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Title: With the Guards' Brigade from Bloemfontein to Koomati Poort and Back
Author: Lowry, Edward P.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "With the Guards' Brigade from Bloemfontein to Koomati Poort and Back" ***

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Transcriber's note:

      Obvious printer's errors have been corrected; all other
      inconsistencies are as in the original. The author's spelling
      has been maintained.

      Text enclosed by equal signs was in bold face (=bold=).

      Text enclosed by asterisks was in an old font (*old font*).

      Page 122: "After the treasure ship _Hermione_ had thus been
      secured off Cadiz by the _Actæan_ and the _Favorite_" should
      probably be "After the treasure ship _Hermione_ had thus been
      secured off Cadiz by the _Active_ and the _Favorite_".



by THE


Senior Wesleyan Chaplain with the South African Field Force

Horace Marshall & Son
Temple House, Temple Avenue, E.C.

                      THE OFFICERS,
                  OF THE GUARDS' BRIGADE
                   WAR OF 1899-1902


The story of my long tramp with the Guards' Brigade was in part told
through a series of letters that appeared in _The Methodist Recorder_,
_The Methodist Times_, and other papers. The first portion of that
series was republished in "Chaplains in Khaki," as also extensive
selections in "From Aldershot to Pretoria." In this volume, therefore,
to avoid needless repetition, the story begins with our triumphal
occupation of Bloemfontein, and is continued till after the time of
the breaking-up of the Guards' Brigade.

No one will expect from a chaplain a technical and critical account of
the complicated military operations he witnessed at the seat of war.
For that he has no qualifications. Nor, on the other hand, would it be
quite satisfactory if he wrote only of what the chaplains and other
Christian workers were themselves privileged to do in connection with
the war. That would necessitate great sameness, if not great tameness.
These pages are rather intended to set forth the many-sided life of
our soldiers on active service, their privations and perils, their
failings and their heroisms, their rare endurance, and in some cases
their unfeigned piety; that all may see what manner of men they were
who in so many instances laid down their lives in the defence of the
empire; and amid what stupendous difficulties they endeavoured to do
their duty.

We owe it to the fact that these men have volunteered in such numbers
for military service that Britain alone of all European nations has
thus far escaped the curse of the conscription. In that sense,
therefore, they are the saviours and substitutes of the entire manhood
of our nation. If they had not consented of their own accord to step
into the breach, every able Englishman now at his desk, behind his
counter, or toiling at his bench, must have run the risk of having had
so to do. We owe to these men more than we have ever realised. It is
but right, therefore, that more than ever they should henceforth live
in an atmosphere of grateful kindliness, of Christian sympathy and

          "God bless you, Tommy Atkins,
          _Here's your country's love to you!_"

My authorities for the statements made in the introductory chapter are
Fitzpatrick's "Pretoria from Within," and Martineau's "Life of Sir
Bartle Frere." For the verifying or correcting of my own facts and
figures, given later on, I have consulted Conan Doyle's "The Great
Boer War," Stott's "The Invasion of Natal," and almost all other
available literature relating to the subject.

                                        EDWARD P. LOWRY.

PRETORIA, _March 1902_.




  THE ULTIMATUM AND WHAT LED TO IT                                   1

Two Notable Dreamers--A Bankrupt Republic--The Man who
Schemed as well as Dreamed--The Gold Plague--Hated Johannesburg
--Boer preparations for War--Coming events cast their shadows
before--The Ultimatum--The Rallying of the Clans--The
Rousing of the Colonies.


  ON THE WAY TO BLOEMFONTEIN, AND IN IT!                            14

A capital little Capital--Famished Men and Famine Prices--
Republican Commandeering--A Touching Story--The Price of


  A LONG HALT                                                       24

Refits--Remounts--Regimental Pets--Civilian Hospitality and
Soldiers' Homes--Soldiers' Christian Association Work--
Rudyard Kipling's Mistake--All Fools' Day--Eastertide in
Bloemfontein--The Epidemic and the Hospitals--All hands and
houses to the rescue--A sad sample of Enteric--Church of
England Chaplains at work.



A Pleasure Jaunt--Onwards, but Whither!--That Pom-Pom again
--A Problem not quite solved--A Touching Sight--Rifle Firing
and Firing Farms--Boer Treachery and the White Flag--The Pet
Lamb still lives and learns--Right about face--From Worlds
Unknown--The Bushmen and their Australian Chaplains.


  QUICK MARCH TO THE TRANSVAAL                                      57

A Comedy--A Tragedy--A Wide Front and a Resistless Force--
Brandfort--"Stop the War" Slanders--A Prisoner who tried to
be a Poet--Militant Dutch Reformed Predikants--Our Australian
Chaplain's pastoral experiences--The Welsh Chaplain.


  TO THE VALSCH RIVER AND THE VAAL                                  70

The Sand River Convention--Railway Wrecking and Repairing--
The Tale, and Tails, of a Singed Overcoat--Lord Roberts as
Hospital Visitor--President Steyn's Sjambok--A Sunday at last
that was also a Sabbath--Military Police on the March--A
General's glowing eulogy of the Guards--Good News by the way--
Over the Vaal at last.


  A CHAPTER ABOUT CHAPLAINS                                         88

A Chaplain who found the Base became the Front--Pathetic Scenes
in Hospital--A Battlefield Scene no less Pathetic--Look on
this Picture, and on that--A third-class Chaplain who proved a
first-rate Chaplain--Running in the Wrong Man--A Wainman who
proved a real Waggoner--Three bedfellows in a barn--A
fourth-class Chaplain that was also a first-rate Chaplain--A
Parson Prisoner in the hands of the Boers--Caring for the
Wounded--How the Chaplain's own Tent was bullet-riddled--A
Sample Set of Sunday Services.



At Cape Town and Wynberg--Saved from Drowning to sink in
Hospital--A Pleasant Surprise--The Soldiers' Reception
Committee--The other way about--Our near kinship to the Boers
--More good Work on our right Flank.


  GETTING TO THE GOLDEN CITY                                       113

An elaborate night toilet--Capturing Clapham Junction--Dear
diet and dangerous--No Wages but the Sjambok--The Gold Mines
--The Soldiers' Share--The Golden City--Astonishing the


  PRETORIA--THE CITY OF ROSES                                    127

Whit-Monday and Wet Tuesday--"Light after Dark"--Why the
Surrender?--Taking Possession--"Resurgam"--A Striking
Incident--No Canteens and no Crime.


  PRETORIAN INCIDENTS AND IMPRESSIONS                              142

The State's Model School--Rev. Adrian Hoffmeyer--The
Waterfall Prisoners--A Soldier's Hymn--A big Supper Party--
The Soldiers' Home--Mr and Mrs Osborn Howe--A Letter from
Lord Kitchener--Also from Lord Roberts--A Song in praise of
De Wet--Cordua and his Conspiracy--Hospital Work in Pretoria
--The Wear and Tear of War--The Nursing Sisters--A Surprise
Packet--Soldierly Gratitude--_The Ladysmith Lyre_.


  FROM PRETORIA TO BELFAST                                         169

The Boer way of saying "Bosh"--News from a far Country
--Further fighting--Touch not, taste not, handle not--More
Treachery and still more--The root of the matter--A Tight Fit
--Obstructives on the Rail--Middleburg and the Doppers--
August Bank Holiday--Blowing up Trains--A peculiar Mothers'
Meeting--Aggressive Ladies--A Dutch Deacon's Testimony--A
German Officer's Testimony.


  THROUGH HELVETIA                                                 190

The Fighting near Belfast--Feeding under Fire--A German
Doctor's Confession--Friends in need are Friends indeed--The
Invisible Sniper's Triumph--"He sets the mournful Prisoners
free"--More Boer Slimness--A Boer Hospital--Foreign
Mercenaries--A wounded Australian--Hotel Life on the Trek--
A Sheep-pen of a Prison--Pretty Scenery and Superb.


  WAR'S WANTON WASTE                                               210

A Surrendered Boer General--Two Unworthy Predikants--Two
Notable Advocates of Clemency--Mines without Men, and Men
without Meat--Much Fat in the Fire--More Fat and Mightier
Flames--A Welcome Lift by the Way--"Rags and Tatters, get ye
gone!"--Destruction and still more Destruction--At Koomati
Poort--Two Notable Fugitives--The Propaganda of the Africander
Bond--Ex-President Steyn--Paul Botha's opinion of this


  FROM PORTUGUESE AFRICA TO PRETORIA                               231

Staggering Humanity--Food for Flames--A Crocodile in the
Koomati--A Hippopotamus in the Koomati--A Via Dolorosa--
Over the Line--Westward Ho!--Ruined Farms and Ruined Firms--
Farewell to the Guards' Brigade!


  A WAR OF CEASELESS SURPRISES                                     245

Exhaustlessness of Boer resources--The Peculiarity of Boer
Tactics--The Surprisers Surprised--Train Wrecking--The
Refugee Camps--The Grit of the Guards--The Irregulars--The
Testimony of the Cemetery--Death and Life in Pretoria.


  PRETORIA AND THE ROYAL FAMILY                                    261

Suzerainty turned to Sovereignty--Prince Christian Victor--A
Royal Funeral--A Touching Story--The Death of the Queen--
The King's Coronation.



When the late Emperor of the French was informed, on the eve of the
Franco-German War, that not so much as a gaiter button would be found
wanting if hostilities were at once commenced, soon all France found
itself, with him, fatally deceived. But when the Transvaal Burghers
boasted that they were "ready to give the British such a licking as
they had never had before," it proved no idle vaunting. Whether the
average Boer understood the real purpose for which he was called to
arms seems doubtful; but his leaders made no secret of their intention
to drive the hated "Roineks" into the sea, and to claim, as the
notorious "Bond" frankly put it, "all South Africa for the
Africanders." The Rev. Adrian Hoffmeyer of the Dutch Reformed Church
freely admits that the watchword of the Western Boers was "Tafelburg
toc," that is, "To Table Mountain"; and that their commandant said to
him, "We will not rest till our flag floats there."

Similarly on the eastern side it was their confident boast that
presently they would be "eating fish and drinking coffee at sea-side
Durban." There would thus be one flag floating over all South Africa;
and that flag not the Union Jack but its supplanter.

[Sidenote: _Two notable Dreamers._]

Now the Dutch have undoubtedly as absolute a right to dream dreams of
wide dominion as we ourselves have; and this particular dream had no
less undeniably been the chief delight of some among them for more
than a decade twice told.

Even PRESIDENT BRAND, of the Orange Free State, referring to Lord
Carnarvon's pet idea of a federated South Africa, said: "His great
scheme is a united South Africa _under the British Flag_. He dreams of
it and so do I; but _under the flag of South Africa_." Much in the
same strain PRESIDENT BURGERS, of the Transvaal Republic, when
addressing a meeting of his countrymen in Holland, said: "In that
far-off country the inhabitants dream of a future in which the people
of Holland will recover their former greatness." He was convinced that
within half a century there would be in South Africa a population of
eight millions; all speaking the Dutch language; a _second_ Holland,
as energetic and liberty-loving as the first; but greater in extent,
and greater in power.

[Sidenote: _A Bankrupt Republic._]

Nevertheless, in this far-seeing President's day, the Transvaal, after
fourteen years of doubtful independence, reached in 1877 its lowest
depths of financial and political impotency. Its valiant burghers were
vanquished in one serious conflict with the natives; and, emboldened
thereby, the Zulus were audaciously threatening to eat them up, when
Shepstone appeared upon the scene. "I thank my father Shepstone for
his restraining message," said Cetewayo. "The Dutch have tired me out;
and I intended to fight with them once, _only once_, and to drive them
over the Vaal." The jails were thrown open because food was no longer
obtainable for the prisoners. The State officials, including the
President, knew not where to secure their stipends, and were
hopelessly at variance among themselves. The Transvaal one-pound notes
were selling for a single shilling, and the State treasury contained
only twelve shillings and sixpence wherewith to pay the interest on a
comparatively heavy State debt, besides almost innumerable other

No wonder, therefore, that Burgers, in disgust, declared he would
sooner be a policeman under a strong government. "Matters are as bad
as they ever can be," said he; "they cannot be worse!" Hence its
annexation, in 1877, by Sir Theophilus Shepstone, without the
assistance of a solitary soldier, but with the eager assent of
thousands of the burghers, bade fair to prove the salvation of the
Transvaal, and probably would have done, had the easily-to-be-obtained
consent of the Volksraad been at once sought, and Lord Carnarvon's
promise of speedy South African Federation, together with a generous
measure of local self-government, been promptly redeemed. But European
complications, with serious troubles on the Indian frontier, caused
interminable delay in the maturing of this scheme; and as the
disappointed Boers grew restive, a "Hold your Jaw" Act was passed,
making it a penal offence for any Transvaaler even to discuss such
questions. In our simplicity we sit upon the safety valve and then
wonder why the boiler bursts. To the "Hold your Jaw" policy the Boer
reply was an appeal to arms; and at Majuba in the spring of 1881 their
rifles said what their jaws were forbidden to say. Majuba was indeed a
mere skirmish, an affair of outposts; but Magersfontein and Spion Kop
are the legitimate sons of Majuba.

[Sidenote: _The man who Schemed as well as Dreamed._]

Napoleon, with possibly a veiled reference to himself, once said to
the French people, "You have the men, but where is _The Man_?" The
Boers in the day of their uprising against British rule found "The
Man" in PAUL STEPHANUS KRUGER. To all South Africa a veritable "man of
Destiny" has he proved to be; and for eighteen successive years, as
their honoured President he has ruled his people with an absoluteness
no European potentate could possibly approach. By birth a British
subject, and for a brief while after the annexation a paid official of
the British Government, he yet seems all his life to have been a
consistent hater of all things British. When only ten years old, a
tattered, bare-legged, unlettered lad, he joined "The great Trek"
which in 1837 sought on the dangerous and dreary veldt beyond the Vaal
a refuge from British rule. He it was who, surviving the terrors of
those tragic times and trained in that stern school, became like Brand
and Burgers a dreamer of dreams. He lived to baffle by his superior
shrewdness, or slimness, all the arts of English diplomacy. In his
later years this President manifestly deemed himself chosen of Heaven
to make an end of British rule from the Zambesi to the sea. "The
Transvaal shall never be shut up in a kraal," said he. A Sovereign
International State he declared it was, or should be, with free access
to the ocean; and how astonishingly near he came to the accomplishment
of these bold aims we now know to our exceeding cost. Nevertheless, to
this persistent dreamer of dreams the two South African Republics owe
their extinction; while the British Empire owes to him more than to
any other living man its fast approaching Federation.

With surprising secrecy and success the Transvaal officials prepared
for the inevitable conflict which the attempted fulfilment of such
bold dreams involved, and in that preparation were rendered essential
aid, first by the discovery, not far from Pretoria, of the richest
goldfield in the whole world, which soon provided them with the
necessary means; and next by the Jameson Raid, which provided them
with the necessary excuse.

To Steevens, the lamented correspondent of _The Daily Mail_, a Dopper
editor and predikant said, "I do not think the Transvaal Government
has been wise, and I told them they made a great mistake when they let
people come in to the mines. _This gold will ruin you; to remain
independent you must remain poor_"! Perhaps so! but the modern world
is not built that way. No trekkers nowadays may take possession of
half a continent, forbid all others to come in, and right round the
frontier post up notices "Trespassers will be prosecuted." Even
Robinson Crusoe had not long landed on his desolate isle when he was
startled by the sight of a strange footprint on the seashore sand.
Welcome or unwelcome, somebody else had come! Crusoe and his man
Friday might set up no exclusive rights in a heritage that for a brief
while seemed all their own. The Boer with his Kaffir bondsman has been
compelled to learn the same distasteful lesson. The wealth of the
Witwaters Rand was for those who could win it; and for that stupendous
task the Boer had neither the necessary aptitude nor the necessary
capital. It was not, therefore, for him to echo the cry of Edie
Ochiltree when he found hid treasure amid the ruins of St Roth's
Abbey--"Nae halvers and quarters,--hale o' mine ain and nane o' my
neighbours." The bankrupt Boer had to let his enterprising neighbour
in to do the digging, or get no gold at all.

[Sidenote: _Hated Johannesberg._]

Nevertheless, the upspringing as by magic of the great city of
Johannesberg in the midst of the dreary veldt filled Kruger's soul
with loathing. When once asked to permit prospecting for minerals
around Pretoria, he replied, "Look at Johannesberg! We have enough
gold and gold seekers in the country already!" The presence of this
ever-growing multitude was felt to be a perpetual menace to Dutch, and
more especially to Dopper supremacy. So, in his frankly confessed
detestation of them, their Dopper President for five years at a
stretch never once came near them, and when at last he ventured to
halt within twenty miles of their great city it was thus he commenced
his address to the crowd at Krugersdorp:--"Burghers, friends,
_thieves_, _murderers_, _newcomers_, and others." The reek of the Rand
was evidently even then in his nostrils; and the mediæval saint that
could smell a heretic nine miles off was clearly akin to Kruger.
Unfortunately for him the "newcomers" outnumbered the old by five to
one, and were a bewilderingly mixed assortment, representing almost
every nationality under the whole heaven. In what had suddenly become
the chief city of the Transvaal, with a white population of over
50,000, only seven per cent. were Dutch, and sixty-five per cent. were
British. These aliens from many lands paid nearly nine-tenths of the
taxes, yet were persistently denied all voice alike in national and
municipal affairs. "Rights!" exclaimed the angry President when
appealed to for redress, "Rights! They shall win them only over my
dead body!" At whatever cost he was stubbornly resolved that as long
as he lived the tail should still wag the dog instead of the dog the
tail; and that a continually dwindling minority of simple farmer folk
should rule an ever-growing majority of enterprising city men. Though
the political equality of all white inhabitants was the underlying
condition on which self-government was restored to the Transvaal, what
the Doppers had won by bullets they would run no risk of losing
through the ballot box, and so one measure of exclusion after another
rapidly became law. When reminded that in other countries Outlanders
were welcomed and soon given the franchise, the shrewd old President
replied, "Yes! but in other countries the newcomers do not _outswamp_
the old burghers." The whole grievance of the Boers is neatly summed
up in that single sentence; and so far it proves them well entitled to
our respectful pity.

It was, however, mere fatalism resisting fate when to a deputation of
complaining Outlanders Kruger said "Cease holding public meetings! Go
back and tell your people I will never give them anything!" Similarly
when in 1894 35,000 adult male Outlanders humbly petitioned that they
might be granted some small representation in the councils of the
Republic, which would have made loyal burghers of them all, the
short-sighted President contended that he might just as well haul down
the Transvaal flag at once. There was a strong Dopper conviction that
to grant the franchise on any terms to this alien crowd would speedily
degrade the Transvaal into a mere Johannesberg Republic; and they
would sooner face any fate than that; so the Raad, with shouts of
derision, rejected the Outlanders' petition as a saucy request to
commit political suicide. They felt no inclining that way!
Nevertheless one of their number ventured to say, "Now our country is
gone. Nothing can settle this but fighting!" And that man was a

[Sidenote: _Boer preparations for War._]

For that fighting the President and his Hollander advisers began to
prepare with a timeliness and thoroughness we can but admire, however
much in due time we were made to smart thereby. Through the suicide of
a certain State official it became known that in 1894--long therefore
before the Raid--no less than £500,000 of Transvaal money had been
sent to Europe for secret uses. Those secret uses, however, revealed
themselves to us in due time at Magersfontein and Colenso. The
Portuguese customs entries at Delagoa Bay will certify that from 1896
to 1898 at least 200,000 rifles passed through that port to the
Transvaal. It was an unexampled reserve for states so small. The
artillery, too, these peace-loving Boers laid up in store against the
time to come, not only exceeded in quantity, but also _outranged_, all
that British South Africa at that time possessed. Their theology might
be slightly out-of-date, but in these more material things the Boers
were distinctly up-to-date. For many a week after the war began both
the largest and the smallest shells that went curving across our
battlefields were theirs; while many of our guns were mere popguns
firing smoky powder, and almost as useless as catapults. It was not a
new Raid these costly weapons were purchased to repel; neither men nor
nations employ sledge-hammers to drive home tinned-tacks. It was a
mighty Empire they were intended to assail; and a mighty Republic they
were intended to create.

When the fateful hour arrived for the hurling of the Ultimatum, in
very deed "not a gaiter button" was found wanting on their side; and
every fighting man was well within reach of his appointed post.
Fierce-looking farmers from the remotest veldt, and sleek urban
Hollanders, German artillerists, French generals, Irish-Americans,
Colonial rebels, all were ready. The horse and his rider, prodigious
supplies of food stuffs, and every conceivable variety of warlike
stores, were planted at sundry strategic points along the Natal and
Cape Colony frontiers. War then waited on a word and that word was
soon spoken!

[Sidenote: _Coming events cast their shadows before._]

As early as September 18th, 1899, the Transvaal sent an unbending and
defiant message to the British Government. On September 21st the
Orange Free State, after forty years of closest friendship with
England, officially resolved to cast in her lot with the Transvaal
against England. On September 29th through railway communication
between Natal and the Transvaal was stopped by order of the Transvaal
Government. On September 30th twenty-six military trains left Pretoria
and Johannesberg for the Natal border; and that same day saw 16,000
Boers thus early massed near Majuba Hill. Yet at that very time the
British forces in South Africa were absolutely and absurdly inadequate
not merely for defiance but even for defence. On October 3rd, a full
week before the delivery of the Ultimatum, the Transvaal mail train to
the Cape was stopped at the Transvaal frontier, and the English gold
it carried, valued at £500,000, was seized by the Transvaal
Government. Whether that capture be regarded merely as a premature act
of war or as highway robbery, it leaves no room for doubt as to which
side in this quarrel is the aggressor; and when at last the challenge
came, even chaplains could with a clear conscience, though by no means
with a light heart, set out for the seat of war.

[Sidenote: _The Ultimatum._]

Surely never since the world began was such an Ultimatum presented to
one of the greatest Powers on earth by what were supposed to be two of
the weakest. At the very time that armed and eager burghers were thus
massing threateningly on our frontiers, the Queen it will be
remembered was haughtily commanded to withdraw from those frontiers
the pitifully few troops then guarding them; to recall, in the sight
of all Europe, every soldier that in the course of the previous
twelvemonth had been sent to our South African Colonies; and solemnly
to pledge herself, at Boer bidding, that those then on the sea should
not be suffered to set foot on African soil. Moreover, so urgent was
this audacious demand that Pretoria allowed London only forty-eight
hours in which to decide what should be its irrevocable doom, to lay
aside the pride of empire, or pay the price of it in blood.

Superb in its audacity was that demand: and, if war was indeed fated
to come, this daring challenge was for England as serviceable a deed
as unwitting foemen ever wrought.

[Sidenote: _The rallying of the Clans._]

It put a sudden end for a season to all controversy. It rallied in
defence of our Imperial heritage almost every class, and every creed.
It thrilled us all, like the blast of the warrior horn of Roderick
Dhu, which transformed the very heather of the Highlands into fighting
men. As the soldiers' laureate puts it "Duke's son and cook's son,"
with rival haste responded to the martial call. To serve their
assailed and sorrowing Queen, royal court and rural cottage gave
freely of their best. It intensified the patriotism of us all; and
probably never, since the days of the Armada, had the United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Ireland found itself so essentially united.

[Sidenote: _The rousing of the Colonies._]

The effect of the Ultimatum throughout the length and breadth of
Greater Britain was no less remarkable than its first results at home.
Not only the two Colonies that, alas, were soon to be overrun by
hostile hordes, and mercilessly looted, but also those farthest
removed from the fray, instantly took fire, and burned with
imperialistic zeal that stinted neither men nor means.

          "A varied host, from kindred realms they come,
           Brethren in arms, but rivals in renown."

The declaration of war united the ends of the earth in a common
enthusiasm, and sent a strange throb of brotherhood right round the
globe. The whole empire at last awoke to a sense of its essential
oneness. Australians and Canadians, men from Burma, from India and
Ceylon, speedily joined hands on the far distant veldt in defence of
what they proudly felt to be their heritage as well as ours. Their
presence in the very forefront of the fray betokened the advent of a
new era. Nobler looking men, or men of a nobler spirit, were never
brought together at the unfurling of any banner. They were the outcome
of competitions strangely keen and close. Sydney for instance called
for five hundred volunteers; but within a few days _three thousand_
five hundred valiant men were clamouring for acceptance. So was it in
Montreal. So it was everywhere. Often too at no slight financial
sacrifice was the post of peril sought. As a type of many more, I was
told of an Australian doctor who paid a substitute £300 to carry on
his practice, while he as a private joined the fighting ranks and
faced cheerily the manifold privations of the hungry veldt. Rich is
the empire that owns such sons; and myriads of them in the hour of
impending conflict were ready to say--

  "War? We would rather peace! But, MOTHER, if fight we must,
  There are none of your sons on whom you can lean with a surer trust.
  Bone of your bone are we; and in death would be dust of your dust!"

It was the Ultimatum that thus linked to each other and to us those
loyal hearts that longed to keep the empire whole; and thus President
Kruger in his blindness became Greater Britain's boundless benefactor.



       "For old times' sake
               Don't let enmity live;
       For old times' sake
               Say you will forget and forgive.
       Life is too short for quarrel;
               Hearts are too precious to break;
       Shake hands and let us be friends
               For old times' sake!"

So gaily sang the Scots Guards as, in hope of speedy triumph and
return, we left Southampton for Kruger's Land on the afternoon of
October 21st, 1899.

[Illustration: _From a photograph by Mr Westerman_

A Magersfontein Boer Trench.]

Our last evening in England brought us the welcome tidings that on
that day, the Boers who had thus early invaded Natal with a view to
annexing it, had been badly beaten at Talana Hill. That seemed a good
beginning; and it sent us to sea with lightsome hearts; nor was it
till long after we landed in South Africa that we learned what had
really taken place during our cheerful voyage;--that on the very day
we embarked, the battle of Elandslaagte had been won by our
hard-pressed comrades, but at a cost of 260 casualties; and that the
very next day--The _Nubia's_ first Sunday at sea--Dundee with all its
stores had perforce been abandoned by 4000 of our retreating troops,
for whose relief, two days later, Tinta Inyoni was fought by General
French; that on Oct. 29th while we were spending a tranquil Sunday
in St Vincent's harbour there commenced the struggle that culminated
in the Nicholson's Nek disaster; and that on Nov. 13th, while we were
awaiting orders in Table Bay, the capture of our armoured train at
Chieveley took place. Clearly it was blissful ignorance that begat our
hopes of brief absence from home, and of the easy vanquishing of our
hardy foes!

Two days later I reached the Orange River; and, on the courteous
suggestion of Lord Methuen, was attached to the mess of the 3rd
Grenadier Guards, as was also my "guide, philosopher and friend" the
Rev. T. F. Falkner our Anglican chaplain. Here I left my invaluable
helper, Army Scripture Reader Pearce; while, with the Guards' Brigade
now made complete by the arrival of the 1st and 2nd Coldstream
battalions, I pushed forward to be present at the four battles which
followed in startlingly swift succession, and which I have already
with sufficient fulness described in "Chaplains in Khaki," viz.
Belmont on Nov. 23rd, Graspan on Nov. 25th, Modder River on Nov. 28th,
and the Magersfontein defeat on Dec. 11th, for which, however, the
next Amajuba Day--Feb. 27th, 1900--brought us ample compensation in
the surrender of Cronje and his 4000 veterans, with the ever memorable
sequel to that surrender, the occupation of Bloemfontein by the
British forces.

[Sidenote: _A capital little Capital._]

It would probably be difficult to find anywhere under the sun a more
prosperous and promising little city, or one better governed than
Bloemfontein, which the Guards entered on the afternoon of Tuesday,
March 13th, 1900. There is not a scrap of cultivated land anywhere
around it. It is very literally a child of the veldt; and still clings
strangely to its nursing mother. Indeed the veldt is not only round
about it on every side, but even asserts its presence in many an
unfinished street. You are still on the veldt in the midst of the
city; and the characteristic kopje is in full view here, there, and
everywhere. On one side of the city is the old fort built by the
British more than fifty years ago, and soon after vacated by them, but
it is erected of course on a kopje, on one slope of which, part of the
city now stands. On the opposite side of the town is a new fort; but
that also crowns a kopje. This metropolis of what was then the Orange
Free State, thus intensely African in its situation and surroundings,
was nevertheless an every way worthy centre of a worthy State.

Many of its public buildings are notably fine, as for instance the
Government Offices over which it was my memorable privilege to see the
Union Jack unceremoniously hoisted; and the Parliament Hall, on the
opposite side of the same road, erected some twelve years ago at a
cost of £80,000. The Grey College, which accommodates a hundred boy
boarders, is an edifice of which almost any city would be proud; and
"The Volk's Hospital," that is "The People's Hospital," is also an
altogether admirable institution. From the commencement of the war
this was used for the exclusive benefit of sick or wounded Boers and
of captured Britishers who were in the same sore plight. Among these I
found many English officers, who all bore witness to the kind and
skilful treatment they had uniformly received from the hospital
authorities; but when the Boer forces hurried away from Bloemfontein
they were compelled to leave their sick and wounded behind; with the
result that as at Jacobsdal, the English patients at once ceased to be
prisoners, while the Boer patients at once became prisoners. So do the
wheels of war and fortune go whirling round!

With a white population of under ten thousand all told, a large
proportion is of British descent; and presently a positively
surprising number of Union Jacks sprang forth from their hiding-places
and fluttered merrily all over the town. Everybody was thankful that
no bombardment had taken place; but many even of the British residents
regarded with sincere regret the final extinction of the independence
of this once self-governed and well-governed Republic.

[Sidenote: _Famished men and famine prices._]

The story has now everywhere been told of the soldier lad who, when he
caught sight of his first swarm of locusts, wonderingly exclaimed as
he noted their peculiar colour, "I'm blest if the butterflies out here
haven't put on khaki." Bloemfontein very soon did the same. Khaki of
various shades and various degrees of dirtiness saluted me at every
point. Khaki men upon khaki men swarmed everywhere. Brigade followed
brigade in apparently endless succession; but all clad in the same
irrepressible colour, till it became quite depressing. No wonder the
townspeople soon took to calling the soldiers "locusts," not merely
out of compliment to the gay colour of their costume, but also as
aptly descriptive of their apparent countlessness. They seemed like
the sands by the seashore, innumerable. They bade fair to swallow up
the place.

That last expression, however, suggests yet another point of
resemblance. For longer than these men seemed able to remember, the
order of the day had been "long marches and short rations." When,
therefore, they reached this welcome halting-place they were simply
famished; insatiably hungry, they eagerly spent their last coin in
buying up whatever provisions had fortunately escaped the
commandeering of the Boers. There was no looting, no lawlessness of
any kind; and many a civilian gave his last loaf to a starving
trooper. There was soon a famine in the place and no train to bring us
fresh supplies. All the bakeries of the town were commandeered by the
new government for the benefit of the troops; but like the five loaves
of the gospel story, "What were they among so many?" I saw the men,
like swarms of bees, clustering around the doors and clambering on to
the window-sills of these establishments, enjoying apparently the
smell of the baking bread, and cherishing the vain hope of being able
to purchase a loaf when at last the ovens were emptied.

So too at the grocers' shops, a "tail" was daily formed outside the
door, which at intervals was cautiously opened to let in a few at a
time of these clamorous customers, who presently retired by the back
door, laden more or less with such articles as happened to be still in
store; but muttering as they came out "this is like Klondyke," with
evident reference not to Klondyke gold, but to Klondyke prices. It was
not the traders that needed protection as against the troopers, but
the troopers that needed protection as against some of the traders.
Even proclamation prices were alarmingly high, as for instance, a
shilling for a pound of sugar. Sixpence was the popular price for a
cup of tea, often without milk or sugar. The quartermaster whose tent
I shared was charged four shillings for a single "whisky and soda,"
and was informed that if he wanted a bottle of whisky the price would
be thirty-five shillings. On such terms tradesmen who, before the war,
had laid in large and semi-secret stores now reaped a magnificent
harvest. One provision merchant was reported to have thus sold £700
worth of goods before breakfast on a certain Saturday morning, in
which case he would perhaps reckon that on that particular date his
breakfast had been well earned. It probably meant in part a wholesale
army order; but even in that case it would be for cash, and not a case
of commandeering after the fashion of the Boers.

A crippled Scandinavian tailor told me that his constant charge,
whether to Colonels or Kaffirs, was two shillings an hour; and that he
thought his needle served him badly if it did not bring him in £6 a
week. About the same time a single-handed but nimble-fingered barber
claimed to have made £100 in one week out of the invading British; but
his victims declared that his price was a shilling for a shave and two
shillings for a clip. At those figures the seemingly impossible comes
to pass--if only customers are plentiful enough. Oh for a business in

[Sidenote: _Republican Commandeering._]

The Republicans of South Africa have always been credited with an
ingrained objection to paying rates and taxes even in war time; but
they frankly recognise the reasonableness of governmental
commandeering, and apparently submit to it without a murmur;
especially when it hits most heavily the stranger within their gates.
Accordingly, the war-law of the Orange Free State authorises the
commandeering without payment of every available man, and of all
available material of whatsoever kind within thirty days of war being
declared. During those thirty days, therefore, the war-broom sweeps
with a most commendable thoroughness; and all the more so, because
after that date everything must be paid for at market values. Why pay,
if being a little "previous" will serve the same purpose?

A gentleman farmer whom it was my privilege to visit, some fifteen
miles out from Bloemfontein, told me he had been thus commandeered to
the extent of about £3100; the value of waggons, oxen, and produce, he
was compelled gratuitously to supply to his non-taxing government. A
specially prosperous store-keeper in the town was said to have had
£600 worth of goods taken from him in the same way; but then, of
course, he had the compensating comfort of feeling that he was not
being taxed! Even Republics cannot make war quite without cost; and by
this time some are beginning to discover that it is the most ruinously
expensive of all pursuits.

The Republican conscription was equally wide reaching; for every
capable man between the ages of sixteen and sixty was required to
place himself and his rifle at the service of the State. Even sons of
British parentage, being burghers, were not allowed to cross the
border and so escape this, in many a case, hateful obligation. Their
life was forfeit, if they sought to evade the dread duties of the
fighting line, and refused to level reluctant rifles against men
speaking the same mother tongue. Some few, however, secured the rare
privilege of acting simply as despatch riders, or as members of the
Boer ambulance corps.

[Sidenote: _A touching story._]

One of the sons of my Methodist farmer friend had been thus employed
at Magersfontein, but had now seized the first opportunity of taking
the oath and returning to his home. With his own lips he told me that
on that fatal field he had found the body of an English officer, in
whose cold hand lay an open locket, and in the locket two portraits;
one the portrait of a fair English lady, and the other that of a still
fairer English child. So, before the eyes of one dying on the
blood-stained veldt did visions of home and loved ones flit. Life's
last look turned thither! In war, the cost in cash is clearly the cost
that is of least consequence. Who can appraise aright the price of
that one locket?

Yet, appositely enough, as, that same evening, I was being driven back
to town in a buggy and four, a little maiden--perchance like the
maiden of the locket--wonderingly exclaimed as she watched the sun
sink in radiance behind a neighbouring hill: "Why! just look! The sky
is English!" "How so?" asked her father. "Can't you see?" said the
child; "it is all red, white, and blue!" which indeed it was!

[Sidenote: _The price of milk._]

But our title to this newly-conquered territory was by no means quite
so unchallenged as such a complacent and complimentary sky might have
led one to suppose. The heavens above us were for the moment English,
but scarcely the earth beneath us; and certainly not the land beyond
us. Great even thus far had been the price of conquest; but the full
sum was not yet ready for the reckoning. No new Magersfontein awaited
us, and no new Paardeberg; but the incessant risking of precious life,
and much loss thereof in other fashions than those of the battlefield.

Possibly one of the most distressing cases of that kind occurred only
two days after near Karee, a few miles beyond Bloemfontein. The
officers of the Guards had become famous for their care of their men,
and for their constant endeavour to keep them well served with
supplementary supplies of food. They foraged right and left, and
bargained with the farmers for all available milk and butter and
cheese and bread. Men on the march cannot always live on rations only,
and good leadership looks after the larder as well as after the lives
of the men. On this gracious errand there rode forth from the camp as
fine a group of regimental officers as could possibly be found; to
wit, the colonel of the Grenadiers, his adjutant and transport officer
who, beyond most, were choice young men and goodly; also the colonel
of one of the Coldstream battalions, and one orderly. Hiding near a
neighbouring kopje was a small body of Zarps watching for a chance of
sniping or capturing a seceding Boer. Of them our officers caught
sight, and with characteristic British pluck sought to capture them.
But on the kopje the Boers found effectual cover, plied their rifles
vigorously and presently captured all their would-be captors. As at
Belmont, and on the same day of the month, the colonel of the
Grenadiers was wounded in two places; the transport officer, the son
of one of our well-known generals, lost his right arm; the adjutant, a
younger brother of a noted earl, was shot through the heart, and the
life of the other colonel was for a while despaired of. It was in some
senses the saddest disaster that had yet befallen the Guards' Brigade;
and it was the outcome not of some decisive battle, but of a kindly
quest for milk.



[Sidenote: _Refits._]

Before we could resume our march every commissariat store needed to be
replenished, and every man required a new outfit from top to toe. If
the march of the infantry had been much further prolonged we should
have degenerated into a literally bootless expedition, for some of the
men reached Bloemfontein with bare if not actually bleeding feet,
while their nether garments were in a condition that beggared and
baffled all description. Once smart Guardsmen had patched their
trousers with odd bits of sacking, and in one case the words "Lime
Juice Cordial" were still plainly visible on the sacking. So came that
"cordial" and its victorious wearer into the vanquished capital.
Others despairingly gave up all further attempts at patching, having
repeatedly proved, as the Scriptures say, that the rent is thereby
made worse. So they were perforce content to go about in such a
condition of deplorable dilapidation as anywhere else would inevitably
result in their being "run in" for flagrant disregard of public

The Canadians took rank from the first as among the very finest troops
in all the field, and adopted as their own the following singular
marching song:--

         "We will follow ROBERTS,
          Follow, follow, follow;
          Anywhere, everywhere,
          We will follow him!"

Brave fellows that they were, they meant it absolutely, utterly, even
unto death. But thus without boots and other yet more essential
belongings, how could they?

[Sidenote: _Remounts._]

The cavalry was in equally serious plight. It is said that Sir George
White took with him into Ladysmith over 10,000 mules and horses, but
brought away at the close of the siege less than 1100. Many of the
rest had meanwhile been transformed into beefsteak and sausages. We
also, during the month that brought us to Bloemfontein had used up a
similar number. A cavalryman told me that out of 540 horses belonging
to his regiment only 50 were left; and in that case the sausage-making
machine was in no degree responsible for the diminished numbers. Yet a
cavalryman without a horse is as helpless as a cripple without a
crutch. It was therefore quite clear that most of our cavalry
regiments would have to remain rooted to the spot till their remounts

Not until May 1st was another forward move found possible; and during
one of those weeks of waiting there happened the Sanna's Post
disaster, a grievous surrender of some of our men at Reddersburg, a
serious little fight at Karee, and a satisfactory skirmish at Boshof,
which made an end of General de Villebois-Mareuil and his commando of
foreign supporters of the Boers; but in none of these affairs were
the Guards involved.

[Sidenote: _Regimental Pets._]

Meanwhile the men during their few leisure hours found it no easy
matter to amuse themselves. In the rush for Bloemfontein, footballs
and cricket bats were all left behind. There were no canteens and no
open-air concerts. The only pets the men had left were pet animals,
and of them they made the most. The Welsh, of course, had their goat
to go before them, and were prouder of it than ever. The Canadians at
Belmont bought a chimpanzee which still grinned at them from the top
of its pole in front of their lines, and with patient perseverance,
still did all the mischief its limited resources would permit; whereat
the men were mightily pleased. The adjoining battalion boasted of
possessing a yet more charming specimen of the monkey tribe; a mite of
a monkey, and for a monkey almost a beauty; but as full of mischief as
his bigger brother.

Strange to tell, the Grenadiers' pet was, of all things in the world,
a pet lamb; and of all persons in the world, the cook of the officers'
mess was its kindly custodian. "Mary had a little lamb," says the
nursery rhyme. So had we!

         "Its fleece was white as snow;
          And everywhere that Mary went
          That lamb was sure to go!"

So was it with ours! Walking amid camp-kettles, and dwelling among
sometimes cruelly hungry men that lamb was jokingly called our
"Emergency Rations," but it would have had to be a very serious
emergency, indeed, to cut short that pet's career. Yet a lamb thus
playing with soldiers, and marching with them from one camping ground
to another, was well-nigh as odd a sight as I have ever yet seen.

[Sidenote: _Civilian Hospitality and Soldiers' Homes._]

During our six weeks of waiting I was for the most part the guest of
the Rev. Stuart and Mrs Franklin, whose kindness to me was great with
an exceeding greatness. Ever to be remembered also was the hospitality
of the senior steward of the Wesleyan Church, who happened, like
myself, to be a Cornishman; and from whose table there smiled upon me
quite familiarly a bowl of real Cornish cream. Whole volumes would not
suffice to express the emotions aroused in my Cornish breast by that
sight of sights in a strange land.

Through the kindness of these true friends we were enabled to open the
Wesleyan Sunday School as a Soldiers' Home where the men were welcome
to sing and play, read, and write letters to their hearts' content.
Here also every afternoon from 200 to 700 soldiers were supplied with
an excellent cup of tea and some bread and butter for threepence each.
A threepenny piece is there called "a tickey," and till the troops
arrived that was the lowest coin in use. An Orange Free Stater scorned
to look at a penny; but a British soldier's pay is constructed on
other lines; and what he thought of our "tickey" tea, the following
unsolicited testimonial laughingly proves. It is an unfinished letter
picked up in the street, and was probably dropped as the result of a
specially hurried departure, when some passing officer looked in and
shouted "Lights out!"

                                        BLOEMFONTEIN, O.F.S.

     DEAR MOTHER,--I can't say I care much for this place. Nothing to
     see but kopjes all round; and if you want to buy anything, by
     Jove, you have to pay a pretty price. For instance, cup of tea,
     6d.; bottle of ginger beer, 6d.; cigarettes, 1s. a packet. But at
     the Soldiers' Home a cup of tea is only 3d. Thanks to those in
     authority, the S.H. is what I call our "haven of rest." I shan't
     be sorry when I come home to _our own_ haven of rest, as it is
     impossible to buy any luxuries on our little pay. Just fancy, a
     small tin of jam, 2s. It's simply scandalous; and the inhabitants
     seem to think Tommy has a mint of money.

[Sidenote: _S.C.A. Work._]

After a while similar Homes were opened in various parts of the town;
but this long pause in our progress was a veritable harvest-time for
all Christian workers; and especially for those of the S.C.A., who
planted two magnificent marquees in the very midst of the men, and had
the supreme satisfaction of seeing them crowded night after night and
almost all day long. Every Sunday morning I was privileged to conduct
one of my Parade Services under their sheltering canvas; and many a
time in the course of each succeeding week took part in their
enthusiastic religious gatherings.

Here, as at Modder River, secular song was nowhere, while sacred song
became all and in all. I am told that sometimes on the march,
sometimes amid actual battle scenes, our lads caught up and encouraged
themselves by chanting some more or less appropriate music-hall ditty.
One battalion when sending a specially large consignment of whizzing
bullets across into the Boer lines did so to the accompanying tune of

         "You have to have 'em
          Whether you want 'em or no!"

Another fighting group, when specially hard pressed, began to sing
"Let 'em all come!" But in the Bloemfontein camps I seldom heard any
except songs of quite another type; and on one occasion was greatly
touched by listening to a Colonial singing a sweet but unfamiliar
melody about

         "The pages that I love
          In the Bible my mother gave to me."

Even among men on active service, many of whom are nearing mid-life,
and have long been married, mother's influence is still a supremely
potent thing!

[Sidenote: _Rudyard Kipling's Mistake._]

Partly as the result of influences such as these, and partly as the
result of prohibitory liquor laws, we became the most absolutely sober
army Europe ever put into the field. Prior to our coming, no liquor
might at any price be sold to a native; and there were in the whole
country no beer shops, but only hotels bound to supply bed and board
when required, and not liquor only, with the result that this fair
land has long been almost as sober as it is sunny.

The sale of intoxicants to the troops was equally restricted, and no
liquor could be obtained by them except as a special favour on special
terms. Absolutely the only concert or public meeting held in
Bloemfontein while the Guards were in the neighbourhood was in
connection with the Army Temperance Association, Lord Roberts himself
presiding; and concerning him the soldiers playfully said, "He has
water on the brain." Through all this weary time of waiting our troops
were as temperate as Turks, and much more chaste; so that the
soldiers' own pet laureate is reported to have declared, whether
delightedly or disgustedly he alone knows, that this outing of our
army in South Africa was none other than a huge Sunday School treat;
so incomprehensibly proper was even the humblest private and so
inconceivably unlike the Tommy Atkins described in his "Barrack-room
Ballads," Kipling discovered in South Africa quite a new type of Tommy
Atkins, and, as I think, of a pattern much more satisfactory.
Nevertheless, in one small detail the laureate's simile seems gravely
at fault. In the homeland no Sunday School treat was ever yet seen at
which the girls did not greatly outnumber the boys; but on the African
veldt the only girl of whom we ever seemed to gain even an occasional
glimpse was--"The girl I left behind me."

[Sidenote: _All Fools' Day._]

During our stay in Bloemfontein a part of the Guard's Brigade was sent
to protect the drift and broken railway bridge across the Modder River
at "The Glen"; which was the first really pretty pleasure resort we
had found in South Africa since Table Mountain and Table Bay had
vanished from our view. Here the Grenadier officers had requisitioned
for mess purposes a little railway schoolhouse, cool and shady, in the
midst of the nearest approach to a real wood in all the regions round
about; and here I purposed conducting my usual Sunday parade, but
with my usual Sunday ill-fortune. On arrival I found the whole
division that had been encamped just beyond the river had suddenly
moved further on, quite out of reach; so the service arranged for them
inevitably fell through.

But on Saturday afternoon a set of ambulance waggons arrived, bringing
in the first instalment of about 170 wounded men belonging to that
same division. It was rumoured that the K.O.S.B.'s, in a sort of
outpost affair, had landed in a Boer trap, planted of course near a
convenient kopje; with the result that our ambulances were, as usual,
speedily required. In the course of the campaign some of our troops
developed a decided proficiency in finding such traps--by falling into

Nevertheless, two battalions of Guards remained in camp, and they, at
any rate, might be confidently relied on for a parade next morning.
Indeed, one of the majors in charge, a devout Christian worker, told
me he had purposed to himself conduct a service for my men if I had
not arrived; and for that I thanked him heartily. Moreover, the men
just then were busy gathering fuel and piling it for a camp-fire
concert, to commence soon after dark that evening. Clearly, then, the
Guards were anchored for some time to come, though their comrades
beyond the river had vanished.

I had yet to learn that the coming Sunday was "All Fools' Day," and
that for those who had been busy thus scheming it was fittingly so
called. At the mess that very evening our usual "orders" informed us
that the men would parade for worship at 6.45 next morning; but
within a few minutes a telegram arrived requiring the Coldstream
battalion and half the Grenadiers to entrain for Bloemfontein at once,
thence to proceed to some unnamed destination; and every man to take
with him as much ammunition as he could carry. So, instead of a big
bonfire and their blankets, the men at a moment's notice had to face a
long night journey in open trucks, with the inspiring prospect of a
severe fight at that journey's end. Nothing daunted, every man
instantly got ready to obey the call; and just before midnight forty
truck-loads of fighting men set out, they knew not whither, to meet
they knew not what; but cheerily singing, as the train began to move,
"The anchor's weighed." It was indeed!

"What does it all mean?" asked one lad of another; but though vague
rumours of disaster were rife,--(it proved to be the day of the
Sanna's Post mishap),--nothing definite was known; and on the eve of
"All Fools' Day" it seemed doubly wise to be wholesomely incredulous.
So I retired to my shelter, made of biscuit boxes covered with a rug;
and slept soundly till morning light appeared. Then the sun, which at
its setting had smiled on two thousand men and their blanket shelters,
at its rising looked in vain for men or blankets; all were gone, save
a few Grenadiers left for outpost duty. I had come from Bloemfontein
for nought. Just behind my shelter stood the pile of firewood neatly
heaped in readiness for the previous night's camp fire, but never
lighted; and close beside my shelter was spread on the ground fresh
beef and mutton, enough to feed fifteen hundred men; but those fifteen
hundred were now far away, nobody knew where; and of that fresh meat
the main part was destined to speedy burial. Truly enough that Sunday
was indeed "All Fools' Day"; though the fooling was on our part of a
quite involuntary order!

Yet in face of oft recurring disappointment and disaster the favourite
motto of the Orange Free State amply justified itself, and will do to
the end. It says _Alles zal recht komen_; which means, being
interpreted, "All will come right." While God remains upon the throne
that needs must be!

[Sidenote: _Eastertide in Bloemfontein._]

_Good Friday_ for many of us largely justified its name. It was a
graciously good day. My first parade in a S.C.A. marquee was not only
well attended but was also marked by much of hallowed influence. Then
followed a second parade service in the Wesleyan church which was
still more largely attended; and attended by men many of whose faces
were delightfully familiar. It was an Aldershot parade service held in
the heart of South Africa, and in what is supposed to be the hostile
capital of a hostile state.

In the course of the afternoon over five hundred paid a visit to our
temporary Soldiers' Home for letter writing and the purchase of such
light refreshments as we found it possible to provide in that famine
haunted city. The evening we gave up to Christian song in that same
Soldiers' Home; and when listening to so many familiar voices singing
the old familiar hymns, some of us seemed for the moment almost to
forget we were not in the hallowed "Glory Room" of the Aldershot Home.

On _Easter Sunday_ at the two parade services in the Town Church the
most notable thing was the visible eagerness with which men listened
to the old, old story of Eastertide, and the overwhelming heartiness
with which they sang our triumphant Easter hymns. There is a capital
Wesleyan choir in Bloemfontein; but they told me they might as well
whistle to drown the roaring of a whirlwind as attempt "to lead" the
singing of the soldiers.

At these Sunday morning parades the church was usually packed with
khaki in every part. The gallery was filled to overflowing; chairs
were placed in all the aisles on the ground floor; the choir squeezed
themselves within the communion rail; and the choir seats were
occupied by men in khaki, for the most part deplorably travel-stained
and tattered. Soldiers sat on the pulpit stairs; and into the very
pulpit khaki intruded, for I was there and of course in uniform. It
was a most impressive sight, this coming together into the House of
God of comrades in arms fresh from many a hard fought conflict and
toilsome march.

At one of these services a sergeant of the 12th Lancers was present;
and his was just a typical case. It was at the battle of Magersfontein
we had last met. On that memorable morning he and his troop rode past
me to the fight; we grasped hands, whispered one to the other
"494"[1]; and then parted to meet months after, unharmed amid all
peril, in our Father's House in Bloemfontein. The thrill of such a
meeting, which represents cases of that kind by the score, no one can
fully understand till it becomes inwoven in his own experience. So we
met, and remembering the way our God had led us, we sang as few men

         "Praise ye the Lord! 'tis good to raise
          Your hearts and voices in His praise!"

How good, supremely good, I have no words to tell!

[Footnote 1: "God be with you till we meet again."--_Sacred Songs and
Solos_, No. 494.]

On that Easter afternoon there came a sudden summons to conduct
another soldier's funeral. For a full hour and a half I watched and
waited beyond the appointed time, while the digging of a shallow grave
in difficult ground was being laboriously completed; and then in the
name of Him who is the "Resurrection and the Life," we laid our
soldier-brother in his lowly resting place, enwrapped only in his
soldier-blanket. Meanwhile, in accordance with a touching Anglican
custom, there came into the cemetery a long procession of choir boys
and children singing Easter hymns, joining in Easter liturgies, and
then proceeding to lay on the new made graves an offering of Easter

At the Easter evening service I was surprised to see in the Wesleyan
church another dense mass of khaki. Every man had been required to
procure a separate personal "pass" in order to be present, and the
evening was full of threatenings, threatenings that in due time
justified themselves by a terrific thunderstorm, which resulted in
nearly every tunic being drenched before it could reach its sheltering
tent. Yet in spite of such forbiddings the men came in from the
outlying camps, literally by hundreds, to attend that Easter evening
service; and I deemed their presence there a notable tribute to the
spiritual efficiency of spiritual work among our troops the wide world

_Easter Monday_, as in England so in Bloemfontein, is a Bank holiday,
and usually devoted to picnicking in The Glen, till the war put its
foot thereon, as well as on much else that was pleasurable. My most
urgent duty that day was the conducting of another military funeral;
and thereupon in the cemetery I saw a triple sight significant of

At the gate were some soldiers in charge of a mule waggon on which lay
the body of a negro, awaiting burial. In the service of our common
Queen that representative of the black-skinned race had just laid down
his life. Inside the gates two graves were being dug; one by a group
of Englishmen for an English comrade, and one by a group of Canadians
for a comrade lent to us for kindred service by "Our Lady of the
Snows." So now are lying side by side in South African soil these two
typical representatives of the principal sections of the Anglo-Saxon
race; their lives freely given, like that of their black brother, in
the service and defence of one common heritage--that Christian empire
which surely God himself has builded. Camp and cemetery alike teach
one common lesson, and by the lips of the living and the dead enforce
attention to the same vast victorious fact! Next day it was an
Australian officer I saw laid in that same treasure-house of dead
heroes. He that hath eyes to see let him see! This deplorable war,
which thus brought together from afar the builders and binders of the
empire, in an altogether amazing measure made them thereby of one
mind and heart. It is life arising out of death; and surely every
devout-minded Englishman will learn at last to say "This is the Lord's
doing; and it is marvellous in our eyes!"

[Sidenote: _The Epidemic and the Hospitals._]

The first military funeral since the reoccupation of Bloemfontein by
the British it fell to my lot to conduct two days after our arrival. A
fine young guardsman who had taken part in each of our four famous
battles, and in our recent march, just saw this goal of all our hopes
and died. The fatal symptoms were evidently of a specially alarming
type, for he was hastily buried with all his belongings, his slippers,
his iron mug, his boots, his haversack, and the very stretcher on
which he lay; then over all was poured some potent disinfectant. It
was a gruesome sight! So to-day he lies in the self-same cemetery
where rests many a British soldier who fell not far away in the fights
of fifty years ago. It was British soil in those distant days, and is
British soil again, but at how great cost we were now about to learn.

That guardsman was the first fruits of a vast ingathering. In the
course of the next few weeks over 6000 cases of enteric sprang up in
the immediate neighbourhood of that one little town; and 1300 of its
victims were presently laid in that same cemetery, which now holds so
much of the empire's best, and towards which so many a mother-heart
turns tearfully from almost every part of the Anglo-Saxon world. It
was the after-math of Paardeberg, which claimed more lives long after,
than in all its hours of slowly intensifying agony! Boers and
Britons, both together, there were vastly fewer who sighed their last
beside the Modder River banks than the sequent fever claimed at
Bloemfontein; and all through the campaign the loss of life caused by
sickness has been so much larger than through wounds as to justify the
soldiers' favourite dictum respecting it: "Better three hits than one

Such an epidemic, laying hold as it did in the course of a few weeks
of one in five of all the troops within reach of Bloemfontein, is
quite unexampled in the history of recent wars; and the Royal Army
Medical Corps can scarcely be censured for being unable to adequately
cope with it. They were 900 miles from their base, with only a broken
railway by which to bring up supplies. The little town, already so
severely commandeered by the Boers, could furnish next to nothing in
the way of medical comforts or necessities. Every available bed, or
blanket, or bit of sheeting, was bought up by the authorities; but if
every private bedroom in the place had been ransacked, the
requirements of the case even then could scarcely have been met.
Possibly that ought to have been done, but all through this campaign
our army rulers have been excessively tender-handed in such matters;
forgetting that clemency to the vanquished is often cruelty to the
victors. So in Bloemfontein healthy civilians, whether foes or
friends, slept on feather beds, while suffering and delirious soldiers
were stretched on an earthen floor that was sodden with almost
incessant rain. Neither for that rain can the army doctors be held
responsible, though it almost drove them to despair. Nor was it their
fault that the Boers were allowed at this very time to capture the
Bloemfontein waterworks, and shatter them. Bad water at Paardeberg
caused the epidemic. Bad water at Bloemfontein brought it to a climax.
In this little city of the sick the medical men had at one time a
constant average of 1800 sufferers on their hands; mostly cases of
enteric which, as truly as shot and shell, shows no respect of
persons. Not only our fighting-men--soldiers of high degree and low
degree alike--but non-combatants, chaplains, army scripture readers,
war correspondents, doctors, and army nurses, it remorselessly claimed
and victimised. In such a campaign the fighting line is not the chief
point of peril, nor the fighting soldiers the only sufferers. Hospital
work has its heroes, though not its trumpeters, and many a man of the
Royal Army Medical Corps has as faithfully won his medal as any that
handled rifle.

[Sidenote: _All hands and houses to the rescue._]

Our "Kopje-Book Maxims" told us that "two horses are enough to shift a
camp--provided they are dead enough." Either the camp or the horses
must be quickly shifted if pestilence is to be kept at bay; yet in
spite of all shiftings, of all sanitary searchings and strivings, the
fever refused to shift; the field hospitals were from the first
hopelessly crowded out; and the city of death would quickly have
become the city of despair, but for the timely arrival of sundry
irregular helpers and organisations that had been lavishly equipped
and sent out by private beneficence. Such was the huge Portman
Hospital. In the Ramblers' Club and Grounds, the Longman Hospital was
housed; and here I found Conan Doyle practising the healing art with
presumably a skill rivalling that with which he penned his superb
detective tales. In the forsaken barracks of the Orange Free State
soldiery, the Sydney doctors established their house of healing,
assisted by ambulance men and ambulance appliances unsurpassed by
anything of the kind employed in any other part of Africa. Australia,
like her sister colonies, sent to us her best; and bravely they bore
themselves beside our best.

[Illustration: _From a photograph taken at Pretoria, June 1900_

Rev. T. F. Falkner, M.A. Chaplain to the Forces.

Chaplain to the First Division and to the Guards' Brigade, South
African Field Force, 1899-1900]

To relieve the pressure thus created almost every public building in
the town was requisitioned for hospital purposes; schools and clubs
and colleges, the nunnery, the lunatic asylum, and even the stately
Parliament Hall with its marble entrance and sumptuous fittings. The
presidential chair, behind the presidential desk, still retained its
original place on the presidential platform; but,--"how are the mighty
fallen!" I saw it occupied by an obscure hospital orderly who was busy
filling up a still more obscure hospital schedule. The whole floor of
the building was so crowded with beds that all the senatorial chairs
and desks had perforce been removed. The Orange Free State senators
sitting on those aforesaid chairs had resolved in secret session, only
a few eventful months before, to hurl in England's face an Ultimatum
that made war inevitable, and brought our batteries and battalions to
their very doors. But now they were fugitives every one from the city
of their pride, which they had surrendered without striking a solitary
blow for its defence; while the actual building in which their lunacy
took final shape, and launched itself on an astonished Christendom,
I beheld full to overflowing with the deadly fruit of their doing. In
the very presence of the president's chair of state, here a Boer,
there a Briton, it may be of New Zealand birth or Canadian born,
moaned out his life, and so made his last mute protest against the
outrage which rallied a whole empire in passionate self-defence.

Among the more than thousand victims the Bloemfontein fever epidemic
claimed, few were more lamented than a sergeant of the 3rd Grenadier
Guards, who, according to the _Household Brigade Magazine_, had a
specially curious experience in the assault on Grenadier Hill at the
battle of Belmont, for "he was hit by no less than nine separate
bullets, besides having his bayonet carried away, off his rifle, by
another shot, making a total of ten hits. He continued till the end of
the action with his company in the front of the attack, where on
inspection it was found he had only actually five wounds; but besides
some damage to his clothing had both pouches hit and all his
cartridges exploded. He did not go to hospital till the next day, when
he felt a little bruised and stiff." It really seemed hard to succumb
to enteric after such a miraculous escape from the enemies' murderous

[Sidenote: _Church of England Chaplains at work._]

The following letter by the Rev. T. F. Falkner refers to this period,
and was sent originally to the Chaplain-General; but is here
published, slightly abridged, as an excellent illustration of the
spirit and work of the many chaplains of the Church of England who
have taken part in this campaign:--

     "I was particularly anxious that you should know the luxury in
     which we are living in the matter of Church privileges, and the
     keen appreciation which our people show of that which is so
     freely offered. Nothing can exceed the kindness of the dean and
     his clergy. They allow us to have the use of the cathedral on
     Sunday mornings at nine o'clock for a parade service for the
     Guards, and at 5.30 on Sunday evenings we have a special evensong
     for the convenience of officers and men to enable them to get
     back to barrack or camp in good time; in addition to this, we
     have permission to hold a special mission service for soldiers on
     Friday evenings at 6.30. There is a daily celebration as well as
     Morning and Evening Prayer and Litany, while on Sundays there are
     three celebrations of Holy Communion. These are luxuries to us
     wayfarers on the veldt. Now for the appreciation of them. On the
     Sunday after we came in, the cathedral choir volunteered their
     help at our nine o'clock (Guards') parade, and the service was
     home-like and hearty. The drums were there and rolled at the
     Glorias, and 'God Save the Queen,' which was sung because it was
     a parade service. I spoke to the men on the blessings of a
     restful hour of worship in an English church after our
     journeyings, and of the mercies which had been granted to us,
     basing what I had to say on 'It is good for us to be here.' At
     the morning service at 10.30 there was a large number of the
     headquarter staff present, many of whom, Lord Roberts included,
     stayed to the celebration.... At 7.30, the ordinary hour for
     evensong, long before the service began the church was literally
     _packed_ with officers and men, one vast mass of khaki; all
     available chairs and forms were got in, and officers were put up
     into the long chancel wherever room could be found for them. The
     heartiness of that service, the reverence and devoutness of the
     men, the uplifting of heart and voice in the familiar chants and
     hymns, the clear manly enunciation of the Articles of our Faith,
     and the ready responses, all combined to make the service a grand
     evidence of the religious side of our men and a striking
     testimony to their desire to worship their God in the beauty of
     holiness. Many of us will remember that Sunday night with
     thankfulness. Coney preached us a very excellent sermon. The few
     civilians who were able to get in were much struck by the evident
     sincerity and devout behaviour of the men who surrounded them.
     And yet the Boers say 'the English _must_ lose because they have
     no God.' One of the clergy told me a day or two after we got here
     that he met one of our men outside the cathedral as he was
     walking along, and the soldier accosted him. 'Beg pardon, sir,
     is that an English church?' 'Yes,' said the clergyman. 'Might I
     go in, sir?' 'Why, of course,' was the reply, 'it is open all
     day.' 'Thank you, sir; I should just like to go in and say a
     prayer for the wife and children;' and in he went.

     "I felt after our first experience that it was hardly fair to
     oust so many of the regular worshippers from their own place of
     worship, and so we arranged for the extra service at 5.30. It was
     to be purely a soldiers' service. But a word or two about the
     Friday evening special Lenten service. Familiar hymns, a metrical
     litany, and part of the Commination Service were gladly joined in
     by a large number of men, the cathedral being more than half
     full, and the archdeacon gave us a very helpful address. After
     that service a good number of men stayed behind, at our
     invitation, to practise psalms and hymns for the soldiers'
     evening service on the following Sunday, a precaution which
     served its purpose well. At that service the church was _filled_;
     Lord Roberts came to it, and it was an ideal soldiers' service.
     Coney and I took the service, Norman Lee and Southwell read the
     lessons, Blackbourne was at the organ, and the dean preached. One
     of the staff officers said afterwards that he had never enjoyed a
     service so much, and I think many others had similar feelings.
     But the flow of khaki-clad worshippers had not ceased, for no
     sooner had our 5.30 service ended than men and officers began
     coming in for the 7.30 ordinary service, and at that the chancel
     and more than half the body of the church was again filled with
     our troops. It _was_ cheering to see and comforting to share in.

     "The morning of this Sunday I spent at Bishop's Glen, about
     fourteen miles up the line, close to the bridge over the Modder
     River which was blown up directly we got here, where two
     battalions of the Guards were afterwards sent. I had to go up in
     great haste on the Saturday to bury the adjutant of the 3rd
     Grenadiers, who was killed the day before; a very sad task for
     me, for having been with the battalion all along, I had got to
     know him well and to appreciate him highly, as every one did who
     knew him. I got to camp about 5.30 on Saturday evening, after
     three and a half hours' heavy travelling along a muddy track over
     the veldt, through dongas and drifts, and we laid him to rest on
     a little knoll overlooking the well-wooded banks of what is
     _there_ a pretty river, a short distance only from the broken
     bridge, which stood out against a background of shrubs and trees
     on the river side, and struck me as a fitting emblem of a strong
     and useful life smitten down suddenly by an unseen hand. I
     stayed the night at Glen, where Grenadiers and Coldstreams took
     care of me, and on Sunday morning at seven we had our parade
     service, followed by a celebration at the railway station, at
     which we had a nice number of communicants.

     "We find the hospital work here very heavy. There are no less
     than ten public buildings in use as hospitals in the town: in
     addition, of course, to our field hospitals, which are _full_.
     For a short time last week I was left to do all this with two
     chaplains besides myself. The chaplains here are splendid, so
     keen and self-denying, nothing seems too much trouble; all going
     strong and working hard. It is a pleasure to be with such men. We
     are all distressed at our inability to do more, and conscious of
     our failure to do what we would wish; but we do what we can. The
     S.C.A. has two tents and are working on good lines, and the men
     appreciate them. Lowry and I have walked the whole way so far,
     save that I had a lift from Jacobsdal to Klip Drift, and I am
     thankful to be able to say I have not been other than fit all
     through. All the others have had horses to ride: they are welcome
     to them. I am a bit proud of having had a share in that march
     from Klip Drift to Bloemfontein, and am thankful for the strength
     that was given me to do it. I am jealous for the honour of the
     department, and all I want at the end of the campaign is that the
     generals should say, the Church of England chaplains have done
     their duty well. One said to me the other day, 'I _should_ like
     to be mentioned in despatches.' I replied, 'I have no such wish.
     To do that you must go where you have no business to be.' Our
     chaplains are brave men; there's not one who would flinch if told
     to go into the firing line; but the generals _all_ say that our
     place is at the field hospital; moving quietly amongst the sick
     and wounded when they are brought in, and burying the dead when
     they are carried out. There's not one of our chaplains out here
     who has not earned, so far as I can gather, kind words from those
     with whom he serves, and I think you will find your selection has
     been more than justified.

     "We had an excellent meeting in connection with the A.T.A. in the
     Bloemfontein Town Hall last night, with Lord Roberts in the
     chair. He spoke admirably; and though most of the troops were out
     of the city the hall was full."



[Sidenote: _A pleasure jaunt._]

During this six weeks of tarrying at Bloemfontein I found myself able
to visit a most interesting Methodist family residing some twenty
miles south of the town. For my sole benefit the express to the Cape
was stopped at a certain platelayer's hut, and then a walk of about a
mile across the veldt brought me to the pleasant country house of a
venerable widow lady. Her belongings had of course been freely
commandeered by the Boers on the outbreak of war; nor had the sons,
being burghers, though loyal-hearted Britishers, been able to elude
their liability to bear arms against their own kin. The two youngest,
schoolboys still, though of conscript age, had been sent down south
betimes; and so were well out of harm's way, but the two elder were
not suffered to thus escape. One as a despatch rider, and one as a
commissariat officer, they were compelled to serve a cause that did
violence to their deepest convictions. On the first appearance
therefore of the British, both brothers following the bidding of
strongest blood bonds, transferred their allegiance, if not their
service, to the other side. Thereupon they were so incessantly
threatened with a volley of avenging Boer bullets they felt compelled
to take a holiday trip to the Cape. Thus was their gentle mother with
war still raging round her gates bereft of the presence, protection,
and sorely needed aid of all her sons.

We arranged for the holding in her home of an Easter Sunday evening
service; and then returning to the railway were cheered by the speedy
sight of a goods train bound for Bloemfontein. Whereupon I scrambled
on to the top of a heavily loaded truck, and there, being a
first-class passenger provided with a first-class ticket, travelled in
first-class style, sitting awkwardly astride of nobody knows what. On
the same truck rode a Colonial, an English cavalryman, and a Hindu who
courteously threw over me a handsome rug when the chilly eve closed in
upon us. A decidedly representative group were we atop that truck-load
of miscellaneous munitions of war. And on into the darkness, and
through the darkness, we thus rode till late at night we reached the
lights of Bloemfontein.

[Sidenote: _Onwards but whither?_]

On Saturday, April 22nd, the colonel of my battalion informed his
quartermaster that the next day his men would leave Kaffir River,
proceed to Springfield, and thence to "worlds unknown!" That is
precisely where we soon found ourselves. Early on Sunday morning I
said "Good-bye" to Bloemfontein, expecting to see its face no more,
for surely this must be the long looked for start towards golden
Krugerland! At Kaffir River I found the Guards were some hours ahead
of me, but was just in time to catch the tail of a long train of
transport waggons belonging to them, so that fortunately there was no
fear of my being left alone, and lost a second time upon the veldt.
Thus commenced a long Sunday march, as we all supposed, to
Springfield. Later on we learned it certainly was not Springfield we
were slowly approaching; but that possibly night-fall would land us
somewhere near the Waterworks recently shattered, and still held, by
the Boers. Yet "not there, not there, my child," were our weary feet
wending. We began to wonder whether they were wending anywhere; and to
this hour nobody seems to know the name of the place where we that
night rested. Perhaps it had no name! Soldiers on active service
seldom walk by sight. It is theirs always "to _trust_ and obey." Even
regimental officers seldom know precisely where their next
stopping-place will be, or what presently they will be called upon to
do. They often resemble the pieces on a chess board, which cannot see
the hand that moves them and cannot tell why this piece instead of
that is taken. To keep our adversaries if possible in the dark, we
have ourselves to dwell in darkness; but it is a source of sore
distress all the same. The troops hunger for information and seldom
get it; so, to supply the lack they invent it; and then scornfully
laugh at their own inventings. They would sooner travel anywhere than
"through worlds unknown"; and yet somehow that becomes for them the
commonest of all treks!

[Sidenote: _That Pom-Pom again!_]

While the afternoon was still new we heard on our near left the sound
of heavy shell firing; of which, however, the men took no more notice
than if they had been manoeuvring on Salisbury Plain. They marched on
as stolidly and cheerily as ever, chatting and laughing as they
marched. But presently there broke upon our ears the familiar sound of
the pom-pom, which months ago at the Modder had so shaken everybody's
nerves. Instantly there burst from the whole brigade a cry of
recognition, and every man instinctively perceived that some grim
business had begun. Another Sunday battle was raging just over the
ridge, and the rest of that day's march had for its accompaniment the
music of pom-poms, the rattle of rifle fire, and the thud of shells.
But at the close of the day an officer somewhat discontentedly
reported that "if" our artillery had only reached a certain place by a
certain time, something splendid would have happened. Many of our
rat-traps proved thus weak in the spring, and snapped too slowly,
specially on Sundays. Some such disastrous "if" seemed to spring up in
connection with most of our Sunday fights, though we still seem to
cling fondly to the belief that for fighting the Lord's battles the
Lord's day is of all days incomparably the best. It was on Sunday,
December 10th, the disastrous attack on Stormberg was delivered; and
on the evening of that same fatal Sunday the Highland Brigade marched
out of the Modder River Camp to meet their doom on Magersfontein.
Similarly on the night of Sunday, January 22nd, our men set out to
win, and lose, Spion Kop. The Paardeberg calamity, the costliest of
all our contests, was also a Sunday fight; and though in the face of
such facts no man may dogmatise, such coincidences, all happening in
the course of a few weeks, in the conduct of the same war, make one
wonder whether Sunday is really a lucky day for purposes so dread, and
whether the Boers are not justified in their supposed refusal to
fight on Sundays excepting in self-defence. In that respect, I at any
rate, am with the Boers as against the Britons.

[Sidenote: _A problem not quite solved._]

When night at last arrived, we had neither tents nor shelters of any
sort provided for us, though the cold was searching, and everything
around us was wet with heavy dew. Men and officers alike spread their
waterproof sheets on the bare ground, and then made the best they
could of one or two blankets in which to wrap themselves. Through the
kindness, however, of my quartermaster friend, since dead, I was
privileged to push my head and shoulders under a transport waggon
which effectually sheltered me from wind and wet; and there, in the
midst of mules and men, mostly darkies, I slept the sleep of the

Brief rest, however, of a more delicious kind I had already found in
the course of that toilsome afternoon tramp described above. During a
short halt by the way I lay upon my back watching a huge cloud of
locusts flying far overhead, and thinking tenderly of those just then
assembling at our Aldershot Sunday afternoon service of song, not
forgetting the gentle lady who usually presides at the piano there.
Then I took out my pocket Testament, and read Romans xii.: "If thine
enemy hunger, feed him." But about that precise moment the adjoining
kopje, with a shaking emphasis, said to me, "pom-pom," and again
"pom-pom." But how to feed one's enemy while thus he speaks with
defiant throat of brass, is a problem that still awaits a
satisfactory solution!

[Sidenote: _A touching sight._]

In the course of the day I was greatly touched by the sight of an
artillery horse that had fallen from uttermost fatigue, so that it had
to be left to its fate on the pitiless veldt. It was now separated
from its team, and all its harness had been removed; but when it found
itself being deserted by its old companions in distress and strife, it
cast after them a most piteous look, struggled, and struggled again to
get on to its feet, and finally stood like a drunken man striving to
steady himself, but absolutely unable to go a single step further. Ah,
the bitterness alike for men and horses of such involuntary and
irrecoverable falling out from the battle-line of life! Not actual
dying, but this type of death is what some most dread!

[Sidenote: _Rifle firing and firing farms._]

When on Monday we resumed our march, it was still to the sound of the
same iron-mouthed music; but now at last we could not only hear, but
see some of the shell fire, and watch a few of the men that were
taking part in the fight. Far away we noticed what looked like a line
of beetles, each a good space from his fellow beetles, creeping
towards the top of a ridge. These were some of our mounted men. Lower
down the slope, but moving in the same direction, was a similar line
of what looked like bees. These were some of our infantry, on whom the
altogether invisible Boers were evidently directing their fire. As you
must first catch your hare before you can cook it, so you must first
sight a Boer before you can shift him; and the former task is
frequently the more difficult of the two. In more senses than one
short-sighted soldiers have had their day; and in all ranks those who
cannot look far ahead must give place to those who can. Henceforth the
most powerful field-glasses that can possibly be made, and the most
perfect telescopes, must be supplied to all our officers; or on a
still more disastrous scale than in this war the bees will drop their
bullets among the beetles, and Britons will be killed by Britons.

Later in the day, to my sincere grief, a beautiful Boer house was set
on fire by our men, after careful inquiry into the facts by the
provost-marshal, because the farmer occupying it had run up the white
flag over his house, and then from under that flag our scouts had been
shot at. Such acts of treachery became lamentably common, and had at
all cost to be restricted by the only arguments a Voortrekker seemed
able to understand; but the Boers in Natal had long before this proved
adepts at kindling similar bonfires, though without any such
provocation, and cannot therefore pose as martyrs over the burning of
their own farms, however deplorable that burning be.

[Sidenote: _Boer treachery and the white flag._]

At Belmont a young officer of the Guards named Blundell was killed by
a shot from a wounded Boer to whom he was offering a drink of water;
and about the same time another Boer hoisted a white flag, which our
men naturally mistook for a signal of surrender, but on rising to
receive it, received instead a murderous volley of rifle fire, as the
result of which the correspondent of _The Morning Post_ had his right
arm hopelessly shattered.

At Talana Hill, our first battle in Natal, the beaten Boers raised a
white flag on a bamboo pole, but when our gunners thereupon ceased
firing, "the brother" instead of surrendering bolted! At Colenso, a
company of burghers with rifles flung over their backs, and waving a
white flag, approached within a short distance of the foremost British
trenches, but when our troops raised their heads to welcome these
surrendering foes, they were instantly stormed at by shot and shell.
At length General Buller found it necessary in face of such frequent
treachery, officially to warn his whole army to be on their guard
against the white flag, a flag which to his personal knowledge was
already through such misuse stained with the blood of two gallant
British officers, besides many men.

It is said that when Sir Burne Jones' little daughter was once in such
a specially angry mood as to scratch and bite and spit, her father
somewhat roughly shook the child and said, "I do not see what has got
into you, Millicent; the devil must teach you these things."
Whereupon, the little one indignantly flashed back this reply:--"Well
the devil may have taught me to scratch and bite, but the spitting is
my own idea!" With equal justice the Boers may claim that though the
ordinary horrors and agonies of war are of the devil, this persistent
abuse of the white flag is their own idea. Of that practice they
possess among civilized nations an absolute monopoly, and the red
cross flag has often fared no better at their hands.

But then it would be absurd and most unfair to blame the two
Republics as a whole for this. No people on earth would approve such
practices, and doubtless they were as great a pain to many an
honourable Boer as they were to us. But upland farmers who have spent
their lives in fighting savage beasts, and still more savage men, are
slow to distinguish between lawful tricking and unlawful treachery,
and are apt to account all things fair that help to win the game.

[Sidenote: _The pet lamb still lives and learns!_]

During this long trek through worlds unknown, our pet lamb, perchance
taking encouragement from the example of the two chaplains, followed
us all the way on foot, and became quite soldierly in its tastes and
tendencies. It scorned even to look at its brother sheep on the veldt
modestly feeding on coarse veldt grass; but on sardines and bacon-fat
it seemed to thrive astonishingly; and both my bread and sugar it
coolly commandeered. So rapid and complete is camp-life education,
even when a pet lamb is the pupil!

[Sidenote: _Right about face._]

On the morning of our fifth day in "worlds unknown" we breakfasted
soon after four, by starlight; and before sunrise were again trekking
hard. About ten miles brought our almost interminable string of
waggons to two ugly river drifts, across which, with much toil and
shouting they were at last safely dragged. Then we suddenly halted and
to our amazement were ordered to return whence we came. So across
those two ugly drifts the waggons were again dragged; four o'clock in
the afternoon found us on the precise spot where four o'clock in the
morning had watched us breakfasting; and by the afternoon of the
following Sunday we were back in Bloemfontein from which on the
previous Sunday we had made so bold a dash for fame and fortune. In
the course of those eight excessively toilsome days the Guards had
captured three wounded Boers; but what else they had accomplished no
one could ever guess. Somebody said, however, that something wonderful
had been done by somebody somewhere in connection with that week of
wonders; which was of course consoling; but it was only long after we
learned that De Wet after laying siege to Wepener for seventeen days
had made a sudden rush to reach his sure retreat in the north-east
corner of the Free State; that we with other columns had been sent out
to intercept him; and had as by a hair's breadth just managed to miss
him. Such are the fortunes and misfortunes of war. As an attacking
force, De Wet in the course of the war made some bold and brilliant
moves, though always on a comparatively small scale; but in the art of
running away and escaping capture, no matter by whom pursued, he has
given himself more practice than probably any other general that ever
lived. "Oh my God make him like a wheel!" We were a lumbering waggon
chasing a light-winged wheel; and the wheel was winner!

[Sidenote: _From worlds unknown._]

While on this long trek I lighted on a newly-arrived contingent of
Canadian mounted infantry which had come to our aid from worlds
unknown. They proved to be a splendid body of men, and worthy
compatriots of the earlier arrived Canadians who had rendered such
heroic service at Paardeberg. Their Methodist chaplain, the Rev. Mr
Lane, of Nova Scotia, seemed incontestably built on the same lines; a
conspicuously strong man was he, and delightfully level-headed. I
therefore all the more deeply deplored the early and heavy failure of
his health, as the result of the severe hardships that hang round
every campaigner's path, and his consequent return, invalided home.

[Sidenote: _The Bushmen._.]

About this same time another equally remarkable body, the Australian
Bushmen, who, like the Canadians, had come from worlds unknown, were
in the far north making their way _through_ worlds unknown to the
relief of Mafeking. Their advance, says Conan Doyle, was one of the
finest performances of the war. Assembled at their port of embarkation
by long railway journeys, conveyed across thousands of miles of ocean
to Cape Town, brought round another two thousand to Beira, transferred
by a narrow gauge railway to Bamboo Creek, thence by a broader gauge
to Marandellas, sent on in coaches for hundreds of miles to Bulawayo,
again transferred by trains for another four or five hundred miles to
Ootsi, and then facing a further march of a hundred miles, they
reached the hamlet of Masibi Stadt within an hour of the arrival of
Plumer's relieving columns; and before that week was over the whole
Empire was thrilled, almost to the point of delirium, by learning that
at last the long-drawn siege of Mafeking was raised; and a defence of
almost unexampled heroism was thus brought to a triumphant end.

[Sidenote: _The Australian Chaplains._]

From start to finish the Bushmen were accompanied by an earnest
Methodist chaplain, whom I met only in Pretoria, the Rev. James Green,
who, most fortunately, throughout the whole campaign, was not laid
aside for a single day by wounds or sickness; and who, after returning
home with this time-expired first contingent of Australian troops,
came back in March 1902 with what, we hope, the speedy ending of the
war will make their last contingent.

Between Mr Green's two terms of service I was, however, ably assisted
by yet another Australian Wesleyan chaplain, the Rev. R. G. Foreman,
though he, like so many others, was early invalided home.



It was with feelings of unfeigned delight that the Guards learned May
Day was to witness the beginning of another great move towards
Pretoria. We had entered Bloemfontein without expending upon it a
single shot; we had been strangely welcomed with smiles and cheers and
waving flags and lavish hospitality; but none the less that charming
little capital had made us pay dearly for its conquest, and for our
six weeks of so-called rest on the sodden veldt around it. Its traders
had levied heavy toll on the soldiers' slender pay; and no fabled
monster of ancient times ever claimed so sore a tribute of human
lives. It was not on the veldt but under it that hundreds of our lads
found rest; and hundreds more were soon to share their fate. The
victors had become victims, and the vanquished were avenged. Seldom
have troops taken possession of any city with such unmixed
satisfaction, or departed from it with such unfeigned eagerness.

[Sidenote: _A Comedy._]

My quartermaster friend and myself, unable to start with the Brigade,
set out a few hours later, and tarried for the night at a Hollander
platelayer's hut. The man spoke little English, and we less Dutch;
but he welcomed us to the hospitality of his two-roomed home with a
warmth that was overwhelming. His wife, when the war began, was sent
away for safety's sake; and married men thus flung back upon their
bachelorhood make poor cooks and caterers unless they happen to be
soldiers on the trek; but this man, in his excitement at having such
guests to entertain, expectorated violently all over the floor on
which presently we expected to sleep; fire was soon kindled and coffee
made; the quartermaster produced some tinned meat; I produced some
tinned fruit; the ganger produced some tinned biscuits--in this
campaign we have been saved by tin--and so by this joint-stock
arrangement there was provided a feast that hungry royalty need not
have disdained. Next our entertainer undertook to amuse his guests,
and did it in a fashion never to be forgotten. He produced a box
fitted up as a theatre stage--all made out of his own head, he
said--and mostly wooden; there were two puppets on the stage, which
were made to dance most vigorously by means of cords attached secretly
to the ganger's foot, whilst his hands were no less vigorously
employed on the concertina which provided the accompanying dance
music. This delighted old man was the oddest figure of the three, as
the perspiration poured down his grimy face. To light on such a comedy
when on the war path would have been enough to make Momus laugh; and
when the laugh was spent we swept the floor, for reasons already
hinted at, sought refuge in our blankets; and long before breakfast
time next morning landed in Karee Camp.

[Sidenote: _A Tragedy._]

To reach Karee we passed through "The Glen" lying beside the Upper
Modder, where a deplorable tragedy had occurred not long before. A
remarkably fine-looking sergeant of the Guards went to bathe in what
he supposed were the deep waters of the Modder, and dived gleefully
into deeps that alas were not deep. Striking the bottom with his head,
instantly his neck was dislocated, and when I saw him a few hours
after, though he was perfectly conscious and anxiously hopeful, he was
paralysed from his shoulders downwards. A married man, his heart, too,
was broken over such an undreamed of disaster, and in three weeks he
died. The mauser is not the only reaping-machine the great harvester
employs in war time. There have been over five hundred "accidental"
deaths in the course of this campaign. At the Lower Modder we once
arranged to hold a Sunday morning service for the swarms of native
drivers in our camp, but in that case also were compelled to prove it
is the unexpected that happens. One of the "boys" went to bathe that
morning in the suddenly swollen river; he sank; and though search
parties were at once sent out, the body was never recovered. So
instead of a service we had this sad sensation.

About that same time, and in that same camp, one of my most intimate
companions, the quartermaster of the Scots Guards, was one moment
laughing and chatting with me in his tent; but the next moment,
without the slightest warning, he dropped back on his couch, and that
same evening was laid by his sorrowing battalion in a garden-grave.
The other quartermaster, who shared with me the ganger's hospitality
and laughter, when the campaign was near its close, was found lying on
the floor of his tent. He had fallen when no friendly hand was near to
help, and had been dead for hours when discovered. My first campaign,
and last, has stored my mind with tragic memories; it has filled my
heart with tendernesses unfelt before; and perchance has taught me to
interpret more truly that "life of lives" foreshadowed in Isaiah's
saying: "Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows."

[Sidenote: _A wide front and a resistless force._]

When, on the 3rd of May, we started from Karee Camp the Guards'
Brigade consisted, as from the outset, of the 1st and 2nd Coldstream
battalions, the 3rd Grenadier Guards, and the 1st Scots Guards, all
under the command of General Inigo Jones, from whom I received
unfailing courtesy. With them was linked General Stephenson's Brigade,
consisting of the Welsh, the Warwicks, the Essex, and the Yorks, these
two Brigades forming the Eleventh Division under General Pole Carew.
On our left was General Hutton with a strange medley of mounted
infantry to which almost every part of the empire had contributed some
of its noblest sons. On our right was General Tucker's Division, the
Seventh; and beyond that again other Divisions, covering a front of
about forty miles, which gradually narrowed down to twenty as we
neared Kroonstad. Reserves were left at Bloemfontein under General
Kelly Kenny; and Lord Methuen was on our remote left flank not far
from Mafeking; while on our remote right was Rundle's Division, the
Eighth. There thus set out for the conquest of the Transvaal a central
force nearly 50,000 strong--the finest army by far that England had
ever yet put into the field, and led by the ablest general she has
produced since Wellington. Yet it perhaps would be more correct to
speak of it as the first army _Greater_ Britain had ever fashioned;
and in my presence Lord Roberts openly gloried in being the first
general the empire had entrusted with the command of a really Imperial
host. In this epoch-making conflict neither the commander nor the
commanded had any cause to be ashamed one of the other.

Yet from this point onward there was astonishingly little fighting.
Before the campaign was over some of the guardsmen wore out several
pairs of boots, but scarcely fired another bullet. The Boers were so
out-manoeuvred that their mausers and machine-guns availed them
little. They fought scarcely any but rear-guard actions, and their
retreat was so rapid as to be almost a rout. Within about a month of
leaving Bloemfontein the Guards' Brigade was in Pretoria; which,
considering all they had to carry, and the constant repairing of the
railway line required from day to day, would be considered good
marching even if there had been no pom-poms planted to oppose

[Sidenote: _Brandfort._]

When we left Karee it was confidently predicted that the Boers would
make a stiff stand amid the kopjes which guard the prettily placed and
prettily planted little town of Brandfort. So the next day and the
day after we walked warily, while cannon to right of us and cannon to
left of us volleyed and thundered. Little harm was however done; and
as the second afternoon hastened to its sunset hour, we were gleefully
informed that "the brother" had once more "staggered humanity" by a
precipitate retreat from positions of apparently impregnable strength.
So Brandfort passed into our hands for all that it was worth, which
did not seem to be much; but what little there was, no man looted. All
was bought and paid for as in Piccadilly; but at more than Piccadilly
prices. Whatever else however could be purchased, no liquor was on
sale; no intemperance was seen; no molestation of woman or child took
place. So was it with rare exceptions from the very first; so was it
with very rare exceptions to the very last.

[Sidenote: _"Stop the War" slanders._]

In this respect my assistant-chaplain, the Rev. W. Burgess, assures me
that his experience tallies with mine, and he told me this tale as
illustrative of it. At Hoekfontein he called at a farmhouse close to
our camp, and in it he found an old woman of seventy and her husband,
of whom she spoke as nearly ninety. "Do you believe in God?" she asked
the chaplain, and added, "so do I, but I believe in hell as well; and
would fling De Wet into it if I could." Then she proceeded to explain
that her first husband was killed in the last war; that of her three
sons commandeered in this war one was already slain, and that when the
other two returned from the fighting line De Wet at once sent to fetch
them back.

"But look at the broken panel of that door," said the old lady. "Your
men did that when I would not answer to their knocks, and they stole
my fowls." "Very well," replied Burgess, "where yonder red flag is
flying you will find General Ian Hamilton; go and tell him your
story." As the result, a staff officer sent to inspect the premises
asked the Dutch dame whether food or money should be given her by way
of compensation, and whether £15 would fully cover all her loss? She
seemed overwhelmingly pleased at such an offer in payment for a broken
panel and a few fowls. "Very good," added the staff officer.
"To-morrow I will send you £20, but," quoth he to Burgess, "we'll make
the scouts that broke the panel pay the twenty!"

In spite of all the real and the imaginary horrors recorded in "War
against War," this has been the most humanely conducted struggle the
world has ever seen; but would to God it were well over.

[Sidenote: _A prisoner who tried to be a poet._]

In the yard of the little town jail I saw nine prisoners of war, only
two of whom were genuine Boers. Some were Scotch, some were English,
some were Hollanders; and one a fiery Irishman, who expressed so
fervent a wish to be free, to revel in further fightings against us,
that it was deemed desirable to adorn his wrists with a pair of
handcuffs. In one of the cells, it was clear some of our British
soldiers had at an earlier date been incarcerated, and were fairly
well satisfied with the treatment meted out to them. Written on the
wall I found this interesting legend: No. 28696, I. M'Donald, 4th Reg.
M. Inf., Warwick's Camp; taken prisoner 7-3-1900; arrived here
11-3-1900. Also this, by a would-be poet called Wynn, a scout
belonging to Roberts' Horse:--

         "To all who may read:
          I have been well treated
          By all who have had me in charge
          Since I've been a prisoner here."

The poetry is not much; but the peace of mind which could pencil such
lines in prison is a great deal!

[Sidenote: _Militant Dutch reformed predikants._]

The two best buildings in Brandfort appeared to be the church and
manse belonging to the Dutch Reformed Community. The church seats 600,
though the town contains only 300 whites. But then the worshippers
come from near and far. Hence I found here, as at Bloemfontein that
the farmers have their "church houses"--whole rows of them in the
latter town--where with their families they reside from Saturday to
Monday, especially on festival occasions, that they may be present at
all the services of the Sabbath and the sanctuary. A typical Dutchman
is nothing if he is not devout; though unfortunately his devoutness
does not prevent his being exceeding "slim," which seems to some the
crown of all excellencies.

The young and intelligent pastor of this important country
congregation on whom I called, was evidently an ardent patriot, like
almost all his cloth. He had unfortunately firmly persuaded himself
that the British fist had been thrust menacingly near the Orange Free
State nose; and that therefore the owner of that aforesaid nose was
perfectly justified in being the first to strike a deadly blow. He
told me he had been for a month at Magersfontein, and that he was out
on the Brandfort hills the day before I called watching our troops
fighting their way towards the town. I understood him to say he had
been shooting buck. What kind of buck is quite another question.
Whether as a pastor his patriotism had confined itself to the use of
Bunyan's favourite weapon, "all-prayer," on our approach; or whether
as a burgher he had deemed it a part of his duty to employ smokeless
powder to emphasise his patriotism, I was too polite to ask. But he
pointed out to me on his verandah two old and useless sporting guns,
which the day before he had handed to some of our officers, by whom
they had been snapped in two and left lying on the floor. There they
were pointed out to me by their late owner as part of the ravages of
war. They were the only weapons he had in the house, he said, when he
surrendered them.

It was a very common trick on the part of surrendered burghers who
took the oath of neutrality and gave up their arms, to hand in weapons
that were thus worthless and to hide for future use what were of any
value. We did not even attempt to take possession of any such a
burgher's horse. We found him a soldier, and when he surrendered we
left him a soldier, well horsed, well armed, and often deadlier as a
pretended friend than as a professed foe. Because of that exquisite
folly, which we misnamed "clemency," we have had to traverse the whole
ground twice over, and found a guerilla war treading close on the
heels of the great war.

This young predikant with more of prudence, and perchance more of
honour, recollected next morning that though, as he had truly said, he
had no more weapons in the house, he had a beautiful mauser carbine
hidden in his garden. There it got on his nerves and perhaps on his
conscience; so calling in a passing officer of the Grenadier Guards he
requested him to take possession of it, together with a hundred rounds
of ammunition belonging to it. When with a sad smile he pointed out to
me "the ravages of war" on his verandah floor my politeness again came
to the rescue, and I said nothing about that lovely little mauser of
his, which an hour before I had been curiously examining at our mess
breakfast table. Too much frankness on that point would perhaps have
spoiled our pleasant chat.

[Sidenote: _Our Australian Chaplain's pastoral experiences._]

In the course of that chat he candidly confessed himself to be
thoroughly anti-British; and for his candour this young predikant is
to be honoured; but some few of his ministerial brethren proved near
akin to the ever-famous Vicar of Bray, whom an ancient song represents
as saying:

         "That this is law I will maintain
            Unto my dying day, Sir;
          That whatsoever king may reign,
            I'll be Vicar of Bray, Sir."

So were there Dutch predikants who were decidedly anti-British while
the British were over the hills and far away; but who fell in love
with the Union Jack the moment it arrived; even if they did not set it
fluttering from their own chimney-top. One such our chaplain with
the Australian Bushmen met at Zeerust. When the Bushmen arrived this
predikant was one of the first to welcome them, and helped to hoist
the British flag. Then "the Roineks," that is the "red neck" English,
retired for a while, and De La Rey arrived; whereupon the resident
Boers went wild with joy, and whistled and shouted one of their
favourite songs, "Vat jougoed entrek," which means "Pack your traps
and trek." That was a broad hint to all pro-Britishers. So this
interesting predikant hauled down the Union Jack, which his sons
instantly tore to tatters, ran up the Boer flag, and drove De La Rey
hither and thither in his own private carriage. Though to our
Australian chaplain he expressed, still later on, his deep regret that
"the Hollanders had forced the President into making war on England,"
when Lord Methuen, in the strange whirligig of war, next drove out De
La Rey from this same Zeerust, our versatile predikant's turn soon
came to "Pack his traps and trek." Even in South Africa "Ye cannot
serve two masters."

[Sidenote: _The Welsh Chaplain._]

After one day's rest at Brandfort the Guards resumed their march, and
aided by some fighting, in which the Australians took a conspicuous
part, we reached the Vet River, and encamped near its southern banks
for the night. Here the newly-appointed Wesleyan Welsh chaplain, Rev.
Frank Edwards, overtook me; and until it could be decided where he was
to go or what he was to do, he was invited to become my brother-guest
at the Grenadiers' mess.

The next day being Sunday Mr Edwards had a speedy opportunity of
learning how little the best intentioned chaplain can accomplish when
at the front in actual war time. It was the sixth Sunday in succession
I was doomed to spend, not in doing the work of a preacher but of a
pedestrian. All other chaplains were often in the same sad but
inevitable plight; and though Mr Edwards had come from far of set
purpose to preach Christ in the Welsh tongue to Welshmen, had all the
camp been Welsh he would that day have found himself absolutely
helpless. We were all on the march; and the only type of Christian
work then attemptable takes the form of a brief greeting in the name
of Christ to the men who tramp beside us, though they are often too
tired even to talk, and we are compelled to trudge on in stolid

The drift we had to cross that Sunday at the Vet was by far the worst
we had yet reached in South Africa, and till all the waggons were
safely over, the whole column was compelled to linger hard by. I
therefore took advantage of that long pause to hurry on to Smaldeel
Junction, where the headquarter staff was staying for the day. Here I
was privileged to introduce Mr Edwards to the Field-Marshal, and was
so fortunate as to secure his immediate appointment as Wesleyan
chaplain to the whole of General Tucker's Division, with special
attachment to the South Wales Borderers. This important and
appropriate task successfully accomplished, I retired to rest under
the broken fans of a shattered windmill.

Mr Edwards' association with the Guards' Brigade was thus of very
short duration; but some interesting glimpses of his after work are
given, from his own pen, in "From Aldershot to Pretoria." I must,
therefore, only add that he was early struck by a small fragment of a
shell, and was at the same time fever-stricken, so that for ten weeks
he remained on the sick list. Still more unluckily he had only just
resumed work, when there developed a further attack of dysentery,
fever and jaundice, which ended in his being invalided home. Thus,
like many another chaplain, he found his South African career became
one of suffering rather than of service.



After resting for two days at Smaldeel, the Guards set out for
Kroonstad on the Valsch or False River, so called because in some
parts it so frequently changes its channel that after a heavy freshet
one can seldom be quite sure where to find it. This march of
sixty-five miles was covered in three days and a half; Smaldeel seeing
the last of us on Wednesday and Kroonstad seeing the first of us about
noon on Saturday. In the course of this notable march we saw, or
rather heard, two artillery duels; the Boers half-heartedly opposing
our passage, first at the Vet River just before we reached Smaldeel,
and then at the Sand River, long since made famous by the Convention
bearing that name.

[Sidenote: _The Sand River Convention._]

Though Great Britain is supposed to suffer from insatiable land hunger
it is a notable truth that she has voluntarily surrendered more
oversea territory than some important kingdoms ever possessed; but not
one of these many surrenders proved half so disastrous to all
concerned as that on which the Sand River Convention set its seal in
1852. At that time our colonial possessions were accounted by many
overtaxed statesmen to be all plague and no profit, involving the
motherland in incessant native wars out of which she won for herself
neither credit nor cash. That had proved specially true in South
Africa. When, therefore, the Crimean war hove in sight with its
manifold risks and its drain on our national resources, it was
resolved to lessen our liabilities in that then unattractive quarter
of the globe. The Transvaal was at that time a barren land, given over
to wild beasts, and to Boers who seemed equally uncontrollable. An
Ishmael life was theirs, their hand against every man's and every
man's hand against them. Every little township was a law unto itself
and almost every homestead; so the British Government threw up the
thankless task of governing the ungovernable, as soon as a life and
death struggle with Russia appeared inevitable. The Sand River
Convention gave to the Transvaal absolute independence save only in
what related to the treatment of the natives. There was to be no
slavery in the Transvaal; but no Convention ever yet framed could
apparently bind a Boer when his financial interests bade him break it.
So set he his face to evade the conditions both of the Pretoria and
the London Conventions of later date; and the one requirement of this
first Convention he set at nought. During several following years he
still hunted for slaves whom he took captive in native wars; sjamboked
them into serving him without pay; bought them, sold them, but never
called them slaves. They were "apprentices," which was a fine word for
a foul thing. So was the Convention kept in the letter of it and
broken in the spirit of it. For five-and-twenty years of widening and
deepening anarchy that Convention remained in force, the Transvaal
fighting with the Orange Free State, and Boer bidding defiance to Boer
with bullets for his arguments. When little Lydenberg claimed the
right to set up as an independent republic, Kruger himself reasoned
with it at the muzzle of his rifle, as we have since been compelled to
reason with him. So at last Shepstone appeared upon the scene to
evolve order out of chaos; and though he knew it not, he was the true
herald of the Guards' Brigade, and sundry others, that after many days
crossed the Sand River to make an end for ever of all that the Sand
River Convention involved.

The year following that in which the Convention was signed, another
step was taken in the same direction and independence was forced on
the Orange Free State. The people protested, and pleaded for
permission to still live under the protection of the British flag; but
their prayers were as unavailing as "the groans of the Britons,"
which, as recorded in the early pages of our own island story,
followed the retiring swords of Rome. Now, after nearly forty years of
uttermost neighbourliness, the Orange Free State, with machine gun and
mauser hurls back the gift once so reluctantly accepted, and forces us
to recall what now they still more reluctantly surrender. How
bewildering are the ways of Fate!

[Illustration: _From a photograph by Mr Westerman_

Broken Bridge at Modder River.]

[Sidenote: _Railway wrecking and repairing._]

The crossing of the drifts at the two rivers was almost as difficult a
task as the overtaking of our ever retreating foes. The railway
bridges over both these streams had been blown up by dynamite: some
of the stone piers were shattered, and some of the iron girders hurled
all atwist into the watery depths beneath; here and there culverts had
similarly been destroyed, and at many a point the very rails had been
torn by explosives till they looked like a pair of upturned arms
imploring help from heaven. We noticed, however, when we got into the
Transvaal that the Transvaalers took pity on their own portion of the
line, and studiously refrained from shattering it. Some of them were
probably shareholders. The less serious damages the Railway Pioneers
and the Royal Engineers repaired with a speed that amazed us; and our
supply trains never seemed to linger long in the rear of us, except
when a massive river bridge was broken. Then a deviation line and a
low level trestle bridge had to be constructed. At that fatigue work I
have seen whole companies of once smart-looking Guardsmen toiling with
spade and pick like Kaffirs, whilst some of their aristocratic
officers, bearing lordly titles, played the part of gangers over these
soldier-navvies. It was a new version and a more useful one of Ruskin
and his collegiate road-makers.

[Sidenote: _The tale, and tails, of a singed overcoat._]

Bridge or no bridge, many a mile of transport waggons, of ammunition
carts, of provision carts, with sundry naval guns, each drawn by a
team of thirty-two oxen, had somehow to be got down the dangerous
slope on one side of the drift, then across the stream, and up the
still more difficult slope on the other side. It was a herculean
task at which men and mules and horses toiled on far into the night.
Meanwhile, when the troops reached their camping ground some miles
beyond the river, they found they would have to wait for hours before
they could get a scrap of beef or biscuit, and that it would probably
be still longer before their overcoats or blankets arrived. For the
hungry and shivering men this seemed an almost interminable interval,
and for their officers it was scarcely less trying. A devoted
Methodist non-commissioned officer perceiving my sorry plight most
seasonably procured for me the loan of a capital military greatcoat. I
also fortunately found a warm anthill, which the Boers earlier in the
day had hollowed out and turned into an excellent stove or
cooking-place. I stirred up the hot ashes inside with my
walking-stick, but could find no trace of actual fire, so lay down
beside the mound for the sake of its gentle warmth and instantly fell
fast asleep. In my sleep I must have leaned hard against the anthill,
for presently a burning sensation at my back awoke me, to discover
that already a big hole had been charred in the coat I wore; and
"alas! master, it was borrowed." Boer rifle fire never harmed a hair
of my head, but this Boer fire did mischief nobody bargained for.
Clearly our pursuit was much too hot for my personal comfort!

[Illustration: _From a photograph by Mr Westerman_

The Deviation Bridge at Modder River.]

A little earlier in the evening another glowing anthill had been found
by one of our officers, and the thought of possible soup at once
suggested itself. A three-legged crock was borrowed from a native and
a fire of green mimosa shrub was laboriously coaxed into vigour by a
young aspirant to a seat in the House of Lords. Into the crockful
of water one of us cast a few meat lozenges reserved for just such a
day of dire need; another found in his haversack a further slender
store, which instantly shared the same fate. Somebody else cast into
the pot the contents of a tiny tin of condensed beef tea; and with
sundry other contributions of the same kind there was presently
produced a delightful cup of soup for all concerned. To mend matters
still further and to improve the no longer shining hours, an officer
caught sight of a stray pig upon the veldt and shot it, just as though
it had been a sniping "brother." A short time after a portion of that
porker took its place among the lozenges and condensed beef tea in
that simmering crock. So in an hour or two there followed another cup
of glorious broth, with a dainty morsel of boiled pork for those who
desired it:--

         "Oh ye gods, what a glorious feast!"

Soon after, our Cape cart with its load of iron mugs and tinned
provisions reached that same crock side; while waggon loads of
blankets, beef and biscuits, made possible a satisfactory night's
rest, even on the frosty veldt, for all our well-wearied men.

Kroonstad, the but recently proclaimed second capital of the Orange
Free State, is a very inferior edition of Bloemfontein. There is not a
single stately building, public or private, in the whole place--the
Dutch Reformed Church, afterwards taken for hospital purposes, being
the best, as it is meet and right God's House should always be.

[Sidenote: _Lord Roberts as Hospital Visitor._]

It was while I was visiting the sick and suffering laid, of course
without beds, on the bare floor of this extemporised House of Healing
that our ever busy commander-in-chief called on a similar errand of
pitying kindliness. Fortunately for all concerned the master-mind of
the whole campaign is of a devout as well as kindly type. _Lord
Roberts_ not only encouraged to the uttermost all army temperance
work, being himself the founder of the A.T.A., but like Lord Methuen
took a lively interest in the spiritual welfare of the troops. Yet
never was a general more loved by his men, or more implicitly trusted.
They reposed so much the calmer confidence in his generalship because
of their instinctive belief in his goodness, and as an illustration of
that belief the following testimony sent by a certain bombardier
appeared in a recent report of Miss Hanson's Aldershot Soldiers'

     "Lord Roberts! Well, he's just _a father_. Often goes round
     hospital in Bloemfontein, and it's 'Well, my lad, how are you
     to-day? Anything I can do for you? Anything you want?' and never
     forgets to _see_ the man has what he asks for. Goes to the
     hospital train--'Are you comfortable? Are you _sure_ you're
     comfortable?' Then it's 'Buck up! Buck up!' to those who need it.
     But when he sees a man dying, it's 'Can I pray with you, my lad?'
     I've seen him many a time praying, with not a dry eye
     near,--tears in his eyes and ours. It don't matter if there is a
     clergyman or anyone else present, if he sees a man very ill he
     will pray with him. He _is_ a lord!"

Whether in this story there is any slight touch of soldierly
imaginativeness, I cannot tell, but happy is the general about whom
his men write in such a fashion; and happy is the army controlled by
such a head!

[Sidenote: _President Steyn's Sjambok._]

On the Friday evening, a few hours before our arrival, President Steyn
stood in the drift of the Kroonstad stream, sjambok in hand, seeking
to drive back the fleeing Boers to their new-made and now deserted
trenches; but the President's sjambok proved as unavailing as Mrs
Partington's heroic broom. The Boer retreat had grown into a rout; and
the President's own retirement that night was characterised by more of
despatch than dignity. He is reported to have said, "Better a Free
State ruined than no Free State at all." For its loss of freedom, and
for its further ruin, no living man is so responsible as he. But for
his sympathy and support the Boers would have made less haste in the
penning of their Ultimatum, and war might still have slept. =Steyn's
ambition awoke it!=

Whilst its President-protector fled, Kroonstad that night found itself
face to face with pandemonium let loose. The great railway bridge over
the Valsch was blown up with a terrific crash. The new goods station
belonging to the railway, recently built at a cost of £5000, and
filled with valuable stores, including food stuffs, was drenched with
paraffin by the =Boer Irish Brigade=, and given to the flames; while
five hundred sacks of Indian corn piled outside shared the same fate.
No wonder that, as at Bloemfontein, the arrival of the Guards' Brigade
was welcomed with ringing cheers, and the frantic waving by many a
hand of tiny Union Jacks. Our coming was to them the end of anarchy.

It is however worthy of note that the Boers who thus gave foodstuffs
to the flames, and strove continually to tear up the rails along
which food supplies arrived, yet left their wives and children for us
to feed. About that they had no compunctions and no fear, in spite of
the fabled horrors ascribed to British troops. They knew full well
that even if those troops were half starved, these non-combatants
would not be suffered to lack any good thing. Even President Kruger,
though careful to carry all his wealth away, commended his wife to our
tender keeping. Some of us would rather he had taken the wife and left
the wealth; but concerning the scrupulous courtesy shown to her, no
voice of complaining has ever been heard. When we ourselves were
famished we fed freely the families of the very men who set fire to
our food supplies; and their children especially were as thoughtfully
cared for as though they were our own. War is always an accursed
thing, but even in this dread sphere the Christ-influence is not

[Sidenote: _A Sunday at last that was also a Sabbath._]

To my intense delight after so many Sabbathless Sundays, I found
myself privileged to conduct a well-attended parade service for the
Nonconformists in the Guards' Brigade at 9 A.M., and for the men of
General Stephenson's Brigade at a later hour. In the afternoon I paid
a visit to the native Wesleyan church which has connected with it
about twelve hundred members in and around Kroonstad. The building,
which is day school, Sunday school and chapel all in one, is already
of a goodly size, but it was about to be enlarged when the war began.
I found a capital congregation awaiting my appearing, the women
sitting on one side, the men on the other. There were three
interpreters who translated what I said into Kaffir, Basuto and Dutch;
an arrangement which gives a preacher ample time to think before he
speaks; though once or twice I fear I forgot when number two had
finished that number three had still to follow. I noticed when the
collection was taken, there seemed almost as many coins as
worshippers, and all the coins were silver, excepting only two. Yet
this was a congregation of Kaffirs!

At night, assisted by the Canadian chaplain, I took the service in the
Wesleyan English church, where the singing and the collection were
both golden. So also was the text; and delightsomely appropriate
withal. "The Most High ruleth the kingdom of men and giveth it to
whomsoever He will." Of the sermon based upon it however it is not for
me to speak. So ended my first Sunday in Kroonstad, where I was the
favoured guest of Mr and Mrs Thorn, late of Bristol, and still
Britishers "to the backbone the thick way through."

[Sidenote: _Military Police on the march._]

This memorable march from the Valsch to the Vaal was, in consequence
of the transport difficulties already described, one of the hungriest
in all our record. To all the other miseries of the men there was
added an incessant pining for food which it was impossible for them to
procure in anything like satisfying quantities, and I have repeatedly
watched them gather up from the face of the veldt unwholesomenesses
that no man could eat; I have seen them many a time thus try with wry
face to devour wild melon bitter as gall, and then fling it away in
utter disgust, if not despair.

Yet at the head of the Brigade there marched a strong body of Military
Police whose one business it was to see that these famished men looted
nothing. When a deserted house was reached no pretence at protecting
it was made. Such a house of course never contained food, and our men
sought in it only what would serve for firewood, in some cases almost
demolishing the place in their eagerness to secure a few small sticks,
or massive beams. Nothing in that way came amiss.

But if man, woman or child were in the house a cordon of police was
instantly put round the building. The longing eyes and tingling
fingers passed on, and absolutely nothing was touched except on
payment. Tom Hood in one of his merry poems tells of a place:--

         "Straight down the crooked lane
          And right round the square,"

where the most toothsome little porkers cried "Come eat me if you
please." That, to the famine-haunted imagination of the troops, was
precisely what many a well-fed porker on the veldt seemed to say, but
as a rule say in vain. After thousands of troops had gone by, I have
with my own eyes seen that lucky porker still there, with ducks of
unruffled plumage still floating on the farmhouse pond, and fat
poultry quite unconscious how perilous an hour they had just passed.
Yet the owner of the aforesaid pig and poultry was out on commando,
his mauser charged with a messenger of death, which any moment might
wing its way to any one of us. No wonder if the famished soldiers
could not quite see the equity of the arrangement which left him at
liberty to hunt for their lives but would not allow them to lay a
finger on one of his barndoor fowls. It would be absurd to suppose
that, in the face of such pressure, the vigilance of the police was
never eluded; and our mounted scouts were always well away from police
control. As the result their saddles became sometimes like an inverted
hen-roost; heads down instead of up; but they were seldom asked in
what market they had made their purchases or what price they had paid
for their poultry.

It would require a clever cook to provide a man with three savoury and
substantial meals out of a mugful of flour, about a pound of tough
trek ox, and a pinch of tea. Yet occasionally that was all it proved
possible to serve out to the men, and their ingenuity in dealing with
that miserable mugful of flour often made me marvel. They reminded me
not unfrequently of the sons of the prophets, who, in a day of dearth
went out into the fields to gather herbs and found a wild vine, and
gathered thereof wild gourds and shred them into the pot and they
could not eat thereof. Violent attacks of dysentery and kindred
complaints only too plainly proved that occasionally in this case
also, as in that ancient instance, there was apparently ample
justification for the cry, "Oh thou man of God, there is death in the
pot." Nevertheless, and notwithstanding the lynx-eyed vigilance of the
police, the smell from the pot was sometimes astonishingly like unto
the smell of chicken-broth; which clearly shows what good cooking can
accomplish even on the barren veldt.

[Sidenote: _A General's glowing eulogy of the Guards._]

This amazing ability of the Guards to face long marches with short
rations was triumphantly maintained, not for a few months merely but
to the very end of the campaign. In the February of 1901 it fell to
the lot of the Scots Guards, for instance, to accompany General
French's cavalry to the Swaziland border. They took with them no tents
and the least possible amount of impedimenta of any kind. But for
three weeks they had to face almost incessant rain, and as they had no
shelter except a blanket full of holes, they were scarcely ever dry
for half a dozen hours at a time. The streams were so swollen that
they became impassable torrents, and the transport waggons were thus
left far behind, with all food supplies. For eight or ten days at a
stretch men and officers alike had no salt, no sugar, no tea, no
coffee, no jam, no flour, bread or biscuits; no vegetables of any
kind; but only one cupful of mealies or mealie meal per day, and as
much fresh killed meat as their rebellious stomachs could digest
without the aid of salt or mustard. Yet the only deaths were two by
drowning; and at the close of the operations the general addressed
them as follows:--

General French's farewell speech to the 1st Brigade, Scots Guards at
Vryheid, on April 1st, 1901:--

     Major Cuthbert, officers, N.C.Os. and men of the Scots Guards.
     The operations in the Eastern Transvaal are brought to a close,
     and I have had the opportunity of addressing the Royal Horse and
     Field Artillery and Cavalry; but, although you were with me in
     the Western Transvaal, this is the first time I have had the
     pleasure of addressing you on parade. The operations from Springs
     to Ermelo, and from Ermelo to Piet Retief, were conducted under
     the most trying circumstances and severe hardships. Lying on the
     ground, which was under water, with no shelter, with very short
     rations and for sometime none at all, you had to exist on the
     meagre supplies of the district, which were very poor. At one
     time it caused me the deepest anxiety, as in consequence of the
     weather all communications were temporarily suspended; but the
     cheery manner and disposition of this splendid battalion did a
     great deal to disperse this anxiety. What struck me most forcibly
     was your extraordinary power of marching. I have frequently
     noticed that when the cavalry and mounted infantry were engaged
     (happily very slightly) in these operations, I have been
     surprised on looking round to see this splendid battalion close
     behind and extended ready to take part in the fighting, and have
     wondered how they got there. Another important item I wish to
     remark upon is the magnificent manner in which this battalion
     performed outpost duty and night work. On several occasions news
     has come to me through my Intelligence Department of a meditated
     attack on the camp of this column, but owing to the skilful way
     in which the outposts were thrown out and the vigilance of the
     sentries the attack was never developed.

     Another thing I noticed was the highly disciplined state of the
     battalion. It is not always in fighting that a soldier proves his
     qualities. Though at the commencement of the campaign you had
     hard fighting and heavy losses, the past few weeks stand
     unsurpassed, I believe, for hardships in the history of the
     campaign! I thank every officer and N.C.O. for the great
     assistance given to me during these operations. Should your
     services be required elsewhere, or further hardships have to be
     endured, I know you will do as you have done before. I wish you
     all good-bye.

[Sidenote: _Good news by the way._]

Among those who, like myself, on October 21st left England in the same
boat as General Baden-Powell's brother, the most frequent theme of
conversation was the then unknown fate of Mafeking. Its relief was the
news most eagerly enquired for at St Vincent's, and we were all hugely
disappointed when on reaching the Cape we learned that the interesting
event had not yet come off. Some toilsome and adventurous months
brought us to May 21st, our last day at Kroonstad; and it proved a
superbly satisfactory send-off on our next perilous march to learn
that day that the long-delayed but intensely welcome event had at last
actually taken place just four days before. It filled the whole camp
with pardonable pride and pleasure, though the sober-sided soldiers on
the veldt scarcely lost their mental balance over the business as the
multitudes at home, and as all the great cities of the empire seem to
have done. We know it was a tiny town defended by a tiny garrison of
for the most part untrained men; and therefore in itself of scant
importance; but we also know that for many a critical week it had held
back not a few strong commandoes in their headlong rush towards the
Cape; it had for weary months illustrated on the one hand the staying
power of British blood, and on the other the timidity and impotence of
the Boers as an attacking force. Not a single town or stronghold to
which they laid siege had they succeeded in capturing; the very last
of the series was safe at last, and after all that had been said about
British blunderings, this event surely called for something more than
commonplace congratulations. Hereward the Wake was wont to say, "We
are all gallant Englishmen; it is not courage we want: it is brains";
but at Mafeking for once brains triumphed over bullets. A new Wake had
arisen in our ranks, and so Mafeking has found a permanent place among
the many names of renown in the long annals of our island story.

It was an admirably fitting prelude to another historic event of that
same week. On the last anniversary we shall ever keep of our venerable
Queen's birthday, on May 24th, the Orange River Colony was formally
annexed to the British Empire, and Victoria was proclaimed its
gracious sovereign. That empire has grown into the vastest
responsibility ever laid on the shoulders of any one people, and
constitutes a stupendously urgent call to the pursuit and practice of
righteousness on the part of the whole Anglo-Saxon race. It is a
superb stewardship entrusted to us of God; and "it is required in
stewards that they be found faithful."

[Sidenote: _Over the Vaal at last._]

All that week the Guards continued in hot pursuit of the Boers without
so much as once catching sight of them. Repeatedly, however, we
scrambled through huge patches of Indian or Kaffir corn, enough, so to
say, to feed an army, but all left to rot and perish uncut. It was one
of the few evidences which just then greeted us that war was really
abroad in the land, and that they were no mere autumn manoeuvres in
which we then were taking part. Some of the rightful owners of that
corn were probably among our prisoners of war at St Helena, spending
their mourning days in vainly wondering how long its hateful
unfamiliar waves would keep them captive. Others had, perchance,
themselves been garnered by the great Harvester, who ever gathers his
fattest sheaves hard by the paths of war.

Occasionally we came, in the course of our march, on a
recently-deserted Boer camp, with empty tins strewn all about the
place and the embers of camp fires still glowing, but never so much as
a penny worth of loot lying on the ground. Either they had little to
leave, or else they so utilised the railway in assisting to get their
belongings away that in that respect they had the laugh of us
continually. This final service rendered, the Boers made haste to
prevent the rail being used by us; and so far as time or timidity
would permit, they blew up every bridge, every culvert, as soon as
their last train had crossed it. Fortunately of the long and beautiful
bridge across the Vaal we found only one broad span broken.

About nine o'clock on Sunday morning the troops reached Val Joen's
Drift, the terminal station on the Orange Free State Railway. This
drift it was that President Kruger had once resolved to close against
all traffic in order the more effectually to strangle British trade in
the Transvaal. Another mile or two through prodigiously deep sand,
brought us to the Vaal River coal mines, with their great heaps of
burning cinders or other refuse, which brought vividly to many a north
countryman's remembrances kindred scenes in the neighbourhood of busy
Bradford and prosperous Sunderland.

Then came the great event to which the laborious travel of the last
seven months had steadily led up, the crossing of the Vaal, and the
planting of our victorious feet on Transvaal soil. Here we were
assured the Boers would make their most determined stand; and the
natural strength of the position, together with the urgent necessities
of the case, made such an expectation more than merely reasonable. Yet
to our delighted wonderment not a single trench, so far as we could
see, had been dug, nor a solitary piece of artillery placed in
position. From the top of a cinder heap a few farewell mauser bullets
were fired at our scouts, and then as usual our foemen fled. Once in a
Dutch deserted wayside house I picked up an "English Reader," which
strangely opened on Montgomery's familiar lines:--

         "There is a land of every land the pride;
          Belov'd by Heaven o'er all the world beside.
          Where shall that land, that spot of earth be found?

          Art thou a Man, a Patriot? Look around!
          Oh thou shalt find, howe'er thy footsteps roam,
          That land thy country, and that spot thy home!"

Boer patriotism we had supposed to be not merely pronounced, but
fiercely passionate; and "a Dutchman," said Penn, "is never so
dangerous as when he is desperate"; yet when the Guards' Brigade
stepped out of the newly-conquered Free State into the about to be
conquered Transvaal, scarcely a solitary Dutchman appeared upon the
scene to dispute our passage, or to strike one desperate blow for
hearth and altar and independence. In successive batches we were
peacefully hauled across the river on a pontoon ferry bridge; and as I
leaped ashore it was with a glad hurrah upon my lips; a grateful
hallelujah in my heart!



Whilst our narrative pauses for a while beside the Vaal which served
as a boundary between the two Republics, it may be well to devote one
chapter to a further description of the work of the chaplains with
whom in those two Republics I was brought into more or less close
official relationship. Concerning the chaplains of other Churches
whose work I witnessed, it does not behove me to speak in detail; I
can but sum up my estimate of their worth by saying concerning each,
what was said concerning a certain Old Testament servant of
Jehovah:--"He was a faithful man and feared God above many."

Of Wesleyan acting-chaplains, devoting their whole time to work among
the troops, and for the most part accompanying them from place to
place, there were eight; and to the labours of three of them--the
Welsh, the Australian and the Canadian--reference has already been
made. A fourth, the Rev. Owen Spencer Watkins, represented the
Wesleyan Church in the Omdurman Campaign and was officially present at
the memorial service for General Gordon; but in this campaign he was
unfortunately shut up in Ladysmith, so that we never met. His story
however has been separately told in "Chaplains at the Front." There
remain three whom I repeatedly saw, and who reported to me from time
to time the progress of their work--viz. the Revs. M. F. Crewdson, T.
H. Wainman, and W. C. Burgess, each of whom in few words it will now
be my privilege to introduce.

[Sidenote: _A Chaplain who found the Base became the Front._]

Mr Crewdson, who had for some years been my colleague in England, at
the commencement of the war was compelled to leave Johannesburg, and
became a refugee minister at the Cape, where on my arrival he was one
of the first to welcome me. Possessed of brilliant preaching abilities
and uncontrollably active, a life of semi-indolence soon became to him
unendurable; and presently his offer was accepted of service with the
troops, but instead of being sent as he desired into the thickest of
the fray, he found himself detailed for hospital and other homely
duties, at De-Aar Nauwpoort and Norval's Pont. Here for over twelve
months he rendered admirable, though to him monotonous, service; when,
lo, suddenly the Boers doubled back upon their pursuers, and attempted
not unsuccessfully though unfruitfully, a second invasion of Cape
Colony. The base became the front, and this vast region of hospitals
and supply depôts became the scene of very active operations indeed,
in which the Guards' Brigade, now recalled from Koomati Poort, took a
prominent part. Mr Crewdson found himself at last not where wounds are
healed merely, but where wounds are made, and for the moment, being
intensely pro-British, found in that fact a kind of grim content.

[Sidenote: _Pathetic scenes in Hospital._]

Few chaplains in the course of this campaign have had so extensive an
experience in hospital work as Mr Crewdson, and in the course of his
correspondence he relates many pathetic incidents that came under his
own personal observation. At De-Aar he found a lance-corporal with a
fractured jaw and some twenty other slight or serious wounds, all
caused by fragments of a single shell. "I was one of seven," he said,
"entrenched in a little sangar on a hill. Hundreds of Boers and Blacks
came up against us. One of the seven disappeared, four others were
killed; so to my one surviving comrade I said, 'Look here, corporal,
we'll stick this out till one of us is wounded then the other must
look after him.'" Presently that unlucky shell made a victim of this
plucky fellow; but a hero it could not make him. He was that already.

A company of the West Yorkshire Mounted Infantry only twenty strong
had sustained, in storming a kopje, no less than ten casualties. The
lieutenant, shot through the base of the skull, lay in that hospital
in utterly helpless, if not hopeless, collapse; and near to him was
his sergeant who, while bandaging the wounds of a comrade, was shot
through the bridge of the nose, and his eye so damaged it had to be
removed; whilst yet another of this group, shot through the shoulder,
with characteristic cheerfulness said, "Oh, it's nothing, sir. I'll be
at it again in a week." Some of them would say that, brave fellows, if
their heads were blown off--or would try to!

Writing from Colesberg at a somewhat later date Mr Crewdson informed
me that going the round of hospitals,--where he met representatives
from Ceylon, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa and
the United Kingdom,--had filled much of his time during the previous
fortnight. "I cannot tell the sweet brave things I have heard from
tongues that had almost lost their power to speak. One was a Canadian
lad, who had passed through his course as a student for the ministry,
and being refused as a chaplain had volunteered as a trooper, and when
the chaplain tenderly asked, 'How are you, old man?' he received in a
kind of gasp this reply: 'Trusting Jesus!' Another, now nearly
convalescent, said, 'I have been a Christian for twenty years, but the
weeks spent in hospital have taught me more of God, and of the wonders
of His grace, than years of health.' His eyes glistened and then
dimmed as with faltering voice he added, 'I want to say, that it was
good for me that I was afflicted.'"

[Sidenote: _A battlefield scene no less pathetic._]

In the course of these incessant hospital rounds Mr Crewdson found an
Australian whose leg had been shattered by an explosive bullet and who
told him this strange tale. When thus wounded he fell between two
rocks and found himself unable to move, but while lying there a young
well-dressed Boer discovered him, and with a perfect English accent
said, "Are you much hurt, old fellow?" The Australian, suspecting
treachery, turned white and trembled in spite of the stranger's kindly

"Oh, don't be afraid of me, you are hurt enough already. Shall I get
you some water?" was the instant Boer rejoinder to the Australian's
signs of suspicion. The water was soon produced; and next there came
forth from the pocket of that young Boer a couple of peaches, which
were offered to the sufferer, and thankfully accepted.

"You must be faint with this fierce sun beating on you," said this
strange foeman; and thereupon he sat upon a rock for over an hour in
such a position that his shadow sheltered the wounded man, and surely,
as in Peter's story, that shadow must have had grace and healing in
it. Ultimately an ambulance arrived, and this chivalrous Transvaaler
crowned the helpfulness of that eventful hour by tenderly lifting the
crippled Australian on to a stretcher, with an expression of hope that
he would soon be well again.

At the close of this unnatural conflict it is our best consolation to
be divinely assured that the brotherliness which thus presented
peaches to a wounded foe will ultimately triumph over the bitterness
which winged the explosive bullet that well-nigh killed him.

[Sidenote: _Look on this picture--and on that._]

While it is undeniable that cases of chivalrous courtesy such as this
occurred repeatedly in the course of the campaign, it is equally
undeniable that the Boers sometimes deliberately set aside all the
usages of civilized war. Mr Crewdson, for instance, says that after
the Slingersfontein fight he met at least a dozen men who declared
that the Boers drove up the hill in front of them hundreds of armed
Kaffirs, and then themselves crept up on hands and knees under cover
of this living moving wall. Such strategy is exceedingly slim; but
they who make use of semi-savages must themselves for the time being
be accounted near akin to them. One word from the Queen would have
sufficed to let loose on the Boers the slaughterous fury of almost all
native South Africa, but had that word been spoken there could have
been found no forgiveness for it in this life or in the life to come.
Yet Slingersfontein was not the only sad instance of this sort, for
Sir Redvers Buller in his official report concerning Vaalkrantz
solemnly declares that then also there were armed Kaffirs with the
Boer forces, and that there also the Red flag was abominably abused,
for he himself and his Staff saw portions of artillery conveyed by the
Boers to a given position in an ambulance flying the Geneva flag. The
loss of honour is ever out of all proportion to the help such
treachery affords.

[Sidenote: _A third class Chaplain who proved a first-rate Chaplain._]

It was at Waterval Boven I first met my assistant-chaplain, the Rev.
T. H. Wainman, and found him all that eulogising reports had
proclaimed him to be. Seventeen years ago he accompanied the
Bechuanaland Expedition under Sir Charles Warren, and then acquitted
himself so worthily that the Wesleyan Army and Navy Committee at once
turned to him in this new hour of need, resting assured that in him
they had a workman that maketh not ashamed. At the time he received
the cable calling him to this task he was a refugee minister from
Johannesburg, residing for a while near Durban. There he left his
family and at once hurried to report himself in Chieveley Camp, where
a singular incident befell him.

[Sidenote: _Running in the wrong man._]

A few hours before his arrival an official notice was issued that a
Boer spy in khaki was known to be lurking in the camp, and all
concerned were requested to keep a sharp look-out with a view to
speedy arrest. Mr Wainman's appearance singularly tallied with the
published portraiture of the aforesaid spy, and all the more because
after his long journey he by no means appeared parson-like. He was
just then as rough looking as any prowling Boer might be supposed to
be. When, therefore, he was challenged by the sentinel as he
approached the camp, and to the sentinel's surprise gave the right
password, he was nevertheless told that he must consider himself a
prisoner, and was accordingly marched off to the guard-room for safe
keeping and further enquiry. It was a strange commencement for his new
chaplaincy. More than one of our chaplains has been taken prisoner by
the Boers, but he alone could claim the distinction of being made a
prisoner of war, even for an hour, by his own people, till a yet more
painful experience of the same type befell Mr Burgess; nor did
ill-fortune fail to follow him for some time to come. He was attached
to a battalion where chaplains were by no means beloved for their own
sake; and though one of the most winsome of men, he was made to feel
in many ways that his presence was unwelcome.

[Sidenote: _A Wainman who was a real waggoner._]

Presently, however, there came an opportunity which he so skilfully
used as to become the hero of the hour, and in the end one of the most
popular men in the whole Brigade. When on the trek one of the
transport waggons stuck fast hopelessly in an ugly drift, and no
amount of whip-leather or lung-power sufficed to move it. One waggon
thus made a fixture blocks the whole cavalcade, and is, therefore, a
most serious obstruction. But Mr Wainman had not become an old
colonist without learning a few things characteristic of colonial
life, including the handling of an ox team. He therefore volunteered
to end the deadlock, and in sheer desperation the Padré's offer was,
however dubiously, accepted. So off came his tunic; this small thing
was straightened, that small thing cleared out of the way, then next
he cleared his throat, and instead of hurling at those staggering oxen
English oaths or Kaffir curses, spoke to them in tones soothing and
familiar as their own mother tongue. Some one at last had appeared
upon the scene that understood them, or that they could understand.
Then followed a long pull, a strong pull, a pull altogether, and lo as
by magic the impossible came to pass. The waggon was out of the drift!
"Brave padré," everybody cried. His name means "waggoner," and a right
good waggoner he that day proved to be. This skilful compliance with
one of the requirements of the Mosaic laws helped him immensely in the
preaching of the Gospel. He became all the more powerful as a minister
because so popular as a man. In many ways his mature local knowledge
enabled him to become so exceptionally useful that he received
promotion from a fourth to a third class acting chaplaincy, and the
very officers who at first deemed his presence an infliction combined
to present him with a handsome cigarette case in token of uttermost
goodwill. You can't tell what even a chaplain is capable of till you
give him a chance.

[Sidenote: _Three bedfellows in a barn._]

When Mr Wainman first reached his appointed quarters, the wounded were
being brought in by hundreds from the Colenso fight; later on he
climbed to the summit of Spion Kop, "The Spying Mountain," to search
for the wounded, and to bury the dead that fell victims to the fatal
mischance that having captured, then surrendered that ever famous
hill; and at night he slept in a barn with a Catholic priest lying on
one side of him and an Anglican chaplain on the other--a delightful
forecasting that of the time when the leopard shall lie down with the
kid, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a
little child shall lead them. The Christian Catholicity to which this
campaign has given rise is one of its redeeming features.

While the Rev. Owen Spencer Watkins, the Wesleyan chaplain from Crete
remained shut up in Ladysmith, Mr Wainman remained with the relieving
force, ultimately accompanied General Buller into the Transvaal, where
I frequently met him, and finally, on the approaching conclusion of
the war, resumed charge, like Mr Crewdson, of his civilian church in
Johannesburg. No man learns to be a soldier by merely watching the
troops march past at a royal review; neither did Mr Wainman acquire
his rare gifts for such rough yet heroic service while sitting in an
easy chair. He endured hardness, as every man must who would serve his
generation well according to the will of God.

[Sidenote: _A fourth-class Chaplain that was also a first-rate

The Rev. W. C. Burgess was a refugee minister from Lindley, in the
Orange River Colony, and like Mr Wainman, was early chosen for service
among the troops, joining General Gatacre's force just after the
lamentable disaster at Stormberg. He was attached to the "Derbys," and
found among them a goodly number of godly men, as in all the
battalions and batteries that constituted that unfortunate column.
Some of these were Christian witnesses of long standing, including no
less than five Wesleyan lay preachers, and some were newly-won
converts. Hence, at the close of Mr Burgess's very first voluntary
service, one khaki man said to him, "I gave my heart to the Lord last
Sunday on the line of march before we met the enemy"; while many more,
though not perhaps walking in the clear shining of the light of God's
countenance, yet spoke freely of their religious upbringing and
relationships. It was possibly one such who, at the close of a little
week-night service, where nearly all the men were drenched with recent
rain, suggested the singing of "Love divine, all loves excelling." The
character of that man's upbringing it is not difficult to divine.
Another said, "I have a wife and four children who are praying for
me"; while yet another added, "For me an aged mother prays." It would
be strange indeed if such confessors were not themselves praying men.
They were to be found by hundreds, probably by thousands, among the
troops sent to South Africa. Never was an army so prayed for since the
world began; and seldom, if ever, has an army contained so many who
themselves were praying men.

[Sidenote: _A Parson Prisoner in the hands of the Boers._]

Nearly four months after the Stormberg tragedy, but only four days
after that at Sanna's Post, Mr Burgess found himself, with three
companies of the Irish Rifles and two of the Northumberland Fusiliers,
cooped up on a kopje about three miles long not far from Reddersburg.
With no water within reach, with no guns, and an almost exhausted
store of rifle ammunition, this small detachment found itself indeed
in evil plight when De Wet's commando of 3200 men put a girdle of
rifle barrels around it, and then began a merciless cannonade with
five guns. That cannonade indeed was merciless far beyond what the
rules of modern war permit, for it seemed to be directed, if not
mainly, certainly most effectually, on the ambulances and hospital
tents, over which the Red Cross flag floated in vain. In the vivid
description of the fight which Mr Burgess sent to me, he says that
several of the ambulance mules were killed or badly wounded, and it
was a marvel only one of the ambulance men was hit, for in one of
their tents were four bullet holes, and a similar number in the Red
Cross flag itself. Some of the occupants of the hospital were Boer
prisoners, some were defenceless natives, so all set to work to throw
up trenches for the protection of these non-combatants, and among the
diggers and delvers was the Wesleyan chaplain with coat thrown off,
and plying pick like one to the manner born. To that task he stuck
till midnight, and oh, that I had been there to see! A chaplain thus
turning himself into a navvy is probably no breach of the Geneva
Convention, but all the same it is by no means an everyday occurrence;
and those Boer prisoners would think none the worse of that Wesleyan
predikant's prayers after watching the work, on their behalf, of that
predikant's pick.

The defence of Reddersburg was one of the least heroic in the whole
record of the campaign, and the troops early next morning surrendered,
not to resistless skill or rifle fire on the part of the Boers, but to
the cravings of overmastering thirst. A relieving force was close at
hand when they ran up the horrid white flag, and had they been aware
of that fact we may be sure no surrender would have taken place. It
requires scant genius to be wise after the event, and still scantier
courage to denounce as lacking in courage this surrender of 500 to a
force six times as large. That was on April 4th, and among those taken
captive by De Wet was the Wesleyan chaplain. His horse, his kit, and
all his belongings at the same time changed hands, and though he was
solemnly assured all would be restored to him, that promise still
awaits redemption.

[Sidenote: _Caring for the Wounded._]

Mr Burgess, though stripped of all he possessed, except what he wore,
received De Wet's permission to search for the wounded as well as to
bury the dead; and in one of his letters to me he tells of one
mortally wounded whom he thus found, and who, in reply to the query,
"Do you know Jesus?" replied, "I'm trusting Jesus as my Saviour"; then
recognising Mr Burgess as his chaplain, he added, "Pray for me!" so,
amid onlooking stretcher-bearers and mounted Boers, the dying lad was
commended to the eternal keeping of his Saviour. It is this element
which has introduced itself into modern warfare which will presently
make war impossible, except between wild beasts or wilder savages.
Prayer on the battlefield, and the use on the same spot of explosive
bullets, is too incongruous to have in it the element of perpetuity.

The number of soldiers that thus die praying, or being prayed for, may
be comparatively small; but even the unsaintly soldier, when wounded,
often displays a stoicism that has in it an undertone of Christian
endurance. A lad of the Connaughts at Colenso, whom a bullet had
horribly crippled in both legs, shouted with defiant cheerfulness to
his comrades--"Bring me a tin whistle and I will play you any tune you
like"; and a naval athlete at Ladysmith, when a shell carried away one
of his legs and his other foot, simply sighed, "There's an end of my
cricket." Pious readers would doubtless in all such cases much prefer
some pious reference to Christ and His Cross in place of the tin
whistle and cricket; but even here is evidence of the grit that has
helped to make England great, and it by no means follows that saving
grace also is not there. The most vigorous piety is not always the
most vocal.

After nearly four and twenty hours of terrific pelting by shot and
shell, Mr Burgess tells me our total loss was only ten killed and
thirty-five wounded. Not one in ten was hit; and so again was
illustrated the comparative harmlessness of either Mauser or
machine-gun fire against men fairly well sheltered. This war thus
witnessed a strange anomaly. It used the deadliest of all weapons,
and produced with them a percentage of deaths unexampled in its

[Sidenote: _How the Chaplain's own tent was bullet-riddled._]

Late on in the campaign Mr Burgess was moved, not to his own delight,
from near Belfast to Germiston, but was speedily reconciled to the
change by the receipt of the following letter from an officer of the
Royal Berks:--

     "Truly you are a lucky man to have left Wonderfontein on Monday;
     and it may be that it saved your life, for the same night we were
     attacked. It was a very misty night; but we all went to bed as
     usual, and at midnight I was awakened by heavy rifle fire. Almost
     immediately the bugle sounded the alarm, and everybody ran for
     their posts like hares. From where I was it sounded as if the
     Boers had really got into camp; but after two hours of very heavy
     firing they retired. Yesterday morning, when I went over the
     ground, _the first thing I saw was six or eight bullet holes
     through your tent_; and one end of our mess had twenty-three
     bullet marks in it. Nooitgedacht, Pan and Dalmanutha were all
     attacked the same night at exactly the same hour, causing us a
     few casualties at each place."

It may perchance be for our good we are sometimes sent away from
places where we fain would tarry.

[Sidenote: _A sample set of Sunday Services._]

The following typical extract is taken from Mr Burgess's Diary:--

     "_Sunday, January 20th._--Rode out to Fort Dublin for church
     parade at 9 A.M. Held parade in town church at 11. Then rode out
     to surrendered burghers' laager and held service in Dutch, fully
     a hundred being present. Conducted service for children in town
     church at 3.30 P.M., and at 4.30 rode out to Hands Up Dorp; two
     hundred present and ten baptisms. Managed to ride back to town
     just in time for the evening service in the church at 6.30, which
     was well attended."

         "Oh, day of _rest_ and gladness!"

As the war was nearing its close, I sent Mr Burgess to labour along
the blockhouse lines of communication, which have Bloemfontein for
their centre. Here the authorities granted to him the use of a church
railway van, in which he travelled almost ceaselessly between
Brandfort and Norval's Pont, or beyond; and thus he too for a while
became chaplain to part of the Guards' Brigade.



In addition to the eight Acting Chaplains referred to in previous
chapters, some forty-five or fifty Wesleyan ministers were appointed
"Officiating Clergymen." These, while still discharging, so far as
circumstances might permit, their ordinary civilian duties, were
formally authorised to minister to the troops residing for a while in
the neighbourhood of their church. Many of the local Anglican clergy
were similarly employed, and supplemented the labours of the
commissioned and acting Anglican chaplains sent out from England.
Their local influence and local knowledge enabled them to render
invaluable service, and great was their zeal in so doing. While the
regular chaplains who came with the troops as a rule went with the
troops, these fixtures in the great King's service were able not only
to make arrangements for religious worship, but for almost every
imaginable kind of ministry for the welfare of the men. They were
often the Army Chaplain's right hand and in some cases his left hand
too. It would be a grievous wrong, therefore to make no reference to
what they attempted for God and the Empire, though it is impossible
here to do more than hurriedly refer to a few typical cases that in
due course were officially reported to me.

[Sidenote: _At Cape Town and Wynberg._]

The very day the Guards landed at Cape Town I was introduced to the
Rev. B. E. Elderkin, who in conjunction with the Congregationalists at
Seapoint made generous provision for the social enjoyment and
spiritual profiting of the troops. I was also that same day taken to
the Wynberg Hospital by the Rev. R. Jenkin, who, on alternate Sundays
with the Presbyterian chaplain, conducted religious services there for
the convalescents, and ministered in many ways to the sick and
wounded, of whom there were sometimes as many as 2000 in actual
residence. Among them Mr Jenkin could not fail to discover many cases
of peculiar interest; and concerning one, a private of the Essex, he
has supplied the following particulars:--

[Sidenote: _Saved from drowning to sink in hospital._]

This lad was badly wounded in the thigh on Sunday, March 11th,
somewhere not far from Paardeberg, but he seems to have got so far
into the Boer lines that our own shells fell around him and our own
stretcher-bearers never reached him; so he lay all night, his wound
undressed, and without one drink of water. Next day a mounted Boer
caught sight of him, got off his horse, gave him a drink, and then
passed on. On Wednesday, in sheer desperation, he wriggled to the
river to get a drink, but in his feebleness fell in; was caught by the
branch of a tree, and for more hours than seem credible thus hung,
half in the water, half out, before he rallied sufficient strength to
crawl out and up the bank. For five days he thus remained without
food, and his festering wound unbandaged. On the Friday, when Lord
Roberts offered to exchange six wounded prisoners, the Boers espied
at last this useful hostage, took him to their laager, put a rough
bandage round his thigh, and sent him into the British camp. He was
still alive, full of hope, when Wynberg Hospital was reached, and
responsive to all Mr Jenkin said concerning the mercy of God in
Christ; but the long delay in dealing with his case rendered an
operation necessary. There was no strength left with which to rally--a
sudden collapse, and he was gone to meet his God. Fifteen days after
he fell he was laid to rest, with full military honours, in the
Wesleyan Cemetery at Wynberg. It is well that all fatal cases are not
of that fearful type!

Whilst the Guards were making their way to the Transvaal, the Rev. W.
Meara, a refugee Wesleyan minister from Barberton, was doing
altogether excellent work among the troops at East London; and has
since gone back to Barberton as officiating clergyman to the troops
there, where later on in 1902 I had the opportunity of personally
noting what his zeal hath accomplished for our men.

[Sidenote: _A pleasant surprise._]

Concerning his army work while away from Barberton, Mr Meara sent me
the following satisfactory report:--

     "During the early part of my chaplaincy there were large numbers
     of men in camp, and we held open-air services with blessed
     results. The services were largely attended and much appreciated.
     We then established a temporary Soldiers' Home; and after a
     fortnight the Scripture Reader of the Northumberland Fusiliers
     handed me over the responsibility, as he was proceeding with his
     regiment to the front. The Home was on the camp ground, and so
     was within easy reach of the men, who availed themselves fully of
     its advantages. We provided mineral waters at cost prices, and
     eatables, tobacco, etc., and for some weeks when there was a
     great rush of men in camp upwards of £120 a week was taken. We
     supplied ink, pens, notepaper, etc., free, and we had all kinds
     of papers in the Reading Room. We agreed that any profits should
     be sent to the Soldiers' Widows and Orphans Fund, and so before I
     left East London we sent the sum of £43 to Sir A. Milner for the
     fund above referred to. Besides the Soldiers' Home, we started a
     Soldiers' 'Social Evening' on Wednesdays in Wesley Hall, which
     was largely patronised by the men. I have found the officers
     without a single exception ready to further my work in every way.
     I had also a good deal of hospital work, which to me was full of
     pathetic interest. I have had the joy of harvest in some
     instances, for some of the men have been led to Christ. When I
     purposed leaving, the circuit officials generously took the Town
     Hall for two nights at a cost of £14 for my Farewell Service on
     Sunday night, and the Farewell Social on Tuesday. The hall was
     packed with about 1500 people on the Sunday. We had a grand
     number of soldiers. Then on the Tuesday in the same hall there
     were about 1000 people who sat down to tea, including from 400 to
     500 soldiers. When tea was over I was to my surprise presented
     with a purse of sovereigns from the circuit, and to my still
     greater astonishment Col. Long of the Somerset Light Infantry
     came on the platform, and spoke most appreciatively of my work
     amongst the men, and their great regret at my departure. When he
     had finished he called upon Sergt.-Master-Tailor Syer to make a
     presentation to me on behalf of the men. It was a beautiful
     walking-stick with a massive silver ferrule suitably inscribed,
     and a very fine case of razors. Then every soldier in the hall
     rose to his feet and gave the departing chaplain three cheers. It
     was really one of the proudest moments in my life."

[Sidenote: _The Soldiers' Reception Committee._]

Of the Durban Soldiers' Reception Committee the chairman was the Rev.
G. Lowe, also a Transvaal refugee Wesleyan minister; and in a letter
from him now lying on my table he states that he was sometimes on the
landing jetty for fifteen hours at a stretch. He adds that he was the
first to begin this work of welcoming the troops on landing at
Durban, and obtained the permits to take in a few friends within the
barriers for the distribution of fruit, tobacco and bread to the
soldiers, on the purchase of which nearly £300 was expended.
Twenty-five thousand troops were thus met; over £2000 sent home to the
friends of the soldiers; more than 8000 letters announcing the safe
arrivals of the men were dispatched, many hundreds of them being
written for the men by various members of the committee. This work was
most highly appreciated by General Buller; and Colonel Riddell of the
3rd K.R. Rifles left in Mr Lowe's hands £208, 18s. belonging to the
men of his regiment to be sent to the soldiers' relatives. Then, only
a few days before his death at Spion Kop, he wrote expressing his
personal thanks for the excellent work thus done on behalf of his own
and other battalions.

[Sidenote: _The other way about._]

About the same time that the Guards reached the Vaal their comrades on
the right, under General Ian Hamilton, arrived at Heilbron, and here
the Rev. R. Matterson at once opened his house and his heart to
welcome them. In face of the dire difficulty of dealing satisfactorily
with the sick and wounded in so inaccessible a village, Mr and Mrs
Matterson received into their own home two enteric patients belonging
to the Ceylon Mounted Infantry, one of them being a son of the
Wesleyan minister at Colombo; but here, as in so many another place,
while the civilians did what they could for the soldiers, the soldiers
in their turn did what they could for the civilians. At Krugersdorp,
so our Welsh chaplain told me, he arranged for a crowded military
concert, which cleared £35 for the destitute poor of the town, mostly
Dutch. So here at Heilbron the troops, fresh from the fray, and on
their way to further furious conflicts, actually provided an open-air
concert for the benefit of a local church charity in the very
neighbourhood, and among the very people they were in the very act of
conquering. It is a topsy-turvy world that war begets: but most of all
this war, in which while the kopjes welcomed us with lavish supplies
of explosive bullets, the towns and villages welcomed us with
proffered fruit and the flaunting of British flags; the troops, on the
other hand, seizing every chance of entertaining friends and foes
alike with instrumental music, comic, sentimental, and _patriotic_
songs. Even on the warpath, tragedy and comedy seem as inseparable as
the Siamese twins; in proof whereof here follows the programme of one
such soldierly effort to aid a local church charity in the Orange Free

  _SATURDAY, 22nd DECEMBER 1900, at 4.45_ P.M.

By the kind permission of Lieut.-Col. the Hon. A. E. DALZELL
and the Officers of the 1st Oxfordshire Light Infantry.


  1. GRAND MARCH--"Princess Victoria"    _O'Keefe_   BAND.
  2. SONG                                            Serg. COX,
                                                       1st O.L.I.
  3. COON SONG                                       Trooper GREENWOOD,
  4. OVERTURE--"Norma"                   _Bellini_   BAND.
  5. SENTIMENTAL SONG                                Corp. ASHLY,
                                                       1st O.L.I.
  6. RECITATION                                      Corp. SAMPSON,
  7. CORNET SOLO--"My Pretty Jane"       _Bishop_    Band-Serg. BROOME.
  8. SONG                                            Mr J. ILSLEY.
  9. DESCRIPTIVE SONG                                Corporal COOKE,
                                                       1st O.L.I.
  10. SELECTION--"The Belle of New York" _Kerker_    BAND.
  11. SONG                                           Gunner HIGGINBOTHAM,
  12. SONG                                           Gunner M'GINTZ,
  13. VALSE--"Mia Cara"                  _Bucalossi_ BAND.
  14. PATRIOTIC SONG                                 Serg. GEAR,
                                                       1st O.L.I.
  15. COMIC SONG                                     Corporal CROWLY,
                                                       1st O.L.I.
  16. GALOP--"En Route"                  _Clarke_    BAND.


Admission to Ground--ONE SHILLING. Refreshments at reasonable prices.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: _Our near Kinship to the Boers._]

Of another important fact which grew upon us later on, we gained our
first glimpse during these early days. The Boers we found were in many
respects startlingly near akin to us. They sprang originally from the
same liberty-loving stock as ourselves. Hosts of them spoke correct
and fluent English, while not a few of them were actually of English
parentage. Moreover, the Hollanders and the English have so freely
intermarried in South Africa that at one time it was fondly hoped the
cradle rather than the rifle would finally settle our racial
controversies. They are haunted by the same insatiable earth hunger as
ourselves, and hence unceasingly persisted in violating the
Conventions which forbade all further extension of Transvaal
territory. As a people they are more narrowly Protestant than even we
have ever been. The Doppers, of whom the President was chief, are
Ultra-Puritans; and they would suffer none but members of a Protestant
Church to have any vote or voice in their municipal or national
affairs. Jews and Roman Catholics as such were absolutely
disfranchised by them; and their singing, which later on we often
heard, by its droning heaviness would have delighted the hearts of
those Highland crofters who, at Aldershot, said they could not away
with the jingling songs of Sankey. "Gie us the Psalms of David," they
cried. The Dutch Reformed Church and the Presbyterian Church of
Scotland are nearer akin than cousins; and when after Magersfontein
our Presbyterian chaplain crossed over into the Boer lines to seek out
and bury the dead, he was heartily hailed as a _Reformed_ minister,
was treated with as much courtesy as though he had been one of their
own predikants, and as the result was so favourably impressed that an
imaginative mind might easily fancy him saying to Cronje, "Almost thou
persuadest me to become a Boer!"

Of all wars, civil wars are the most inexpressibly saddening; and this
terrible struggle was largely of that type. Neighbours who had known
each other intimately for years, members of the same church, and even
of the same family, found themselves ranged on opposite sides in this
awful fray. When Boer and Briton came to blows it was a _brother-bond_
that was broken, in sight of the awestruck natives. It was once again
even as in the days of old when Ephraim envied Judah and Judah vexed
Ephraim! Nevertheless, times without number, a concert in the midst of
strife, such as that described above, sufficed to draw together all
classes in friendliest possible intercourse, and seemed a tuneful
prophecy of the better days that are destined yet to dawn.

[Sidenote: _More good work on our right flank._]

We can only linger to take one more glance at this type of service by
this type of worker before we proceed with our story of the Guards'
advance. Winburg, like Heilbron, lay on our right flank, and was
occupied by the troops about the same time as we entered Kroonstad.
The Wesleyan clergyman was the only representative of the Churches
left in the place; and the story of his devotion is outlined in the
following memorandum to the D.A.A.G. with the official reply

                                        WINBURG, O. R. C.
                                       _Dec. 21, 1900._

     To MAJOR GOUGH, D.A.A.G.,

     Kindly allow me to state a few facts in order to show the
     exceptional character of my position and work, both before and
     since the time of my appointment.

     1. Previous to the occupation of Winburg by the British troops, I
     was employed in attending to the sick and wounded English
     soldiers who were brought here as prisoners of war by the Dutch

     2. During a period of at least five months--as no other chaplain
     or clergyman was living within a distance of about fifty miles--I
     was the only one available for religious services, either parade
     or voluntary, for hospital visitation and burial duties, which
     were then so urgently and frequently needed. We had six
     hospitals, and occasionally as many as three funerals on the same

     3. From the date of the British occupation, May 5th, my knowledge
     of the country and people--acquired during twenty-five years'
     residence in various parts of the O. R. C.--has been at the
     disposal of the military authorities. I have often acted as
     interpreter and translator, and as such accompanied the
     Commandant of Winburg when, a few weeks ago, he went to meet the
     leader of the Boer forces near their laager in this district.

     4. As almost all the English population left the town before the
     war, our nearly empty church was then, and still remains,
     available for the garrison troops. About nine-tenths of both my
     Sunday and week-day congregations are soldiers, for whom all the
     seats are free.

     5. Immediately after the arrival of the British forces, our
     church was utilised for an entirely undenominational Soldiers'
     Home, and books for the emergency were supplied from my library.
     Colonel Napier, who was then C.O. of Winburg, expressed his
     appreciation of this part of our garrison work, and assisted in
     its development. By his direction, the Home was removed to the
     premises it now occupies. It consists of separate rooms for
     reading, writing and refreshments; also rooms and kitchen for the
     manageress. It is still under my superintendence.--Yours, C. HARMON.

     (_Copy._) _Colonel Napier's Recommendation._

     To STAFF OFFICER, Bloemfontein.

     I strongly recommend that the Rev. C. Harmon be retained as an
     acting chaplain to the troops. I can fully endorse all the
     reverend gentleman has stated in the above memorandum. He has
     been most useful to the Garrison and Military Authorities at
     Winburg, and his thorough knowledge of the Dutch language makes
     his services among the refugees and natives indispensable.

                                        JOHN SCOTT NAPIER, Col.

     WINBURG, _Jan. 3, 1901_.

It is a supreme satisfaction to know that our men were thus in so many
ways well served by the local clergy of South Africa, to whom our
warmest thanks are due.



So utter, and for the time being so ludicrously complete, was the
collapse of our adversaries' defence, that on that first night within
the Transvaal border we lay down to rest on the open veldt without any
slightest shelter, but also without any slightest fear, save only the
fear of catching cold; and slept as undisturbed as though we had been
slumbering amid hoar-frost and heather on the famous Fox Hills near
Aldershot. On that particular Sunday night our tentless camp was
visited by ten or twelve degrees of frost, so that when the morning
dawned my wraps were as hoary as the hair of their owner is ever
likely to become.

[Sidenote: _An elaborate night toilet._]

But then as the night, so must the nightdress be; and my personal
toilet was arranged in the following tasteful fashion. Every garment
worn during the heat of the day was of course worn throughout the
chilly night, including boots; for at that season of the year we
regularly went to bed with our boots on. Indeed the often footsore men
were expressly forbidden to take them off at night, lest a possible
night attack should find them in that important respect unready. Over
the tunic was put a sweater, and over that a greatcoat, with a hideous
woollen helmet as a crown of glory for the head, and a regulation
blanket wrapped round the waist and legs. Then on the least rugged bit
of ground within reach a waterproof sheet was spread, and on that was
planted the "bag blanket," into which I carefully crept, having first
thrown over it an old mackintosh as some small protection from the
heavy evening dew and the early morning frost. So whether the ground
proved rough as a nutmeg-grater or ribbed like a gridiron, I soon said
good-night to the blushing stars above me and to the acres of
slumbering soldiers all around. After that, few of us were in fit
condition to judge whether there were ten degrees of frost or twelve
till five o'clock next morning, when we sat on the whitened ground to
breakfast by starlight. At that unkindly hour the least acute observer
of Nature's varying moods could not fail to note that a midwinter dawn
five thousand feet above the sea-level can even in South Africa be
bitingly severe.

[Sidenote: _Capturing Clapham Junction._]

After two more days of heavy marching we found abundant and beautiful
spar stones springing up out of the barren veldt, as in my native
Cornwall; and we needed no seer to assure us that the vast and
invaluable mining area of Johannesburg was close at hand. Presently we
passed one big set of mining machinery after another, each with its
huge heap of mine refuse. If only some clotted cream had been
purchasable at one of the wayside houses, or a dainty pasty had
anywhere appeared in sight, I could almost have fancied myself close
to Camborne.

Instead, however, of marching straight towards Johannesburg, we
suddenly pounced on Elandsfontein, the most supremely important
railway junction in all South Africa--its Clapham Junction--and
following swiftly in the footsteps of Henry's mounted infantry took
its defenders delightfully by surprise. The Gordons on our far left
had about a hundred casualties, and the C.I.V.'s on our right,
fighting valiantly, were also hard hit, but the Guards escaped
unscathed. Shots enough, however, were fired to lead us to expect a
serious fight, and to necessitate a further exhausting march of five
or six miles, out and back, amid the mine heaps lying just beyond the
junction. Fortunately, the fight proved no fight, but only a further
flight; though the end of a specially heavy day's task brought with
it, none the less, an abounding recompense. Whilst most of the Boers
precipitately vanished, those unable to get away gave themselves up as
prisoners of war, and thus without further effort we secured a
position of vast strategic importance, including the terminus of the
railway line leading to Natal; but it was also the terminus of the
long line from Johannesburg and the regions beyond; so that there was
now no way of escape for any of the rolling stock thereon. It might
peradventure be destroyed before the troops could rescue it, but got
away for the further service of the Boers it could not be. Among other
acquisitions we captured at Elandsfontein a capitally equipped
hospital train, hundreds of railway trucks laden more or less with
valuable stores, and half a dozen locomotives with full head of steam
on; so that had we arrived a little less suddenly, locomotives, trains
and empty trucks would all have eluded our grasp and got safely to
Pretoria. It was indeed an invaluable haul, especially for haulage
purposes, and we had tramped 130 miles in the course of a single week
to secure it!

[Sidenote: _Dear diet and dangerous._]

Long after dark, weary and footsore and famished, we stumbled back
three miles to our chosen camping ground. Since the previous evening
some of the Scots Guards had managed to secure only a hasty drink of
coffee, so they told me, as their sole rations for the four-and-twenty
hours; but they seemed as happy as they were hungry, like men proudly
conscious that they had done a good day's work that brought them, so
they fondly supposed, perceptibly nearer home. Assisted by many an
undesirable expletive, they staggered and darkly groped their way over
some of the very roughest ground we had thus far been required to
traverse; they got repeatedly entangled in a profusion of barbed wire;
scrambled into deep railway ditches, then scrambled out again; till at
last they reached their appointed resting-place, and in dead darkness
proceeded as best they could to cook their dinners.

Greatly to our surprise the people, who seemed mostly Dutch or of
Dutch relationship, received us like those in the Orange Free State
towns, with demonstrative kindness; and in many a case brought out
their last loaf as a most welcome gift to the just then almost
ravenous soldiery. Every scrap of available provisions was eagerly
bought up, and here as elsewhere honestly paid for, often at prices
that seemed far from honest. Months after at this very place I learned
that eggs were being sold at from ten to fifteen shillings a dozen,
and fowls at seven shillings a-piece!

An Australian correspondent of the _London Times_ declares that as it
was with us, so was it with the troops that he accompanied. About the
very time we reached this Germiston Junction, his men, he says, were
practically starving; and any other army in the world would have
commandeered whatever food came in its way. He was with Rundle's
Brigade, "the starving Eighth" as they were well called, seeing that
for a while they were rationed on one and a half biscuits a day. Yet
they gave Mr Stead's "ill-treated women" two shillings a loaf for
bread that sixpence would have well paid for, and no one was allowed
to bring foodstuffs away from any farmhouse without getting a written
receipt from the vendor. If the military police caught a ragged
Leinster packing a chicken down his trouser leg through a big hole in
the seat, and he could not show a receipt for the bird, away went the
man's purchase to the nearest Field Hospital. To this same
representative of the Press the wife of a farmer still out fighting
our troops naïvely said, "For goodness sake do keep those wicked
Colonials away; I am terrified of them" (he was himself a
Colonial)--"but I am so glad when the English come; they pay me so
well." That was the experience of almost all who had anything to sell,
alike in town and country; and this particular Frau confessed to
having made a profit of ten clear pounds in a single week out of the
bread sold to the British soldiers. It is said, however, that in some
cases when they asked for bread our men got a bullet. Around many a
farmstead there hovered far worse dangers than the danger of being

[Sidenote: _No wages but the Sjambok._]

At Elandsfontein an almost frantic welcome was awarded us by the
crowds of Kaffirs that eagerly watched our coming. As we marched
through their Location almost the only darkie I spoke to happened to
be a well-dressed intelligent Wesleyan, who said to me, "Good Boss, we
are truly glad that you have come; for the last seven months the Boers
have made us work without any wages except the sjambok across our
backs." It is only fair to add that the burghers on commando during
those same seven months were supposed to receive no wages; and the
Kaffirs, who were commandeered for various kinds of service in
connection with the war, could scarcely expect the Boer Government to
deal more generously with them. From the very beginning, however, the
Kaffirs in the Transvaal were often made to feel that their condition
was near akin to that of slaves. The clauses in the Sand River
Convention which were intended to be the Magna Charta of their
liberties proved a delusion and a snare. Recent years, however, have
effected immense improvements in their relative position and
importance. Since the mines were opened their labour has been keenly
competed for, and a more considerate feeling concerning them pervades
all classes; but they are still regarded by many of their masters as
having no actual rights either in Church or State. So when a
victorious English army appeared upon the scene they fondly thought
the day of their full emancipation had dawned, and in wildly excited
accents they shouted as we passed, "=_Vic_toria! _Vic_toria!="
Whereupon our scarcely less excited lads in responsive shouts replied,
"=_Pre_toria! _Pre_toria!="

Surely never was the inner meaning and significance of a great
historic event more aptly voiced. The natives beheld in the advent of
English rule the promise of ampler liberty and enlightenment under
Victoria the Good; but the hearts of the soldiers were set on the
speedy capture of Pretoria, as the crowning outcome of all their toil,
and their probable turning-point towards home. Well said both!
Pretoria! Victoria!

[Sidenote: _The Gold Mines._]

Lord Roberts' rapid march rescued from impending destruction the
costly machinery and shafting of the Witwaterrand gold mines, in which
capital to the extent of many millions had been sunk, and out of which
many hundreds of millions are likely to be dug. By some strange freak
of nature this lofty ridge, lying about 6000 feet above the sea level,
and forming a narrow gold-bearing bed over a hundred miles long, is by
universal confession the richest treasure-house the ransackers of the
whole earth have yet brought to light. "The wealth of Ormuz or of
Ind," immortalised by Milton's most majestic epic, the wealth of the
Rand completely eclipses, and nothing imagined in the glowing pages of
the "Arabian Nights" rivals in solid worth the sober realities now
being unearthed along this uninviting ridge. It fortunately was not in
the power of the Boer Government to carry off this as yet ungarnered
treasure, or it would certainly have shared the fate of the cart-loads
of gold in bar and coin with which President Kruger decamped from
Pretoria; but it is beyond all controversy that many of that
Government's officials favoured the proposal to wreck, as far as
dynamite could, both the machinery and mines in mere wanton revenge on
the hated Outlanders that mainly owned them. That policy was thwarted
by the swiftfootedness of the troops, and by the tactfulness of
Commandant Krause, through whose arranging Johannesburg was peacefully
surrendered; but who now, by some strange irony of fate, lies a felon
in an English jail!

Nevertheless, later on enough mischief of this type was done to
demonstrate how deadly a blow a few desperate men might have dealt at
the chief industry of South Africa; and concerning it Sir Alfred
Milner wrote as follows:--

     Fortunately the damage done to the mines has not been large
     relatively to the vast total amount of the fixed capital sunk in
     them. The mining area is excessively difficult to guard against
     purely predatory attacks having no military purpose, because it
     is, so to speak, "all length and no breadth," one long thin line
     stretching across the country from east to west for many miles.
     Still, garrisoned as Johannesburg now is, it is only possible
     successfully to attack a few points in it. Of the raids hitherto
     made, and they have been fairly numerous, only one resulted in
     any serious damage. In that instance the injury done to the
     single mine attacked amounted to £200,000, and it is estimated
     that the mine is put out of working for two years. This mine is
     only one out of a hundred, and is not by any means one of the
     most important. These facts may afford some indication of the
     ruin which might have been inflicted, not only on the Transvaal
     and all South Africa, but on many European interests, if that
     general destruction of mine works which was contemplated just
     before our occupation of Johannesburg had been carried out.
     However serious in some respects may have been the military
     consequences of our rapid advance to Johannesburg, South Africa
     owes more than is commonly recognised to that brilliant dash put
     forward by which the vast mining apparatus, the foundation of
     all her wealth, was saved from the ruin threatening it.

That this wonderful discovery of wealth was indirectly the main cause
of the war is undeniable. But for the gold the children of "Oden the
Goer," whose ever restless spirit has sent them round the globe, would
never have found their way in any large numbers to the Transvaal.
There would have been no overmastering Outlander element, no incurable
race competitions and quarrels, no unendurable wrongs to redress; the
Boer Republic might again have become bankrupt, or broken up into
rival chieftaincies as of old, but it could not have become a menace
to Great Britain, and would never have rallied the whole Empire to
repel its assault on the Empire. It is too usually with blood that
gold is bought!

[Sidenote: _The Soldiers' share._]

The war was practically the purchase price of this prodigious wealth,
but it effected no transfer in the ownership. It may have in part to
provide for the expenses of the war, but it is not claimed by the
British Government as part of the spoils of war; and when Local
Government is granted it will still be included in local assets. The
capitalists, colonists and Kaffirs who live and thrive through the
mines will thrive yet more as the result of juster laws, ample
security, and a more honest administration; but the soldiers whose
heroism brought to pass the change profit nothing by it. The niggers
driving our carts were paid £4 a month, while the khaki men who did
the actual fighting were required to content themselves with anything
over about fifteen pence a day.

When Cortez, with his accompanying Spaniards, discovered Mexico, he
sent word to its ruler, Montezuma, that his men were suffering from a
peculiar form of heart disease which only gold could cure; so he
desired him of his royal bounty to send them gold and still more gold.
In the end those Spanish leeches drained the country dry; though when
convoying their treasure across the sea no small portion of it was
seized by English warships, and shared as loot among the captors.
After the treasure ship _Hermione_ had thus been secured off Cadiz by
the _Actæan_ and the _Favorite_, each captain received £65,000 as
prize-money (so Fitchett tells us); each lieutenant, £13,000; each
petty officer, £2000; and each seaman, £500. Our fighting men and
officers found in the Transvaal vastly ampler wealth, but no such luck
and no such loot. Well would it be, however, if these mining
Directorates when about to declare their next dividends should bethink
them generously of the widows and orphans of those whose valour and
strong-footedness rescued their mines from imminent plunder and

[Sidenote: _The Golden City._]

Johannesburg, which we entered unopposed on May 31st, though it covers
an enormous area and contains several fine buildings, is only fourteen
years old, and consequently is still very largely in the corrugated
iron stage of development which is always unlovely, and in this case
proved specially so. Many of the houses were deserted, most of the
stores were roughly barricaded, and there were signs not a few of
recent violence and wholesale theft, at which none need wonder. Long
before the war broke out there was presented to President Kruger and
his Raad a petition for redress of grievances signed, as already
stated, by adult male Outlanders that are said to have outnumbered the
total Boer male population at that time of the whole Transvaal. Most
of those who signed were resident on the Rand; and as soon as war hove
in sight these "undesirables" were hurried across the border, leaving
behind them in many cases well-furnished houses and well-stocked
shops. More than ten thousand of them took up arms in defence of the
Empire, and what befell their property is best told by the one
Wesleyan minister who was privileged to remain all the time in the
town, was the first to greet me when with the Guards I marched into
the Market Square, and soon after established our first Wesleyan
Soldiers' Home in the Transvaal. He, the Rev. S. L. Morris, on that
point writes as follows:--

     President Kruger proclaimed Sunday, May 27th, and the two
     following days, as days of humiliation and prayer. Notices to
     this effect were sent to officials and ministers, and doubtless
     there were many who devoutly followed the directions. The conduct
     of one large section of the Dutch people of Johannesburg was,
     however, very strange. In Johannesburg, as in Pretoria, the last
     ten years have seen the development of special locations where
     the lowest class of Dutch people reside. For the most part these
     are the families of landless Boers. Until recent years they lived
     as squatters on the farms of their more thrifty compatriots.
     Their life then was one of progressive degradation. Under the
     Kruger policy hundreds of such families were encouraged to settle
     in the neighbourhood of the towns. Plots of ground were given
     them, and there they built rough shanties, and formed communities
     which were a South African counterpart to the submerged tenth of
     England. There was this difference, that these _bywoners_ became
     a great strength to the Kruger party. The males of sixteen years
     of age and upwards had all the privileges which were denied to
     the most influential of the _Uitlanders_. It was the votes of
     Vrededorp, the poor Dutch quarter, that decided the
     representation of Johannesburg in the Volksraad. On the days of
     humiliation and prayer, when the army under Lord Roberts was
     within twenty miles of Johannesburg, the families of these poor
     burghers broke into the commissariat stores of their own
     Government, into the food depôts from which doles had been
     distributed, and into private stores; taking away to their homes,
     goods, clothing and provisions of all sorts. Those who witnessed
     the invasion of the great goods sheds where the Republican
     commissariat had its headquarters say that the people defied the
     officials, daring them to shoot them. I met many of these people
     returning to their homes laden with spoils. Sometimes there was a
     wheelbarrow heaped up with sacks of flour, or tins of biscuits,
     or preserved meat. Men, women, children and Kaffir "boys" trudged
     along with similar articles, or with bundles of boots and
     clothing. Dr Krause, the commandant, did his best to secure order
     and to repress looting, but he lacked the reliable agents who
     alone could have controlled the people. This sort of thing was
     going on on Monday and Tuesday, May 28th and 29th. But for the
     astonishing marches by which Lord Roberts paralysed opposition,
     and which enabled him to summon the town to surrender on the
     Wednesday morning, it is hard to say what limit could have been
     put to the disorder. In all probability the dangerous section of
     the large Continental element in the population would have broken
     out into crime. Looting had hitherto been confined to the
     property which was left unprotected, and few unoccupied houses
     had not been ransacked; but had the British occupation been
     delayed a few days the consequences would have been disastrous.

[Sidenote: _Astonishing the Natives._]

As on that Thursday morning we tramped steadily from Germiston to
Johannesburg we were greatly surprised to find near each successive
mine crowds of natives all with apparently well oiled faces that
literally shone in the sunlight; but natives of every conceivable
shade of sableness, and in some cases of almost every permissible
approach to nudity. They were for the most part what are called "raw
Kaffirs"; and as we were astonished at their numbers after so many
months of war and consequent stoppage of work, so were they also
astonished at our numbers, and confided to our native minister their
wonder at finding there were so many Englishmen in all the world as
they that day saw upon the Rand. It was a vitally important object
lesson that by this time has made its beneficent influence felt among
all the tribes of the South African sub-continent.

About noon, so Mr Morris told me, a company of Lancers came into the
open space in front of the Court-house, and formed a hollow square
around the flagstaff. Not long after Lord Roberts with his Staff, and
Commandant Krause, rode into the square; then the Vierkleur slid down
the staff, and instantly after up went Lady Roberts' little silken
Union Jack. The British flag floated at last over this essentially
British town, the sure pledge as we hope of honest government and of
equal rights alike for Briton and for Boer. It was two o'clock before
the Guards' Brigade reached this saluting point, but till nearly
midnight one continuous stream of men and horses, of guns and
ambulances, passed through the streets to their respective camping
grounds. These well fagged troops by their fitness, even more than by
their numbers, astonished many an onlooker who was by no means a "raw
Kaffir"; and one old Dutchman expressed the thought of many minds when
he said, "You seem able to turn out soldiers by machinery, _all of the
same age_!"

My excellent host of that red-letter day adds: "It is intensely
gratifying to be able, after the lapse of more than nine months, to
give our soldiers the same good name that was so well deserved then.
To deny that there had been any offences would be ridiculous; but the
absence of serious crime, and more particularly of gross offences,
must be acknowledged to confer upon our South African army a unique
distinction." That witness is true!



War and worship live only on barest speaking terms, and to the latter
the former makes few concessions; so it came to pass that Whitsunday,
like so many another Sunday spent in South Africa, found us again upon
the march, with the inevitable result that no parade service could
possibly be held. Everybody, however, seemed full of confident
expectation that the next day we should reach Pretoria, and perhaps
take possession of it.

[Sidenote: _Whit-Monday and Wet Tuesday._]

"If we take Pretoria on Whit-Monday," said one of the Guardsmen, "they
will get the news in England next day, and then that will be Wet
Tuesday"; which was a prophecy that seemed not in the least unlikely
to be fulfilled, inasmuch as an Englishman's favourite way of showing
his supreme delight is by accepting an extra drink, or offering one.
Others were of opinion that, with a ring of forts around Pretoria on
which hundreds of thousands of pounds had been expended, the Boer
commanders would make a desperate stand in defence of their much loved
capital, and so keep us at bay for many a day. But nothing daunted by
such uncertainties as to what might be awaiting them, our men were on
the march towards those famous forts early on Monday morning, and we
soon found a lively Bank Holiday was in store for us. Shortly after
noon, General French's cavalry having worked round to the north of the
town, General Pole Carew prepared to attack on the south and our
bombardment of the forts began, but drew from them no reply. All the
Boer guns were elsewhere; and a little way behind our own busy naval
guns, though hidden by the crest of the hill, lay the Grenadier Guards
awaiting orders to take their place and part in the fray.

Presently a sharp succession of Boer shells, intended for the
aforesaid naval guns, came flying over our heads, and dropping among
our men. One hit a horse, which no man will ride again; one struck an
ambulance waggon, and scared its solitary fever patient almost out of
his senses; one dropped close to where a group of generals had just
before met in consultation; but only one of these Boer Whitsuntide
presents burst, and even that, strange to tell, caused no casualties,
though it drove a few kilted heroes to run for refuge into a deepish
pit, near which I sat upon the ground, and watching, wondered where
the next shell would burst. When a little later the Guards moved
further to the right to take up a position still nearer to the town,
Boer bullets came flying over that same ridge and planted themselves
among our left flank men; but when we tried to pick up some of these
leaden treasures to keep as curios, so deeply imbedded were they in
the soil they could not be removed. Yet they were playfully spoken of
as _spent_ bullets.

[Sidenote: "_Light after dark._"]

This grim music of gun and rifle was maintained almost till sunset,
and then died away, leaving us in doubt whether the next day would
witness a renewal of the fight, or whether, as on so many former
occasions, the Boers under cover of the darkness would execute yet
another strategic movement to the rear. That night we slept once more
on the open veldt, made black by the vast sweep of recent grass fires;
and next morning, after a starlight breakfast, I as usual retired to
kneel in humble prayer, imploring the Divine guardianship and guidance
for all in the midst of whom I dwelt. Presently I was startled by an
outburst of wildest cheering from one group; and a moment after from a
second; so springing to my feet I found our lads hurling their helmets
in the air, and shouting like men demented. Not for the chaplains only
that glad hour turned prayer to praise, and thrilled all hearts with
patriotic if not pious pride.

An officer was riding post-haste from point to point where our men
were massed, bearing the delicious tidings that Pretoria too had
unconditionally surrendered. The news swiftly sped from battalion to
battery, and from battery to battalion. First here, then there, then
far away yonder, the cheering rang out clear and loud as a trumpet
call. Comrade congratulated comrade, while Christian men, with
tear-filled eyes, reverently looked up and rendered thanks to Him of
whom it is written, "Thine is the victory."

[Sidenote: _Why the surrender?_]

Remembering how feeble Mafeking was held for months by the merest
handful of men pitted against a host, it is not easy to understand
why this city of roses, so pretty, and of which the Boers were all so
proud, was opened to its captors after only the merest pretence at
opposition. Lord Roberts is reported to have said that in his opinion
it occupied the strongest position he had yet seen in all South
Africa; and to my non-professional mind it instantly brought to
remembrance the familiar lines which tell how round about Jerusalem
the hilly bulwarks rise. The surrender of such a centre of their
national life must have been to the burghers like the plucking out of
a right eye, or the cutting off of a right hand. How came it to pass,
without an effort to hinder it?

The German expert, Count Sternberg, who accompanied the Boers
throughout the war, declared that though considered from the
continental standpoint they are bad soldiers; in their own country, in
ambushes or stratagems, which constitute their favourite type of
warfare, "they are simply superb." He adds they would have achieved
much greater success if they had not abandoned all idea of taking the
offensive. "For that they lack courage; and to that lack of courage
they owe their destruction."

But their flight, like their long after continuance in guerilla types
of warfare, points to quite another cause than this lack of courage.
The Boer is proverbially a lover of his own; and so, though with
liberal hand he laid waste bridge and culvert and plant, as he
retreated along the railway line through the Orange River Colony,
which was not his own, he became quite miserly in his use of dynamite
when the Transvaal was reached, which was his own, and which would
infallibly be restored to him, so he reckoned, when the war was over.
So was it to be with Pretoria too! To the very last the fighting Boer
believed that whatever his fate in the field of battle, if he were
only dogged enough, and in any fashion prolonged the strife
sufficiently, British patience would tire, as it had tired before;
British plans and purposes and pledges would all be abandoned as
aforetime they had been abandoned, and he would thus secure, even in
the face of defeat, the fruits of victory. The importunate widow is
the one New Testament character "the brother" implicitly believes in
and imitates. Her tactics were his before the war, in the matter of
the Conventions; and the wasteful prolonging of the war was a part of
the same policy. Great Britain was to be forced by sheer weariness to
give back to the Transvaal in some form its coveted independence, and
with it, of course, Pretoria also. So he would on no account consent
to let the city be bombarded. Our peaceful occupation was the best
possible protection for property that would presently be again his
own; and while he still went on with his desultory fighting we were
quite welcome, at our own expense, to feed every Boer family we could

Thus, like our own hunted Pretender, he held that however long
delayed, the end was bound to restore to him his own; and he had not
far to look for what justified the fallacy. In 1881, for instance, as
one among many illustrations, an English general at Standerton
formally assured the Boers that the Vaal would flow backward through
the Drakenberg Hills before the British would withdraw from the
Transvaal. Three successive Secretaries of State, three successive
High Commissioners, and two successive Houses of Commons deliberately
endorsed that official assurance; yet though the Vaal turned not back
Great Britain did; and to that magnanimous forgetting of the nation's
oft-repeated pledge was due in part this new war and its intolerable
prolonging. It does not pay thus to say and then unsay. Thereby all
confidence, all sense of finality, is killed.

[Sidenote: _Taking possession._]

"Take your Grenadiers and open the ball," said Sir John Moore, as he
appointed to his men their various positions in the famous fight at
Corunna; and on this memorable 5th of June when the British finally
took possession of Pretoria the Guards as at Belmont were again
privileged to "open the ball." But whilst they were busy seizing the
railway station and stock, with other points of strategic importance,
I took my first hasty stroll through the city; and among the earliest
objects of interest I came upon was the pedestal of a monument, with
the scaffolding still around it, but quite complete, except that the
actual statue which was to crown and constitute the summit was not

"Whose monument is that?" I meekly asked. "Paul Kruger's," was the
prompt reply; "but the statue, made in Rome, has not yet arrived,
being detained at Delagoa Bay."

That statue now probably never will arrive, and possibly enough some
other figure,--perchance that of Victoria the Good,--will ultimately
be placed on that expectant pedestal, so making the monument complete.
"Which thing," as St Paul would say, "is an allegory!" That monument
in its present form is a precise epitome of the man it was meant to
honour. It is most complete by reason of its very incompleteness. The
chief feature in this essentially strong man's career, as also in his
monument, has reference to the foundation work he wrought. It was the
finish that was a failure, and in much more important matters than
this pile of chiselled granite, the work the late President commenced
in the Transvaal its new rulers must make it their business to carry
on, and, in worthier fashion, complete. We cannot begin _de novo_. For
better for worse, on foundations laid by Boers, Britons must be
content to build.

Close by, forming the main feature on one side of the city Square,
stood a remarkably fine building, intended to serve as a palace of
justice, but, like the monument in front of it, it was still
unfinished. In the Transvaal there was as yet no counterpart to that
most important clause in our own Magna Charta, which says "We will not
sell justice to any man." Corruption and coercion were familiar forces
alike in the making and the administration of its laws. In more senses
than one the Transvaal Government had not yet opened its courts of
justice. They mutely awaited the coming of the new _régime_.

In one of the main streets leading out of the Square stood the
President's private residence; a gift-house, so it is said, accepted
by him as a recompense for favours received. Compared with the
Residency at Bloemfontein it is a singularly unpretentious dwelling
and was in keeping rather with the economic habits, than with the
private wealth, or official status, of its chief occupant. British
sentinels had already been posted all about the place, and on the
verandah sat a British officer with a long row of mausers lying at his
feet. There too, one on each side of the main entrance, crouched
Kruger's famous marble lions, silently watching that day's novel
proceedings. Not even the presence of those men in khaki, nor that sad
array of surrendered rifles, sufficed to draw from those stony
guardians of their master's home so much as a muffled growl. They are
believed to be of British origin, and I suspect that, so far as their
nature permits, they cherish British sympathies; for they certainly
showed no signs of lamenting over the ignoble departure of their lord.
All regardless of the griefs of his deserted lady, they still placidly
licked their paws; and as I cast on them a parting glance they gave to
me, or seemed to, a knowing wink!

[Illustration: _From a photograph by Mr Jones, Pretoria_

Dopper Church Opposite President Kruger's House Built by the Late

Precisely opposite the Residency is the handsome Dopper Church,
wherein the President regularly worshipped, and not infrequently
himself ministered in holy things. The church is nearly new, and like
much else in Pretoria is still unfinished. The four dials have indeed
been duly placed on the four faces of the clock tower; but in that
tower there is as yet no clock; and round those clock dials there move
no clock hands. No wonder Pretoria with its dominant Dopper Church,
and its still more decidedly dominant Dopper President, mistook the
true hour of its destiny, and madly made war precisely when peace
was easiest of attainment. Kruger, dim-eyed and old, lived face to
face continually with clock dials that betokened no progress, but,
merely mocked the enquiring gaze. Which thing, the Chelsea Sage would
say, was symbolical and significant of much!

[Sidenote: "_Resurgam._"]

In the centre of the before-mentioned Square is the large and usually
crowded Dutch Reformed Church, doomed long ago, we were told, to be
removed because of its exceeding unsightliness. Throughout the
Transvaal in every town and hamlet, the House of God is invariably the
central building, as also it is the centre of the most potent
influence. In both Republics the minister was emphatically "a Master
in Israel"; and in the welcome shadows of this great church I waited
to witness one of the most interesting events of the century--the
proclaiming of Pretoria a British city by the official hoisting in it,
as earlier in Bloemfontein, of the British flag; and by the stately
"march past" of the British troops.

Facing me, on the side of the Square opposite to that occupied by the
Palace of Justice, were the creditably designed Government Buildings,
including the Raadsaal, which was surmounted by a golden figure of
Liberty bearing in her hand a battle-axe and flag. On the forefront of
the building in bold lettering there was graven the favourite
Transvaal watchword,


which, being interpreted means, "Right makes Might"; and that motto,
as every Britisher could see, precisely explained our presence there
that day. Inside there still remained, in its accustomed place, the
state chair of the departed President, in which, later on, I ventured
to sit; and all around were ranged the, to me, eloquent seats of his
departed senators. In that very hall, just nine months before, those
senators, in secret session, had resolved to hurl defiance at the
might of Britain; and so precipitated a war by which two sister
Republics were, as such, hurried out of existence. Now the very
corridors by which I approached that hall were crowded with Boers
wearied with the fruitless fight, and eager to hand in their weapons.

In the waiting crowd outside I found a friend who courteously supplied
me with a copy of a quite unique photograph--the only photograph taken
of the solemn burial, a few hundred yards from where I stood, of a
Union Jack, when that flag was hauled down in the Transvaal, and the
British troops ingloriously retired. As shown in the photograph, over
the grave was erected a slab, and on that slab was this most notable

                IN MEMORY
             THE BRITISH FLAG
  in the Transvaal; which departed this life
             August 2nd, 1881.
               Aged 4 years.

       In other lands none knew thee
             But to love thee.


No such burial had the world seen before, and few bolder prophecies
than that "_I shall rise again_," can be found in the history of any
land; but a few minutes it became my memorable privilege to witness
the actual fulfilment of that patriotic prediction. As in
Johannesburg, so here, it was Lady Roberts' pocket edition of the
Union Jack that was used; and we looked on excitedly; but the Statue
of Liberty looked down benignly, while that tiny flag crept up nearer
and nearer to its golden feet. Liberty has never anything to fear from
the approach of that flag!

While in Pretoria the following story was told me by the soldier to
whom it chiefly refers:--

[Sidenote: _A Striking Incident._]

At the Orange River a corporal of the Yorkshire Light Infantry
received a pocket copy of the New Testament from a Christian worker,
and placed it in his tunic by the side of his "field dressing." A
godless man, who had been driven into the army by heavy drinking, he
merely glanced at a verse or two, and then forgot its very presence in
his pocket till he reached the battlefield of Graspan a few days later
on. Then a Boer bullet passed right through the Testament and the
dressing that lay beside it, was thereby deflected from its otherwise
fatal course, and finally made a long surface wound on his right
thigh. That wound he at once bound up with one of his putties, but for
two hours was unable to stir from the place where he fell.

Then he managed to limp back to his battalion, and piteously begged
his adjutant not to let his name be put down on the casualty list,
for, said he, "my mother is in feeble health, and if she saw my name
in the papers among the wounded she would worry herself almost to
death, as years ago when she heard of my being hit in Tirah." That
brave request was granted, and he remained in the ranks marching as
one unwounded.

Yet neither this Providential deliverance nor the terrors that soon
followed at Modder River sufficed to lure to either prayer or praise
this godless, but surely not graceless, corporal. On the 27th of
August, however, which happened to be his thirtieth birthday, a devout
sergeant had the joy of winning him to Christian decision; and that
day, as he told me in Pretoria, he resolved to find out for himself
whether after thirty years of misery the mercy of the Lord could
provide for him thirty years of happiness.

[Sidenote: _No canteens and no crime._]

On board the _Nubia_, amid piles of literature put on board for the
amusement of the troops during the voyage, I discovered a quantity of
pamphlets entitled "Beer Cellars and Beer Sellers," the purpose of
which was to prove that the beer sellers were England's most
indispensable patriots; that the beer cellars were England's best
citadels; and that the beer trade in general was the very backbone of
England's stability. It was horribly tantalising to the men in face of
such teaching to find that there had been placed on board for them not
so much as a solitary barrel of this much belauded beverage. Through
all the voyage every man remained perforce a total abstainer. Yet
there was not a single death among those sixteen hundred, nor a
solitary instance of serious sickness. What does Burton say to that?

As at sea, so on land, the authorities seemed more afraid of the
beloved beer barrel than of the bullets of the Boers; and for the most
part no countersign sufficed to secure for it admittance to our camps.
An occasional tot of rum was distributed among the men; but even that
seemed to be rather to satisfy a sentiment than to serve any really
useful purpose. At any rate, some of the men, like myself, tramped all
the way to Koomati Poort, often in the worst of weather, without
taking a single tot, and were none the worse for so refraining, but
rather so much the better.

The effect on the character of the men was still more remarkable; and
while in Pretoria I was repeatedly assured that some who had been a
perpetual worry to their officers in beer-ridden England, on the
beerless veldt, or in the liquorless towns of the Transvaal, speedily
took rank among the most reliable men in all their regiment. To my
colleague, the Rev. W. Burgess, a major of the Yorkshires, said
"Nineteen-twentieths of the crime in the British army is due to drink.
As a proof I have been at this outpost with 150 men for six weeks,
where we have absolutely no drink, and there have been only two minor
cases brought before me. There is no insubordination whatever, and if
you do away with drink you have in the British army an ideal army.
Whether or not men can be made sober by Act of Parliament, clearly
they can by martial law!"

With the men so sober, with a field-marshal so God-fearing, the
constant outrages ascribed to them by slander-loving Englishmen at
home, become a moral impossibility; and to that fact, after we had
been long in possession of Pretoria, the principal minister of the
Dutch Reformed Church in the Transvaal bore ready witness in the
following letter sent by him to the Military Governor of Pretoria:--

     Not a single instance of criminal assault or rape by
     non-commissioned officers or men of the British army on Boer
     women has come to my knowledge. I have asked several gentlemen
     and their testimony is the same.... The discipline and general
     moral conduct of His Majesty's troops in Pretoria is, under the
     circumstances, better than I ever expected it would or could be.
     There have certainly been cases of immoral conduct, but in no
     single instance, so far as I know, has force been used. They only
     go where they are invited and where they are welcome.

                                   (Signed) H. S. BOSMAN.

When such is the testimony of our adversaries, we need not hesitate to
accept the similar tribute paid by Sir Redvers Buller to his army of
abstainers in Natal:--"I am filled with admiration for the British
soldiers," said he; "really the manner in which they have worked,
fought, and endured during the last fortnight has been something more
than human. Broiled in a burning sun by day, drenched in rain by
night, lying but three hundred yards off an enemy, who shoots you if
you show so much as a finger, they could hardly eat or drink by day;
and as they were usually attacked by night, they got but little sleep;
yet through it all they were as cheery and as willing as could be."

Men so devoted when on duty, don't transform themselves, the drink
being absent, into incarnate demons when off duty; and no dominion,
therefore, has more cause to be proud of its defenders than our own!



Pretoria is manifestly a city in process of being made, and has
probably in store a magnificent future, though at present the shanty
and the palace stand "cheek by jowl." Even the main roads leading into
the town seemed atrociously bad as judged by English standards, and
the paving of the principal streets was of a correspondingly perilous
type. Yet the public buildings already referred to were not the only
ones that claimed our commendation as signs of a progressive spirit.
The Government Printing Works are remarkably handsome and complete;
and while for educational purposes there is in Pretoria nothing quite
comparable to Grey College at Bloemfontein, the secondary education of
the late Republic's metropolis was well housed.

[Sidenote: _The State's Model School._]

There is, however, one building provided for that purpose which has
acquired an enduring interest of quite another kind, and which I
visited, when it became a hospital, with very mingled emotions. The
State's Model School, during the early stages of the war, was utilised
as a prison for the British officers captured by the Boers. How keenly
these brave men felt and secretly resented their ill-fortune they were
too proud to tell, but one of the noblest of them had become,
through the terrors of a disastrous fight, so piteously demented for a
while that he actually wore hanging from his neck a piece of cardboard
announcing that it was he who lost the guns at Colenso. Some of them
would rather have lost their lives than in such fashion have lost
their liberty, and the story which tells how three of them regained
that liberty by escaping from this very prison is one of the most
thrilling among all the records of the war. Most noted of the three is
Winston Churchill, whose own graphic pen has told how he eluded the
most vigilant search and finally reached the sea. But the adventures
of Captain Haldane and his non-commissioned companion reveal yet more
of daring and endurance. Captured at the same time as Churchill, and
through the same cause--the disaster on November 13th to the armoured
train at Chieveley--these two effected their escape long after the hue
and cry on the heels of Churchill had died away. Within what was
supposed to be a day or two of the removal of all the officers to a
more secure "birdcage" outside the town, those two gentlemen vanished
under the floor of their room, through a kind of tiny trap-door that I
have often seen, but which was then partly concealed by a bed, and was
apparently never noticed by their Boer custodians. In this prison
beneath a prison, damp and dark and dismal beyond all describing, and
where there was no room to stand erect, these two officers found
themselves doomed to dwell, not for days merely, but for weeks. They
were of course hunted for high and low, and sought in every
conceivable place except the right place. Food was guardedly passed
down to them by two or three brother officers who shared their secret,
and at last, more dead than alive, they emerged from their dungeon the
moment they discovered the building was deserted, and then daringly
faced the almost hopeless, yet successful, endeavour to smuggle
themselves to far-distant Delagoa Bay. Evidently the element of
romance has not yet died out of this prosaic age!

[Sidenote: _Rev. Adrian Hoffmeyer._]

Strangely sharing the fate of these British prisoners in this Model
School was a godly and gifted minister of the Dutch Reformed Church. A
Boer among Boers. He was never told why he was arrested by his brother
Boers, and though kept under lock and key for months, he was never
introduced to judge or jury. An advocate of peace, he was suspected of
British leanings, and so almost before the war commenced rough hands
were laid upon him. There was in the Transvaal a reign of terror.
Secret service men were everywhere, and no one's reputation was safe,
no one's position secure. In this land of newly-discovered gold men
were driven to discover that the most golden thing of all was discreet
silence on the part of those who differed from "the powers that be."
So he who simply sought to avert war was suspected of British
sympathies, and to his unutterable surprise presently found himself
the fellow prisoner of many a still more unfortunate British officer.

Of those officers, their character and intellectual attainments, he
speaks in terms of highest praise. Their enforced leisure they
devoted to various artistic and intellectual pursuits, and I have
myself seen an admirably elaborate and accurate map of the Republics,
covering the whole of a large classroom wall, drawn presumably from
joint memory by these officers, who by its aid were able to trace the
progress of the war as tidings filtered through to them by an
ingenious system of signalling practised by sympathetic friends

By those same officers this Dutchman was invited to become their
unofficial chaplain, and he writes of the devotional services
consequently arranged as among the chief delights of his life, the
favourite hymn he says being the following:--

          Holy Father, in Thy mercy
          Hear our anxious prayer.
          Keep our loved ones, now far absent,
                  'Neath Thy care.

          Jesus, Saviour, let Thy presence
          Be their light and pride.
          Keep, Oh keep them, in their weakness,
                  Near Thy side.

          Holy Spirit, let Thy teaching
          Sanctify their life.
          Send Thy grace that they may conquer
                  In all strife.

It was to this much respected and much reviled predikant a Pretorian
high official said: "We were determined to let it drift to a rupture
with England, for then our dream would be realised of a Republic
reaching to Table Mountain"; but surely such a song and such a scene
in the State's Model School was a thing of which no man dreamed!

[Sidenote: _The Waterfall prisoners._]

The private soldiers who like these, their officers, had become
prisoners of war, were for greater security removed from their
racecourse camp to a huge prison-pen at the Waterfall, some ten or
twelve miles up the Pietersburg line. They numbered in all about three
thousand eight hundred, and for a while fared badly at their captors'
hands. But ultimately a small committee was formed in Pretoria and
£5000 subscribed, to be spent in mitigating their lot and ministering
in many ways to their comfort. In these ministrations of mercy the
Wesleyan minister, whose grateful guest I for a while became, as
afterwards of the genial host and hostess at the Silverton Mission
Parsonage, took a prominent and much appreciated part as the following
letter abundantly proves:--

  To the Rev. F. W. MACDONALD,
  President, Wesleyan Church, London.

                                        PRETORIA, _4th July 1900_.

     SIR,--As chairman of a committee formed in January last for the
     purpose of assisting the British prisoners of war, I have been
     requested to bring officially to your notice the splendid work
     done by the Rev. H. W. Goodwin. From my position I have been
     thrown into intimate relationship with Mr Goodwin, and it is a
     great pleasure to me to testify to his invaluable services. I am
     not a member of your church, nor are my colleagues, but there is
     a unanimous desire among the British subjects that were permitted
     to remain in Pretoria, and who are therefore cognisant of Mr
     Goodwin's work, to place his record before you. It is our united
     hope that Mr Goodwin will receive some substantial mark of
     appreciation from the Church of which he is so fine a
     representative. I know of none finer in the highest sense in the
     Church which knows no distinction of forms or creeds.--I have the
     honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant,

                                        (Sd.)  J. LEIGH WOOD.

On my arrival in Pretoria Mr Goodwin was at my request at once
appointed as Acting Army Chaplain, and shortly after received the
following most gratifying communication:--

                                        BRITISH AGENCY,
                                        PRETORIA, _9th June 1900_.

     DEAR SIR,--If you could kindly call on Lord Roberts some time
     to-day or to-morrow, it would give him great pleasure to meet one
     who has done so much for our prisoners of war.--Yours faithfully,

                                        (Sd.)  H. V. CONAN,
               The Rev. Goodwin.       _Lt.-Col., Mil. Sec._

When Mr Goodwin accordingly called nothing could well exceed the
warmth of the welcome and of the thanks the field-marshal graciously
accorded him.

Among the prisoners at the Waterfall was a well-known Wesleyan
sergeant of the 18th Hussars, who rallied around him all such as were
of a devout spirit and became the recognised leader of the religious
life of the prison camp. I therefore requested him to supply me with a
brief statement of what in this respect had been done by the prisoners
for the prisoners. He accordingly sent me the following letter:--

                                        PRETORIA, _7th July 1900_.

     REVEREND AND DEAR SIR,--Long before you asked me to write an
     account of the Christian work which was carried on from the 22nd
     of October 1899 to the 6th of June 1900, among the British
     prisoners of war at the Pretoria Racecourse, and afterwards at
     Waterfall, it had occurred to me that for the encouragement of
     other Christian workers particularly, and the members of the
     Church of Christ generally, some record should be made of the
     wonderful way in which God blessed us, and it is with the
     greatest pleasure that I accede to your request.

     I was one of the 160 who were taken prisoners after the battle of
     Talana Hill (Dundee), and a few days after arriving at our
     destination (Pretoria Racecourse) we heard some of our guard
     singing psalms and we immediately decided to ask the commandant
     for a tent for devotional purposes. It was given, and after the
     first few nights, till we were released by our own forces seven
     months afterwards, it was filled to overflowing nightly. On our
     being removed to Waterfall, we enlarged our tent to three times
     its original size, and later on we begged building material from
     the commandant, and built a very nice hall with a platform and
     seating accommodation for over 240. At last this became too small
     and we went into the open air twice a week, when no less than 500
     to 700 congregated to hear the old, old story of Jesus and His

     When we asked for the small tent we had no idea of the work
     growing as it did. We used to meet together every night, a simple
     gathering together of God's children, four in number, which
     increased to one hundred, with the Lord Himself as teacher. Then
     our comrades began to attend and we commenced to hold
     evangelistic services, which were continued to the end.

     When we got to Waterfall we started a Bible-class and a prayer
     meeting, held alternately. The work was helped a great deal by
     other Christian brothers, without whose services, co-operation,
     fellowship and sympathy the work could hardly have been continued
     for any length of time. But, after all, speaking after the manner
     of men, our dear friend and pastor, the Rev. H. W. Goodwin, was
     the one who really enabled us to carry on the work. As the
     transport and commissariat are to any army, so Mr Goodwin was to

     On our application, the Boer Government consented to allow the
     ministers of the various churches in Pretoria to visit us once a
     month for the purpose of conducting divine service. Of course
     such a privilege as this was greatly appreciated by the men, and
     one cannot help wondering why such restrictions were placed upon
     the ministers.

     We had many cherished plans and bright hopes with regard to the
     war, and when we were captured we found it hard to recognise the
     ordering of the Lord in our new conditions and unaccustomed
     circumstances; but we were taught some grand lessons, and we soon
     found that even imprisonment has its compensations; and we have
     to confess that His Presence makes the prison a palace. I have
     heard many thank God for bringing them to Waterfall gaol.

     During the months we spent together we realised that God was
     blessing us in a most remarkable manner, and we may truly say
     that our fellowship was with the Father and with His Son Jesus
     Christ. Many backsliders were taught the folly of remaining away
     from the Father, and many were turned from darkness unto light.
     To Him be the glory.

     On hearing of the near approach of our deliverers, and knowing
     that soon we should all part, we had a farewell meeting and many
     promised to write to me.

     I received a number of letters ere we actually parted, but with
     the injunction "not to be opened till separated," and from these
     I intend making a few extracts which lead me like the Psalmist to
     say "Because Thou hast been my help therefore in the shadow of
     Thy wings will I rejoice."

Of the extracts to which the sergeant refers it is impossible to give
here more than a few brief samples; but even these may suffice to
prove that our soldiers are by no means all, or mostly, sons of
Belial, as their recent slanderers would have us believe.

_A Bombardier_ of the 10th Mountain Battery writes--"I was brought to
God on the 4th of February. I had often stood outside the tent and
listened to the services, and one evening I went into the
after-meeting and came away without Christ; but God was striving with
me, and a few nights afterwards I realised that I was a hell-deserving
sinner, and I cried unto God and He heard me; and that night I came
away with Christ."

_A Sergeant-major_ of Roberts' Horse says--"I am indeed grateful to
God for the loving-kindness He has bestowed on me since my coming
here as a prisoner of war. The meetings have been a great success and
of the most orderly character."

_A Sergeant_ of the Royal Irish Rifles adds--"Thanks be unto God, He
opened my eyes on the night of the 21st of January 1900; and He has
kept me ever since."

_A Corporal_ of the Wilts, after telling of his capture at Rensberg,
and his arrival at Waterfall, goes on to say--"I heard about the
Gospel Tent from one of the Boer sentries, and I cannot express the
happy feelings that passed through me when I saw the Christian band
gathered together with one accord."

_A Private_ of the Glosters relates the story of his own conversion,
and then proceeds to say he shall never forget the meetings which were
conducted by the Rev. H. W. Goodwin, especially the one in which he
administered to them the blessed Sacrament. It was a Pentecostal time,
and it pleased the Lord to add unto them eight souls that same night,
and six the night following.

[Sidenote: _A Soldier's Hymn._]

As the day of release drew near with all its inevitable excitement and
unrest, certain British officers, themselves prisoners, were requested
by the Boers to reside among these men at the Waterfall to ensure to
the very last the maintenance of discipline; and the sanction of the
Baptist minister who once conducted their parade service was sought by
them for the singing of the following most touchingly appropriate

          Lord a nation humbly kneeling
          For her soldiers cries to Thee;
          Strong in faith and hope, appealing
          That triumphant they may be.
                Waking, sleeping,
                'Neath Thy keeping,
          Lead our troops to victory.

          Of our sins we make confession,
          Wealth and arrogance and pride;
          But our hosts, against oppression,
          March with Freedom's flowing tide.
                Father, speed them,
                Keep them, lead them,
          God of armies, be their guide.

          Man of Sorrows! Thou hast sounded
          Every depth of human grief.
          By Thy wounds, Oh, heal our wounded.
          Give the fever's fire relief.
                Hear us crying
                For our dying,
          Of consolers be Thou chief.

          Take the souls that die for duty
          In Thy tender pierced hand;
          Crown the faulty lives with beauty,
          Offered for their Fatherland.
                All forgiving,
                With the living
          May they in Thy kingdom stand.

          And if Victory should crown us,
          May we take it as from Thee
          As Thy nation deign to own us;
          Merciful and strong and free.
                Endless praising
                To Thee raising,
          Ever Thine may England be!

Say their critics what they may, soldiers who compose such songs, and
pen such testimonies, and conduct such services among themselves,
seem scarcely the sort to "let hell loose in South Africa!"

[Sidenote: _A big supper party._]

Of the prisoners of war thus long detained in durance vile nearly a
thousand were decoyed into a special train the night before the
Guards' Brigade reached Pretoria. These deluded captives in their
simplicity supposed they were being taken into the town to be there
set at liberty; but instead of that they were hurried by, and, with
the panic-stricken Boers, away and yet away, into their remotest
eastern fastnesses, there presumably to be retained as long as
possible as a sort of guarantee that the vastly larger number of Boers
we held prisoners should be still generously treated by us. They might
also prove useful in many ways if terms of peace came to be
negotiated. So vanished for months their visions of speedy freedom!

The rest who still remained within the prison fence, and were, of
course, still unarmed, three days later were cruelly and treacherously
shelled by a Boer commando on a distant hill. The Boer guards detailed
for duty at the prison had deserted their posts, and under the cover
of the white flag, gone into Pretoria to surrender. Our men,
therefore, who were practically free, awaiting orders, when thus
unceremoniously shelled, at once stampeded; and late on Thursday night
about nine hundred of them, footsore and famished, arrived at Mr
Goodwin's house seeking shelter. He was apparently the only friend
they knew in Pretoria, and to have a friend yet not to use him is, of
course, absurd! So to his door they came in crowds, dragging with
them the Boer Maxim gun, by which they had so long been overawed.
While tea and coffee for all this host were being hurriedly prepared
by their slightly embarrassed host, I sought permission from a staff
officer to house the men for the night in our Wesleyan schoolrooms,
and in the huge Caledonian Hall adjoining, which was at once
commandeered for the purpose. I also requested that a supply of
rations might at utmost speed be provided for them. Accordingly, not
long before midnight a waggon arrived bringing by some fortunate
misreading of my information, provisions, not for nine hundred hungry
men, but for the whole three thousand prisoners whom we were supposed
to have welcomed as our guests. It may seem incredible, but men who at
that late hour had fallen fast asleep upon the floor, at the sound of
that waggon's wheels suddenly awoke; and still more wonderful to tell,
when morning came those nine hundred men, of the rations for three
thousand, had left untouched only a few paltry boxes of biscuits. A
hospital patient recently recovered from fever once said to me, "I
haven't an appetite for two, sir; I have an appetite for ten!" And
these released prisoners had evidently for that particular occasion
borrowed the appetite of that particular patient!

[Sidenote: _The Soldiers' Home._]

The Caledonian Hall above referred to is a specially commodious
building, and could not have been more admirably adapted for use as a
Soldiers' Home if expressly erected for that purpose. It was
accordingly commandeered by the military governor to be so used, and
for months it was the most popular establishment in town or camp. At
Johannesburg a Wesleyan and an Anglican Home were opened, both
rendering excellent service; but as this was run on undenominational
lines, it was left without a rival. It is a most powerful sign of the
times that our military chiefs now unhesitatingly interest themselves
in the moral and spiritual welfare of the men under their command.
Some time before this Boer war commenced, on April 28, 1898, there was
issued by the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army a memorandum
which would have done no discredit to the Religious Tract Society if
published as one of their multitudinous leaflets. A copy was supplied
presumably to every soldier sent to Africa; and the first few
sentences which refer to what may happily be regarded as steadily
diminishing evils, read as follows:--

     It will be the duty of company officers to point out to the men
     under their control, and particularly to young soldiers, the

          _disastrous effect of giving way_

     to habits of intemperance and immorality. The excessive use of
     intoxicating liquors unfits the soldier for active work, blunts
     his intelligence, and is a fruitful source of military crime. The
     man who leads a vicious life

          _enfeebles his constitution_

     and exposes himself to the risk of contracting a disease of a
     kind which has of late made terrible ravages in the British army.
     Many men spend a great deal of the short time of their service in
     the military hospitals, the wards of which are crowded with
     patients, a large number of whom are permanently disfigured and
     incapacitated from earning a livelihood in or out of the army.
     Men tainted with this disease are

          _useless while in the army_

     and a burden to their friends after they have left it. Even those
     who do not altogether break down are unfit for service in the
     field, and would certainly be a source of weakness to their
     regiments, and a discredit to their comrades if employed in war.

[Illustration: _From a photograph by Mr Jones, Pretoria_

Soldiers' Home at Pretoria.]

As one of the most effectual ways of combating these evils, and of
providing an answer to the oft-repeated prayer, "Lead us not into
temptation," Soldiers' Homes are now being so freely multiplied, that
the Wesleyan Church has itself established over thirty, at a total
cost of more than £50,000.

[Sidenote: _Mr and Mrs Osborn Howe._]

Some of those engaged in similar Christian work among the soldiers
were gentlemen of ample private means who defrayed all their own
expenses. Mr Anderson was thus attached to the Northumberland
Fusiliers, and soon became a power for good among them. Mr and Mrs
Osborn Howe did a really remarkable work in providing Soldiers' Homes,
which followed the men from place to place over almost the entire
field covered by our military operations, including Pretoria, and
though they received quite a long list of subscriptions their own
private resources have for years been freely placed at the Master's
service, whether for work among soldiers or civilians.

When late on in the campaign it was intimated by certain officials
that Lord Kitchener was not in sympathy with such work and would not
grant such facilities for its prosecution as Lord Roberts had done, Mr
Osborn Howe received the following reply to a letter of enquiry on
that point:--

[Sidenote: _A letter from Lord Kitchener._]

     I am directed by Lord Kitchener to acknowledge the receipt of
     your letter of January 3rd. His Lordship much regrets that you
     should have been led to imagine that his attitude towards your
     work differs from that of Lord Roberts, and I am to inform you
     that so far from that being the case, he is very deeply impressed
     by the value of your work, and hopes that it may long continue
     and increase.

          Yours faithfully,
                              (Signed)  W. H. CONGREVE, Major,
                                        _Private Secretary_.

Still more notable in this same connection is the fact that soon after
Lord Roberts reached Cape Town to take supreme command, he caused to
be issued the following most remarkable letter, which certainly marks
a new departure in the usages of modern warfare, and carries us back
in thought and spirit to the camps of Cromwell and his psalm-singing
Ironsides, or to the times when Scotland's Covenanters were busy
guarding for us the religious light and liberty which are to-day our
goodliest heritage.

[Sidenote: _Also from Lord Roberts._]

                                        ARMY HEADQUARTERS, CAPE TOWN,
                                             _January 23rd_.

     DEAR SIR,--I am desired by Lord Roberts to ask you to be so kind
     as to distribute to all ranks under your command the "Short
     Prayer for the use of Soldiers in the Field," by the Primate of
     Ireland, copies of which I now forward. His Lordship earnestly
     hopes that it may be helpful to all of Her Majesty's soldiers who
     are now serving in South Africa.

          Yours faithfully,
                              (Signed) NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN, Colonel,
                                        _Private Secretary_.

     To the Commanding Officer.

                         *The Prayer.*

     ALMIGHTY FATHER, I have often sinned against Thee. O wash me in
     the precious blood of the Lamb of God. Fill me with Thy Holy
     Spirit, that I may lead a new life. Spare me to see again those
     whom I love at home, or fit me for Thy presence in peace.

     Strengthen us to quit ourselves like men in our right and just
     cause. Keep us faithful unto death, calm in danger, patient in
     suffering, merciful as well as brave, true to our Queen, our
     country, and our colours.

     If it be Thy will, enable us to win victory for England, and
     above all grant us the better victory over temptation and sin,
     over life and death, that we may be more than conquerors through
     Him who loved us, and laid down His life for us, Jesus our
     Saviour, the Captain of the Army of God. Amen.

The general who officially invited all his troops to use such a prayer
could not fail to prove a warm friend and patron of Soldiers' Homes;
and to the Pretoria Home he came, not merely formally to declare it
open, but to attend one of the many concerts given there, thus
encouraging by his example both the workers and those for whom they
worked. A supremely busy and burdened man, _that_ he made a part of
his business; and surely he was wise, for one sober soldier is any day
worth more than a dozen drunken ones.

The general who thus deliberately encouraged his troops to live
devoutly, instead of being deemed by them on that account unsoldierly
or fanatic, secured such a place in their confidence and affection as
few even of the most magnetic leaders among men ever managed to
obtain. The pet name by which they always spoke of him implied no
approach to unseemly familiarity, but betokened the same kind of
attachment as the veteran hosts of Napoleon the Great intended to
express when they admiringly called their dread master "The Little
Corporal." He amply justified their confidence in him, and they amply
justified his confidence in them; and so on resigning his command in
South Africa he spoke of these "my comrades," as he called them, in
terms as gratifying as they are uncommon:--

     I am very proud that I am able to record, with the most absolute
     truth, that the conduct of this army from first to last has been
     exemplary. Not one single case of serious crime has been brought
     to my notice--indeed, nothing that deserves the name of _crime_.
     There has been no necessity for appeals or orders to the men to
     behave properly. I have trusted implicitly to their own soldierly
     feeling and good sense, and I have not trusted in vain. They bore
     themselves like heroes on the battlefield, and like gentlemen on
     all other occasions.

[Sidenote: _A song in praise of De Wet._]

Lord Lytton tells us that in the days of Edward the Confessor the rage
for psalm singing was at its height in England so that sacred song
excluded almost every other description of vocal music: but though in
South Africa a similar trend revealed itself among the troops, their
camp fire concerts, and the concerts in the Pretoria Soldiers' Home,
were of an exclusively secular type. At one which it was my privilege
to attend, Lady Roberts and her daughters were present as well as the
general, who generously arranged for a cigar to be given to every man
in the densely crowded hall when the concert closed. All the songs
were by members of the general's staff, and were excellent; but one,
composed presumably by the singer, was topical and sensational in a
high degree. It was entitled: "Long as the world goes round"; and one
verse assured us concerning "Brother Boer," with only too near an
approach to truth,

          He'll bury his mauser,
          And break all his vows, sir,
          Long as the world goes round!

Another verse reminded us of a still more melancholy fact which yet
awakened no little mirth. It was in praise of De Wet, who in spite of
his blue spectacles, seemed by far the most clear-sighted of all the
Boer generals, and who, notwithstanding his illiteracy, was beyond all
others well versed in the bewildering ways of the veldt. He apparently
had no skill for the conducting of set battles, but for ambushing
convoys, for capturing isolated detachments, for wrecking trains, and
for himself eluding capture when fairly ringed round with keen
pursuers beyond all counting, few could rival him. Like hunted
Hereward, he seemed able to escape through a rat hole, and by his
persistence in guerilla tactics not only seriously prolonged the war
and enormously increased its cost, but also went far to make the
desolation of his pet Republic complete. So there Lord Roberts sat and
heard this sung by one of his staff:--

          Of all the Boers we have come across yet,
          None can compare with this Christian De Wet;
          For him we seem quite unable to get--
                  (Though Hildyard and Broadwood,
                  And our Soudanese Lord _should_)--
          Long as the world goes round!

They _should_ have got him, and they would have got him, if they
could; but when Lord Roberts, long months after, set sail for home, he
left De Wet still in the saddle. Then Kitchener, our Soudanese Lord,
took up the running, and called on the Guards to aid him, but even
they proved unequal to the hopeless task. "One pair of heels," they
said, "can never overtake two pair of hoofs." Then our picked mounted
men monopolised the "tally-ho" to little better purpose. De Wet's guns
were captured, his convoys cut off, but him no man caught, and
possibly to this very day he is still complacently humming "Tommies
may come and Tommies may go, but I trot on for ever."

[Sidenote: _Cordua and his Conspiracy._]

The last verse of this sensational song had reference to yet another
celebrity, but of a far more unsatisfactory type. All the earlier part
of that Thursday I had spent in the second Raadsaal, attending a
court-martial on one of our prisoners of war, Lieutenant Hans Cordua,
late of the Transvaal State Artillery, who, having surrendered, was
suffered to be at large on parole. In my presence he pleaded guilty,
first to having broken his parole in violation of his solemn oath;
secondly, to having attempted to break through the British lines
disguised in British khaki, in order to communicate treasonably with
Botha; and thirdly, to having conspired with sundry others to set fire
to a certain portion of Pretoria with a view to facilitating a
simultaneous attempt to kidnap Lord Roberts and all his staff. Cordua
was with difficulty persuaded to withdraw the plea of guilty, so that
he might have the benefit of any possible flaw his counsel could
detect in the evidence; but in the end the death sentence was
pronounced, confirmed, and duly executed in the garden of Pretoria
Gaol on August 24th. It was from that court-martial I came to the
Soldiers' Home Concert, sat close behind Lord Roberts, and listened to
this song:--

          Though the Boer some say is a practised thief,
          Yet it certainly beggars all belief,
          That he slimly should try _to steal our Chief_.
          But no Hollander mobs
          Shall kidnap our Bobs
          Long as the world goes round!

[Sidenote: _Hospital Work in Pretoria._]

Historians tell us that the hospital arrangements in some of our
former wars were by no means free from fault. Hence Steevens in his
"Crimean Campaign" asserts that while the camp hospitals absolutely
lacked not only candles, but medicines, wooden legs were supplied to
them from England so freely that there were finally four such legs for
every man in hospital. Clearly those wooden legs were consigned by
wooden heads. Even in this much better managed war the fever epidemic
at Bloemfontein, combined with a month of almost incessant rain,
overtaxed for a while, as we have seen, the resources and strength and
organizing skill of a most willing and fairly competent medical staff.

But Pretoria was plagued with no corresponding epidemic, and possessed
incomparably ampler supplies, which were drawn on without stint. In
addition to the Welsh, the Yeomanry, and other canvas hospitals
planted in the suburbs, the splendid Palace of Justice was
requisitioned for the use of the Irish hospital, which, like several
others, was fitted out and furnished by private munificence. The
principal school buildings were also placed at the disposal of the
medical authorities, and were promptly made serviceable with whatever
requisites the town could supply. To find suitable bedding, however,
for so vast a number of patients was a specially difficult task. All
the rugs and tablecloths the stores of the town contained were
requisitioned for this purpose; green baize and crimson baize, repp
curtains and plush, anything, everything remotely suitable, was
claimed and cut up to serve as quilts and counterpanes, with the
result that the beds looked picturesquely, if not grotesquely, gay.
One ward, into which I walked, was playfully called "The Menagerie" by
the men that occupied it, for on every bed was a showy rug, and on the
face of every rug was woven the figure of some fearsome beast, Bengal
tigers and British lions being predominant. It was in appearance a
veritable lion's den, where our men dwelt in peace like so many modern
Daniels, and found not harm but health and healing there.

[Sidenote: _The wear and tear of War._]

In this campaign the loss of life and vigour caused by sickness was
enormously larger than that accounted for by bullet wounds and
bayonets. At the Orange River, just before the Guards set out on their
long march, thirty Grenadier officers stretched their legs under their
genial colonel's "mahogany," which consisted of rough planks supported
on biscuit boxes. Of those only nine were still with us when we
reached Pretoria, and of the nine several had been temporarily
disabled by sickness or wounds. The battalion at starting was about a
thousand strong, and afterwards received various drafts amounting to
about four hundred more; but only eight hundred marched into Pretoria.
The Scots Guards, however, were so singularly fortunate as not to lose
a single officer during the whole campaign.

The non-combatants in this respect were scarcely less unfortunate than
the bulk of their fighting comrades. A band of workers in the service
of the Soldiers' Christian Association set out together from London
for South Africa. There were six of them, but before the campaign was
really half over only one still remained at his post. My faithful
friend and helper, whom I left as army scripture reader at Orange
River, after some months of devoted work was compelled to hasten home.
A similar fate befell my Canadian, my Welsh, and one of my Australian
colleagues. The highly esteemed Anglican chaplain to the Guards, who
steadily tramped with them all the way to Pretoria and well earned his
D.S.O., was forbidden by his medical advisers to proceed any further,
and his successor, Canon Knox Little, whose praise as a preacher is in
all the churches, found on reaching Koomati Poort that his strength
was being overstrained, and so at once returned to the sacred duties
of his English Canonry. Thus to many a non-combatant the medical staff
was called to minister, and the veldt to provide a grave.

[Sidenote: _The Nursing Sisters._]

The presence of skilled lady-nurses in these Hospitals was of immense
service, not merely as an aid to healing, but also as a refining and
restraining influence among the men. In this direction they habitually
achieved what even the appearing of a chaplain did not invariably
suffice to accomplish. It was the cheering experience of Florence
Nightingale repeated on a yet wider scale. In her army days oaths were
greatly in fashion. The expletives of one of even the Crimean
_generals_ became the jest of the camp; and when later in his career
he took over the Aldershot Command, it was laughingly said "he _swore_
himself in"; which doubtless he did in a double sense. Yet men trained
in habits so evil when they came into the Scutari Hospital ceased to
swear and forgot to grumble. Said "The Lady with the Lamp," "Never
came from one of them any word, or any look, which a gentleman would
not have used, and the tears came into my eyes as I think how amid
scenes of loathsome disease and death, there rose above it all the
innate dignity, gentleness and chivalry of the men."

Now as then there are other ministries than those of the pulpit; and
hospitals in which such influences exert themselves, may well prove,
in more directions than one, veritable "Houses of Healing."

[Sidenote: _A Surprise Packet._]

As illustrating how gratefully these men appreciate any slightest
manifestation of interest in their welfare, mention may here be made
of what I regard as the crowning surprise of my life. At the close of
an open air parade service in Pretoria a sergeant of the Grenadiers
stepped forward, and in the name of the non-commissioned officers and
men of that battalion presented to me, in token of their goodwill, a
silver pencil case and a gold watch. I could but reply that the
goodwill of my comrades was to me beyond all price, and that this
golden manifestation of it, this gift coming from such a source, I
should treasure as a victorious fighting man would treasure a V.C.

[Sidenote: _Soldierly Gratitude._]

The kindnesses lavished on our soldiers, as far as circumstances would
permit, throughout the whole course of this campaign, by civilian
friends at home, in the Colonies, and in the conquered territories,
defy all counting and all description. In some cases, indeed, valuable
consignments intended for their comfort seem never to have reached
their destination, but the knowledge that they were thus thought of
and cared for had upon the men an immeasurable influence for good.
Later on, even the people of Delagoa Bay sent a handsome Christmas
hamper to every blockhouse between the frontier and Barberton, while
at the same time the King of Portugal presented a superb white buck,
wearing a suitably inscribed silver collar, to the Cornwalls who were
doing garrison duty at Koomati Poort. But in Pretoria, where among
other considerations my Wesleyan friends regularly provided a Saturday
"Pleasant Hour," the soldiers in return invited the whole congregation
to a "social," on which they lavished many a pound, and which they
made a brilliant success. It was a startling instance of soldierly
gratitude; and illustrates excellently the friendly attitude of the
military and of the local civilians towards each other.

[Sidenote: _The Ladysmith Lyre._]

It sometimes happened among these much enduring men that the greater
their misery the greater their mirth. Thus our captured officers,
close guarded in the Pretoria Model School, and carefully cut off from
all the news of the day, amused themselves by framing parodies on the
absurd military intelligence published in the local Boer papers;
whereof let the following verse serve as a sample:--

          Twelve thousand British were laid low;
          One Boer was wounded in the toe.
          Such is the news we get to know
                                  In prison.

About this time there came into my hands a sample copy of _The
Ladysmith Lyre_; but clearly though the last word in its title was
perfectly correct as a matter of pronunciation the spelling was
obviously inaccurate. It was a merry invention of news during the
siege by men who were hemmed in from all other news; and so the
grosser the falseness the greater the fun.

       *       *       *       *       *

In my own particular copy I found the following dialogue between two
Irish soldiers:--

First Private--"The captain told me to keep away from the enemy's

Second Private--"What did you tell the Captain?"

First Private--"I told him the Boers were so busy shelling they hadn't
made any foire!"

That is scarcely a brilliant jest; but then it was begotten amid the
agonies of the siege.

One of the poems published in this same copy of _The Ladysmith Lyre_
has in it more of melancholy than of mirth. It tells of the hope
deferred that maketh the heart sick; and gives us a more vivid idea
than anything else yet printed of the secret distress of the men who
saved Natal--a distress which we also shared. It is entitled--


  Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
  Over all the quaint and curious yarns we've heard about the war,
  Suddenly there came a rumour--(we can always take a few more)
  Started by some chap who knows more than--the others knew before--
  "We shall see the reinforcements in another--month or more!"
                            Only this and nothing more!

  But we're waiting still for Clery, waiting, waiting, sick and weary
  Of the strange and silly rumours we have often heard before.
  And we now begin to fancy there's a touch of necromancy,
  Something almost too uncanny, in the unregenerate Boer--
                            Only this and nothing more!

  Though our hopes are undiminished that the war will soon be finished,
  We would be a little happier if we knew a little more.
  If we had a little fuller information about Buller;
  News about Sir Redvers Buller, and his famous Army Corps;
  Information of the General and his fighting Army Corps.
                            Only this and nothing more!

  And the midnight shells uncertain, whistling through the night's
       black curtain,
  Thrill us, fill us with a touch of horror never felt before.
  So to still the beating of our hearts, we kept repeating
  "Some late visitor entreating entrance at the chamber door,
                            This it is; and nothing more!"

  Oh how slow the shells come dropping, sometimes bursting, sometimes
  As though themselves were weary of this very languid war.
  How distinctly we'll remember all the weary dull November;
  And it seems as if December will have little else in store;
  And our Christmas dinner will be bully beef and plain stickfast.
                            Only this and nothing more!

  Letham, Letham, tell us truly if there's any news come newly;
  Not the old fantastic rumours we have often heard before:--
  Desolate yet all undaunted! Is the town by Boers still haunted?
  This is all the news that's wanted--tell us truly we implore--
  Is there, _is there_ a relief force? Tell us, tell us, we implore!
                            Only this and nothing more.

  For we're waiting rather weary! Is there such a man as Clery?
  Shall we ever see our wives and mothers, or our sisters and our brothers?
  Shall we ever see those others, who went southwards long before?
  Shall we ever taste fresh butter? Tell us, tell us, we implore!
                            We are answered--nevermore!

When twenty months later the Scots Guards again found themselves in
Pretoria they too began dolorously to enquire, "Shall we ever see our
wives and mothers, or our sisters and our brothers?" But meanwhile
much occurred of which the following chapters are a brief record.



On reaching Pretoria, almost unopposed, our Guardsmen jumped to the
hasty and quite unjustifiable conclusion that the campaign was
closing, and that in the course of about another fortnight some of us
would be on our homeward way. They forgot that after a candle has
burned down into its socket it may still flare and flicker wearisomely
long before it finally goes out. War lights just such a candle, and no
extinguisher has yet been patented for the instant quenching of its
flame just when our personal convenience chances to clamour for such
quenching. Indeed, the "flare and flicker" period sometimes proves,
where war is concerned, scarcely less prolonged, and much more
harassing, than the period of the full-fed flame. So Norman William
found after the battle of Hastings. So Cromwell proved when the fight
at Worcester was over. So the Americans discovered when they had
captured Manila. Our occupation of Bloemfontein by no means made us
instant masters of the whole Free State, and our presence in Pretoria
we had yet to learn was not at all the same thing as the undisputed
possession of the entire Transvaal. Indeed, the period that actually
interposed between the two, proved the longest "fortnight" ever

[Sidenote: _Lord Milner's explanation._]

How that came about, however, is made quite clear by the following
extract from the High Commissioner's despatches:--

     If it had been possible for us to screen those portions of the
     conquered territory, which were fast returning to peaceful
     pursuits, from the incursions of the enemy still in the field, a
     great deal of what is now most deplorable in the condition of
     South Africa would never have been experienced. The vast extent
     of the country, the necessity of concentrating our forces for the
     long advance, first to Pretoria and then to Koomati Poort,
     resulted in the country already occupied being left open to
     raids, constantly growing in audacity, and fed by small
     successes, on the part of a few bold and skilful guerilla leaders
     who had nailed their colours to the mast.

     The reappearance of these disturbers of the peace, first in the
     south-east of the Orange River Colony, then in the south-west of
     the Transvaal, and finally in every portion of the conquered
     territory, placed those of the inhabitants who wanted to settle
     down in a position of great difficulty. Instead of being made
     prisoners of war, they had been allowed to remain on their farms
     on taking the oath of neutrality, and many of them were really
     anxious to keep it. But they had not the strength of mind, nor
     from want of education, a sufficient appreciation of the
     sacredness of the obligation which they had undertaken, to resist
     the pressure of their old companions in arms when these
     reappeared among them appealing to their patriotism and to their
     fears. In a few weeks or months the very men whom we had spared
     and treated with exceptional leniency were up in arms again,
     justifying their breach of faith in many cases by the
     extraordinary argument that we had not preserved them from the
     temptation to commit it.

[Sidenote: _The Boer way of saying "Bosh"._]

Early in the long halt near Pretoria, at Silverton Camp, the Guards'
Brigade was formally assembled to hear read a telegram from H.R.H. The
Prince of Wales, congratulating them on the practical termination of
the war; whereupon as though by positive prearrangement the Boers
plumped a protesting shell in startlingly close proximity to where our
cheering ranks not long before had stood. It was the Boer way of
saying "bosh" to our ill-timed boast that the war was over.

Botha and his irreconcilables were at this time occupying a formidable
position, with a frontage of fifteen miles, near Pienaar's Poort,
where the Delagoa line runs through a gap in the hills, fifteen miles
east of Pretoria; and this position Lord Roberts found it essential to
attack with 17,000 men and seventy guns on Monday, June 11th, that is
just a week after the neighbouring capital had surrendered. The
fighting extended over three days; French attacking on our left,
Hamilton on our right, and Pole Carew in the centre keenly watching
the development of these flanking movements. In the course of this
stubborn contest the invisible Boers did for one brief while become
visible, as they galloped into the open in hope of capturing the Q
Battery, which had already won for itself renown by redeeming Sanna's
Post from complete disaster. Then it was Hamilton ordered the
memorable cavalry charge of the 12th Lancers, which saved the guns,
and scattered the Boers, but cost us the life of its gallant and
God-fearing Colonel Lord Airlie, who before the war greatly helped me
in my work at Aldershot. The death of such a man made the battle of
Diamond Hill a mournfully memorable one; for Lord Airlie combined in
his own martial character the hardness of the diamond with its
lustrous pureness; and his last words just before the fatal bullet
pierced his heart, were said to be a characteristic rebuke of an
excited and perhaps profane sergeant: "Pray, moderate your language!"
Wholesome advice, none too often given, and much too seldom heeded!

[Sidenote: _News from a far Country._]

As the inevitable result of this further fighting, the men who had
fondly hoped to be shortly on their way to Hyde Park Corner, suffered
just then from a severe attack of heart-sickness, which was none other
than a passing spasm of home-sickness! "Home, sweet home" sighed they,
"and we never knew how sweet till now"! Meanwhile, however, we were
wonderfully well supplied with home news, for within a single
fortnight no less than 360 sacks of letters and various postal packets
reached the Guards' Brigade, in spite of whole mails being captured by
the Boers, and hosts of individual letters or parcels having gone
hopelessly astray. Official reports declare that a weekly average of
nearly 750,000 postal items were sent from England to the army in
South Africa throughout the whole period covered by the war, so that
it is quite clear we were not forgotten by loved ones far away, and
the knowledge of that fact afforded solace, if not actual healing,
even for those whose heart-sickness was most acute.

[Sidenote: _Further fighting._]

Early in July, the commander-in-chief had accumulated sufficient
supplies, and secured sufficient remounts, to make a further advance
possible. On the 7th, the Boers were pushed back by Hutton to Bronkers
Spruit, where as the sequel of the Diamond Hill fight on June 12th,
the Australians had surprised and riddled a Boer laager. While however
Botha was thus sullenly retreating eastward, he secretly despatched a
strong detachment round our left wing to the north-west of Pretoria
under the leadership of Delarey, who on the 11th flung himself like a
thunderbolt out of a clear sky on a weak post at Nitral's Nek, and
there captured two guns with 200 prisoners. On July 16th, Botha
himself once more attacked our forces, but was again driven off by
Generals Pole Carew and Hutton; and the surrender on the 29th of
General Prinsloo, with over 4000 Boers and three guns in the Orange
River Colony, secured our remoter lines of communication from a very
formidable menace, so clearing the course for another onward move.

[Sidenote: _Touch not, taste not, handle not._]

On Tuesday, July 24th, the Guards' Brigade said good-bye to
Donkerhook, where their camp had become a fixture since the fight on
Diamond Hill, and where their conduct once more won my warmest
admiration. In the very midst of that camp, in which so many thousands
of men tarried so long, were sundry farmhouses, and Kaffir homes, the
occupants of which were never molested from first to last, nor any of
their belongings touched, except as the result of a perfectly
voluntary sale and purchase. Indeed, the identic day we left, turkeys,
geese, ducks, and other "small deer," were still wandering round their
native haunts, none daring to make them afraid. The owners had
declined to sell; and our ever hungry men had honourably refrained
from laying unpermitted hands on these greatly enjoyable dainties.
Such honesty in a hostile land, in relation to the property of a
hostile peasantry, made me marvel; and still more when maintained in
places where unmistakable treachery had been practised as in this
identic neighbourhood.

At Wolmaran's pleasant country house, close beside our camp, the white
flag flew, and there our general took up his abode. Some members of
this well-known family were still out on commando, but those that
remained at home eagerly surrendered all arms, were profuse in
professions of friendliness, and were duly pledged to formal
neutrality. But a recent Transvaal law had reduced the wages of all
Kaffirs from about twenty shillings to a uniform five shillings a
week, and Wolmaran's unpaid or ill-paid negroes revenged themselves by
revealing their master's secrets. Partly as the result of hints thus
obtained, we found hidden in his garden over thirty rifles, the barrel
of a Maxim gun, and about £10,000 in gold--presumably Government
money; also a splendid supply of provisions was discovered--presumably
Government stores; and in the family cemetery there was dug up a
quantity of dynamite. The gentleman who thus gave up his arms, and in
this fashion kept his oath, at once became our prisoner, but his house
and its contents remained untouched. And when we left, some of his
barndoor fowls were still there to see us off!

This is a notable but typical illustration of the way in which, with
unwise leniency, surrendered burghers were allowed access to our
camps, and recompensed our reliance on their honour by revealing our
secrets to our foes, and, when they dared, unearthing their buried
arms to level them once more at our too confiding troops.

[Sidenote: _More treachery and still more._]

A march of fifteen or eighteen miles brought us to Bronkhorst Spruit,
the scene of a dastardly massacre in December 1880, of the men of the
Connaught Rangers, who, ere yet there was any declaration of war, were
marching with their wives and children from Lydenburg to Pretoria. I
stood bareheaded beside one of the mounds that hide their bones, close
to the roadside where they fell, and bethought me of the strange
Providence through which, nearly twenty years after the event, there
was now marching past those very graves a vast avenging army on its
way to those same mountain fastnesses whence our murdered comrades of
the long ago set out on their fatal journey. Sowing and reaping are
often far apart; but there is no sundering them!

At our mess dinner that same evening the conversation turned to the
kindred, but still more shameful deed recently devised, though happily
in vain, at Johannesburg. There Cordua had indeed been out-Corduad by
a conspiracy to assassinate in cold blood all the military officers
attending some sports about to be held under military patronage at the
racecourse. About eighty of the conspirators were captured in the very
act of completing their plans. Nearly three hundred more were said to
be implicated, and being chiefly of foreign extraction were quietly
sent out of the country. It was the biggest thing in plots, and the
wildest, that recent years have seen outside Russia.

[Sidenote: _The root of the matter._]

One often wonders how it comes to pass that people so demonstratively
religious prove in so many cases conspicuously devoid of truth and
honour and common honesty; but various explanations, each setting
forth some partial contributory cause, may easily be conceived.

As among Britons, so among Boers, there are, as a matter of course,
varying degrees of loyalty to the moral law, and of sincerity in
religious profession. It is therefore manifestly unfair to condemn a
whole people because of individual immoralities. The outrageous deeds
just described may well have been in large part the work of "lewd
fellows of the baser sort," a sort of which the Transvaal has
unfortunately no monopoly, and of which the better type of Boer scorns
to become the apologist. Moreover, Johannesburg drew to itself with a
rush a huge number not only of honourable adventurers, but also of
wastrels, representing every class and clime under heaven. Many of
these were commandeered or volunteered for service on the Boer side
when war broke out, and by their lawlessnesses proved almost as great
a terror to their friends as to their foes. Young Cordua was of
foreign birth, and there were few genuine Boers among the Johannesburg
conspirators; but it was the Transvaal they blindly sought to serve;
and so on the shoulders of the whole Transvaal community is laid, none
too justly, the entire blame for such mistakes.

Then too, however mistakenly, I cannot but think the peculiar type of
piety cherished by the Boers is largely responsible for the moral
obliquity of which, justly or unjustly, I heard complaints continually
from those who professed to know them well. These sons of the
Huguenots and of the Dutch refugees who fled from the persecuting zeal
of Alva have all sprung from an exceptionally religious stock, and
with dogged conservatism still cling to the rigid traditions and
narrow beliefs of a bygone age. The country-bred Boer resembles not
remotely our own Puritans and Covenanters. He and his are God's Elect,
and the Elect of the Lord have ever seemed prone to take liberties
with the law of the Lord. They deem themselves a chosen race to whom a
new Canaan has been divinely given, and in defence of whom Jehovah
Himself is bound to fight. At the commencement of the campaign it was
common talk that "they had commandeered the Almighty." Their piety and
practice are largely modelled on Old Testament lines. They used God's
name and quoted Scripture _ad nauseam_ even in State correspondence.
Their President was also their High Priest; yet in business
transactions they were reputed to be as slim as Jacob in his dealings
with Laban; and a lack of loyalty to the exact truth, some of their
own clergy say, had become almost a national characteristic. "The
bond-slave of my mere word I will never be" has often been quoted as a
Boer proverb; and those that had lived long in the land assured me
that proverb and practice too commonly keep company.

It is a perilous thing for men or nations to deem themselves in any
exclusive sense Heaven's favourites. Such conceptions do not minister
to heavenly-mindedness, or beget lives of ethic beauty. The ancient
Hebrews, blinded by this very belief, became "worse than the
heathen," and herein lies a solemn warning alike for the beaten Boer
and the boastful Briton! There is no true religion where there is no
all round righteousness; and wheresoever that is wanting the wrath of
God cannot but abide.

[Sidenote: _A tight fit._]

Our next day's march ended just as a heavy thunderstorm with still
heavier rain broke upon us; so the Grenadier officers pitched their
mess as close as they could get to the sheltering wall of a decidedly
stenchful Kaffir cottage. There we stood in the drenching wet and ate
our evening meal, which was lunch and dinner in one. In that
one-roomed cottage, with a smoking fire on the floor and a heap of
mealie corn-cobs in the corner, there slept that night two Kaffir men,
one Kaffir woman, four Kaffir piccaninnies, four West Australian
officers, one officer of the Guards on the corn-cobs, a quantity of
live poultry, and a dead goat; its sleep, of course, being that from
which there is no awaking. That they were not all stifled before
morning is astonishing, but the fact remains that the goat alone
failed to greet the dawn.

Nearly every man in the camp was that night soaked to the skin, and
for once the Guards made no attempt to sing at or to sing down the
storm. As they apologetically explained at breakfast time, they were
really "too down on their luck" to try. But with my usual good fortune
I managed to pass the night absolutely dry, and that too without
borrowing a corner of that horrid Kaffir cottage. The next night found
us at Brugspruit, close to a colliery, where we stayed a considerable
while, and managed to house ourselves in comparative comfort, that
gradually became near akin to luxury. Here the junior officers
courteously assisted me to shovel up an earthen shelter, with a sheet
of corrugated iron for a roof, and thus protected I envied no
millionaire his marble halls, though my blankets were sometimes wet
with evening dew, and the ground white with morning frost.

[Sidenote: _Obstructives on the Rail._]

During the long halt of the Grenadiers at Brugspruit, the Scots Guards
remained at Balmoral, moving thence to Middelburg, and one of the
Coldstream battalions was detailed to guard the Oliphant River,
station, and bridge, which I crossed when on my way to Middelburg to
conduct a Sunday parade service there; but at the river station the
train tarried too brief a while and the battalion was too completely
hidden on the far side of a rough kopje to permit my gaining even a
passing glance of their camp. In South Africa full often the so-called
sheep and their appointed shepherd found themselves thus unwittingly
forbidden to see each others' face.

A little later on we found the line in possession, not of the Boers,
but of a big drove of horses which seemed bent on proving that they
could outdo even the Boers themselves in the rapidity of their retreat
before an advancing foe. Mile after mile they galloped, but mile after
mile they kept to the track, just in front of our engine, which
whistled piercingly and let off steam as though in frantic anger.
Presently we slowed down almost to a walking pace, for we had no wish
to spill the blood or crush the bones of even obstructive horses. But
as we slowed our pace they provokingly slackened theirs, and when
once more we put on steam they did the same. So in sheer desperation
our guard dismounted and ran himself completely out of breath, while
he pelted the nearest of the drove with stones, and sought to scare it
with flourishes of his official cap. But that horse behaved like a
dull-headed ass, and cared no more for the waving of official caps
than for the wild screaming of our steam whistle. We were losing time
horribly fast because our pace was thus made so horribly slow. Finally
a pilot engine came down from Middelburg to ascertain what had become
of our long belated train, and this unlooked for movement from the
rear fortunately proved too much for the nerves of even such
determined obstructionists. It scared them as effectually as a
flanking movement scared the Boers. They broke in terror from the line
and, Boerlike, vanished.

[Sidenote: _Middelburg and the Doppers._]

Middelburg we found to be a thriving village, which will probably grow
into an important town when the mineral wealth of the district is in
due time developed. At present the principal building is as usual the
Dutch Reformed Church, the pastor of which had forsaken the female
portion of his flock to follow the fortunes of the fighting section.
There are also two good-sized Dopper churches, which habitually remain
void and empty all the year round, except on one Sunday in each
quarter, when the farmer folk come from near and far to hold a fair,
and to celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper--"The night meal,"
as they appropriately call it. These are the four great events of
the Dopper year, and of this tiny city's business life.

The Dopper is the ultra Boer of South Africa, the Puritan of Puritans,
the Covenanter of Covenanters, whose religious creed and conduct are
compacted of manifold rigidities, and who would deem it as
unpardonable a sin to shave off his beard, as it would have been for
an early Methodist preacher to wear one. Formerly Doppers and
Methodists both piously combed their hair over their foreheads, and
clipped it in a straight line just above the eyebrows. But alas! in
this as in many other directions, Methodists and Doppers have alike
become "subject to vanity." In these degenerate days "the fringe" has
flitted from the masculine to the feminine brow; and now that it is
"crinkled" no longer claims to be a badge of superior sanctity. In one
of these Dopper churches the Rev. W. Frost long conducted Wesleyan
services, the crowding troops having made our own church far too

The other, on the occasion of my first visit, was occupied by Canon
Knox Little, who there conducted the Anglican parade service, and
preached with great fervour from the very pulpit whence, some months
before, President Kruger had delivered a discourse presumably of a
decidedly different type. But the Wesleyan church immediately
adjoining the camping ground of the 2nd Coldstream battalion, which I
had the privilege that day of reopening, was at a later period used
for a brief while by the Roman Catholic chaplains. War is a strange
revolutionist if not always a reformer.

[Sidenote: _August Bank Holiday._]

The next day, which was August Bank Holiday, I returned in safety to
Brugspruit, but only to discover that in those parts even railway
travelling had become a thing of deadly peril. I there saw two trains
just arrived from Pretoria, the trucks filled with remount horses and
cavalry men on their way to join General French's force. The first
engine bore three bullet holes in its encasing water tank, holes which
the driver had hastily plugged with wood, so preventing the loss of
all his water and the fatal stoppage of the train. Several of the
trucks were riddled with bullet-holes, and in one I saw a dead horse,
shot, lying under the feet of its comrades; while in another truck,
splashed with great clots of blood, similarly lay yet another horse
almost dead. Several more were wounded but still remained upon their
feet, and still had before them a journey of many miles ere their
wounds could receive attention, or the living be severed from the
dead. For horses this has been a specially fagging and fatal war, and
for them there are no well-earned medals!

The second engine bore kindred bullet holes in its water tank. A shot
had smashed the glass in the window of the break-van in which some
officers were travelling; and in one of the trucks I was shown a hole
in the thick timber made by a bullet, which, after passing through two
inches of wood, had pierced a lancer's breast and killed him, besides
shattering the wrist of yet another lancer. Those trains had just been
fired at by a mounted Boer patrol which had caught our men literally
napping. Most of them were lying fast asleep in the bottom of the
trucks, with their unloaded carbines beside or under them, so that
not a solitary reply shot was fired as the trains sped past the point
of peril.

After repeated disasters of this kind had occurred, orders were issued
forbidding men to travel in such careless and unguarded fashion; while
all journeying that was not indispensible was peremptorily stopped! My
own contemplated visit to Pretoria next day was consequently postponed
till there came some more urgent call or some more convenient season.

On this part of the line the troops had often to be their own stokers
and drivers, with the result that sniping Boers were not the only
peril a passenger had to fear. From Dalmanutha in those delightsome
days a train was due to start as usual with one engine behind and one
in front. The driver of the leading engine blew his whistle and opened
his regulator. The driver of the back engine did the same, but somehow
the train refused to move. It was supposed the breaks were on, but it
was presently discovered that the rear engine had reversed its gear,
and there had thus commenced a tug of war--the one engine pulling its
hardest against the other and neither winning a prize. In those days
railway life became rich in comedies and tragedies, especially the
latter, whereof let one further illustration of much later date, as
described by Mr Burgess, suffice:--

[Sidenote: _Blowing up trains._]

At Heidelberg on Thursday, March 7th, at ten o'clock in the morning
there was a loud report as of a gun firing from one of the forts; but
it was soon known that it was an explosion of dynamite on the line
about a mile and a half from the railway station. The Boers had
evidently placed dynamite under the metals, and it is supposed that
while they were doing this, a number of them came down and engaged the
outposts, and that was the firing that was heard in the town. A flat
trolley with a European ganger and seven coolies and natives went over
the first mine without exploding it; but on reaching the second, about
a mile beyond, an explosion took place. The ganger after being blown
fifty feet, escaped most miraculously with only a few bruises. Sad to
relate three Indians were blown to pieces so as hardly to be
recognised, and two others were seriously hurt. Immediately after this
first explosion, a construction train left the Heidelberg railway
station, and exploded the mine which the trolley had failed to
explode; but fortunately very little damage was done as they had taken
the precaution to place a truck in front of the engine. The second
explosion occurred about a mile from the station and was plainly
visible to those standing on the platform.

[Sidenote: _A peculiar Mothers' Meeting._]

On setting out a second time from Brugspruit for Middleburg to conduct
the Sunday services there, I was astonished to find the train
consisted of about a dozen trucks, some open, some closed, but all
filled to overflowing with Dutch women and Dutch children of every
sort and size. Flags were fluttering from almost every truck, no khaki
man carrying arms was suffered to travel by that train, and when the
Roman Catholic chaplain and myself entered the break-van we seemed to
be taking charge of a gigantic Mothers' Meeting out for a holiday,
babies and all, or else to be escorting a big Sunday School to "Happy
Hampstead" for its annual treat. It was the second large consignment
of the sort which General Botha had consented to receive, and of which
we were anxious to be rid. They were some of the wives and offspring
of his fighting men, and were in most cases foodless, friendless,
dependent for their daily bread on British bounty. It was therefore
more fitting their own folk should feed them, as they were abundantly
able and willing to do. Moreover, among them were women who had acted
as spies, while others had hidden arms in their homes, so that to us
they had become a serious peril, as well as a serious expense. We were
consequently glad to be quit of them, and sincerely regretted that the
capture of Barberton later on made us again their custodians.

[Sidenote: _Aggressive Ladies._]

Our first parade service next morning was held in the Wesleyan church,
and was followed by open-air worship in the outlying encampment of the
Scots Guards. The evening voluntary service was delightfully hearty
and delightfully well attended. But most of the afternoon was spent at
the railway station waiting for and watching the arrival of yet
another train load of women and children on their way to realms
beyond! Seven-and-twenty truck loads presently reached Middelburg in
most defiant mood, for they waved their home-made Transvaal flags in
our faces; they had bedecked themselves with Transvaal ribbons and
Transvaal rosettes almost from head to foot. They shaded their faces
with parasols in which the four Transvaal colours were combined; and
they sang with every possible variety of discordancy Transvaal hymns,
especially the Transvaal national anthem. But unless these gentle
ladies can cook and stitch vastly better than they seemed able to
sing, their husbands and brothers are much to be pitied.

Their patriotism was so pronounced and aggressive that they literally
spat at the soldiers, and assured them that no money of theirs would
ever suffice to purchase the paltriest flag they carried. The seeds of
ill-will and hate for all things British had been planted in the mind
and heart of almost every Boer child long before the war began, but
those seeds ripened rapidly, and the reaping bids fair to be

[Sidenote: _A Dutch Deacon's Testimony._]

Before this weary conflict came to a close, nearly every Boer family
was gathered in from the perils and privations of the war-wasted
veldt; and so, while nearly 30,000 burghers were detained as prisoners
of war at various points across the sea, their wives and children, to
the number of over 100,000, were tenderly cared for in English laagers
all along the line of rails or close to conveniently situated towns.
Slanderous statements have been made as to the treatment meted out to
these unfortunates, for which my visits revealed no warrant; but of
more value is the testimony of one of their own church officials, who
carefully inspected the women's refuge camp at Port Elizabeth, and
reported the result to the local Intelligence Department. This deacon
of the Dutch Reformed Church, Mr T. J. Ferreira, says:--

     I came down here on hearing of the reports at Steytlerville of
     the bad treatment the women exiles are receiving from the
     military. I was determined to find out the truth, and publish
     same in the Dutch and English papers. I stayed in the camp all
     day, and dined with the exiles. The food was excellent--I had
     roast lamb, soup, potatoes, bread, coffee, and biscuits. All was
     well cooked and perfectly satisfactory; the soup and meat were
     especially well cooked. The women and children are happy, have no
     complaints, and are quite content to stay where they are until
     they can return to their homes. I shall return to Steytlerville
     and let everybody know how humane the treatment is. The statement
     that the women were ragged and barefooted and had to bathe within
     sight of the military is a shameful falsehood.

[Sidenote: _A German Officer's Testimony._]

On August the 24th General Pole Carew with the Guards' Brigade
occupied Belfast, and a few days later Roberts and Buller combined to
drive Botha from the last position along the Delagoa Line that he made
any serious attempt to defend; and among those taken prisoners by us
at Dalmanutha was a German officer, who in due time was sent to
Ceylon, and there acquired enough knowledge of English to express in
it his views concerning the Boers he served, and the British he
opposed. He says among other things that he was wounded five times and
received no pay for all his pains. He declares concerning the Boers
that "they often ran away from commando and kept quiet, and said to
the English that they would not fight any more; but when the district
was pacified they took up arms again and looted. They don't know
anything about word of honour or oath. They put white flags upon their
houses, and fired in the neighbourhood of them. The English were far
too lenient at the beginning, and therefore they are now at the
opposite extreme.

"You should have seen the flourishing Natal, how it was laid waste by
the Boers. This looting instinct in them is far stronger than the
fighting one. There were also lots of Boers who were praying the whole
day instead of fighting; and their officers were perhaps the best
prayers and preachers, but certainly the worst fighters; whereas I
must confess that the English, although they were headed by very bad
generals, very often behaved like good soldiers and finally defeated
the greatest difficulties.

"The English infantry is splendidly brave and rather skilful; they are
good shots too. Tommy Atkins is a wonderful, merry, good-hearted chap,
always full of fun and good spirits, and he behaves very kind towards
the prisoners.

"When I was captured, an English colonel who was rather haughty, asked
me which English general I thought the best; whereupon I instantly
answered 'Tommy Atkins!'"

That clever German critic merely put an old long ago discovered truth
in new form! "If I blundered," said Wellington, "I could always rely
on my soldiers to pull me through." General Pole Carew when, near the
close of the war, he was presented with a sword of honour by my native
city, Truro, repeated the remark of a distinguished continental
soldier attached to his division, who said after seeing British
soldiers marching bootless and fighting foodless, he placed the
British army "foremost among European armies." So say they all! The
German prisoner in Ceylon spoke words of truth and soberness when he
said our private soldier is in some respects our best general.

General Tommy Atkins I salute you! You are a credit to your country!



[Sidenote: _The fighting near Belfast._]

On August 24th the tiny little town of Belfast was reached by General
Pole Carew's division, including the Guards' Brigade; but though our
advent was unopposed, there was heavy fighting on our right, where
General Buller, newly arrived from Natal, had the day before
approached the immensely strong Boer position at Bergendal. There the
Johannesburg police, the most valorous of all the burgher forces, made
their last heroic stand three days later, and were so completely wiped
out, that Kruger is reported to have been moved to tears when the
tidings reached him. It was the last stand the Boer still had nerve
enough to make, and after Belfast their continuous retreat quickened
into almost a rout. It was on Sunday, the 26th, the Guards moved out
to take part in the general assault, and waited for hours behind the
shelter of Monument Hill while General French developed his flanking
movement on the left. Boer bullets fell freely among us while thus
tarrying, and compelled our field hospital to retire further down the
slope to a position of comparative safety. Late that afternoon the
Guards marched over the brow to face what bade fair to be another
serious Sunday battle, yet without any slightest sign of flinching.
"How dear is life to all men," said dying Nelson. It may be so; but
these men and their officers from first to last, when duty called,
seemed never to count their lives dear unto them. A few casualties,
caused by chance bullets, occurred among them before the day closed,
but scarcely so much as a solitary Boer was seen by the clearest
sighted of them. Once again outflanked, "the brother" once again had
fled, and in the deepening darkness we groped our way to our next
camping ground.

In our Napoleonic wars the favourite command alike on land and sea
was, "Engage the enemy more closely." Each fleet or army kept well in
sight of its antagonist, and the fighting was often at such close
quarters that musket muzzle touched musket muzzle; but at Belfast Lord
Roberts' front was thirty miles in width, and our generals could only
guess where their foemen hid by watching for the fire-flash of their
long range guns. In offensive warfare the visible contends with the
invisible, and it is good generalship that conquers it. At Albuera
Soult asserted there was no beating British troops in spite of their
generals. But Lord Roberts' generalship seems never to have been at
fault, however remote the foe, and thanks thereto Belfast proved to be
about the last big fight of the whole campaign.

[Sidenote: _Feeding under fire._]

Early next morning we were vigorously shelled by the still defiant
Boers, but from the, for them, fairly safe distance of nearly five
miles. Just as the Grenadier officers had finished their breakfast and
retired a few yards further afield to get just beyond the reach of
those impressive salutations, a shell plumped down precisely where we
had been sitting. It made its mark, though fortunately only on the
bare bosom of mother earth; but later on in the same day, while we
were finishing lunch, another shrapnel burst, almost over our heads,
so badly injured a doctor's horse tethered close by that it had to be
killed, and compelled another somewhat rapid retirement on our part to
the far side of a neighbouring bog. In war time all our feasts are

[Sidenote: _A German Doctor's Confession._]

Before leaving Belfast I called on a German doctor who had been in
charge of a Boer military hospital planted in that hamlet, and who
told me that for twelve months he had been in the compulsory employ of
the Transvaal Government. Commandeered at Johannesburg, he had
accompanied the burghers from place to place till he had grown utterly
sick of the whole business; and all the more because he had received
no payment for his services except in promissory notes--which were
worthless. He also stated that over three hundred foreigners had been
landed at Delagoa Bay as ambulance men, wearing the red cross armlet;
as such they had proceeded to Pretoria for enrolment, and there he had
seen every man of them strip off the red cross, shouldering instead
the bandolier and rifle. Thus were fighting men and mercenaries
smuggled through Portuguese territory to the Boer fighting lines; and
in this as in many other ways was that red cross abused. He wastes his
time who tries to teach the Boers some new trick. In this war they
have amply proved that in that matter they have nought to learn,
except the unwisdom of it all, and the sureness of the retribution it
involves. Even in battle and battle times clean hands are best.

[Sidenote: _Friends in need are friends indeed._]

On leaving the neighbourhood of Belfast we soon found ourselves
marching through Helvetia, the Switzerland of South Africa, a region
of insurmountable precipices and deep defiles, where scarcely any
foliage was found, and in that winter season no verdure. There rose in
all directions towering hills, which sometimes bore upon their brow a
touch of real majesty; and when crowned, as we saw them, with fleecy
mist, resembled not remotely the snow-clad Alps. Indeed, during that
whole week the toils and travels of the Guards brought to the mind of
many the familiar story of Hannibal and his vast army crossing the
Alps; only the Carthaginian general had no heavy guns and long lines
of ammunition waggons to add to his already enormous difficulties; his
men had little to carry on their broad backs compared with what a
modern Guardsman has to shoulder; nor did Hannibal take with him a
small army corps of newspaper correspondents to chronicle all the
petty disasters and delays met with by the way. Few commanders-in-chief
are lovers of correspondents, whether of the professional or of the
private type. Tell-tale tongues and pens may perchance do more
mischief than machine guns and mausers!

At the latter end of the week our men had to climb over what seemed to
be the backbone of that terrific region, with results almost
disastrous to our long train of transport waggons. Botha, whose
retreat towards Lydenberg our flanking movement had apparently
prevented, we failed to find; so after fighting a mild rear-guard
action, we scarce knew with whom, we encamped that night for the first
and last time side by side with Buller's column.

The major part, however, of the Grenadier battalion remained till next
morning far away in the rear to guard our huge convoy while climbing
up and climbing down the perilous ridge just referred to, with the
result that some of us forming the advanced party found ourselves
without food or shelter. Yet the soldierly courtesy which has so often
hastened to my help during this campaign did not fail in this new hour
of need. A sergeant-major of the bearer company most graciously lent
me his own overcoat, the night being bitterly cold; the officers of
the Scots Guards not only invited me to dine with them, but one of
them supplied me with a rug, whilst another pressed on me the loan of
his mackintosh "to keep off the dew," and thus enwrapped I lay once
more on the bare ground, well sheltered behind a sheet of corrugated
iron, which I fortunately found stuck on end as though put there by
some unknown Boer benefactor for my special benefit. In fashion thus
lordly were all my wants continually supplied. The wild wind that
night blew away a second sheet of iron that another young officer,
with almost filial thoughtfulness, placed over me after I had gone to
rest, but the original sheet maintained its perpendicular position,
and by its welcome protection supplied me with a fresh illustration of
the familiar saying, "He stayeth His rough wind in the day of His east

[Sidenote: _An Invisible Sniper's Triumph._]

Thus toiling we reached at last a plateau about 5000 feet above sea
level, from which we looked down into the famous Waterfall Gorge, a
sheer descent of 1000 feet. Down into it there drops from Waterval
Boven the cogwheel section of the Delagoa Bay Railway, and in it there
nestles a Swiss-like village, with hotel and hospital and railway
workshops. As at Abraham's Kraal we captured the President's silk hat
but let the President's head escape, so here we captured the
President's professional cook, but the day before we arrived the
President's private railway car,--his ever-shifting capital,--had
eluded our pursuit, together with the President himself and the golden
capital, in the shape of abounding coin he carried with him. The
tidings proved to us a feast of Tantallus, so near and yet so far! How
our men sighed for a sight of that car, and for the fingering of that
coin! "At last I have him," said the exulting French General Soult of
Wellington, at the battle of St Pierre, but his exultation proved
distressingly premature. So did ours! Car and capital vanished just in
the nick of time through that Waterfall Gorge, and to this day have
never been disgorged.

From even descending into that gorge the whole brigade of Guards was
held back for four-and-twenty hours by a solitary invisible sniper,
hidden, no one could find out where, in some secure crevice of the
opposite cliff. One of our mounted officers riding down to take
possession of the village was seriously wounded; and some of the
scouts already there were compelled through the same course to keep
under close shelter. So the naval guns, the field guns, and the
pom-poms were each in turn called to the rescue, and gaily rained shot
and shell for hours on every hump and hollow of that opposite cliff,
but all in vain; for after each thunderous discharge on our side,
there came a responsive "ping" from the valiant mauser-man on the
other side. Then the whole battalion of Scots Guards was invited to
fire volley after volley in the same delightfully vague fashion, till
it seemed as though no pin point or pimple on the far side of the
gorge could possibly have failed to receive its own particular bullet;

         "What gave rise to no little surprise,
          Nobody seemed one farthing the worse!"

Just as the sun set the last sound we heard was the parting "ping" of
Brother Invisible. So no man might descend into the depths that night,
hotel or no hotel! Even at midnight we were startled out of our sleep
by the quite unexpected boom of our big guns, which had, of course
during daylight, been trained on a farmhouse lying far back from the
precipice opposite to us, and were thus fired in the dead of night
under the impression that the sniper, and perhaps his friends, were
peacefully slumbering there. If so, the chances are he sniped no more.
Next day at noon we began to clamber down to the level of the railway
line, and found ourselves in undisturbed possession, after so
prolonged and costly a bombardment called forth by a single, stubborn

[Sidenote: _"He sets the mournful prisoners free."_]

Meanwhile the eighteen hundred English prisoners who had so long been
kept in durance vile at Nooitgedacht, the next station on the rail to
Portuguese Africa, received their unconditional release, with the
exception of a few officers, still retained as hostages; and all the
afternoon, indeed far on into the night, these men came straggling,
now in small groups and now in large, into our expectant and excited
camp. They told us of the crowds of disconsolate Boers, some by road,
some by rail, who had passed their prison enclosure in precipitate
retreat, bearing waggon loads of killed or wounded with them. Among
them were men of almost all nationalities, including a few surviving
members of the late Johannesburg police, who declared that during that
one week they had lost no less than one hundred and fifteen of their
own special comrades.

The prisoners also informed us that the Boer officer who dismissed
them expressed the belief that in a few days more Boer and Briton
would again be friends--an expectation we were slow to share, however
eager we might be to see this miracle of miracles actually wrought. In
the very midst of the battle of the Baltic, Nelson sent a letter to
the Danish Prince Regent, with whom he was then fighting, and
addressed it thus: "To the Danes, the Brothers of Englishmen." Within
little more than half a century from that date the daughter of the
Danish throne became heir to the Queenship of England's throne; and
our Laureate rightly voiced the whole nation's feeling when to that
fair bride he said:

          "We are each all Dane in our welcome of thee."

When Nelson penned that strange address amid the flash and fire of
actual battle, it was with the true insight of a seer. The furious
foes of his day are the fast friends of ours, and by the end of
another half-century a similar transformation may be wrought in the
present relationship between Boer and Briton, who are quite as near
akin as Dane and Englishman. But to lightly talk of such foes becoming
friends "in a few days" is to misread the meaning and measure of a
controversy that is more than a century old. Between victors and
vanquished, both of so dogged a type, it requires more than a mere
treaty of peace to beget goodwill.

[Sidenote: _More Boer Slimness._]

Some of these now released prisoners were among the very first to be
captured, and so had spent many weary weeks in the Waterval Prison
near Pretoria, and were among those who had been decoyed away to these
remote and seemingly unassailable mountain fastnesses. They had thus
been in bonds altogether ten interminable months. Multiplied hardships
had during that period necessarily been theirs, and others for which
there was no real need or excuse; but they frankly confessed that as a
whole their treatment by the Boers, though leaving much to be desired,
had seldom been hard or vindictive.

There were others of these prisoners, however, who were sick or
wounded, and therefore were quite unable to climb from the open door
of their prison to our lofty camp; so to fetch these I saw seven
ambulance waggons made ready to set out with the usual complement of
medical orderlies and doctors. These I seriously thought of
accompanying on their errand of mercy, but was mercifully hindered.
Those red cross waggons we saw no more for ever. The Boers were said
to be short of waggons, and asserted that in some way some of our men
had done them recent wrong which they wished to avenge. But whatever
the supposed provocation or pretext, it was in violation of all the
recognised usages of war that those waggons were captured and kept. It
was no less an outrage to make prisoners of doctors and orderlies
arriving on such an errand. No protests on their part or pleadings for
speedy return to duty prevailed. They were compelled to accompany or
precede the Boers in their flight to Delagoa Bay, from thence were
shipped to Durban, and after long delay rejoined the Brigade on its
return to Pretoria. For such high-handed proceedings the Transvaal
Government clearly cannot be held responsible, for at that time it had
ceased to exist, and more than ever the head of each commando had
become a law unto himself. It would be false to say that a fine sense
of honour did not anywhere exist in the now defunct Republic, but it
is perfectly fair to assert that on the warpath our troops were
compelled to tread it was not often found. Yet in every department of
life he that contendeth for the mastery is never permanently crowned
unless he contend lawfully.

[Sidenote: _A Boer Hospital._]

The prettily situated and well appointed hospital at Waterval Onder
was originally erected for the use of men employed on the railway, but
for months prior to the arrival of the British troops had been in
possession of the Boer Government, and was full of sick and wounded
burghers, with whom I had many an interesting chat and by whom I was
assured that though we might think it strange they still had hope of
ultimate success. Among the rest was a German baron, well trained of
course, as all Germans are, for war, who on the outbreak of
hostilities had consented at Johannesburg to be commandeered, burgher
or no burgher, to fight the battles of the Boers, in the justice of
whose cause he avowed himself a firm believer. He therefore became an
artillery officer in the service of the Transvaal, and while so
employed had been badly hit by the British artillery, with the result
that his right arm was blown off, his left arm horribly shattered, and
two shrapnel bullets planted in his breast. Yet seldom has extreme
suffering been borne in more heroic fashion than by him, and he
actually told me, in tones of admiration, that the British artillery
practice was really "beautiful." On such a point he should surely be a
competent judge seeing that he was himself a professor of the art, and
had long stood not behind but in front of our guns, which is precisely
where all critics ought to be planted. Their criticisms would then be
something worth.

[Sidenote: _Foreign Mercenaries._]

The baron's case was typical of thousands more. Men from all the nations
of Europe, and therefore all trained to arms, had been encouraged to
settle in various civil employments under the Transvaal Government long
before the war began--on the railway, at the dynamite works, in the
mines; and so were all ready for the rifle the moment the rifle was
ready for them. At once they formed themselves into vigorous commandoes,
according to their various nationalities,--Scandinavian, Hollander,
French, and German. Even after the war began these foreign commandoes
were largely recruited from Europe; French and German steamers landed
parties of volunteers for the burgher forces nearly every week at
Lorenço Marques. The French steamer _Gironde_ brought an unusually large
contingent, a motley crowd, including, so it is said, a large proportion
of suspicious looking characters. But the most notorious and mischievous
of all these queer contingents was "The Irish American Brigade." As far
back as the day of Marlborough and Blenheim there was an Irish Brigade
assisting the French to fight against the English, and with such fiery
courage that King George cursed the abominable laws which had robbed him
of such excellent fighting material. But at the same time there was
about them so much of reckless folly that their departure from the
Emerald Isle was laughingly hailed as "The flight of the wild geese."
New broods of these same wild geese found their way to the Transvaal,
and there made for themselves a name, not as resistless fighters, but as
irrestrainable looters. These men linked to the bywoners, or squatters,
the penniless Dutch of South Africa, did little to help the cause they
espoused, but many a time have caused every honest God-fearing burgher
to blush by reason of their irrepressible lawlessness.

[Sidenote: _A wounded Australian._]

Among the British patients in this hospital was a magnificent young
Australian, who it was feared had been mortally wounded in a small
scrimmage round a farmhouse not far away, but who apparently began
decidedly to mend from the time the general came to his bedside to say
he should be recommended for the distinguished service medal. "That
has done me more good than medicine," said he to me a few minutes
after. Nevertheless, when ten days later we returned from Koomati
Poort, he lay asleep in the little Waterval Cemetery, alas, like
Milton's Lycidas, "dead ere his prime."

These Australians being all mounted men, and of an exceptionally
fearless type, have suffered in a very marked degree, in just such
outpost affairs, by the arts and horrors of sniping. Sportsmen hide
from the game they hunt, and bide their time to snipe it. It is in
that school the Boer has been trained in his long warfare with savage
men and savage beasts. A bayonet at the end of his rifle is to him of
no use. He seldom comes to close quarters with hunted men or beasts
till the life is well out of them; and so in this war he has shown
himself a not too scrupulous sportsman, rather than a soldier, to the
undoing of many a scout; and in this fashion, as well as by white flag
treachery, the adventurous Australians have distressingly often been
victimised. At Manana, four miles east of Lichtenberg, one of their
officers, Lieutenant White, was thus treacherously shot while going to
answer the white flag displayed by the Boers. He was the pet of the
Bushmen's Corps, and concerning him his own men said, "We all loved
him, and will avenge him." So round his open grave his comrades
solemnly joined hands and pledged themselves never again to recognise
the waving of a Boer white flag. My assistant chaplain, with the
Bushmen, himself an Australian, emphatically declared that as in the
beginning so was it to the end; his men were killed not in fair fight
but by murderous sniping. He was with them when Pietersburg was
surrendered without a fight, but when they marched through to take
possession they were resolutely shot at with explosive bullets from a
barricaded house in the centre of the town, till the angry Bushmen
broke open the door, and then the sniper sniped no more. On reaching
the northern outskirts they again found themselves sniped, they knew
not from whence. Several horses were wounded, a trooper was killed on
the spot; so was Lieutenant Walters; and Captain Sayles was so badly
hit he died two days afterwards. Yet no fighting was going on. The
town was undefended, and the Boers in full retreat. This sniper was at
last discovered hiding almost close at hand in a big patch of tall
African grass. He turned out to be a Hollander schoolmaster, who,
finding himself surrounded, sprang upon his knees, threw up his arms
and laughingly cried, "All right, khakis, I surrender!" But that was
his last laugh; and he lies asleep to-day in the same cemetery as his
three victims.

That cemetery soon after I saw; and in the adjoining camp messed with
a group of irregular officers, some of whom ultimately yielded to this
spirit of lawless avenging, but were, in consequence, sternly
court-marshalled, and suffered the extreme penalty of the law. It is,
however, the only case of the kind that has come to my knowledge
during thirty months of provocative strife.

[Sidenote: _Hotel Life on the Trek._]

Close to the railway station at Waterval Onder was a comfortable
little hotel, kept by a French proprietor, whose French cook had
deserted him, and who would not therefore undertake to cater for the
Grenadier officers, though he courteously placed his dining-room at
their disposal, with all that appertained thereto; and sold to them
almost his entire stock of drinkables, probably at fancy prices. The
men of the Norfolk Regiment are to this day called "Holy Boys" because
their forbears in the Peninsular War, so it is said, gave their Bibles
for a glass of wine; but the Norfolks are not the only lovers of
high-class liquor the army contains, though army Bibles will not now
suffice to buy it. British officers on the trek, however, not only
know how to appreciate exquisitely any appropriate home comforts, when
for a brief while procurable, but also how to surrender them
unmurmuringly at a moment's notice when duty so requires. We had been
in possession of our well-appointed hotel table only two days when a
sudden order sent us all trekking once again.

It is worth noting that this French hotelkeeper and the German baron
in the adjoining hospital had both fought, though of course on
opposite sides, in the great Franco-Prussian war of thirty years ago,
and now they found themselves overwhelmed by another great war wave
in one of the remotest and seemingly most inaccessible fastnesses of
South Central Africa. In this new war between Boer and Briton the
German lost a limb, if not his life, and the Frenchman a large part of
his fortune. So intimately are men of all nationalities now bound in
the same bundle of life!

[Sidenote: _A Sheep-pen of a Prison._]

On Monday afternoon we marched to Nooitgedacht, where the prisoners
already referred to had been confined like sheep in a pen for many a
weary week. That pen was made by a double-barbed wire fence; the inner
fence consisting of ten strands of wire, about eight inches apart, and
the outer fence of five strands, with sundry added entanglements; and
a series of powerful electric lights was specially provided to watch
and protect the whole vast area thus enclosed. It gave me a violent
spasm of heart sickness as I thought of English officers and men by
hundreds being thus ignominiously hemmed in and worse sheltered than
convicts. They had latterly been allowed to erect for themselves
grotesquely rough hovels or hutches, many of which they set on fire
when suddenly permitted to escape, so that as I found it the whole
place looked indescribably dirty and desolate.

Even the shelters provided for the officers, and the hospital hastily
erected for the sick, were scarcely fit to stable horses in, and were
by official decree doomed to be given to the flames as the surest way
of getting rid of the vermin and other vilenesses, of which they
contained so rich a store. Here I found huge medicine bottles, never
made for the purpose, on which the names of sundry of our sick
officers remained written, to wit: "Lieut. Mowbray, one tablespoonful
four times a day. 3. VIII. 1900." In one of these bunks I found a
packet of religious leaflets, one of which contained Hart's familiar

          Come ye weary, heavy laden,
          Lost and ruined by the fall;
          If you tarry till you are better,
          You will never come at all.
                Not the righteous,
          Sinners, Jesus came to call.

Although, therefore, religious services were never held in that prison
pen, the men were not left absolutely without religious counsel and
consolation. I was unfeignedly glad thus to find in that horrible
place medicine for the soul as well as physic for the body, and some
of those leaflets I brought away; but the physic I thought it safest
not to sample.

Over this unique combination of prison house and hospital there
floated a very roughly-made and utterly tattered red cross flag, which
now serves as a memento of one of the most humiliating sights it ever
fell to my lot to witness, and I could not help picturing to myself
the overpowering heartache those prisoners must have felt as hour
after hour they were hurried farther and yet farther still through
deep defiles and vast mountain fastnesses into a region where it must
have seemed as though hope or help could never reach them. But "men,
not mountains, determine the fate of nations"; and to-day, through
the mercy of our God, that pestilential pen is no longer any
Englishman's prison.

[Sidenote: _Pretty scenery, and superb._]

Our next halting place was at Godwand River, still on the Delagoa
line, and here we found a wee bit of river scenery almost rivalling
the beauty of the stream that has given to Lynmouth its world-wide
fame. At this little frequented place two rivers meet, which even in
the driest part of the dry season are still real rivers, and would
both make superb trout streams, if once properly stocked, as many a
river at home has been.

But just a little farther on we found scenery immeasurably more grand
than anything we had ever seen before. The Dutch name of this
astounding place is Kaapsche Hoop, which seems reminiscent of "The
Cape of Good Hope," though it lies prodigiously far from any sea. It
apparently owes its sanguine name to the fact that hereabouts the
earliest discoveries of gold in the Transvaal were made. But it is
also popularly called "The Devil's Kantoor," just as in the Valley of
Rocks at Lynton we have "The Devil's Cheesering," and other
possessions of the same sable owner. This African marvel is, however,
much more than a mere valley of rocks, and it bids absolute defiance
to my ripest descriptive powers. It is a vast area covered with rocks
so grotesquely shaped and utterly fantastic as would have satisfied
the artistic taste, and would have yielded fresh inspiration to the
soul of a Gustave Doré. The rocks are evidently all igneous and
volcanic, but often stand apart in separate columns, and sometimes
bear a striking resemblance to enormous beasts or images that might
once have served for Oriental idols.

Indeed, looked at by the bewitching but deceptive light of the moon,
the whole place lends itself supremely well to every man's individual
fancy, and even my unimaginative mind could easily have brought itself
to see here a once majestic antediluvian city with its palaces and
temples, but now wrecked and ruined by manifold upheavals of nature,
and worn into rarest mockeries of its ancient splendours by the wild
storms of many a millennium.

What I did certainly see, however, among those rocks were sundry
roughly constructed shelters for snipers, who were therefrom to have
picked off our men and horses as they crossed the adjacent drift.
Terrible havoc might have been wrought in the ranks of the Guards'
Brigade, without apparently the loss of a single Transvaaler's life,
but there is no citadel under the sun the Boers just then had heart
enough to hold.

Immediately adjoining this unique city of rocks is a stupendous cliff
from which, our best travelled officers say, the finest panoramic view
in the whole world is obtained. The cliff drops almost straight down
twelve or fifteen hundred feet, and at its base huge baboons could be
seen sporting, quite heedless of an onlooking army. Straight across
what looked like an almost level plain, which, nevertheless, was
seamed by many a deep defile and scarred by the unfruitful toil of
many a gold-seeker, lay another great range of hills, with range
rising beyond range, but with the town of Barberton, which I visited
twenty months later, lying like a tiny white patch at the foot of the
nearest range, some twenty miles away. To the right this plateau
looked as though the tempestuous waves of the Atlantic had broken in
at that end with overwhelming force, and then had been suddenly
arrested and petrified while wave still battled with wave. It is such
a view of far-reaching grandeur as I may never hope to see again, even
were I to roam the wide world round; and could Kaapsche Hoop, with its
absolutely fascinating attractiveness, be transplanted to, say
Greenwich Park, any enterprising vendor of tea and shrimps who managed
to secure a vested interest in the same, might reasonably hope to make
such a fortune out of it as even a Rothschild need not despise.



Day after day we steadily worked our way _down_ to Koomati Poort, even
when climbing such terrific hills that we sometimes seemed like men
toiling to the top of a seven-storied house in order to reach the
cellar. Hence Monday morning found us still seemingly close to "The
Devil's Kantoor," which we had reached on the previous Saturday,
though meanwhile we had tramped up and down and in and out, till we
could travel no farther, all day on Sunday.

[Sidenote: _A Surrendered Boer General._]

During that Sunday tramp there crossed into our lines General
Schoeman, driving in a Cape cart drawn by four mules, on his way to
Pretoria _via_ the Godwand River railway station. Months before he had
joined in formally handing over Pretoria to the British, and had been
allowed to return to his farm on taking the oath of neutrality. That
oath he had refused to break, so he was made a prisoner by his brother
Boers. It was in Barberton gaol General French found him and once more
set him free. Such a man deemed himself safer in the hands of his foes
than of his friends, so was hasting not to his farm but to far-off
Pretoria. This favourite commandant was by the Boers called "King
David," and not only in the authoritativeness of his tone, but also
in the sharp diversities of his martial experiences, bore some not
remote resemblance to his ancient namesake.

Far as either of us then was from foreseeing it, the general's path
and mine, though just now so divergent, were destined to meet once
more. Within a year in Pretoria on the following Whit-Sunday I was
sitting in the house of a friend, and was startled, as all present
were, by the firing, as we all supposed, of one of our huge 4.7 guns.
Later in the day we learned it was the bursting of a 4.7 shell, nearly
two miles away from where we heard the dread explosion. That
particular British shell happened to be the first that had long ago
been fired in the fight near Colesberg, and as it had fallen close to
the general's tent without bursting, he brought it away to keep as a
curio, and on that particular Sunday, so it is said, was showing it to
a Boer friend, and explaining that the new explosive now used by the
English is perfectly harmless when properly handled.

His demonstration, however, proved tragically inconclusive. Precisely
what happened there is now no one left alive to tell. As in a moment
the part of the house in which the experimenters sat was wrecked, and
as I next day noted, some neighbouring houses were sorely damaged. The
general was blown almost to pieces; one of his daughters who was
sitting at the piano was fatally hurt. On the day of the general's
funeral the general's friend died from the effect of the injuries
received, and three other members of that family circle barely escaped
with their lives.

On my first Whit-Tuesday in South Africa I marched with the triumphant
Guards into Pretoria. On this second Whit-Tuesday I stood reverently
beside the new-made grave of this famous Pretorian general, who had
proved himself to be one of the best of the Boers, one of the few
concerning whom it is commonly believed that his word was as good as
his bond; and thus all strangely a shot ineffectually fired from one
of our guns in Cape Colony, claimed eighteen months afterwards this
whole group of victims in far-off Pretoria. Thus in the home of peace
were so tragically let loose the horrors and havoc of war!

This general's case aptly illustrates one of the most debatable of all
points in the conduct of this doubly lamentable struggle. Whilst those
who were far away from the scene of operations denounced what they
deemed the wanton barbarities of the British, those on the spot
denounced almost as warmly what they deemed the foolish and cruel
clemency by which the war was so needlessly prolonged. These local
complainers asserted that if every surrendered burgher had been
compelled to bring in not a rusty sporting rifle, but a good mauser, a
good supply of cartridges and a good horse, the Boers would much
sooner have reached the end of their resources. That saying is true.
Our chiefs assumed they were dealing with only honourable men, and so
in this matter let themselves be sorely befooled. Some who surrendered
to them one week, were busy shooting at them the next, with rifles
that had been buried instead of being given up; and among those who
thus proved false to their plighted troth were, alas, ministers of
the Dutch Reformed Church.

[Sidenote: _Two Unworthy Predikants._]

When near the close of the war I paid a visit to Klerksdorp I was
informed by absolutely reliable witnesses that one of the predikants
of that neighbourhood had not been required to take an oath because of
his sacred calling, and his simple word of honour was accepted. Yet at
the time of my visit he was out on commando, harassing with his rifle
the very village in which his own wife was still residing under our
protection. Next day at Potchetstroom eye-witnesses told me that one
of Cronje's chaplains, whom long ago we had set at liberty, soon after
seized bandolier and rifle in defiance of all honour, and so a second
time became a prisoner. "Straying shepherds, straying sheep!" When
pastors thus proved unprincipled, their people might well hold
perverted views as to what honour means and oaths involve.

It is further maintained by these protesters against excessive
clemency that all surrendered burghers should have been placed in
laagers, or sent to the coast on parole, where they could not have
been compelled or tempted to take up arms again; but it was this
express promise that they should return to their farms there
personally to protect families and flocks and furniture, that induced
them to come in. They would never have surrendered to be sent far
afield, but would have remained in the fighting line to the finish.
All was not gained that was hoped for by this generous policy, but it
was not such an utter failure as some suppose; and it at least served
to pacify public opinion. The experiment of dealing gently with
surrendered foemen was fairly tried, and if in part it failed the
fault was not ours!

At the latter end, when guerilla warfare became the order of the day,
and the only end aimed at was not fighting, but the mere securing or
destruction of food supplies, it became necessary to sweep the veldt
as with a broom, and to bring within the British lines everybody still
left and everybody's belongings; but even then it was a gigantic task,
involving much wrecking of what could not be removed; and in the
earlier stages of the war such a sweep, if not actually enormously
beyond the strength available for it, would certainly have involved
many a fatal delay in the progress of the troops.

[Sidenote: _Two notable Advocates of Clemency._]

This championship of clemency is no new thing in the war annals of our
island home, and Lord Roberts, in his insistence on it, did but tread
in the steps of the very mightiest of his predecessors. Wellington
during the Peninsular wars actually dismissed from his service and
sent back in disgrace to Spain 25,000 sorely-needed Spanish soldiers,
simply because he could not restrain their wayside barbarities. He
recognised that a policy which outrages humanity, in the long run
means disaster; and frankly confessed concerning his troops, that if
they plundered they would ruin all. In a precisely similar vein is
Nelson's last prayer, which constitutes the last entry but one in his
diary:--"May the great God, whom I worship, grant to my country ... a
glorious victory. May no misconduct in anyone tarnish it, and may
humanity after victory be the predominant feature in the British

It was in the spirit of Nelson's prayer and Wellington's precept that
Lord Roberts strove to conduct his South African operations. With what
success let all the world bear witness!

[Sidenote: _Mines without Men, and Men without Meat._]

From "The three Sisters," which we reached on our Sabbathless Sunday,
we tramped all day on Monday till we reached a tributary of the
Crocodile River close to the Noordkaap railway station, about seven
miles out from Barberton, which we were not then privileged to visit.
Near this place we found the famous Sheba gold mine, its costly
machinery for the present lying idle, and its cottages deserted at the
stern bidding of intruding war--that most potent disturber of the
industries of peace. Here from the loftiest mountain peaks were
cables, with cages attached, sloping down to the gold-crushing house;
and across the river, in which, crocodiles or no crocodiles, we
enjoyed a delicious bathe, there was a similar steel rope suspended as
the only possible though perilous way of getting across when the river
is in flood. In this as in all other respects, however, a gracious
Providence seemed to watch over us for good, seeing that not once
during all the eleven months we had been in the country had we found a
single river so full as to be unfordable. Moreover, though now
tramping through a notorious fever country, the long overdue rain and
fever alike lingered in their pursuit of us and overtook us not, so
that up to that time not a solitary case of enteric occurred in all
our camp. The incessant use of one's heels seems to be the best
preservative of health, for it is only among sedentary troops that
sickness of any sort really runs riot.

The rations, however, have often been of the short measure type in
consequence of the prodigious difficulty of transport over roads that
are merely unfrequented tracks, and the utter wearisomeness of such
day after day tramps on almost empty stomachs has been so pronounced
that the men often laughingly avowed they would prefer fourth class by
train to even first class on foot. When they occasionally marched and
climbed in almost gloomy silence I sometimes advised them to try the
effect on their pedestrian powers of a lively song, and playfully
suggested this new version of an old-time melody--

          Cheer, boys, cheer,
          No more of idle sorrow;
          Cheer, boys, cheer,
          _There'll be another march to-morrow_.

But though they readily recognised the appropriateness of the
sentiment, they frankly confessed it was impossible to sing on
three-quarters of a pound of uncooked flour in place of a full day's
rations, which indeed it was. Next day these much-tried men had to
wade three times through the river, mostly with their boots and
putties on, so that though short of bread and biscuit they were well
supplied with "dampers," unfortunately of a sort that soaked but never

[Sidenote: _Much fat in the fire._]

After passing "Joe's Luck," where for us "there was no luck about the
house, there was no luck at all," the Guards reached Avoca, another
station on the Barberton branch; and here we found not only a fine
railway bridge destroyed with dynamite, but also the railway sheds,
recently crammed full with government stores, mostly provisions, now
ruthlessly given to the flames and absolutely destroyed. Thousands of
tins of condensed milk had flown like bombs in all directions, and
like bombs had burst, when the intense heat had turned the confined
milk to steam. Butter by the ton had ignominiously ended its days by
merely adding so much more fat to the fire. All good things here,
laboriously treasured for the benefit of the Transvaal troops, were
consumed in quite another fashion from that intended. Even accumulated
locomotives to the number of about fifty had been in some cases
elaborately mutilated, or caught, and twisted out of all utility, by
the devouring flames. So wanton is the waste war begets. The torch has
played a comparatively small part in this contest; but it is food
supplies that have suffered most from its ravages, and the Boers, with
a slimness that baffled us, having thus burned their food, bequeathed
to us their famished wives and children. Thousands of these innocents
drew full British rations, when thousands of British soldiers were
drawing half rations. That is not the Old Testament and Boer-beloved
way of waging war, but it foreshadows the slow dawning of an era when,
constrained by an overmastering sense of brotherhood,

          Men will hang the trumpet in the hall,
          And study war no more!

[Sidenote: _More fat and mightier flames._]

Beyond Avoca we rested for the night at Fever Creek, and were alarmed
by the approach of a heavy thunderstorm just as we were commencing
our dinner in the dense darkness. So I crept for refuge between the
courses of our homely meal under a friendly waggon, and thence came
forth from time to time as wind and weather permitted, to renew
acquaintance with my deserted platter. Finally, when the storm had
somewhat abated, we sought the scanty protection and repose to be
found under our damp blankets. That for us with such favouring
conditions Fever Creek did not justify its name seems wonderful.

On the Wednesday of that week the Guards' Brigade made a desperate
push to reach Kaap Muiden, where the Barberton branch joins the main
line to Delagoa Bay, though the ever-haunting transport difficulty
made the effort only imperfectly successful. Three out of the four
battalions were compelled to bivouac seven miles behind, while the one
battalion that did that night reach the junction had at the finish a
sort of racing march to get there. While resting for a few minutes
outside "The Lion's Creek" station the colonel told his men that they
were to travel the rest of the way by rail; whereupon they gave a
ringing cheer and started at a prodigious pace to walk down the line
in momentary expectation of meeting the presumably approaching train.
Each man seemed to go like a locomotive with full head of steam on,
and it took me all my time and strength to keep up with them.
Nevertheless that train never met us. It never even started, and at
that puffing perspiring pace the battalion proceeded all the way on
foot. We had indeed come by _rail_, but that we found was quite
another thing from travelling by _train_; and the sequel forcefully
reminded one of the simpleton who was beguiled into riding in a
sedan-chair from which both seat and bottom had been carefully
removed. When the ride was over he is reported to have summed up the
situation by saying he might as well have walked but for "the say so"
of the thing. And but for the say so of the thing that merrily
beguiled battalion might as well have gone by road as by rail.

It was, however, a most wonderful sight that greeted them as they
stumbled through the darkness into the junction. At one end of the
station there was a huge engine-house, surrounded as well as filled,
not only with locomotives but also with gigantic stacks of food
stuffs, now all involved in one vast blaze that had not burned itself
out when the Brigade returned ten days later. There were long trains
of trucks filled with flour, sugar and coffee, over some of which
paraffin had been freely poured and set alight. So here a truck and
there a truck, with one or two untouched trucks between, was burning
furiously. In some cases the mischief had been stopped in mid-career
by friendly Kaffir hands, which had pulled off from this truck and
that a newly-kindled sack, and flung it down between the rails where
it lay making a little bonfire that was all its own. Then too broken
sacks of unburnt flour lay all about the place looking in the
semi-darkness like the Psalmist's "snow in Salmon"; but flour so
flavoured and soaked with paraffin that when that night it was served
out to be cooked as best it could be by the famished men some of them
laughingly asserted it exploded in the process. Oh, was not that a
dainty dish to set before such kings! At the far end of the station
were ten trucks of coal blazing more vigorously than in any grate,
besides yet other trucks filled with government stationery and no one
knows what beside. It was an awe-inspiring sight and pitiful in the

[Sidenote: _A welcome lift by the way._]

Though too late to save all the treasure stored at this junction, we
nevertheless secured an invaluable supply of rolling stock and of
certain kinds of provender, so that for a few days we lacked little
that was essential except biscuits for the men and forage for the
mules. But to prevent if possible further down the line another such
holocaust as took place here, our men started at break of day on a
forced march towards Koomati Poort.

The line we learned was in fair working order for the next fifteen
miles, and for that distance the heavy baggage with men in charge of
the same was sent by train. I did not confess to being baggage nor was
I in charge thereof, but none the less when my ever courteous and
thoughtful colonel urged me to accompany the baggage for those few
miles I looked upon his advice in the light of a command, and so
accepted my almost only lift of any sort in the long march from the
Orange River to Koomati Poort. The full day's march for the men was
twenty-five miles through a region that at that season of the year had
already become a kind of burning fiery furnace; and the abridging of
it for me by at least a half was all the more readily agreed to
because my solitary pair of boots was unfortunately in a double sense
on its last legs. A merciful man is merciful to his boots, especially
when they happen to be his only pair.

[Sidenote: "_Rags and tatters get ye gone._"]

Nor in the matter of leather alone were these Guardsmen lamentably
lacking. One of the three famous Napier brothers when fighting at
close quarters in the battle of Busaco fiercely refused to dismount
that he might become a less conspicuous mark for bullets, or even to
cover his red uniform with a cloak. "This," said he, "is the uniform
of my regiment, and _in it I will show_, or fall this day." Barely a
moment after a bullet smashed his jaw. At the very outset of the Boer
war, to the sore annoyance of Boer sharpshooters, the British War
Office in this one respect showed great wisdom. All the pomp and pride
and circumstance of war were from the outset laid aside, especially in
the matter of clothing; but though in that direction almost all
regimental distinctions, and distinctions of rank, were deliberately
discarded, so that scarcely a speck of martial red was anywhere to be
seen, the clothing actually supplied proved astonishingly short-lived.
The roughness of the way soon turned it into rags and tatters, and
disreputable holes appeared precisely where holes ought not to be. On
this very march I was much amused by seeing a smart young Guardsman
wearing a sack where his trousers should have been. On each face of
the sack was a huge O. Above the O, in bold lettering, appeared the
word OATS, and underneath the O was printed 80 lbs. The proudest man
in all the brigade that day seemed he! Well-nigh as travel-stained
were we, and torn, as Hereward the Wake when he returned to Bruges.

[Sidenote: _Destruction and still more destruction._]

On Sunday, September 23rd, at Hector Spruit we most unexpectedly
lingered till after noonday, partly to avoid the intense heat on our
next march of nineteen miles through an absolutely waterless
wilderness, and partly because of the enormous difficulties involved
in finding tracks or making them through patches of thorny jungle. We
were thus able to arrange for a surprise parade service, and when that
was over some of our men who had gone for a bathe found awaiting them
a still more pleasant surprise. In the broad waters of the Crocodile
they alighted on a large quantity of abandoned and broken Boer guns
and rifles. Such abandonment now became an almost daily occurrence,
and continued to be for more than another six months, till all men
marvelled whence came the seemingly inexhaustible supply. At
Lydenberg, which Buller captured on September 6th, and again at
Spitzkop which he entered on September 15th, stores of almost every
kind were found well-nigh enough to feed and furnish a little army;
though in their retreat to the latter stronghold the burghers had
flung some of their big guns and no less than thirteen ammunition
waggons over the cliffs to prevent them falling into the hands of the
British. Never was a nation so armed to the teeth. As nature had made
every hill a fortress, so the Transvaal Government had made pretty
nearly every hamlet an arsenal; and about this same time French on the
14th, at Barberton, had found in addition to more warlike stores forty
locomotives which our foes were fortunately too frightened to linger
long enough to destroy. Those locos were worth to us more than a
king's ransom!

That afternoon we marched till dark, then lighted our fires, and
bemoaned the emptiness of our water bottles, while awaiting the
arrival of our blanket waggons. But in half an hour came another sharp
surprise, for without a moment's warning we were ordered to resume our
march for five miles more. So through the darkness we stumbled as best
we could along the damaged railway line. About midnight in the midst
of a prickly jungle, a bit of bread and cheese, a drink of water if we
had any left, and a blanket, paved the way for brief repose; but at
four o'clock next morning we were all astir once more, to find
ourselves within sight of a tiny railway station called Tin Vosch,
where two more locomotives and a long line of trucks awaited capture.

[Sidenote: _At Koomati Poort._]

On Monday, September 24th, at about eight o'clock in the morning, to
General Pole Carew and Brigadier-General Jones fell the honour of
leading their Guardsmen into Koomati Poort, the extreme eastern limit
of the Transvaal--and that without seeing a solitary Boer or having to
fire a single bullet. The French historian of the Peninsular War
declares that "the English were the best marksmen in Europe--indeed
the only troops who were perfectly practised in the use of small
arms." But then their withering volleys were sometimes fired at a
distance of only a few yards from the wavering masses of their foes,
and under such conditions good marksmanship is easy to attain. A
blind man might bet he would not miss. On the other hand, he must be a
good shot indeed who can hit a foe he never sees. In these last weeks
there were few casualties among the Boers, because they kept well out
of casualty range. They were so frightened they even forgot to snipe.
The valiant old President so long ago as September 11th had fled with
his splendidly well-filled money bags across the Portuguese frontier;
abandoning his burghers who were still in the field to whatever might
chance to be their fate. That fate he watched, and waited for, from
the secure retreat of the Portuguese Governor's veranda close by the
Eastern Sea, where he sat and mused as aforetime on his stoep at
Pretoria; his well-thumbed Bible still by his side, his well-used pipe
still between his lips. Surely Napoleon the Third at Chislehurst,
broken in health, broken in heart, was a scarcely more pathetic
spectacle! Six or seven days later the old man saw special trains
beginning to arrive, all crowded with mercenary fighting men from many
lands, all bent only on following his own uncourageous example,
seeking personal safety by the sea. First came 700; then on the 24th,
the very day the Guards entered Koomati Poort, 2000 more, who were
mostly ruined burghers, and who thus arrived at Delagoa Bay to become
like Kruger himself the guests or prisoners of the Portuguese.

To the Portuguese we ourselves owe no small debt of gratitude, for
they had sternly forbidden the destruction of the magnificent railway
bridge across the Koomati, in which their government held large
financial interests. But other destruction they could not hinder.

Just in front of us lay the superbly lovely junction of the Crocodile
with the Koomati River, and appropriately enough I then saw in
midstream, clinging to a rock, a real crocodile, though, like the two
Boer Republics, as dead as a door nail. Immediately beyond ran a ridge
of hills which served as the boundary between the Transvaal and the
Portuguese territory. Along that ridge floated a line of Portuguese
flags, and within just a few yards of them the ever-slim Boer had
planted some of his long-range guns, not that there he might make his
last valiant stand, but that from thence he might present our
approaching troops with a few parting shots. This final outrage on
their own flag our friendly neighbours forbade. So we discovered the
guns still in position but destroyed with dynamite. Thus finding not a
solitary soul left to dispute possession with us we somewhat
prematurely concluded that at last, through God's mercy, our toils
were ended, our warfare accomplished. What wonder therefore if in that
hour of bloodless triumph there were some whose hearts exclaimed, "We
praise Thee O God, we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord!" To the God of
Battles the Boer had made his mutely stern appeal and with this

[Sidenote: _Two notable Fugitives._]

The _Household Brigade Magazine_ tells an amusing story of a Guardsman
hailing from Ireland who at one of our base hospitals was supplied
with some wine as a most welcome "medical comfort." Therein right
loyally he drank the Queen's health, and then after a pause startled
his comrades by adding, "Here's to old Kruger! God bless him!" Such
a disloyal sentiment, so soon tripping up the heels of his own
loyalty, called forth loud and angry protests, whereupon he exclaimed,
"Why not? Only for him where would the war be? And only for him I
would never have sent my old mother the Queen's chocolate!"

The Queen's chocolate is not the only bit of compensating sweetness
begotten out of the bitterness of this war. The fiery hostility of
Kruger, like the quenchless hate of Napoleon a hundred years ago, has
not been without beneficent influence on our national character and
destiny, and these two years of war have seemingly done more for the
consolidation of the empire than twenty years of peace. Whether he and
Steyn used the Africander Bond as their tool or were themselves its
tools the outcome of the war is the same. To Great Britain it has so
bound Greater Britain in love-bonds and mutual loyalty as to make all
the world wonder. The President of the Transvaal months after the war
began is reported to have said: "If the moon is inhabited I cannot
understand why John Bull has not yet annexed it"; but with respect to
his own beloved Republic he reckoned it was far safer than the moon,
for he added: "So surely as there is a God of righteousness, so surely
will the Vierkleur be victorious."

[Sidenote: _The propaganda of the Africander Bond._]

What that victory, however, would inevitably have involved was made
abundantly plain in the pages of _De Patriot_, the once official organ
of the Africander Bond. There, as long ago as 1882, it was written:
"The English Government keep talking of a Confederation under the
British flag. That will never happen. There is just one hindrance to
Confederation, and that is the British flag. Let them take that away,
and within a year the Confederation under the Free Africander flag
would be established; but so long as the English flag remains here the
Africander Bond must be our Confederation. The British must just have
Simon's Bay as a naval and military station on the road to India, and
give over all Africa to the Africanders."

It then adds: "Let every Africander in this Colony (that is, the Cape)
for the sake of security take care that he has a good rifle and a box
of cartridges, and that he knows how to use them." English trade is to
be boycotted, nor is this veiled hostility to end even there. "Sell no
land to Englishmen! We especially say this to our Transvaal brethren.
The Boers are the landowners, and the proud little Englishmen are
dependent on the Boers. Now that the war against the English
Government is over, the war against the English language must begin.
It must be considered a disgrace to speak English. The English
governess is a pest. Africander parents, banish this pest from your

Now, however, that Kruger is gone, and the Africander Bond has well
nigh given up the ghost, English governesses in South Africa will be
given another chance, which is at least some small compensation for
all the cost and complicated consequences of this wanton war.

[Sidenote: _Ex-President Steyn_.]

Martinus Theunis Steyn, late President of what was once the Orange
Free State, is in almost all respects a marked contrast to the
Transvaal President, whose folly he abetted and whose flight for a
while he shared. Steyn, speaking broadly, is almost young enough to be
Kruger's grandson, and was never, as Kruger was from his birth, a
British subject, for he was born at Wynburg some few years after the
Orange Free State received its independence. Whilst Kruger was never
for a single hour under the schoolmaster's rod, and is laughingly said
even now to be unable to read anything which he has not first
committed to memory, Steyn is a man of considerable culture, having
been trained in England as a barrister, and having practised at the
bar in Bloemfontein for six years before he became President. He
therefore could not plead ignorance as his excuse when he flung his
ultimatum in the face of Great Britain and Ireland. Whilst Kruger was
a man of war from his youth, a "strong, unscrupulous, grim, determined
man," Steyn never saw a shot fired in his life except in sport till
this war began, yet all strangely it was the fighting President who
fled from the face of the Guards, with all their multitudinous
comrades in arms, and never rested till the sea removed him beyond
their reach, while the lawyerly President, the man of peace, doubled
back on his pursuers, returned by rugged by-paths to the land he had
ruined, and there in association with De Wet became even more a
fugitive than ancient Cain or the men of Adullam's cave.

That many of his own people hotly disapproved of the course their
infatuated ruler took is common knowledge; but by no one has that fact
been more powerfully emphasised than by Paul Botha in his famous book
"From Boer to Boer." Rightly or wrongly, this is what, briefly put,
Botha says:--

[Sidenote: _Paul Botha's opinion of this Ex-President._]

     When as a Free Stater I think of the war and realise that we have
     lost the independence of our little state, I feel that I could
     curse Martinus Theunis Steyn who used his country as a stepping
     stone for the furtherance of his own private ends. He sold his
     country to the Transvaal in the hope that Paul Kruger's mantle
     would fall on him. The first time Kruger visited the Orange Free
     State after Steyn's election the latter introduced him at a
     public banquet with these words, "This is my Father!" The thought
     occurred to me at the time, "Yes, and you are waiting for your
     father's shoes." He hoped to succeed "his father" as President of
     the combined republics of united South Africa. For this giddy
     vision he ignored the real interests of our little state, and
     dragged the country into an absolutely unnecessary and insane
     war. I maintain there were only two courses open to England in
     answer to Kruger's challenging policy--to fight, or to retire
     from South Africa--and it was only possible for men suffering
     from tremendously swollen heads, such as our leaders were
     suffering from, to doubt the issue.

     I ask any man to tell me what quarrel we had with England? Was
     any injury done to us? Such questions make one's hair stand on
     end. Whether knave or fool, Steyn did not prepare himself
     adequately for his gigantic undertaking. He commenced this war
     with a firm trust in God and the most gross negligence. But it is
     impossible to reason with the men now at the front. With the
     exception of a few officials these men consist of ignorant
     "bywoners," augmented by desperate men from the Cape who have
     nothing to lose, and who lead a jolly rollicking life on
     commando, stealing and looting from the farmers who have
     surrendered, and whom they opprobriously call "handsuppers!"

     These bywoners believe any preposterous story their leaders tell
     them in order to keep them together. One of my sons who was taken
     prisoner by Theron because he had laid down his arms, told me,
     after his escape, it was common laager talk that 60,000 Russians,
     Americans and Frenchmen were on the water, and expected daily;
     that China had invaded and occupied England, and that only a
     small corner of that country still resisted. These are the men
     who are terrifying their own people. I could instance hundreds
     of cases to show their atrocious conduct. Notorious thieves and
     cowards are allowed to clear isolated farmhouses of every
     valuable. Widows whose husbands have been killed on commando are
     not safe from their depredations. They have even set fire to
     dwelling-houses while the inmates were asleep inside.

As to the perfect accuracy of these accusations I can scarcely claim
to be a judge, though apparently reliable confirmation of the same
reached me from many sources; but I do confidently assert that no
kindred accusations can be justly hurled at the men by whose side I
tramped from Orange River to Koomati Poort. Their good conduct was
only surpassed by their courage, and of them may be generally asserted
what Maitland said to the heroic defenders of Hougoumont--"Every man
of you deserves promotion."



Towards sundown on Tuesday, September 24th, while most of the Guards'
Brigade was busy bathing in the delicious waters of the Koomati at its
juncture with the Crocodile River, I walked along the railway line to
take stock of the damage done to the rolling stock, and to the
endlessly varied goods with which long lines of trucks had recently
been filled. It was an absolutely appalling sight!

[Sidenote: _Staggering Humanity._]

Long before, at the very beginning of the war, the Boers, as we have
often been reminded, promised to stagger humanity, and during this
period of the strife they came strangely near to fulfilling their
purpose. They staggered us most of all by letting slip so many
opportunities for staggering us indeed. Day after day we marched
through a country superbly fitted for defence, a country where one
might check a thousand and two make ten thousand look about them. Our
last long march was through an absolutely waterless and apparently
pathless bush. Yet there was none to say us nay! From Waterval Onder
onwards to Koomati Poort not a solitary sniper ventured to molest us.
A more complete collapse of a nation's valour has seldom been seen. On
September 17th, precisely a week before we arrived at Koomati,
special trains crowded with fugitive burghers rushed across the
frontier, whence not a few fled to the land of their nativity--to
France, to Germany, to Russia--and amid the curious collection of
things strewing the railway line, close to the Portuguese frontier, I
saw an excellent enamelled fold-up bedstead, on which was painted the
owner's name and address in clear Russian characters, as also in plain
English, thus:--


That beautiful little bedstead thus flung away had a tale of its own
to tell, and silently assented to the sad truth that this war, though
in no sense a war with Russia, was yet a war with Russians and with
men of almost every nationality under heaven.

[Sidenote: _Food for Flames._]

Humanity was scarcely less severely staggered by the lavish
destruction of food stuffs and rolling stock we were that day
compelled to witness. In the sidings of the Koomati railway station,
as at Kaap Muiden, I found not less than half a mile of loaded trucks
all blazing furiously. The goods shed was also in flames, and so was a
gigantic heap of coals for locomotive use, which was still smouldering
months afterwards. Along the Selati branch I saw what I was told
amounted to over five miles of empty trucks that had fortunately
escaped destruction, and later on proved to us of prodigious use.

A war correspondent, who had been with the Portuguese for weeks
awaiting our advent, assured me that the Boers were so dismayed by the
tidings of our approach that at first they precipitately fled leaving
everything untouched; but finding we apparently delayed for a few
hours our coming, they ventured across the great railway bridge in a
red cross ambulance train, on which they felt certain we should not
fire even if our scouts were already in possession of the place; and
so from the shelter of the red cross these firebrands stepped forth to
perform their task of almost immeasurable destruction. It is however
only fair to add that the great majority of these mischief-makers were
declared to be not genuine Boers, but mercenaries,--a much-mixed
multitude whose ignominious departure from the Transvaal will minister
much to its future wholesomeness and honesty.

[Sidenote: _A Crocodile in the Koomati._]

Next morning while with several officers I was enjoying a before
breakfast bathe, a cry of alarm was raised, and presently I saw those
who had hurried out of the water taking careful aim at a crocodile
clinging to a rock in midstream. Revolver shot after revolver shot was
fired, but I quickly perceived it was the very same crocodile I had
seen at that very same spot the day before; and as it was quite dead
then I concluded it was probably still dead, though the officers thus
furiously assailing it had not yet discovered the fact; so leaving
them to continue their revolver practice I quietly returned to the
bubbling waters and finished my bathe in peace.

[Sidenote: _A Hippopotamus in the Koomati._]

Later on a continuous rifle fire at the river side close to the
Guards' camp attracted general attention, and on going to see what it
all meant I found a group of Colonials had thus been popping for hours
at a huge hippopotamus hiding in a deep pool close to the opposite
bank. Every time the poor brute put its nose above the surface of the
water half a dozen bullets splashed all around it though apparently
without effect. The Grenadier officers pronounced such proceedings
cruel and cowardly, but were without authority to put a stop to it.
The crocodile is deemed lawful sport because it endangers life, but
the Hippo. Transvaal law protects, because it rarely does harm, and is
growing rarer year by year. I ventured therefore to tell these
Colonials that their sportsmanship was as bad as their marksmanship,
and that the pleasure which springs from inflicting profitless pain
was an unsoldierly pursuit; but I preached to deaf ears, and when soon
after our camp was broken up that Hippo. was still their target.

[Sidenote: _A Via Dolorosa._]

On the second day of our brief stay at Koomati Poort, I crossed the
splendid seven spanned bridge over the Koomati River, and noticed that
the far end was guarded by triple lines of barbed wire, nor was other
evidence lacking that the Boers purposed to give us a parting blizzard
under the very shadow of the Portuguese frontier flags.

Then came a sight not often surpassed since Napoleon's flight from
Moscow. Right up to the Portuguese frontier the slopes of the railway
line were strewn with every imaginable and unimaginable form of loot
and wreckage, flung out of the trains as they flew along by the
frightened burghers. Telegraph instruments, crutches, and rocking
chairs, frying pans and packets of medicinal powders, wash-hand basins
and tins of Danish butter lay there in wild profusion; likewise a
homely wooden box that looked up at me and said "Eat Quaker Oats."

At one point I found a great pile of rifles over which paraffin had
been freely poured and then set on fire. Hundreds more, broken and
scattered, were flung in all directions. Then, too, I saw cases of
dynamite, live shells of every sort and size, and piles of boxes on
which was painted

                    "_Explosive_ Safety Cartridges
          Supplied by Vickers, Maxim & Co.; for the use of
          the Government of the South African Republic."

Likewise boxes of ammunition, broken and unbroken bearing the brand of
"Kynoch Brothers, Birmingham" were there in piles; and it was while
some men of the Gordons were superintending the destruction of this
ammunition that a terrific explosion occurred a few days later by
which three of them were killed and twenty-one wounded, including the
"Curio" of the regiment, who was stuck all over with splinters like
pins in a cushion; and in spite of seven-and-twenty wounds had the
daring to survive. Byron somewhere tells of an eagle pierced by an
arrow winged with a feather from its own breast, and in this war many
a British hero has been riddled by bullets that British hands have
fashioned. Moreover, among these bullets that thus littered that
railway track I found vast quantities of the soft-nosed and slit
varieties of which I brought away some samples; and others coated with
a something green as verdigris. It is said that in love and war all is
fair; but we should have more readily believed in the much belauded
piety of the Boers, if it had deigned to dispense with "soft noses"
and "explosive safeties," which were none the less cruel or unlawful
because of British make!

Whole stacks of sugar I also found, in flaming haste to turn
themselves into rippling lakes of decidedly overdone toffee; and in
similar fashion piled up sacks of coffee berries were roasting
themselves not wisely but too well. Pyramids of flour were much in the
same way baking themselves into cakes, monstrously misshapen, and much
more badly burnt than King Alfred's ever were. "The Boers are poor
cooks," laughingly explained our men; "they bake in bulk without
proper mixing." Nevertheless, along that line everything seemed very
much mixed indeed.

[Sidenote: _Over the Line._]

On reaching the Portuguese frontier I somewhat ceremoniously saluted
the Portuguese flag, to the evident satisfaction of the Portuguese
marines who mounted guard beside it. There were just then about 600 of
them on duty at Resina Garcia, and as they were for the most part
dressed in spotless white they looked delightsomely clean and cool.
Indeed, the contrast between their uniforms and ours was almost
painfully acute; but it was the contrast between men of war's men in
holiday attire, which no war had ever touched, and weary war-men
tattered and torn by ten months' constant contact with its roughest
usage. A shameful looking lot we were--but ashamed we were not!

As these foreigners on frontier guard knew not a word of English, and
I unfortunately knew not a word of Portuguese, there seemed small
chance of any very luminous conversation; but presently I pronounced
the magic word "Padré," and pointed to the cross upon my collar, when
lo! a look of intelligence crept into the very dullest face. They
passed on the word in approving tones from one to another, and I was
instantly supplied with quite a new illustration of the ancient
legend, "In hoc signo vinces." In token of respect for my chaplain's
badge, without passport or payment, I was at once courteously allowed
to cross the line and set foot in Portuguese Africa. There are
compensations in every lot, even in a parson's!

The village immediately beyond the frontier is little else than a
block or two of solidly built barracks, and a well appointed railway
station, with its inevitable refreshment room, in which a group of
officers representing the two nationalities were enjoying a friendly
lunch. But great was my surprise on discovering that the vivacious
Portuguese proprietor presiding behind the bar was a veritable
Scotchman hailing from queenly Edinburgh; and still greater was my
surprise on hearing a sweetly familiar accent on the lips of a
Colonial scout hungrily waiting on the platform outside till the
aforesaid officers' lunch was over, and he, a private, might be
permitted to purchase an equally satisfying lunch and eat it in that
same refreshment room. It was the accent of the far away "West
Countree," and told me its owner was like myself a Cornishman. Yet
what need to be surprised? Were I to take the wings of the morning and
fly to the uttermost parts of the earth, I should probably find there
as at Resina Garcia, thriving Scotchman in possession, and a famished
Cornishman waiting at his gate. To these two, in this fashion, have
been apportioned the outposts of the habitable globe!

[Sidenote: _Westward Ho!_]

It was to everybody's extreme surprise and delight that at noon on
Thursday we received sudden orders to leave Koomati Poort at once, and
to leave it not on foot but by rail. The huge baboon, therefore, which
had become our latest regimental pet and terror, was promptly
transferred to other custody, and our scanty kits were packed with
utmost speed. We soon discovered, however, that it was one thing to
reach the appointed railway station, and quite another to find the
appointed train. Two locomotives, in apparently sound condition, had
been selected from among a multitude of utterly wrecked and ruined
ones, but serviceable trucks had also to be warily chosen from among
the leavings of a vast devouring fire; then the loading of these
trucks with the various belongings of the battalion began, and long
before that task was finished darkness set in, so compelling the
postponement of all journeying till morning light appeared. It was on
the King of Portugal's birthday that morning light dawned, and it was
to the sound of a royal salute in honour of that anniversary we
attempted to start on our westward way, while the troops left behind
us joined with those of Portugal in a royal review.

[Illustration: _From a photograph by Mr Westerman_

Boer Families on their Way to a Concentration Camp.]

As all the regular railway employés had fled with the departing Boers,
it became necessary to call for volunteers from among the soldiers to
do duty as drivers, stokers and guards. The result was at times
amusing, and at times alarming. Our locomotives were so unskilfully
handled that they at once degenerated into the merest donkey
engines, and played upon us donkey tricks. One of these amateur
drivers early in the journey discovered that he had forgotten to take
on board an adequate supply of coal, and so ran his engine back to get
it, while we patiently awaited his return. Soon after we made our
second start it was discovered that something had gone wrong with the
injectors. "The water was too hot," we were told, which to us was a
quite incomprehensible fault; the water tank was full of steam, and we
were in danger of a general blow up. So the fire had to be raked out,
and the engine allowed to cool, which it took an unconscionably long
time in doing, and we accounted ourselves fortunate in that on a
journey so diversified we escaped the further complications that might
have been created for us by our ever invisible foes, who managed to
wreck the train immediately following ours--so inflicting fatal or
other injuries on Guardsmen not a few.

Meanwhile we noted that "fever" trees, with stems of a peculiarly
green and bilious hue, abounded on both sides the line; trees so
called, not because they produce fever, but because their presence
infallibly indicates an area in which fever habitually prevails.
Hundreds of the troops that followed us into the fatal valley were
speedily fever-stricken, and it is with a sense of devoutest gratitude
I record the fact that the Guards' Brigade not only entered Koomati
Port without the loss of a single life by bullets, but also left it
without the loss of a single life by fever.

At first at the foot of every incline we were compelled to pause while
our engines, one in front and one behind, got up an ampler pressure of
steam, but presently it was suggested that the hundreds of Guardsmen
on board the train should tumble out of the trucks and shove, which
accordingly they did, the Colonel himself assenting and assisting. So
sometimes shoving, always steaming, we pursued our shining way, as we
fondly supposed, towards Hyde Park corner and "Home, sweet Home."

At Waterval Onder we stayed the night, and I was thus enabled to visit
once again the tiny international cemetery, referred to in a former
chapter, where I had laid to rest an unnamed, because unrecognised,
private of the Devons. Now close beside him in that silent land lay
the superbly-built Australian, whom I had so often visited in the
adjoining hospital, and whom our general had promised to recommend for
"The Distinguished Service Medal." Not yet eighteen, his life work was
early finished; but by heroisms such as his has our vast South African
domain been bought; and by graves such as his are the far sundered
parts of our world-wide empire knit together.

[Sidenote: _Ruined farms and ruined firms._]

Throughout this whole journey I was painfully impressed not only by
the almost total absence of all signs of present-day cultivation, even
where such cultivation could not but prove richly remunerative, but
also by the still sadder fact that many of the farmhouses we sighted
were in ruins. Along this Delagoa line, as in other parts of the
Transvaal, there had been so much sniping at trains, and so many
cases of scouts being fired at from farmhouses over which the white
flag floated, that this particular form of retribution and repression,
which we none the less deplored, seemed essential to the safety of all
under our protection; and in defence thereof I heard quoted, as
peculiarly appropriate to the Boer temperament and tactics, the
familiar lines:--

          Softly, gently, touch a nettle,
          And it stings you for your pains;
          Grasp it like a man of mettle,
          And it soft as silk remains.

Amajuba led to a fatal misjudgement of the British by the Boer. In all
leniency, the latter now recognises only an encouraging lack of grit,
which persuades him to prolong the contest by whatever tactics suit
him best. Its effect resembles that of the Danegeld our Saxon fathers
paid their oversea invaders, with a view to staying all further
strife. Their gifts were interpreted as a sign of craven fear, and
merely taught the recipients to clamour greedily for more. Long before
this cruel war closed it became clear as noonday that Boer hostilities
could not be bought off by a crippling clemency, and that an
ever-discriminating severity is, in practice, mercy of the truest and
most effective type.

How great the pressure on the military authorities became in
consequence of these frequent breakages of the railway line, and how
serious the inconvenience to the mercantile community, as indeed to
the whole civil population, may be judged from the fact that only on
the day of my return from Resina Garcia did the Pretoria merchants
receive their first small consignments of food stuffs since the
arrival of the British troops some four months before. Clothing,
boots, indeed goods of any other type than food, they had still not
the faintest hope of getting up from the coast for many a week to
come. War is always hard alike on public stores and private cupboards;
but seldom have the supplies of any town, not actually undergoing a
siege, been more nearly exhausted than were those of Pretoria at the
time now referred to. For hungry and impecunious folk the City of
Roses was fast becoming a bed of thorns.

[Sidenote: _Farewell to the Guards' Brigade._]

From Pretoria I accompanied the Guards on what we all deemed our
homeward way as far as Norval's Pont. Then the Brigade, as such, was
broken up for blockhouse or other widely dispersing duties; and I was
accordingly recalled to headquarters for garrison work. At this point,
therefore, I must say farewell to the Guard's Brigade.

For over twelve months my association with them was almost absolutely
uninterrupted. At meals and on the march, in the comparative quiet of
camp life, and on the field of fatal conflict, I was with them night
and day; ever receiving from them courtesies and practical kindnesses
immeasurably beyond what so entire a stranger was entitled to expect.
Officers and men alike made me royally welcome, and won in almost all
respects my warmest admiration.

Their unfailing consideration for "The Cloth" by no means implied that
they were all God-fearing men; nor did many among them claim to be
such; but gentlemen were they one and all, whose worst fault was their
traditional tendency towards needlessly strong language. To Mr
Burgess, the chaplain of the 19th Hussars once said, "The officers of
our battalion are a very gentlemanly lot of fellows, and you never
hear any of them swear. The colonel is very severe on those who use
bad language, and if he hears any he says, 'I tell you I will not
allow it. If you want to use such language go out on to the veldt and
swear at the stones, but I will not permit you to contaminate the men
by such language in the lines. I won't have it!'"

Not all battalions in the British army are built that way, nor do all
British officers row in the same boat with that aforesaid colonel.
Nevertheless, I am prepared to echo the opinion expressed by Julian
Ralph concerning the officers with whom he fraternized:--"They were
emphatically the best of Englishmen," said he; "well informed, proud,
polished, polite, considerate, and abounding with animal health and
spirits." As a whole that assertion is largely true as applied to
those with whom it was my privilege to associate. Most of them had
been educated at one or other of our great public schools, many of
them represented families of historic and world-wide renown. It was,
therefore, somewhat of an astonishment to see such men continually
roughing it in a fashion that navvies would scarcely consent to do at
home; drinking water that, as our colonel said, one would not
willingly give to a dog; and sometimes sleeping in ditches without
even a rug to cover them.

Wild assertions have been made in some ill-informed papers about these
officers being ill-informed, and even Conan Doyle complains that he
saw only one young officer studying an Army Text-Book in the course of
the whole campaign; but then, when kits are cut down to a maximum
weight of thirty-seven pounds, what room is there for books even on
tactics? The tactics of actual battle are better teachers than any
text-books; and a cool head, with a courageous heart, is often of more
value in a tight corner than any amount of merely technical knowledge.
It is true that some of our officers have blundered, but then, in most
cases, it was their first experience of real war, especially of war
amid conditions entirely novel. It was more personal initiative, not
more text-book; more caution, not more courage that was most commonly
required. To inspire his men with tranquil confidence, one officer
after another exposed himself to needless perils, and was, as we fear,
wastefully done to death. But be that as it may the Guards' Brigade,
men and officers alike, I rank among the bravest of the brave; and my
association with them for so long a season, I reckon one of the
highest honours of a happy life.



What Conan Doyle rightly described as "The great _Boer_ War" came
eventually to be called yet more correctly "The great _Bore_ War." It
grew into a weariness that might well have worn out the patience and
exhausted the resources of almost any nation. No one for a moment
imagined when we reached Koomati Poort that we had come only to the
half-way house of our toils and travels, and that there still lay
ahead of us another twelve months' cruel task. From the very first to
the very finish it has been a war of sharp surprises, and to most the
sharpest surprise of all has been this its wasteful and wanton

[Sidenote: _Exhaustlessness of Boer resources._]

We wondered early, and we wondered late, at the seeming
exhaustlessness of the Boer resources. In their frequent flights they
destroyed, or left for us to capture, almost fabulously large supplies
of food and ammunition; yet at the end of two years of such incessant
waste Kaffirs were still busy pointing out to us remote caves filled
with food stuffs, as in Seccicuni's country, or large pits loaded to
the brim with cases of cartridges. A specially influential Boer
prisoner told me he himself had been present at many such burials,
when 250 cases of mauser ammunition were thus secreted in one place,
and then a similar quantity in another, and I have it on the most
absolute authority possible that when the war began the Boers
possessed not less than 70,000,000 rounds of ball cartridge, and
200,000 rifles of various patterns, which would be tantamount to two
for every adult Dutchman in all South Africa. Kruger, in declaring
war, did not leap before he looked, or put the kettle on the fire
without first procuring an ample supply of coal to keep it boiling.
For many a month before hostilities commenced, if not for years, all
South Africa lay in the hollow of Kruger's hand, excepting only the
seaport towns commanded by our naval guns. At any moment he could have
overrun our South African colonies and none could have said him nay.
These colonies we held, though we knew it not, on Boer sufferance. At
the end of two years of incessant fighting we barely made an end of
the invasion of Cape Colony and Natal, and the altogether unsuspected
difficulty of the task is the true index of the deadliness of the
peril from which this dreadful war has delivered the whole empire.

[Sidenote: _The peculiarity of the Boer tactics._]

How it was the Boers did not succeed at the very outset in driving the
British into the sea, when we had only skeleton forces to oppose them,
was best explained to me by a son of the late State Secretary, who
penned the ultimatum, and whom I found among our prisoners in
Pretoria. The Boers are not farmers. Speaking broadly there is
scarcely an acre of ploughed land in all the Transvaal. "The men are
shepherds, their trade hath been to feed cattle." But before they
could thus, like the Patriarchs, become herdsmen, they perforce still,
like their much loved Hebrew prototypes, had to become hunters, and
clear the land of savage beasts and savage men. The hunter's
instincts, the hunter's tactics were theirs, and no hunter comes out
into the open if he can help it. It is no branch of his business to
make a display of his courage and to court death. His part is to kill,
so silently, so secretly, as to avoid being killed. Traps and
tricking, not to say treachery, and shooting from behind absolutely
safe cover, are the essential points in a hunter's tactics. Caution to
him is more than courage, and it is precisely along those lines the
Boers make war. In almost every case when they ventured into the open
it was the doing of their despised foreign auxiliaries. The kind of
courage required for the actual conquest of the colonies the Boers had
never cultivated or acquired. The men who in six months and six days
could not rush little Mafeking hoped in vain to capture Cape Town,
unless they caught it napping. But in defensive warfare, in cunningly
setting snares like that at Sanna's Post, in skilful concealment as at
Modder River, when all day long most of our men were quite unable to
discover on which side of the stream the Boer entrenchments were, and
in what they called clever trickery, but we called treachery, they are
absolutely unsurpassable. So was it through the earlier stages of the
campaign. So was it through the later stages.

Another cause of Boer failure as explained to me by the State
Secretary's son was the inexperience and incompetency of their
generals, who had won what little renown was theirs in Zulu or Kaffir
wars. Amajuba, at which only about half a battalion of our troops took
part, was the biggest battle they had ever fought against the British,
and it led the more illiterate among them to believe they could whip
all England's armies as easily as they could sjambok a Kaffir. Their
leaders of course knew better, but even they believed there was being
played a game of bluff on both sides, with this vital difference,
however--we bluffed, and, as they full well knew, did not prepare;
they bluffed, and, to an extent we never knew, did prepare. Though
therefore their generals were amateurs in the arts of modern warfare
as so many of our own proved to be, they confidently reckoned that, if
they could strike a staggering blow whilst we were as yet unready,
they would inevitably win a second Amajuba. Magnanimity would again
leave them masters of the situation, and if not, European intervention
would presently compel us to arbitrate away our claims. But Joubert's
softness, Schoeman's incompetency and Cronje's surrender spoiled the
project just when success seemed in sight. One other cause of Boer
failure which remained in force to the very last was their utter lack
of discipline. My specially frank and intelligent informant said no
Boer ever took part in a fight unless he felt so inclined. He claimed
liberty to ignore the most urgent commands of his field cornet, and
might even unreproved slap him in the face. Such decidedly independent
fighting may serve for the defence of an almost inaccessible kopje,
but an attack conducted on such lines is almost sure to fall to
pieces. It was therefore seldom attempted, but many a lawless deed
was done, like firing on ambulances and funeral parties, for which no
leader can well be held responsible.

[Sidenote: _The Surprisers Surprised._]

This light formation lent itself, however, excellently well to the
success of the guerilla type of warfare, which the Boers maintained
for more than twelve months after all their principal towns were
taken. Solitary snipers were thus able from safe distances to pick off
unsuspecting man, or horse, or ox, and, if in danger of being traced,
could hide the bandolier and pose as a peace-loving citizen seeking
his own lost ox.

In some cases small detachments of our men on convoy or outpost duty
were cut off by these ever-watchful, ever-wandering bands of Boers,
and an occasional gun or pom-pom was temporarily captured, a result
for which in one case at least extra rum rations were reputed to be
responsible. But it must be remembered that our men and officers,
regular and irregular alike, were as inexperienced as the Boers in
many of the novel duties this war devolved upon them; that the
Transvaal lends itself as scarcely any other country under the sun
could do to just such surprises, and that the ablest generals served
by the trustiest scouts have in the most heroic periods of our history
sometimes found themselves face to face with the unforeseen. We are
assured, for instance, that even on the eve of Waterloo both Blucher
and Wellington were caught off their guard by their great antagonist.
On June 15th, at the very moment when the French columns were
actually crossing the Belgian frontier, Wellington wrote to the Czar
explaining his intention to take the offensive about a fortnight
hence; and Blucher only a few days before had sent word to his wife
that the Allies would soon enter France, for if they waited where they
were for another year, Bonaparte would never attack them. Yet the very
next day, June 16th, at Ligny, Bonaparte hurled himself like a
thunderbolt on Blucher, and three days after, Wellington, having
rushed from the Brussels ballroom to the battlefield at Waterloo,
there saved himself and Europe, "so as by fire."

The occasional surprises our troops have sustained in the Transvaal
need not stagger us, however much they ruffle our national
complacency. They are not the first we have had to face, and may
possibly prove by no means the last; but it is at least some sort of
solace to know that however often we were surprised during the last
long lingering stages of the war, our men yet more frequently
surprised their surprisers. Whilst I was still there in July 1901,
there were brought into Pretoria the surviving members of the
Executive of the late Orange Free State, all notable men, all caught
in their night-dresses--President Steyn alone escaping in shirt and
pants; whilst his entire bodyguard, consisting of sixty burghers, were
at the same time sent as prisoners to Bloemfontein. Laager after
laager during those weary months was similarly surprised, and waggons
and oxen and horses beyond all counting were captured, till apparently
scarcely a horse or hoof or pair of heels was left on all the
far-reaching veldt. The Boers resolutely chose ruin rather than
surrender, and so, alas, the ruin came; for many, ruin beyond all

[Sidenote: _Train Wrecking._]

During this same period of despairing resistance the Boers imparted to
the practice of train wrecking the finish of a fine art. At first they
confined their attentions to troop trains, which are presumably lawful
game; and as I was returning from Koomati Poort the troop train that
immediately followed that on which I travelled was thus thrown off the
rails near Pan, and about twenty of the Coldstream Guards, by whose
side I had tramped for so many months, were killed or severely
injured. The provision trains on which not the soldiers only, but the
Boers' own wives and children, depended for daily food, were wrecked,
looted or set on fire. Finally, they took to dynamiting ordinary
passenger trains, and robbed of their personal belongings helpless
women, including nursing sisters.

In Pretoria, I had the privilege of conversing with a cultured and
godly lady who told me that she had been twice wrecked on her one
journey up from the coast, and that the wrecking was as usual of a
fatal type though fortunately not for her. Like one of the ironies of
fate seemed the fact, of which she further informed me, that she had
brought with her from England some hundreds of pounds' worth of bodily
comforts, and yet more abounding spiritual consolations for free
distribution among the wives and children of the very men who thus in
one single journey had twice placed her life in deadly peril.

Among the Bush Veldt Carabineers at Pietersburg I found an
engine-driver who in the course of a few months had thus been shot at
and shattered by Boer drivers till he grew so sick of it that he threw
up a situation worth £30 a month and joined the Fighting Scouts by way
of finding some less perilous vocation. On the Sunday I spent there I
worshipped with the Gordons who had survived the siege of Ladysmith;
the day following as I returned to Pretoria, the train I travelled by
was thrice ineffectually sniped; but soon after the turn of these same
Gordons came to escort a train on that same line when nearly every man
among them was killed or wounded, including their officer, and a
sergeant with whom during that visit I had bowed in private prayer;
but the driver, stoker and guard were deliberately led aside and shot
after capture in cold blood. So my friend in the Carabineers had not
long to wait for the justifying of his strange choice. Not until
Norman William had planted stout Norman castles at every commanding
point could he complete the conquest of our Motherland; and not until
sturdy little block-houses sprang up thick and fast beside 5000 miles
of rail and road was travelling in the Transvaal robbed of its worst
peril, and the subjugation of the country made complete.

The worst of all our railway smashes, however, occurred close to
Pretoria, and was caused by what seemed a bit of criminal
carelessness, which resulted in a terrific collision. A Presbyterian
chaplain who was in the damaged train showed me his battered and
broken travelling trunk; but close beside the wreckage I saw the
more terribly broken bodies of nine brave men awaiting burial. It was
a tragedy too exquisitely distressing to be here described.

[Sidenote: _The Refugee Camps._]

When the two Republics were formally annexed to the British Crown all
the women and children scattered far and wide over the interminable
veldt, were made British subjects by the very act; and from that hour
for their support and safety the British Government became
responsible. Yet all ordinary traffic by road or rail had long been
stopped. All country stores were speedily cleared and closed. All farm
stock or produce was gathered up and carried off, first by one set of
hungry belligerents, then by the others; physic was still more scarce
than food, and prowling bands of blacks or whites intensified the
peril. The creation of huge concentration camps, all within easy reach
of some railway, thus became an urgent necessity. No such prodigious
enterprise could be carried through its initial stages without
hardships having to be endured by such vast hosts of refugees,
hardships only less severe than those the troops themselves sustained.

What I saw of these camps at Hiedelburg, Barberton, and elsewhere made
me wonder that so much had been done, and so well done; but a gentle
lady sent from England to look for faults and flaws, and who was
lovingly doing her best to find them, complained to me that all the
tents were not quite sound, which I can quite believe. Canvas that is
in constant use won't last for ever, and it is quite conceivable that
at the end of a two years' campaign some of the tents in use were
visibly the worse for wear. Thousands of our soldiers, however, went
for a while without tents of any sort, while the families of their
foes were being thus carefully sheltered in such tents as could then
be procured. It is, moreover, in some measure reassuring to remember
that the winter weather here is almost perfect, not a solitary shower
falling for weeks together, and that within these tents were army
blankets both thick and plentiful.

Complaint was also made in my presence that mutton, and yet again
mutton, and only mutton, was supplied to the refugee camps by way of
fresh meat rations, and that, moreover, a whole carcase, being mostly
skin and bone, sometimes weighed only about twelve pounds. It is quite
true that the scraggy Transvaal sheep would be looked down on and
despised by their fat and far-famed English cousins, especially at
that season of the year when the veldt is as bare and barren as the
Sahara; but it surely is no fault of the British Government that not a
green blade can anywhere be seen during these long rainless months,
and that consequently all the flocks look famished. South African
mutton is, at the best of times, a by no means dainty dish to set
before a king, much less before the wife of a belligerent Boer; but
British officers and men had to feed upon it and be content.

That no fresh beef, however, was by any chance supplied sounded to me
quite a new charge, and set me enquiring as to its accuracy. I
therefore wrote to one of the meat contractors, whom I personally knew
as a man of specially good repute, and in reply was informed that for
seven months he had regularly supplied the refugee camp in his
neighbourhood with fresh beef as well as mutton, neither being always
prime, he said, but the best that in war time the veldt could be made
to yield! Those who hunt for grievances at a time like this can always
find them, though when weighed in the balances they may perchance
prove even lighter than Transvaal sheep.

It is undeniable that the child mortality in these refugee camps has
been high compared with the average that prevails in a healthy English
town. But the South African average, especially during the fever
season, usually reaches quite another figure. A Hollander predikant,
whom I found among our prisoners, told me that he, his wife, and his
three children were all down with fever, but were without physic, and
almost without food, when the English found them in the low country
beyond Pietersburg, and brought them into camp. Nearly all their
neighbours were in the same sad plight, and several died before they
could be moved. In that and similar cases the camp mortality was bound
to be high, but it takes a free-tongued Britisher to assert that it
was the fault of the ever brutal British. In some camps there was an
epidemic of measles, which occasionally occurs even in the happy
homeland; but in the least sanitary refugee camp the mortality was
never so high as in some of our own military fever camps, where the
epidemic raged like a plague, and for many a weary week refused to be
stayed. It should be remembered also that all the healthy manhood of
the country was either still out on commando or in the oversea camps
provided for our prisoners of war. The men brought in as refugees were
only those who had no fight left in them--the halt, the maimed, the
blind, the sick of every sort, the bent by extreme old age, the dying.
I was startled by the specimens I saw. Here were gathered all the
frailnesses and infirmities of two Republics; and to test an
improvised camp of such a class by the standards which we rightly
apply to an average English town is as misleading as it is

[Sidenote: _The Grit of the Guards._]

When voyaging on _The Nubia_ with the Scots Guards they often
laughingly assured me it was the merest "walk over" that awaited us,
and so in due time we discovered it to be. But it was a walk over well
nigh the whole of South Africa, especially for these Scots. While
during the second year of the war the Grenadiers were doing excellent
work, chiefly in the northern part of Cape Colony, and the Coldstreams
were similarly employed mainly along the lines of communication in the
Orange River Colony, the Scots Guards trekked north, south, east and
west. As a mere matter of mileage but much more as a matter of
endurance they broke all previous records.

I have more than once written so warmly in praise of the daring and
endurance of these men as to make me fear my words might for that very
reason be heavily discounted. I was therefore delighted to find in
Julian Ralph's "At Pretoria" a kindred eulogy: "When I passed through
the camps of the Grenadiers, Scots, and Coldstream Guards the other
day, I thought I never saw men more wretchedly and pitifully
circumstanced. The officers are the drawing-room pets of London
society, which in large measure they rule.... Well, there they were on
the veldt looking like a lot of half drowned rats, as indeed they had
been ever since the cold season and the rains had set in. You would
not like to see a vagabond dog fare as they were doing. They had no
tents. They could get no dry wood to make fires with. They were soaked
to the bone night and day, and they stood about in mud toe-deep.
Titled and untitled alike all were in the same scrape, and all were
stoutly insisting that it didn't matter; it was all in the game."

[Sidenote: _The Irregulars._]

During this second period of the war the staying powers of the
Irregulars was no less severely tested. Here and there there was a
momentary failure, but as a whole the men did superbly. Multitudes of
the Colonials, who on completing their first term of service, returned
to Australia, New Zealand, or Canada, actually re-enlisted for a
second term, and in several cases paid their own passage to the Cape
in order to rejoin. The Colonials are incomparably keener Imperialists
than we ourselves claim to be. Some of the officers of these Irregular
troops were themselves of a most irregular type, and in the case of
town, or mine, or cattle, Guards were occasionally chosen, not with
reference to any martial fitness they might possess, but because of
their knowledge of and influence over the men they now commanded, and
previously in civilian life had probably employed. One of these called
his men to "fall in--_two thick_!" and another, when he wanted to halt
his Guards, is reported to have thrown up his arms and said, "Whoa!
Stop!" None need wonder if troops so handled sometimes found
themselves in a tight corner. Yet of these newly recruited Irregulars,
as of the most staid Reservists, there was good reason to be proud;
and as concerning his own Irregulars in the Peninsular War Wellington
said that with them he could go anywhere or do anything, so were these
also as a whole entitled to similar confidence and to a similar

[Sidenote: _The Testimony of the Cemetery._]

How fully these citizen soldiers hazarded their lives for the empire
every cemetery in South Africa bears sad and silent witness, including
the one I know so well in Pretoria. Indeed that particular
burial-place is to me the most pathetic spot on earth, and enshrines
in striking fashion the whole history of the Transvaal, whereof only
one or two illustrations can here be given. In a tiny walled
enclosure--a cemetery within a cemetery--filled with the soldier
victims of our earlier wars, I found a slab whereon was this

              "To the memory of Corporal Henry Watson,
            Who died at Pretoria 17th May 1877; aged 25 years.
              He was the first British Soldier to give up his
              life in the service of his Country, _on the annexation_
              of the Transvaal Republic!"

Near by on another slab I read:--

            "In loving memory of John Mitchell Elliott
            Aged 37. Captain and Paymaster of the 94th Regiment,
            Who was killed for Queen and Country
            while crossing the Vaal River on the night of
            Dec. 29th, 1880."

There, too, I found one other slab which recorded in this strange
style the closing of a most ignoble chapter in our imperial history:--

     "This Cemetery was planted, and the graves left in good repair by
     the men of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, _prior to the evacuation_
     of Pretoria, 1881."

Two brief decades rush away, and once again that same cemetery opens
wide its gates to welcome new battalions of British soldiers, each of
whom like his forerunner of 1877 "gave up his life in the service of
his country"; but these late-comers represent every province and
almost every hamlet of a far-reaching empire, as well as every branch
of the service; while over all and applicable to all alike is the
epitaph on the tomb of the Hampshire Volunteers, "We answered duty's

[Sidenote: _Death and Life in Pretoria._]

The Dutch section of that cemetery also witnessed some sensational
scenes during the period now referred to.

On July 20th Mrs Kruger, the ex-President's wife, died, and as one of
a prodigious crowd I attended her homely funeral. She was herself
well-nigh the homeliest woman in Pretoria, and one of the most
illiterate; but precisely because she was content to be her simple
God-fearing self, put on no airs, and intermeddled not in matters
beyond her ken, she was universally respected and regretted.

During this second period of the war the troops in Pretoria continued
to justify Lord Roberts' description of them as "the best-behaved army
in the world." The Sunday evening services in Wesley Church were
always crowded with them, and the nightly meetings held in the
S.A.G.M. marquees were not only wonderfully well attended but were
also marked by much spiritual power. Pretoria, after we took
possession of it, witnessed many a tear, and occasional tragedies; but
it was in Pretoria I heard a young Canadian soldier sing the following
song, which aptly illustrates the type of life to which many a trooper
has more or less fully attained during this South African campaign:--

            I'm walking close to Jesus' side,
              So close that I can hear
            The softest whispers of His love
              In fellowship so dear,
            _And feel His great Almighty hand
            Protects me in this hostile land_.
                    Oh wondrous bliss, oh joy sublime,
                    I've Jesus with me all the time!

            I'm leaning on His loving breast
              Along life's weary way;
            My path illumined by His smiles
              Grows brighter day by day;
            _No foes, no woes, my heart can fear
            With my Almighty Friend so near_.
                    Oh wondrous bliss, oh joy sublime,
                    I've Jesus with me all the time!



During the next few months many events occurred in Pretoria of vital
interest to the whole empire, and especially to the various members of
the Royal Family. To these this seems the fittest place to refer,
though most of them took place during my various return visits to
Pretoria, and are therefore not precisely ranged in due chronologic

[Sidenote: _Suzerainty turned to Sovereignty._]

It was an ever memorable scene I witnessed in the Kirk Square when the
Union Jack was once more formally hoisted in the midst of armed men, a
miscellaneous crowd of cheering civilians, and an important group of
Basuto chiefs who had been specially invited to witness the
ceremonious annexation of the conquered territory and to hear
proclaimed the Royal pleasure that the erstwhile "South African
Republic" should henceforth be known by the new, yet older, title of
"The Transvaal."

So came to an end the Queen's Suzerainty;--an ill-omened term, which
had proved fruitful in all conceivable kinds of misinterpretation, and
made possible the misunderstandings and controversies that culminated
in this cruel and wasteful war. So was resumed the Queen's
Sovereignty, which as subsequent events proved, ought never to have
been renounced; and so too was made plain the way for that ultimate
federation of all South Africa, under one glorious flag, for which
Lord Carnarvon and Sir Bartle Frere long years before had laboured
apparently in vain. This fresh unfurling of that flag was a pledge of
equal liberties alike for Boer and Briton, as well as of fair play to
the natives. It was a guarantee that the Pax Britannica would
henceforth be maintained from the Zambesi to the Cape, and that in
this vast area, well nigh as large as all Europe, there would be
nursed into matureness and majestic strength, a new Anglo-Saxon
nation, essentially Christian, essentially liberty-loving, and
rivalling in wealth, in enterprise and prowess, the ripest promise of
united Canada, and newly federated Australia.

In this Imperial conflict the heroic fashion in which both those
Commonwealths rallied for the defence of our Imperial flag is one of
the most hopeful facts in modern history. "Waterloo," said Wellington,
"did more than any other battle I know of toward the true object of
all battles--the peace of the world." A similar comment both by
victors and vanquished may possibly hereafter be made concerning this
deplorable Boer war. But that can come to pass only provided we as a
united people strive to cherish more fully the spirit embodied in
Kipling's Diamond Jubilee Recessional:

              God of our fathers, known of old,--
                Lord of our far-flung battle-line,--
              Beneath Whose awful Hand we hold
                Dominion over palm and pine,--
              Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
              Lest we forget--lest we forget!

                     *       *       *

              For heathen heart that puts her trust
                In reeking tube and iron shard--
              All valiant dust that builds on dust,
                And guarding calls not Thee to guard,--
              For frantic boast and foolish word,
              Thy mercy on Thy people, Lord!--AMEN.

[Sidenote: _Prince Christian Victor._]

To Dr Macgregor the Queen is reported to have said at Balmoral in
November 1900, "My heart bleeds for these terrible losses. The war
lies heavy on my heart." And Lord Wantage assures us that her
Majesty's very last words, spoken only a few weeks later, were "Oh
that peace may come!" Both assertions may well find credence; so
characteristic are they of her whom all men revered and loved. As the
head and representative of the whole empire, every bereavement caused
by the war had in it for her a kind of personal element. But her
sympathies and sufferings were destined to become more than merely
vicarious. As in connection with one of our petty West African wars
she was compelled to mourn the death of Prince Henry of Battenberg, so
in the course of this South African war death again invaded her own
immediate circle. The griefs that hastened her end were strongly
personal as well as representative, and so made her all the more the
true representative of those she ruled.

It was in the early days of that dull November, tidings reached her
and us of the dangerous illness of Prince Christian Victor. Not alone
in name was he Christian; and not alone in name was he Victor. On the
voyage out, in the _Braemar Castle_, through the absence of a
chaplain, the prince conducted divine worship with the troops. One of
our best appointed hospital trains was "The Princess Christian
Victor," so called presumably because provided by the bounty of his
and her princely hands and hearts. He was what Sir Ascelin declared
"The last of the English" to be--"A very perfect knight, beloved and
honoured of all men."

It therefore alarmed both town and camp to learn that enteric, the
deadliest of all a soldier's foes, had claimed him, like so many a
lowlier man, for its prey, and that his life was in mortal peril. At
that time he was a patient in the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital which
consisted of Mr T. W. Beckett's beautiful mansion, and a formidable
array of tents that almost covered the whole of the extensive grounds.
Here prince and private alike reaped the fruit of the lavish
beneficence which provided and maintained this magnificent hospital.
All that wealth could procure was there of skill and tenderness, and
such appliances as the healing art requires. All was there, except the
power to command success. With what seemed startling suddenness the
prince's vital powers collapsed, and the half masting of flags, far
and wide, told to friend and foe the tidings of the Queen's
irreparable loss.

[Illustration: _From a photograph by Mr Jones_

Part of I.Y. Hospital in the Grounds Surrounding Mr T. W. Beckett's
Mansion at Pretoria.]

[Sidenote: _A Royal Funeral._]

It was at first proposed that the body of the prince should be taken
to England for interment, and certain companies of the Grenadiers, to
which battalion I was still attached, were detailed for escort duty,
but finally it was decided all fittingly that he should be laid to
rest in the city where he fell, and among the comrades who like him
had laid down life in defence of Queen and duty. So Pretoria witnessed
a stately funeral, the like of which South Africa had never seen
before, as the Queen's own kinsman was borne, by the martial
representatives of the whole empire, to the quiet cemetery which this
war had so enlarged and so enriched.

Disease and fatal woundings combined cost us in this strangely
protracted conflict, scarcely more lives than the one great fight at
Waterloo, where on the English side alone 15,000 fell,--for the most
part to rise no more. In this South African war, up to January 31st,
1901, about 7700 of our men had died of disease; 700 by accidents; and
4300 of wounds. But this Pretoria cemetery like that at Bloemfontein,
where 1500 interments took place in less than fifteen months, affords
striking testimony to the common loyalty of all classes throughout the
empire. Volunteers belonging to the Imperial Light Horse, raised
exclusively in South Africa here lie, side by side, with volunteers
belonging to the Imperial Yeomanry, raised exclusively in England.
Sons of the empire, from Canadian Vancouver and Australian Victoria,
here find a common sepulchre. The soldier prince whose dwelling was in
king's palaces here becomes, as in the conflict of the battlefield so
in the quiet of a hero's grave, a comrade of the private soldier whose
dwelling was a cottage; and be it noted, the death of the lowliest may
involve quite as much of heartbreak as the lordliest.

[Sidenote: _A touching story._]

At the close of a simple military funeral in this same cemetery, the
orderly in charge came to me and said, "I never felt so much over any
case. This grave means four orphans left to the care of an invalid
mother. I knew the man well, and he was always scheming what to do for
his family when he got back: but _this_ is the end of it!" That dead
soldier was merely a private. Not one of his own particular comrades
was present, but only the necessary fatigue party. No flag was flung
over his coffin, no bugle sounded "the last post." No tear was shed.
It was only a commonplace "casualty," one among thousands. But it was
a tragedy all the same. These tragedies in humble life seldom find a
trumpeter; but they are none the less terrible on that account; and if
half the truth were known and realised concerning the horrors and
heartbreak caused by war, all Christendom would clamour for its speedy
superseding by honest Courts of Arbitration.

[Illustration: _From a photograph by Mr Jones_

Wesleyan Church and Manse, Pretoria.]

[Sidenote: _The death of the Queen._]

I was still in Pretoria when tidings arrived concerning the illness
and death of the Queen; and was present in that same Kirk Square when
King Edward VII. was proclaimed "Overlord of the Transvaal." In
connection with the former event a memorial service, at which the
military were largely represented, was held in Wesley Church on
Sunday, January 27th. The Rev. Geo. Weavind, as well as Rev. H. W.
Goodwin, took part in the proceedings, and I was privileged to deliver
the following address which may serve to illustrate, once for all, the
type of teaching given to the troops throughout this campaign:--

  "I bowed down mourning as one that bewaileth his mother."
  --Ps. xxxv. 14 (R.V.).

As there is no relationship on earth so imperishably true and tender
as that between a mother and her children, so also there is no
mourning on earth so real and reverent as that beside a mother's
grave. This saying therefore of the Psalmist describes with exquisite
exactness our common attitude to-day; and voices, as scarcely any
other single sentence could, our profoundest thought and feeling. We
behold at this hour a many peopled empire bowed down mourning; and
almost all other nations sharing in our sorrows; but it is not over
the death of a mere monarch, however mighty, the whole earth thus
feels moved to unfeigned lamentation.

I. _It is the death of the representative_ MOTHER _of our race and age
that bids us wrap our mourning robes around us._ For any record of
such another we ransack in vain the treasure stores of all history.
She is the only mother that ever reigned in her own right over any
potent realm; and certainly over our own. Queen Mary of unhappy
memory, died childless, and her more fortunate sister, "Good Queen
Bess," went down to her grave a maiden queen; but in the case of
Victoria, four sons and five daughters found their earliest cradle in
her queenly arms. She is said to have been in almost all respects as
capable as the ablest of her predecessors, and was even to extreme old
age unsparingly devoted to the discharge of her royal duties. Yet not
by reason of her laboriousness, her linguistic gifts, or gifts of
statesmanship will she be longest and most lovingly remembered. Put
it on record, as her chief glory, that in her own person she honoured
family life and kept it pure, when for generations such pureness had
seldom been suffered to show its face. Her most popular portraits
represent her as the centre of a group of her own children,
grandchildren and great-grandchildren--a chain of living royalties
reaching to the fourth generation. It was never so seen in Israel
before; and thus have been linked to the throne of England by potent
blood bonds almost all the Protestant royalties of Europe. The Queen
retained to the last a heart that was young, because to the last she
lived in tenderest relationship to the young. I cannot therefore even
imagine a more beautifully appropriate or suggestive message than that
by which the new King conveyed to the Lord Mayor of London, tidings of
the great Queen's death:--

     "My beloved Mother passed peacefully away, at 6.30, _surrounded
     by her children and grandchildren_."

In the midst of her children she lived; and all fittingly in the midst
of her children she died!

As her most signal virtues were of the domestic type, so also her
acutest sorrows were domestic. A father's strongly tender love, or
wisely-watchful care, she never knew. In one sad year there was taken
from her her long-widowed mother, and her almost idolized husband,
Albert the Good.

            "Who reverenced his conscience as his king;
             Whose glory was redeeming human wrong;
             Who spake no slander, no, nor listened to it;
             ... thro' all the tract of years,
             Wearing the white flower of a blameless life."

Concerning that great sorrow, the Queen was wont in homely phrase to
say that it made so large a hole in her heart, all other sorrows
dropped lightly through. Nevertheless of other sorrows too she was
called to bear no common share. As you are all well aware, two of the
daughters of our widowed Queen have themselves long been widows. Two
of her sons perished in their ripening prime. Her favourite daughter,
the Princess Alice, and her favourite grandson, the heir-presumptive
to her throne, drooped beside her like flowers untimely touched by
frost; and within the last few weeks we ourselves have seen yet
another of her grandsons laid beneath the sod in this very city of
Pretoria. Nor is it with absolutely unqualified regret we call to mind
that notably sad event. Like many another of lowlier name he died in
the service of his queen--and ours; and perchance the Queen herself
rebelled, not as against an utterly unfitting thing, when thus called
in her own person to share the griefs of those among her own people,
whom recent events have made so desolate.

Reverentially we may venture to say that in all afflictions she was
afflicted, and thus endeared herself to those she ruled as no other
monarch ever did. Because she was Queen of Sorrows she became also
Queen of Hearts.

That of which we have just spoken was indeed her last sore
bereavement; and now that to her who shed such countless tears there
has come the end of all grief, we have therewith witnessed the full
and final prevailings of her Laureate's familiar prayer:--

                                "May all love
            His love unseen, but felt, o'ershadow thee;
            The love of all thy sons encompass thee,
            The love of all thy daughters cherish thee,
            The love of all thy people comfort thee:
            _Till God's love set thee at his side again_."

The day she ceased to breathe was to her as a new, a nobler bridal
day. The wife has found her long-lost consort; the mother is at home!

II. Queen Victoria was not merely a model mother in the narrow circle
of her own household. _She was emphatically the mother of her
people_--a people multitudinous as the stars of the midnight sky. One
fourth of the inhabitants of the entire globe gladly submitted to her
gentle sway. The vastest sovereignties of the ancient world were mere
satrapies compared with the length and breadth of her domain, and
to-day east, west, north and south bow down beneath a common sorrow
beside her bier. In synagogue and mosque and temple, in kirk and
church of every class and creed, men render thanks for one "who
wrought her people lasting good," and humbly own before their God that

            "A thousand claims to reverence closed
            In her, as mother, wife, and queen."

Almost as a matter of course this monarch and mother of many nations
became more and more liberal-minded and large-hearted. For her to have
become a bigot would have been a very miracle of perverseness. She
rejoiced in all true progress in all places, and made the sorrows of
the whole world her own. Famine in the East Indies, or a desolating
hurricane in the West, called forth from her an instant telegram of
queenly sympathy or, it may be, a queenly gift. Every effort for the
betterment of her people awoke her liveliest interest. The east end of
London, only less well than the west, was known to her. From Windsor
to Woolwich she recently went in midwinter, that with her own hand she
might distribute flowers among her wounded soldiers, and with her own
lips speak to them words of solace. At that same inclement season she
crossed the Irish Channel to show her vulnerable face once more among
her Irish people, and I should not marvel if for such a queen some
would even dare to die!

It was ever with the simplicity of a sister of the people rather than
with the symbolic splendours of a sovereign, she went in and out among
us. In the full pomp and pageantry of her high position she seemed to
find no special pleasure. Even on Jubilee Day, when her presence
crowned the superbest procession England ever saw, she looked
immeasurably more like a mighty mother of her martial sons than like a
majestic monarch in the midst of her exulting subjects. Filial love
and filial loyalty that day reached their climax. Till then the best
informed knew not how truly she was the mother of us all!

III. _Her prodigious hold upon the hearts of her people was largely
due to the unexampled length of her reign._

That she ever reigned is one of the many marvels of divine mercy found
in the history of our native land. Note that her father was not the
first, but the fourth son of old King George III.; that the three
elder sons all died childless, and that her own father died within a
few months of her birth. Victoria seems to have been as truly a
special gift of God to England as Samuel was to Israel. This longest
of all reigns was unmarred by any break of any kind from first to
last. Had our princess come to the throne only a few months earlier a
regency must have been proclaimed, and had she lingered a few months
longer increasing infirmities might have forced that same calamity
upon us. But through God's mercy hers was a full orbed reign. There
was no abdication of her power for a single day. The first serious
illness of her life was also her last, and to her it was granted to
cease at once to work and live.

So long ago as September 1852, when her devoted friend and adviser,
the famous Duke of Wellington, died, she pathetically said "I shall
soon stand sadly alone"; then naming one after another of her recent
intimates she added "They are all gone!" That of necessity became
increasingly true in the course of the remaining half century of her
life. Not one among the many friends of her youth remained at her side
amid the deepening shadows of her eventide. Surrounded by new
acquaintances and new kinships a loneliness was hers, which few of us
are ever likely in any similar measure to experience.

Every throne in Europe except her own has witnessed repeated changes
in the course of her strangely eventful career, sometimes as the
result of appalling revolutions ans sometimes as the fruit of a
dastardly assassin's dagger; but amid all He who was Abraham's shield
and exceeding great reward deigned to compass our Queen with songs of
deliverance. Never was any monarch so much prayed for; and that she
may long reign over us is a petition that in special measure has
prevailed. Not three score years and ten, but four score years and
two, have been the days of the years of her life, and now that the
inevitable end has come, no voice of complaining is heard in our
streets. Such a death we commemorate with thankful song!

IV. _The Queen's whole reign was frankly based on the fear of God_;
and to find such in English history I fear we shall have to travel
back a full thousand years to the days of Alfred the Great, who was
also Alfred the Good, and whose favourite saying was

            "Come what may come,
            God's will be welcome!"

When Victoria was still a girl of fifteen she was solemnly confirmed
in the Chapel Royal, and in her case that impressive service
manifestly meant--what alas, it does not always imply--a life
henceforth wholly given to God.

At two o'clock in the morning of June 21st, 1837, she was roused from
her slumbers in old Kensington Palace, and hastily flinging a shawl
over her nightdress, she presently stood in the presence of the Lord
Chamberlain and the Archbishop of Canterbury, to learn from their lips
that her royal uncle had given up the ghost, and that she, a trembling
maid of just eighteen, was Queen. Thereupon, so we are told, her eyes
filled with tears, her lips quivered, and turning to the Archbishop
she said, "Pray for me!" So that instant all three lowly bowed
imploring heaven's help. The Queen began her reign upon her knees.
Her first act of conscious royalty was thus to render heartfelt homage
to "The Prince of the kings of the earth." Hence came it to pass

            "Her court was pure, her life sincere."

Her favourite recreations were consequently not those provided by the
ballroom, the card-table, the racecourse, or even the theatre. Music,
the simple charms of country life, and, manifold ministries of mercy,
were the pastimes that became her best; and she never appeared in the
eyes of her people more truly royal than when seen sitting by the
bedside of a Highland cottager, reading to the sick out of God's own
Gospel the wonderful words of life.

We are here at liberty to use a scriptural phrase and to add that she
"married in the Lord." Royal etiquette required that the Queen should
herself select the lover destined to share the pleasures and
responsibilities of her high position, and her choice fell not on one
renowned for gaiety, for wealth or wit, but on one in whom she
recognised the double gift of abounding good sense and the grace of
our Lord Jesus Christ. For a choice so supremely wise, and for a
marriage so supremely happy, all thoughtful Englishmen still render
thanks to God.

Her piety was as broad as it was deep and practical. The head of the
Anglican Church, when in England she worshipped with Anglicans only;
but when in Scotland she no less regularly repaired to the
Presbyterian Kirk, and only a few months ago gave expression to her
warm appreciation of the work done for God and man by "The people
called Methodists." She would tolerate no intolerance in things
pertaining to godliness, and on her Jubilee Day insisted that all
creeds should be invited to join in one common act of worship. For
that reason among others the Queen required that historic service
should be held in the open air, on the steps, it is true, of our
stateliest cathedral; but none the less under God's own arching sky,
which makes the whole earth a temple. We owe not a little of our
religious liberty to the personal influence and example of our much
lamented Queen; and we, therefore, show ourselves worthy to have been
her subjects, only when we shun utterly all indifference concerning
things divine, yet give no place to bigotry; when we seek out not the
worst, but the best, in every man, and honestly strive to make the
best of that best.

V. _With the new century we suddenly find ourselves subjects of a new
Sovereign_, and with equal sincerity, if not with equal fervour, we
say, "God save the King." May his reign also like that of his
predecessor bring blessing to many lands! We crave not for him, and
seek not in him, unexampled greatness. We desire chiefly that he may
"love mercy, do justly, and walk humbly with his God." His rich legacy
of newly-created loyalty he will thus assuredly retain and augment.

It is commonly said that this new century, like the last, has begun
with a notable lack of notable men, but, nevertheless, never yet have
we been left without trusty leaders in the hour of national necessity;
and as it has been so will it be!

            "We thank Thee, Lord, when Thou hast need,
            The man aye ripens for the deed!"

Yet the new century clamours importunately, not so much for great men,
as for good men. All greatness perishes that is not broad based on
godliness. The best gift for this new era that God Himself can bestow
upon our people, is the grace of deep-toned repentance, an impassioned
love of righteousness, a never flinching resolve to walk in newness of
life; for then will the brightness of even the Victorian era be
splendidly outshone, and heaven itself will hasten to make all things
new. We who believe in Christ have learned to say:--

            "Oh Thou bleeding Lamb
            The true morality is love of Thee!"

Along that same path of love divine lies also the truest patriotism
and the speediest perfecting of our national life. I pray you,
therefore, let the God of your late Queen be yet more completely your
God; her Saviour your Saviour; and make this Memorial Service doubly
memorable by bowing this moment at His feet,

            "In full and glad surrender."

[Sidenote: _The King's Coronation._]

On Saturday, March 22nd, 1902, Schalk Burger, late State-Secretary
Reitz, and General Lucas Meyer are reported to have appeared in
Pretoria, presumably with a view to the submission of those they
represent to the sovereign authority of our new King, whose
approaching Coronation, Pretoria, even while I write, is preparing to
celebrate with unexampled splendour. It is intended to break all
previous festival records, and some of the Guards may only too
probably still be there to share therein. But that is quite another
story, and must find for itself quite another historian. Meanwhile--

            "*God send His people peace!*"

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use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.