel--a fact which has made people
think that they were carried on by natives only; and they almost always
stop when water is reached, as though the miners had known nothing of
pumps. Tradition has nothing to say as to the workings; but we know that
during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries a good deal of gold was
brought down to the Portuguese coast stations; and when the Mashonaland
pioneers came in 1890, there were a few Portuguese trying to get the
metal out of the alluvial deposits along the stream banks. The reefs,
which are now being followed by level shafts or galleries driven into
the sides of the hills, are (in most cases at least) the same as those
which the old miners attacked from above.

North of Penha Longa lies an attractive bit of country, near a place
called Inyanga, which, unfortunately, we had not time to visit. It is a
sort of tableland about thirty miles long by fifteen wide, from 6000 to
7000 feet above sea-level, with the highest summits reaching 8000 feet;
and in respect of its height enjoys not only a keen and bracing air, but
a copious rainfall, which makes it a specially good grazing country. It
will probably one day become not only the choicest ranching-ground of
East Central Africa, but also a health resort from the surrounding
regions. At present it is quite empty, the land having been, as I was
told, bought up by several syndicates, who are holding it in hope of a
rise in prices. Here are the remarkable stone-cased pits, referred to in
Chapter IX.; and here there are also numerous ancient artificial
watercourses for irrigating the soil, which were constructed by some
race of immigrants accustomed to artificial irrigation in their own
country, for it would hardly have occurred to natives to construct such
works here, where the rainfall is sufficient for the needs of tillage.
Still farther to the north is a less elevated region, remarkable for the
traces it bears of having been at one time densely populated. Tillage
was so extensive that the very hillsides were built up into terraces to
be planted with crops. To-day there are hardly any inhabitants, for a
good many years ago Mzila, the father of Gungunhana, chief of a fierce
and powerful tribe which lives on the lower course of the Sabi River,
raided all this country, and in successive invasions killed off or
chased away the whole population. Such wholesale slaughter and
devastation is no uncommon thing in the annals of South Africa. Tshaka,
the uncle of Cetewayo, annihilated the inhabitants over immense tracts
round Zululand. And in comparison with such bloodthirsty methods the
Assyrian plan of deporting conquered populations from their homes to
some distant land may have seemed, and indeed may have been, a
substantial step in human progress. However, just when Tshaka was
massacring his Kafir neighbours, the Turks were massacring the
Christians of Chios, and at the time of our visit, in October, 1895,
Abdul-Hamid II. was beginning his massacres in Asia Minor; so perhaps
the less said about progress the better.

The track from Mtali to the sea crosses a high ridge at a point called
the Christmas Pass, and descends into Portuguese territory through some
very noble and varied mountain scenery.[54] It reminded us sometimes of
the Italian slopes of the Eastern Alps, sometimes of the best parts of
the Perthshire Highlands, though of course it was rather in the forms of
hill and valley than in the trees that clothed their slopes that this
resemblance lay. The first Portuguese settlement is at a place called
Macequece, or Massikessi, where the pioneers of the British South Africa
Company conducted in 1891 a little war on their own account with the
Portuguese, whose superior forces they routed. The Portuguese claimed
all this inland region on the Hinterland principle, in respect of their
ownership of the coast, while the British pioneers relied on the fact
that their adversaries had never established a really effective
occupation. The dispute was carried by the Portuguese Mozambique Company
into the English courts of law,[55] and was ultimately adjusted
diplomatically by an agreement between the British and Portuguese
governments, signed June 11, 1891. The delimitation of the frontiers was
not fully completed in this region till 1896, but Massikessi was by the
treaty of 1891 left to Portugal. After Massikessi the mountains recede,
and wide plains begin to open to the east and south. As the country
sinks, the temperature rises and the air grows heavier and less keen.
The ground is covered with wood, and in the woods along the streams a
few palms and bamboos and other tropical forms of vegetation begin to
appear.[56] But we found the woods in many places stripped bare.
Terrible swarms of locusts had passed, leaving a track of dismal
bareness. It had been a dry year, too, and even what grass the locusts
had spared was thin and withered. Thus for want of food the cattle had
perished. All along the road from Mtali we saw oxen lying dead, often by
some pool in a brook, to which they had staggered to drink, and where
they lay down to die. We encountered few waggons, and those few were
almost all standing with the team unyoked, some of their beasts dead or
sickly, some, too weak to draw the load farther, obliged to stand idly
where they had halted till the animals should regain strength, or fresh
oxen be procured. This is what a visitation of locusts means, and this
is how the progress of a country is retarded by the stoppage of the only
means of transport.

We reached the terminus of the railway at Chimoyo after two days' long
and fatiguing travel from Mtali, including an upset of our vehicle in
descending a steep donga to the bed of a streamlet--an upset which might
easily have proved serious, but gave us nothing worse than a few
bruises. The custom being to start a train in the afternoon and run it
through the night,--all trains were then special,--we had plenty of time
to look round the place, and fortunately found a comfortable store and a
most genial Scottish landlord from Banffshire. There was, however,
nothing to see, not even Portuguese local colour; for though Chimoyo is
well within the Portuguese frontier, the village is purely English, and
was living by the transport service which then made the end of the
railway its starting-point for the territories of the Company. Now that
it has become merely a station, the railway being now (1899) open all
the way to Fort Salisbury, it may have dwindled away. Having nothing
else to do, I climbed through the sultry noon to the top of the nearest
kopje, a steep granite hill which, as I was afterwards told, is a
favourite "house of call" for lions. No forest monarch, however,
presented himself to welcome me, and I was left to enjoy the view alone.
It was striking. Guarding the western horizon rose the long chain of
mountains from which we had emerged stretching in a huge arc from
south-east to north, with some bold outlying peaks flung forward from
the main mass, all by their sharp, stern outlines, in which similar
forms were constantly repeated, showing that they were built of the same
hard crystalline rocks. Beneath, the country spread out in a vast,
wooded plain, green or brown, according as the wood was denser in one
part and sparser in another. It was still low wood, with no sense of
tropical luxuriance about it, and the ground still dry, with not a
glimpse of water anywhere. Here and there out of this sea of forest rose
isolated heights whose abrupt craggy tops glistened in the sunlight. To
the east the plain fell slowly away to an immensely distant horizon,
where lay the deadly flats that border the Indian Ocean. Except where
the iron roofs of the huts at Chimoyo shone, there was not a sign of
human dwelling or human labour through this great wild country, lying
still and monotonous under a cloudless sky. It has been a wilderness
from the beginning of the world until now, traversed, no doubt, many
centuries ago by the gold-seekers whose favourite track went up from the
coast past Great Zimbabwye into what is now Matabililand, traversed
again occasionally in later times by Portuguese traders, but in no wise
altered during these thousands of years from its original aspect. Now at
last its turn has come. A new race of gold-seekers have built a railway,
and along the railway, wherever there are not swamps to breed fever, the
land will be taken for farms, and the woods will be cut down, and the
wild beasts will slink away, and trading-posts will grow into villages,
and the journey from Beira to Bulawayo will become as easy and familiar
as is to-day the journey from Chicago to San Francisco, through a
country which a century ago was as little known as this African

The railway from Chimoyo to the sea had in 1895 one of the narrowest
gauges in the world (two feet), and its tiny locomotives and cars wore
almost a toy air. It has since been widened to the three feet six gauge
of the other South African lines. The construction was difficult, for
the swampy lands along the coast are largely under water during the
rains, but the gain to the country has been enormous. Not only has the
railway abridged the toilsome and costly ox transport of goods from
Beira to the edge of the high country--a transport whose difficulty lay
not merely in the badness of the track through ground almost impassable
during and after the rains, but also in the prevalence of the
tsetse-fly, whose bite is fatal to cattle. It has enabled travellers to
cross in a few hours one of the most unhealthy regions in the world,
most of which is infested by fevers in and after the wet season, and the
lower parts of which are so malarious that few who spend three nights in
them, even in the dry season, escape an attack. The banks of the rivers
and other damper spots will continue to breed this curse of maritime
Africa, although things will doubtless improve when the country grows
more settled, and the marshes have been drained, and the long grass has
been eaten down by cattle; for when the tsetse-fly has ceased to be
dangerous cattle may come in. It appears that the fly kills cattle not
by anything poisonous in its bite, but because it communicates to them a
minute parasite which lives in the blood of some kinds of game, and
which is more pernicious to cattle than it is to the game. Accordingly,
when the game vanishes, the fly either vanishes also or becomes
comparatively harmless. Already places once infested by it have by the
disappearance of the game become available for ranching. Recent
researches seem to have shown that malarial fevers in man are also due
to an animal parasite: and this discovery is thought to damp the hope,
which I remember to have heard Mr. Darwin express, that the
fever-stricken regions of the tropics might become safe by ascertaining
what the fever microbe is and securing men against it by inoculation.
Those, however, who hold that this parasite is carried into the blood of
man by a mosquito seem to entertain some hope that drainage may in some
places almost expunge the mosquito. The railway was made entirely by
native labour gathered from the surrounding regions, and the contractors
told me they had less difficulty with the Kafirs than they expected. It
paid, however, a heavy toll in European life. Not one of the engineers
and foremen escaped fever, and many died. The risk for those employed on
the line is of course now much slighter, because the worst spots are
known and there are now houses to sleep in.

Shortly after leaving Chimoyo the train ran through a swarm of locusts
miles long. It was a beautiful sight. The creatures flash like red
snowflakes in the sun; the air glitters with their gauzy wings. But it
is also terrible. An earthquake or a volcanic eruption is hardly more
destructive and hardly more irresistible. The swarms may be combated
when the insect walks along the ground, for then trenches may be dug
into which the advancing host falls. But when it flies nothing can stop
it. It is noteworthy that for eighteen years prior to the arrival of the
British pioneers in 1890 there had been no great swarms. Since that year
there have been several; so the Kafir thinks that it is the white man's
coming that has provoked the powers of evil to send this plague as well
as the murrain.

We ran down the one hundred and eighteen miles from Chimoyo to
Fontesvilla during the afternoon and night, halting for three or four
hours for dinner at a clearing where an inn and store have been built.
The pace was from ten to fifteen miles an hour. After the first twenty
miles, during which one still has glimpses of the strange isolated peaks
that spring up here and there from the plain, the scenery becomes rather
monotonous, for the line runs most of the way through thick forest, the
trees higher than those of the interior, yet not of any remarkable
beauty. For the last twenty-five miles the railway traverses a dead and
dreary flat. The gentle rise of the ground to the west conceals even the
outlying spurs of the great range behind, and to the north and south
there is an unbroken level. The soil is said to be generally poor, a
very thin layer of vegetable mould lying over sand, and the trees are
few and seldom tall. It is a country full of all sorts of game, from
buffaloes, elands, and koodoos downward to the small antelopes; and as
game abounds, so also do lions abound. The early morning is the time
when most of these creatures go out to feed, and we strained our eyes as
soon as there was light enough to make them out from the car windows.
But beyond some wild pig and hartebeest, and a few of the smaller
antelopes, nothing could be discerned upon the pastures or among the
tree clumps. Perhaps the creatures have begun to learn that the railroad
brings their enemies, and keep far away from it. A year after our visit
the murrain, to which I have already referred, appeared in this region,
and wrought fearful devastation among the wild animals, especially the

The railway now runs all the way to the port of Beira, but in October,
1895, came to an end at a place called Fontesvilla, on the Pungwe River,
near the highest point to which the tide rises. We had therefore to take
to the water in order to reach Beira, where a German steamer was timed
to call two days later; and our friends in Mashonaland had prepared us
to expect some disagreeable experiences on the river, warning us not to
assume that twelve or fourteen hours would be enough, even in a steamer,
to accomplish the fifty miles of navigation that lie between Fontesvilla
and the sea. They had been specially insistent that we should remain in
Fontesvilla itself no longer than was absolutely necessary; for
Fontesvilla has the reputation of being the most unhealthy spot in all
this unhealthy country. We were told that the preceding year had been a
salubrious one, for only forty-two per cent. of the European residents
had died. There may have been in these figures, when closely
scrutinized, some element of exaggeration, but the truth they were
intended to convey is beyond dispute; and the bright young assistant
superintendent of the railroad was mentioned, with evident wonder, as
the only person who had been more than three months in the place without
a bad attack of fever. Fontesvilla has not the externals of a
charnel-house. It consists of seven or eight scattered frame houses,
with roofs of corrugated iron, set in a dull, featureless flat on the
banks of a muddy river. The air is sultry and depressing, but has not
that foul swamp smell with which Poti, on the Black Sea, reeks, the most
malarious spot I had ever before visited. Nor was there much stagnant
water visible; indeed, the ground seemed dry, though there are marshes
hidden among the woods on the other side of the river. As neither of the
steamers that ply on the Pungwe could come up at neap tides, and with
the stream low,--for the rains had not yet set in,--the young
superintendent (to whose friendly help we were much beholden) had
bespoken a rowboat to come up for us from the lower part of the river.
After waiting from eight till half-past ten o'clock for this boat, we
began to fear it had failed us, and, hastily engaging a small two-oared
one that lay by the bank, set off in it down the stream. Fortunately
after two and a half miles the other boat, a heavy old tub, was seen
slowly making her way upward, having on board the captain of the little
steam-launch, the launch herself being obliged to remain much lower down
the river. We transferred ourselves and our effects to this boat, and
floated gaily down, thinking our troubles over.

The Pungwe is here about one hundred yards wide, but very shallow, and
with its water so turbid that we could not see the bottom where the
depth exceeded two feet. It was noon; the breeze had dropped, and the
sun was so strong that we gladly took refuge in the little cabin or
rather covered box--a sort of hen coop--at the stern. The stream and the
tide were with us, and we had four native rowers, but our craft was so
heavy that we accomplished less than two miles an hour. As the channel
grew wider and the current spread itself hither and thither over sand
banks, the bed became more shallow, and from time to time we grounded.
When this happened, the native rowers jumped into the water and pushed
or pulled the boat along. The farther down we went, and the more the
river widened, so much the more often did we take the bottom, and the
harder did we find it to get afloat again. Twelve miles below
Fontesvilla, a river called the Bigimiti comes in on the right, and at
its mouth we took on board a bold young English sportsman with the skin
of a huge lion. Below the confluence, where a maze of sand banks
encumbers the channel, we encountered a strong easterly breeze. The big
clumsy boat made scarcely any way against it, and stuck upon the sand so
often that the Kafirs, who certainly worked with a will, were more than
half the time in the water up to their knees, tugging and shoving to get
her off. Meanwhile the tide, what there was of it, was ebbing fast, and
the captain admitted that if we did not get across these shoals within
half an hour we should certainly lie fast upon them till next morning at
least, and how much longer no one could tell. It was not a pleasant
prospect, for we had no food except some biscuits and a tin of cocoa,
and a night on the Pungwe, with pestiferous swamps all round, meant
almost certainly an attack of fever. Nothing, however, could be done
beyond what the captain and the Kafirs were doing, so that suspense was
weighted by no sense of personal responsibility. We moved alternately
from stern to bow, and back from bow to stern, to lighten the boat at
one end or the other, and looked to windward to see from the sharp curl
of the waves whether the gusts which stopped our progress were
freshening further. Fortunately they abated. Just as the captain seemed
to be giving up hope--the only fault we had with him was that his face
revealed too plainly his anxieties--we felt ourselves glide off into a
deeper channel; the Kafirs jumped in and smote the dark-brown current
with their oars, and the prospect of a restful night at Beira rose once
more before us. But our difficulties were not quite over, for we
grounded several times afterwards, and progress was so slow that it
seemed very doubtful whether we should find and reach before dark the
little steam-launch that had come up to meet us.

Ever since my childish imagination had been captivated by the picture of
Africa's sunny fountains rolling down their golden sand, the idea of
traversing a tropical forest on the bosom of a great African river had
retained its fascination. Here at last was the reality, and what a
dreary reality! The shallow, muddy stream, broken into many channels,
which inclosed low, sandy islets, had spread to a width of two miles.
The alluvial banks, rising twenty feet in alternate layers of sand and
clay, cut off any view of the country behind. All that could be seen was
a fringe of thick, low trees, the edge of the forest that ran back from
the river. Conspicuous among them was the ill-omened "fever tree," with
its gaunt, bare, ungainly arms and yellow bark--the tree whose presence
indicates a pestilential air. Here was no luxuriant variety of form, no
wealth of colour, no festooned creepers nor brilliant flowers, but a
dull and sad monotony, as we doubled point after point and saw reach
after reach of the featureless stream spread out before us. Among the
trees not a bird was to be seen or heard; few even fluttered on the
bosom of the river. We watched for crocodiles sunning themselves on the
sandspits, and once or twice thought we saw them some two hundred yards
away, but they had always disappeared as we drew nearer. The beast is
quick to take alarm at the slightest noise, and not only the paddles of
a steamer, but even the plash of oars, will drive him into the water.
For his coyness we were partly consoled by the gambols of the
river-horses. All round the boat these creatures were popping up their
huge snouts and shoulders, splashing about, and then plunging again into
the swirling water. Fortunately none rose quite close to us, for the
hippopotamus, even if he means no mischief, may easily upset a boat when
he comes up under it, or may be induced by curiosity to submerge it with
one bite of his strong jaws, in which case the passengers are likely to
have fuller opportunities than they desire of becoming acquainted with
the crocodiles.

Among such sights the sultry afternoon wore itself slowly into night,
and just as dark fell--it falls like a stage curtain in these
latitudes--we joyfully descried the steam-launch waiting for us behind a
sandy point. Once embarked upon her, we made better speed through the
night. It was cloudy, with a struggling moon, which just showed us a
labyrinth of flat, densely wooded isles, their margins fringed with
mangrove trees. Exhausted by a journey of more than thirty hours without
sleep, we were now so drowsy as to be in constant danger of falling off
the tiny launch, which had neither seats nor bulwarks, and even the
captain's strong tea failed to rouse us. Everything seemed like a
dream--this lonely African river, with the faint moonlight glimmering
here and there upon its dark bosom, while the tree tops upon untrodden
islets flitted past in a slow, funereal procession, befitting a land of
silence and death.

At last, when it was now well past midnight, a few lights were seen in
the distance, and presently we were at Beira. As we touched the shore we
were told that the German steamer had already arrived, two days before
her time, and was to start in the morning at ten o'clock. So we made
straight for her, and next day at noon sailed for Delagoa Bay.

Beira stands on a sand-spit between the ocean and the estuary of the
Pungwe River. Though the swamps come close up to it, the town itself is
tolerably healthy at all seasons, because the strong easterly breeze
blows from the sea three days out of four. Before 1890 there was hardly
even a house, and its quick growth is entirely due to its having been
discovered to possess the best harbour on the coast, and to be therefore
the fittest point of departure from the sea for the territories of the
British South African Company.

In old days the chief Portuguese settlement on this part of the coast
was at Sofala, a few miles farther to the south, which had been visited
by Vasco da Gama in A.D. 1502, and where the Portuguese built a fort in
1505. It was then an Arab town, and famous as the place whence most of
the gold brought down from the interior was exported. Now it has shrunk
to insignificance, and Beira will probably become the most important
haven on the coast between Delagoa Bay, to the south, and Dar-es-Salaam,
the head-quarters of German administration, to the north. It may,
however, be rivalled by Pemba Bay north of the Zambesi, from which it is
proposed to run a railway to the south end of Lake Nyassa. The anchorage
in the estuary behind the sand-spit is spacious and sheltered, and the
outrush of the tide from the large estuary keeps down, by its constant
scour, accumulations of sand upon the bar. The rise of tide at this part
of the coast, from which Madagascar is only four hundred miles distant,
is twenty-two feet, and the channel of approach, though narrow and
winding (for the coast is shallow and there are shoals for six or eight
miles out), is tolerably well buoyed and not really difficult. The
railway terminus is placed at a point within the harbour where the
sand-spit joins the mainland.

The journey which I have described, with all its difficulties, first on
the river between Beira and Fontesvilla, and then again on the track
between Chimoyo and Mtali, has since my visit become a thing of the
past. Early in 1896 the railway was opened from Fontesvilla to Beira, so
that the tedious and vexatiously uncertain voyage up or down the Pungwe
River is now superseded by a more swift if less exciting form of travel.
And the permanent way was rapidly laid from Chimoyo northward, so that
trains were running all the way from the sea to Fort Salisbury by the
middle of 1899. Should the resources of Mashonaland turn out within the
next few years to be what its more sanguine inhabitants assert, its
progress will be enormously accelerated by this line, which will give a
far shorter access to South Central Africa than can be had by the rival
lines that start from Cape Town, from Durban, and from Delagoa Bay.

[Footnote 52: This chief was the restive chief mentioned on the last
preceding page. He joined in the rising of 1896, and was, I believe,
taken prisoner and shot.]

[Footnote 53: It was here only, on the banks of a stream, that I
observed the extremely handsome arboraceous St.-John's-wort (_Hypericum
Schimperi_), mentioned in Chapter IV.]

[Footnote 54: It is in the midst of this scenery that new Mtali has been

[Footnote 55: _Law Reports_ for 1893, A. C., p. 602.]

[Footnote 56: It is in these woods that the honey bird is found, whereof
the tale is told that it hunts about for the nests of wild bees in the
hollows of trees, and when it has found one, flies close to a man so as
to attract his notice, then flutters in front of him to the nest, and
waits for him to take the honey out of the hollow (which it cannot
itself reach), expecting and receiving a share of the spoil.]



In the last chapter I have brought the reader back to the sea from the
inland country we have spent three chapters in traversing. Now, while
the German steamer is threading her way to the open ocean through the
shoals that surround the entrance to the harbour of Beira, the traveller
as he gazes on the receding shore tries to sum up his impressions
regarding the economic prospects as well of Mashonaland as of the other
territories of the British South Africa Company. I will shortly state
these impressions.

The regions over which the British flag flies between the Transvaal
Republic to the south and the territories of Germany and of the Congo
State to the north, fall into three parts. The first is the country
north of the Zambesi. The easternmost section of this northerly region
is Nyassaland, of which I need say nothing, because it has been
admirably described by the distinguished officer (Sir H. H. Johnston)
who administered it for some years. The central and western sections,
which are under the control of the Company, are still too little known
for an estimate of their value to be formed. Though some parts are more
than 4000 feet above sea-level, most of the country lies below that
line, which is, roughly speaking, the line at which malarial fevers
cease to be formidable. Most of it, therefore, is not likely to be fit
for European colonization, and the heat is of course such as to put
European labour out of the question. Considerable tracts are, however,
believed to be fertile, and other tracts good for pasture, while there
is some evidence of the existence of gold and other minerals. The least
valuable region is believed to be that north of the Middle Zambesi,
where there are some dry and almost barren districts. Taking it all in
all, it is a country well worth having; but its resources will have to
be turned to account entirely through black labour; and as it is not
likely to attract any Europeans, except gold-prospectors, until the
unoccupied lands south of the Zambesi have been fully taken up, its
development belongs to a comparatively distant future.

The second region--that which lies south of the Upper Zambesi,
north-west of Matabililand--is equally little known, and, so far as
known, is not attractive. Most of it is comparatively low; much of it is
arid; some parts, especially those round Lake Ngami, are marshy and
therefore malarious. It is thinly peopled, has not been ascertained to
possess any mineral wealth, and lies far from any possible market. Parts
of it may turn out to afford good pasture, but for the present little is
said or thought about it, and no efforts have been made to develop it.

The third region comprises Matabililand and Mashonaland, that is, the
country between the Transvaal Republic and the valley of the Middle
Zambesi, all of which is now administered by the Company. What there is
to say about its prospects may be summed up under three heads--health,
wealth, and peace. It is on these three things that its future welfare

_Health._--A large part of the country, estimated at nearly 100,000
square miles, belongs to the Upper South African plateau, and has an
elevation of at least 3000 feet above the sea; and of this area about
26,000 square miles have an elevation of 4000 feet or upward. This
height, coupled with fresh easterly breezes and dry weather during eight
months in the year, gives the country a salubrious and even bracing
climate. The sun's heat is tempered, even in summer, by cool nights, and
in winter by cold winds, so that European constitutions do not, as in
India, become enervated and European muscles flaccid. It is not
necessary to send children home to England when they reach five or six
years of age; for they grow up as healthy as they would at home.
Englishmen might, in many districts, work with their hands in the open
air, were they so disposed; it is pride and custom, rather than the
climate, that forbid them to do so. So far, therefore, the country, is
one in which an indigenous white population might renew itself from
generation to generation.

_Wealth._--It was the hope of finding gold that drew the first British
pioneers to these regions; it is that hope which keeps settlers there,
and has induced the ruling Company to spend very large sums in
constructing railways, as well as in surveying, policing, and otherwise
providing for the administration of the country. The great question,
therefore, is, How will the gold-reefs turn out? There had been formed
before the end of 1895 more than two hundred Development Companies, most
of them gold-mining undertakings, and others were being started up till
the eve of the native outbreak in March, 1896. Very many reefs had been
prospected and an immense number of claims registered. The places in
which actual work had been done in the way of sinking shafts and opening
adits were, of course, much fewer, yet pretty numerous. Most of these
were in Manicaland, near Mtali, or to the north and west of Fort
Salisbury, or to the south-east of Gwelo, in the Selukwe district. No
one of these workings was on a large scale, and at two or three only had
stamping machinery been set up, owing, so I was told, to the practically
prohibitive cost of transport from the sea. Accordingly, there were
very few, if any, workings where enough ore had been extracted and
treated to warrant any confident predictions as to the productivity of
the claim. Numerous as the claims are, the value of all, or nearly all,
remained uncertain.

It must be remembered that in these mining districts the gold occurs in
quartz-reefs. Comparatively little is found in alluvial deposits, which
in California and Australia and the Ural mountains have often been more
important than the quartz-reefs. None at all is found diffused equally
through a stratum of rock, as in the Transvaal. Now, quartz-reef mining
is proverbially uncertain. The reefs vary not only in thickness, but
also in depth, and it is not yet certain that any go very far beneath
the surface. So, too, even when the reef itself is persistent in width
and in depth, its auriferous quality varies greatly. What is called the
"shoot" of gold may be rich for some yards, and then become faint or
wholly disappear, perhaps to reappear some yards farther. Thus there
must be a good deal of quartz crushed at different points before it can
be determined what number of pennyweights or ounces to the ton a given
reef, or a given part of a reef, is likely to yield.

In this uncertainty and deficiency of practical tests, people have
fallen back upon the ancient workings as evidence of the abundance of
the precious metal. I have already mentioned how numerous these workings
are over the country, and how fully they appear to confirm the stories
as to the gold which was brought down in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries to Sofala and the other Portuguese ports. It is argued that if
gold was so extensively worked in time past by rude races possessing
only primitive methods and few tools, the reefs must have been rich, and
that it is extremely improbable that all, or nearly all, the gold should
have been already extracted. The old workings were open, excavated down
from the surface, and they usually stopped when water was reached. Is
there not every reason to think that in many places the reefs go deeper,
and that our improved scientific appliances will enable us to extract
far more of the metal than the old miners could get by their simple
breaking and washing of the quartz? No doubt the old workings were
carried on by labour incomparably cheaper than could now be obtained;
but against this may be set the greater efficiency of the machinery
which will be at the disposal of the miner when transportation
facilities have been provided.

Arguments of this kind are resorted to only because the data which
experiment has hitherto supplied are insufficient. I found much
difference of opinion in the country itself regarding the value of the
reefs. Some mining engineers took a less sanguine view of the reefs they
had examined than did the general public in Fort Salisbury or Bulawayo,
and (it need hardly be said) a much less sanguine view than the
prospectuses of the companies conveyed to investors at home. On the
other hand, results had been actually obtained in some other places
which promised extremely well if the rest of the reef proved equal to
the portion sampled. Men of what is called in America "a conservative
temper" seemed to think that there is "payable gold," probably plenty of
gold, in the country, and that out of the many companies formed to work
the claims a fair, but by no means a large, proportion will turn out
sound undertakings. I doubt if it will be possible to say anything more
positive until stamping batteries have been erected and a considerable
quantity of quartz has been treated. This process can hardly begin till
the railways to Bulawayo and Mtali have been opened, and those
interested may therefore have to wait till 1899 or 1900 before they can
feel sure as to the value of their properties.[57]

Other minerals besides gold have been found. There is iron in many
places, copper in others. Coal has been proved to exist, of good if not
first-rate quality, on the edge of the Zambesi Valley south of the
Victoria Falls, and further east, to the north of Gwelo, and if the
gold-reefs turn out well it will certainly be worked. Indeed, railways
have now (1899) been decided on to connect Bulawayo and Gwelo with these
coal basins. It may be added that a railway is now being constructed
from Bulawayo to Gwelo and Fort Salisbury, and that there is a prospect
of another being pushed on to the Zambesi and the boundary of northern
Rhodesia at the south end of Lake Tanganyika. A line is also to be made
from Bulawayo south-east into the Gwanda mining district for a distance
of 110 miles.

Regarding the pastoral and agricultural capabilities of the country
there need be little doubt. All of it, except those lower grounds to the
north and south-east which are infested by the tsetse-fly, is fit for
cattle; some parts, such as the Matoppo Hills in Matabililand and still
more the Inyanga plateau in Mashonaland (mentioned in the last preceding
chapter), offer excellent pasture. The "high veldt" of central
Matabililand is no less available for sheep. Most of the cattle that
were on the land have perished in the recent murrain. But this plague
will pass by and may not return for many years, perhaps for centuries,
and the animals that will be brought in to restock the country will
probably be of better breeds. The quality of the soil for the purposes
of tillage has been tested by Europeans in a few places only. Much of
it is dry; much of it, especially where the subjacent rock is granitic,
is thin or sandy. Still, after allowing for these poorer tracts, there
remains an immense area of land which is fit to raise cereals and some
subtropical crops such as cotton. The immediate question is not,
therefore, as to the productive capacities of the country, but as to the
existence of a market for the products themselves. Nearly all staple
food-stuffs have of late years become so cheap in the markets of Europe
and North America, owing to the bringing under cultivation of so much
new land and the marvellous reduction in the cost of ocean carriage,
that in most of such articles Mashonaland, even with a railway to the
sea, could not at present compete successfully in those markets with
India and South America and the western United States. It is therefore
to consumers nearer at hand that the country must look. If gold-mining
prospers, population will rapidly increase, and a market will be created
at the agriculturists' own door. If, on the other hand, the reefs
disappoint the hopes formed of them, and the influx of settlers is too
small to create any large demand, tillage will spread but little, and
the country will be left to be slowly occupied by ranchmen. Thus the
growth of population and the prosperity of every industry will depend
upon the extent to which gold-mining can be profitably developed. Of
course I speak only of the near future. However rich some of the reefs
may turn out, they will be exhausted within a few decades, and the
country will have to depend on its other resources. However
unremunerative the reefs may prove, these other resources will in the
long run assure to it a settled white population and a reasonable
measure of prosperity. But these are days in which we all have learned
to take short views of life for nations and countries as well as for our
individual selves, and unquestionably the more or less of gold in its
quartz will for this country make all the difference between its speedy
and its slow development.

_Peace._--Thirdly, there remains the question whether the natives can be
kept quiet. The first occupation of Mashonaland was so tranquil, the
first conquest of the Matabili so swift and easy, that everybody
perceives that some further trouble ought to have been expected before
British control could be deemed secure. Now there has been a second
struggle and a pacification if not a victory. Has the suppression of the
revolt given permanent security? Are the natives at last aware that the
superiority of intelligence and organization on the part of the whites
more than counterbalances their own immense preponderance in numbers, a
preponderance of fully one hundred to one? No one will speak confidently
on this point who remembers how implicit and how vain was the confidence
felt in 1895 that the natives were contented and submissive. There was
some little risk of trouble in the spring of 1899 among the Matabili,
but the unrest became known in time, and is believed to have subsided.
On the whole, there is reason to think that if the natives are ruled in
a prudent and friendly spirit, making due allowance for their often
unreasonable alarms and suspicions, no fresh rising need be feared. The
chief aim of the ruling officials should be to draw and not to drive
them to labour, and to keep in check those white adventurers who hang
about the frontiers of civilization and sometimes ill-use or defraud the
Kafir in a way which makes him hostile to the next whites, however well
intentioned, who come into his neighbourhood. It may be some years yet
before the natives will seek work at the mines to the extent desired,
for they dislike underground labour. They were reported in 1899 to be
still deaf to the mine-owners' blandishments, although the average wage
is £2 a month; and the want of labour is assigned as a cause why many
mines said to be promising have made little progress. But policy, as
well as humanity and justice, forbids any resort to compulsion. Though
it is quite true that the native hates to see the white men come in,
disturb his old way of life, and take the best land, still I doubt if
anything less than some positive grievance, such as forced labour or the
taking of cattle, will be likely to rouse him to another attack on the
strangers. Should such an attack occur, it would be less formidable than
that of 1896. The tribal system, already weakened, tends among the
Matabili to dissolve still further, as was seen by the absence of
notable leaders and the general want of plan and co-operation in the
late conflict. Among the Mashonas each village is independent, so that a
combined effort is still less to be feared.[58] Moreover the completion
of the two railways to Bulawayo on the western and Fort Salisbury on the
eastern side of the country now enables reinforcements to be rapidly
sent up from the coast, and has removed the only danger that really
threatened the whites in 1896--their isolation from help and from
supplies of ammunition and of food.

What, then, are the general conclusions to which this rapid survey
leads? I will summarise them.

1. Though parts of the country will remain malarious, great areas will
be sufficiently healthy to enable a large white population to grow up
and maintain itself on the soil in vigour of mind and body. In this
sense it will be a "white man's country."

2. The black population is, however, likely to remain by far the more
numerous element, partly because it is better fitted for the malarious
and the hottest regions, and partly because here, as elsewhere in South
Africa, it is by the blacks that nearly all manual labour will continue
to be done. In this sense, that of numerical preponderance, the country,
and of course especially the parts of it which lie near to and north of
the Zambesi, will be a "black man's country."

3. The material progress of the country, and the more or less rapid
increase of its white population, will depend, in the first instance, on
the greater or less success with which gold-mining is prosecuted. If the
reefs turn out well, growth will be rapid; if not, it will be slow. But
in the long run the soil and the climate will be the main factors in
material and social prosperity. These give abundant grounds for hope.
The rainfall is larger than in the interior of Cape Colony, and much of
the soil will therefore be more productive. Therewith other industries
will spring up; and some of them will remain even when mining has

4. The political future will depend upon the growth of population, as
that depends upon the development of material resources. Should there be
a large and steady influx of white settlers, there must before long come
a demand for self-governing institutions. To concede these institutions
will be in the well-established line of British Colonial policy, and the
question will then arise whether the country, or the more settled parts
of it, should form a separate Colony or be incorporated with Cape Colony
(as British Bechuanaland recently was). That one found in 1895 very
little disposition among the white settlers to grumble at the
administration seemed chiefly due to the great personal popularity of
the genial Administrator, Dr. L. S. Jameson.

5. In 1898 the government and administration of the region south of the
Zambesi, _i.e._, Matabililand and Mashonaland, theretofore in the hands
of the British South Africa Company, were re-settled by an Order in
Council (Southern Rhodesia Order in Council, October 20th, 1898). It
vests authority in an Administrator appointed by the Company (with the
approval of the Secretary of State for the Colonies), a Resident
Commissioner, appointed by the Secretary of State and reporting directly
to him, an Executive Council of four persons appointed by the Company,
together with the senior and any other Administrators and the Resident
Commissioner, and a Legislative Council consisting, besides the
Commissioner and Administrators, of nine members, five appointed by the
Company, and four elected by the registered voters in electoral
districts. The Resident Commissioner, though entitled to be present and
speak at meetings, has no vote. Legislative Ordinances may be vetoed by
the High Commissioner for South Africa or by the Secretary of State. The
police (a force of 1,200 is now maintained) are under the orders of the
High Commissioner. There are various provisions for the protection of
the natives, and the recognition of native law; and it is provided (§
47) that any "customs duties to be levied are not to exceed the duties
levied at the commencement of the Order by the South African Customs
Union Tariff, or by the Customs Union Convention of May, 1898, whichever
are higher."

This form of government is evidently provisional, and questions must
arise in the future, regarding the political constitution to be given to
this region and the relations of the Company to it, which will present
much difficulty.

The country lying north of the Zambesi has been divided into two
districts, North East Rhodesia and North West Rhodesia, each of which is
placed under an Administrator appointed by the Company, the extreme
North Western strip, towards the Portuguese territory, remaining
meantime under the more direct authority of the High Commissioner. It
is understood that these areas also are to be regulated by Orders in

6. Leaving out of sight the still unsettled problem of the mineral
wealth of these territories, they are in other respects one of the most
promising parts of South Africa. I have remarked that as regards pasture
and agriculture they are superior to the inland parts of Cape Colony.
They are in these points also superior to the Transvaal, and still more
plainly superior to the neighbouring possessions of Germany and
Portugal. Portuguese East Africa is fever-stricken. German East Africa
is in many places barren and almost everywhere malarious. German
South-west Africa is largely desert, much of it an arid and
irreclaimable desert.

To the English race in South Africa the acquisition of these regions, or
at least of the parts south of the Zambesi, has been an immense
political and economic advantage. It has established their predominance
and provided a security against any serious attempt to dislodge them. A
philosophic observer without predilections for any one state or people
would, it is conceived, hold that the English race is more likely to
serve what are termed the interests of civilization in this part of
Africa than is any other race. The Portuguese have neither energy nor
capital. The Germans, with energy and with capital, have not the
requisite practice in independent colonization, nor perhaps the taste
for it. The South African Dutch Boers, who have within the last
seventeen years been more than once on the point of occupying the
country, are, with all their good qualities, a backward people, who, had
they prevailed, would have done little more than squat here and there
over the country with their cattle, and carry on an incessant desultory
war with the natives. Whether it is really desirable that the waste
lands of the world should be quickly brought under settled order and
have their resources developed with all possible speed, is a question
on which much might be said. But assuming, as most men, perhaps too
hastily, do assume, that this sudden development is desirable, the
English are the people most likely to carry it out effectively, and the
strong and strenuous man who, with little encouragement from the
government of his country, founded the British South Africa Company and
acquired these territories for his countrymen, took one of the most
fateful steps that statesman or conqueror has ever taken in the African

[Footnote 57: The above was written in 1897. The subsequent extension of
the railway from Mafeking to Bulawayo stimulated production, and in
July, 1899, there were 115 stamps at work on the gold reefs, and the
total value of the gold produced in Matabililand and Mashonaland
(including the Tati concessions) was given by the Bulawayo Chamber of
Mines as £192,679 for the preceding ten months. The average wages paid
to natives were £2 a month. Some reefs are stated to have been worked to
a depth of 500 feet.]

[Footnote 58: This very isolation and independence of the small native
communities in Mashonaland retarded the pacification of the country
during 1896-97. There were hardly any influential chiefs with whom to
treat. But since 1897 it has been perfectly quiet.]



There are two ways of reaching the Witwatersrand goldfields, now the
central point of attraction in South Africa, from the south-east coast.
One route starts from Delagoa Bay, a place of so much importance as to
deserve a short description. It is a piece of water protected from the
ocean by Inyack Island, and stretching some twenty miles or more north
and south. At the north end, where two rivers discharge their waters
into it, is an almost landlocked inlet, on the east side of which stands
the town of Lourenço Marques, so called from the Portuguese captain who
first explored it in 1544, though it had been visited in 1502 by Vasco
da Gama. The approach to this harbour is long and circuitous, for a
vessel has to wind hither and thither to avoid shoals; and as the
channel is ill-buoyed, careful captains sometimes wait for the tide to
be at least half full before they cross the shallowest part, where there
may be only twenty feet of water at low tide. Within the harbour there
is plenty of good deep anchorage opposite the town, and a still more
sheltered spot is found a little farther up the inlet in a sort of
lagoon. The town, which is growing fast, but still in a rough and
unsightly condition, runs for half a mile along the bay front, while
behind a suburb is built up the slope of a hill facing to the west. The
site looks healthy enough, though it would have been better to plant
the houses nearer to the high point which shields the anchorage. But
behind the town to the east and north there are large swamps, reeking
with malaria; and the residents have, therefore, though of course much
less in the dry season, to be on their guard against fever, which,
indeed, few who remain for a twelvemonth escape. The Portuguese
Government is unfortunately hard pressed for money and has not been able
to complete the projected quays, nor even to provide a custom-house and
warehouses fit to receive and store the goods intended for the
Transvaal, which are now discharged here in large quantities. In
November, 1895, everything was in confusion, and the merchants loud in
their complaints. Business is mostly in English and German, scarcely at
all in Portuguese, hands. With better management and the expenditure of
a little money, both the approach to the harbour and the town itself
might be immensely improved; and although the country round is not
attractive, being mostly either sandy or marshy, the trade with the
Transvaal goldfields seems so certain to develop and maintain itself
that expenditure would be well bestowed. It has often been suggested
that Great Britain should buy or lease the place (over which she has a
right of pre-emption), but the sensitive pride of Portugal might refuse
any offer. Nevertheless, it needs no great boldness to foretel that some
day it will come into British hands.

The other port which now competes for the Transvaal trade with Delagoa
Bay is Durban, the largest town in the British Colony of Natal. It
stands on a sandy flat from which a spit of land runs out into the sea
between the open ocean and the harbour. The harbour is commodious, but
the bar on the channel connecting it with the ocean formerly made it
unavailable except for vessels of light draft. Although much had been
done by the Colony to deepen the channel, the largest steamers were (in
1895) still forced to lie out in the ocean a mile or two away, and as
there is usually a swell, in which the little steam-tenders pitch about
pretty freely, the process of disembarkation is trying to many
passengers. There is, however, good reason to hope that the bar
difficulties may ultimately be overcome, as they have already been
greatly reduced: and the harbour, once you are within it, is perfectly

Durban is a neat and, in some parts, even handsome town, incomparably
superior to Lourenço Marques, with wide and well-kept streets, to which
the use of slender jinrickshas (drawn by active Zulus or Indians)
instead of cabs, as well as the number of white-clad coolies in the
streets, gives a curious Eastern touch, in keeping with the
semi-tropical vegetation. The climate is sultry during three months, but
very agreeable for the rest of the year. Many of the whites,
however,--there are 14,000 of them, and about the same number of Kafirs
and immigrants from India, live on the hill of Berea to the north of the
town, where the sea breeze gives relief even in the hottest weather.
This suburb of Berea is one of the prettiest spots in South Africa. The
name, of which the origin seems to have been forgotten by the citizens
of to-day, comes from a missionary settlement planted here in very early
days, and called after the Berea mentioned in Acts xvii. 10, 11. It has
been skilfully laid out in winding roads, bordered by tasteful villas
which are surrounded by a wealth of trees and flowering shrubs, and
command admirable views of the harbour, of the bold bluff which rises
west of the harbour, and of the ocean. The municipality bought the land,
and by selling or leasing it in lots at increased prices has secured a
revenue which keeps local taxation at a very low figure, and has enabled
many town improvements to be made and many enterprises to be worked for
the benefit of the citizens. Durban has been a pioneer of what is
called, in its extremer forms, municipal socialism; and enjoys the
reputation of being the best managed and most progressive town in all
South Africa. It possesses among other things a fine town-hall with a
lofty tower, built by the exertions of the present mayor, a deservedly
respected Scotch merchant.

East of Durban a low and fertile strip of country stretches along the
coast, most of which is occupied by sugar plantations, tilled by coolies
brought from India, because the native Kafir does not take kindly to
steady labour. North of the town the country rises, and here the patient
industry of other Indians has formed a great mass of gardens, where
sub-tropical and even some tropical fruits are grown in great
quantities, and have now begun to be exported to Europe. Across this
high ground, and through and over the still higher hills which rise
farther inland, the railway takes its course, often in steep inclines,
to the town of Pietermaritzburg, eighty miles distant, where the
Governor dwells, and a small British garrison is placed. Durban was from
the first an English town, and the white people who inhabit it are
practically all English. Maritzburg was founded by the emigrant Boers
who left Cape Colony in the Great Trek of 1836, and descended hither
across the Quathlamba Mountains in 1838. Its population is, however,
nowadays much more British than Boer, but the streets retain an
old-fashioned half-Dutch air; and the handsome Parliament House and
Government Offices look somewhat strange in a quiet and straggling
country town. Its height above the sea (2500 feet) and its dry climate
make it healthy, though, as it lies in a hollow among high hills, it is
rather hotter in summer than suits English tastes. The surrounding
country is pretty, albeit rather bare; nor is the Australian wattle, of
which there are now large plantations in the neighbourhood, a very
attractive tree.

This seems the fittest place for a few words on the public life of
Natal, the British Colony which has been the latest to receive
responsible self-government. This gift was bestowed upon it in 1893,
not without some previous hesitation, for the whole white population was
then about 46,000, and the adult males were little over 15,000. However,
the system then established seems to be working smoothly. There is a
cabinet of five ministers, with two Houses of Legislature, an Assembly
of thirty-seven, and a Council of eleven members, the former elected for
four years at most (subject to the chance of a dissolution), the latter
appointed by the Governor for ten years. No regular parties have so far
been formed, nor can it yet be foreseen on what lines they will form
themselves, for the questions that have chiefly occupied the legislature
are questions on which few differences of principle have as yet emerged.
All the whites are agreed in desiring to exclude Kafirs and newcomers
from India from the electoral franchise. All seemed in 1895 to be agreed
in approving the tariff, which was for revenue only; and Natal had then
one of the lowest among the tariffs in force in British Colonies. (The
ordinary _ad valorem_ rate was five per cent.) In 1898, however, Natal
entered the South African Customs Union previously consisting of Cape
Colony, the Orange Free State, Basutoland, and Bechuanaland, and the
tariff of that Union, as fixed in 1898, was higher and to some extent
protective. Even between the citizens of English and those of Dutch
origin, the latter less than one-fourth of the whole, and living chiefly
in the country, there has been but little antagonism, for the Dutch,
being less numerous than in Cape Colony, are much less organized. Among
the English, British sentiment is strong, for the war of 1881 with the
Transvaal people not merely re-awakened the memories of the Boer siege
of Durban in 1842, but provoked an anti-Boer feeling, which was kept in
check only by the necessity of conciliating the Transvaal government in
order to secure as large as possible a share of the import trade into
that country. As the Natal line of railway is a competitor for this
trade with the Cape lines, as well as with the line from Delagoa Bay,
there is a keen feeling of rivalry toward Cape Colony, which is thought
to have been unfriendly in annexing the native territories of Griqualand
East and Pondoland, which lie to the west of Natal, and which the latter
Colony had hoped some day or other to absorb. When her hopes of
territorial extension were closed on that side, Natal began to cast
longing eyes on Zululand, a hilly region of rich pastures which is at
present directly administered by the Imperial Government, and which
contains not only some gold-reefs of still unascertained value, but also
good beds of coal. Ultimately in 1897, the home government consented to
allow Natal to absorb both Zululand and the Tonga country all the way
north to the Portuguese frontier.

The political life of Natal flows in a tranquil current, because the
population is not merely small, but also scattered over a relatively
wide area, with only two centres of population that rise above the rank
of villages. The people, moreover, lead an easy and quiet life. They are
fairly well off, occupying large cattle-farms, and with no great
inducement to bring a great deal of land under tillage, because the
demand for agricultural produce is still comparatively small. Not much
over one-fortieth part of the surface is cultivated, of which about two
hundred thousand acres are cultivated by Europeans, of course by the
hands of coloured labourers. Sugar is raised along the coast, and tea
has lately begun to be grown. The Natalians have, perhaps, become the
less energetic in developing the natural resources of their country
because thrice in their recent history the equable course of development
has been disturbed. In 1870 many of the most active spirits were drawn
away to the newly-discovered diamond-fields of Kimberley. In 1879 the
presence of the large British force collected for the great Zulu war
created a sudden demand for all sorts of food-stuffs and forage, which
disappeared when the troops were removed; and since 1886 the rapid
growth of the Witwatersrand gold-fields, besides carrying off the more
adventurous spirits, has set so many people speculating in the shares of
mining companies that steady industry has seemed a slow and tame affair.
At present not many immigrants come to Natal to settle down as farmers;
and the Colony grows but slowly in wealth and population. Nevertheless,
its prosperity in the long run seems assured. It is more favoured by
soil and by sky than most parts of Cape Colony. It has an immense
resource in its extensive coal-fields. Its ocean trade and railway
traffic are increasing. In proximity to these coal-fields it has
deposits of iron which will one day support large industrial
communities. And its inhabitants are of good, solid stuff, both English,
Dutch, and German, for there are many German immigrants. No British
Colony can show a population of better quality, and few perhaps one
equally good.

Besides the railway question, which is bound up with the problem of the
port of Durban and its bar, the question which has most interest for the
people of Natal is that of the coloured population, Kafir and Indian.
The Kafirs, mostly of Zulu race, number 460,000, about ten times the
whites, who are estimated at 50,000. Nearly all live under tribal law in
their own communities, owning some cattle, and tilling patches of land
which amount in all to about 320,000 acres. The law of the Colony wisely
debars them from the use of European spirits. A few of the children are
taught in mission schools,--the only educational machinery provided for
them,--and a very few have been converted to Christianity, but the vast
majority are little influenced by the whites in any way. They are
generally peaceable, and perpetrate few crimes of violence upon whites;
but however peaceable they may have shown themselves, their numerical
preponderance is disquieting. A Kafir may, by the Governor's gift,
obtain the electoral suffrage when he has lived under European law for
at least seven years; but it has been bestowed on extremely few, so that
in fact the native does not come into politics at all. The Indian
immigrants, now reckoned at 50,000, are of two classes. Some are
coolies, who have been imported from India under indentures binding them
to work for a term of years, chiefly on the sugar plantations of the
coast. Many of these return at the expiration of the term, but more have
remained, and have become artisans in the towns or cultivators of garden
patches. The other class, less numerous, but better educated and more
intelligent, consists (besides some free immigrants of the humbler
class) of so-called "Arabs"--Mahommedans, chiefly from Bombay and the
ports near it, or from Zanzibar--who conduct retail trade, especially
with the natives, and sometimes become rich. Clever dealers, and willing
to sell for small profits, they have practically cut out the European
from business with the native, and thereby incurred his dislike. The
number of the Indians who, under the previous franchise law, were
acquiring electoral rights had latterly grown so fast that, partly owing
to the dislike I have just mentioned, partly to an honest apprehension
that the Indian element, as a whole, might become unduly powerful in the
electorate, an Act was in 1894 passed by the colonial legislature to
exclude them from the suffrage. The home government was not quite
satisfied with the terms in which this Act was originally framed, but in
1897 approved an amended Act which provides that no persons shall be
hereafter admitted to be electors "who (not being of European origin)
are natives or descendants in the male line of natives of countries
which have not hitherto possessed elective representative institutions
founded on the parliamentary franchise, unless they first obtain from
the Governor in Council an order exempting them from the provisions of
this Act." Under this statute the right of suffrage will be withheld
from natives of India and other non-European countries, such as China,
which have no representative government, though power is reserved for
the government to admit specially favoured persons. In 1897 another Act
was passed (and approved by the home government) which permits the
colonial executive to exclude all immigrants who cannot write in
European characters a letter applying to be exempted from the provisions
of the law. It is intended by this measure to stop the entry of
unindentured Indian immigrants of the humbler class.

I have referred particularly to this matter because it illustrates one
of the difficulties which arise wherever a higher and a lower, or a
stronger and a weaker, race live together under a democratic government.
To make race or colour or religion a ground of political disability runs
counter to what used to be deemed a fundamental principle of democracy,
and to what has been made (by recent amendments) a doctrine of the
American Constitution. To admit to full political rights, in deference
to abstract theory, persons who, whether from deficient education or
want of experience as citizens of a free country, are obviously unfit to
exercise political power is, or may be, dangerous to any commonwealth.
Some way out of the contradiction has to be found, and the democratic
Southern States of the North American Union and the oligarchical
Republic of Hawaii (now (1899) annexed to the United States), as well as
the South African Colonies, have all been trying to find such a way. The
problem has in 1899 presented itself in an acute form to the United
States, who having taken hold of the Philippine Isles, perceive the
objections to allowing the provisions of their Federal Constitution to
have effect there, but have not yet decided how to avoid that result.
Natal, where the whites are in a small minority, now refuses the
suffrage to both Indians and Kafirs; while Cape Colony, with a much
larger proportion of whites excludes the bulk of her coloured people by
the judicious application of an educational and property qualification.
The two Boer Republics deny the supposed democratic principle, and are
therefore consistent in denying all political rights to people of
colour. The Australian Colonies have taken an even more drastic method.
Most of them forbid the Chinese to enter the country, and admit the
dark-skinned Polynesian only as a coolie labourer, to be sent back when
his term is complete. France, however, is more indulgent, and in some of
her tropical Colonies extends the right of voting, both for local
assemblies and for members of the National Assembly in France, to all
citizens, without distinction of race or colour.

Maritzburg is a cheerful little place, with an agreeable society,
centred in Government House, and composed of diverse elements, for the
ministers of state and other officials, the clergy, the judges, and the
officers of the garrison, furnish a number, considerable for so small a
town, of capable and cultivated men. There are plenty of excursions, the
best of which is to the beautiful falls of the Umgeni at Howick, where a
stream, large after the rains, leaps over a sheet of basalt into a noble
_cirque_ surrounded by precipices. Passing not far from these falls, the
railway takes its course northward to the Transvaal border. The line
climbs higher and higher, and the country, as one recedes from the sea,
grows always drier and more bare. The larger streams flow in channels
cut so deep that their water is seldom available for irrigation; but
where a rivulet has been led out over level or gently sloping ground,
the abundance of the crop bears witness to the richness of the soil and
the power of the sun. The country is everywhere hilly, and the scenery,
which is sometimes striking, especially along the banks of the Tugela
and the Buffalo rivers, would be always picturesque were it not for the
bareness of the foregrounds, which seldom present anything except
scattered patches of thorny wood to vary the severity of the landscape.
Toward the base of the great Quathlamba or Drakensberg Range, far to the
west of the main line of railway, there is some very grand scenery, for
the mountains which on the edge of Basutoland rise to a height of 10,000
feet break down toward Natal in tremendous precipices. At the little
town of Ladysmith a railway diverges to the Orange Free State, whose
frontier here coincides with a high watershed, crossed by only a few
passes. A considerable coal-field lies near the village appropriately
named Newcastle, and there are valuable deposits near the village of
Dundee also, whither a branch line which serves the collieries turns off
to the east at a spot called Glencoe, south of Newcastle. Travelling
steadily to the north, the country seems more and more a wilderness, in
which the tiny hamlets come at longer and longer intervals. The
ranching-farms are very large,--usually six thousand acres,--so there
are few settlers; and the Kafirs are also few, for this high region is
cold in winter, and the dry soil does not favour cultivation. At last,
as one rounds a corner after a steep ascent, a bold mountain comes into
sight, and to the east of it, connecting it with a lower hill, a ridge
or neck, pierced by a tunnel. The ridge is Laing's Nek, and the mountain
is Majuba Hill, spots famous in South African history as the scenes of
the battles of 1881 in the Transvaal War of Independence. Few conflicts
in which so small a number of combatants were engaged have so much
affected the course of history as these battles; and the interest they
still excite justifies a short description of the place.

Laing's Nek, a ridge 5500 feet above the sea and rising rather steeply
about 300 feet above its southern base, is close to the Quathlamba
watershed, which separates the streams that run south into the Indian
Ocean from those which the Vaal on the north carries into the Orange
River and so to the Atlantic. It is in fact on the south-eastern edge of
that great interior table-land of which I have so often spoken. Across
it there ran in 1881, and still runs, the principal road from Natal into
the Transvaal Republic,--there was no railway here in 1881,--and by it
therefore the British forces that were proceeding from Natal to
reconquer the Transvaal after the outbreak of December, 1880, had to
advance to relieve the garrisons beleaguered in the latter country.
Accordingly, the Boer levies, numbering about a thousand men, resolved
to occupy it, and on January 27 they encamped with their waggons just
behind the top of the ridge. The frontier lies five miles farther to the
north, at the village of Charleston, so that at the Nek itself they were
in the territory of Natal. The British force of about one thousand men,
with a few guns, arrived the same day at a point four miles to the
south, and pitched their tents on a hillside still called Prospect Camp,
under the command of General Sir George Colley, a brave officer, well
versed in the history and theory of war, but with little experience of
operations in the field. Undervaluing the rude militia opposed to him,
he next day attacked their position on the Nek in front; but the British
troops, exposed, as they climbed the slope, to a well-directed fire from
the Boers, who were in perfect shelter along the top of the ridge,
suffered so severely that they had to halt and retire before they could
reach the top or even see their antagonists. A monument to Colonel
Deane, who led his column up the slope and fell there pierced by a
bullet, marks the spot. Three weeks later (after an unfortunate skirmish
on the 8th), judging the Nek to be impregnable in front, for his force
was small, but noting that it was commanded by the heights of Majuba
Hill, which rise 1500 feet above it on the west, the British general
determined to seize that point. Majuba is composed of alternate strata
of sandstone and shale lying nearly horizontal and capped--as is often
the case in these mountains--by a bed of hard igneous rock (a
porphyritic greenstone). The top is less than a mile in circumference,
depressed some sixty or seventy feet in the centre, so as to form a sort
of saucer-like basin. Here has been built a tiny cemetery, in which some
of the British soldiers who were killed lie buried, and hard by on the
spot where he fell, is a stone in memory of General Colley. The hill
proper is nearly nine hundred feet above its base, and the base about
six hundred feet above Laing's Nek, with which it is connected by a
gently sloping ridge less than a mile long. It takes an hour's steady
walking to reach the summit from the Nek; the latter part of the ascent
being steep, with an angle of from twenty to thirty degrees, and here
and there escarped into low faces of cliff in which the harder sandstone
strata are exposed.

The British general started on the night of Saturday, February 26, from
Prospect Camp, left two detachments on the way, and reached the top of
the hill, after some hard climbing up the steep west side, at 3 A.M.,
with something over four hundred men. When day broke, at 5 A.M., the
Boers below on the Nek were astonished to see British redcoats on the
sky-line of the hill high above them, and at first, thinking their
position turned, began to inspan their oxen and prepare for a retreat.
Presently, when no artillery played upon them from the hill, and no sign
of a hostile movement came from Prospect Camp in front of them to the
south, they took heart, and a small party started out, moved along the
ridge toward Majuba Hill, and at last, finding themselves still
unopposed, began to mount the hill itself. A second party supported this
forlorn hope, and kept up a fire upon the hill while the first party
climbed the steepest parts. Each set of skirmishers, as they came within
range, opened fire at the British above them, who, exposed on the upper
slope and along the edge of the top, offered an easy mark, while the
Boers, moving along far below, and in places sheltered by the
precipitous bits of the slope, where the hard beds of sandstone run in
miniature cliffs along the hillside, did not suffer in the least from
the irregular shooting which a few of the British tried to direct on
them. Thus steadily advancing, and firing as they advanced, the Boers
reached at last the edge of the hilltop, where the British had neglected
to erect any proper breastworks or shelter, and began to pour in their
bullets with still more deadly effect upon the hesitating and already
demoralized troops in the saucer-like hollow beneath them. A charge with
the bayonet might even then have saved the day. But though the order was
given to fix bayonets, the order to charge did not follow. General
Colley fell shot through the head, while his forces broke and fled down
the steep declivities to the south and west, where many were killed by
the Boer fire. The British loss was ninety-two killed, one hundred and
thirty-four wounded, and fifty-nine taken prisoners; while the Boers,
who have given their number at four hundred and fifty, lost only one man
killed and five wounded. No wonder they ascribed their victory to a
direct interposition of Providence on their behalf.

The British visitor, to whom this explanation does not commend itself,
is stupefied when he sees the spot and hears the tale. Military
authorities, however, declare that it is an error to suppose that the
occupants of a height have, under circumstances like those of this
fight, the advantage which a height naturally seems to give them. It is,
they say, much easier for skirmishers to shoot from below at enemies
above, than for those above to pick off skirmishers below; and this fact
of course makes still more difference when the attacking force are
accustomed to hill-shooting, and the defenders above are not. But
allowing for both these causes, the attack could not have succeeded had
Laing's Nek been assailed from the front by the forces at Prospect Camp,
and probably would never have been made had the British on the hill
taken the offensive early in the day.

We reached the top of the mountain in a dense cloud, which presently
broke in a furious thunderstorm, the flash and the crash coming together
at the same moment, while the rain quickly turned the bottom of the
saucer-like hollow almost into a lake. When the storm cleared away, what
a melancholy sight was this little grassy basin strewn with loose
stones, and bearing in its midst the graves of the British dead enclosed
within a low wall! A remote and silent place, raised high in air above
the vast, bare, brown country which stretched away east, south, and west
without a trace of human habitation. A spot less likely to have become
the scene of human passion, terror and despair can hardly be imagined.
Yet it has taken its place among the most remarkable battlefields in
recent history, and its name has lived, and lives to-day, in men's minds
as a force of lamentable potency.

Crossing Laing's Nek,--the top of which few future travellers will
tread, because the railway passes in a tunnel beneath it,--one comes out
on the north upon the great rolling plateau which stretches to the
Zambesi in one direction and to the Atlantic in another. Four or five
miles further, a little beyond the village of Charleston, one leaves
Natal and enters the South African Republic; and here is the actual
watershed which divides the upper tributaries of the Orange River from
the streams which flow to the Indian Ocean. The railway had just been
completed at the time of our visit, and though it was not opened for
traffic till some weeks later, we were allowed to run over it to the
point where it joins the great line from Cape Town to Pretoria. The
journey was attended with some risk, for in several places the permanent
way had sunk, and in others it had been so insecurely laid that our
locomotive and car had to pass very slowly and cautiously. The country
is so sparsely peopled that if one did not know it was all taken up in
large grazing-farms, one might suppose it still a wilderness. Here and
there a few houses are seen, and one place, Heidelberg, rises to the
dignity of a small town, being built at the extreme south-eastern end of
the great Witwatersrand gold-basin, where a piece of good reef is
worked, and a mining population has begun to gather. The country is all
high, averaging 5000 feet above sea level, and is traversed by ridges
which rise some 500 to 1000 feet more. It is also perfectly bare, except
for thorny mimosas scattered here and there, with willows fringing the
banks of the few streams.

Great is the contrast when, on reaching Elandsfontein, on the main line
of railway, one finds one's self suddenly in the midst of the stir and
bustle of industrial life. Here are the tall chimneys of engine-houses;
here huge heaps of refuse at the shafts of the mines mark the direction
across the country of the great gold-reef. Here, for the first time
since he quitted the suburbs of Cape Town, the traveller finds himself
again surrounded by a dense population, filled with the eagerness, and
feeling the strain and stress, of an industrial life like that of the
manufacturing communities of Europe or of North America. Fifteen years
ago there was hardly a sign of human occupation. The Boer ranchman sent
out his native boys to follow the cattle as they wandered hither and
thither, seeking scanty pasturage among the stones, and would have been
glad to sell for a hundred pounds the land on which Johannesburg now
stands, and beneath which some of the richest mines are worked.

The Witwatersrand (Whitewatersridge) is a rocky ridge rising from one to
two or three hundred feet above the level of the adjoining country and
running nearly east and west about thirty miles. Along its southern
slope the richest reefs or beds containing gold (except that near the
village of Heidelberg) have been found; but the whole gold-basin, in
various parts of which payable reefs have been proved to exist and are
being worked, is nearly one hundred and thirty miles long by thirty
miles wide. It is called a basin because the various out-cropping reefs
represent approximately the rim of a basin, and dip to a common centre.
But there are many "faults" which have so changed the positions of the
reefs in different places as largely to obliterate the resemblance
indicated by the term. It would be impossible to give either a
geological account of the district or a practical description of the
methods of working without maps and plans and a number of details
unsuitable to this book; so I will mention merely a few salient facts,
referring the curious reader to the elaborate treatise of Messrs. Hatch
and Chalmers published in 1895.

The Rand gold-mining district at present consists of a line of mines
both east and west of Johannesburg, along the outcrop of the principal
reefs. It is about forty-six miles long, but "gold does not occur
continuously in payable quantities over that extent, the 'pay-ore' being
found in irregular patches, and (less frequently) in well-defined
'pay-shoots' similar to those which characterize quartz-veins."[59]
There are also a few scattered mines in other parts of the basin. On
this line there are two principal reefs--the Main Reef, with its
so-called "leader," a thin bed just outside, and parallel to it, and the
South Reef, with several others which are at present of much less
importance. The term "reef" means a bed or stratum of rock, and these
Rand reefs are beds of a sort of conglomerate, consisting of sandy and
clayey matter containing quartz pebbles. The pebbles are mostly small,
from the size of a thrush's egg up to that of a goose's egg, and contain
no gold. The arenaceous or argillaceous stuff in which they lie embedded
is extremely hard, and strongly impregnated with iron, usually in the
form of iron pyrites, which binds it together. It is in this stuff, or
sandy and ferreous cement, that the gold occurs. The Boers call the
conglomerate "_banket_" (accented on the last syllable), which is their
name for a kind of sweetmeat, because the pebbles lying in the cement
are like almonds in the sugary substance of the sweetmeat. The gold is
pretty equably diffused in the form of crystals or (less often) of
flakes--crystals of such extremely small size as to be very rarely
visible to the naked eye. Here and there, however, the banket is
traversed by thin veins of quartz rock, and nuggets, mostly quite small,
are occasionally found in this quartz.

The "Main Reef series" consists of several parallel beds of varying size
and thickness, which have not been correlated throughout their entire
length; at some points two may be workable; at others three. The Main
Reef bed varies from one to twenty feet in thickness; its "leader,"
which is richer in gold, from three inches to three feet; and the South
Reef, also generally rich, from three inches to six feet. The Main Reef
proper, however, is of too low an ore grade to be profitably worked
under present economic conditions, though at two or three mines a
percentage of it is milled in conjunction with the richer ore from the
other beds.

Where these beds come to the surface, they are inclined, or "dip," as
geologists say, at an angle of from 60° to 30°, and the shafts are now
usually sunk to follow the line of dip. But as they are followed down
into the earth, the angle diminishes to 30° or 25°, and it appears
certain that at a still greater depth they will be found to lie nearly
horizontal. This fact is extremely important, because it promises to
make a much larger part of the beds available than would be the case if
they continued to plunge downward at a high angle, since in that case
they would soon attain a depth at which mining would be impossible,
because the heat would be too great, and probably unprofitable also,
because the cost of raising the ore would be extremely heavy. The
greatest depth to which workings have been carried is about 2400 feet,
but skilled engineers think it possible to work as deep as 5000 feet,
though labour becomes more difficult above the temperature of 100°
Fahrenheit, which is reached at 3000 feet beneath the surface. No
difficulty from temperature has been felt at 2,400 feet, and the water
is found to give little trouble; indeed a very experienced engineer (to
whose courtesy I am indebted for these facts) tells me that he thinks
most of the water comes from the surface, and can be taken up in the
upper levels of the mine which is being worked at the depth mentioned. I
have given these details in order to show how enormous a mass of ore
remains to be extracted when the deep workings, which are still in their
infancy, have been fairly entered upon. But a still more remarkable fact
is that the auriferous banket beds appear, so far as they have been
followed by deep borings, to retain, as they descend into the earth, not
only their average thickness, but also their average mineral quality.
Here is the striking feature of the Rand gold-beds, which makes them, so
far as we know, unique in the world.

Everywhere else gold-mining is a comparatively hazardous and uncertain
enterprise. Where the metal is found in alluvial deposits, the deposits
usually vary much in the percentage of gold to the ton of soil which
they yield, and they are usually exhausted in a few years. Where it
occurs in veins of quartz-rock (the usual matrix), these veins are
generally irregular in their thickness, often coming abruptly to an end
as one follows them downward, and still more irregular and uncertain in
the percentage of gold to rock. For a few yards your quartz-reef may be
extremely rich, and thereafter the so-called "shoot" may stop, and the
vein contain so little gold as not to pay the cost of working. But in
the Witwatersrand basin the precious metal is so uniformly and equally
distributed through the auriferous beds that when you have found a
payable bed you may calculate with more confidence than you can anywhere
else that the high proportion of gold to rock will be maintained
throughout the bed, not only in its lateral extension, which can be
easily verified, but also as it dips downwards into the bowels of the
earth. It is, therefore, not so much the richness of this
gold-field--for the percentage of metal to rock is seldom very high, and
the cost of working the hard rock and disengaging the metal from the
minerals with which it is associated are heavy items--as the comparative
certainty of return, and the vast quantity of ore from which that return
may be expected, that have made the Rand famous, have drawn to it a
great mass of European capital and a large population, and have made the
district the object of political desires, ambition, and contests which
transcend South Africa and have threatened to become a part of the game
which the great powers of Europe are playing on the chessboard of the

It is believed that the banket or conglomerate beds are of marine
origin, but it does not follow that the gold was deposited _pari passu_
with the deposition of the beds, for it may have been--and skilled
opinion inclines to this view--carried into the conglomerate seams
subsequently to their deposit. In this respect they resemble auriferous
veins of quartz, though in these banket reefs the gold-bearing solutions
would seem to have come up through the interstitial spaces of the
conglomerate instead of in the more or less open fissures of the
gold-bearing quartz-veins. The chemical conditions under which gold is
thus deposited are still conjectural. Gold has long been known to exist
in sea-water, in the form of an iodide or a chloride; and one skilful
metallurgist at Johannesburg told me that he believed there was as much
gold in a cubic mile of sea-water as the whole then annual output of
the Rand, that is to say, nearly £8,000,000.

Had these deposits been discovered a century ago, few, if any of them,
would have been worth working, because miners did not then possess the
necessary means for extracting the gold from its intractable matrix. It
is the progress of chemical science which, by inventing new processes,
such as the roasting with chlorine, the treatment in vats with cyanide,
and the application of electrical currents, has made the working
profitable. The expenses of working out the gold per ton of ore sank
from £1 15_s._ 5_d._ per ton in 1892 to £1 8_s._ 1_d._ in 1898, while
the dividends rose from 8_s._ per ton to 13_s._ 2_d._; and the
proportion of gold won which was paid in dividends rose from 19 to 32
per cent. Further improvements in the processes of reduction will
doubtless increase the mining area, by making it worth while to develop
mines where the percentage of metal to rock is now too small to yield a
dividend. Improvements, moreover, tend to accelerate the rate of
production, and thereby to shorten the life of the mines; for the more
profitable working becomes, the greater is the temptation to work as
fast as possible and get out the maximum of ore. The number of stamps at
work in milling the ore rose from 3740 in 1896 to 5970 in August, 1899.
The total sum annually paid in dividends, which had in 1892 been
£794,464, had in 1898 risen to £4,847,505.

The duration of the mines, as a whole, is therefore a difficult problem,
for it involves the question whether many pieces of reef, which are now
little worked or not worked at all, will in future be found worth
working, owing to cheapened appliances and to a larger yield of gold per
ton of rock, in which case the number of mines may be largely increased,
and reefs now neglected be opened up when the present ones have been
exhausted. The view of the most competent specialists seems to be that,
though many of what are now the best properties will probably be worked
out in twenty or thirty years, the district, as a whole, may not be
exhausted for at least fifty, and possibly even for seventy or eighty,
years to come. And the value of the gold to be extracted within those
fifty years has been roughly estimated at about £700,000,000, of which
at least £200,000,000 will be clear profit, the balance going to pay the
cost of extraction. In 1896 the value of the Witwatersrand gold output
was £7,864,341.[60] In 1898 it was £15,141,376; and in the first eight
months of 1899 £12,485,032. Assuming a production of £15,000,000 a year,
this would exhaust the field in about forty-six years; but it is, of
course, quite impossible to predict what the future rate of production
will be, for that must depend not only on the progress of mechanical and
chemical science, but (as we shall presently see) to some extent also
upon administrative and even political conditions. In the five years
preceding 1896 the production had increased so fast (at the rate of
about a million sterling per annum) that, even under the conditions
which existed in 1895, every one expected a further increase, and (as
already noted), the product of 1898 exceeded £15,000,000. With more
favourable economic and administrative conditions it will doubtless for
a time go still higher. The South African Republic now stands first
among the gold-producing countries, having passed the United States,
which stands a little behind her, Australasia being a good third, and
the Russian Empire a bad fourth. The total annual output of gold for the
whole world was in 1898 about £59,617,955.

Among the economic conditions I have referred to, none is more
important than the supply and the wages of labour. On the Rand, as in
all South African mines of every kind, unskilled manual labour is
performed by Kafirs, whites--together with a few half-breeds and Indian
coolies--being employed for all operations, whether within the mine or
above the ground, which require intelligence and special knowledge.

The number of natives regularly employed was in 1896 47,000, the total
employed altogether during the year 70,000. In 1898 these numbers had
risen to 67,000 and 88,000 respectively. The average monthly wage of a
native was in 1896 £3 0_s._ 10_d._ and in 1898 £2 9_s._ 9_d._ The number
of whites employed was in 1896 7,430 (average monthly wage £24), in 1898
9,476 (average monthly wage £26). Whites would be still more largely
employed if they would work harder, but they disdain the more severe
kinds of labour, thinking those fit only for Kafirs. The native workmen
are of various tribes, Basutos, Zulus, Shanganis, and Zambesi boys being
reckoned the best. Most of them come from a distance, some from great
distances, and return home when they have saved the sum they need to
establish themselves in life. The dream of the mine manager is to cut
down the cost of native labour by getting a larger and more regular
supply, as well as by obtaining cheaper maize to feed the workmen, for
at present, owing to the customs duties on food-stuffs, the cost of
maize--nearly all of which is imported--is much higher than it need be.
So white labour might be much cheapened, while still remaining far
better paid than in Europe, by a reduction of the customs tariff, which
now makes living inordinately dear. Heavy duties are levied on machinery
and chemicals; and dynamite is costly, the manufacture of it having been
constituted a monopoly granted to a single person. Of all these things,
loud complaints are heard, but perhaps the loudest are directed against
the rates of freight levied by the railways, and especially by the
Netherlands Company, which owns the lines inside the Transvaal State

Even apart from the question of railway freights, Johannesburg believed
in 1895 that better legislation and administration might reduce the cost
of production by twenty or thirty per cent., a difference which would of
course be rapidly felt in the dividends of the mines that now pay, and
which would enable many now unprofitable mines to yield a dividend and
many mines to be worked which are now not worth working.[61] However
this may be, an examination of the figures I have given will show how
great has been the development of the industry during the last eight
years, how largely the dividends have grown and how much the cost of
production has been reduced. Thus in spite of the difficulties
mentioned, the profits made have greatly increased, and the shareholder
has fared well.

There is nothing in the natural aspect of the mining belt to distinguish
it from the rest of the Transvaal plateau. It is a high, dry, bare,
scorched, and windy country, and Johannesburg, its centre, stands in one
of the highest, driest, and windiest spots, on the south slope of the
Witwatersrand ridge, whose top rises some 150 feet above the business
quarters. Founded in 1886, the town has now a population exceeding
100,000, more than half of them whites. In 1896 the census (probably
very imperfect) showed within a radius of three miles 50,000 whites,
42,000 Kafirs, and 6000 Asiatics. Though it is rapidly passing from the
stage of shanties and corrugated iron into that of handsome streets
lined with tall brick houses, it is still rough and irregular, ill
paved, ill lighted, with unbuilt spaces scattered about and good houses
set down among hovels.

Another element of unloveliness is supplied by the mines themselves, for
the chief reefs run quite close to the southern part of the town, and
the huge heaps of "waste rock" or refuse and so-called "tailings", the
machinery which raises, crushes, and treats the ore, and the tall
chimneys of the engine houses, are prominent objects in the suburbs.
There is not much smoke; but to set against this there is a vast deal of
dust, plenty from the streets, and still more from the tailings and
other heaps of highly comminuted ore-refuse. The streets and roads
alternate between mud for the two wet months, and dust in the rest of
the year; and in the dry months not only the streets, but the air is
full of dust, for there is usually a wind blowing. But for this dust,
and for the want of proper drainage and a proper water-supply, the place
would be healthy, for the air is dry and bracing. But there had been up
to the end of 1895 a good deal of typhoid fever and a great deal of
pneumonia, often rapidly fatal. In the latter part of 1896 the mortality
was as high as 58 per thousand.[62]

It is a striking contrast to pass from the business part of the town to
the pretty suburb which lies to the north-east under the steep ridge of
the Witwatersrand, where the wealthier residents have erected charming
villas and surrounded them with groves and gardens. Less pretty, but far
more striking, is the situation of a few of the outlying country houses
which have been built to the north, on the rocky top or along the
northern slope of the same ridge. These have a noble prospect over
thirty or forty miles of rolling country to the distant Magaliesberg.
East and west the horizon is closed by long ranges of blue hills, while
beneath, some large plantations of trees, and fields cultivated by
irrigation, give to the landscape a greenness rare in this arid land.
Standing on this lonely height and looking far away towards the Limpopo
and Bechuanaland, it is hard to believe that such a centre of restless
and strenuous life as Johannesburg is so near at hand. The prospect is
one of the finest in this part of Africa; and it is to be hoped that a
tract on these breezy heights will, before building has spread further,
be acquired by the town as a public park.

Though in its general aspect Johannesburg comes nearer to one of the new
mining cities of Western America than to any place in Europe, yet in
many points it is more English than American, as it is far more English
than Dutch. Indeed, there is nothing to remind the traveller that he is
in a Dutch country except the Dutch names of the streets on some of the
street corners. The population--very mixed, for there are Germans,
Italians, and French, as well as some natives of India--is practically
English-speaking, for next in number to the colonial English and the
recent immigrants from Great Britain come the Australians and Americans,
who are for all social purposes practically English. It is a busy,
eager, restless, pleasure-loving town, making money fast and spending it
lavishly, filled from end to end with the fever of mining speculation.
This pursuit concentrates itself in one spot where two of the principal
streets meet, and where a part of one of them is inclosed within low
chains, so as to make a sort of inclosure, in which those who traffic in
gold shares meet to buy and sell. "Between the chains" is the local
expression for the mining exchange, or share market, and a sensitive and
unstable market it is. It had been "booming" for most of the year, and
many stocks stood far too high. But while we were there what is called a
"slump" occurred, and it was pretty to study the phenomenon on the
countenances between the chains.

The passion of the people for sport, and especially for racing, is
characteristically English. The gambling-saloon is less conspicuous than
in Transatlantic mining-camps, and there are fewer breaches of public
order. Decorum is not always maintained. When I was there, a bout of
fisticuffs occurred between the ex-head of the town police and his
recently appointed successor, and the prowess of the former delighted a
large ring of English spectators who gathered round the combatants. But
one hears of no shootings at-sight or lynchings; and considering the
great number of bad characters who congregate at places of this kind, it
was surprising that the excess of crime over other South African towns
(in which there is very little crime among the whites) should not have
been larger. Partly, perhaps, because the country is far from Europe,
the element of mere roughs and rowdies, of scalawags, hoodlums, and
larrikins, is smaller than in the mining districts of the Western United
States, and the proportion of educated men unusually large. The best
society of the place--of course not very numerous--is cultivated and
agreeable. It consists of men of English or Anglo-Jewish race--including
Cape Colonists and Americans, with a few Germans, mostly of Jewish
origin. I should conjecture the English and colonial element to compose
seven-tenths of the white population, the American and German about
one-tenth each, while Frenchmen and other European nations make up the
residue. There are hardly any Boers or Hollanders, except Government
officials; and one feels one's self all the time in an English, that is
to say, an Anglo-Semitic town. Though there are some 50,000 Kafirs, not
many are to be seen about the streets. The Boer farmers of the
neighbourhood drive their waggons in every morning, laden with
vegetables. But there are so few of the native citizens of the South
African Republic resident in this its largest town that the traveller
cannot help fancying himself in the Colony; and it was only natural that
the English-speaking people, although newcomers, should feel the place
to be virtually their own.

Great is the change when one passes from the busy Johannesburg to the
sleepy Pretoria, the political capital of the country, laid out
forty-three years ago, and made the seat of government in 1863. The
little town--it has about 12,000 inhabitants, two-thirds of whom are
whites--lies in a warm and well watered valley--about thirty miles
N.N.E. of Johannesburg. The gum-trees and willows that have grown up
swiftly in the gardens and along the avenues embower it; and the views
over the valley from the low hills--most of them now (since the middle
of 1896) crowned by batteries of cannon--that rise above the suburbs are
pleasing. But it has neither the superb panoramic prospect nor the sense
of abounding wealth and strenuous life that make Johannesburg striking.
The streets are wide, and after rain so muddy as to be almost
impassable; the houses irregular, yet seldom picturesque. Nothing could
be less beautiful than the big Dutch church, which occupies the best
situation, in the middle of the market square. There is, however, one
stately and even sumptuous building, that which contains the Government
Offices and chambers of the legislature. It is said to have cost
£200,000. The room in which the Volksraad (_i.e._, the First or chief
Volksraad) meets is spacious and handsome. It interests the visitor to
note that on the right hand of the chair of the presiding officer there
is another chair, on the same level, for the President of the Republic,
while to the right there are seats for the five members of the Executive
Council, and to the left five others for the heads of the administrative
departments, though none of these eleven is a member of the Raad.

We had expected to find Pretoria as Dutch as Johannesburg is English.
But although there is a considerable Boer and Hollander population, and
one hears Dutch largely spoken, the general aspect of the town is
British colonial; and the British-colonial element is conspicuous and
influential. Having little trade and no industry, Pretoria exists
chiefly as the seat of the administration and of the courts of law. Now
the majority of the bar are British-colonials from Cape Colony or
England. The large interests involved in the goldfields, and the
questions that arise between the companies formed to work them, give
abundant scope for litigation, and one whole street, commonly known as
the Aasvogelsnest (Vulture's Nest), is filled with their offices. They
and the judges, the most distinguished of whom are also either colonial
Dutchmen or of British origin, are the most cultivated and (except as
regards political power) the leading section of society. It is a real
pleasure to the European traveller to meet so many able and well-read
men as the bench and bar of Pretoria contain; and he finds it odd that
many of them should be excluded from the franchise and most of them
regarded with suspicion by the ruling powers. Johannesburg (with its
mining environs) has nearly all the industry and wealth, and half the
whole white population of the Transvaal--a country, be it remembered, as
large as Great Britain. Pretoria and the lonely country to the north,
east, and west[63] have the rest of the population and all the power. It
is true that Pretoria has also a good deal of the intelligence. But this
intelligence is frequently dissociated from political rights.

President Kruger lives in a house which the Republic has presented to
him, five minutes' walk from the public offices. It is a long, low
cottage, like an Indian bungalow, with nothing to distinguish it from
other dwellings. The President has, however, a salary of £7,000 a year,
besides an allowance, commonly called "coffee money," to enable him to
defray the expenses of hospitality. Just opposite stands the little
chapel of the so-called Dopper sect in which he occasionally preaches.
Like the Scotch of former days, the Boers have generally taken more
interest in ecclesiastical than in secular politics. A sharp contest has
raged among them between the party which desires to be in full communion
with the Dutch Reformed Church of Cape Colony and the party which
prefers isolation, distrusting (it would seem unjustly) the strict
orthodoxy of that church. The Doppers (dippers, _i.e._ Baptists) are
still more stringent in their adherence to ancient ways. When I asked
for an account of their tenets, I was told that they wore long
waistcoats and refused to sing hymns. They are, in fact, old-fashioned
Puritans in dogmatic beliefs and social usages, and, as in the case of
the more extreme Puritans of the seventeenth century, this theological
stringency is accompanied by a firmness of character which has given
them a power disproportionate to their numbers.

Quiet as Pretoria is, the echoes of the noisy Rand are heard in it, and
the Rand questions occupy men's minds. But outside Pretoria the country
is lonely and silent, like all other parts of the Transvaal, except the
mining districts. Here and there, at long, intervals, you come upon a
cluster of houses--one can hardly call them villages. If it were not for
the mines, there would not be one white man to a square mile over the
whole Republic.

[Footnote 59: Mr. J. Hays Hammond, the eminent mining engineer, in
_North American Review_ for February, 1897.]

[Footnote 60: The total output of the Californian gold deposits up to
the end of 1896 was £256,000,000. The total gold output of the Transvaal
was in 1898 $78,070,761 (about £16,000,000), that of the United States
$65,082,430. I take these and the other recent figures from a report by
Mr. Hammond to the Consolidated Gold Fields of South Africa Company.]

[Footnote 61: A little French book (_L'Industrie Minière au Transvaal_,
published in 1897), which presents a careful examination of these
questions, calculated at about thirty per cent. of the expenditure the
savings in production which better legislation and administration might
render possible.]

[Footnote 62: There are towns in England where the rate is only 13 per

[Footnote 63: There are some mines of gold and coal in other parts,
mostly on the east side of the country, with a small industrial
population consisting chiefly of recent immigrants.]



In the last preceding chapter I have carried the reader into the
Transvaal through Natal, because this is the most interesting route. But
most travellers in fact enter _via_ Cape Colony and the Orange Free
State, that State lying between the north-eastern frontier of the Colony
and the south-eastern frontier of the Transvaal. Of the Free State there
is not much to say; but that little needs to be said, because this
Republic is a very important factor in South African politics, and
before coming to its politics the reader ought to know something of its
population. I have already (Chapter V) summarized its physical features
and have referred (Chapter XI) to the main incidents in its history.
Physically, there is little to distinguish it from the regions that
bound it to the east, north, and west. Like them, it is level or
undulating, dry, and bare--in the main a land of pasture. One
considerable diamond mine is worked in the west, (at Jagersfontein) and
along the banks of the Caledon River there lies one rich agricultural
district. But the land under cultivation is less than one per cent, of
the whole area. There are no manufactures, and of course very little
trade; so the scanty population increases slowly. It is a country of
great grassy plains, brilliantly green and fresh after rain has fallen,
parched and dusty at other times, but able to support great numbers of
cattle and sheep. Rare farmhouses and still rarer villages are scattered
over this wide expanse, which, in the north-east, toward Natal, rises
into a mountainous region. The natives (most of them of Bechuana stock)
are nearly twice as numerous as the whites. Some live on a large
Barolong reservation, where they till the soil and keep their cattle in
their own way. The rest are scattered over the country, mostly employed
as herdsmen to the farmers. Save on the reservation, they cannot own
land or travel without a pass, and of course they are not admitted to
the electoral franchise. They seem, however, to be fairly well treated,
and are perfectly submissive. Their wages average thirty shillings a
month. Native labour has become so scarce that no farmer is now
permitted to employ more than twenty-five. Of the whites, fully
two-thirds are of Dutch origin, and Dutch is pretty generally spoken.
English, however, is understood by most people, and is the language most
commonly used in the larger villages. The two races have lived of late
years in perfect harmony, for there has never been any war between the
Free State and Great Britain. As the tendency of the English citizens to
look to Cape Colony has been checked by the sentiment of independence
which soon grew up in this little Republic, and by their attachment to
its institutions, so the knowledge of the Dutch citizens that the
English element entertains this sentiment and attachment has prevented
the growth of suspicion among the Dutch, and has knitted the two races
into a unity which is generally cordial.[64] Nevertheless, so much Dutch
feeling remained slumbering, that when it had been reawakened by Dr.
Jameson's expedition into the Transvaal in December, 1895, the scale
was decisively turned in favour of one out of the two candidates at the
election of a President which followed shortly thereafter, by the fact
that the one belonged to a Dutch, the other to a Scottish family. Both
were able and experienced men, the former (Mr. Steyn) a judge, the
latter (Mr. Fraser) Speaker of the Volksraad. It may be added that the
proximity of the Colony, and the presence of the large English element,
have told favourably upon the Dutch population in the way of stimulating
their intelligence and modifying their conservatism, while not injuring
those solid qualities which make them excellent citizens. The desire for
instruction is far stronger among them than it is in the Transvaal.
Indeed, there is no part of South Africa where education is more valued
and more widely diffused.

The only place that can be called a town is Bloemfontein, the seat of
government, which stands on the great trunk-line of railway from Cape
Town to Pretoria, seven hundred and fifty miles from the former and two
hundred and ninety from the latter town. It is what the Germans call a
"freundliches Städtchen," a bright and cheerful little place with 3,300
white and 2,500 black inhabitants, nestling under a rocky kopje, and
looking out over illimitable plains to the east and south. The air is
dry and bracing, and said to be especially beneficial to persons
threatened with pulmonary disease. As it is one of the smallest, so it
is one of the neatest and, in a modest way, best appointed capitals in
the world. It has a little fort, originally built by the British
government, with two Maxim guns in the Arsenal, a Protestant Episcopal
and a Roman Catholic cathedral as well as Dutch Reformed churches, all
kinds of public institutions, a spacious market square, with a good club
and an excellent hotel, wide and well-kept streets, gardens planted with
trees that are now so tall as to make the whole place seem to swim in
green, a national museum, and a very handsome building for the
legislature, whose principal apartment is as tasteful, well-lighted, and
well-arranged as any I have seen in any British Colony or American
State. The place is extremely quiet, and people live very simply, though
not cheaply, for prices are high, and domestic service so dear and
scarce as to be almost unprocurable. Every one is above poverty, but
still further removed from wealth. It looks, and one is told that it is,
the most idyllic community in Africa, worthy to be the capital of this
contented and happy State. No great industries have come into the Free
State to raise economic strife. No capitalists tempt the virtue of
legislators, or are forced to buy off the attacks of blackmailers. No
religious animosities divide Christians, for there is perfect religious
freedom. No difficulties as to British suzerainty exist, for the
Republic is absolutely independent. No native troubles have arisen. No
prize is offered to ambition. No political parties have sprung up.
Taxation is low, and there is no public debt. The arms of the State are
a lion and a lamb standing on opposite sides of an orange-tree, with the
motto, "Freedom, Immigration, Patience, Courage", and though the lion
has, since 1871, ceased to range over the plains, his pacific attitude
beside the lamb on this device happily typifies the harmony which has
existed between the British and Dutch elements, and the spirit of
concord which the late President Brand so well infused into the public
life of his Republic. In the Orange Free State I discovered, in 1895,
the kind of commonwealth which the fond fancy of the philosophers of
last century painted. It is an ideal commonwealth, not in respect of any
special excellence in its institutions, but because the economic and
social conditions which have made democracy so far from an unmixed
success in the American States and in the larger Colonies of Britain,
not to speak of the peoples of Europe, whether ancient or modern, have
not come into existence here, while the external dangers which for a
time threatened the State have, years ago, vanished away like clouds
into the blue.[65]

Although, however, the political constitution of the Free State is not
the chief cause of the peace and order which the State enjoys, it may
claim to be well suited to the community which lives happily under it.
It is a simple constitution, and embodied in a very short, terse, and
straightforward instrument of sixty-two articles, most of them only a
few lines in length.

The governing authorities are the President, the Executive Council, and
the Volksraad or elective popular assembly. Citizenship belongs to all
white persons born in the State, or who have resided in it for three
years and have made a written promise of allegiance, or have resided one
year and possess real property of the value of one hundred and fifty
pounds sterling, a liberality which is in marked contrast to the
restrictions imposed upon new comers by the laws of the Transvaal. Thus,
practically, all the male white inhabitants are citizens, with full
rights of suffrage--subject to some small property qualifications for
new comers which it is hardly worth while to enumerate.

The President is elected by the citizens for five years and is
re-eligible. He can sit and speak but cannot vote in the Volksraad, is
responsible to it and has the general control of the administration.

The Executive Council consists of five members--besides the
President--viz., the State Secretary and the Magistrate of Bloemfontein,
both of whom are appointed by the President and confirmed by the
Volksraad, and three other members chosen by the Volksraad. It is
associated with the President for divers purposes, but has not proved to
be an important or influential body.

The Volksraad is elected by all the citizens for four years, half of
the members retiring every two years. It has only one chamber, in which
there sit at present fifty-eight members. It is the supreme legislative
authority, meeting annually, and in extra sessions when summoned, and
its consent is required to the making of treaties and to a declaration
of war. The President has no veto on its acts, and the heads of the
executive departments do not sit in it.

The obligation of military service is universal on all citizens between
the ages of sixteen and sixty.

The constitution can be altered by the Volksraad, but only by a
three-fourths majority in two consecutive annual sessions. It is
therefore a Rigid constitution, like that of the United States and that
of Switzerland.

This simple scheme of government seems calculated to throw nearly all
the power in the hands of the legislature, leaving the President
comparatively weak. Nevertheless, in point of fact the Presidents have
been very important figures, partly because there have been no parties
in the legislature, and therefore no party leaders. From 1863 till his
death in 1888, the whole policy of the State was guided by President
Brand, a lawyer from the Cape, whom the people elected for five
successive terms. His power of sitting in and addressing the Volksraad
proved to be of the utmost value, for his judgment and patriotism
inspired perfect confidence. His successor, Mr. F. W. Reitz, who at the
time of my visit (November, 1895) had just been obliged by ill-health to
retire from office, enjoyed equal respect, and when he chose to exert
it, almost equal influence with the legislature, and things went
smoothly under him. I gathered that Judge Steyn, who was elected
President early in 1896, was similarly respected for his character and
abilities, and was likely to enjoy similar weight. So the Speaker of the
legislature has been an influential person, because his office devolves
upon him functions which the absence of a Cabinet makes important. The
fact is that in every government, give it what form you please, call it
by what name you will, individual men are the chief factors, and if the
course of things is such that the legislature does not become divided
into parties and is not called on to produce conspicuous leaders,
general leadership will fall to the executive head if he is fit to
assume it, and legislative leadership to the chairman of the assembly.
Were questions to arise splitting up the people and the legislature into
factions, the situation would change at once. Oratorical gifts and
legislative strategy would become valuable, and the President or the
Speaker of the assembly might be obscured by the chiefs of the parties.

The people of the Free State were well satisfied with their
constitution, and showed little disposition to alter it. Some of the
wisest heads, however, told me that they thought two improvements were
needed: a provision that amendments to the constitution, after having
passed the Volksraad, should be voted on by the people (as in the Swiss
Referendum), and a provision securing to the judges their salaries, and
their independence of the Volksraad. It is interesting to notice that
both here and in the Transvaal the gravest constitutional questions that
have arisen turn on the relations between the legislative and the
judicial departments. Some years ago the Free State Volksraad claimed
the right to commit a person to prison for contempt, and to direct the
State attorney to prosecute him. The Chief Justice, a distinguished
lawyer, and his colleagues felt bound to resist what they thought an
unconstitutional stretch of power by the Raad. At first they seemed
likely to be defeated, but by using their opportunities of charging
juries to insist on their views they brought public opinion round to
their side, and the Raad ultimately retired from the position it had
taken up, leaving the question of right undetermined. It has never been
definitely settled whether the courts of law are in the Free State (as
in the United States), the authorized interpreters of the constitution,
though upon principle it would seem that they are. These South African
Constitutions were drafted by simple men in an untechnical way, so that
many legal points obvious to the minds of English or American lawyers
were left untouched, and have now to be settled either on principle or
according to the will of what may happen to be the predominant power for
the time being. It is, perhaps, better that they should remain in
abeyance until public opinion has grown more instructed and has had
fuller opportunities of considering them.

Small as is the white population of the Orange Free State, its
geographical position and the high average quality of its citizens
secure for it a position of great significance in South African
politics; and the attitude it might take would be an important factor in
any dispute between the British Government and the Transvaal Republic.
The troubles of December, 1895, drew it nearer to the Transvaal, for the
Free State Boers have strong political sympathy with their northern
kinsfolk. They were, at the time of my visit, far from approving the
policy of mere resistance to reform which President Kruger has taken up;
and seemed quite indisposed to support the Transvaal if it should take
any course at variance with its treaty engagements.[66] To this topic I
may have occasion presently to return. Meanwhile I pass on to describe
the native State which lies nearest to the Free State, which has been
most closely connected with its fortunes, and which in one respect
furnishes a parallel to it, having been of late years the most quiet and
contented among native communities.

[Footnote 64: Mr. Brand was chosen President when practising law in Cape
Colony; and afterwards accepted, with the full assent of his citizens, a
British order of knighthood.]

[Footnote 65: Revising this book in October, 1899, I leave the above
passage as it was written in 1897, grieving to think that it describes
what has now become a past, and that the future is likely to have far
other things in store.]

[Footnote 66: I leave this as written in 1897. The invasion of the
Transvaal in December, 1895, led to the conclusion of an alliance
between the Free State and that Republic, whereby each bound itself to
defend the other if attacked. The Free State has accordingly now
(October, 1899), when hostilities have broken out between Britain and
the Transvaal, thrown in its lot with its sister Republic. This is what
every one who knew its history and the character of its people must have



Basutoland is a comparatively small territory (10,300 square miles)
somewhat larger than Wales or Massachusetts. It is nearly all
mountainous, and contains the highest summits in South Africa, some of
them reaching 11,000 feet. Few European travellers visit it, for it lies
quite away from the main routes; it has no commercial importance, and
its white population is extremely small, the land being reserved for the
natives alone. We were attracted to it by what we had heard of the
scenery; but found when we came to traverse it, that the social
conditions were no less interesting than the landscapes.

The easiest approach is from Bloemfontein. Starting from that pleasant
little town one bright November morning on the top of the Ladybrand
coach, we drove over wide and nearly level stretches of pasture-land,
which now, after the first rains, were vividly green, and beginning to
be dotted with flowers. The road was only a track, rough and full of
ruts, and the coach, drawn by eight horses, was an old one, whose
springs had lost whatever elasticity they might once have possessed, so
that it was only by holding tight on to the little rail at the back of
the seat that we could keep our places. The incessant pitching and
jolting would have been intolerable on an ordinary drive; but here the
beauty of the vast landscape, the keen freshness of the air, and the
brilliance of the light made one forget every physical discomfort. About
noon, after crossing the muddy flood of the Modder River, whose channel,
almost dry a month before, had now been filled by the rains, we entered
a more hilly region, and came soon after noon to the village of Thaba
'Ntshu, called from the bold rocky peak of that name, which is a
landmark for all the country round, and is famous in history as the
rallying-point of the various parties of emigrant Boers who quitted Cape
Colony in the Great Trek of 1836-37. Near it is a large native
reservation, where thousands of Barolong Kafirs live, tilling the better
bits of soil and grazing their cattle all over the rolling pastures.
Some ten or fifteen miles farther the track reaches the top of a long
ascent, and a magnificent prospect is revealed to the south-east of the
noble range of the Maluti Mountains, standing out in the dazzling
clearness of this dry African air, yet mellowed by distance to tints of
delicate beauty. We were reminded of the view of the Pyrenees from Pau,
where, however, the mountains are both nearer and higher than here, and
of the view of the Rocky Mountains from Calgary, on the Canadian Pacific
Railway. From this point onward the road mounts successive ridges,
between which lie rich hollows of agricultural land, and from the tops
of which nearer and nearer views of the Maluti range are gained. There
was hardly a tree visible, save those which Europeans have planted round
the farmhouses that one finds every seven or eight miles; and I dare say
the country would be dreary in the dry season or in dull grey weather.
But as we saw it, the wealth of sunlight, the blue of the sky above, the
boundless stretches of verdure beneath, made the drive a dream of
delight. When the sun sank the constellations came out in this pure, dry
African air with a brilliance unknown to Europe; and we tired our eyes
in gazing on the Centaur and the Argo and those two Magellanic clouds by
which one finds the position of the southern pole. Soon after dark we
came to the top of the last high hill, and saw what seemed an abyss
opening beneath. The descent was steep, but a beaten track led down it,
reputed the most dangerous piece of road in the Free State; and the
driver regaled us with narratives of the accidents that had taken place
on the frequent occasions when the coach had been upset, adding,
however, that nobody ever had been or would be killed while he held the
reins. He proved as good as his word, and brought us safely to Ladybrand
at 9 P.M., after more than twelve hours of a drive so fatiguing that
only the marvellously bracing air enabled us to feel none the worse for

Ladybrand is a pretty little hamlet lying at the foot of the great
flat-topped hill, called the Plaat Berg, which the perilous road
crosses, and looking out from groves of Australian gum-trees, across
fertile corn-fields and meadows, to the Caledon River and the ranges of
Basutoland. A ride of eight miles brings one to the ferry (which in the
dry season becomes a shallow ford) across this stream, and on the
farther shore one is again under the British flag at Maseru, the
residence of the Imperial Commissioner who supervises the administration
of the country, under the direction of the High Commissioner for South
Africa. Here are some sixty Europeans--officials, police, and
store-keepers--and more than two thousand natives. Neither here nor
anywhere else in Basutoland is there an inn; those few persons who visit
the country find quarters in the stores which several whites have been
permitted to establish, unless they have, as we had, the good fortune to
be the guests of the Commissioner.

Basutoland is the Switzerland of South Africa and, very appropriately,
is the part of South Africa where the old inhabitants, defended by their
hills, have retained the largest measure of freedom. Although most of it
is covered with lofty mountains, it has, like Switzerland, one
comparatively level and fertile tract--that which lies along the left
bank of the Caledon River. Morija, the oldest French mission station,
lies in a pretty hollow between five and six thousand feet above the
sea,--nearly all Basutoland is above 5000 feet,--some sixteen miles
south-east from Maseru. Groves of trees and luxuriant gardens give
softness and verdure to the landscape, and among them the mission houses
and schools, and printing-house whence Basuto books are issued, lie
scattered about, up and down the slopes of the hill. Though there are
plenty of streams in Basutoland, there is hardly any swampy ground, and
consequently little or no fever, so the missionaries invalided from the
Zambesi frequently come here to recruit. The station of Morija has been
for many years past directed by French-Swiss pastors, but the schools
have been under the charge of Scottish Presbyterian clergymen, of course
in the service of the Paris Society, and they gave us a hearty welcome.
They have large and flourishing schools, from which a considerable
number of young Kafirs go out every year among their countrymen and
become an effective civilizing influence. There is among the Bantu
tribes so little religion, in the European sense of the word, that the
natives seem never to have felt the impulse to persecute, and hardly
ever to obstruct the preaching of Christianity. When opposition comes,
it comes from the witch-doctor or medicine-man, who feels his craft in
danger, seldom from the chief. Here most of the leading men have been
and still are on good terms with the missionaries. The Paramount Chief
of the whole country lives three miles from Morija, at Matsieng, where
he has established, as the wont of the Kafirs is, a new kraal on the top
of a breezy hill, forsaking the residence of his father in the valley
beneath. Here we visited him.

Lerothodi, the Paramount Chief, is the son of Letsie and grandson of
Moshesh, and now ranks with Khama as the most important native potentate
south of the Zambesi. He is a strong, thickset man, who looks about
fifty years of age, and is not wanting either in intelligence or in
firmness. He was dressed in a grey shooting-coat and trousers of grey
cloth, with a neat new black, low-crowned hat, and received the Deputy
Acting Commissioner and ourselves in a stone house which he has recently
built as a sort of council-chamber and reception-room for white
visitors. Hard by, another house, also of stone, was being erected to
lodge such visitors, and over its doorway a native sculptor had carved
the figure of a crocodile, the totem of the Basutos. When a chief sits
to administer justice among the tribesmen, as he does on most mornings,
he always sits in the open air, a little way from his sleeping-huts. We
found a crowd of natives gathered at the levee, whom Lerothodi quitted
to lead us into the reception-room. He was accompanied by six or seven
magnates and counsellors,--one of the most trusted counsellors (a
Christian) was not a person of rank, but owed his influence to his
character and talents,--and among these one spoke English and
interpreted to us the compliments which Lerothodi delivered, together
with his assurances of friendship and respect for the Protecting Power,
while we responded with phrases of similar friendliness. The
counsellors, listening with profound and impressive gravity, echoed the
sentences of the chief with a chorus of "ehs," a sound which it is hard
to reproduce by letters, for it is a long, slow, deep expiration of the
breath in a sort of singing tune. The Kafirs constantly use it to
express assent and appreciation, and manage to throw a great deal of
apparent feeling into it. Presently some of them spoke, one in pretty
good English, dilating on the wish of the Basuto[67] tribe to be guided
in the path of prosperity by the British Government. Then Lerothodi led
us out and showed us, with some pride, the new guest-house he was
building, and the huts inhabited by his wives, all scrupulously neat.
Each hut stands in an enclosure surrounded by a tall fence of reeds, and
the floors of red clay were perfectly hard, smooth, and spotlessly
clean. The news of the reception accorded shortly before (in London) to
Khama had kindled in him a desire to visit England, but his hints thrown
out to that effect were met by the Commissioner's remark that Khama's
total abstinence and general hostility to the use of intoxicants had
been a main cause for the welcome given him, and that if other chiefs
desired like treatment in England they had better emulate Khama. This
shot went home.

From the chief's kraal we had a delightful ride of some twenty miles to
a spot near the foot of the high mountains, where we camped for the
night. The track leads along the base of the Maluti range, sometimes
over a rolling table-land, sometimes over hills and down through
valleys, all either cultivated or covered with fresh close grass. The
Malutis consist of beds of sandstone and shale, overlaid by an outflow
of igneous rock from two to five thousand feet thick. They rise very
steeply, sometimes breaking into long lines of dark brown precipice, and
the crest seldom sinks lower than 7000 feet. Behind them to the
south-east are the waterfalls, one of which, 630 feet high, is described
as the grandest cascade in Africa south of the Zambesi. It was only two
days' journey away, but unfortunately we had not time to visit it.

The country we were traversing beneath the mountains was full of beauty,
so graceful were the slopes and rolls of the hills, so bright the green
of the pastures; while the sky, this being the rainy season, had a soft
tone like that of England, and was flecked with white clouds sailing
across the blue. It was also a prosperous-looking country, for the rich
soil supported many villages, and many natives, men as well as women,
were to be seen at work in the fields as we rode by. Except where
streams have cut deeply into the soft earth, one gets about easily on
horseback, for there are no woods save a little scrub clinging to the
sides of the steeper glens. We were told that the goats eat off the
young trees, and that the natives have used the older ones for fuel. In
the afternoon we passed St. Michael's, the seat of a flourishing Roman
Catholic mission, and took our way up the steep and stony track of a
kloof (ravine) which led to a plateau some 6000 feet or more above
sea-level. The soil of this plateau is a deep red loam, formed by the
decomposition of the trap rock, and is of exceptional fertility, like
the decomposed traps of Oregon and the Deccan. Here we pitched our tent,
and found our liberal supply of blankets none too liberal, for the air
was keen, and the difference between day and night temperature is great
in these latitudes. Next morning, starting soon after dawn, we rode
across the deep-cut beds of streams and over breezy pastures for some
six or seven miles, to the base of the main Maluti range, and after a
second breakfast prepared for the ascent of the great summit, which we
had been admiring for two days as it towered over the long line of peaks
or peered alone from the mists which often enveloped the rest of the
range. It is called Machacha, and is a conspicuous object from Ladybrand
and the Free State uplands nearly as far as Thaba 'Ntshu. Our route lay
up a grassy hollow so steep that we had thought our friend, the
Commissioner, must be jesting when he pointed up it and told us that was
the way we had to ride. For a pedestrian it was a piece of hand and foot
climbing, and seemed quite impracticable for horses. But up the horses
went. They are a wonderful breed, these little Basuto nags. This region
is the part of South Africa where the horse seems most thoroughly at
home and happy, and is almost the only part where the natives breed and
ride him. Sixty years ago there was not a horse in the country--the
animal, it need hardly be said, is not a native of South Africa. But in
1852, the Basutos had plenty of ponies, and used them in the short
campaign of that year with extraordinary effect. They are small, seldom
exceeding twelve hands in height, a little larger than the ponies of
Iceland, very hardy, and wonderfully clever on hills, able not only to
mount a slope whose angle is 30° to 35°, but to keep their footing when
ridden horizontally along it. A rider new to the country finds it hard
not to slip off over the tail when the animal is ascending, or over the
head when he is descending.

The hollow brought us to a col fully 7500 feet above the sea, from which
we descended some way into a valley behind, and then rode for three or
four miles along the steep sides, gradually mounting, and having below
us on the right a deep glen, covered everywhere with rich grass, and
from the depths of which the murmur of a rushing stream, a sound rare in
South Africa, rose up softly through the still, clear air. At length we
reached the mountain crest, followed it for a space, and then, to avoid
the crags along the crest, guided our horses across the extremely steep
declivities by which it sinks to the east, till we came to a pass
between precipices, with a sharp rock towering up in the middle of the
pass and a glen falling abruptly to the west. Beyond this point--8500
feet or so above sea-level--the slopes were too steep even for the
Basuto horses, and we therefore left them in charge of one of our Kafir
attendants. A more rich and varied alpine flora than that which clothed
the pastures all round I have seldom seen. The flowers had those
brilliant hues that belong to the plants of our high European mountains,
and they grew in marvellous profusion. They were mostly of the same
genera as one finds in the Alps or the Pyrenees, but all or nearly all
of different species; and among those I found several, particularly two
beautiful _Gerania_, which the authorities at Kew have since told me are
new to science. It was interesting to come here upon two kinds of
heath--the first we had seen since quitting the Cape peninsula, for,
rich as that peninsula is in heaths, there are very few to be found in
other parts of South Africa, and those only, I think, upon high

After a short rest we started for the final climb, first up a steep
acclivity, covered with low shrubs and stones, and then across a wide
hollow, where several springs of deliciously cold water break out. Less
than an hour's easy work brought us to the highest point of a ridge
which fell northward in a precipice, and our Kafirs declared that this
was the summit of Machacha. But right in front of us, not half a mile
away, on the other side of a deep semi-circular gulf,--what is called in
Scotland a _corrie_,--a huge black cliff reared its head 400 feet above
us, and above everything else in sight. This was evidently the true top
and must be ascended. The Kafirs, perhaps thinking they had done enough
for one day, protested that it was inaccessible. "Nonsense," we
answered; "that is where we are going;" and when we started off at full
speed they followed. Keeping along the crest for about half a mile to
the eastward--it is an arëte which breaks down to the corrie in
tremendous precipices, but slopes more gently to the south--we came to
the base of the black cliff, and presently discovered a way by which,
climbing hither and thither through the crags, we reached the summit,
and saw an immense landscape unroll itself before us. It was one of
those views which have the charm, so often absent from mountain
panoramas, of combining a wide stretch of plain in one direction with a
tossing sea of mountain-peaks in another. To the north-east and east and
south-east, one saw nothing but mountains, some of them, especially in
the far north-east, toward Natal, apparently as lofty as that on which
we stood, and many of them built on bold and noble lines. To the
south-east, where are the great waterfalls which are one of the glories
of Basutoland, the general height was less, but a few peaks seemed to
reach 10,000 feet. At our feet, to the west and south-west, lay the
smiling corn-fields and pastures we had traversed the day before, and
beyond them the rich and populous valley of the Caledon River, and
beyond it, again, the rolling uplands of the Orange Free State, with the
peak of Thaba 'Ntshu just visible, and still farther a blue ridge, faint
in the extreme distance, that seemed to lie on the other side of
Bloemfontein, nearly one hundred miles away. The sky was bright above
us, but thunderstorms hung over the plains of the Free State behind
Ladybrand, and now and then one caught a forked tongue of light flashing
from among them. It was a magnificent landscape, whose bareness--for
there is scarcely a tree upon these slopes--was more than compensated by
the brilliance of the light and the clearness of the air, which made the
contrast between the sunlit valley of the Caledon and the solemn shadows
under the thunder-clouds more striking, and the tone of the distant
ranges more deep and rich in colour, than in any similar prospect one
could recall from the mountain watch-towers of Europe. Nor was the
element of historical interest wanting. Fifteen miles away, but seeming
to lie almost at our feet, was the flat-topped hill of Thaba Bosiyo, the
oft-besieged stronghold of Moshesh, and beyond it the broad table-land
of Berea, where the Basutos fought, and almost overcame, the forces of
Sir George Cathcart in that war of 1852 which was so fateful both to
Basutoland and to the Free State.

Less than a mile from the peak on which we sat, we could descry, in the
precipice which surrounds the great corrie, the black mouth of a cave.
It was the den of the cannibal chief Machacha, whose name has clung to
the mountain, and who established himself there seventy years ago, when
the ravages of Tshaka, the Zulu king, had driven the Kafir tribes of
Natal to seek safety in flight, and reduced some among them, for want of
other food, to take to human flesh. Before that time this mountain-land
had been inhabited only by wandering Bushmen, who have left marks of
their presence in pictures on the rocks. Here and there among the crags
jabbering baboons darted about, and great hawks sailed in circles above
us. Otherwise we had seen no living wild creature since we left the
pastures of the valley.

The summit of Machacha is composed of a dark igneous rock, apparently a
sort of amygdaloidal trap, with white and greenish calcareous crystals
scattered through it. The height is given on the maps as 11,000 feet;
but so far as one could judge by frequent observations from below and by
calculations made during the ascent, I should think it not more than
10,500. It seems to be the culminating point of the Maluti range, but
may be exceeded in height by Mont aux Sources, eighty miles off to the
north-east, where Basutoland touches Natal on the one side and the Free
State on the other.

Descending by a somewhat more direct route, which we struck out for
ourselves, we rejoined our horses at the pass where we had left them
three hours before, and from there plunged down the kloof, or ravine,
between the precipices which led to the foot of the mountain. It was
here too steep to ride; indeed, it was about as steep a slope as one can
descend on foot with comfort, the angle being in some places fully 40° A
grand piece of scenery, for the dark rock walls rose menacing on either
hand; and also a beautiful one, for the flowers, especially two
brilliant shrubby geraniums, were profuse and gorgeous in hue. At the
bottom, after a very rough scramble, we mounted our horses, and hastened
along to escape the thunderstorm which was now nearly upon us, and which
presently drove us for shelter into a native hut, where a Basuto woman,
with her infant hanging in a cloth on her back, was grinding corn
between two stones. She went on with her work, and presently addressed
my wife, asking (as was explained to us) for a piece of soap wherewith
to smear her face, presumably as a more fragrant substitute for the clay
or ochre with which the Basuto ladies cover their bodies. The hut was
clean and sweet, and, indeed, all through Basutoland we were struck by
the neat finish of the dwellings and of the reed fences which inclosed
them. When the storm had passed away over the mountains, "growling and
muttering into other lands," and the vast horizon was again flooded with
evening sunshine, we rode swiftly away, first over the rolling plateau
we had traversed in the forenoon, then turning to the north along the
top of the sandstone cliffs that inclose the valley of the Kaloe River,
where Bushman pictures adorn the caves. At last as night fell, we
dropped into the valley of the Kaloe itself, and so slowly through the
darkness, for the horses were tired, and the track (which crosses the
river four times) was rough and stony, came at last to the mission
station of Thaba Bosiyo. Here we were welcomed by the Swiss pastor in
charge of the mission, Mr. E. Jacottet, whose collection of Basuto and
Barotse popular tales have made him well known to the students of
folk-lore. No man knows the Basutos better than he and his colleague,
Mr. Dyke of Morija; and what they told us was of the highest interest.
Next day was Sunday, and gave us the opportunity of seeing a large
congregation of Basuto converts and of hearing their singing, the
excellence of which reminded us of the singing of negro congregations in
the Southern States of America. We had also two interesting visits. One
was from an elderly Basuto magnate of the neighbourhood, who was
extremely anxious to know if Queen Victoria really existed, or was a
mere figment of the British Government. He had met many white men, he
told us, but none of them had ever set eyes on the Queen, and he could
not imagine how it was possible that a great chieftainess should not be
seen by her people. We satisfied his curiosity by giving full details of
the times, places, and manner in which the British sovereign receives
her subjects, and he went away, declaring himself convinced and more
loyal than ever. The second visitor was a lady who had come to attend
church. She is the senior wife of a chief named Thekho, a son of
Moshesh. She impressed us as a person of great force of character and
great conversational gifts, was dressed in a fashionable hat and an
enormous black velvet mantle, and plied us with numerous questions
regarding the Queen, her family, and her government. She lives on the
hill among her dependents, exerts great influence, and has done good
service in resisting the reactionary tendencies of her brother-in-law
Masupha, a dogged and turbulent old pagan.

The mission station lies at the foot of the hill of Thaba Bosiyo, in a
singular region where crags of white or grey sandstone, detached from
the main mass of the tabular hills, stand up in solitary shafts and
pinnacles, and give a weird, uncanny look to the landscape. The soil is
fertile and well cultivated, but being alluvial, it is intersected in
all directions by the channels of streams, which have dug so deep into
it that much good land is every year lost by the mischief the streams
work when in flood. The sides of these channels are usually vertical,
and often eight, ten, or even twelve feet high, so that they offer a
serious obstacle to travellers either by waggon or on horseback. The
hill itself is so peculiar in structure, and has played such a part in
history, as to deserve some words of description. It is nearly two miles
long and less than a mile across, elliptical in form, rising about five
hundred feet above its base, and breaking down on every side in a line
of cliffs, which, on the north-west and north side (toward the mission
station), are from twenty to forty feet high. On the other side, which I
could not so carefully examine, they are apparently higher. These cliffs
are so continuous all round as to leave--so one is told--only three
spots in the circumference where they can be climbed; and although I
noticed one or two other places where a nimble cragsman might make his
way up, it is at those three points only that an attack by a number of
men could possibly be made. The easiest point is where a dyke of igneous
rock, thirty feet wide, strikes up the face of the hill from the
north-north-west, cutting through the sandstone precipice. The
decomposition of this dyke has opened a practicable path, from fifteen
to twenty-five feet in width, to the top. The top is a large grassy
flat, with springs of water and plenty of good pasture.

It was this natural fortress that the Basuto chief Mosheshwe, or, as he
is usually called, Moshesh, chose for his dwelling and the stronghold of
his tribe, in A.D. 1824. The conquests of the ferocious Tshaka had
driven thousands of Kafirs from their homes in Natal and on both sides
of the Vaal River. Clans had been scattered, and the old dynasties
rooted out or bereft of their influence and power. In the midst of this
confusion, a young man, the younger son of a chief of no high lineage,
and belonging to a small tribe, gathered around him a number of minor
clans and fugitives from various quarters, and by his policy--astute,
firm and tenacious--built them up into what soon became a powerful
nation. Moving hither and hither along the foot of the great Maluti
range, his skilful eye fixed on Thaba Bosiyo as a place fit to be the
headquarters of the nation. There was good land all round, the
approaches could be easily watched, and the hill itself, made almost
impregnable by nature, supplied pasture for the cattle as well as
perennial water. By tactfully conciliating the formidable tribes and
boldly raiding the weaker ones, Moshesh rapidly acquired wealth (that is
to say, cattle), strength and reputation, so that in 1836, when the
emigrant Boers moved up into what is now the Free State, he was already
the second power north of the mountains, inferior only to the terrible
Mosilikatze. The latter on one occasion (in 1831) had sent a strong
force of Matabili against him. Moshesh retired into his hill, which he
defended by rolling down stones on the assailants; and when the invaders
were presently obliged to retreat for want of food, he sent supplies to
them on their way back, declaring his desire to be at peace with all
men. The Matabili never attacked him again. In 1833 he intimated to the
missionaries of the Paris Evangelical Society his willingness to receive
them, planted them at Morija, and gave them afterwards their present
station at the foot of Thaba Bosiyo, his own village being, of course,
on the top. Their counsels were of infinite value to him in the
troublous times that followed, and he repaid them by constant protection
and encouragement. But though he listened, like so many Kafir chiefs, to
sermons, enjoyed the society of his French friends, and was himself fond
of quoting Scripture, he never became a Christian and was even thought
to have, like Solomon, fallen in his old age somewhat more under heathen
influences. Many were the wars he had to sustain with the native tribes
who lived round him, as well as with the white settlers in the Orange
River territory to the north, and many the escapes from danger which his
crafty and versatile policy secured. Two of these wars deserve special
mention, for both are connected with the place I am describing. In
December, 1852, Sir George Cathcart, then Governor of Cape Colony,
crossed the Caledon River a little above Maseru and led a force of two
thousand British infantry and five hundred cavalry, besides artillery,
against the Basutos. One of the three divisions in which the army moved
was led into an ambush, severely handled by the nimble Basuto horsemen,
and obliged to retreat. The division which Sir George himself led found
itself confronted, when it reached the foot of Thaba Bosiyo, by a body
of Basutos so numerous and active that it had great difficulty in
holding its ground, and might have been destroyed but for the timely
arrival of the third division just before sunset. The British general
intrenched himself for the night in a strong position; and next morning,
realizing at length the difficulties of his enterprise, set out to
retire to the Caledon River. Before he reached it, however, a message
from Moshesh overtook him. That wary chief, who knew the real strength
of the British better than did his people, had been driven into the war
by their over-confidence and their reluctance to pay the cattle fine
which the Governor had demanded. Now that there was a chance of getting
out of it he resolved to seize that chance, and after a consultation
with one of the French missionaries, begged Sir George Cathcart for
peace, acknowledging himself to be the weaker party, and declaring that
he would do his best to keep his tribesmen in order. The Governor, glad
to be thus relieved of what might have proved a long and troublesome
war, accepted these overtures. The British army was marched back to Cape
Colony, and Moshesh thereafter enjoyed the fame of being the only native
potentate who had come out of a struggle with Great Britain virtually if
not formally the victor.

But a still severer ordeal was in store for the virgin fortress and its
lord. After much indecisive strife, the whites and the Basutos were, in
1865, again engaged in a serious war. The people of what had then become
(see Chapter XI) the Orange Free State had found the Basutos troublesome
neighbours, and a dispute had arisen regarding the frontier line. The
Free State militia, well practised in native warfare, invaded
Basutoland, reduced many of the native strongholds and besieged Thaba
Bosiyo. A storming party advanced to carry the hill by assault, mounting
the steep open acclivity to the passage which is opened (as already
mentioned) by the greenstone dyke as it cuts its way through the line of
sandstone cliff. They had driven the Basutos before them, and had
reached a point where the path leads up a narrow cleft formed by the
decomposition of the dyke, between walls of rock some twenty feet high.
Thirty yards more would have brought them to the open top of the hill,
and Moshesh would have been at their mercy. But at this moment a bullet
from one of the few muskets which the defenders possessed, fired by a
good marksman from the rock above the cleft, pierced Wepener, the leader
of the assailants. The storming party halted, hesitated, fell back to
the bottom of the hill, and the place was once more saved. Not long
after, Moshesh, finding himself likely to be overmastered, besought the
Imperial Government, which had always regarded him with favour since the
conclusion of Sir George Cathcart's war, to receive him and his people
"and let them live under the large folds of the flag of England." The
High Commissioner intervened, declaring the Basutos to be thenceforward
British subjects, and in 1869 a peace was concluded with the Free State,
by which the latter obtained a fertile strip of territory along the
north-west branch of the Caledon which had previously been held by
Moshesh, while the Basutos came (in 1871) under the administrative
control of Cape Colony. Moshesh died soon afterwards, full of years and
honour, and leaving a name which has become famous in South Africa. He
was one of the remarkable instances, like Toussaint l'Ouverture and the
Hawaiian king Kamehameha the First, of a man, sprung from a savage race,
who effected great things by a display of wholly exceptional gifts. His
sayings have become proverbs in native mouths. One of them is worth
noting, as a piece of grim humour, a quality rare among the Kafirs. Some
of his chief men had been urging him, after he had become powerful, to
take vengeance upon certain cannibals who were believed to have killed
and eaten his grandparents. Moshesh replied: "I must consider well
before I disturb the sepulchres of my ancestors."

Basutoland remained quiet till 1879, when the Cape Government, urged, it
would appear, by the restless spirit of Sir Bartle Frere (then
Governor), conceived the unhappy project of disarming the Basutos. It
was no doubt a pity that so many of them possessed firearms; but it
would have been better to let them keep their weapons than to provoke a
war; and the Cape Prime Minister, who met the nation in its great
popular assembly, the Pitso, had ample notice through the speeches
delivered there by important chiefs of the resistance with which any
attempt to enforce disarmament would be met. However, rash counsels
prevailed. The attempt was made in 1880; war followed, and the Basutos
gave the colonial troops so much trouble that in 1883 the Colony
proposed to abandon the territory altogether. Ultimately, in 1884, the
Imperial Government took it over, and has ever since administered it by
a Resident Commissioner.

The Basuto nation, which had been brought very low at the time when
Moshesh threw himself upon the British Government for protection, has
latterly grown rapidly, and now numbers over 220,000 souls. This
increase is partly due to an influx of Kafirs from other tribes, each
chief encouraging the influx, since the new retainers, who surround him,
increase his importance. But it has now reached a point when it ought to
be stopped, because all the agricultural land is taken up for tillage,
and the pastures begin scarcely to suffice for the cattle. The area is
10,263 square miles, about two-thirds that of Switzerland, but by far
the larger part of it is wild mountain. No Europeans are allowed to hold
land, and a licence is needed even for the keeping of a store. Neither
are any mines worked. European prospectors are not permitted to come in
and search for minerals, for the policy of the authorities has been to
keep the country for the natives; and nothing alarms the chiefs so much
as the occasional appearance of these speculative gentry, who, if
allowed a foothold, would soon dispossess them. Thus it remains doubtful
whether either gold or silver or diamonds exist in "payable

The natives, however, go in large numbers--in 1895-6 as many as 28,000
went out--to work in the mines at Kimberley and on the Witwatersrand,
and they bring back savings, which have done much to increase the
prosperity of the tribe. At present they seem fairly contented and
peaceable. The land belongs to the nation, and all may freely turn their
cattle on the untilled parts. Fields, however, are allotted to each
householder by the chief, to be tilled, and the tenant, protected by
public opinion, retains them so long as he tills them. He cannot sell
them, but they will pass to his children. Ordinary administration, which
consists mainly in the allotment and management of land, is left to the
chief; as also ordinary jurisdiction, both civil and criminal. The
present tendency is for the disposing power of the chief over the land
to increase; and it is possible that British law may ultimately turn
him, as it turned the head of an Irish sept, into an owner. The chief
holds his court at his kraal, in the open air, settles disputes and
awards punishments. There are several British magistrates to deal with
grave offences, and a force of 220 native police, under British
officers. Lerothodi, as the successor of Moshesh, is Paramount Chief of
the nation; and all the greater chieftainships under him are held by his
uncles and cousins,--sons and grandsons of the founder of the
dynasty,--while there are also a few chiefs of the second rank belonging
to other families. Some of the uncles, especially Masupha, who lives at
the foot of Thaba Bosiyo, and is an obstinately conservative heathen,
give trouble both to Lerothodi and to the British Commissioner, their
quarrels turning mainly on questions of land and frontier. But on the
whole, things go on as well as can be expected in such a world as the
present: disturbances tend to diminish; and the horses or cattle that
are occasionally stolen from the Free State farmers are always recovered
for their owners, unless they have been got away out of Basutoland into
the colonial territories to the south and west. As far back as 1855,
Moshesh forbade the "smelling out" of witches, and now the British
authorities have suppressed the more noxious or offensive kinds of
ceremonies practised by the Kafirs. Otherwise they interfere as little
as may be with native ways, trusting to time, peace, and the
missionaries to secure the gradual civilization of the people. Once a
year the Commissioner meets the whole people, in their national assembly
called the Pitso,--the name is derived from their verb "to call" (cf.
[Greek: ekklêsia])--which in several points recalls the _agora_, or
assembly of freemen described in the Homeric poems. The Paramount Chief
presides, and debate is mainly conducted by the chiefs; but all freemen,
gentle and simple, have a right to speak in it. There is no voting, only
a declaration, by shouts, of the general feeling. Though the head of the
nation has been usually the person who convokes it, a magnate lower in
rank might always, like Achilles in the Iliad, have it summoned when a
fitting occasion arose. And it was generally preceded by a consultation
among the leading men, though I could not discover that there was any
regular council of chiefs.[68] In all these points the resemblance to
the primary assemblies of the early peoples of Europe is close enough to
add another to the arguments, already strong, which discredit the theory
that there is any such thing as an "Aryan type" of institutions, and
which suggest the view that in studying the polities of primitive
nations we must not take affinities of language as the basis of a

To-day the Pitso has lost much of its old importance, and tends to
become a formal meeting, in which the British Commissioner causes new
regulations to be read aloud, inviting discussion on points which any
one present may desire to raise, and addresses the people, awarding
praise or blame, and adding such exhortations as he thinks seasonable.
The missionaries (like the Bishops in a Witenagemot) and the chief
British officials are usually present. In perusing the shorthand report
of the great Pitso held in 1879, at which the question of disarmament
was brought forward by the Cape Prime Minister, I was struck by the
freedom and intelligence with which the speakers delivered their views.
One observed: "This is our parliament, though it is a very disorderly
parliament, because we are all mixed up, young and old; and we cannot
accept any measure without discussion." Another commented severely upon
an unhappy phrase that had been used at Cape Town by a member of the
Cape Government: "Mr. U. said the Basutos were the natural enemies of
the white man, because we were black. Is that language which should be
used by a high officer of the Government? Let sentiments like these pass
away--we are being educated to believe that all people are equal, and
feel that sentiments like these are utterly wrong." A third claimed that
the people must keep their guns, because "at our circumcision we were
given a shield and an assagai, and told never to part with them; and
that if ever we came back from an expedition and our shield and assagai
were not found before our house, we should die the death." And a fourth,
wishing to excuse any vehement expression he might use, observed: "We
have a proverb which says that a man who makes a mistake in a public
assembly cannot be killed." In this proverb there is the germ of the
English "privilege of Parliament." It is easy to gather from the whole
proceedings of these Pitsos how much more popular government has been
among the Basutos than it was among the Zulus or Matabili. Tshaka or Lo
Bengula would in a moment have had the neck twisted of any one who
ventured to differ publicly from his opinion. In this respect the
Basutos resemble their kinsfolk the Bamangwato, among whom Khama rules
as a chief amenable to public opinion, which, in that instance, is
unfortunately far behind the enlightened purposes of the sovereign.

Nowhere has the gospel made such progress among the Kafirs as in
Basutoland. The missionaries,--French, Protestant, Roman Catholic, and
English Episcopalian,--working not only independently but on very
different lines, have brought nearly fifty thousand natives under
Christian influences, as members or adherents. Not all of these are
baptised converts--the Franco-Swiss missionaries, by whom far the
largest part of the work has been done, tell me that baptisms do not
increase fast; and they are wise in not measuring the worth of their
work by the number of baptisms. Education is spreading. At the last
public examinations at the Cape, the French Protestant missionaries sent
up twenty Basuto boys, of whom ten passed in honours, and ten in high
classes, the standard being the same for whites and blacks. There are
now one hundred and fifty schools in the country, all but two of which
are conducted by the missionaries.

Strange waves of sentiment pass over the people, at one time carrying
them back to paganism, at another inclining them to Christianity--the
first sign of the latter tendency being discernible in an increase of
attendance at the mission schools. The women are more backward than the
men, because they have been kept in subjection, and their intelligence
has remained only half developed. But their condition is improving; men
now work with them in the fields, and they demand clothes instead of so
much oil, wherewith to smear their bodies. As education becomes more
diffused, old heathen customs lose their hold, and will probably in
thirty years have disappeared. The belief in ghosts and magic is, of
course, still strong. On the top of Thaba Bosiyo we were shown the
graves of Moshesh and several of his brothers and sons, marked by rude
stones, with the name of each chief on his stone. But we were told that
in reality the bodies of Moshesh and of several of the others are not
here at all, having been dug up and reinterred more than a mile away
near the foot of the hill. Were the body under the stone, the ghost,
which usually dwells near the body, would be liable to be called up by
necromancers, and might be compelled to work mischief to the
tribe--mischief which would be serious in proportion to the power the
spirit possessed during life. Considering, however, that nearly all the
ancient world held similar beliefs, and that a large part of the modern
world, even in Europe, still clings to them, the persistence of these
interesting superstitions need excite no surprise, nor are they
productive of much practical ill, now that the witch-doctor is no longer
permitted to denounce men to death.

The material progress of the people has been aided by the enactment of
stringent laws against the sale of white men's intoxicating liquors,
though some of the chiefs show but a poor example of obedience to these
laws, the enforcement of which is rendered difficult by the illicit sale
which goes on along the frontiers where Basutoland touches the Free
State and the eastern part of Cape Colony. The old native arts and
industries decline as European goods become cheaper, and industrial
training has now become one of the needs of the people. It is an
encouraging sign that, under the auspices of Lerothodi, a sum of £3,184
sterling was collected from the tribe in 1895-6, for the foundation of
an institution to give such training. The receipts from import duties
have so much increased that the contribution of £18,000 paid by Cape
Colony is now annually reduced by nearly £12,000, and the hut tax, of
ten shillings per hut, now easily and promptly collected, amounts to
£23,000 a year, leaving a surplus, out of which £1,300 is paid to the
Cape. Basutoland is within the South African Customs Union.

These facts are encouraging. They show that, so far, the experiment of
leaving a native race to advance in their own way, under their own
chiefs, but carefully supervised by imperial officers, has proved
successful. A warlike, unstable, and turbulent, although intelligent
people, while increasing fast in wealth and material comfort, has also
become more peaceful and orderly, and by the abandonment of its more
repulsive customs is passing from savagery to a state of
semi-civilization. Still the situation has its anxieties. The very
prosperity of the country has drawn into it a larger population than the
arable and pastoral land may prove able to support. The Free State
people are not friendly to it, and many politicians in Cape Colony would
like to recover it for the Colony, while many white adventurers would
like to prospect for mines, or to oust the natives from the best lands.
The natives themselves are armed, and being liable, like all natives, to
sudden fits of unreason, may conceivably be led into disorders which
would involve a war and the regular conquest of the country. The
firmness as well as the conciliatory tactfulness which the first
Commissioner, Sir Marshal Clarke, and his successor, the present Acting
Commissioner, have shown, has hitherto averted these dangers, and has
inspired the people with a belief in the good will of the British
Government. If the progress of recent years can be maintained for thirty
years more, the risk of trouble will have almost disappeared, for by
that time a new generation, unused to war, will have grown up. Whoever
feels for the native and cares for his future must wish a fair chance
for the experiment that is now being tried in Basutoland, of letting him
develop in his own way, shielded from the rude pressure of the whites.

[Footnote 67: The word "Ba Sot'ho" is in strictness used for the people,
"Se Sot'ho" for the language, "Le Sot'ho" for the country: but in
English it is more convenient to apply "Basuto" to all three.]

[Footnote 68: Gungunhana however had a sort of council of chiefs and
confidential advisers which he called together at intervals, and which
bore some resemblance to the Homeric Boule and to the earliest form of
our own Curia Regis.]





Everywhere in South Africa, except in the Witwatersrand and Cape Town,
the black people greatly outnumber the whites. In the Orange Free State
they are nearly twice as numerous, in Cape Colony and the Transvaal more
than thrice as numerous, in Natal ten times as numerous, while in the
other territories, British, German, and Portuguese, the disproportion is
very much greater, possibly some four or five millions of natives
against nine or ten thousand Europeans. The total number of whites south
of the Zambesi hardly reaches 750,000, while that of the blacks is
roughly computed at from six to eight millions. At present, therefore,
so far as numbers go, the country is a black man's country.

It may be thought that this preponderance of the natives is only natural
in a region by far the larger part of which has been very recently
occupied by Europeans, and that in time immigration and the natural
growth of the white element will reduce the disproportion. This
explanation, however, does not meet the facts. The black race is at
present increasing at least as rapidly as the white. Unlike those true
aborigines of the country, the Hottentots and Bushmen, who withered up
and vanished away before the whites, the Kafirs, themselves apparently
intruders from the North, have held their ground, not only in the
wilder country where they have been unaffected by the European, but in
the regions where he has conquered and ruled over them. They are more
prolific than the whites, and their increase is not restrained by those
prudential checks which tell upon civilised man, because, wants being
few, subsistence in a warm climate with abundance of land is easy.
Formerly two powerful forces kept down population:--war, in which no
quarter was given and all the property of the vanquished was captured or
destroyed, and the murders that went on at the pleasure of the chief,
and usually through the agency of the witch-doctor. Now both these
forces have been removed by the action of European government, which has
stopped war and restrains the caprice of the chiefs. Relieved from these
checks, the Kafirs of the south coast and of Basutoland, the regions in
which observation has been easiest, are multiplying faster than the
whites, and there is no reason why the same thing should not happen in
other parts of the country. The number of the Fingoes, for instance
(though they are no doubt an exceptionally thrifty and thriving tribe),
is to-day ten times as great as it was fifty or sixty years ago. Here is
a fact of serious import for the future. Two races, far removed from one
another in civilization and mental condition, dwell side by side.
Neither race is likely to extrude or absorb the other. What then will be
their relations, and how will the difficulties be met to which their
juxtaposition must give rise?

The Colonies of Britain over the world fall into two groups: those which
have received the gift of self-government, and those which are governed
from home through executive officials placed over each of them. Those of
the latter class, called Crown Colonies, are all (with the insignificant
exceptions of the Falkland Islands and Malta) within the tropics, and
are all peopled chiefly by coloured races,--negroes, Indians, Malays,
Polynesians, or Chinese,--with a small minority of whites. The
self-governing Colonies, on the other hand, are all situated in the
temperate zone, and are all, with one exception, peopled chiefly by
Europeans. It is because they have a European population that they have
been deemed fit to govern themselves, just as it is because the tropical
Colonies have a predominantly coloured population that the supremacy of
the Colonial Office and its local representatives is acquiesced in as
fit and proper. Every one perceives that representative assemblies based
on a democratic franchise, which are capable of governing Canada or
Australia, would not succeed in the West Indies or Ceylon or Fiji.

The one exception to this broad division, the one case of self-governing
communities in which the majority of the inhabitants are not of European
stock, is to be found in South Africa. The general difficulty of
adjusting the relations of a higher and a lower race, serious under
every kind of government, here presents itself in the special form of
the construction of a political system which, while democratic as
regards one of the races, cannot safely be made democratic as regards
the other. This difficulty, though new in the British empire, is not new
in the Southern States of America, which have been struggling with it
for years; and it is instructive to compare the experience of South
Africa with that through which the Southern States have passed since the
War of Secession.

Throughout South Africa--and for this purpose no distinction need be
drawn between the two British Colonies and the two Boer Republics--the
people of colour may be divided into two classes: the wild or tribal
natives, who are, of course, by far the more numerous, and the tame or
domesticated natives, among whom one may include, though they are not
aborigines, but recent incomers, the East Indians of Natal and the
Transvaal, as well as the comparatively few Malays of the Cape.

It will be convenient to deal with the two classes separately, and to
begin with the semi-civilized or non-tribal natives, who have been for
the longest period under white influences, and whose present relations
with the whites indicate what the relations of the races are likely to
be, for some time to come, in all parts of the country.

The non-tribal people of colour live in the Cape Colony, except the
south-eastern parts (called Pondoland and Tembuland), in Natal, in the
Orange Free State, and in the southern parts of the Transvaal. They
consist of three stocks: (1) the so-called Cape boys, a mixed race
formed by the intermarriage of Hottentots and Malays with the negro
slaves brought in early days from the west coast, plus some small
infusion of Dutch blood; (2) the Kafirs no longer living in native
communities under their chiefs; and (3) the Indian immigrants who
(together with a few Chinese) have recently come into Natal and the
Transvaal, and number about 60,000, not counting in the indentured
coolies who are to be sent back to India. There are no data for
conjecturing the number of Cape boys and domesticated Kafirs, but it can
hardly exceed 400,000.

These coloured people form the substratum of society in all the four
States above mentioned. Some till the land for themselves, while others
act as herdsmen or labourers for white farmers, or work at trades for
white employers. They do the harder and rougher kinds of labour,
especially of outdoor labour. Let me remind the reader of what has been
incidentally observed before, and must now be insisted on as being the
capital feature of South African life--the fact that all unskilled work
is done by black people. In many parts of the country the climate is not
too hot for men belonging to the north European races to work in the
fields, for the sun's rays are generally tempered by a breeze, the
nights are cool, and the dry air is invigorating. Had South Africa,
like California or New South Wales, been colonized solely by white men,
it would probably, like those countries, have to-day a white labouring
population. But, unluckily, South Africa was colonized in the
seventeenth century, when the importation of negro slaves was deemed the
easiest means of securing cheap and abundant labour. From 1658 onward
till, in 1834, slavery was abolished by the British Parliament, it was
to slaves that the hardest and humblest kinds of work were allotted. The
white people lost the habit of performing manual toil, and acquired the
habit of despising it. No one would do for himself what he could get a
black man to do for him. New settlers from Europe fell into the ways of
the country, which suited their disinclination for physical exertion
under a sun hotter than their own. Thus, when at last slavery was
abolished, the custom of leaving menial or toilsome work to people of
colour continued as strong as ever. It is as strong as ever to-day. The
only considerable exception, that which was furnished by the German
colonists who were planted in the eastern province after the Crimean War
of 1854, has ceased to be an exception; for the children of those
colonists have now, for the most part, sold or leased their allotments
to Kafirs, who till the soil less efficiently than the sturdy old
Germans did. The artisans who to-day come from Europe adopt the habits
of the country in a few weeks or months. The English carpenter hires a
native "boy" to carry his bag of tools for him; the English bricklayer
has a native hodman to hand the bricks to him, which he proceeds to set;
the Cornish or Australian miner directs the excavation of the seam and
fixes the fuse which explodes the dynamite, but the work with the
pickaxe is done by the Kafir. The herdsmen who drive the cattle or tend
the sheep are Kafirs, acting under the orders of a white. Thus the
coloured man is indispensable to the white man, and is brought into
constant relations with him. He is deemed a necessary part of the
economic machinery of the country, whether for mining or for
manufacture, for tillage or for ranching.

But though the black people form the lowest stratum of society, they are
not all in a position of personal dependence. A good many Kafirs,
especially in the eastern province, own the small farms which they till,
and many others are tenants, rendering to their landlord, like the
métayers of France, a half of the produce by way of rent. Some few
natives, especially near Cape Town, are even rich, and among the Indians
of Natal a good many have thriven as shopkeepers. There is no reason to
think that their present exclusion from trades requiring skill will
continue. In 1894 there were Kafirs earning from five shillings to seven
shillings and sixpence a day as riveters on an iron bridge then in
course of construction. I was informed by a high railway official that
many of them were quite fit to be drivers or stokers of locomotives,
though white sentiment (which tolerates them as navvies or platelayers)
made it inexpedient to place them in such positions. Many work as
servants in stores, and are little more prone to petty thefts than are
Europeans. They have dropped their old usages and adopted European
habits, have substituted European clothes for the _kaross_ of the wild
or "red" Kafir, have lost their tribal attachments, usually speak Dutch,
or even perhaps English, and to a considerable extent, especially in the
western province and in the towns, have become Christians. The Indians
are, of course, Mohammedans or heathens, the Malays (of whom there are
only about 13,000), Mohammedans. The coloured people travel a good deal
by rail, and are, especially the Kafirs, eager for instruction, which is
provided for them only in the mission schools. Some will come from great
distances to get taught, and those who can write are very fond of
corresponding with one another. Taken as a whole, they are a quiet and
orderly people, not given to crimes of violence, and less given (so far
as I could gather) to pilfering than are the negroes of the Southern
States of America. The stealing of stock from farms has greatly
diminished. Assaults upon women, such as are frequent in those States,
and have recently caused a hideous epidemic of lynching, are extremely
rare; indeed, I heard of none, save one or two in Natal, where the
natives are comparatively wild and the whites scattered thinly among
them. So few Kafirs have yet received a good education, or tried to
enter occupations requiring superior intelligence, that it is hardly
possible to speak confidently of their capacity for the professions or
the higher kinds of commerce; but judicious observers think they will in
time show capacity, and tell you that their inferiority to white men
lies less in mere intellectual ability than in power of will and
steadiness of purpose. They are unstable, improvident, easily
discouraged, easily led astray. When the morality of their old life, in
which they were ruled by the will of their chief, the opinion of their
fellows, and the traditional customs of the tribe, has been withdrawn
from them, it may be long before any new set of principles can gain a
like hold upon them.

That there should be little community of ideas, and by consequence
little sympathy, between such a race and the whites is no more than any
one would expect who elsewhere in the world has studied the phenomena
which mark the contact of dissimilar peoples. But the traveller in South
Africa is astonished at the strong feeling of dislike and contempt--one
might almost say of hostility--which the bulk of the whites show to
their black neighbours. He asks what can be the cause of it. It is not
due, as in the Southern States of America, to political resentment, for
there has been no sudden gift to former slaves of power over former
masters. Neither is it sufficiently explained by the long conflicts with
the south-coast Kafirs; for the respect felt for their bravery has
tended to efface the recollection of their cruelties. Neither is it
caused (except as respects the petty Indian traders) by the dislike of
the poorer whites to the competition with them in industry of a class
living in a much ruder way and willing to accept much lower wages. It
seems to spring partly from the old feeling of contempt for the slaves,
a feeling which has descended to a generation that has never seen
slavery as an actual system; partly from physical aversion; partly from
an incompatibility of character and temper, which makes the faults of
the coloured man more offensive to the white than the (perhaps morally
as grave) faults of members of his own white stock. Even between
civilized peoples, such as Germans and Russians, or Spaniards and
Frenchmen, there is a disposition to be unduly annoyed by traits and
habits which are not so much culpable in themselves as distasteful to
men constructed on different lines. This sense of annoyance is naturally
more intense toward a race so widely removed from the modern European as
the Kafirs are. Whoever has travelled among people of a race greatly
weaker than his own must have sometimes been conscious of an impatience
or irritation which arises when the native either fails to understand or
neglects to obey the command given. The sense of his superior
intelligence and energy of will produces in the European a sort of
tyrannous spirit, which will not condescend to argue with the native,
but overbears him by sheer force, and is prone to resort to physical
coercion. Even just men, who have the deepest theoretical respect for
human rights, are apt to be carried away by the consciousness of
superior strength, and to become despotic, if not harsh. To escape this
fault, a man must be either a saint or a sluggard. And the tendency to
race enmity lies very deep in human nature. Perhaps it is a survival
from the times when each race could maintain itself only by slaughtering
its rivals.

The attitude of contempt I have mentioned may be noted in all classes,
though it is strongest in those rough and thoughtless whites who plume
themselves all the more upon their colour because they have little else
to plume themselves upon, while among the more refined it is restrained
by self-respect and by the sense that allowances must be made for a
backward race. It is stronger among the Dutch than among the English,
partly, perhaps, because the English wish to be unlike the Dutch in this
as in many other respects. Yet one often hears that the Dutch get on
better with their black servants than the English do, because they
understand native character better, and are more familiar in their
manners, the Englishman retaining his national stiffness. The laws of
the Boer Republics are far more harsh than those of the English
Colonies, and the Transvaal Boers have been always severe and cruel in
their dealings with the natives. But the English also have done so many
things to be deplored that it does not lie with them to cast stones at
the Boers, and the mildness of colonial law is largely due to the
influence of the home government, and to that recognition of the equal
civil rights of all subjects which has long pervaded the common law of
England. Only two sets of Europeans are free from reproach: the imperial
officials, who have almost always sought to protect the natives, and the
clergy, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, who have been the truest and
most constant friends of the Hottentot and the Kafir, sometimes even
carrying their zeal beyond what discretion could approve.

Deep and wide-spread as is the sentiment of aversion to the coloured
people which I am describing, it must not be supposed that the latter
are generally ill-treated. There is indeed a complete social separation.
Intermarriage, though permitted by law in the British Colonies, is
extremely rare, and illicit unions are uncommon. Sometimes the usual
relations of employer and employed are reversed, and a white man enters
the service of a prosperous Kafir. This makes no difference as respects
their social intercourse, and I remember to have heard of a case in
which the white workman stipulated that his employer should address him
as "boss." Black children are very seldom admitted to schools used by
white children; indeed, I doubt if the two colours are ever to be seen
on the same benches, except at Lovedale and in one or two of the mission
schools in Cape Town, to which, as charging very low fees, some of the
poorest whites send their children. I heard of a wealthy coloured man at
the Paarl, a Dutch town north of Cape Town, who complained that, though
he paid a considerable sum in taxes, he was not permitted to send his
daughter to any of the schools in the place. In the Protestant
Episcopal, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, and Methodist Churches, and
of course among the Roman Catholics, blacks are admitted along with
whites to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper; but this (so I was told)
is not the case in the Dutch Reformed Church. An eminent and thoughtful
ecclesiastic in Natal deplored to me the complete want of sympathy on
the part of the white congregations with the black ones worshipping near
them. It rarely, if ever, happens that a native, whatever his standing
among his own people,--for to the white there is practically no
difference between one black and another,--is received within a white
man's house on any social occasion; indeed, he would seldom be
permitted, save as a servant, to enter a private house, but would be
received on the _stoep_ (veranda). When Khama, the most important chief
now left south of the Zambesi, a Christian and a man of high personal
character, was in England in 1895, and was entertained at lunch by the
Duke of Westminster and other persons of social eminence, the news of
the reception given him excited annoyance and disgust among the whites
in South Africa. I was told that at a garden-party given a few years ago
by the wife of a white bishop, the appearance of a native clergyman
caused many of the white guests to withdraw in dudgeon. Once when
myself a guest at a mission station in Basutoland I was asked by my host
whether I had any objection to his inviting to the family meal a native
pastor who had been preaching to the native congregation. When I
expressed surprise at the question, my host explained that race feeling
was so strong among the colonists that it would be deemed improper, and
indeed insulting, to make a black man sit down at the same table with a
white guest, unless the express permission of the latter had been first
obtained. But apart from this social disparagement, the native does not
suffer much actual wrong. Now and then, on a remote farm, the employer
will chastise his servant with a harshness he would not venture to apply
to a white boy. A shocking case of the kind occurred a few years ago in
the eastern province. A white farmer--an Englishman, not a Boer--flogged
his Kafir servant so severely that the latter died; and when the culprit
was put on his trial, and acquitted by a white jury, his white
neighbours escorted him home with a band of music. More frequently,
unscrupulous employers, especially on the frontiers of civilization,
will try to defraud their native workmen, or will provoke them by
ill-usage to run away before the day of payment arrives. But there are
no lynchings, as in America, and the white judges and magistrates, if
not always the juries, administer the law with impartiality.

As regards the provisions of the law, one must distinguish between the
British Colonies and the Dutch Republics. In the former the ordinary
civil rights of whites and blacks are precisely the same, though there
exist certain police provisions which are applicable only to the latter.
Cape Colony has a so-called "curfew law," requiring natives who are out
of doors after dark to be provided with a pass--a law which is found
oppressive by the best class of natives, educated and respectable men,
though defended as necessary for public order, having regard to the
large black population of the lower class, and their propensity to
drink and petty offences. There are also certain "labour laws," applying
to natives only, and particularly to those on agricultural locations,
which are intended to check the disposition of Kafirs living on native
reserves to become idle or to take to vagrancy. Doubtless there is a
risk that people who have never acquired habits of steady industry--for
the tribal Kafir leaves to his wives the cultivation of his plot of
maize or sorghum--may relapse into a laziness hurtful to their own
progress, seeing that a few weeks' labour is sufficient to provide all
the food needed for a whole year. In the transition from one state of
society to another exceptional legislation is needed, and a _prima
facie_ case for the so-called "Glen Grey Act" and similar laws may,
therefore, be made out.

The friends of the natives whom I consulted on the subject, and one or
two of the most educated and representative Kafirs themselves, did not
seem to object to this Act in principle, though they criticized its
methods and many of its details. But as all such laws are prompted not
only by regard for the welfare of the Kafir, but also by the desire of
the white colonist to get plenty of labour and to get it cheap, they are
obviously open to abuse and require great care in their administration.
The whole subject of native labour and native land tenure is an
intricate and difficult one, which I have not space to discuss here,
though I obtained a good deal of information regarding it. It is also an
urgent one, for the population which occupies the native reserves is in
some districts growing so fast that the agricultural land will soon
cease to feed them, while the pasture is suffering from being
overstocked. Most of my informants agreed in thinking that the control
of the British magistrate over the management of lands in reservations
was better than that of the native headman, and ought to be extended,
and that the tenure of farms by individual natives outside the
reservations ought to be actively encouraged. They deemed this a step
forward in civilization; and they also held that it is necessary to
prevent native allotments, even when held by individuals, from being
sold to white men, conceiving that without such a prohibition the whites
will in course of time oust the natives from the ownership of all the
best land.

One law specially applicable to natives has been found most valuable in
Natal, as well as in the territories of the Chartered Company, and ought
to be enacted in Cape Colony also, viz., an absolute prohibition of the
sale to them of intoxicating spirits. The spirits made for their
consumption are rough and fiery, much more deleterious than European
whisky or brandy or hollands. Unfortunately, the interests of the
winegrowers and distillers in the Colony have hitherto proved strong
enough to defeat the bills introduced for this purpose by the friends of
the natives. Though some people maintain that the Dutch and anti-native
party resist this much-needed measure because they desire through strong
drink to weaken and keep down the natives, I do not believe in the
existence of any such diabolical motive. Commercial self-interest, or
rather a foolish and short-sighted view of self-interest,--for in the
long run the welfare of the natives is also the welfare of the
whites,--sufficiently accounts for their conduct; but it is a slur on
the generally judicious policy of the Colonial Legislature.

In the two Dutch Republics the English principle of equal civil rights
for white and black finds no place. One of the motives which induced the
Boers of 1836 to trek out of the Colony was their disgust at the
establishment of such equality by the British Government. The Grondwet
(fundamental law) of the Transvaal Republic declared, in 1858, and
declares to-day, that "the people will suffer no equality of whites and
blacks, either in state or in church."[69] Democratic Republics are not
necessarily respectful of what used to be called human rights, and
neither the "principles of 1789" nor those of the American Declaration
of Independence find recognition among the Boers. Both in the Transvaal
and in the Orange Free State a native is forbidden to hold land, and is
not permitted to travel anywhere without a pass, in default of which he
may be detained. (In the Free State, however, the sale of intoxicants to
him is forbidden, and a somewhat similar law, long demanded by the
mine-owners, has very recently been enacted in the Transvaal.) Nor can a
native serve on a jury, whereas in Cape Colony he is legally qualified,
and sometimes is empanelled. The whites may object to his presence, but
a large-minded and strong-minded judge can manage to overcome their
reluctance. For a good while after they settled in the Transvaal the
Boers had a system of apprenticing Kafir children which was with
difficulty distinguishable from predial serfdom: and though they have
constantly denied that they sanctioned either the kidnapping of children
or the treatment of the apprentices as slaves, there is reason to think
that in some parts of the country these abuses did for a time exist. It
seems clear, however, that no such practices are now legal.

Political rights have, of course, never been held by persons of colour
in either of the Dutch Republics, nor has it ever been proposed to grant
them. Boer public opinion would scout such an idea, for it reproaches
the people of Cape Colony now with being "governed by black men,"
because the electoral franchise is there enjoyed by a few persons of
colour. In the two Colonies the history of the matter is as follows.
When representative government was established, and the electoral
franchise conferred upon the colonists in 1853, no colour-line was
drawn; and from that time onward black people have voted, though of
course not very many were qualified under the law to vote. Some years
ago, however, the whites, and the Dutch party in particular, became
uneasy at the strength of the coloured element, though it did not vote
solid, had no coloured leaders, and was important only in a very few
constituencies. Accordingly, an Act was passed in 1892, establishing a
combined educational and property qualification--that is to say, the
ownership of a house or other building of the value of £75 or upwards,
or the being in receipt of a salary of £50 per annum, with the ability
to sign one's name and write one's address and occupation This Act,
which did not apply to those already registered in any particular
district and claiming to be re-registered therein, is expected to keep
down the number of coloured voters; and as it applies to whites also
there is no inequality of treatment. Tribal Kafirs have, of course,
never had the franchise at all. Neither the natives--the most
substantial and best educated among whom possess the qualifications
required--nor their friends complain of this law, which may be defended
on the ground that, while admitting those people of colour whose
intelligence fits them for the exercise of political power, it excludes
a large mass whose ignorance and indifference to public questions would
make them the victims of rich and unscrupulous candidates. It is,
perhaps, less open to objection than some of the attempts recently made
in the Southern States of America to evade the provisions of the
amendments to the Federal Constitution under which negroes obtained the
suffrage. In Natal nearly all the Kafirs live under native law, and have
thus been outside the representative system; but the Governor has power
to admit a Kafir to the suffrage, and this has been done in a few
instances. As stated in Chapter XVIII, the rapid increase of Indian
immigrants in that Colony alarmed the whites, and led to the passing, in
1896, of an Act which will practically debar these immigrants from
political rights, as coming from a country in which no representative
institutions exist. Thus Natal also has managed to exclude coloured
people without making colour the nominal ground of disability. I need
hardly say that whoever has the suffrage is also eligible for election
to the Legislature. No person of colour is now, however, a member of
either chamber in either Colony.

It is easy for people in Europe, who have had no experience of the
presence among them of a semi-civilized race, destitute of the ideas and
habits which lie at the basis of free government, to condemn the action
of these Colonies in seeking to preserve a decisive electoral majority
for the whites. But any one who has studied the question on the spot,
and especially any one who has seen the evils which in America have
followed the grant of the suffrage to persons unfit for it, will form a
more charitable judgment. It is indeed impolitic to exclude people
merely on the score of their race. There are among the educated Kafirs
and Indians persons quite as capable as the average man of European
stock, and it is wholesome that the white, too apt to despise his
coloured neighbour, should be made to feel this, and that the educated
coloured man should have some weight in the community as an elector, and
should be entitled to call on his representative to listen to and
express the demands he may make on behalf of his own race. As the number
of educated and property-holding natives increases, they will naturally
come to form a larger element in the electorate, and will be a useful
one. But to toss the gift of political power into the lap of a multitude
of persons who are not only ignorant, but in mind children rather than
men, is not to confer a boon, but to inflict an injury. So far as I
could judge, this is the view of the most sensible natives in Cape
Colony itself, and of the missionaries also, who have been the steadiest
friends of their race. What is especially desirable is to safeguard the
private rights of the native, and to secure for him his due share of the
land, by retaining which he will retain a measure of independence. The
less he is thrown into the whirlpool of party politics the better.

Let me again repeat that there is at present no serious friction between
the black and the white people in South Africa. Though the attitude of
most of the whites--there are, of course, many exceptions--is
contemptuous, unfriendly, and even suspicious, the black man accepts the
superiority of the white as part of the order of nature. He is too low
down, too completely severed from the white, to feel indignant. Even the
few educated natives are too well aware of the gulf that divides their
own people from the European to resent, except in specially aggravated
cases, the attitude of the latter. Each race goes its own way and lives
its own life.

The condition of the wild or tribal Kafirs can be much more shortly
described, for they have as yet entered into few relations with the
whites. They are in many different grades of civilisation, from the
Basutos, an industrious and settled population, among whom Christianity
has made great progress, to the fierce Matabili of the north, and the
Tongas of the east coast, who remain complete savages. There are
probably six millions of Kafirs living under their chiefs south of the
Zambesi, many of them entirely unaffected by Europeans, with not even a
white magistrate or a native commissioner to collect hut-tax; and
besides these there are the Korannas (akin to the Bushmen) and Namaquas
(akin to the Hottentots) of the desert country between Bechuanaland and
the Atlantic. In many of the districts where a regular British or Boer
Government has been established, the tribal natives are now settled in
regular locations, where the land is reserved from the intrusion of
Europeans. Here they live under their chiefs in the old way (see Chapter
X), and in the remoter districts continue to practise their old
ceremonies. In Cape Colony and Natal, however, in both of which Colonies
there are hundreds of thousands of tribal Kafirs, the more offensive of
these ceremonies are now forbidden by the Government. Nowhere is
anything done for their education, except by the missionaries, who,
however, receive some little assistance from the two Colonial
Governments. The ancient rites and beliefs gradually decay wherever the
whites come, and, except beyond the Zambesi, intertribal wars and raids
have now practically ceased. Yet the tribal hatreds survive. Not long
ago the Zulus and the Kosa Kafirs employed as platelayers on the Cape
Government Railway fought fiercely with each other. One powerful
influence is telling upon them, even where they live uncontrolled by any
white government. The diamond-mines at Kimberley, the gold-mines in the
Witwatersrand and in various parts of Mashonaland and Matabililand,
offer large wages for native labour, and cannot (except at Kimberley)
obtain as much native labour as they need. Accordingly a steady though
still insufficient stream of Kafirs sets towards these mining centres,
not only from Basutoland, Natal, and Bechuanaland, but also from the
Portuguese territories, where the Shangans live, and from the banks of
the Zambesi. Most of the workmen remain for a few weeks or months only,
and return home when they have earned as much money as will purchase two
oxen, heretofore the usual price of a wife. They are paid in English
coin, and thus the English twenty-shilling gold piece has become known,
and to-day passes current in villages where no white man has yet been
seen, even beyond the Zambesi, on the shores of Lake Bangweolo. With the
use of coin there will come in time a desire for European goods, which,
in its turn, will draw more labour toward the mines, and perhaps at
last create even among the home-keeping Kafirs a disposition to till the
land or raise cattle for sale. The destruction of cattle by the murrain
which has been raging over the country may accelerate this change.
Already wandering traders and gold-prospectors traverse regions beyond
the border of civilization; and to keep these people, who are often
reckless and lawless, from injuring the natives and provoking them to
take vengeance on the next white man who comes their way, is one of the
greatest difficulties of the British Government, a difficulty aggravated
by the absence in nearly all cases of sufficient legal evidence--for all
over South Africa native evidence is seldom received against a white
man. The regions in which white influence is now most active, and which
will most quickly become assimilated to the two British Colonies, are
those through which railways have been or are now being
constructed--Bechuanaland, Matabililand, and Mashonaland. Should the
mines in these countries turn out well, and means be found for replacing
by new stock the cattle that have perished, these regions may in fifteen
or twenty years possess a considerable population of non-tribal and
semi-civilised natives. Within the next half-century it is probable
that, at least in the British territories as far as the Zambesi, as well
as in the Transvaal and Swaziland, the power of the chiefs will have
practically vanished and the natives be in a position similar to that
which they now hold in Natal and the greater part of Cape Colony; that
is to say, they will either dwell among the whites under the ordinary
law, or will be occupying reservations under the control of a European
magistrate, their old land customs having been mostly superseded and
their heathen rites forbidden or disused.

The position which the whites and the blacks hold toward one another in
South Africa is sufficiently similar to that of the two races in the
Southern States of America to make a short comparison between the two
cases instructive. There are no doubt many differences. In the United
States the Southern negroes are strangers and therefore isolated, with
no such reserve of black people behind them as the Kafirs have in the
rest of the African continent. In South Africa it is the whites who are
new-comers and isolated, and they are numerically inferior to the
blacks, not, as in America, in a few particular areas (the three States
of South Carolina, Mississippi, and Louisiana), but all over the
country. In the whole United States the whites are to the blacks as ten
to one; in Africa south of the Zambesi it is the blacks who are ten to
one to the whites. Or if we compare the four South African Colonies and
Republics with the fifteen old slave States, the blacks are in the
former nearly four times as numerous as the whites, and the whites in
the latter twice as numerous as the blacks. In point of natural capacity
and force of character the Bantu races are at least equal, probably
superior, to the negroes brought from Africa to North America, most of
whom seem to have come from the Guinea coasts. But in point of education
and in habits of industry the American negroes are far ahead of the
South African; for the latter have not been subjected to the industrial
training of nearly two centuries of plantation life or domestic service,
while comparatively few have had any industrial contact with white
workmen, or any stimulation like that which the grant of the suffrage
after the War of Secession has exercised upon a large section of the
American negroes, even in places where they have not been permitted to
turn their legal rights to practical account. The American negroes are,
moreover, all nominally Christians; the South African Kafirs nearly all
heathens. Yet, after allowing for these and other minor points of
contrast, the broad fact remains that in both countries we see two races
in very different stages of civilisation dwelling side by side, yet not
mingling nor likely to mingle. In both countries one race rules over
the other. The stronger despises and dislikes the weaker; the weaker
submits patiently to the stronger. But the weaker makes in education and
in property a progress which will some day bring it much nearer to the
stronger than it is now.

The social and political troubles which the juxtaposition of the two
races has caused in North America, and which have induced many Americans
to wish that it were possible to transport the whole seven millions of
Southern negroes back to the Niger or the Congo, have as yet scarcely
shown themselves in South Africa. Neither in the British Colonies nor in
the Boer Republics is there any cause for present apprehension. The
coloured people are submissive and not resentful. They have, moreover, a
certain number of friends and advocates in the legislatures of the
Colonies, and a certain amount of public opinion, the opinion of the
best part of the community, disposed to protect them. Nevertheless, no
traveller can study the colour problem in South Africa without
anxiety--anxiety, not for the present, but for the future, a future in
which the seeds that are now being sown will have sprung up and grown to

What is the future of the Kafirs likely to be? Though a writer may
prophesy with an easy mind when he knows that the truth or error of the
prophecy will not be tested till long after he has himself quitted the
world, still it is right to make the usual apologies for venturing to
prophesy at all. These apologies being taken as made, let us consider
what is likely to come to pass in South Africa.

The Kafirs will stay where they are and form the bulk of the population
all over South Africa. Some sanguine men think they will move off to the
hotter north, as in America the centre of negro population has shifted
southward toward the Gulf of Mexico. This is improbable, because the
South African white seems resolved to rely upon natives for all the
harder and rougher kinds of labour, not to add that, although the
European can thrive and work, the Kafir is more truly the child of the
soil and of the climate. And not only will he stay, but, to all
appearances, he will increase faster than does the white man.

The Kafirs, now divided into many tribes and speaking many languages and
dialects, will lose their present tribal organization, their languages,
their distinctive habits. Whether some sort of native _lingua Franca_
will spring up, or whether they will all come to speak English, is
doubtful; but probably in the long run English will prevail and become
the common speech of the southern half of the continent. They will also
lose their heathenism (though many superstitions will survive), and will
become, in name at least, Christians. Thus they will form to a far
greater extent than now a homogeneous mass pervaded by the same ideas
and customs.

While thus constituting one vast black community, they will probably
remain as sharply marked off from the whites as they are to-day. That
there will be no intermarriage may safely be assumed from the fact that
mixture of blood has greatly diminished since the days of slavery, just
as it has diminished in the Southern States of America. White opinion
universally condemns it, and rightly, for as things are now the white
race would lose more by the admixture than the coloured race would gain.

The Kafirs will be far more generally educated than they are now, and
will have developed a much higher intelligence. That they will remain
inferior to the whites in all intellectual pursuits and in most
handicrafts may be concluded from American experience; but they will
doubtless be able to compete with white men in many trades, will to some
extent enter the professions, will acquire property, and (assuming the
law to remain as at present) will form a much larger part, though
probably for a very long time a minority, of the electorate. From among
them there will doubtless arise men fit to lead them for social and
political purposes. A talent for public speaking is already remarked as
one of their gifts.

Thus the day will arrive when South Africa will see itself filled by a
large coloured population, tolerably homogeneous, using the same
language, having forgotten its ancient tribal feuds, and not, like the
people of India, divided by caste or by the mutual hatred of Hindus and
Mussulmans. Most of this population will be poor, and it may, unless
successive Colonies are led off to the more thinly peopled parts of
Africa, tread hard upon the means of subsistence which the land offers;
I say the land, for the mines--or at least the gold-mines--will have
been exhausted long before the day we are contemplating arrives.

When will that day arrive? Probably not for at least a century, possibly
not for two centuries. Fast as the world moves in our time, it must take
several generations to develop a race so backward as the Kafirs. Many
political changes may occur before then; but political changes are not
likely to make much difference to a process like this, which goes on
under natural laws--laws that will continue to work, whatever may happen
to the Boers, and whatever may be the future relations of the Colonies
to the mother country. It is only some great change in human thought and
feeling, or some undreamt-of discovery in the physical world, that can
be imagined as likely to affect the progress of the natives and the
attitude of the whites toward them.

When, perhaps in the twenty-first century, the native population has
reached the point of progress we have been imagining, the position may
be for both races a grave or even a perilous one, if the feeling and
behaviour of the whites continue to be what they are now. The present
contented acquiescence of the coloured people in the dominance of the
whites, and the absence of resentment at the contempt displayed toward
them, cannot be expected from a people whose inferiority, though still
real, will be much less palpable. And if trouble comes, the
preponderance of numbers on the black side may make it more serious than
it could be in the United States, where the Southern whites are the
outmost fringe of an enormous white nation. These anxieties are little
felt, these problems are little canvassed, in South Africa, for things
which will not happen in our time or in the time of our children are for
most of us as though they would never happen; and we have become so
accustomed to see the unexpected come to pass as to forget that where
undoubted natural causes are at work--causes whose working history has
examined and verified--a result may be practically certain, uncertain as
may be the time when and the precise form in which it will arrive.

There are, however, some thoughtful men in the Colonies who see the
magnitude of the issues involved in this native problem. They hold, so
far as I could gather their views, that the three chief things to be
done now are to save the natives from intoxicating liquor, which injures
them even more than it does the whites, to enact good land laws, which
shall keep them from flocking as a loafing proletariate into the towns,
as well as just labour laws, and to give them much better opportunities
than they now have of industrial education. Manual training and the
habit of steady industry are quite as much needed as book education, a
conclusion at which the friends of the American negro have also arrived.
Beyond this the main thing to be done seems to be to soften the feelings
of the average white and to mend his manners. At present he considers
the native to exist solely for his own benefit. He is harsh or gentle
according to his own temper; but whether harsh or gentle, he is apt to
think of the black man much as he thinks of an ox, and to ignore a
native's rights when they are inconvenient to himself.

Could he be got to feel more kindly toward the native, and to treat him,
if not as an equal, which he is not, yet as a child, the social aspect
of the problem--and it is the not least serious aspect--would be
completely altered.

[Footnote 69: The Boers are a genuinely religious people, but they have
forgotten 1 Cor. xii. 13, Gal. iii. 28, and Col. iii. 11. Many nations
have been inspired by the Old Testament, but few indeed are the
instances in which any has paid regard to the New.]



The strength and vitality of a race, and its power of holding its own in
the world, depend less on the quickness of its intelligence than on the
solidity of its character. Its character depends upon the moral ideas
which govern its life, and on the habits in which those ideas take
shape; and these, in their turn, depend very largely upon the
conceptions which the race has formed of religion, and on the influence
that religion has over it. This is especially true of peoples in the
earlier stages of civilization. Their social virtues, the beliefs and
principles which hold them together and influence their conduct, rest
upon and are shaped by their beliefs regarding the invisible world and
its forces. Races in which religious ideas are vague and feeble seldom
attain to a vigorous national life, because they want one of the most
effective bonds of cohesion and some of the strongest motives that rule
conduct. It may doubtless be said that the religion of a people is as
much an effect as a cause, or, in other words, that the finer or poorer
quality of a race is seen in the sort of religion it makes for itself,
the higher races producing nobler religious ideas and more impressive
mythologies, just as they produce richer and more expressive languages.
Nevertheless, it remains true that a religion, once formed, becomes a
potent factor in the future strength and progress of a people. Now the
religious ideas of the Bantu races, as of other negroes, have been
scanty, poor, and unfruitful. And accordingly, one cannot meditate upon
their condition and endeavour to forecast their progress without giving
some thought to the influence which better ideas, and especially those
embodied in Christianity, may have upon them.

Neither the Kafirs nor the Hottentots have had a religion in our sense
of the word. They had no deities, no priesthood, no regular forms of
worship. They were, when Europeans discovered them, still in the stage
in which most, if not all, primitive races would seem to have once
been--that of fearing and seeking to propitiate nature spirits and the
ghosts of the dead, a form of superstition in which there was scarcely a
trace of morality. Hence the first task of the missionaries who came
among them was to create a religious sense, to give them the conception
of an omnipotent spiritual power outside natural objects and above man,
and to make them regard this power as the source of moral ideas and the
author of moral commands. To do this has been a difficult task.

Besides this constructive work, which was less needed in some other more
advanced heathen races, the missionaries had also a destructive work to
do. Though the Kafirs had no religion, they had a multitude of
superstitious rites and usages closely intertwined with the whole of
their life and with what one may call their political system. These
usages were so repugnant to Christian morality, and often to common
decency, that it became necessary to attack them and to require the
convert to renounce them altogether. Renunciation, however, meant a
severance from the life of the tribe, contempt and displeasure from the
tribesmen, and possibly the loss of tribal rights. These were evils
which it required courage and conviction to face, nor had the missionary
any temporal benefits to offer by way of compensation. There was,
however, very little direct persecution, because there were no gods who
would be incensed, and the witch-doctors were less formidable opponents
than a regular priesthood would have been. The chiefs were often
friendly, for they recognized the value of missionary knowledge and
counsel. Even the ferocious Mosilikatze showed kindness to Robert
Moffat, and Livingstone complained far more of the Boers than he ever
did of Kafir enemies. Lo Bengula protected the missionaries: Gungunhana
listened, and made his chiefs listen, to their discourses, though his
nearest approach to conversion was his expression of detestation for
Judas Iscariot. But it rarely befell that a chief himself accepted
Christianity, which would have meant, among other things, the departure
of all his wives but one, and possibly the loss of his hold upon his
tribe. All these things being considered, it need excite no surprise
that the Gospel should have made comparatively little progress among the
wild or tribal Kafirs.

It has been preached to them for nearly a century, by German (chiefly, I
think, Moravian) and French, as well as by English, Scottish, and
American missionaries. At present there are not a few British societies
and denominations in the field. The French Protestants have done some
excellent work, especially in Basutoland, and have also stations near
the east coast and on the Upper Zambesi. There are also French Roman
Catholic missions, mostly in the hands of Jesuit fathers, many of whom
are men of learning and ability. Between the Roman Catholics, the
Protestant Episcopalians (Church of England), and the missionaries of
the English Nonconformists and Scottish or French Presbyterians there is
little intercourse and no co-operation. Here, as in other mission
fields, this absence of intercourse and sympathy puzzles the native. I
was told of an English (Protestant Episcopal) clergyman who made it one
of his prime objects to warn the Kafirs against attending the services
of the French Protestant missionaries, whom he apparently regarded as
outside the pale of the true Church. In the Boer Republics there are
fewer missions in proportion to the number of natives than in British
territories; but no district, except the deserts of the west, seems to
be wholly unprovided for, and in some cases stations have been pushed
far beyond the limits of European administration, as, for instance,
among the Barotse, who dwell north of the Upper Zambesi. The native
congregations are usually small, and the careers of the converts not
always satisfactory. This is so natural that it is odd to find
Europeans, and most conspicuously those whose own life is not a model of
Christian morality, continually growling and sneering at the
missionaries because their converts do not all turn out saints. The
savage is unstable in character, and baptism does not necessarily
extinguish either his old habits or the hold which native superstitions
have upon him. It is in this instability of his will, and his proneness
to yield to drink or some other temptation, rather than in his
intellect, that the weakness of the savage lies. And a man with hundreds
of generations of savagery behind him is still, and must be, in many
respects a savage, even though he reads and writes, and wears European
clothes, and possibly even a white necktie. The Kafirs are not such bad
Christians as the Frankish warriors were for two or three generations
after the conversion of Clovis. We must wait for several generations
before we can judge fairly of the influence of his new religion upon the
mind of a Kafir whose ancestors had no religion at all, and were ruled
by the lowest forms of superstition.

These facts are better recognized by the missionaries to-day than they
were sixty years ago, and they have in consequence made some changes in
their methods. They are no longer so anxious to baptize, or so apt to
reckon success by the number of their converts. They are more cautious
in ordaining native pastors. The aid of such pastors is indispensable,
but the importance of the example which the native preacher or teacher
sets makes it necessary to be careful in selection. The dogma of the
equality of the black man and the white, which was warmly insisted on in
the old days, and often roused the wrath of the Boers, has now been
silently dropped. It was a dogma wholesome to inculcate so far as
equality of protection was concerned, but its wider application led the
early philanthropists of South Africa, as it led their excellent
contemporaries, the Abolitionists of America, to some strange
conclusions. Perceiving that other influences ought to go hand in hand
with religion in helping the natives forward, the missionaries now
devote themselves more than formerly to secular instruction, and
endeavour to train the people to habits of industry. The work of
education is indeed entirely in their hands. Special mention is due to
one admirable institution, that which was founded by the Free Church of
Scotland at Lovedale, in the Eastern Province, not far from King
William's Town, nearly fifty years ago. Conducted on wholly
non-sectarian lines, it receives coloured people, together with some
whites, not only from the Colony, but from all parts of Africa--there
are even Galla boys from the borders of Abyssinia in it--and gives an
excellent education, fitting young men and women not only for the native
ministry, but for the professions: and it is admitted even by those who
are least friendly to missionary work to have rendered immense services
to the natives. I visited it, and was greatly struck by the tone and
spirit which seemed to pervade it, a spirit whose results are seen in
the character and careers of many among its graduates. A race in the
present condition of the Kafirs needs nothing more than the creation of
a body of intelligent and educated persons of its own blood, who are
able to enter into the difficulties of their humbler kinsfolk and guide
them wisely. Dr. Stewart, who has directed the institution for many
years, possesses that best kind of missionary temperament, in which a
hopeful spirit and an inexhaustible sympathy are balanced by Scottish
shrewdness and a cool judgment.

One of the greatest among the difficulties which confront the
missionaries is to know how to deal with polygamy, a practice deeply
rooted in Kafir life. A visitor from Europe is at first surprised to
find how seriously they regard it, and asks whether the example of the
worthies of the Old Testament does not make it hard for them to refuse
baptism to the native who seeks it, though he has more than one wife.
The clergy of the Church of England, however, and those of the French
Protestant Church--and I think other missionaries also--are unanimous in
holding that, although they may properly admit a polygamist as a
catechumen, they should not baptize such a one; and they say that the
native pastors hold this view even more strongly than they do
themselves. Polygamy is so bound up with heathen customs, and exerts, in
their view, so entirely baneful an influence upon native society, that
it must be at all hazards resisted and condemned.[70] One is reminded of
the Neoplatonic philosophers, the last professors of the Platonic
academy at Athens, who in the sixth century of our era sought an asylum
from Christian persecution at the court of Chosroes Anurshirwan, in
Persia. They forced themselves to tolerate the other usages of the
people among whom they came, but polygamy was too much for them, and
rather than dwell among those who practised it, they returned to the
unfriendly soil of the Roman Empire.

The missionaries, and especially those of the London Missionary Society,
played at one time a much more prominent part in politics than they now
sustain. Within and on the borders of Cape Colony they were, for the
first sixty years of the present century, the leading champions of the
natives, and as they enjoyed the support of an active body of opinion in
England and Scotland, they had much influence in Parliament and with the
Colonial Office. Outside the Colony they were often the principal
advisers of the native chiefs (as their brethren were at the same time
in the islands of the Pacific), and held a place not unlike that of the
bishops in Gaul in the fifth century of our era. Since, in advocating
the cause of the natives, they had often to complain of the behaviour of
the whites, and since, whenever a chief came into collision with the
emigrant Boers or with colonial frontiersmen, they became the channel by
which the chief stated his case to the British Government, they incurred
the bitter hostility of the emigrant Boers and some dislike even in the
Colony. To this old cause much of the unpopularity that still attaches
to them seems due. Unpopular they certainly are. They are reproached
with the paucity of their converts, and that by white men whose own
treatment of the Kafirs might well make the white man's religion odious
to a native. They are also accused of abusing their position to enrich
themselves by trade with the Kafirs. This abuse has sometimes occurred,
and clearly ought to be checked by the home societies. But probably it
does not disgust the wandering white trader any more than the fact that
the missionary often warns the native against the exorbitant prices
which the trader demands for his goods. They are blamed for making the
converted Kafir uppish, and telling him that he is as good as a white
man, an offence which has no doubt been often committed. A graver
allegation, to which Mr. Theal has given some countenance in his
historical writings, is that they used to bring groundless or
exaggerated charges against the Boer farmers, and always sided with the
natives, whatever the merits of the case. I do not venture to pronounce
on the truth of this allegation, which it would take much time and
labour to sift. As there have been some few missionaries whose
demeanour was not creditable to their profession, so there have
doubtless been instances in which partisan ardour betrayed them into
exaggerations. But whosoever remembers that but for the missionaries the
natives would have lacked all local protection, and that it was only
through the missionaries that news of injustice or cruelty practised on
a native could reach the ears of the British Government, will look
leniently on the errors of honest zeal, and will rejoice that ministers
of religion were found to champion the cause of the weaker race and keep
the home Government alive to a sense of one of its first duties.

Notwithstanding the slowness of the progress hitherto made, the
extinction of heathenism in South Africa may be deemed certain, and
certain at no distant date. There is here no ancient and highly
organized system of beliefs and doctrines, such as Hinduism and Islam
are in India, to resist the solvent power which European civilisation
exerts. In forty years there will probably be no more pagan rites
practised in Cape Colony. In eighty years there will be none in
Matabililand, or perhaps even sooner, if the gold-reefs turn out well;
for though a mining-camp is not a school of Christianity, it is a
destroyer of paganism. Already I found, in traversing Mashonaland, that
the poor ghosts were ceasing to receive their wonted offerings of native

What will happen when heathenism and the tribal system have vanished
away? Such morality, such principles of manly conduct as the natives now
have, are bound up with their ghost-worship and still more with their
tribal system, which prescribes loyalty to the chief, courage in war,
devotion to the interests of the tribe or clan. When these principles
have disappeared along with the tribal organization, some other
principles, some other standard of duty and precepts of conduct, ought
to be at hand to replace them. Where are such precepts to be found, and
whence are the motives and emotions to be drawn which will give the new
precepts a power to command the will? Although the Kafirs have shown
rather less aptitude for assimilating Christian teaching than some other
savage races have done, there is nothing in the experience of the
missions to discourage the hope that such teaching may come to prevail
among them, and that through it each generation may show a slight moral
advance upon that which has gone before. As the profession of
Christianity will create a certain link between the Kafirs and their
rulers which may soften the asperity which the relations of the two
races now wear, so its doctrines will in time give them a standard of
conduct similar to that accepted among the whites, and an ideal which
will influence the superior minds among them. So much may certainly be
said: that the Gospel and the mission schools are at present the most
truly civilizing influences which work upon the natives, and that upon
these influences, more than on any other agency, does the progress of
the coloured race depend.

[Footnote 70: After listening to their arguments, I did not venture to
doubt that they were right.]



The two South African Colonies have not yet had time to develop new and
distinctive types of life and character. Though Cape Colony is nearly as
old as Massachusetts or Virginia, it has been less than a century under
British rule, and the two diverse elements in its population have not
yet become blent into any one type that can be said to belong to the
people as a whole. One must therefore describe these elements
separately. The Dutch are almost all country folk, and the country folk
are (in Cape Colony) mostly Dutch. Some, especially near Cape Town, are
agriculturists, but many more are ranchmen or sheep-masters. They are a
slow, quiet, well-meaning hospitable people, extremely conservative in
their opinions as well as their habits, very sparing, because they have
little ready money, very suspicious, because afraid of being out-witted
by the English traders, and many of them so old-fashioned in their
theory of the universe as to object to legislation against sheep scab,
because they regard it as a visitation of Providence, to be combated
only by repentance and not by ordinary human means. The women are
usually ill-educated and often unattractive; but they have strong
characters. Nothing was more remarkable in the wars of the emigrant
Boers against the Kafirs than the courage and devotion which the women
displayed. That love of cleanliness for which their kinsfolk in Holland
are famous has vanished under the conditions of a settler's life and the
practice of using negro servants, and they are now apt to be slatternly.
These country folk live in a simple, old-fashioned way, loving solitude
and isolation, yet very hospitable, and enjoying the rare occasions on
which they meet for festivities at one another's farmhouses. Such
meetings are almost their only recreations, for hunting is less
attainable now that the larger game has disappeared, and they care
nothing for the intellectual pleasures of reading or art or music.
Education is beginning to spread among them, but it has not yet done
much to quicken their minds or give them new interests. The population
is so extremely thin, the towns so few and so small, that it is not
surprising that a people who came out from the least educated strata of
society in Holland should, under the difficult conditions of a settler's
life, have remained at a low level of mental culture. They would
probably have been still more backward, and have produced fewer men of
ability, but for the infusion of French Huguenot blood, which still
proclaims itself in the names of some of the leading families.

Compared to the Dutch, the English are recent immigrants. They have all
arrived within the present century, and few of them can point to
grandfathers born in South Africa. Partly for this reason, partly from
their desire to be unlike the Dutch, they have remained markedly
English, both in their speech, in their ideas, and, so far as the
differences of climate permit, in their way of life. Nevertheless, they
have been affected by the Dutch. They have taken from the latter the
aversion to field labour, the contempt for the blacks, the tendency to
prefer large pastoral farms to agriculture, and, in some districts, a
rather sleepy and easy-going temperament. Even in Mashonaland I was told
that the English ranchmen were apt to fall into the habits of their
Boer neighbours. They form the large majority of the town population,
for not only the seaports, but also such inland places as Graham's Town,
King William's Town, and Kimberley are quite English, and nearly all the
commerce and finance of the country are in their hands. They have more
enterprise than the Dutch, and are much less antiquated in their ideas,
so it is to them that the profits of the new mining ventures have
chiefly fallen, so far as these have not been appropriated by keener and
more ingenious adventurers from Europe, mostly of Semitic stock.

There has been hardly any Irish immigration; and though one meets many
Scotchmen among the bankers and merchants, the Scottish element seems
smaller than in Ontario or most of the Australasian Colonies. Many
settlers have come from Germany, but these have now become blended with
the English. There are no better colonists than the Germans; and indeed
the Europeans whom the last ninety years have brought have been mostly
of excellent stocks, superior to the mid-European races that have lately
inundated the United States.

Though the English and the Dutch form distinct social elements which are
not yet fused, and though these elements are now politically opposed,
there is no social antagonism between the races. The Englishman will
deride the slowness of the Dutchman, the Dutchman may distrust the
adroitness or fear the activity of the Englishman, but neither dislikes
nor avoids the other. Neither enjoys, or even pretends to, any social
superiority, and hence neither objects to marry his son or his daughter
to a member of the other race. Both are, as a rule, in fairly easy
circumstances; that is to say, nearly everybody has enough, and till
lately hardly anybody had more than enough. Within the last few years,
however, two changes have come. The diamond mines and the gold-mines
have given vast riches to a small number of persons, some half-dozen or
less of whom continue to live in the Colony, while the others have
returned to Europe. These great fortunes are a disturbing element,
giving an undue influence to their possessors, and exciting the envy or
emulation of the multitude. The other change is the growth of a class of
people resembling the "mean whites" of the Southern States of America,
loafers and other lazy or shiftless fellows who hang about and will not
take to any regular work. I heard them described and deplored as a new
phenomenon, but gather that they are not yet numerous. Their appearance,
it is to be feared, is the natural result of that contempt for hard
unskilled labour which the existence of slavery inspired in the whites;
and they may hereafter constitute, as they now do in the Southern States
of America, the section of the population specially hostile to the
negro, and therefore dangerous to the whole community.

To an Englishman or American who knows how rapidly his language has
become the language of commerce over the world; how it has almost
extinguished the ancient Celtic tongues in Scotland and Ireland; how
quickly in the United States it has driven Spanish out of the South
West, and has come to be spoken by the German, Scandinavian, and
Slavonic immigrants whom that country receives, it is surprising to find
that Dutch holds its ground stubbornly in South Africa. It is still the
ordinary language of probably one-half of the people of Cape Colony
(although most of these can speak some English) and of three-fourths of
those in the Orange Free State, though of a minority in Natal.
Englishmen settling in the interior usually learn it for the sake of
talking to their Dutch neighbours, who are slow to learn English; and
English children learn it from the coloured people, for the coloured
people talk it far more generally than they do English; in fact, when a
native (except in one of the coast towns) speaks a European tongue, that
tongue is sure to be Dutch. Good observers told me that although an
increasing number of the Africanders (_i.e._, colonists born in Africa)
of Dutch origin now understand English, the hold of Dutch is so strong
that it will probably continue to be spoken in the Colony for two
generations at least. Though one must call it Dutch, it differs widely
from the cultivated Dutch of Holland, having not only preserved some
features of that language as spoken two centuries ago, but having
adopted many Kafir or Hottentot words, and having become vulgarized into
a dialect called the Taal, which is almost incapable of expressing
abstract thought or being a vehicle for any ideas beyond those of daily
life. In fact, many of the Boers, especially in the Transvaal, cannot
understand a modern Dutch book, hardly even an Amsterdam newspaper. This
defect might give English a great advantage if the Boers wished to
express abstract ideas. But they have not this wish, for they have no
abstract ideas to express. They are a people who live in the concrete.

The rise of great fortunes, which I have noted, has been too recent and
too exceptional a phenomenon to have affected the generally tranquil and
even tenor of South African social life. Among both Dutch and English
months and years flow smoothly on. Few new immigrants enter the rural
districts or the smaller towns; few new enterprises are started; few
ambitions or excitements stir the minds of the people. The Witwatersrand
gold-field is, of course, a startling exception, but it is an exception
which tends to perpetuate the rule, for, by drawing off the more eager
and restless spirits, it has left the older parts of both the Colonies
more placid than ever. The general equality of conditions has produced a
freedom from assumption on the one hand, and from servility on the
other, and, indeed, a general absence of snobbishness, which is quite
refreshing to the European visitor. Manners are simple, and being
simple, they are good. If there is less polish than in some countries,
there is an unaffected heartiness and kindliness. The Dutch have a sense
of personal dignity which respects the dignity of their fellows, and
which expresses itself in direct and natural forms of address. An
experienced observer dilated to me on the high level of decorum
maintained in the Cape Parliament, where scenes of disorder are, I
believe, unknown, and violent language is rare. One expects to find in
all Colonies a sense of equality and an element of _sans gêne_ in social
intercourse. But one usually finds also more roughness and more of an
off-hand, impatient way of treating strangers than is visible in South
Africa. This may be partly due to the fact that people are not in such a
hurry as they are in most new countries. They have plenty of time for
everything. The climate disinclines them to active exertion. There is
little immigration. Trade, except in the four seaports,[71] is not
brisk, and even there it is not brisk in the American sense of the word.
The slackness of the black population, which has to be employed for the
harder kinds of work, reacts upon the white employer. I have visited no
new English-speaking country where one so little felt the strain and
stress of modern life. This feature of South African society, though it
implies a slow material development, is very agreeable to the visitor,
and I doubt if it be really an injury to the ultimate progress of the
country. In most parts of North America, possibly in Australia also,
industrial development has been too rapid, and has induced a nervous
excitability and eager restlessness of temper from which South Africa is
free. Of course, in saying this, I except always the mining districts,
and especially the Witwatersrand, which is to the full as restless and
as active as San Francisco or Melbourne.

The comparative ease of life disposes the English part of the population
to athletic sports, which are pursued with almost as much avidity as in
Australia. Even one who thinks that in England the passion for them has
gone beyond all reasonable limits, and has become a serious injury to
education and to the taste for intellectual pleasures, may find in the
character of the climate a justification for the devotion to cricket, in
particular, which strikes him in South Africa. Now that the wild animals
have become scarce, hunting cannot be pursued as it once was, and young
people would have little incitement to physical exertion in the open air
did not the English love of cricket flourish in the schools and
colleges. Long may it flourish!

The social conditions I have been describing are evidently unfavourable
to the development of literature or science or art. Art has scarcely
begun to exist. Science is represented only by a few naturalists in
Government employment, and by some intelligent amateur observers.
Researches in electricity or chemistry or biology require nowadays a
somewhat elaborate apparatus, with which few private persons could
provide themselves, and which are here possessed only by one or two
public institutions. English and American writers have hitherto supplied
the intellectual needs of the people, and the established reputation of
writers in those countries makes competition difficult to a new colonial
author. The towns are too small, and their inhabitants too much occupied
in commerce to create groups of highly educated people, capable of
polishing, whetting, and stimulating one another's intellects. There are
few large libraries, and no fully equipped university to train young men
in history or philosophy or economics or theology. Accordingly, few
books are composed or published, and, so far as I know, only three South
African writers have caught the ear of the European public. One of these
was Robert Pringle, a Scotchman, whose poems, written sixty or seventy
years ago, possess considerable merit, and one of which, beginning with
the line,

    Afar in the desert I love to ride,

remains the most striking picture of South African nature in those early
days when the wilderness was still filled with wild creatures. Another,
Miss Olive Schreiner (now Mrs. Cronwright-Schreiner), has attained
deserved fame. A third, Mr. Scully, is less known in England, but his
little volume of _Kafir Tales_ is marked by much graphic power and shows
insight into native character.

These three writers, and indeed all the writers of merit, belong to the
English or Anglified section of the population. The Dutch section is
practically disqualified by its language (which, be it remembered, is
not the language of Holland, but a debased dialect) from literary
composition, even were it otherwise disposed to authorship. Literature
will always, I think, remain English in character, bearing few or no
traces of the Dutch element in the people. But otherwise things are
likely to change in a few years. The conditions which have been
described as unfavourable to intellectual production are not necessarily
permanent, and the time will probably come when the Europeans of South
Africa will emulate their kinsfolk at home or in North America in
literary and artistic fertility. The materials for imaginative work,
whether in poetry or in prose, lie ready to their hand. The scenery
deserves some great native landscape-painter, and such a genius will, no
doubt, one day arise.

Journalism has now everywhere become, in point of quantity, the most
important part of literature. The South African newspapers impress a
visitor favourably. Several of them are written with great ability, and
they were in 1895 comparatively free from that violence of invective,
that tawdriness of rhetoric, and that proneness to fill their columns
with criminal intelligence which are apt to be charged against the press
in some other new countries. No journal seems to exert so great a
political power as is wielded by several of the Australian dailies. As
might be expected, the Press is chiefly English, that language having
sixty-one papers, against seventeen printed in Dutch and twenty-three in
both languages.

Although the dispersion of the small European population over an
exceedingly wide area makes it difficult to provide elementary schools
everywhere,[72] education is, among the whites, well cared for, and in
some regions, such as the Orange Free State, the Boer element is just as
eager for it as is the English. Neither are efficient secondary schools
wanting. That which is wanting, that which is urgently needed to crown
the educational edifice, is a properly equipped teaching university.
There are several colleges which provide lectures,[73] and the Cape
University holds examinations and confers degrees; but to erect over
these colleges a true university with an adequate teaching staff seems
to be as difficult an enterprise at the Cape as it has proved to be in
London, where thirteen years had to be spent in efforts, not successful
till 1898, to establish a teaching university. It is strange to find
that in a new country, where the different religious bodies live on good
terms with one another, one of the chief obstacles in the way is the
reluctance of two of the existing colleges, which have a denominational
character, to have an institution superior to them set up by the State.
The other obstacles are the rivalry of the eastern province with the
western, in which, at Cape Town, the natural seat of a university would
be found, and the apathy or aversion of the Dutch section of the people.
Some of them do not care to spend public money for a purpose whose value
they cannot be made to understand. Others, knowing that a university
would necessarily be mainly in English hands and give instruction of an
English type, fear to establish what would become another Anglifying
influence. Thus several small colleges go on, each with inadequate
resources, and the Cape youth who desires to obtain a first-rate
education is obliged to go to Europe for it. He cannot even get a full
course of legal instruction, for there is no complete law school. It is
no doubt well that a certain number of young men should go to Europe and
there acquire a first-hand knowledge of the ideas and habits of the Old
World; but many who cannot afford the luxury of a European journey and
residence remain without the kind of instruction to which their natural
gifts entitle them, and the intellectual progress of the country
suffers. Were Cape Colony somewhere in the United States, a millionaire
would forthwith step in, build a new university, and endow it with a few
millions of dollars. But South Africa is only just beginning to produce
great fortunes; so the best hope is that some enlightened and tactful
statesman may, by disarming the suspicions and allaying the jealousies I
have described, succeed in uniting the existing colleges, and add to
their scanty revenues an adequate Government grant. This may possibly be
effected. But the jealousies and ambitions which those who control an
institution feel for it are often quite as tenacious as is the
selfishness of men where their own pockets are concerned; and since
these jealousies disguise themselves under a cloak of disinterestedness,
it is all the more hard to overcome them by the pressure of public

One other intellectual force remains to be mentioned--that of the
churches. In the two British Colonies no religious body receives special
State recognition or any grants from the State.[74] All are on an equal
footing, just as in Australia and in North America. In the two Boer
Republics the Dutch Reformed Church is in a certain sense the State
church. In the Transvaal it is recognized as such by the Grondwet
("Fundamental Law"), and receives a Government subvention. In that
Republic members of other churches were at one time excluded from the
suffrage and from all public offices, and even now Roman Catholics are
under some disability. In the Orange Free State the Dutch Reformed
Church receives public aid, but I think this is given, to a smaller
extent, to some other denominations also, and no legal inequalities
based on religion exist. In these two Republics nearly the whole of the
Boer population, and in the Free State a part even of the English
population, belong to the Dutch Reformed communion, which is
Presbyterian in government and Calvinistic in theology. In the British
Colonies the Protestant Episcopal Church (Church of England) comes next
after the Dutch Reformed, which is much the strongest denomination; but
the Wesleyans are also an important body; and there are, of course, also
Congregational and Baptist churches. The Presbyterians seem to be less
numerous (in proportion to the population) than in Canada or Australia,
not merely because the Scottish element is less numerous, but also
because many of the Scottish settlers joined the Dutch Reformed Church
as being akin to their own in polity and doctrine. The comparative
paucity of Roman Catholics is due to the paucity of Irish
immigrants.[75] These bodies live in perfect harmony and good feeling
one with another, all frankly accepting the principle of equality, none
claiming any social pre-eminence, and none, so far as I could learn,
attempting to interfere in politics. Both the bishops and the clergy of
the Church of England (among whom there are many gifted men) are, with
few exceptions, of marked High-church proclivities, which, however, do
not appear to prevail equally among the laity. The Dutch Reformed Church
has been troubled by doubts as to the orthodoxy of many of its younger
pastors who have been educated at Leyden or Utrecht, and for a time it
preferred to send candidates for the ministry to be trained at
Edinburgh, whose theological schools inspired less distrust. It is
itself in its turn distrusted, apparently without reason, by the still
more rigid Calvinists of the Transvaal.

One curious feature of South African society remains to be mentioned,
which impressed me the more the longer I remained in the country. The
upper stratum of that society, consisting of the well-to-do and best
educated people, is naturally small, because the whole white population
of the towns is small, there being only four towns that have more than
ten thousand white residents. But this little society is virtually one
society, though dispersed in spots hundreds of miles from one another.
Natal stands rather apart, and has very little to do either socially or
in the way of business with Cape Colony, and not a great deal even with
the Transvaal. So too the four or five towns of the eastern province of
Cape Colony form a group somewhat detached, and though the "best people"
in each of them know all about the "best people" in Cape Town, they are
not in close touch with the latter. But Cape Town, Kimberley,
Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, and Pretoria, the five most important places
(excluding the Natal towns), are for social purposes almost one city,
though it is six hundred and fifty miles from Cape Town to Kimberley,
and one thousand miles from Cape Town to Johannesburg. All the persons
of consequence in these places know one another and follow one another's
doings. All mix frequently, because the Cape Town people are apt to be
called by business to the inland cities, and the residents of the inland
cities come to Cape Town for sea air in the summer, or to embark thence
for Europe. Where distances are great, men think little of long
journeys, and the fact that Cape Town is practically the one port of
entrance and departure for the interior, so far as passengers are
concerned, keeps it in constant relations with the leading men of the
interior, and gives a sort of unity to the upper society of the whole
country, which finds few parallels in any other part of the world.
Johannesburg and Cape Town in particular are, for social purposes, in
closer touch with each other than Liverpool is with Manchester or New
York with Philadelphia. When one turns to the map it looks a long way
from the Cape to the Witwatersrand; but between these places most of the
country is a desert, and there is only one spot, Bloemfontein, that
deserves to be called a town. So I will once more beg the reader to
remember that though South Africa is more than half as large as Europe,
it is, measured by population, a very small country.

[Footnote 71: Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London and Durban.]

[Footnote 72: In Cape Colony 28.82 of the male and 28.02 of the female
population could not (census of 1891) read or write.]

[Footnote 73: Five colleges receive Government grants.]

[Footnote 74: The small grant for religious purposes made in Cape Colony
was in 1895 being reduced, and was to expire shortly.]

[Footnote 75: The census of 1891 gives the numbers as follows: Dutch
Reformed Church, 306,000; Church of England, 139,000; Wesleyans,
106,000; Congregationalists, 69,000; Presbyterians, 37,000; Roman
Catholics, 17,000; Mohammedans, 15,000.]



The circumstances of the two South African Colonies are so dissimilar
from those of the British Colonies in North America and in Australasia
as to have impressed upon their politics a very different character. I
do not propose to describe the present political situation, for it may
change at any moment. It is only of the permanent causes which give
their colour to the questions and the movements of the country that I
shall speak, and that concisely.

The frame of government is, in Cape Colony as well as in Natal,
essentially the same as in the other self-governing British Colonies.
There is a Governor, appointed by the home Government, and responsible
to it only, who plays the part which belongs to the Crown in Great
Britain. He is the nominal head of the executive, summoning and
proroguing the Legislature, appointing and dismissing ministers, and
exercising, upon the advice of his ministers, the prerogative of pardon.
There is a cabinet of five persons, including the heads of the chief
administrative departments, who are the practical executive of the
Colony, and are responsible to the Legislature, in which they sit, and
at whose pleasure they hold their offices. There is a Legislature
consisting of two houses--an Assembly, whose membership was raised in
December, 1898, from seventy-nine to ninety-five, and a Legislative
Council, with twenty-three members, besides the Chief Justice, who is
_ex officio_ President. In Cape Colony (for of the arrangements in Natal
I have spoken in a previous chapter) both houses are elected on the same
franchise--a low one; but the districts for the election of members of
the Council are much larger, and therefore fewer, than the Assembly
districts, so the former body is a small and the latter a comparatively
numerous one.[76] The rights and powers of both houses are theoretically
the same, save that money bills originate in the Assembly; but the
Assembly is far more powerful, for the ministry holds office only so
long as it has the support of a majority in that body, whereas it need
not regard a hostile vote in the Council. Either the English or the
Dutch language may be used in debate. Ministers have the right of
speaking in both houses, but can, of course, vote only in the one of
which they are members by popular election. If it happens that there is
no minister who has a seat in the Council (as was the case in 1896), it
is usual for the cabinet to allot one to be present in and look after
that chamber for the day.

This cabinet system, as it is called, works pretty smoothly, on lines
similar to that English original whence it is copied. The most
interesting peculiarity is the Cape method of forming the smaller House.
In England the Upper House is composed of hereditary members; in the
Canadian confederation, of members nominated for life--both of them
methods which are quite indefensible in theory. Here, however, we find
the same plan as that which prevails in the States of the North American
Union, all of which have senates elected on the same franchise, and for
the same term, as the larger house, but in more extensive districts, so
as to make the number of members of the senate or second chamber
smaller. Regarding the merits of the Cape scheme, I heard different
views expressed. Nobody seemed opposed in principle to the division of
the Legislature into two houses, but many condemned the existing Council
as being usually composed of second-rate men, and apt to be obstructive
in its tendencies. Some thought the Council was a useful part of the
scheme of government, because it interposed delay in legislation and
gave time for reflection and further debate. One point came out pretty
clearly. No difficulty is deemed to arise from the fact that there exist
two popularly elected houses equally entitled to control the
administration,[77] for custom has settled that the Assembly or larger
house is that whose vote determines the life of a ministry. But it
follows from this circumstance that the most able and ambitious men
desire a seat in the more powerful chamber, leaving the smaller house to
those of less mark. This is the exact reverse of what has happened in
the United States; where a seat in the Senate is more desired than one
in the House; but it is a natural result of the diverse arrangements of
the two countries, for in the Federal Government the Senate has some
powers which the House of Representatives does not enjoy, while in each
of the several States of the Union, although the powers of the two
houses are almost the same, the smaller number of each Senate secures
for a senator somewhat greater importance than a member of the larger
body enjoys. The Cape Colony plan of letting a minister speak in both
houses works very well, and may deserve to be imitated in England, where
the fact that the head of a department can explain his policy only to
his own House has sometimes caused inconvenience.

So much for the machinery. Now let us note the chief points in which the
circumstances of Cape Colony and of Natal (for in these respects both
Colonies are alike) differ from those of the other self-governing
Colonies of Britain.

The population is not homogeneous as regards race, but consists of two
stocks, English and Dutch. These stocks are not, as in Canada, locally
separate, but dwell intermixed, though the Dutch element predominates in
the western province and in the interior generally, the English in the
eastern province and at the Kimberley diamond-fields.

The population is homogeneous as regards religion, for nearly all are
Protestants, and Protestants of much the same type. Race difference has
fortunately not been complicated, as in Canada, by ecclesiastical

The population is homogeneous as respects material interests, for it is
wholly agricultural and pastoral, except a few merchants and artisans in
the seaports, and a few miners at Kimberley and in Namaqualand.
Four-fifths of it are practically rural, for the interests of the small
towns are identical with those of the surrounding country.

The population is not only rural, but scattered more thinly over a vast
area than in any other British Colony, except north-western Canada, and
parts of Australasia. In Natal there are only two white men to the
square mile, and in Cape Colony less than two. Nor is this sparseness
incidental, as in North America, to the early days of settlement. It is
due to a physical condition--the condition of the soil--which is likely
to continue.

Below the white citizens, who are the ruling race, there lies a thick
stratum of coloured population numerically larger, and likely to remain
so, because it performs all the unskilled labour of the country. Here
is a condition which, though present in some of the Southern States of
America, is fortunately absent from all the self-governing Colonies of
Britain, and indeed caused Jamaica to be, some time ago, withdrawn from
that category.

The conjunction of these circumstances marks off South Africa as a very
peculiar country, where we may expect to find a correspondingly peculiar
political situation. Comparing it to other Colonies, we may say that the
Cape and Natal resemble Canada in the fact that there are two European
races present, and resemble the Southern States of America in having a
large mass of coloured people beneath the whites. But South Africa is in
other respects unlike both; and although situated in the southern
hemisphere, it bears little resemblance to Australia.

Now let us see how the circumstances above described have determined the
political issues that have arisen in Cape Colony.

Certain issues are absent which exist, not only in Europe and the United
States, but also in Australia and in Canada. There is no antagonism of
rich and poor, because there are very few poor and still fewer rich.
There is no working-man's or labour party, because so few white men are
employed in handicrafts. There is no Socialist movement, nor is any
likely soon to arise, because the mass of workers, to whom elsewhere
Socialism addresses itself, is mainly composed of black people, and no
white would dream of collectivism for the benefit of blacks. Thus the
whole group of labour questions, which bulks so largely in modern
industrial States, is practically absent, and replaced by a different
set of class questions, to be presently mentioned.

There is no regularly organized Protectionist party, nor is the
protection of native industry a "live issue" of the first magnitude.

The farmers and ranchmen of Cape Colony no doubt desire to have custom
duties on food-stuffs that will help them to keep up prices, and they
have got such duties. But the scale is not very high, and as direct
taxation is difficult to raise in a new country with a scattered
population, the existing tariff, which averages twelve and a half per
cent, _ad valorem_ (but is further raised by special rates on certain
articles), may be defended as needed, at least to a large extent, for
the purposes of revenue. Natal had a lower tariff, and has been more
favourable in principle to free trade doctrine, but she has very
recently (1898) entered the S. African Customs Union, therewith adopting
a higher tariff. Manufactures have been so sparingly developed in both
Colonies that neither employers nor workmen have begun to call for high
duties against foreign goods. Here, therefore, is another field of
policy, important in North America and Australia, which has given rise
to comparatively little controversy in South Africa.

As there is no established church, and nearly all the people are
Protestants, there are no ecclesiastical questions, nor is the progress
of education let and hindered by the claims of sects to have their
respective creeds taught at the expense of the State.

Neither are there any land questions, such as those which have arisen in
Australia, for there has been land enough for those who want to have it,
while few agricultural immigrants arrive to increase the demand.
Moreover, though the landed estates are large, their owners are not
rich, and excite no envy by their possession of a profitable monopoly.
If any controversy regarding natural resources arises, it will probably
turn on the taxation of minerals. Some have suggested that the State
should appropriate to itself a substantial share of the profits made out
of the diamond and other mines, and the fact that most of those profits
are sent home to shareholders in Europe might be expected to make the
suggestion popular. Nevertheless, the idea has not, so far, "caught
on," to use a familiar expression, partly, perhaps, because Cape Colony,
drawing sufficent income from its tariff and its railways, has not found
it necessary to hunt for other sources of revenue.

Lastly, there are no constitutional questions. The suffrage is so wide
as to admit nearly all the whites, and there is, of course, no desire to
go lower and admit more blacks. The machinery of government is deemed
satisfactory; at any rate, one hears of no proposals to change it, and,
as will be seen presently, there is not in either Colony a wish to alter
the relations now subsisting between it and the mother country.

The reader may suppose that if all these grounds of controversy,
familiar to Europe, and some of them now unhappily familiar to the new
democracies also, are absent, South Africa enjoys the political
tranquillity of a country where there are no factions, and the only
question is how to find the men best able to promote that economic
development which all unite in desiring. This is by no means the case.
In South Africa the part filled elsewhere by constitutional questions,
and industrial questions and ecclesiastical questions, and currency
questions, is filled by race questions and colour questions. Colour
questions have been discussed in a previous chapter. They turn not, as
in the Southern States of America, upon the political rights of the
black man (for on this subject the ruling whites are in both Colonies
unanimous), but upon land rights and the regulation of native labour.
They are not at this moment actual and pungent issues, but they are in
the background of every one's mind, and the attitude of each man to them
goes far to determine his political sympathies. One cannot say that
there exist pro-native or anti-native parties, but the Dutch are by
tradition more disposed than the English to treat the native severely,
and, as they express it, keep him in his place. Many Englishmen share
the Dutch feeling, yet it is always by Englishmen that the advocacy of
the native case is undertaken. In Natal both races are equally

The race question among the whites, that is to say the rivalry of Dutch
and English, would raise no practical issue were Cape Colony an island
in the ocean, for there is complete political and social equality
between the two stocks, and the material interests of the Dutch farmer
are the same as those of his English neighbour. It is the existence of a
contiguous foreign State, the South African Republic, that sharpens
Dutch feeling. The Boers who remained in Cape Colony and in Natal have
always retained their sentiment of kinship with those who went out in
the Great Trek of 1836, or who moved northward from Natal into the
Transvaal after the annexation of Natal in 1842. Many of them are
connected by family ties with the inhabitants of the two Republics, and
are proud of the achievements of their kinsfolk against Dingaan and
Mosilikatze, and of the courage displayed at Laing's Nek and Majuba Hill
against the British. They resent keenly any attempt to trench upon the
independence of the Transvaal, while most of the English do not conceal
their wish to bring that State into a South African Confederation, if
possible under the British flag. The ministries and legislatures of the
two British Colonies, it need hardly be said, have no official relations
with the two Dutch Republics, because, according to the constitution of
the British empire, such relations, like all other foreign relations,
belong to the Crown, and the Crown is advised by the British Cabinet at
home. In South Africa the Crown is represented for the purpose of these
relations by the High Commissioner, who is not responsible in any way to
the colonial legislatures, and is not even bound to consult the colonial
cabinet, for his functions as High Commissioner for South Africa are
deemed to be distinct from those which he has as Governor of Cape
Colony. Matters relating to the two Republics and their relation to the
Colonies are, accordingly, outside the sphere of action of the colonial
legislatures, which have, in strict theory, no right to pass resolutions
regarding them. In point of fact, however, the Cape Assembly frequently
does debate, and pass resolutions on, these matters; nor is this
practice disapproved, for, as the sentiments of the Colony are, or ought
to be, an important factor in determining the action of the home
Government, it is well that the British Cabinet and the High
Commissioner should possess such a means of gauging those sentiments.
The same thing happens with regard to any other question between Britain
and a foreign Power which may affect the two Colonies. Questions with
Germany or Portugal, questions as to the acquisition of territory in
South Central Africa, would also be discussed in the colonial
Legislatures, just as those of Australia some years ago complained
warmly of the action of France in the New Hebrides. And thus it comes to
pass that though the Governments and Legislatures of the Colonies have
in strictness nothing to do with foreign policy, foreign policy has had
much to do with the formation of parties at the Cape.

Now as to the parties themselves. Hitherto I have spoken of Natal and
the Cape together, because their conditions are generally similar,
though the Dutch element is far stronger in the latter than in the
former. In what follows I speak of the Cape only, for political parties
have not had time to grow up in Natal, where responsible government
dates from 1893. In the earlier days of the Cape Legislature parties
were not strongly marked, though they tended to coincide with the race
distinction between Dutch and English, because the western province was
chiefly Dutch, and the eastern chiefly English, and there was a certain
rivalry or antagonism between these two main divisions of the country.
The Dutch element was, moreover, wholly agricultural and pastoral, the
English party mercantile; so when an issue arose between these two
interests, it generally corresponded with the division of races.
Political organization was chiefly in English hands, because the
colonial Dutch had not possessed representative government, whereas the
English brought their home habits with them. However, down till 1880
parties remained in an amorphous or fluid condition, being largely
affected by the influence of individual leaders; and the Dutch section
of the electorate was hardly conscious of its strength. In the end of
that year, the rising in the Transvaal, and the War of Independence
which followed, powerfully stimulated Dutch feeling, and led to the
formation of the Africander Bond, a league or association appealing
nominally to African, but practically to African-Dutch patriotism. It
was not anti-English in the sense of hostility to the British
connection, any more than was the French party in Lower Canada at the
same time, but it was based not only on the solidarity of the Dutch race
over all South Africa, but also on the doctrine that Africanders must
think of Africa first, and see that the country was governed in
accordance with local sentiment, rather than on British lines or with a
view to British interests. Being Dutch, the Bond became naturally the
rural or agricultural and pastoral party, and therewith inclined to a
protective tariff and to stringent legislation in native matters. Such
anti-English tint as this association originally wore tended to fade
when the Transvaal troubles receded into the distance, and when it was
perceived that the British Government became more and more disposed to
leave the Colony to manage its own affairs. And this was still more the
case after the rise to power of Mr. Cecil Rhodes, who, while receiving
the support of the Bond and the Dutch party generally, was known to be
also a strong Imperialist, eager to extend the range of British power
over the continent. At the same time, the attachment of the colonial
Dutch to the Transvaal cooled down under the unfriendly policy of that
Republic, whose government imposed heavy import duties on their
food-stuffs, and denied to their youth the opportunities of obtaining
posts in the public service of the Republic, preferring to fetch
Dutch-speaking men from Holland, when it could have had plenty of
capable people from the Cape who spoke the tongue and knew the ways of
the country. Thus the embers of Dutch and English antagonism seemed to
be growing cold when they were suddenly fanned again into a flame by the
fresh Transvaal troubles of December, 1895, which caused the resignation
of Mr. Rhodes, and the severance from him of his Dutch supporters. Too
little time has elapsed since those events to make it possible to
predict how parties may reshape themselves, nor is it any part of my
plan to deal with current politics. In 1897 feeling still ran high, but
it had not destroyed the previously friendly social relations of the
races, and there was then reason to hope that within a few months or
years mutual confidence would be restored.

So far as I could ascertain, both local government and central
government are in the two Colonies, as well as in the Orange Free State,
pure and honest. The judiciary is above all suspicion, and includes
several distinguished men. The civil service is managed on English
principles, there being no elective offices; and nothing resembling what
is called the "caucus system" seems to have grown up. There are in the
Cape Legislature some few members supposed to be "low-toned" and open to
influence by the prospect of material gain, but, though I heard of
occasional jobbing, I heard of little or nothing amounting to
corruption. Elections were said to be free from bribery, but as they had
seldom excited keen interest, this point of superiority to most
countries need not be ascribed to moral causes.

Reviewing the course of Cape politics during the thirty years of
responsible government, that course appears smooth when compared with
the parallel current of events in the Australian Colonies. There have
been few constitutional crises, and no exciting struggles over purely
domestic issues. This is due not merely to the absence of certain causes
of strife, but also to the temper of the people, and their thin
dispersion over a vast territory. In large town populations excitement
grows by the sympathy of numbers, but South Africa has only five or six
towns in which a public meeting of even three hundred citizens could be
gathered. The Dutch are tardy, cautious and reserved. The doggedness of
their ancestors who resisted Philip II. of Spain lives in them still.
They have a slow tenacious intensity, like that of a forest fire, which
smoulders long among the prostrate trunks before it bursts into flame.
But they are, except when deeply stirred, conservative and slow to move.
They dislike change so much as to be unwilling to change their
representatives or their ministers. A Cape statesman told me that the
Dutch members of the Assembly would often say to him: "We think you
wrong in this instance, and we are going to vote against you, but we
don't want to turn you out; stay on in office as before." So President
Kruger observed to me, in commenting on the frequent changes of
government in England: "When we have found an ox who makes a good leader
of the team, we keep him there, instead of shifting the cattle about in
the hope of finding a better one;" and in saying this he expressed the
feelings and habits of his race. To an Englishman the Dutch seem to want
that interest in politics for the sake of politics which marks not only
the English (and still more the Irish) at home but also the English
stock in North America and Australia. But this very fact makes them all
the more fierce and stubborn when some issue arises which stirs their
inmost mind, and it is a fact to be remembered by those who have to
govern them. The things they care most about are their religion, their
race ascendency over the blacks, and their Dutch-African nationality as
represented by their kinsfolk in the two Republics. The first of these
has never been tampered with; the two latter have been at the bottom of
all the serious difficulties that have arisen between them and the
English. That which was in 1897 exciting them and forming the crucial
issue in Cape politics was the strained condition of things which
existed in the Transvaal. I propose in the following chapter to explain
how that condition came about, and to sketch its salient features.

[Footnote 76: There are for the Council seven electoral provinces, each
of which returns three members to the Council, besides one for
Griqualand West and one for British Bechuanaland.

A Redistribution Act of 1898 altered the areas of some of the electoral
divisions, and the number of members returned by some, so as to adjust
representation more accurately to population.]

[Footnote 77: Some friction has, however, arisen from the right claimed
by the Council of amending money bills, especially for the purpose (one
is told) of securing grants to the electoral provinces they represent.]



The agitation at Johannesburg, which Dr. Jameson's expedition turned
into a rising, took place in December, 1895. I spent some time in
Pretoria and Johannesburg in the preceding month, and had good
opportunities of observing the symptoms of political excitement and
gauging the tendencies at work which were so soon to break out and fix
the eyes of the world upon the Witwatersrand. The situation was a
singular one, without parallel in history; and though I did not know
that the catastrophe was so near at hand, it was easy to see that a
conflict must come and would prove momentous to South Africa. Of this
situation as it presented itself to a spectator who had no personal
interest involved, and had the advantage of hearing both sides, I
propose to speak in the present chapter.

To comprehend the position of the Transvaal Boers one must know
something of their history. From the brief sketch of it given in earlier
chapters (Chapters XI and XII) the reader will have gathered how unlike
they are to any European people or to the people of the United States.
Severed from Europe and its influences two hundred years ago, they have,
in some of the elements of modern civilisation, gone back rather than
forward. They were in 1885, when the Rand goldfields were discovered,
and many of them are to-day, a half-nomad race, pasturing their flocks
and herds over the vast spaces of what is still a wilderness, and
migrating in their waggons from the higher to the lower pastures
according to the season of the year--

                                      --Omnia secum
    Armentarius Afer agit, tectumque laremque
    Armaque, Amyclæumque canem, Cressamque pharetram.

Living in the open air, and mostly in the saddle, they are strangely
ignorant and old fashioned in all their ideas. They have no literature
and very few newspapers. Their religion is the Dutch and Huguenot
Calvinism of the seventeenth century, rigid and stern, hostile to all
new light, imbued with the spirit of the Old Testament rather than of
the New. They dislike and despise the Kafirs, whom they have regarded as
Israel may have regarded Amalek, and whom they have treated with equal
severity. They hate the English also,[78] who are to them the hereditary
enemies that conquered them at the Cape; that drove them out into the
wilderness in 1836; that annexed their Republic in 1877, and thereafter
broke the promises of self-government made at the time of the
annexation; that stopped their expansion on the west by occupying
Bechuanaland, and on the north by occupying Matabililand and
Mashonaland; and that were still, as they believed, plotting to find
some pretext for overthrowing their independence.[79] This hatred is
mingled with a contempt for those whom they defeated at Laing's Nek and
Majuba Hill, and with a fear born of the sense that the English are
their superiors in knowledge, in activity, and in statecraft. It is
always hard for a nation to see the good qualities of its rivals and the
strong points of its opponents' case; but with the Boers the difficulty
is all the greater because they know little or nothing of the modern
world and of international politics. Two centuries of solitary pastoral
life have not only given them an aversion for commerce, for industrial
pursuits, and for finance, but an absolute incapacity for such
occupations, so that when gold was discovered in their country, they did
not even attempt to work it,[80] but were content to sell, usually for a
price far below its value, the land where the gold-reefs lay, and move
off with the proceeds to resume elsewhere their pastoral life. They have
the virtues appropriate to a simple society. They are brave,
good-natured, hospitable, faithful to one another, generally pure in
their domestic life, seldom touched by avarice or ambition. But the
corruption of their Legislature shows that it is rather to the absence
of temptation than to any superior strength of moral principle that
these merits have been due. For politics they have little taste or gift.
Politics can flourish only where people are massed together, and the
Boer is a solitary being who meets his fellows solely for the purposes
of religion or some festive gathering. Yet ignorant and slow-witted as
they are, inborn ability and resolution are not wanting. They have
indeed a double measure of wariness and wiliness in their intercourse
with strangers, because their habitual suspicion makes them seek in
craft the defence for their ignorance of affairs; while their native
doggedness is confirmed by their belief in the continued guidance and
protection of that Providence whose hand led them through the wilderness
and gave them the victory over all their enemies.

This was the people into whose territory there came, after 1884, a
sudden swarm of gold-seekers. The Uitlanders, as these strangers are
called (the word is not really Dutch, one is told, but an adaptation
from the German), who by 1890 had come to equal and soon thereafter
exceeded the whole number of the Boers, belonged to many stocks. The
natives of England, the Cape, and Natal were the most numerous, but
there were also many English-speaking men from other regions, including
Australians and Americans, as well as a smaller number of Germans and
Scandinavians, some Russians (mostly Jews) and a few Italians and
Frenchmen. Unlike as these newcomers were to one another, they were all
still more unlike the rude hunting and pastoral people among whom they
came. They were miners, traders, financiers, engineers, keen,
nimble-minded men, all more or less skilled in their respective crafts,
all bent on gain, and most of them with that sense of irresponsibility
and fondness for temporary pleasure which a chanceful and uncertain
life, far from home, and relieved from the fear of public opinion, tends
to produce. Except some of the men from the two Colonies, they could not
speak the Boer _Taal_, and had no means of communication, any more than
they had social or moral affinities, with the folk of the land. There
were therefore no beginnings of any assimilation between them and the
latter. They did not affect the Boers, except with a sense of repulsion,
and still less did the Boers affect them. Moreover, there were few
occasions for social intercourse. The Uitlanders settled only along the
Witwatersrand, and were aggregated chiefly in Johannesburg. The Boers
who had lived on the Rand, except a few who came daily into the towns
with their waggons to sell milk and vegetables, retired from it. It was
only in Pretoria and in a few of the villages that there was any direct
social contact between the two elements.

Although less than half of the immigrants came from England, probably
five-sixths spoke English and felt themselves drawn together not only by
language, but by community of ideas and habits. The Australians, the
Americans, and the men from Cape Colony and Natal considered themselves
for all practical--I do not say for all political--purposes to be
English, and English became the general spoken tongue not only of
Johannesburg, but of the mining districts generally. Hearing nothing but
English spoken, seeing nothing all round them that was not far more
English than Dutch, though English with a half-colonial, half-American
tinge, it was natural that the bulk of the Uitlanders should deem
themselves to be in a country which had become virtually English, and
should see something unreasonable or even grotesque in the control of a
small body of persons whom they deemed in every way their inferiors.
However, before I describe their sentiments and their schemes, some
account must be given of the government under which they lived.

As was explained in a previous chapter (Chapter XII) the South African
Republic was formed by the union, between 1858 and 1862, of several
small and theretofore practically independent republican communities.
Its constitution was set forth in a document called the Grondwet,[81] or
"Fundamental Law," enacted in 1858 and partly based on a prior draft of
1855. It is a very crude, and indeed rude, instrument, occasionally
obscure, and containing much matter not fit for a constitution. It
breathes, however, a thoroughly free spirit, save as regards Kafirs and
Roman Catholics, recognizing the people as a source of power, laying
down the old distinction between the three departments of
government,--legislative, executive, and judicial,--and guaranteeing
some of the primordial rights of the citizen. By it the government was
vested in a President, head of the executive, and elected for five
years, an Executive Council of five members (three elected and two _ex
officio_), and a Legislature called the Volksraad, elected by the
citizens on a very extended suffrage, and declared to be the supreme
power in the State. The Volksraad consists of one chamber, in which
there are at present twenty-four members. The President has the right of
speaking, though not of voting, in it, but has no veto on its action.
Though there are few constitutions anywhere which give such unlimited
power to the Legislature, the course of events--oft-recurring troubles
of all sorts, native wars, internal dissensions, financial pressure,
questions with the British Government--have made the President
practically more important than the Legislature, and, in fact, the main
force in the Republic. The Executive Council has exerted little power
and commanded little deference, while the Volksraad has usually been
guided by the President and has never taken the direction of affairs out
of his hands. Both legislation and administration have been carried on
in a rough-and-ready fashion, sometimes in violation of the strict
letter of the law. In particular the provision of the Grondwet, that no
statute should be enacted without being submitted for a period of three
months to the people, has been practically ignored by the enactment as
laws of a large number of resolutions on matters not really urgent,
although the Grondwet permits this to be done only in cases which do not
admit of delay. This has, however, been rectified by a law passed
subsequently to 1895, altering the provision of the Grondwet.

In 1881, when the Republic recovered its independence, there were
neither roads, railways, nor telegraphs in the country. Its towns were
rough hamlets planted round a little church. Its people had only the
bare necessaries of life. The taxes produced scarcely any revenue. The
treasury was empty, and the Government continued to be hard-pressed for
money and unable to construct public works or otherwise improve the
country till 1885, when the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand began
to turn a stream of gold into its coffers. Riches brought new
difficulties and new temptations. Immigrants rushed in,--capitalists,
miners, and traders. As the produce of the gold-field increased, it
became plain that they would come in ever increasing numbers. The old
Boers took alarm. The rush could hardly have been stopped, and to stop
it would have involved a check in the expansion of the revenue. It was
accordingly determined to maintain the political _status quo_ by
excluding these newcomers from political rights. The Grondwet declares
(Article VI.) that "the territory is open for every foreigner who obeys
the laws of the Republic," and as late as 1881 an immigrant could
acquire the electoral franchise after a residence of two years. In 1882,
however, this period was raised to five years, and in 1887 to fifteen.
In 1890, by which time the unenfranchised strangers had begun to agitate
for the right to be represented, a nominal concession was made by the
creation of a new chamber, called the Second Volksraad, for membership
in which a newcomer might be eligible after taking an oath of allegiance
followed by four years' residence, the right to vote at elections to
this chamber being attainable after the oath and two years' residence.
This Second Raad, however, is limited to the consideration of certain
specified subjects, not including taxation, and its acts can be
overruled by the First Volksraad, while its assent is not required to
the acts of that body. It has therefore turned out little better than a
sham, having, in fact, been created only as a tub to throw to the
Uitlander whale. The effect of the legislation of 1890 and subsequent
years down to 1894 (legislation too intricate and confused to be set
forth in detail here) has been to debar any immigrant from acquiring the
right to vote for the First Volksraad until he has passed the age of
forty and resided for at least twelve years in the country after taking
the oath and being placed on the local government lists, lists on which
the local authorities are said to be nowise careful to place him. Nor
does birth in the Republic confer citizenship, unless the father has
taken the oath of allegiance. President Kruger, who has held office
since 1881, was chiefly instrumental in passing these laws, for his
force of character, long experience of affairs, and services in the
crisis of 1877-81 gave him immense power over the Raad, in which he
constantly spoke, threatening the members with the loss of national
independence unless they took steps to stem the rising tide of foreign
influence. As a patriot, he feared the English; as a Boer Puritan of the
old stubborn stock, he hated all foreigners and foreign ways, seeing in
them the ruin of the ancient customs of his people. He carried this
antagonism so far that, being unable to find among his citizens men
sufficiently educated to deal with the growing mass of administrative
work which the increase of wealth, industry, and commerce brought, he
refused to appoint Dutch-speaking men from the Cape or Natal, because
they were natives of British Colonies, and recruited his civil service
from Holland. The Hollanders he imported were far more strange to the
country than Cape Dutchmen would have been, and the Boers did not, and
do not now, take kindly to them. But they were, by the necessity of
their position, anti-English, and that was enough.

Meanwhile the old Boer virtues were giving way under new temptations.
The Volksraad (as is believed all over South Africa) became corrupt,
though of course there have always been pure and upright men among its
members. The civil service was not above suspicion. Rich men and
powerful corporations surrounded those who had concessions to give or
the means of influencing legislation, whether directly or indirectly.
The very inexperience of the Boer ranchman who came up as a member of
the Volksraad made him an easy prey. All sorts of abuses sprang up,
while the primary duties of a government were very imperfectly
performed. Hardly any administration was needed while the Transvaal had
a population of wandering stock-farmers. But when one hundred thousand
white immigrants were congregated along the Witwatersrand, and were
employing some fifty thousand native workpeople, an efficient police, an
abundant water-supply, good sanitary regulations, and laws to keep
liquor from the natives became urgently needed; and none of these things
was provided, although taxation continued to rise and the treasury was
overflowing. Accordingly, the discontent of the Uitlanders increased. It
was no longer a mere question of obtaining political rights for their
own sake, it was also a question of winning political power in order to
reform the administration, and so secure those practical benefits which
the President and the Volksraad and the Hollander officials were either
unable or unwilling to give. In 1892 an association, called the National
Union, was formed by a number of Uitlanders, "to obtain, by all
constitutional means, equal rights for all citizens of the Republic, and
the redress of all grievances." Although nearly all those who formed it
were natives either of England or of the British Colonies, it did not
seek to bring the country under British control, but included among its
aims "the maintenance of the independence of the Republic."
Nevertheless, it incurred the hostility of the President and his
friends, and its petitions were unceremoniously repulsed. This tended to
accentuate the anti-Boer feeling of the Uitlanders, so that when Sir H.
Loch, the High Commissioner, came up from the Cape in 1894 to negotiate
regarding Swaziland and other pending questions, he was made the object
of a vehement demonstration at Pretoria. The English took the horses out
of his carriage and drew it through the streets, waving the British flag
even over the head of President Kruger himself, and shouting "Reform!
reform!" This incident redoubled Mr. Kruger's apprehensions, but did not
shake his purpose. It suggested new plans to the Uitlanders, who had
(shortly before) been further incensed by the demand of the Government
that they should, although debarred from the suffrage, serve in a
military commando sent against the Kafir chief Malaboch. Despairing of
constitutional agitation, they began to provide themselves with arms and
to talk of a general rising. Another cause, which I have not yet
mentioned, had recently sharpened their eagerness for reforms. About
1892 the theory was propounded that the gold-bearing reefs might be
worked not only near the surface, but also at much greater depths, and
that, owing to the diminution of the angle of the dip as the beds
descend into the earth, a much greater mass of gold-bearing rock might
be reached than had been formerly deemed possible. This view, soon
confirmed by experimental borings, promised a far longer life to the
mines than had been previously expected. Those who had come to the Rand
thinking they might probably leave it after a few years now conceived
the idea of permanent residence, while the directors of the great mining
companies, perceiving how much their industry might be developed,
smarted more than ever under the maladministration and exactions from
which the industry suffered.

These were the events and these the causes that had brought about the
state of things which a visitor saw at Pretoria and Johannesburg in
November, 1895. Revolution was already in the air, but few could guess
what form it would take. The situation was a complicated one, because
each of the two main sections of the population, Boers and Uitlanders,
was itself subdivided into minor groups. The Uitlanders were of many
nationalities; but those who spoke English were so much the most
numerous that I shall speak of them only, dismissing the remainder with
the remark that while many of them sympathized with the Reform movement,
few of them gave it active support, while most of the Germans, moved by
anti-British feeling, favoured President Kruger's Government.

The English section, including Cape and Natal men, Australians and
Americans, consisted of three sets of persons: the middle classes, the
capitalist mine-owners, and the working men. The middle class people,
traders, professional men, engineers, and the like, either belonged to
or were in sympathy with the National Union. It was they who had formed
it. They had recently presented to the Volksraad a petition, signed by
thirty-eight thousand non-enfranchised residents, asking for reforms,
and this petition had been scornfully rejected, one member saying, with
no disapproval from his colleagues, that if the strangers wanted to get
what they called their rights they would have to fight for them. Their
agitation had been conducted publicly and on constitutional lines,
without threats of force. It was becoming plain, however, in 1895, that
some at least of the leaders were now prepared to use force and would
take arms whenever a prospect of success appeared. But under what flag
would they fight? Would they adhere to their original idea, and maintain
an independent South African Republic when they had ejected the dominant
oligarchy and secured political power for all residents? Or would they
hoist the Union Jack and carry the country back under the British
Crown? No one could speak positively, but most thought that the former
course would be taken. The Americans would be for it. Most of the Cape
people who came of Dutch stock would be for it. Even among the pure
English, some talked bitterly of Majuba Hill, and declared they would
not fight to give the country back to Britain which had abandoned it in

The motives of these Reformers were simple and patent. Those of them who
had been born and lived long in Africa thought it an intolerable wrong
that, whereas everywhere else in South Africa they could acquire the
suffrage and the means of influencing the government after two or three
years' residence, they were in the Transvaal condemned to a long
disability, and denied all voice in applying the taxes which they paid.
Thinking of South Africa as practically one country, they complained
that here, and here only, were they treated as aliens and inferiors.
Both they and all the other Uitlanders had substantial grievances to
redress. Food was inordinately dear, because a high tariff had been
imposed on imports. Water-supply, police, sanitation, were all
neglected. Not only was Dutch the official language, but in the public
schools Dutch was then the only medium of instruction; and English
children were compelled to learn arithmetic, geography, and history out
of Dutch text-books. It was these abuses, rather than any wish to bring
the Transvaal under the British flag, or even to establish a South
African Confederation, that disposed them to revolt against a Government
which they despised.

The mine-owning capitalists were a very small class, but powerful by
their wealth, their intelligence, and their influence over those whom
they employed. They had held aloof from the agitation which began in
1892, because they did not themselves care for the franchise, not
meaning to spend their lives in the Transvaal, and because they knew
that political disturbances would interfere with the mining industry.
The leading man, and certainly one of the ablest men among them,[82]
foresaw trouble as far back as June, 1894, when he wrote that the unrest
of the country came "from the open hostility of the Government to the
Uitlanders, and its hostility to all principles of sound Government; the
end will be revolution;" and a few weeks later wrote again: "The mining
companies ought to have arms. The courage of the Boers is exaggerated.
If they knew there were in Johannesburg three thousand well-armed men,
they would not talk so loud of destroying the town." Nevertheless, these
capitalists, like capitalists all over the world, disliked force, and
long refused to throw themselves into the movement. They raised a fund
for the purpose of trying "to get a better Volksraad"--whether by
influencing members or by supplying funds for election expenses has
never been made clear. However, these efforts failed, and they became at
last convinced that the loss of their industry from misgovernment was,
and would continue, greater than any loss which temporary disturbances
might involve. The vista of deep-level mining, which had now opened
itself before them, made their grievances seem heavier. Before they
entered on a new series of enterprises, which would at first be costly,
they wished to relieve mining from the intolerable burdens of a dynamite
monopoly, foolishly or corruptly granted to a firm which charged an
extortionate price for this necessity; of a high tariff both on
food-stuffs, involving large expenses in feeding the workpeople, and on
mine machinery; of extravagantly heavy railway rates for coal; and of a
system which, by making it easy for the Kafir workers to get drunk,
reduced the available amount of native labour by one-third, and
increased the number of accidents in the mines. These burdens made the
difference of one or two or three per cent, on the dividend in the best
mines, threatened the prospect of any dividend on the second best, and
made it useless to persevere with the working of a third class, where
the ore was of a still lower grade. Such were the considerations which
at last determined several of the leading mine-owners to throw in their
lot with the Reform party; and the fusion of the two streams gave a new
force to the movement. This fusion took place in the middle of 1895, and
had become known to many, though not to all, of the Johannesburgers in
November of that year. It inspired them with fresh hopes, and made them
think that the day of action was near. The object of these capitalists
was to obtain better government, not the extinction of the Republic, or
its addition to the territories of Britain. This, however, was not the
main object of Mr. Rhodes (then prime minister of Cape Colony and
managing director of the British South Africa Company), with whom they
were (though the fact was known only to a very few of the leaders) by
this time in communication. Although he was largely interested in some
of the mines, his aim was, as even his opponents have now admitted, not
a pecuniary one. It was (as is generally believed) to prevent the
Transvaal from passing under anti-British influences, and to secure that
it should ultimately become incorporated in a confederation of the
several States and Colonies of South Africa under the British Crown.
There were probably others among the leaders who shared this purpose;
but some did not, and here was a question which would seem to have
divided the chiefs as it divided the rank and file. A rising there was
to be. But under what flag? This vital point was left unsettled, and at
the last moment it caused a fatal delay.

The third class of Uitlanders consisted of the white workmen. It was the
most numerous class, and its action would evidently be decisive. When
the visitor who heard the situation discussed--for there was no secrecy
observed--asked about the attitude of the working men, he received no
very definite answer. The general belief was that they would respond to
a call to arms; some from patriotism, because most of them were
Englishmen and Australians; some because they meant to make the
Transvaal their home, and had an interest in good government; some from
sympathy with their employers; some from the love of a fight, because
they were men of mettle. One or two of the Reform leaders were able
speakers, and meant to rouse them by eloquence when the proper moment
arrived. The result showed that a majority--that is, of the
English-speaking workmen--were willing to fight. But when the day of
battle seemed to be at hand, many, including most of the Cornish miners,
proved to be indifferent, and departed by train amid the jeers of their

These three sections of Uitlanders constituted a numerical majority not
merely of the dwellers on the Rand, but of the whole white population of
the country.[83] There are about 65,000 Boers, all told, and about
24,000 male citizens over the age of sixteen. The English-speaking
Uitlanders numbered nearly 100,000, of whom fully one-half were adult
males. Seven-eighths of these were gathered on the Rand. Had they been
armed and drilled and unanimous, they would have been irresistible. But
they were not unanimous, and were, moreover, not only unarmed but also
unorganized, being a crowd of persons suddenly gathered from the four
winds of heaven.

Over against the Uitlanders stood the native Boer population, among whom
we must distinguish two classes. The majority, consisting of the old
"true blues," who hated the British Government and clung to their
national ways, supported the Boer Government in its stubborn refusal to
grant reforms. The President in particular had repeatedly declared
himself against any concession, insisting that no concessions would
satisfy the disaffected. He looked upon the whole movement as a scheme
to destroy the independence of the country and hand it over to England.
Exercising by his constant harangues in the Volksraad, what has been
called a "dictatorship of persuasion", he warned the people that their
customs, their freedom, their religion, were at stake, and could be
saved only by keeping the newcomers out of power. He was confirmed in
this policy of resistance by the advice of his Hollander officials, and
especially of the State Secretary, an able and resolute man.

But the President, though powerful, was not omnipotent. There existed a
considerable party opposed to him, which had nearly overthrown him at
the last preceding presidential election. There was in the Volksraad a
liberal minority, which advocated reforms. There were among the country
Boers a number of moderate men who disliked the Hollander influence and
the maladministration of the Government, and one was told (though with
what truth I could not ascertain) that the trekking which went on out of
the Transvaal into Mashonaland and to the far north-west was partly due
to this discontent. There was also much opposition among the legal
profession, Dutch as well as English, for attacks had been made upon the
independence of the judiciary, and the reckless conduct of legislation
gave displeasure. So far back as 1894 the Chief Justice, a man greatly
respected for his abilities and his services to the State, had delivered
a public address warning the people against the dangers which threatened
them from neglect of the provisions of the constitution. Whether this
party of opposition among the enfranchised citizens would have aided the
Reform movement was doubtful. They would certainly not have done so had
the British flag been raised. But if the movement had sought only the
destruction of Hollander influence and the redress of grievances, they
would at any rate have refused to join in resisting it.

"Why," it may be asked--"why, under these circumstances, with so many
open enemies, and so many wavering supporters, did not President Kruger
bow to the storm and avert revolt by reasonable concessions?" He had not
a friend in the world except Germany, which had gone out of her way to
offer him sympathy. But Germany was distant, and he had no seaport. The
people of the Orange Free State had been ready to help the Transvaal in
1881, and from among the Boers of Cape Colony there might in the crisis
of that year have come substantial succour. But both the Free State and
the Cape Boers had been alienated by the unfriendly attitude of the
President in commercial matters and by his refusal to employ Cape
Dutchmen in the Transvaal service. The annoyance of these kindred
communities had been very recently accentuated by a dispute about the
drifts (_i.e._, fords where waggons cross) on the Orange River. It was
therefore improbable that any help could be obtained from outside
against a purely internal movement, which aimed solely at reform, and
did not threaten the life of the Republic.

The answer to the question just put is to be found not so much in the
material interests as in the sentiments of the old Boer party. They
extended their hatred of the English, or rather perhaps of the British
Government, to the English-speaking Uitlanders generally, and saw in the
whole movement nothing but an English plot. If the President had cared
to distinguish, he might have perceived that the capitalists cared, not
for the franchise, but for the success of their mines; and he might, by
abolishing the wasteful concessions,--which did not even enrich the
State, but only the objects of its ill-directed bounty,--by reducing the
tariff, and by keeping drink from the blacks, have disarmed the
hostility of the mine owners, and have had only the National Union to
deal with. Even the National Union would have lost most of its support
if he had reformed the administration and allowed English to be used in
the schools. He might have taken a hint from the Romans, who, when they
admitted a large body of new citizens, managed to restrict their voting
power, and might, in granting the suffrage to those who had resided for
a certain period on the Rand, have kept the representation of the Rand
district so small that it could not turn the balance against the old
Boer party in the Volksraad. Had he gone further, and extended the
franchise to all immigrants after, say, five years' residence, he might
not only have disarmed opposition, but have made the South African
Republic a powerful State, no considerable section of whose inhabitants
would thereafter have thought of putting themselves under the British
Crown. To have gone this length would no doubt have been to take the
risk that a Republic of Boers might become before long a Republic of
Englishmen, with an English President; and from this he naturally
recoiled, not merely out of personal ambition, but out of honest
national feeling. But short of this, he might, by dividing his enemies,
have averted a grave peril, from which he was in the end delivered, not
by his own strength, but by the mistakes of his antagonists. However, he
kept the ship steadily on her course. He had grown accustomed to the
complaints of the agitators, and thought they would not go beyond
agitation. When pressed to take some repressive measure, he answered
that you must wait for the tortoise to put its head out before you hit
it, and he appeared to think it would keep its head in. He is one of the
most interesting figures of our time; this old President, shrewd, cool,
dogged, wary, courageous; typifying the qualities of his people, and
strong because he is in sympathy with them; adding to his trust in
Providence no small measure of worldly craft; uneducated, but able to
foil the statesmen of Europe at their own weapons, and perhaps all the
more capable because his training has been wholly that of an eventful
life and not of books.

This was how things stood in the Transvaal in November, 1895. People
have talked of a conspiracy, but never before was there, except on the
stage,[84] so open a conspiracy. Two-thirds of the action--there was
another third, which has only subsequently become known--went on before
the public. The visitor had hardly installed himself in an hotel at
Pretoria before people began to tell him that an insurrection was
imminent, that arms were being imported, that Maxim guns were hidden,
and would be shown to him if he cared to see them, an invitation which
he did not feel called on to accept. In Johannesburg little else was
talked of, not in dark corners, but at the club where everybody lunches,
and between the acts at the play. There was something humorous in
hearing the English who dominate in so many other places, talking of
themselves as a downtrodden nationality, and the Boers as their
oppressors, declaring that misgovernment could not be endured for ever,
and that those who would be free themselves must strike the blow. The
effect was increased by the delightful unconsciousness of the English
that similar language is used in Ireland to denounce Saxon tyranny. The
knowledge that an insurrection was impending was not confined to the
Transvaal. All over South Africa one heard the same story; all over
South Africa men waited for news from Johannesburg, though few expected
the explosion to come so soon. One thing alone was not even guessed at.
In November it did not seem to have crossed any one's mind that the
British South Africa Company would have any hand in the matter. Had it
been supposed that it was concerned, much of the sympathy which the
movement received would have vanished.

As I am not writing a history of the revolution, but merely describing
the Johannesburg aspects of its initial stage, I need not attempt the
task--for which, indeed, no sufficient materials have as yet been given
to the world--of explaining by what steps and on what terms the
Company's managing director and its administrator and its police came
into the plan. But it seems probable that the Johannesburg leaders did
not begin to count upon help from the Company's force before the middle
of 1895 at earliest, and that they did not regard that force as anything
more than an ultimate resource in case of extreme need. Knowing that the
great body of the Uitlanders, on whose support they counted, would be
unorganised and leaderless, they desired, as the moment for action
approached, to have a military nucleus round which their raw levies
might gather, in case the Boers seemed likely to press them hard. But
this was an afterthought. When the movement began it was a purely
Johannesburg movement, and it was intended to bear that character to the
end, and to avoid all appearance of being an English irruption.[85]

To the visitor who saw and heard what I have been describing--and no
Englishman could pass through without seeing and hearing it--two
questions naturally presented themselves. One related to the merits of
the case. This was a question which only a visitor considered, for the
inhabitants were drawn by race or interest to one side or the other. It
raised a point often debated by moralists: What are the circumstances
which justify insurrection? Some cases are too clear for argument.
Obviously any subject of a bloodthirsty tyrant ruling without or against
law is justified in taking up arms. No one doubts that the Christian
subjects of the Sultan ought to rebel if they had a prospect of success;
and those who try to make them rebel are blamed only because the
prospect of success is wanting. On the other hand, it is clear that
subjects of a constitutional Government, conducted in accordance with
law, do wrong and must be punished, if they take arms, even when they
have grievances to redress. Here, however, was a case which seemed to
lie between the extreme instances. The Uitlanders, it need hardly be
said, did not concern themselves with nice distinctions. In the interior
of South Africa Governments and Constitutions were still in a
rudimentary stage; nor had the habit of obeying them been fully formed.
So many non-legal things had been done in a high-handed way, and so many
raids into native territories had been made by the Boers themselves,
that the sort of respect for legality which Europeans feel was still
imperfectly developed in all sections of the population. Those of the
Reformers, however, who sought to justify their plans, argued that the
Boer Government was an oligarchy which overtaxed its subjects, and yet
refused them those benefits which a civilised Government is bound to
give. It was the Government of a small and ignorant minority, and, since
they believed it to be corrupt as well as incompetent, it inspired no
respect. Peaceful agitation had proved useless. Did not the sacred
principle of no taxation without representation, which had been held to
justify the American Revolution, justify those who had been patient so
long in trying to remove their grievances by force, of course with as
little effusion of blood as possible?

On the other hand, there was much to be said for the Boers, not only
from the legal, but from the sentimental, side of the case. They had
fled out of Cape Colony sixty years before, had suffered many perils and
triumphed over many foes, had recovered their independence by their own
courage when Britain had deprived them of it, had founded a commonwealth
upon their own lines and could now keep it as their own only by the
exclusion of those aliens in blood, speech and manners who had recently
come among them. They had not desired these strangers, nor had the
strangers come for anything but gold. True, they had opened the land to
them, they had permitted them to buy the gold-reefs, they had filled
their coffers with the taxes which the miners paid. But the strangers
came with notice that it was a Boer State they were entering, and most
of them had come, not to stay, and to identify themselves with the old
citizens, but to depart after amassing gain. Were these immigrants of
yesterday to be suffered to overturn the old Boer State, and build up on
its ruins a new one under which the Boer would soon find his cherished
customs gone and himself in turn a stranger? Had not the English many
other lands to rule, without appropriating this one also? Put the
grievances of which the Uitlanders complained at their highest, and they
did not amount to wrongs such as had in other countries furnished the
usual pretext for insurrection. Life, religion, property, personal
freedom, were not at stake. The worst any one suffered was to be
overtaxed and to want some of those advantages which the old citizens
had never possessed and did not care to have. These were hardships, but
were they hardships such as could justify a recourse to arms?

The other question which an observer asked himself was whether an
insurrection would succeed. Taking a cooler view of the position than it
was easy for a resident to take, he felt some doubt on this point, and
it occurred to him to wonder whether, if the Government was really so
corrupt as the Uitlanders described it, the latter might not attain
their object more cheaply, as well as peaceably, by using those
arguments which were said to prevail with many members of the Volksraad.
Supposing this to be impossible,--and it may well have been found
impossible, for men not scrupulous in lesser matters may yet refuse to
tamper with what they hold vital,--were the forces at the disposal of
the Reform leaders sufficient to overthrow the Government? It had only
two or three hundred regular troops, artillerymen stationed at Pretoria,
and said to be not very efficient. But the militia included all Boers
over sixteen; and the Boer, though not disciplined in the European way,
was accustomed to shoot, inured to hardships by his rough life, ready to
fight to the death for his independence. This militia, consisting of
eighteen thousand men or more, would have been, when all collected, more
than a match in the field for any force the Uitlanders were prepared to
arm. And in point of fact, when the rising took place, the latter had
only some three thousand rifles ready, while few of their supporters
knew anything of fighting. As the Reform leaders were aware that they
would be out-matched if the Government had time to gather its troops, it
has been subsequently hinted that they meant to carry Pretoria by a
_coup de main_, capturing the President, and forthwith, before the Boer
militia could assemble, to issue a call for a general popular vote or
plebiscite of all the inhabitants, Boers and Uitlanders, which should
determine the future form of government. Others have thought that the
Reformers would not have taken the offensive, but have entrenched
themselves in Johannesburg, and have held out there, appealing meanwhile
to the High Commissioner, as representative of the Paramount Power, to
come up, interpose his mediation, and arrange for the peaceable taking
of such a general popular vote as I have mentioned. To do this it might
not have been necessary to defend the town for more than a week or ten
days, before which time the general sympathy which they expected from
the rest of South Africa would have made itself felt. Besides, there
were in the background (though this was of course unknown to the visitor
and to all but a few among the leaders) the British South Africa
Company's police force by this time beginning to gather at Pitsani, who
were pledged to come if summoned, and whose presence would have enabled
them to resist a Boer assault on the town.

As everybody knows, the question of strength was never tested. The
rising was to have been ushered in by a public meeting at the end of
December. This meeting was postponed till the 6th of January; but the
Company's police force, instead of waiting to be summoned, started for
Johannesburg at the time originally fixed. Their sudden entrance, taking
the Reform leaders by surprise and finding them unprepared, forced the
movement to go off at half-cock, and gave to it an aspect quite
different from that which it had hitherto borne. That which had been a
local agitation now appeared in the light of an English invasion, roused
all the Boers, of whatever party, to defend their country, and drew from
the High Commissioner an emphatic disclaimer and condemnation of the
expedition, which the home Government repeated. The rising at
Johannesburg, which the entrance of the police had precipitated, ended
more quickly than it had begun, as soon as the surrender of the
Company's forces had become known, for the representatives of the High
Commissioner besought the Uitlanders to lay down their arms and save
the lives of the leaders of that force.[86] This they did, and, after
what had happened, there was really nothing else to be done.

The most obvious moral of the failure is the old one, that revolutions
are not so easy to carry out as they look when one plans them
beforehand. Of all the insurrections and conspiracies recorded in
history, probably not five per cent. have succeeded. The reason is that
when a number of private persons not accustomed to joint action have to
act secretly together, unable to communicate freely with one another,
and still less able to appeal beforehand to those on whose eventual
support they rely, the chances of disagreement, of misunderstanding, of
failure to take some vital step at exactly the right moment, are
innumerable; while the Government in power has the advantage of
united counsels, and can issue orders to officers who are
habituated to prompt obedience.[87] In this instance, the plan was being
conducted by three groups of persons in three places distant from one
another,--Johannesburg, Pitsani, and Cape Town,--so that the chances of
miscarriage were immensely increased. Had there been one directing mind
and will planted at Johannesburg, the proper centre for direction, the
movement might have proved successful.

Another reflection will have occurred to the reader, as it occurred to
the visitor who saw the storm brewing in November, 1895: Why could not
the Reformers have waited a little longer? Time was on their side. The
Uitlanders were rapidly growing by the constant stream of immigrants. In
a few years more they would have so enormously outnumbered the native
Boers that not only would their material strength have been formidable,
but their claim to the franchise would have become practically
irresistible. Moreover, President Kruger was an old man, no longer in
strong health. When age and infirmity compelled his retirement, neither
of the persons deemed most likely to succeed would have thrown obstacles
in the way of reform, nor would any successor have been able to oppose a
resistance as strong as Mr. Kruger's had proved. These considerations
were so obvious that one asks why, with the game in their hands at the
end of a few years, the various groups concerned did not wait quietly
till the ripe fruit fell into their mouths. Different causes have been
assigned for their action. It is said that they believed that the
Transvaal Government was on the eve of entering into secret relations,
in violation of the Convention of 1884, with a European Power, and that
this determined them to strike before any such new complication arose.
Others hint that some of those concerned believed that a revolution must
in any case soon break out in the Transvaal, that a revolution would
turn the country into an independent English Republic, that such a
republic would spread Republican feelings among the British Colonies,
and lead before long to their separation from the mother country. To
prevent this, they were resolved to take control of the movement and
steer it away from those rocks. Without denying that these or other
still more conjectural motives which one hears assigned may have
influenced some of the more long-sighted leaders,--and the Transvaal,
with its vast wealth and growing population, was no doubt becoming the
centre of gravity in South African politics,--I conceive that a more
obvious cause of haste may be found in the impatience of those Uitlander
residents who were daily vexed by grievances for which they could get no
redress, and in the annoyance of the capitalists, who saw their mining
interests languishing and the work of development retarded. When people
have long talked over their wrongs and long planned schemes for throwing
off a detested yoke, they yield at last to their own impatience, feeling
half ashamed that so much talk should not have been followed by action.

Whatever were the motives at work, whatever the ultimate aims of the
leaders, few things could have been more deplorable than what in fact
occurred. Since the annexation of the Transvaal in 1877 nothing has done
so much to rekindle racial hostility in South Africa; nothing has so
much retarded and still impedes the settlement of questions which were
already sufficiently difficult.

I have described in this chapter only such part of the circumstances
which led up to the rising as I actually saw, and have, for reasons
already stated, confined myself to a narrative of the main facts, and a
statement of the theories put forward, abstaining from comments on the
conduct of individuals. The expedition of the British South Africa
Company's police took place after I left the country. Of it and of what
led to it oral accounts have been given by some of the principal actors,
as well as by many independent pens, while the visible phenomena of the
Johannesburg movement have been less described and are certainly less
understood. I have dwelt on them the more fully not only because they
are a curious episode in history which will not soon lose its interest,
but also because the political and industrial situation on the
Witwatersrand remained in 1897 substantially what it was in November
1895. Some few reforms have been given, some others promised. But the
mine owners did not cease to complain, and the Uitlanders were excluded
from the suffrage as rigorously as ever. The Transvaal difficulty
remained, and still disturbed the tranquillity of South Africa. The
problem is not a simple one, and little or no progress had been made
towards its solution.

[Footnote 78: Since the first edition of this book appeared, Mr. Selous
has told me--and no one's authority is higher, for he has lived much
amongst them--that this statement is exaggerated, and that, great as has
been and is the dislike of the Boers to the British Government, the
average Boer is friendly to the individual Englishman.]

[Footnote 79: I was told that their frequent term (when they talk among
themselves) for an Englishman is "rotten egg," but some persons who had
opportunities of knowing have informed me, since this book was first
published, that this is not so. Another common Boer name for an
Englishman is "red-neck," drawn from the fact that the back of an
Englishman's neck is often burnt red by the sun. This does not happen to
the Boer, who always wears a broad-brimmed hat.]

[Footnote 80: Their laws at one time forbade the working of gold mines
altogether, for they held with the Roman poet (_aurum inrepertum et sic
melius situm_) that it does least harm when undiscovered.]

[Footnote 81: I have elsewhere analysed (in the _Forum_ for April, 1896)
this constitution, and discussed the question whether it is to be
regarded as a true Rigid constitution, like that of the United States,
of the Swiss Confederation, and of the Orange Free State, or as a
Flexible constitution, alterable by the ordinary legislative machinery.
Further examination of the matter has confirmed me in the view there
suggested, that the constitution belongs to the latter category.]

[Footnote 82: Copies of the letters written by Mr. Lionel Phillips were
seized after the rising and published by the Boer Government.]

[Footnote 83: There were some 700,000 Kafirs in the Transvaal, but no
one reckoned them as possible factors in a contest, any more than sheep
or oxen.]

[Footnote 84: This operatic element appeared in the rising itself, when
a fire-escape, skilfully disguised to resemble a Maxim gun, was moved
backward and forward across the stage at Johannesburg for the purpose of
frightening the Boers at a distance.]

[Footnote 85: It is hardly necessary to point out the absurdity of the
suggestion that the Company intended to seize the Transvaal for itself.
The Company could no more have taken the Transvaal than it could have
taken Natal. It was for self-government that the insurgent-Uitlanders
were to rise, and they would have objected to be governed by the Company
at least as much as they objected to be governed by the Boers. Such
individual members of the Company as held Rand mining shares would have
profited by the better administration of the country under a reformed
Government, but they would have profited in exactly the same way as
shareholders in Paris or Amsterdam. This point, obvious enough to any
one who knows South Africa, is clearly put by M. Mermeix, in his
interesting little book, _La Révolution de Johannesburg_. Other fanciful
hypotheses have been put forward, which it seems needless to notice.]

[Footnote 86: Much controversy has arisen as to the promise which the
Boer commandant made, when the police force surrendered, that the lives
of its leaders should be spared. Whatever might have happened
immediately after the surrender, they would in any case not have been
put to death in cold blood at Pretoria, for that would have been a
blunder, which a man so astute and so far from cruel as the President
would not have committed.]

[Footnote 87: When a conspiracy succeeds, the chief conspirator is
usually some one already wielding some civil or military power, as Louis
Napoleon did when he overcame the French Assembly in 1851.]



Though I do not attempt to present in this book an account of the
agricultural and mineral resources of South Africa, some words must be
said regarding its economic prospects--that is to say, regarding the
natural sources of wealth which it possesses, their probable
development, and the extent to which that development will increase the
still scanty population. The political and social future of the country
must so largely depend on its economic future that any one who desires
to comprehend those political problems to the solution of which the
people are moving, must first consider what sort of a people, and how
large a people, the material conditions which nature furnishes are
likely to produce.

The chief charm of travel through a new country is the curiosity which
the thought of its future inspires. In South Africa, a land singularly
unlike any part of Europe or of North America, this curiosity is keenly
felt by the visitor. When he begins to speculate on the future, his
first question is, Will these wildernesses ever become peopled, as most
of North America and a large part of Australia have now been peopled,
and if so, what will be the character of the population? Will South
Africa become one of the great producing or manufacturing countries of
the world? Will it furnish a great market for European goods? Will it be
populous enough and rich enough to grow into one of the Powers of the
southern hemisphere?

Let us begin by recalling the physical features of the country. Most of
it is high and dry; all of it is hot. The parts which are high and dry
are also healthy, and fit for the races of Europe to dwell in. But are
they equally fit to support a dense population?

South Africa has three great natural sources of wealth: agricultural
land, pasture-land, and minerals. The forests are too scanty to be worth
regarding: they are not, and probably never will be, sufficient to
supply its own needs. Fisheries also are insignificant, and not likely
ever to constitute an industry, so we may confine ourselves to the three
first named.

Of these three agriculture is now, and has hitherto been, by far the
least important. Out of an area of two hundred and twenty-one thousand
square miles in Cape Colony alone, probably not more than one
one-thousandth part is now under any kind of cultivation, whether by
natives or by whites; and in the whole country, even if we exclude the
German and Portuguese territories, the proportion must be even smaller.
There are no figures available, so one can make only the roughest
possible conjecture. As regards more than half of the country, this fact
is explained by the dryness of the climate. Not only the Karroo region
in the interior of Cape Colony, but also the vast region stretching
north from the Karroo nearly as far as the west-coast territories of
Portugal, is too arid for tillage. So are large parts of the Free State,
of the Transvaal, and of Matabililand. Where there is a sufficient
rainfall, as in many districts along the south and south-east coasts,
much of the country is too hilly and rough for cultivation; so that it
would be well within the mark to say that of the whole area mentioned
above far less than one-tenth is suitable for raising any kind of crop
without artificial aid. Much, no doubt, remains which might be tilled,
and is not tilled, especially in the country between the south-eastern
edge of the great plateau and the sea; and that this land lies untouched
is due partly to the presence of the Kafir tribes, who occupy more land
than they cultivate, partly to the want or the dearness of labour,
partly to the tendency, confirmed by long habit, of the whites to prefer
stock-farming to tillage. The chief agricultural products are at present
cereals, _i.e._, wheat, oats, maize, and Kafir corn (a kind of millet),
fruit and sugar. The wheat and maize raised are not sufficient for the
consumption of the inhabitants, so that these articles are largely
imported, in spite of the duties levied on them. There is a considerable
and an increasing export of fruit, which goes to Europe,--chiefly to the
English market--in January, February, and March, the midsummer and
autumn of the southern hemisphere. Sugar is grown on the hot lands of
Natal lying along the sea, and might, no doubt, be grown all the way
north along the sea from there to the Zambesi. Rice would do well on the
wet coast lands, but is scarcely at all raised. Tea has lately been
planted on the hills in Natal, and would probably thrive also on the
high lands of Mashonaland. There is plenty of land fit for cotton. The
tobacco of the Transvaal is so pleasant for smoking in a pipe that one
cannot but expect it to be in time much more largely and carefully grown
than it is now. Those who have grown accustomed to it prefer it to any
other. With the exception of the olive, which apparently does not
succeed, and of the vine, which succeeds only in the small district
round Cape Town that enjoys a true summer and winter, nearly all the
staples of the warmer parts of the temperate zone and of subtropical
regions can be grown in some district or other of the country.

The introduction of irrigation would enormously enlarge the area of
tillage, for some of the regions now hopelessly arid, such as the
Karroo, have a soil of surprising fertility, which produces luxuriant
crops when water is led on to it. Millions of acres might be made to
wave with corn were great tanks, like those of India, constructed to
hold the rains of the wet season, for it is not so much the inadequacy
of the rainfall as the fact that it is confined to three or four months,
that makes the country arid. Something might also be hoped from the
digging of artesian wells dug like those which have lately been
successfully bored in Algeria, and have proved so infinitely valuable to
parts of Australia. Already about three hundred thousand acres are
cultivated with the aid of irrigation in Cape Colony. At present,
however, it has been deemed hardly worth while to execute large
irrigation works or to bore wells.[88] The price of cereals has sunk so
low over all the world that South Africans find it cheaper to import
them than to spend capital on breaking up waste lands; and there is
plenty of land already which might be cultivated without irrigation if
there were settlers coming to cultivate it, or if Kafir labour was
sufficiently effective to make it worth the while of enterprising men to
undertake farming on a large scale. The same remarks apply generally to
the other kinds of produce I have mentioned. As population grows, and
the local demand for food increases, more land will be brought under the
plough or the hoe. Some day, perhaps, when the great corn-exporting
countries of to-day--North America, La Plata, central India, southern
Russia--have become so populous as to have much less of their grain
crops to spare for other countries, it will become profitable to
irrigate the Karroo, on which the Kafir of the future will probably
prove a more efficient labourer than he is now. But that day is distant,
and until it arrives, agriculture will continue to play a very
subordinate part in South African industry, and will employ a
comparatively small white population.

Ever since the last years of the seventeenth century, when the settlers
were beginning to spread out from the Cape Peninsula towards the then
still unknown interior, the main occupation of the colonists, first of
the Dutch and afterwards of both Dutch and English, has been the keeping
of cattle and sheep. So it remains to-day. Nearly all the land that is
not rough mountain or waterless desert, and much that to the
inexperienced eye seems a waterless desert, is in the hands of
stock-farmers, whose ranges are often of enormous size, from six
thousand acres upward. In 1893 there were in Cape Colony about 2,000,000
cattle, in Natal 725,000, in the Orange Free State 900,000, and in
Bechuanaland the Bamangwato (Khama's tribe) alone had 800,000. Of these
last only some 5,000 are said to have survived the murrain, which worked
havoc in the other three first-mentioned territories also. In 1896 there
were in Cape Colony alone 14,400,000 sheep and 5,000,000 Angora and
other goats. The number of sheep might be largely increased were more
effective measures against the diseases that affect them carried out.
All the country, even the Kalahari desert, which used to be thought
hopelessly sterile, is now deemed fit to put some sort of live stock
upon, though, of course, the more arid the soil, the greater the area
required to feed one sheep. To the traveller who crosses its weary
stretches in the train, the Karroo seems a barren waste; but it produces
small succulent shrubs much relished by sheep, and every here and there
a well or a stagnant pool may be found which supplies water enough to
keep the creatures alive. Here six acres is the average allowed for one
sheep. Tracts of rough ground, covered with patches of thick scrubby
bushes, are turned to account as ostrich farms, whence large quantities
of feathers are exported to Europe and America. In 1896 the number of
ostriches in Cape Colony was returned as 225,000. The merino sheep,
introduced about seventy years ago, thrives in Cape Colony, and its wool
has become one of the most valuable products of the country. In the Free
State both it and the Angora goat do well, and the pasture lands of that
territory support also great numbers of cattle and some horses. The Free
State and Bechuanaland are deemed to be among the very best ranching
grounds in all South Africa.

Although, as I have said, nearly all the country is more or less fit for
live stock, it must be remembered that this does not imply either great
pecuniary returns or a large population. In most districts a
comparatively wide area of ground is required to feed what would be
deemed in western America a moderate herd or flock, because the pasture
is thin, droughts are frequent, and locusts sometimes destroy a large
part of the herbage. Thus the number of persons for whom the care of
cattle or sheep in any given area provides occupation is a mere trifle
compared to the number which would be needed to till the same area.
Artesian wells might, no doubt, make certain regions better for pastoral
purposes; but here, as in the case of agriculture, we find little
prospect of any dense population, and, indeed, a probability that the
white people will continue to be few relatively to the area of the
country. On a large grazing farm the proportion of white men to black
servants is usually about three to twenty-five; and though the
proportion of whites is, of course, much larger in the small towns which
supply the wants of the surrounding country, still any one can see with
how few whites a ranching country may get along.

The third source of wealth lies in the minerals. It was the latest
source to become known--indeed, till thirty-two years ago, nobody
suspected it. Iron had been found in some places, copper in others; but
neither had been largely worked, and the belief in the existence of the
precious metals rested on nothing more than a Portuguese tradition. In
1867 the first diamond was picked up by a hunter out of a heap of
shining pebbles near the banks of the Orange River, above its confluence
with the Vaal. In 1869-70 the stones began to be largely found near
where the town of Kimberley now stands. This point has been henceforth
the centre of the industry, though there are a few other mines elsewhere
of smaller productive power. The value of the present annual output
exceeds £4,000,000, but it is not likely to increase, being, in fact,
now kept down in order not to depress the market by over-supply.
Altogether more than £100,000,000 worth of diamonds have been exported.
The discovery of diamonds, as was observed in an earlier chapter, opened
a new period in South African history, drawing crowds of immigrants,
developing trade through the seaports as well as industry at the mining
centres, and producing a group of enterprising men who, when the various
diamond-mining companies had been amalgamated, sought and found new ways
of employing their capital. Fifteen years after the great diamond finds
came the still greater gold finds at the Witwatersrand. The working of
these mines has now become the greatest industry in the country, and
Johannesburg is the centre toward which the import trade converges.

I need not repeat the description given in a previous chapter (Chapter
XVIII) of the Rand mining district. The reader will remember that it
differs from all the other gold-fields of South Africa in one essential
feature--that of the comparative certainty of its yield. Accordingly, in
considering the future of South African gold, I will speak first of
those other gold-fields and then separately of the Rand district.

Gold has been found in many places south of the Zambesi. It occurs here
and there in small quantities in Cape Colony, in somewhat larger
quantities in Natal, Zululand, and Swaziland, in the eastern and
north-eastern districts of the Transvaal, at Tati in northern
Bechuanaland, and in many spots through Matabililand and Mashonaland. In
all (or nearly all) these places it occurs in quartz reefs resembling
those of North America and Australia. Some reefs, especially those of
the northern region between the Limpopo and Zambesi, are promising, and
great quantities of gold have in times long past been taken out of this
region. As already explained (Chapter XVII), it seems probable, though
not certain, that in many districts a mining industry will be developed
which will give employment to thousands, perhaps many thousands, of
natives, and to hundreds, perhaps many hundreds, of white engineers and
foremen. Should this happen, markets will be created in these districts,
land will be cultivated, railways will be made, and the local trades
which a thriving population requires will spring up. But the life of
these gold reefs will not be a long one. As the gold is found in quartz
rock, and only to a small extent in gravel or other alluvial deposits,
the mining requires capital, and will be carried on by companies. It
will be carried on quickly, and so quickly with the aid of the
enormously improved scientific appliances we now possess, as to exhaust
at no distant period the mineral which the rocks contain. I saw in
Transylvania in 1866 a gold mine which was worked in the days of the
Romans, and was being worked still. But mining now is as different from
the mining of the ancients or of the middle ages as a locomotive engine
is from an ox-waggon, such are the resources which chemical and
mechanical science place at our disposal. Accordingly, the payable parts
of the quartz reefs will have been drained of their gold in a few years,
or, at any rate, in a few decades, just as many of the silver lodes of
Nevada have already been worked out and abandoned. There will then be no
further cause for the existence of the mine-workers at those points, and
the population will decline just as that of Nevada has declined. These
South African districts will, however, be in one point far better off
than Nevada: they possess land fit everywhere for ranching, and in many
places for tillage also. Ranching will, therefore, support a certain,
though not large, permanent population; while tillage, though the
profitable market close by will have been largely reduced by the
departure of the miners, will probably continue, because the land will
have been furnished with farmhouses and fences, perhaps in places with
irrigation works, and because the railways that will have been
constructed will enable agricultural products to reach more distant
markets, which by that time may possibly be less glutted with the
cereals of North and South America. Accordingly, assuming that a fair
proportion of the quartz reef gold-fields turn out well, it may be
predicted that population will increase in and round them during the
next ten years, and that for some twenty years more this population will
maintain itself, though of course not necessarily in the same spots,
because, as the reefs first developed become exhausted, the miners will
shift to new places. After these thirty or possibly forty years, that is
to say, before the middle of next century, the country, having parted
with whatever gold it contains, will have to fall back on its pasture
and its arable land; but having become settled and developed, it may
count on retaining a reasonable measure of prosperity.

This forecast may seem to be of a highly conjectural nature. Conjectural
it must be, if only for this reason: that the value of most of the
quartz reefs referred to is still quite uncertain. But one cannot visit
a new country without attempting to make a forecast of some kind; and
the experience of other countries goes to show that, while deposits of
the precious metals are, under our present conditions, no more an
abiding source of wealth than is a guano island, they may immensely
accelerate the development of a country, giving it a start in the world,
and providing it with advantages, such as railway communication, which
could not otherwise be looked for. This they are now doing for
Matabililand and Mashonaland, countries in which it would not at present
be worth while to construct railroads but for the hopes attaching to the
mines. This they may do for Zululand and Swaziland also, should the
reefs in those districts prove profitable.

So much for the quartz reefs. As has been observed, the gold mines of
the Witwatersrand differ in the much greater certainty of their yield
and in the much greater quantity of auriferous rock which they have been
ascertained to contain. It is probable that gold of the value of
£700,000,000 remains to be extracted from them. Already a population of
at least 150,000 white men has collected in what was in 1885 a barren
wilderness; already about £15,000,000 of gold per annum is being
extracted. It is practically certain that this production and population
will go on increasing during the next few years, and that the mines will
not be worked out before the middle of next century at earliest. For the
next fifty years, therefore, the Rand district will be the economic and
industrial centre of South Africa and the seat of the largest European
community. What will it be after those fifty or perhaps sixty years,
when the _banket_ beds have been drained of their gold to a depth of
5,000 feet, the greatest at which mining seems to be practicable? It is
possible that the other industries which are rising as ancillary to
mining may for a while and to a reduced extent hold their ground.
Probably, however, they will wither up and vanish. The land will remain,
but the land of this highest part of the Transvaal, though fit for
pasture, does not lend itself to tillage. The probabilities, therefore,
are that the fate of Nevada will in time descend upon the
Witwatersrand--that the houses that are now springing up will be
suffered to fall to ruin, that the mouths of the shafts will in time be
covered by thorny shrublets, and that soon after A.D. 2000 has been
reached this busy hive of industry and noisy market-place of
speculation will have again become the stony solitude which it was in
1880. For all practical purposes, however, an event a hundred years away
is too distant to be worth regarding. The world will in A.D. 2000 be so
different from what it is now that the exhaustion of the Rand gold-field
may have a different bearing from any which we can now foresee.
Johannesburgers themselves are not disquieted by thoughts of a future
that is even half a century distant. The older sort will not live to see
it, and the younger sort expect to have made their fortunes long before
it arrives. Still it must be remembered that, so far as minerals go,
South Africa is now living, not on her income, but on her capital, and
that in twenty-five years half or more of the capital may be gone.

There are other metals in the country besides the precious ones. The
presence of extensive coal-beds in the Transvaal and Natal has been a
circumstance of the first importance for the profitable working of the
Rand gold-beds, and may encourage the growth of some kinds of
manufacture.[89] Iron is abundant both in the Transvaal and in
Mashonaland, and has been found in many other districts, often in the
neighbourhood of coal. It is not worked now, because all iron goods can
be obtained more cheaply from Europe; but it may one day grow into an
industry, as copper-mining already has in Little Namaqualand on the west

The mention of coal and iron brings us to another branch of the
subject--the possibility of establishing manufactures which may become a
source of wealth and the support of an industrial population. At present
the manufactures are insignificant. All the textile goods, for instance,
nearly all the metal goods, and by far the larger part even of the beer
and spirits (intended for the whites) and mineral waters consumed in
the country come from Europe. The Boers in the two Republics and the
Boer element at the Cape have neither taste nor talent for this kind of
industry, and such capital as exists is naturally attracted to mining
enterprises. Nevertheless, it may be thought that as capital accumulates
things will change, and that the English part of the population in the
two British Colonies will take to manufactures, as it has done in
Australia. Let us see whether this is probable.

To enable South African manufacturers to compete on a large scale with
the established manufacturing countries, such as those in north-western
Europe or north-eastern America, three things are needed--a large
market, cheap sources of mechanical power, cheap and efficient labour.
Of these the first is at present wanting, and even should the growth of
the Rand mining district raise the white population of the two Colonies
and two Republics from something over 700,000 to 1,200,000, that number
of consumers will still be too small to encourage the expenditure of any
large capital in endeavouring to produce articles which the immense
manufacturing establishments of Europe, working for populous markets,
can turn out more cheaply. As to mechanical forces, there are no rivers
to give water-power; and though Natal, Zululand, and the Transvaal
provide coal, the quality of the mineral is inferior to that obtainable
in South Wales or Belgium or Pennsylvania. But the most important
conditions for success are those connected with labour. In South Africa
skilled labour is dear because scarce, and unskilled labour is dear
because bad. As was explained in a preceding chapter, all rough, hard
work is done by natives; not that white men could not, in the more
temperate regions, perfectly well do it, but because white men think it
beneath them and only fit for blacks. Now black labour is seldom
effective labour. The mixed race called "Cape boys" are good drivers,
and quite fit for many kinds of railway work. They are employed in the
building trades and in sawmills, and to some extent in such trades as
bootmaking. The Kafirs of the eastern province and of Natal are more raw
than the "Cape boys." They make good platelayers on railways, and having
plenty of physical strength, will do any sort of rough work they are set
to. But they have no aptitude for trades requiring skill, and it will
take a generation or two to fit them for the finer kinds of carpentry or
metal-work, or for the handling of delicate machinery. Besides, they are
often changeable and unstable, apt to forsake their employment for some
trifling cause. Their wages are certainly not high, ranging from ten to
twenty shillings a month, besides food, for any kind of rough outdoor
work. Miners are paid higher, and a Malay mason will get from thirty to
forty shillings a week; but a white labourer at twice the price would,
for most kinds of work, be cheaper. Nor is it easy to get the amount of
native labour that may be needed, for the Kafir prefers to till his own
patch of ground or turn out his cattle on the veldt. The scale for white
workmen is, of course, far higher, ranging from £2 10_s._ to £8 a week,
according to the nature of the work and the competence of the artisan.
Such wages are nearly double those paid in England, treble those paid in
some manufacturing districts of Germany or Belgium, higher even than
those paid in the United States. It is therefore evident that, what with
the badness of the cheaper labour and the dearness of the better, a
manufacturer would, in South Africa, be severely handicapped in
competing with either Europe or the United States. Protectionists may
think that a high tariff on foreign manufactured goods would foster
industrial undertakings in these Colonies. Such a tariff would, however,
need to be fixed very high to give the local factory a chance--so high,
indeed, that it would excite serious opposition from the consumer. And,
in point of fact, there has been hitherto no cry for a tariff to protect
home manufactures, because so few people are at present interested in
having it. Such protection as exists is directed to food-stuffs, in
order to please the agricultural classes, and induce a wider cultivation
of the soil; and the tariff on other goods is almost solely for revenue.

The conditions I have described may, and probably will, change as the
industrial training of the natives improves and their aversion to labour
declines under the pressure of increasing numbers and a reduction of the
quantity of land available for them. But a review of the present state
of things points to the conclusion that no great development of
manufactures, and of a white population occupied in manufactures, is to
be expected, at least for some time to come.

Three other observations must at this stage be made. Till very recently,
South Africans had what the Psalmist desired--neither poverty nor
riches. There were hardly any white paupers, because the substratum of
population was black; and as few black paupers, because a Kafir needs
nothing but food. On the other hand, there were no rich whites. The
farmers, both agriculturists and ranchmen, lived in a sort of rude
plenty, with no luxuries and very little money. Everybody was tolerably
well off, nobody was wealthy. There were large stock-farms, as in
Australia, but the owners of these farms did not make the immense gains
which many Australian squatters and some American cattle-men have made.
Accordingly, when capital was needed for the development of the mines it
was obtained from home. A few successful residents did, no doubt, make
out of the diamond fields large sums, which they presently applied to
the development of the gold-fields. But by far the greater part of the
money spent in opening up mines, both on the Witwatersrand and
elsewhere, has come from Europe, chiefly from England, but to a
considerable extent also from France, Germany and Holland. Accordingly
nineteen twentieths at least of the profits made by the miners are paid
to shareholders in those countries, and not expended in South Africa.
Even among those who have made fortunes out of diamonds or gold by their
personal enterprise on the spot, the majority return to Europe and spend
their incomes there. The country, therefore, does not get the full
benefit, in the way either of payments for labour (except, of course,
labour at the mines) or of increased consumption of articles, out of its
mineral products, but is rather in the position of Mexico or Peru in the
seventeenth century, when the bulk of the precious metals won from the
mines went to Spain as a sort of tribute. There are at this moment
probably not more than a dozen rich men, as Europe counts riches,
resident in the country, and all of these are to be found either at
Johannesburg or at Cape Town. Most of them will after a time betake
themselves to Europe. Nor is there any sign that the number of local
fortunes will increase; for the motives which draw men away from
Johannesburg to Europe are likely to continue as strong in the future as
they are at present.

Secondly, as the whites are not--except at Johannesburg, where the
lavishness of a mining population is conspicuous--large consumers of
luxuries, so the blacks are poor consumers of all save the barest
necessaries of life. It is not merely that they have no money. It is
that they have no wants, save of food and of a few common articles of
clothing. The taste for the articles which civilized man requires is
growing, as the traders in Bechuanaland have already begun to find, but
it grows slowly, and is still in a rudimentary stage. The demand which
South Africa is likely to offer either for home-made or for imported
products must, therefore, be measured, not by the gross population, but
by the white population, and, indeed, by the town-dwelling whites; for
the Dutch farmer or ranchman, whether in the British Colonies or in the
Dutch Republics, has very little cash in his pocket, and lives in a
primitive way. It is only the development of the mines that makes South
Africa a growing market for European goods.

Thirdly, there is not much European immigration, except of artizans; and
these go chiefly to the gold mines of the Rand. Few agriculturists come
out, because farms have seldom been offered by any of the Governments on
the same easy terms as those which prevail in Canada or New Zealand, and
because the climate and the existence of a black population deter the
agricultural classes of northern Europe. Although the Government of Cape
Colony has little or no land obviously fit for tillage to dispose of,
because all the untilled area not absolutely barren has been
appropriated for stock-farms, still there are districts on the south
coasts of Cape Colony, as well as in Natal and in the healthy uplands of
Mashonaland, which Englishmen or Germans might cultivate with the
assistance (in the hotter parts) of a little native labour, and which
Italians or Portuguese might cultivate by their own labour, without
native help. The Germans who were brought out in 1856 throve in body and
estate on the farms which they tilled with their own hands near
Grahamstown. Nevertheless, few agricultural immigrants enter, partly, no
doubt, because so much of the land is held by a comparatively small
number of persons, and reserved by them (as just observed) for pastoral
purposes only. Neither do men go from Europe to start ranching, for the
pastoral lands are taken up, except in those wilder regions where no one
could thrive without some previous experience of the country. The
settling of the newer parts of the country, such as those between the
Zambesi and the tropic of Capricorn, is chiefly carried on by the Boers
of the Transvaal, and, to a less extent, of the British Colonies; for
the Boers retain their passion for trekking out into the wilderness,
while the English, with few exceptions, like to keep within reach of
one another and of civilisation. Accordingly, the country receives
comparatively few recruits from rural Europe, and its agricultural
population grows only by natural increase. There are probably more
natives of India to-day tilling the soil in Natal alone than the whole
number of agriculturists who have come from Europe in the last thirty
years. Legislation which should attract such agriculturists by the offer
of tillage farms of moderate size would be a great benefit to the

We may now endeavour to sum up the facts of the case, and state the
conclusions to which they point.

South Africa is already, and will be to an increasing extent, a country
of great mineral wealth. It is only in the diamond-fields, especially
those of Kimberley, and in the gold-fields of the Witwatersrand, that
this wealth has yet been proved to exist, so far as regards precious
stones and precious metals, but it may exist also in many other
districts. It is not confined to precious stones and metals, and when
these have been exhausted, copper, iron, and coal may continue to
furnish good returns to mine-owners and plenty of employment to
work-people. The duration of the gold-fields generally is uncertain, but
those of the Witwatersrand will last for at least half a century, and
will maintain for all that period an industrial population and a market
for commodities which, though small when measured by the standard of the
northern hemisphere, will be quite unique in Africa south of the

South Africa is, and will continue to be, a great grazing country; for
nearly all of its vast area is fit for live stock, though in large
regions the proportion of stock to the acre must remain small, owing to
the scarcity of feed. It will therefore continue to export wool, goats'
hair, and hides in large quantities, and may also export meat, and
possibly dairy products.

South Africa has been, is, and will probably continue to be for a good
while to come, a country in which only a very small part of the land is
tilled, and from which little agricultural produce, except fruit, sugar,
and perhaps tobacco, will be exported. Only two things seem likely to
increase its agricultural productiveness. One of these is the discovery
of some preservative against malarial fever which might enable the
lowlands of the east coast, from Durban northward, to be cultivated much
more largely than they are now. The other is the introduction of
irrigation on a large scale, an undertaking which at present would be
profitable in a few places only. Whether in future it will be worth
while to irrigate largely, and whether, if this be done, it will be done
by companies buying and working large farms or by companies distributing
water to small farmers, as the Government distributes water in Egypt and
some parts of India, are questions which may turn out to have an
important bearing on the development of the country, but which need not
be discussed now.

South Africa has not been, and shows no sign of becoming, a
manufacturing country. Water power is absent. Coal is not of the best
quality. Labour is neither cheap nor good. Even the imposition of a
pretty high protective tariff would not be likely to stimulate the
establishment of iron-works or foundries on a large scale, nor of
factories of textile goods, for the local market is too small to make
competition with Europe a profitable enterprise. In these respects, as
in many others, the conditions, physical and economic, differ so much
from those of the British North American or Australian Colonies that the
course of industrial development is likely to be quite different from
what it has been there.

From these conclusions another of great importance follows. The white
population will remain scanty in proportion to the area of the country.
At present, it is, in the two British Colonies and the two Dutch
Republics, only about one and a half persons to the square mile, while
over the other territories it is incomparably smaller.

The country will probably remain, so long as present agricultural
conditions continue, a wilderness, with a few oases of population
scattered at long distances from one another. The white inhabitants
will, moreover, continue to be very unequally distributed. At present,
of a total population in the last-mentioned four States of about
730,000, more than one-fourth lives in the mining district of the Rand;
one-sixth is found in the five principal seaports on the southern and
south-eastern coast; the remaining seven-twelfths are thinly dispersed
over the rest of the country in solitary farms or villages, or in a very
few small towns, the largest of which, Kimberley, has only 10,000
inhabitants. The only towns that are growing are those five seaports,
and Johannesburg with its tributary mining villages. Assuming the
present growth of the Rand to continue, it may have in ten years about
500,000 whites, which will be not much less than a half of the then
white population of the whole country. Stimulated by the trade which the
Rand will supply, the five seaports will probably also grow; while
elsewhere population may remain almost stationary. Unless the gold reefs
of the country beyond the Limpopo turn out well and create in that
region miniature copies of the Rand district, there seems no reason to
expect the total number of whites to reach 1,200,000 in less than twenty
years. After that time growth will depend upon the future of
agriculture, and the future of agriculture depends on so many causes
independent of South Africa that it would be unsafe to make any
predictions regarding it. I know some South Africans, able men, who
think that the day will come when the blacks will begin to retire
northward, and a large white population will till their own farms by
their own labour, with the aid of irrigation. Of the advent of such a
day there are no present signs, yet stranger changes have happened in
our time than this change would be. Other South Africans believe that
minerals not less valuable than those which the last twenty years have
revealed are likely to be discovered in other places. This also may
happen,--South Africa, it has been said, is a land of surprises,--and if
it does happen there may be another inrush like that which has filled
the Rand. All that one can venture to do now is to point out the
probable result of the conditions which exist at this moment; and these,
though they point to a continued increase of mineral production, do not
point to any large or rapid increase of white inhabitants.

Twenty years hence the white population is likely to be composed in
about equal proportions of urban and rural elements. The urban element
will be mainly mining, gathered at one great centre on the
Witwatersrand, and possibly at some smaller centres in other districts.
The rural element, consisting of people who live in villages or solitary
farmhouses, will remain comparatively backward, because little affected
by the social forces which work swiftly and potently upon close-packed
industrial communities, and it may find itself very different in tone,
temper, and tendencies from its urban fellow-citizens. The contrast now
so marked between the shopkeeper of Cape Town and the miner of
Johannesburg on the one hand, and the farmer of the Karroo or the
Northern Transvaal on the other, may be then hardly less marked between
the two sections of the white population. But these sections will have
one thing in common. Both will belong to an upper stratum of society;
both will have beneath them a mass of labouring blacks, and they will
therefore form an industrial aristocracy resting on Kafir labour.

[Footnote 88: It is still doubtful whether very large areas can be
irrigated by means of artesian wells.]

[Footnote 89: The Transvaal coal-fields are said to extend over 56,000
square miles; there is also a coal-field in the eastern part of Cape
Colony, near the borders of the Orange Free State.]



In preceding chapters I have endeavoured to present a picture of South
Africa as it stands to-day, and to sketch the leading events that have
made its political conditions what they are. Now, in bringing the book
to a close, I desire to add a few reflections on the forces which have
been at work, and to attempt the more hazardous task of conjecturing how
those forces are likely to operate in the future.

The progress of the country, and the peculiar form which its problems
have taken, are the resultant of three causes. One of these is the
character which nature has impressed upon it. Of this I have already
spoken (Chapter VI), pointing out how the high interior plateau, with
its dry and healthy climate, determined the main line of European
advance and secured the predominance, not of the race which first
discovered the country, but of the race which approached it, far later
in time, from its best side. It is also in this physical character that
one must seek the explanation of the remarkably slow progress of the
country in wealth and population. South Africa began to be occupied by
white men earlier than any part of the American continent. The first
Dutch settlement was but little posterior to those English settlements
in North America which have grown into a nation of seventy-seven
millions of people, and nearly a century and a half prior to the first
English settlements in Australia. It is the unhealthiness of the east
coast and the dryness of the rest of the country that are mainly
accountable for this tardy growth--a growth which might have been still
more tardy but for the political causes that drove the Boers into the
far interior. And again, it is the physical configuration of the country
that has made it, and is likely to keep it, one country. This is a point
of cardinal importance. Though divided into two British Colonies, with
several other pieces of British territory, and two Boer Republics, the
habitable parts of South Africa form one community, all the parts of
which must stand or fall together. The great plateau is crossed by no
lines of physical demarcation all the way from the Zambesi to the Hex
River (some fifty miles north-east of Cape Town), and the coast regions
are closely bound by economic ties to the plateau, which through them
touches the outer world. Popular speech which talks of South Africa as
one whole is scientifically right.

The two other causes that have ruled the fortunes and guided the
development of the country have been the qualities and relations of the
races that inhabit it, and the character of the Government which has
sought from afar to control the relations of those races. These deserve
to be more fully considered.

English statesmen have for more than fifty years been accustomed to say
that of all the Colonies of Great Britain none has given to the mother
country so much disquiet and anxiety as South Africa has done. This is
another way of expressing the fact which strikes the traveller--that no
other British Colony has compressed so much exciting history into the
last sixty or seventy years. The reason is undoubtedly to be found in
the circumstance that South Africa has had two sets of race questions to
deal with: questions between the whites and the aborigines, questions
between the Dutch and the English. It is this latter set of questions
that have been the main thread of South African annals. Why have they
proved so troublesome? Why are they so troublesome to-day, when we ought
to be able to look at them with a vision enlarged and a temper mellowed
by wide experience? Partly from an element inherent in all race
questions. They are not questions that can be settled on pure business
lines, by an adjustment of the material interests of the parties
concerned. They involve sentiment, and thus, like questions of religion,
touch the deeper springs of emotion. And they spring from, or are
involved with, incompatibilities of character which prevent the men of
either stock from fully understanding, and therefore fully trusting, the
men of the other. Suspicion, if not positive aversion, makes it
difficult for two races to work together, even where the political
arrangements that govern their relations are just and reasonable. But
something may also be ascribed to certain malign accidents which blasted
the prospect, once fair, of a friendly fusion between the Dutch and the
English peoples that seemed eminently fit to be fused. The British
annexation of Cape Colony occurred at an unfortunate time. Had it
happened thirty years earlier no difficulties would have arisen over the
natives and slavery, because at that time the new philanthropy had not
begun to influence English opinion or the British Government. Had it
happened in later days, when steam had given quicker and more frequent
ocean communication, Britain and the Colony would each have better known
what the other thought and wished, and the errors that alienated the
Boers might never have been committed. The period which followed the
annexation was precisely the period in which the differences between
English feeling and colonial feeling were most marked and most likely to
lead to misunderstanding and conflict.

For there has been in the antagonism of the Boers and the English far
more than the jealousy of two races. There has been a collision of two
types of civilisation, one belonging to the nineteenth century, the
other to the seventeenth. His isolation, not only in a distant corner
of the southern hemisphere, but in the great, wide, bare veldt over
which his flocks and herds roam, has kept the Boer fast bound in the
ideas and habits of a past age, and he shrinks from the contact of the
keen restless modern man, with new arts of gain and new forms of
pleasure, just as a Puritan farmer of Cromwell's day might shrink were
he brought to life and forced to plunge into the current of modern
London. Had the Boers been of English stock, but subjected to the same
conditions as those which kept the seventeenth century alive in the
country behind the Cape, they too would have resisted the new ways of
the new rulers; but their identity of race and speech with those rulers
would have abridged the struggle. It is the fact that the old Cape
settlers had a language of their own, and a sense of blood-kinship to
hold them together that has enabled the Dutch element to remain
cohesive, and given them an Afrikander patriotism of their own--a
patriotism which is not Dutch, for they care nothing for the traditions
of Holland, but purely Africander.

Their local position as half-nomadic inhabitants of a wide interior gave
a peculiar character to that struggle between the mother country and her
colonists which has arisen more than once in British history. They were
so few and so poor, as compared with the people of the thirteen Colonies
of the North American coast in 1776, that it was useless for them to
rebel and fight for independence, as those Colonies had done. On the
other hand, they were not, like the French of lower Canada, rooted in
the soil as agriculturists. Hence a middle course between rebellion and
submission offered itself. That course was secession. They renounced not
only their political allegiance, but even the very lands where they
dwelt, seeking the protection of the desert as other emigrants before
them had sought that of the ocean. Thus again, and more completely,
isolated since 1836, the emigrant Boers, and especially those of the
Transvaal, have been able to retain their old ways for sixty years
longer, and have grown more anti-English than ever. On the other hand,
the English of the Colony, whose English sentiment was quickened by
these events, have remained more thoroughly English than those of most
British Colonies, and have never conceived the idea of severing their
own connection with the mother country.

That the emigrant Boers became republicans was due rather to
circumstance than to conscious purpose. A monarch they could not have,
because there was no one designated for the place, as well as because
they had the instinct of general disobedience. But for a long time they
tried to rub along with no more government or leadership than the needs
of war required. Seldom has any people been so little influenced by
abstract political ideas, yet seldom has a people enjoyed so perfect an
opportunity of trying political experiments and testing the theories of
political philosophers. But the Boers were, and are still, a strictly
practical people. Their houses give them cover from sun and rain, but
nothing more; there is little comfort and no elegance. So their
institutions were the fewest and simplest under which men have ever
governed themselves. It is therefore no theoretical attachment to
democracy that has helped the Boers to resist the English; it is merely
the wish to be left alone, and a stubbornness of will that made
independence seem more desirable the more it was threatened.

Even this admirable stubbornness would hardly have carried them through
but for the dispersion over vast spaces. That dispersion, while it
retarded their political growth and social progress, made them hard to
reach or to conquer. The British Government despaired of over-taking and
surrounding them, for they were scattered like antelopes over the lonely
veldt, and there was a still vaster and equally lonely veldt behind them
into which they could retire. To pursue them seemed a wild-goose chase,
and a costly one, in which there was much to spend and little to gain.
Thus their weakness has proved their strength, and the more settled they
become in the future, the less can they hope to escape the influences
they have so long resisted.

But for the maintenance of the sentiment of Boer nationality by the two
Boer Republics, the antagonism of Dutch and English in Cape Colony would
have ere now died out, for there has been little or nothing in colonial
politics to sustain it. The interests of the farmers of both stocks are
identical, their rights are in all respects the same, and the British
Government has been perfectly impartial. The Boers in the Colony are
good citizens and loyal subjects. It is only the character of the
country and the conditions of their pastoral life that have retarded
their social fusion with the English, as it is only the passions aroused
by the strife of Boers and Englishmen in the Transvaal that evoked in
1881, and again evoked in 1896, a political opposition between the
races. Fortunately, the sentiments of the Dutch have possessed a safe
outlet in the colonial Parliament. The wisdom of the policy which gave
responsible government has been signally vindicated; for, as
constitutional means have existed for influencing the British
Government, feelings which might otherwise have found vent in a revolt
or a second secession have been diverted into a safe channel.

The other set of race troubles, those between white settlers and the
aborigines of the land have been graver in South Africa than any which
European governments have had to face in any other new country. The Red
Men of North America, splendidly as they fought, never seriously checked
the advance of the whites. The revolts of the aborigines in Peru and
Central America were easily suppressed. The once warlike Maoris of New
Zealand have, under the better methods of the last twenty-five years,
become quiet and tolerably contented. Even the French in Algeria had
not so long a strife to maintain with the Moorish and Kabyle tribes as
the Dutch and English had with the natives at the Cape. The south-coast
Kafirs far outnumbered the whites, were full of courage, had a rough and
thickly wooded country to defend, and were so ignorant as never to know
when they were beaten. A more intelligent race might have sooner
abandoned the contest. The melancholy chapter of native wars seems to be
now all but closed, except perhaps in the far north. These wars,
however, did much to retard the progress of South Africa and to give it
a bad name. They deterred many an English farmer from emigrating thither
in the years between 1810 and 1870. They annoyed and puzzled the home
government, and made it think the Colony a worthless possession, whence
little profit or credit was to be drawn in return for the unending
military expenditure. And they gave the colonists ground for complaints,
sometimes just, sometimes unjust, against the home government, which was
constantly accused of parsimony, of shortsightedness, of vacillation, of
sentimental weakness, in sending out too few troops, in refusing to
annex fresh territory, in patching up a hollow peace, in granting too
easy terms to the natives.

Whoever reviews the whole South African policy of the British Government
during the ninety-three years that have elapsed since 1806 cannot but
admit that many errors were committed. Many precious opportunities for
establishing British authority on a secure basis were lost. Many things
were done imperfectly, and therefore had to be done over and over again,
which it would have been cheaper as well as wiser to have finished off
at once. Many steps, prudent in themselves, and dictated by excellent
motives, were taken at a moment and in a way which made them
misunderstood and resisted. Reflecting on these mistakes, one sometimes
wonders that the country was not lost altogether to Britain, and thinks
of the saying of the old Swiss statesman: _Hominum negligentia, Dei
providentia, regitur Helvetia_. It may nevertheless be truly said for
the British Government that it almost always sought to act justly, and
that such advances as it made were not dictated by an aggressive spirit,
but (with few exceptions) compelled by the necessities of the case. And
it must not be forgotten that, as all home governments err in their
control of Colonies--Spain, Portugal, and France have certainly erred in
their day far more fatally than England--so many of the errors which now
most startle us in the annals of South Africa were all but inevitable,
because the wisest man could not have foreseen the course which things
have in fact taken. Who ever tries to look at the events of sixty,
thirty, or even twenty years ago with the eyes of those times, and
remembers that Colonial ministers in England had to consider not only
what they thought best, but what they could get the uninstructed public
opinion of their own country to accept, will be more indulgent than the
colonists are in their judgment of past mistakes. For instance, it is
apt to be forgotten that the Cape was not occupied with a view to the
establishment of a European Colony, in our present sense of the word.
The Dutch took it that they might plant a cabbage-garden; the English
took it that they might have a naval station and half-way house to
India. Not till our own time did people begin to think of it as capable
of supporting a great civilised community and furnishing a new market
for British goods; not till 1869 was it known as a region whence great
wealth might be drawn. Hence Britain, which during the first half of
this century was busy in conquering India, in colonising Australasia,
and in setting things to rights in Canada, never cared to bend her
energies to the development of South Africa, then a less promising field
for those energies, spent no more money on it than she could help, and
sought to avoid the acquisition of new territory, because that meant new
troubles and new outlays.

The views of colonial policy which prevailed in England down till about
1870 were very different from those which most of us now hold. The
statesmen of the last generation accepted that _consilium coercendi
intra terminos imperii_ which, according to Tacitus, Augustus held sound
for an empire less scattered than is that of Britain; they thought that
Britain had already more territory than she could hope to develop and
(in the long run) to govern; and they therefore sought to limit rather
than increase her responsibilities. And they believed, reasoning
somewhat too hastily from the revolt of the North American Colonies,
that as soon as the new English communities to which self-government had
been or was in due course to be granted, reached a certain level of
wealth and population they would demand and receive their independence.
That the fruit would fall off the old tree as soon as it was ripe was
the favourite metaphor employed to convey what nearly all publicists
took to be an obvious truth. No one stated it so trenchantly as Disraeli
when he wrote: "These wretched Colonies will all be independent too in a
few years, and are a millstone round our necks;" but the dogma was
generally accepted by politicians belonging to both the great parties in
the state. Those, moreover, were days in which economy and retrenchment
were popular cries in England, and when it was deemed the duty of a
statesman to reduce as far as possible the burdens of the people.
Expenditure on colonial wars and on the administration of half-settled
districts was odious to the prudent and thrifty contemporaries or
disciples of Sir Robert Peel and Richard Cobden. Accordingly, the chief
aim of British statesmen from 1830 till 1870 was to arrest the tide of
British advance, to acquire as little territory as possible, to leave
restless natives and emigrant Boers entirely to themselves. Desperate
efforts were made to stop the Kafir wars. We can now see that the
tendency--one may almost call it a law of nature--which everywhere over
the world has tempted or forced a strong civilised power to go on
conquering the savage or half-civilised peoples on its borders, the
process that has carried the English all over India and brought the
Russians from the Volga to the Pamirs in one direction and to the mouth
of the Amur in another, was certain to compel the British Government to
subdue and annex one Kafir tribe after another until either a desert or
the territory of some other civilised State was reached. But fifty years
ago this was not clearly perceived; so the process, which might have
inflicted less suffering if it had been steadily and swiftly carried
through, went on slowly and to the constant annoyance of statesmen at

It was the same as regards the great plateau and the Boer emigrants who
dwelt there. Not from any sympathy with their love of independence, but
because she did not want the trouble of pursuing and governing them and
the wide lands they were spread over, England resolved to abandon the
interior to them. In 1852 and 1854 she made a supreme effort to check
her own onward career, first by recognizing the independence of the
Transvaal emigrants whose allegiance she had theretofore claimed, then
by actually renouncing her rights to the Orange River Sovereignty, and
to those within it who desired to continue her subjects. What more could
a thrifty and cautious and conscientious country do? Nevertheless, these
good resolutions had to be reconsidered, these self-denying principles
foregone. Circumstances were too strong for the Colonial Office. In 1869
it accepted the protectorate of Basutoland. In 1871 it yielded to the
temptation of the diamond-fields, and took Griqualand West. Soon after
it made a treaty with Khama, which gave the British a foothold in
Bechuanaland. In 1877 it annexed the Transvaal. By that time the old
ideas were beginning to pass away, and to be replaced by new views of
the mission and destiny of Britain. The wish of the British Government
to stand still had been combated all along by powerful inducements to
move on. The colonists always pressed for an advance of the frontier.
The Governor usually pressed for it. The home government was itself
haunted by a fear that if it abandoned positions of vantage its
successors might afterwards have reason to rue the abandonment. These
were the considerations that drove British statesmen to the most
momentous forward steps that were taken. Two things, and two only, were
really vital to British interests--the control of the coasts, and the
control of an open road to the north. Accordingly, the two decisive
steps were the occupation of Natal in 1842-3, which shut off the Boers
from the sea, and the taking of Griqualand West in 1871 (followed by the
taking of southern Bechuanaland in 1884), which secured between the
Transvaal on the one side and the Kalahari Desert on the other a free
access to the great northern plateau.

The tide of English opinion began to turn about 1870, and since then it
has run with increasing force in the direction of what is called
imperialism, and has indeed in some cases brought about annexations that
are likely to prove unprofitable, because the territory acquired is too
hot and unhealthy to be fit for British settlement. The strides of
advance made in 1884-5 and 1890 have been as bold and large as those of
earlier days were timid and halting; and the last expiring struggles of
the old policy were seen in 1884, when Lord Derby, who belonged to the
departing school, yielded a new convention to the importunity of the
Transvaal Boers and allowed Germany to establish herself in Damaraland.
But it is due to Britain, which has been accused, and so far as regards
South Africa unjustly accused (down to 1896), of aggressive aims, to
recall the fact that she strove for many years to restrict her dominion,
and did not cease from her efforts until long experience had shown that
it was hard to maintain the old policy, and until the advent on the
scene of other European powers, whom it was thought prudent to keep at a
distance from her own settled territories, impelled her to join in that
general scramble for Africa which has been so strange a feature of the
last two decades.

There have been moments, even since the occupation of two points so
important as Basutoland (in 1869) and Griqualand West (in 1871) when it
has seemed possible that South Africa might become Dutch rather than
English, such is the tenacity of that race, and so deep are the roots
which its language has struck. With the discovery of the Witwatersrand
gold-fields, drawing a new body of English immigrants into the country,
that possibility seems to have passed away. The process of territorial
distribution is in South Africa now complete. Every Colony and State has
become limited by boundaries defined in treaties. Every native tribe has
now some legal white superior, and no native tribe remains any longer
formidable. The old race questions have passed, or are passing, into new
phases. But they will be at least as difficult in their new forms as in
their old ones. I will devote the few remaining pages of this book to a
short consideration of them and of the other problems affecting the
future of South Africa with which they are involved.

Reasons have been given in a preceding chapter for the conclusion that
both the white and the black races are likely to hold their ground over
all the country, and that the black race will continue to be the more
numerous. Assuming the conditions of agriculture to remain what they are
at present, and assuming that the causes which now discourage the
establishment of large manufacturing industries do not pass away, there
will probably be for the next seventy years a large white population on
the gold-field and at the chief seaports, and only a small white
population over the rest of the country. Even should irrigation be
largely introduced, it would be carried on chiefly by black labourers.
Even should low wages or the discovery of larger and better deposits of
iron and coal stimulate the development of great manufacturing
industries, still it is a black rather than a white population that
would be therewith increased. Various causes may be imagined which would
raise or reduce the birth-rate and the infant death-rate among the
natives, so that one cannot feel sure that the existing proportion
between them and the whites will be maintained. But if we regard the
question from the point of view of labour, and take the natives to
represent that part of the community which in Europe does the harder and
less skilled kinds of work, both in country and in town, it may be
concluded that they will continue to form the majority even where they
live among the white people, without taking account of those areas where
they, and they alone, are settled on the land. It is, however,
impossible to conjecture how large the majority will be.

The Kafirs, as has been already suggested, will gradually lose their
tribal organisation and come to live like Europeans, under European law.
They will become more generally educated, and will learn skilled
handicrafts; many--perhaps, in the long run, all--will speak English.
They will eventually cease to be heathens, even if they do not all
become Christians. This process of Europeanisation will spread from
south to north, and may probably not be complete in the north--at any
rate, in the German and Portuguese parts of the north--till the end of
the next century. But long before that time the natives will in many
places have begun to compete (as indeed a few already do) with the
whites in some kinds of well-paid labour. They will also, being better
educated and better paid, have become less submissive than they are now,
and a larger number of them will enjoy the suffrage.

What will be the relations of the two races when these things have come
about, say within two or three generations? Consider what the position
will then be. Two races will be living on the same ground, in close and
constant economic relations, both those of employment and those of
competition, speaking the same language and obeying the same laws,
differing, no doubt, in strength of intelligence and will, yet with many
members of the weaker race superior as individual men to many members of
the stronger. And these two races, separated by the repulsion of
physical differences, will have no social intercourse, no mixture of
blood, but will each form a nation by itself for all purposes save those
of industry and perhaps of politics. There will, no doubt, be the nexus
of industrial interest, for the white employer will need the labour of
the blacks. But even in countries where no race differences intervene,
the industrial nexus does not prevent bitter class hatreds and labour

That such a state of things will arrive is rendered probable not only by
the phenomena to be observed to-day in South Africa, but by the
experience of the Southern States of the American Union, where almost
exactly what I have described has come to pass, with the addition that
the inferior race has in theory the same political rights as the
superior. How will the relations of two races so living together be
adjusted? The experience of the Southern States is too short to throw
much light on this problem. It is, however, a painful experience in many
respects, and it causes the gravest anxieties for the future. Similar
anxieties must press upon the mind of any one who in South Africa looks
sixty or eighty years forward; and they are not diminished by the fact
that in South Africa the inferior race is far more numerous than the
superior. But although the position I have outlined seems destined to
arrive, it is still so distant that we can no more predict the
particular form its difficulties will take than the mariner can describe
the rocks and trees upon an island whose blue mountains he begins to
descry on the dim horizon. Whatever those difficulties may be, they will
be less formidable if the whites realize, before the coloured people
have begun to feel a sense of wrong, that their own future is bound up
with that of the natives, and that the true interests of both races are
in the long run the same.

Although the facts we have been considering suggest the view that the
white population of South Africa will be very small when compared with
that of the North American or Australasian Colonies, they also suggest
that the whites will in South Africa hold the position of an
aristocracy, and may draw from that position some of the advantages
which belong to those who are occupied only on the higher kinds of work,
and have fuller opportunities for intellectual cultivation than the mass
of manual labourers enjoy. A large part of the whites will lead a
country life, directing the field work or the ranching of their
servants. Those who dwell in the towns will be merchants or employers of
labour or highly skilled artisans, corresponding generally to the upper
and middle strata of society in North America or Australia, but probably
with a smaller percentage of exceptionally wealthy men. There is, of
course, the danger that a class may spring up composed of men unfit for
the higher kinds of work, and yet too lazy or too proud to work with
their hands; and some observers already discover signs of the appearance
of such a class. If its growth can be averted the conditions for the
progress and happiness of the white race in South Africa seem
favourable; and we are approaching an age of the world when the quality
of a population will be more important than its quantity.

In this forecast I have said nothing of the gold mines, because they
will not be a permanent factor. The present gold fever is a fleeting
episode in South African history. Gold has, no doubt, played a great
part in that history. It was the hope of getting gold that made the
Portuguese fix their first post at Sofala in 1505, and that carried the
English pioneers to Mashonaland in 1890. It was the discovery of the
_banket_ gold beds on the Witwatersrand in 1885 that finally settled
the question whether South Africa was to be an English or a Dutch
country. Yet gold mining will pass away in a few decades, for the
methods which the engineer now commands will enable him within that time
to extract from the rocks all the wealth now stored up in them. A day
will come when nothing will be left to tell the traveller of the
industry which drew hundreds of thousands of men to a barren ridge,
except the heaps of refuse whose ugliness few shrubs will, in that dry
land, spring up to cover. But South Africa will still be a pastoral and
agricultural country, and none the less happy because the gold is gone.

Neither have I said anything as to the influence of any foreign power or
people upon the South Africans, because they will to all appearance
remain affected in the way of literature and commerce, as well as of
politics, by Britain only. There is at present no land trade from
British or Boer States with the territories of Germany and the Congo
State which lie to the north; and spaces so vast, inhabited only by a
few natives, lie between that no such trade seems likely to arise for
many years to come. Continental Europe exerts little influence on South
African ideas or habits; for the Boers, from causes already explained,
have no intellectual affinity with modern Holland, and the Germans who
have settled in British territories have become quickly Anglified.
Commerce is almost exclusively with English ports. Some little traffic
between Germany and Delagoa Bay has lately sprung up, aided by the
establishment of a German line of steamers to that harbour. Vessels come
with emigrants from India to Natal, though the Government of that Colony
is now endeavouring to check the arrival of any but indentured coolies;
and there are signs that an important direct trade with the United
States, especially in cereals and agricultural machinery, may hereafter
be developed. In none of these cases, however, does it seem probable
that commercial intercourse will have any considerable influence
outside the sphere of commerce. With Australia it is different. Having
ceased, since the opening of the Suez Canal, to be the halfway house to
India, the Cape has become one of the halfway houses from Britain to
Australasia. The outgoing New Zealand steamers, as well as the steamers
of the Aberdeen Australian line, touch there; grain is imported,
although the high tariff restricts this trade, and many Australian
miners traverse Cape Colony on their way to the Witwatersrand. A feeling
of intercolonial amity is beginning to grow up, to which a happy
expression was given by the Cape Government when they offered financial
assistance to the Australian Colonies during the recent commercial

With the other great country of the Southern hemisphere there seems to
be extremely little intercourse. Britain did not use, when she might
have legitimately used, the opportunity that was offered her early in
this century of conferring upon the temperate regions of South America
the benefits of ordered freedom and a progressive population. Had the
territories of the Argentine Republic (which now include Patagonia),
territories then almost vacant, been purchased from Spain and peopled
from England, a second Australia might have arisen in the West, and
there would now be a promise not only of commerce, but ultimately of a
league based upon community of race, language, and institutions between
three great English-speaking States in the south temperate zone. That
opportunity has, however, passed away; and southern South America,
having now been settled by Spaniards and Italians, with a smaller number
of Germans, seems destined to such fortunes as the Hispano-American race
can win for her. But it may well be hoped that as trade increases
between South Africa and Australia, there may come with more frequent
intercourse a deepening sense of kinship and a fuller sympathy,
inspiring to both communities, and helpful to any efforts that may
hereafter be made to knit more closely together the English-speaking
peoples all over the world.

Although the relations of the white race to the black constitute the
gravest of the difficulties which confront South Africa, this difficulty
is not the nearest one. More urgent, if less serious, is the other race
problem--that of adjusting the rights and claims of the Dutch and the

It has already been explained that, so far as Cape Colony and Natal are
concerned, there is really no question pending between the two races,
and nothing to prevent them from working in perfect harmony and concord.
Neither does the Orange Free State provide any fuel for strife, since
there both Boers and English live in peace and are equally attached to
the institutions of their Republic. It is in the Transvaal that the
centre of disturbance lies; it is thence that the surrounding earth has
so often been shaken and the peace of all South Africa threatened. I
have already described the circumstances which brought about the recent
troubles in that State. To comment upon what has happened since the
rising, to criticize either the attitude of the President or the various
essays in diplomacy of the British Government, would be to enter that
field of current politics which I have resolved to avoid. What may fitly
be done here is to state the uncontroverted and dominant facts of the
situation as it stands in the autumn of 1897.[90]

What are these facts? The Boer population of the Transvaal is roughly
estimated at 65,000, of whom about 24,000 are voting citizens. The
Uitlanders, or alien population, five-sixths of whom speak English, are
estimated at 180,000, of whom nearly one-half are adult males. These
Uitlanders hold sixty-three per cent. of the landed and ninety per cent.
of the personal property in the country. In December, 1895, their number
was increasing at the rate of one thousand per week through arrivals
from Cape Town alone; and though this influx fell off for a time, while
political troubles were checking the development of the mines, it rose
again with the renewal of that development. Should the Deep Level mines
go on prospering as is expected, the rate of immigration will be
sustained, and within ten years there will probably be at least 500,000
Uitlanders in the Republic, that is to say, nearly eight times the
number of the Boers.

The numerical disproportion between these excluded persons--a very large
part of whom will have taken root in the country--and the old citizens
will then have become overwhelming, and the claim of the former to enjoy
some share in the government will be practically irresistible. The
concession of this share may come before 1907--I incline to think it
will--or it may come somewhat later. The precise date is a small matter,
and depends upon personal causes. But that the English-speaking element
will, if the mining industry continues to thrive, become politically as
well as economically supreme, seems inevitable. No political agitation
or demonstrations in the Transvaal, much less any intervention from
outside, need come into the matter. It is only of the natural causes
already at work that I speak, and these natural causes are sufficient to
bring about the result. A country must, after all, take its character
from the large majority of its inhabitants, especially when those who
form that large majority are the wealthiest, most educated, and most
enterprising part of the population.

Whether this inevitable admission of the new-comers to citizenship will
happen suddenly or gradually, in quiet or in storm, no one can venture
to predict. There are things which we can perceive to be destined to
occur, though the time and the manner may be doubtful. But as it will be
dictated by the patent necessities of the case, one may well hope that
it will come about in a peaceable way and leave behind no sense of
irritation in either race. Boers and Englishmen cannot in the Transvaal
so easily blend and learn to work together as they have done in the
Orange Free State, because they were in the latter State far less
socially dissimilar. But the extension of the suffrage, while it will be
followed by legislation beneficial to the mining industry, need not
involve legislation harmful to the material interests of the Boer
element. On the contrary, the Boers themselves will ultimately profit by
any increase in the prosperity of the country. An improved
administration will give a more assured status to the judiciary, as well
as a better set of laws and better internal communications, advantages
which will be helpful to the whole Republic.

That the change should come about peaceably is much to be desired in the
interest not only of the Transvaal itself, but of all South Africa. The
irritation of the Dutch element in Cape Colony, both in 1881 and again
in 1896, was due to an impression that their Transvaal kinsfolk were
being unfairly dealt with. Should that impression recur, its influence
both on the Dutch of Cape Colony, and on the people of the Free State,
whose geographical position makes their attitude specially important,
would be unfortunate. The history of South Africa, like that of other
countries nearer home, warns us how dangerous a factor sentiment, and
especially the sense of resentment at injustice, may become in politics,
and how it may continue to work mischief even when the injustice has
been repented of. It is, therefore, not only considerations of
magnanimity and equity, but also considerations of policy, that
recommend to the English in South Africa and to the British Government
an attitude of patience, prudence, and strict adherence to legal
rights. They are entitled to require the same adherence from the
Transvaal Government, but it is equally their interest not to depart
from it themselves, and to avoid even the least appearance of
aggression. The mistakes of the past are not irremediable. Tact,
coolness, and patience--above all, patience--must gradually bring about
that reconcilement and fusion of the two races to which, it can scarcely
be doubted, South Africa will at last attain.

When, by the enfranchisement of the Uitlanders, the Transvaal has ceased
to be a purely Boer State, questions will arise as to its relations with
the other States of South Africa. Cape Colony and the Orange Free State,
as well as Basutoland and the Bechuanaland Protectorate, already form a
Customs Union, and they have long sought to induce the Transvaal and
Natal to enter into it and thereby establish internal free trade
throughout the country. Natal at last consented (in 1898); but the
Transvaal people steadily refused, desiring to stand as much aloof as
possible from Cape Colony, as well as to raise for themselves a revenue
on imports larger than that which they would receive as partners in the
Customs Union. A reformed Transvaal Government would probably enter the
Customs Union; and this would usher in the further question of a
confederation of all the States and Colonies of South Africa. That
project was mooted by Sir George Grey (when Governor) more than thirty
years ago, and was actively pressed by Lord Carnarvon (when Colonial
Secretary) and Sir Bartle Frere between 1875 and 1880. It failed at that
time, partly owing to the annoyance of the Orange Free State at the loss
of the diamond-fields in 1871, partly to the reluctance of the Dutch
party at the Cape, who were roused against the proposal by their
Transvaal kinsfolk. The desire for it is believed to have moved some of
those who joined in the Transvaal Uitlander movement of 1895-96, and no
one can discuss the future of the country without adverting to it. The
advantages it offers are obvious. A confederation would render in Africa
services similar to those which the federal system has rendered in the
United States and Canada, and which are expected by the colonial
statesmen who have laboured to establish such a system in Australia. I
heard not only railways and finance (including tariff and currency), but
also commercial law and native questions, suggested as matters fit to be
intrusted to a federal authority; while it seemed to be thought that the
scope of such an authority should, on the whole, be narrower than it is
under the Canadian Constitution, or under that of the United States. The
love of local independence is strong in South Africa, but might be
deferred to and appeased, as is being done in Australia, by appropriate
constitutional provisions. So far, no fatal obstacle stands in the way;
but a difficulty has been thought to arise from the fact that whereas
Cape Colony, Natal, and the other British territories are part of the
dominions of the British Crown, the Orange Free State is an independent
Republic, and the Transvaal may be so when federation becomes a
practical issue. "Can a federal tie," it is asked, "bind into one body
communities some of which are Republics, while others, though
practically self-governing, are legally parts of a monarchy?"

To this it may be answered that there have been instances of such
confederations. In the Germanic Confederation, which lasted from 1815
till 1866, there were four free Republics, as well as many monarchies,
some large, some small. The Swiss Confederation (as established after
the Napoleonic wars) used to contain, in the canton of Neuchatel, a
member whose sovereign was the King of Prussia. And as it is not
historically essential to the conception of a federal State that all its
constituent communities should have the same form of internal
government, so practically it would be possible, even if not very easy,
to devise a scheme which should recognize the freedom of each member to
give itself the kind of constitution it desired. Such an executive head
as either the President of the United States or the Governor-General of
Canada is not essential to a federal system. The name "confederation" is
a wide name, and the things essential to it may be secured in a great
variety of ways. The foreign policy of a South African Confederation is
perhaps the only point which might raise considerations affecting the
international status of the members of the Confederation; and as to
this, it must be remembered that neither the Orange Free State nor the
Transvaal can come into direct contact with any foreign power except
Portugal, because neither has any access to the sea, or touches (save on
the eastern border of the Transvaal) any non-British territory.

Another remark occurs in this connection. The sentiment of national
independence which the people of the Free State cherish, and which may
probably survive in the Transvaal even when that State has passed from a
Boer into an Anglo-Dutch Republic, is capable of being greatly modified
by a better comprehension of the ample freedom which the self-governing
Colonies of Britain enjoy. The non-British world is under some
misconception in this matter, and does not understand that these
Colonies are practically democratic Republics, though under the
protection and dignified by the traditions of an ancient and famous
monarchy. Nor has it been fully realized that the Colonies derive even
greater substantial advantages from the connection than does the mother
country. The mother country profits perhaps to some extent--though this
is doubtful--in respect of trade, but chiefly in the sentiment of pride
and the consciousness of a great mission in the world which the
possession of these vast territories, scattered over the oceans,
naturally and properly inspires. The Colonies, on the other hand, have
not only some economic advantages in the better financial credit they
enjoy, but have the benefit of the British diplomatic and consular
service all over the world and of the status of British citizens in
every foreign country. It is also a political convenience to them to be
relieved by the presence of the Governor whom the mother country sends
out as an executive figure-head of their Cabinet system, from the
necessity of electing an executive chief, a convenience which those who
know the trouble occasioned by Presidential elections in the United
States can best appreciate. And, above all, the British Colonies have
the navy of Britain to defend them against molestation by any foreign
power. It may be said that they have also the risk of being involved in
any war into which Britain may enter. This risk has, however, never
become a reality; for during the last eighty years no Colony has ever
been even threatened with attack by a foreign State, while during all
that time the Colonies have been relieved from the cost and trouble of
maintaining the naval and military armaments which are needed to ensure
their safety. Thus, even leaving sentiment aside, the balance of
material advantage to the Colonies is great and real; while their
self-government is complete, for the mother country never interferes
with any matters of colonial concern, unless in the rare cases where a
matter primarily local may affect the general relations and interests of
the whole empire. When these facts have been fully realized in the Free
State and the Transvaal, it may well be that those States will be ready
to enter a confederation of which the British monarchy would be, as in
Canada and (probably before long) in Australia, the protecting suzerain,
for there would be in that suzerainty no real infringement of the
independence which the Free State has so happily enjoyed. It is
premature to speculate now on the best form which a scheme for South
African Confederation may take. All that need here be pointed out is
that the obstacles now perceived are not insurmountable obstacles, but
such as may be overcome by a close study of the conditions of the
problem, and by reasonable concessions on the part of South African
statesmen in the different States concerned.

These observations are made on the assumption that the South African
Colonies will desire to maintain their political connection with the
mother country. It is an assumption which may safely be made, for
nowhere in the British empire is the attachment to Britain more sincere.
Strong as this feeling is in Canada and in Australasia, it is assuredly
no less strong in South Africa. The English there are perhaps even more
English than are the people of those other Colonies. Those of Dutch
origin, warm as is their Africander patriotism, have never been hostile
to the British Crown. And both English and Dutch feel how essential to
them, placed as they are, is the protection of a great naval power. They
have as near neighbours in the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans two
great European powers bent on colonial expansion, and to either of whom,
even apart from colonial expansion, such a position as Simon's Bay or
Table Bay offers would be invaluable. Both the mother country,
therefore, whose naval and commercial interests require her to retain
the Cape peninsula, and her South African children, have every motive
for cleaving to one another, and, so far as our eyes can pierce the
mists of the future, no reason can be discerned why they should not
continue so to cleave. The peoples of both countries are altogether
friendly to one another. But much will depend on the knowledge, the
prudence, the patience, the quiet and unobtrusive tact, of the home

While Britain continues to be a great naval power, the maintenance of
her connection with South Africa will ensure the external peace of that
country, which, fortunately for herself, lies far away in the southern
seas, with no land frontiers which she is called on to defend. She may
not grow to be herself as populous and powerful a State as will be the
Canadian or the Australian Confederations of the future, for her
climatic conditions do not promise so large an increase of the white
race; but her people may, if she can deal wisely with the problems which
the existence of the coloured population raises, become a happy and
prosperous nation. They are exempt from some of the dangers which
threaten the industrial communities of Europe and North America. The
land they dwell in is favoured by nature, and inspires a deep love in
its children. The stock they spring from is strong and sound; and they
have carried with them to their new home the best traditions of Teutonic
freedom and self-government.

[Footnote 90: I leave the pages that follow as they were written in 1897
(reserving for another place a reference to events which have happened
since), because I desire that the views therein expressed, which I hold
quite as strongly now as in 1889, should be known to have been formed
and stated before the deplorable events of the last few months (Oct.




Preamble. Her Majesty's Commissioners for the Settlement of the
Transvaal territory, duly appointed as such by a Commission passed under
the Royal Sign Manual and Signet, bearing date the 5th of April 1881, do
hereby undertake and guarantee on behalf of Her Majesty, that, from and
after the 8th day of August 1881, complete self-government, subject to
the suzerainty of Her Majesty, her heirs and successors, will be
accorded to the inhabitants of the Transvaal territory, upon the
following terms and conditions, and subject to the following
reservations and limitations:--

Article 1. The said territory, to be herein-after called the Transvaal
State, will embrace the land lying between the following boundaries, to
wit: [Here follow three pages in print defining boundaries].

Article 2. Her Majesty reserves to herself, her heirs and successors,
(_a_) the right from time to time to appoint a British Resident in and
for the said State, with such duties and functions as are herein-after
defined; (_b_) the right to move troops through the said State in time
of war, or in case of the apprehension of immediate war between the
Suzerain Power and any Foreign State or Native tribe in South Africa;
and (_c_) the control of the external relations of the said State,
including the conclusion of treaties and the conduct of diplomatic
intercourse with Foreign Powers, such intercourse to be carried on
through Her Majesty's diplomatic and consular officers abroad.

Article 3. Until altered by the Volksraad, or other competent authority,
all laws, whether passed before or after the annexation of the
Transvaal territory to Her Majesty's dominions, shall, except in so far
as they are inconsistent with or repugnant to the provisions of this
Convention, be and remain in force in the said State in so far as they
shall be applicable thereto, provided that no future enactment
especially affecting the interests of natives shall have any force or
effect in the said State, without the consent of Her Majesty, her heirs
and successors, first had and obtained and signified to the Government
of the said State through the British Resident, provided further that in
no case will the repeal or amendment of any laws enacted since the
annexation have a retrospective effect, so as to invalidate any acts
done or liabilities incurred by virtue of such laws.

Article 4. On the 8th day of August 1881, the Government of the said
State, together with all rights and obligations thereto appertaining,
and all State property taken over at the time of annexation, save and
except munitions of war, will be handed over to Messrs. Stephanus
Johannes Paulus Kruger, Martinus Wessel Pretorius, and Petrus Jocobus
Joubert, or the survivor or survivors of them, who will forthwith cause
a Volksraad to be elected and convened, and the Volksraad, thus elected
and convened, will decide as to the further administration of the
Government of the said State.

Article 5. All sentences passed upon persons who may be convicted of
offences contrary to the rules of civilized warfare committed during the
recent hostilities will be duly carried out, and no alteration or
mitigation of such sentences will be made or allowed by the Government
of the Transvaal State without Her Majesty's consent conveyed through
the British Resident. In case there shall be any prisoners in any of the
gaols of the Transvaal State whose respective sentences of imprisonment
have been remitted in part by Her Majesty's Administrator or other
officer administering the Government, such remission will be recognized
and acted upon by the future Government of the said State.

Article 6. Her Majesty's Government will make due compensation for all
losses or damage sustained by reason of such acts as are in the 8th
Article herein-after specified, which may have been committed by Her
Majesty's forces during the recent hostilities, except for such losses
or damage as may already have been compensated for, and the Government
of the Transvaal State will make due compensation for all losses or
damage sustained by reason of such acts as are in the 8th Article
herein-after specified which may have been committed by the people who
were in arms against Her Majesty during the recent hostilities, except
for such losses or damages as may already have been compensated for.

Article 7. The decision of all claims for compensation, as in the last
preceding Article mentioned, will be referred to a Sub-Committee,
consisting of the Honourable George Hudson, the Honourable Jacobus
Petrus de Wet, and the Honourable John Gilbert Kotze. In case one or
more of such Sub-Commissioners shall be unable or unwilling to act the
remaining Sub-Commissioner or Sub-Commissioners will, after consultation
with the Government of the Transvaal State, submit for the approval of
Her Majesty's High Commissioners the names of one or more persons to be
appointed by them to fill the place or places thus vacated. The decision
of the said Sub-Commissioners, or of a majority of them, will be final.
The said Sub-Commissioners will enter upon and perform their duties with
all convenient speed. They will, before taking evidence or ordering
evidence to be taken in respect of any claim, decide whether such claim
can be entertained at all under the rules laid down in the next
succeeding Article. In regard to claims which can be so entertained, the
Sub-Commissioners will, in the first instance, afford every facility for
an amicable arrangement as to the amount payable in respect of any
claim, and only in cases in which there is no reasonable ground for
believing that an immediate amicable arrangement can be arrived at will
they take evidence or order evidence to be taken. For the purpose of
taking evidence and reporting thereon, the Sub-Commissioners may appoint
Deputies, who will, without delay, submit records of the evidence and
their reports to the Sub-Commissioners. The Sub-Commissioners will
arrange their sittings and the sittings of their Deputies in such a
manner as to afford the earliest convenience to the parties concerned
and their witnesses. In no case will costs be allowed to either side,
other than the actual and reasonable expenses of witnesses whose
evidence is certified by the Sub-Commissioners to have been necessary.
Interest will not run on the amount of any claim, except as is
herein-after provided for. The said Sub-Commissioners will forthwith,
after deciding upon any claim, announce their decision to the Government
against which the award is made and to the claimant. The amount of
remuneration payable to the Sub-Commissioners and their Deputies will be
determined by the High Commissioners. After all the claims have been
decided upon, the British Government and the Government of the Transvaal
State will pay proportionate shares of the said remuneration and of the
expenses of the Sub-Commissioners and their Deputies, according to the
amount awarded against them respectively.

Article 8. For the purpose of distinguishing claims to be accepted from
those to be rejected, the Sub-Commissioners will be guided by the
following rules, viz: Compensation will be allowed for losses or damage
sustained by reason of the following acts committed during the recent
hostilities, viz., (_a_) commandeering, seizure, confiscation, or
destruction of property, or damage done to property; (_b_) violence done
or threats used by persons in arms. In regard to acts under (_a_),
compensation will be allowed for direct losses only. In regard to acts
falling under (_b_) compensation will be allowed for actual losses of
property, or actual injury to the same proved to have been caused by its
enforced abandonment. No claims for indirect losses, except such as are
in this Article specially provided for, will be entertained. No claims
which have been handed in to the Secretary of the Royal Commission after
the 1st day of July 1881 will be entertained, unless the
Sub-Commissioners shall be satisfied that the delay was reasonable. When
claims for loss of property are considered, the Sub-Commissioners will
require distinct proof of the existence of the property, and that it
neither has reverted nor will revert to the claimant.

Article 9. The Government of the Transvaal State will pay and satisfy
the amount of every claim awarded against it within one month after the
Sub-Commissioners shall have notified their decision to the said
Government, and in default of such payment the said Government will pay
interest at the rate of six per cent. per annum from the date of such
default; but Her Majesty's Government may at any time before such
payment pay the amount, with interest, if any, to the claimant in
satisfaction of his claim, and may add the sum thus paid to any debt
which may be due by the Transvaal State to Her Majesty's Government, as
herein-after provided for.

Article 10. The Transvaal State will be liable for the balance of the
debts for which the South African Republic was liable at the date of
annexation, to wit, the sum of 48,000_l._ in respect of the Cape
Commercial Bank Loan, and 85,667_l._ in respect to the Railway Loan,
together with the amount due on 8th August 1881 on account of the Orphan
Chamber Debt, which now stands at 22,200_l._, which debts will be a
first charge upon the revenues of the State. The Transvaal State will,
moreover, be liable for the lawful expenditure lawfully incurred for the
necessary expenses of the Province since the annexation, to wit, the sum
of 265,000_l._, which debt, together with such debts as may be incurred
by virtue of the 9th Article, will be second charge upon the revenues of
the State.

Article 11. The debts due as aforesaid by the Transvaal State to Her
Majesty's Government will bear interest at the rate of three and a half
per cent., and any portion of such debt as may remain unpaid at the
expiration of twelve months from the 8th August 1881 shall be repayable
by a payment for interest and sinking fund of six pounds and ninepence
per cent. per annum, which will extinguish the debt in twenty-five
years. The said payment of six pounds and ninepence per 100_l._ shall be
payable half yearly in British currency on the 8th February and 8th
August in each year. Provided always that the Transvaal State shall pay
in reduction of the said debt the sum of 100,000_l._ within twelve
months of the 8th August 1881, and shall be at liberty at the close of
any half year to pay off the whole or any portion of the outstanding

Article 12. All persons holding property in the said State on the 8th
day of August 1881 will continue after the said date to enjoy the rights
of property which they have enjoyed since the annexation. No person who
has remained loyal to Her Majesty during the recent hostilities shall
suffer any molestation by reason of his loyalty, or be liable to any
criminal prosecution or civil action for any part taken in connexion
with such hostilities, and all such persons will have full liberty to
reside in the country, with enjoyment of all civil rights, and
protection for their persons and property.

Article 13. Natives will be allowed to acquire land, but the grant or
transfer of such land will, in every case, be made to and registered in
the name of the Native Location Commission, herein-after mentioned, in
trust for such natives.

Article 14. Natives will be allowed to move as freely within the country
as may be consistent with the requirements of public order, and to leave
it for the purpose of seeking employment elsewhere or for other lawful
purposes, subject always to the pass laws of the said State, as amended
by the Legislature of the Province, or as may hereafter be enacted under
the provisions of the Third Article of this Convention.

Article 15. There will continue to be complete freedom of religion and
protection from molestation for all denominations, provided the same be
not inconsistent with morality and good order, and no disability shall
attach to any person in regard to rights of property by reason of the
religious opinions which he holds.

Article 16. The provisions of the Fourth Article of the Sand River
Convention are hereby re-affirmed, and no slavery or apprenticeship
partaking of slavery will be tolerated by the Government of the said

Article 17. The British Resident will receive from the Government of the
Transvaal State such assistance and support as can by law be given to
him for the due discharge of his functions, he will also receive every
assistance for the proper care and preservation of the graves of such of
Her Majesty's forces as have died in the Transvaal, and if need be for
the expropriation of land for the purpose.

Article 18. The following will be the duties and functions of the
British Resident:--Sub-section 1, he will perform duties and functions
analogous to those discharged by a Chargé d'Affaires and Consul-General.

Sub-section 2. In regard to natives within the Transvaal State he will
(_a_) report to the High Commissioner, as representative of the
Suzerain, as to the working and observance of the provisions of this
Convention; (_b_) report to the Transvaal authorities any cases of
ill-treatment of natives or attempts to incite natives to rebellion that
may come to his knowledge; (_c_) use his influence with the natives in
favour of law and order; and (_d_) generally perform such other duties
as are by this Convention entrusted to him, and take such steps for the
protection of the person and property of natives as are consistent with
the laws of the land.

Sub-section 3. In regard to natives not residing in the Transvaal (_a_)
he will report to the High Commissioner and the Transvaal Government any
encroachments reported to him as having been made by Transvaal residents
upon the land of such natives, and in case of disagreement between the
Transvaal Government and the British Resident as to whether an
encroachment has been made, the decision of the Suzerain will be final;
(_b_) the British Resident will be the medium of communication with
native chiefs outside the Transvaal, and subject to the approval of the
High Commissioner, as representing the Suzerain, he will control the
conclusion of treaties with them; and (_c_) he will arbitrate upon every
dispute between Transvaal residents and natives outside the Transvaal
(as to acts committed beyond the boundaries of the Transvaal) which may
be referred to him by the parties interested.

Sub-section 4. In regard to communications with foreign powers, the
Transvaal Government will correspond with Her Majesty's Government
through the British Resident and the High Commissioner.

Article 19. The Government of the Transvaal State will strictly adhere
to the boundaries defined in the First Article of this Convention, and
will do its utmost to prevent any of its inhabitants from making any
encroachment upon lands beyond the said State. The Royal Commission will
forthwith appoint a person who will beacon off the boundary line between
Ramatlabama and the point where such line first touches Griqualand West
boundary, midway between the Vaal and Hart rivers; the person so
appointed will be instructed to make an arrangement between the owners
of the farms Grootfontein and Valleifontein on the one hand, and the
Barolong authorities on the other, by which a fair share of the water
supply of the said farms shall be allowed to flow undisturbed to the
said Barolongs.

Article 20. All grants or titles issued at any time by the Transvaal
Government in respect of land outside the boundary of Transvaal State,
as defined, Article 1, shall be considered invalid and of no effect,
except in so far as any such grant or title relates to land that falls
within the boundary of the Transvaal State, and all persons holding any
such grant so considered invalid and of no effect will receive from the
Government of the Transvaal State such compensation either in land or in
money as the Volksraad shall determine. In all cases in which any native
chiefs or other authorities outside the said boundaries have received
any adequate consideration from the Government of the former South
African Republic for land excluded from the Transvaal by the First
Article of this Convention, or where permanent improvements have been
made on the land the British Resident will, subject to the approval of
the High Commissioner, use his influence to recover from the native
authorities fair compensation for the loss of the land thus excluded,
and of the permanent improvement thereon.

Article 21. Forthwith, after the taking effect of this Convention, a
Native Location Commission will be constituted, consisting of the
President, or in his absence the Vice-President of the State, or some
one deputed by him, the Resident, or some one deputed by him, and a
third person to be agreed upon by the President or the Vice-President,
as the case may be, and the Resident, and such Commission will be a
standing body for the performance of the duties herein-after mentioned.

Article 22. The Native Location Commission will reserve to the native
tribes of the State such locations as they may be fairly and equitably
entitled to, due regard being had to the actual occupation of such
tribes. The Native Location Commission will clearly define the
boundaries of such locations, and for that purpose will, in every
instance, first of all ascertain the wishes of the parties interested in
such land. In case land already granted in individual titles shall be
required for the purpose of any location, the owners will receive such
compensation either in other land or in money as the Volksraad shall
determine. After the boundaries of any location have been fixed, no
fresh grant of land within such location will be made, nor will the
boundaries be altered without the consent of the Location Commission. No
fresh grants of land will be made in the districts of Waterbergh,
Zoutspansberg, and Lydenburg until the locations in the said districts
respectively shall have been defined by the said Commission.

Article 23. If not released before the taking effect of this Convention,
Sikukuni, and those of his followers who have been imprisoned with him,
will be forthwith released, and the boundaries of his location will be
defined by the Native Location Commission in the manner indicated in
the last preceding Article.

Article 24. The independence of the Swazies within the boundary line of
Swaziland, as indicated in the First Article of this Convention, will be
fully recognised.

Article 25. No other or higher duties will be imposed on the importation
into the Transvaal State of any article the produce or manufacture of
the dominions and possessions of Her Majesty, from whatever place
arriving, than are or may be payable on the like article the produce or
manufacture of any other country, nor will any prohibition be maintained
or imposed on the importation of any article the produce or manufacture
of the dominions and possessions of Her Majesty, which shall not equally
extend to the importation of the like articles being the produce or
manufacture of any other country.

Article 26. All persons other than natives conforming themselves to the
laws of the Transvaal State (_a_) will have full liberty with their
families to enter, travel, or reside in any part of the Transvaal State;
(_b_) they will be entitled to hire or possess houses, manufactures,
warehouses, shops, and premises; (_c_) they may carry on their commerce
either in person or by any agents whom they may think fit to employ;
(_d_) they will not be subject in respect of their persons or property,
or in respect of their commerce or industry, to any taxes, whether
general or local, other than those which are or may be imposed upon
Transvaal citizens.

Article 27. All inhabitants of the Transvaal shall have free access to
the Courts of Justice for the protection and defence of their rights.

Article 28. All persons other than natives who established their
domicile in the Transvaal between the 12th day of April 1877 and the
date when this Convention comes into effect, and who shall within twelve
months after such last-mentioned date have their names registered by the
British Resident, shall be exempt from all compulsory military service
whatever. The Resident shall notify such registration to the Government
of the Transvaal State.

Article 29. Provision shall hereafter be made by a separate instrument
for the mutual extradition of criminals, and also for the surrender of
deserters from Her Majesty's forces.

Article 30. All debts contracted since the annexation will be payable in
the same currency in which they may have been contracted; all
uncancelled postage and other revenue stamps issued by the Government
since the annexation will remain valid, and will be accepted at their
present value by the future Government of the State; all licenses duly
issued since the annexation will remain in force during the period for
which they may have been issued.

Article 31. No grants of land which may have been made, and no transfer
of mortgage which may have been passed since the annexation, will be
invalidated by reason merely of their having been made or passed since
that date. All transfers to the British Secretary for Native Affairs in
trust for natives will remain in force, the Native Location Commission
taking the place of such Secretary for Native Affairs.

Article 32. This Convention will be ratified by a newly-elected
Volksraad within the period of three months after its execution, and in
default of such ratification this Convention shall be null and void.

Article 33. Forthwith, after the ratification of this Convention, as in
the last preceding Article mentioned all British troops in Transvaal
territory will leave the same, and the mutual delivery of munitions of
war will be carried out. Articles end. Here will follow signatures of
Royal Commissioners, then the following to precede signatures of

We, the undersigned, Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger, Martinus Wessel
Pretorius, and Petrus Jacobus Joubert, as representatives of the
Transvaal Burghers, do hereby agree to all the above conditions,
reservations, and limitations under which self-government has been
restored to the inhabitants of the Transvaal territory, subject to the
suzerainty of Her Majesty, her heirs and successors, and we agree to
accept the Government of the said territory, with all rights and
obligations thereto appertaining on the 8th day of August; and we
promise and undertake that this Convention shall be ratified by a
newly-elected Volksraad of the Transvaal State within three months from
this date.



Whereas the Government of the Transvaal State, through its Delegates,
consisting of Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger, President of the said
State, Stephanus Jacobus Du Toit, Superintendent of Education, and
Nicholas Jacobus Smit, a member of the Volksraad, have represented that
the Convention signed at Pretoria on the 3rd day of August 1881, and
ratified by the Volksraad of the said State on the 25th October 1881,
contains certain provisions which are inconvenient, and imposes burdens
and obligations from which the said State is desirous to be relieved,
and that the south-western boundaries fixed by the said Convention
should be amended, with a view to promote the peace and good order of
the said State, and of the countries adjacent thereto; and whereas Her
Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland,
has been pleased to take the said representations into consideration:
Now, therefore, Her Majesty has been pleased to direct, and it is hereby
declared, that the following articles of a new Convention, signed on
behalf of Her Majesty by Her Majesty's High Commissioner in South
Africa, the Right Honourable Sir Hercules George Robert Robinson, Knight
Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint
George, Governor of the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope, and on behalf
of the Transvaal State (which shall hereinafter be called the South
African Republic) by the above-named Delegates, Stephanus Johannes
Paulus Kruger, Stephanus Jacobus Du Toit, and Nicholas Jacobus Smit,
shall, when ratified by the Volksraad of the South African Republic, be
substituted for the articles embodied in the Convention of 3rd August
1881; which latter, pending such ratification, shall continue in full
force and effect.


Article 1. The Territory of the South African Republic will embrace the
land lying between the following boundaries, to wit: (Here follows a
long description of boundaries).

Article 2. The Government of the South African Republic will strictly
adhere to the boundaries defined in the first Article of this
Convention, and will do its utmost to prevent any of its inhabitants
from making any encroachments upon lands beyond the said boundaries. The
Government of the South African Republic will appoint Commissioners upon
the eastern and western borders whose duty it will be strictly to guard
against irregularities and all trespassing over the boundaries. Her
Majesty's Government will, if necessary, appoint Commissioners in the
native territories outside the eastern and western borders of the South
African Republic to maintain order and prevent encroachments.

Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the South African
Republic will each appoint a person to proceed together to beacon off
the amended south-west boundary as described in Article 1 of this
Convention; and the President of the Orange Free State shall be
requested to appoint a referee to whom the said persons shall refer any
questions on which they may disagree respecting the interpretation of
the said Article, and the decision of such referee thereon shall be
final. The arrangement already made, under the terms of Article 19 of
the Convention of Pretoria of the 3rd August 1881, between the owners of
the farms Grootfontein and Valleifontein on the one hand, and the
Barolong authorities on the other, by which a fair share of the water
supply of the said farms shall be allowed to flow undisturbed to the
said Barolongs, shall continue in force.

Article 3. If a British officer is appointed to reside at Pretoria or
elsewhere within the South African Republic to discharge functions
analogous to those of a Consular officer he will receive the protection
and assistance of the Republic.

Article 4. The South African Republic will conclude no treaty or
engagement with any State or nation other than the Orange Free State,
nor with any native tribe to the eastward or westward of the Republic,
until the same has been approved by Her Majesty the Queen.

Such approval shall be considered to have been granted if Her Majesty's
Government shall not, within six months after receiving a copy of such
treaty (which shall be delivered to them immediately upon its
completion), have notified that the conclusion of such treaty is in
conflict with the interests of Great Britain or of any of Her Majesty's
possessions in South Africa.

Article 5. The South African Republic will be liable for any balance
which may still remain due of the debts for which it was liable at the
date of Annexation, to wit, the Cape Commercial Bank Loan, the Railway
Loan, and the Orphan Chamber Debt, which debts will be a first charge
upon the revenues of the Republic. The South African Republic will
moreover be liable to Her Majesty's Government for 250,000_l._, which
will be a second charge upon the revenues of the Republic.

Article 6. The debt due as aforesaid by the South African Republic to
Her Majesty's Government will bear interest at the rate of three and a
half per cent. from the date of the ratification of this Convention, and
shall be repayable by a payment for interest and Sinking Fund of six
pounds and ninepence per 100_l._ per annum, which will extinguish the
debt in twenty-five years. The said payment of six pounds and ninepence
per 100_l._ shall be payable half-yearly, in British currency, at the
close of each half year from the date of such ratification: Provided
always that the South African Republic shall be at liberty at the close
of any half year to pay off the whole or any portion of the outstanding

Interest at the rate of three and a half per cent. on the debt as
standing under the Convention of Pretoria shall as heretofore be paid to
the date of the ratification of this Convention.

Article 7. All persons who held property in the Transvaal on the 8th day
of August 1881, and still hold the same, will continue to enjoy the
rights of property which they have enjoyed since the 12th April 1877. No
person who has remained loyal to Her Majesty during the late hostilities
shall suffer any molestation by reason of his loyalty; or be liable to
any criminal prosecution or civil action for any part taken in connexion
with such hostilities; and all such persons will have full liberty to
reside in the country, with enjoyment of all civil rights, and
protection for their persons and property.

Article 8. The South African Republic renews the declaration made in the
Sand River Convention, and in the Convention of Pretoria, that no
slavery or apprenticeship partaking of slavery will be tolerated by the
Government of the said Republic.

Article 9. There will continue to be complete freedom of religion and
protection from molestation for all denominations, provided the same be
not inconsistent with morality and good order; and no disability shall
attach to any person in regard to rights of property by reason of the
religious opinions which he holds.

Article 10. The British Officer appointed to reside in the South African
Republic will receive every assistance from the Government of the said
Republic in making due provision for the proper care and preservation of
the graves of such of Her Majesty's Forces as have died in the
Transvaal; and if need be, for the appropriation of land for the

Article 11. All grants or titles issued at any time by the Transvaal
Government in respect of land outside the boundary of the South African
Republic, as defined in Article 1, shall be considered invalid and of no
effect, except in so far as any such grant or title relates to land that
falls within the boundary of the South African Republic; and all persons
holding any such grant so considered invalid and of no effect will
receive from the Government of the South African Republic such
compensation, either in land or in money, as the Volksraad shall
determine. In all cases in which any Native Chiefs or other authorities
outside the said boundaries have received any adequate consideration
from the Government of the South African Republic for land excluded from
the Transvaal by the first Article of this Convention, or where
permanent improvements have been made on the land, the High Commissioner
will recover from the native authorities fair compensation for the loss
of the land thus excluded, or of the permanent improvements thereon.

Article 12. The independence of the Swazis, within the boundary line of
Swaziland, as indicated in the first Article of this Convention, will be
fully recognised.

Article 13. Except in pursuance of any treaty or engagement made as
provided in Article 4 of this Convention, no other or higher duties
shall be imposed on the importation into the South African Republic of
any article coming from any part of Her Majesty's dominions than are or
may be imposed on the like article coming from any other place or
country; nor will any prohibition be maintained or imposed on the
importation into the South African Republic of any article coming from
any part of Her Majesty's dominions which shall not equally extend to
the like article coming from any other place or country. And in like
manner the same treatment shall be given to any article coming to Great
Britain from the South African Republic as to the like article coming
from any other place or country.

These provisions do not preclude the consideration of special
arrangements as to import duties and commercial relations between the
South African Republic and any of Her Majesty's colonies or possessions.

Article 14. All persons, other than natives, conforming themselves to
the laws of the South African Republic (_a_) will have full liberty,
with their families, to enter, travel, or reside in any part of the
South African Republic; (_b_) they will be entitled to hire or possess
houses, manufactories, warehouses, shops, and premises; (_c_) they may
carry on their commerce either in person or by any agents whom they may
think fit to employ; (_d_) they will not be subject, in respect of their
persons or property, or in respect of their commerce or industry, to
any taxes, whether general or local, other than those which are or may
be imposed upon citizens of the said Republic.

Article 15. All persons, other than natives, who established their
domicile in the Transvaal between the 12th day of April 1877, and the
8th of August 1881, and who within twelve months after such
last-mentioned date have had their names registered by the British
Resident, shall be exempt from all compulsory military service whatever.

Article 16. Provision shall hereafter be made by a separate instrument
for the mutual extradition of criminals, and also for the surrender of
deserters from Her Majesty's Forces.

Article 17. All debts contracted between the 12th April 1887 and the 8th
August 1881 will be payable in the same currency in which they may have
been contracted.

Article 18. No grants of land which may have been made, and no transfers
or mortgages which may have been passed between the 12th April 1877 and
the 8th August 1881, will be invalidated by reason merely of their
having been made or passed between such dates.

All transfers to the British Secretary for Native Affairs in trust for
natives will remain in force, an officer of the South African Republic
taking the place of such Secretary for Native Affairs.

Article 19. The Government of the South African Republic will engage
faithfully to fulfil the assurances given, in accordance with the laws
of the South African Republic, to the natives at the Pretoria Pitso by
the Royal Commission in the presence of the Triumvirate and with their
entire assent, (1) as to the freedom of the natives to buy or otherwise
acquire land under certain conditions, (2) as to the appointment of a
commission to mark out native locations, (3) as to the access of the
natives to the courts of law, and (4) as to their being allowed to move
freely within the country, or to leave it for any legal purpose, under a
pass system.

Article 20. This Convention will be ratified by a Volksraad of the South
African Republic within the period of six months after its execution,
and in default of such ratification this Convention shall be null and

Signed in duplicate in London this 27th day of February 1884.

(Signed) S. J. P. KRUGER.
(Signed) S. J. DU TOIT.
(Signed) M. J. SMIT.






Aberdeen, Lord, 131

Africander, 162

Africander Bond, the, 401

Agriculture, 433-435

Animals, Wild, and their fate, 17-23

Arabs, 99, 288

Antelopes, 18

Antiquities, 71, 74-82, 101 _n_, 229, 234-237, 247


Baboons, 23

Bantu Tribes, 45, 66-68

Basutoland, 7, 25, 52, 319-342

Basutos, 128, 130, 143, 319-342

Beaconsfield, Lord, 156

Beaufort West, 16, 195

Bechuanaland, 14, 25, 29, 36, 40-42, 145, 165, 242

Beira, 45, 182, 266

Berea, 283

Blacks and Whites, 345-369

Bloemfontein, 47, 129, 132

Boers, 18, 39, 47, 57, 107 and _n_, 115 _et seq._, 134 _et seq._, 155,
    159, 453-457, 461-463, 469-474

Brand (President) Sir John, 133

British Government, 131, 132, 136 _et seq._

British South Africa Company, 15, 22, 41, 170, 173, 219, 280, 422-431

British South Africa Company's territories, 15, 41, 268-380

Buffalo River, 159

Bulawayo, 15, 118, 181, 216-219

Burgers (President), 153, 154

Bushmen, 44, 61, 63-65, 107


Caledon River, 144

Cape Colony, 36, 51, 52, 110, 138, 139 _et seq._, 468 _et seq._
  physical changes in, and material progress of, 134-142
  wild beasts in, 18, 21

Cape of Good Hope, 46, 99

Cape Town, 51, 112, 138, 179 _et seq._
  appearance from the sea, 190-192

Carnarvon, Lord, 148, 157

Cathcart, Sir George, 333-335

Cattle murrain, 142, 223, 273

Cattle, sheep and goats, 436

Cetewayo, 149, 158

Chimoyo, 257-260

Chipadzi, 247

Churches, 388

Climate, 7-9, 11-16, 45, 200, 233

Coaches, 184

Coal, 273

Coalfields in Natal, 287, 442

Colley, General Sir George, 159, 160, 292-294

Colonial policy of England, 458 _et seq._

Colour question, the, 287 _et seq._, 348 _et seq._

Commerce, 467

Confederation of South Africa, 473

Constitution of Cape Colony, 135 _et seq._, 392-394
  Natal, 285, 392
  Orange Free State, 315-318
  the Transvaal, 358-360, 409 _et seq._

  Sand River, 1852, 130
  Bloemfontein, 1854, 132
  London, 1881, 160, 166, 479
  London, 1884, 166, 488

Cricket, popularity of at the Cape, 384

Crown Colonies, 379-391

Customs Union, 285, 472


Damaraland, 5, 36, 52, 170

Delagoa Bay, 21, 86, 99, 117, 141, 146, 147, 173, 179 _et seq._, 281,
    282, 467

Dhlodhlo, 71, 74-82, 101 _n_, 229

Diamond mines, 135, 144, 196-200, 438

Diaz, Bartholomew, 46, 99

Dingaan, 118 _et seq._, 159

"Divide," or watershed, 5

Durban, 16, 54, 119, 282-284

Dutch, 38, 101 _et seq._, 114, 135 _et seq._, 150, 379 _et seq._

Dutch language, 382-384

Dutch Reformed Church, 388


Economic future of the country, 432-451

Education, 387

Elandsfontein, 296

Elephants, 17 _et seq._

Europeans in South Africa till 1854, 95, 98-133, 134-176


Fever, 13-15, 279

Flora of South Africa, 24 _et seq._

Fontesvilla, 260, 261

Forests, 26, 29

Fort Victoria, 15, 235-237
  Salisbury, 15, 183, 239-243, 245

Frere, Sir